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Writing a Summary/Essay Exam

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Chris Thurley

on 8 January 2015

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Transcript of Writing a Summary/Essay Exam

The Gaston College Writing Center
Writing a Summary, Annotated Bibliography, and Essay Exam Preparation
Essay Exam Preparation
- Ask your instructor about the exam
* ask how much of the essay answer will come from:
--> Notes
--> Lectures
--> Text Book
--> Other Materials
- Ask your instructor about specificity
* Should you know dates, names, or vocab?
* Or just general concepts
- Ask about the estimated length/expectations
Example of a Summary
In Clay Dillow's article, he states that The Zoological Society of London recently reported that predicted severe weather changes could increase the risk of land mammals becoming extinct. Primates, although the most at risk during these changes, have shown a resiliency to weather changes, but the studies are not adequate enough to know if they will be able to survive. If studies on this particular subject are not increased, or if nothing is done about the weather changes coming, the list of extinct species may grow substantially.
The Article
Practice Activity
- Read the article given to you
- While reading: highlight, underline, write notes, etc. key points, ideas and statements
- Write a 3-5 sentence paragraph summarizing the article
- DO NOT Quote
- DO NOT Try to explain every small detail
- DO NOT Rewrite someone else's summary (plagiarize)
- DO NOT Write it later (write immediately after/while reading)
Guidelines to Different Types of Summaries
- Synopsis:
* One page (double-spaced) per 25 pgs. read
* Brief retelling of key points (quick story)
- Abstract:
* 100-500 words
* Background, Results, Conclusion
- Annotated Bibliography Entry:
* Four to five sentences or 150 words
* Personal evaluation of text
Methods of Writing a Summary/Abstract
-Write the summary while reading
* Read until you hit a key point/idea
-Write the summary after reading the entire article
* Record accurate notes and highlight crucial areas so that you can go back through the article to get the whole gist
Reading the Article
- Highlight important statements
- Underline KEY points/ideas/vocabulary
- Write notes on the side of the book (if you own it), or
use Post-It Notes to help locate specific areas
Example: Lab Abstract
Protozoans are unicellular eukaryotes with either plant- or animal-like characteristics. Through careful observation, we analyzed various protozoan cultures in order to identify characteristics associated with cell structure and movement of these one-celled organisms. We found that Protists exhibit certain characteristics that allow them to be categorized into different groups, mainly determined by their locomotion patterns. Despite differences in locomotion and the varying plant-like and animal-like organelles, all protists share key characteristics and functions that allow them to feed, grow, and reproduce--processes essential for survival and common to complex organisms.
Example: Synopsis
When the man that Katherine Whitman thought she would someday marry becomes engaged to another woman, Katherine is devastated. The blow is especially harsh because Travis works at the same home-security company that Katherine does, and the woman he’s to marry is Sherry Osborne, the sister of Katherine’s boss, Stephen Osborne, the president of the company. Despite her own strict rules for professional behavior, Katherine turns for comfort to Stephen, and ends up spending the night with him. The next day, convinced that he stayed with her mainly because he felt sorry for her, and feeling that nothing can preserve their professional relationship, she leaves the company and starts over.
A few weeks later, Katherine becomes ill. At first she blames heat and working conditions, but she soon realizes she’s having morning sickness. She informs Stephen of her pregnancy, and is astonished when he suggests that they do what people have always done when there’s an unexpected baby on the way – get married. She agrees, though not without misgivings and distrust of Stephen’s motives, because she feels that the best thing for the baby will be for them to try to build a family. But on their quiet weekend "honeymoon" Stephen makes clear that marriage does not include any further intimacy. Katherine is confused until she realizes that there are other reasons for his willingness to marry. A former girlfriend has been pressing him to marry her, but by marrying Katherine he establishes a family-man image that will actually leave him more free than being single, since Katherine owes him too much to make demands.
That understanding leaves her feeling trapped and she realizes that she loves him – indeed, has loved him for a long time, but hid the fat from herself because it was unprofessional to fall for one’s boss. Now she has few options – she can accept what she has been offered and make the best of it, or she can walk out and be in worse shape than she was before. She opts to stay, telling herself that nothing can keep her from loving him, and perhaps if love sneaked up on her, it could happen to him as well. When Sherry discovers her errant fiancé with yet another woman, she responds to Katherine’s sympathy with accusations that Travis is actually the father of Katherine’s child. Worse, it’s immediately apparent to Katherine that Stephen believes the accusation, and has believed it all along.
If he thought she could lie to him about such a fundamental issue as the parentage of her baby, then the idea of building any kind of lifelong relationship is a farce. She begins to pack her belongings. But she still needs the answer to one question: why did he not even ask her about the child? Why did he assume the worst? He answers that he was afraid of what she would tell him– that he knew it would be the truth, but because he loved her and wanted her so much, it honestly did not matter to him whether her child was his as well.
On the morning after their night together, when she gave up even her job in order to get away from him, he felt guilty about taking advantage of her pain. When he discovered her pregnancy, it seemed a chance to make up to her for the additional grief he had caused, as well as a chance to have her in his life– even if she could never love him. With the assurance of mutual love, they sort out the guilt that both have suffered and begin anew to create a family for their child.
Example: Annotated Bibliography Entry
Smith, Jane. “The Role of the Hero and the Development of Suspense in Homer’s Odyssey.” Modern Philology 36.2 (Summer 2004): 45-73.

This article surveys prior concepts of ancient Greek heroism in literature and situates the hero of Homer’s poem The Odyssey, Odysseus, in this context. It discusses Odysseus' often noted recklessness and compares it with his also noted wisdom. Finally, it argues that Odysseus is more real for an audience because he has both strengths and weaknesses. I really enjoyed this article and think it will be very helpful in my argument that Homer’s poem The Odyssey was spoken or sung and then written in order to provide Greek society with a model of behavior. I would say that, in maintaining that the Greeks had a sense of justice, this hero exemplifies that possibility. This article is also helpful because it has a bibliography of a lot of sources that may prove useful in my further research and writing of my term paper
You made it to...
Dillow, Clay. POPSCI., 13 Decmber 2012. Online Article. 23 January 2013.
Before Writing
* Read all of the instructions very carefully (underlining/highlighting)
* Read question/s carefully (underlining/highlighting)
* Choose what order to answer question/s
* Re-read the question before beginning to write; come up with: the tone, purpose and audience
- informational (you need to prove you know the topic)
- persuasive (are you arguing a point?)
- past/present tense
Begin Answering the Question
- Identify main ideas and concepts (nothing extraneous; stay on topic with what the question asks)
- Brainstorm
* Generate related ideas that you want to discuss
* Construct rough outline
--> Remember that the length of an assignment dictates shape:
- LONG ESSAY: Intro. Paragraph, Body/ies, Conclusion paragraph
- SHORT ESSAY: Intro. Sentence, Body, Conclusion sentence (Possibly in one paragraph)
General Tips
- Study (effectively)
- Read each question closely
- Have a plan (Go with what you know best)
- Keep the audience, tone, and purpose in mind
- Don’t rush
- Re-read
- Revise
"Sample Essay Questions." Best Sample Questions. N.p., 2011. Web. 17 Jan 2012. <http://www.bestsamplequestions.com/sample-essay-questions/sample-essay-questions.html>.
Example Questions
Analyze: Divide an event, idea, or theory into its component elements, and examine each one in turn: Analyze Milton Friedman's theory of permanent income.

Compare and/or Contrast: Demonstrate similarities or dissimilarities between two or more events or topics: Compare the portrayal of women in Beloved with that in Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Define: Identify and state the essential traits or characteristics of something, differentiating it clearly from other things: Define “plaintiff”.

Describe: Tell about an event, person, or process in detail, creating a clear and vivid image of it: Describe the dress of a knight.

Evaluate: Assess the value or significance of the topic: Evaluate the contribution of women writers to the development of an American literary tradition.

Explain: Make a topic as clear and understandable as possible by offering reasons, examples, and so on: Explain the functioning of the circulatory system.

Summarize: State the major points concisely and comprehensively: Summarize the major arguments against using animals in laboratory research.
Practice Activity
Practice Activity Answers
Write a short paragraph that explains: where you are from(and what that means to you), who your parents are (and how that has affected you), what they do for a living, and what you would like to do for a career (and how the previous questions effected your decision).

Make sure to produce a short writing portion that draws connections between all of these descriptions.

Write about yourself in the third person, and make sure to stick to a three paragraph form. For example: Write as if your biographer was writing about your life, i.e. "Chris Thurley was born in Rochester, NY. Rochester represented a cold and miserably secluded place to him, even into his later years. His parents, Jeff and Terry, first met one night..."
Did you...
1. Answer the four sections?
2. Did you find connections between these sections?
3. Stay in the third person for the entire writing?
4. Write only three paragraphs?
Look for Definitions
Look for Statutes
Decipher Cause and Effect
Find the Binaries
The Article
The Citations
The Annotation
You may be asked to summarize, assess, and/or reflect on each article (this depends on your instructor's preferences)
Make sure you know what is expected of you for the writing so that you can look for those elements in the article
Use the reading/highlighting/notes suggestions mentioned before
- Make sure to know whether the citation is supposed to be in MLA, APA, or Chicago Style.
- It is easier to create a Work Cited/Reference page and then add the annotations.
- Once again, make sure you know what you are supposed to accomplish in your statement (summary, assess, and/or reflect)
- Make sure that each section (summary, etc.) consists of one those characteristics (summary only summarizes, reflection only reflects)
- Be very clear, brief, and concise! (Unlike this Prezi)
This is a coach's annotated bibliography for an Ecocritical Shakespeare class he took for his M.A. Each article was over twenty pages, and the coach was asked to summarize, assess, and reflect.
Reflections usually pertain to the argument that your paper will propose. I.e.: Will the article be useful for your paper, or how does it work with what you will be writing about?
Personal reflection/assessment
Overall summary
Summary of theory/main argument
Why do an Annotated Bibliography?
Have a firm grasp of the content of each source
Allows other people to scan your research for their own uses
Good practice for writing summaries, citing sources, and paraphrasing
Helps organize and differentiate between sources/position yourself in the discourse/argument
Every instructor may have different guidelines for content and format for an Annotated Bibliography, so make sure that you know exactly what your instructor wants. (The examples given are not the end all to be all.)
Pgs. 156, 367, 411 in Wadsworth
Wadsworth: pgs. 442-54
Locating Credible Research
Peer-Reviewed Articles and Journals (Scholarly Articles)
Definitions from Reputable Sources: OED, www.dictionary.com/ Webster's
.edu, .gov Websites
SIRS, Lexis Nexis, NCLive, JSTOR, Google Scholar etc.
Wadsworth: pgs. 152-63
Popular (Reputable) Newspapers and Magazines: Newsweek, Science, Times, etc.
Wadsworth: pgs. 202-11
Scope of Coverage
Primary Sources
"A concise technical summary of a journal article [...] the purpose of an abstract is to summarize the goals, methods and results of the research" (Wadsworth 418).
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