CIE IGCSE English Language

Revision Notes

Summarise the Text


This is where you need give a concise but cohesive overview of the text.

Use your Critical Reading Tools to chop up the text, digest it and pick out its key points. Now you need to rewrite it as a summary, using your own words.

Exam Tip

You’re given a wordcount of just 120 words for this question – so it’s a very short summary.

Try to practice writing 120 word summaries of your favourite books or films, so that you become good at communicating the key, salient points.

Use Your Own Words

It’s important you use your own words in your summary, and not to repeat key words or phrases from the text.

The best way to avoid that is to go to the thesaurus you keep in your brain and find a synonym of the word.

So if the text says “She was thrilled with the outcome”, run that key word “thrilled” through your internal thesaurus and find words like “pleased”, “delighted”, “overjoyed” etc.


For example:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This one is tricky – because we have to find a synonym for ‘friends’, ‘enemies’, ‘remember‘ and ‘silence‘ – almost the whole quote! But reworded looks like this:

“When our allies stand by and say nothing, that stays with us longer than the memory of whatever our adversaries had to say.”

It’s much less elegant than the original quote! But at least the meaning is still there and we’ve used our own words. But it’s longer than the original quote – which is fine when it’s such a short quote, but sometimes you’ll need to condense a passage.

This is where you need to learn to paraphrase. For example:

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

– Leonardo da Vinci

A paraphrased version could be:

“Successful people are proactive – they go out and make a difference, rather than wait around.”

Practice paraphrasing by finding some long quotes and rewriting them so they’re shorter and in your own words.

Exam Tip

Only summarise the facts and information in the text.

Don’t try to embellish it or add any extra details that aren’t there. You’re not being asked you opinion or to reflect and comment on the content, ONLY to summarise.


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