Learn with Summaries

Writing a Summary helps you organize and remember information

Writing a summary is helpful in many ways.

1. Like an outline, it can help you organize the information, distinguishing main ideas and related information.

2. Like an outline, you can write a short summary before you begin to write the complete paper. This is rarely suggested in school but many authors begin by writing a summary of the book (fiction or nonfiction) they plan to write. They then might write a summary of each chapter. They might even divide chapters into scenes or sections and write summaries of each of these.  Why would they do this?   First, it helps to know how you will end a book before you decide how to begin writing. Sometimes, an author will take these summaries and reorganize the book. It is much easier to do this at the summary stage than to wait until the book is written. You might try preparing for a term paper by writing a summary of each main idea.

3. Unlike an outline, you can include the connections between the points of information.

4. You can explain important concepts.

5. Students who learn to write good summaries, often do very well on essay tests.

The length of a summary: Decide for yourself.

When writing a summary, you can choose how long you want the summary to be. It can have one paragraph, a paragraph for each main point, or include much more detail.

An author is expected to be prepared with a very short summary they can share very quickly to get someone interested in the book. They call it an “Elevator Story” because it could be used if you were on the elevator with a publisher or potential buyer, and be done by the time you go to the next floor.

But when the author write a summary to get the interest of an agent or publisher, it often runs three to ten pages.

Both Examples will be based on the Story of Edward Hughes because I assume you have all read the story and probably the outline.

Summary 1: The story of Edward Hughes

Edward Hughes was a mediocre high school student in England. His life was changed when his father gave him a copy of a little book by Tony Buzan called “Learning on Both Sides of  Your Brain.” He was so inspired by this book that he decided that he could do what his teachers considered impossible; he could make a high enough score on an entrance test and be accepted at Cambridge University.

Now, high motivated, he went back over the subjects he had studied in the past two years, and organized the information on Mind Maps like those shown in Buzan’s book. He colored and highlighted his Mind Maps. He even read important books on these subjects and expanded the Mind Maps to include additional information, now creating Giant Mind Maps. He also improved his writing skills and  increased his physical fitness.

In order to learn the material, he used Scheduled Reviews, beginning with reviews several times a day, then daily, then every several days or weekly. In these reviews, he often tested his memory by re-drawing his Mind Maps, comparing them to the original, and making corrections.

Everyone was amazed at how well he did. He not only passed all the tests, he made the very top score on every one. He was accepted at Cambridge and went on to participate in sports, to hold leadership positions in Campus Organizations, and to make outstanding grades.


Summary 2: A Much Shorter Summary of the Story of Edward Hughes

Edward Hughes, a mediocre High School Student was inspired by the book, “Use Both Sides of  Your Brain” by Tony Buzan. He learned to use Mind Maps, Scheduled Reviews, and Self-testing.  As a result of his hard work, he made top scores on entrance tests and  was accepted at Cambridge where he excelled in sports, campus leadership, and grades.

Take a story you have read recently or a short article, or even a television program and try writing a summary that includes the most important information. Like with most writing, you will improve with practice.

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