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Writing Summaries and Outlines Practice Exercises

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Updated on Aug 25, 2011

Read the following study guide for a concept review:

Writing Summaries and Outlines Study Guide

Exercise 1

As you read the following article, underline the main ideas. Then write your own summary on the lines that follow the article.

Northern Spotted Owl under Threat

Thirty years ago, the Northern spotted owl was one of the most common owls in the Pacific Northwest. But these owls live in old-growth forest, and logging caused much of their habitat to be lost. In 1991 the federal government passed laws to protect the land where the owls live. Now, though, the owls face a new threat—competition with the barred owl. Barred owls are larger and more aggressive, and they scare the spotted owls away from nesting and hunting grounds. Scientists have tried several ways to protect this endangered bird. Some track the owl nests to monitor when their eggs hatch. Some scientists have even tried to reduce the population of barred owls. Environment specialists are working hard to protect this species, but more research is needed. The Northern spotted owl is also threatened by climate change and competition with other birds of prey.

Exercise 2

Here are three summaries of a story about Xerxes' attack on the Greeks. The summaries are lettered for easy reference. Read each version, then answer the questions that follow.

  1. In 484 BCE, the Persian king Xerxes attacked the Greeks.
  2. In 484 BCE, the Phoenicians joined Persia in a war against the Greeks. Their warships and sailing expertise helped King Xerxes fight the Greek navy.
  3. In 484 BCE, the Persian king Xerxes asked the Phoenicians to help him make war on the Greeks. The Phoenicians contributed 300 warships and helped build a bridge of ships across the Hellespont. Xerxes' army crossed on the bridge to reach the mainland. There they began to attack the Greek cities.

Questions

  1. Which summary provides only the main idea?
  2. Which summary provides the most supporting details? Do these details seem important?
  3. Which summary do you think is the most effective? Why?

Exercise 3

Read the paragraph about the Northern spotted owl once more, and this time organize your notes as an outline on the lines that follow. You might use headings such as current threat, other threats, and possible solutions.

Northern Spotted Owl under Threat

Thirty years ago, the Northern spotted owl was one of the most common owls in the Pacific Northwest. But these owls live in old-growth forest, and logging caused much of their habitat to be lost. In 1991 the federal government passed laws to protect the land where the owls live. Now, though, the owls face a new threat—competition with the barred owl. Barred owls are larger and more aggressive, and they scare the spotted owls away from nesting and hunting grounds. Scientists have tried several ways to protect this endangered bird. Some track the owl nests to monitor when their eggs hatch. Some scientists have even tried to reduce the population of barred owls. Environment specialists are working hard to protect this species, but more research is needed. The Northern spotted owl is also threatened by climate change and competition with other birds of prey.

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