Summarizing Text Study Guide

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Updated on Sep 29, 2011

Summarizing Text

In this lesson, you'll discover that you can retell a story in just a few sentences and still hit the most important points!

A SUMMARY IS a short retelling of a story or an event. You summarize every time you tell friends about your vacation or a movie you saw. You can't tell everything, so you tell what's most important: the main idea and a few details. Usually, you can do this in just a few sentences. Here's an event and summary:

    What Happened
    Sara goes shopping at the mall over the weekend. She runs into an old friend, Chris, who'd moved away last year. They have lunch together and Sara discovers that Chris's family will be moving back to town next month, so he'll be going to her school again. Chris says he hopes he'll be able to get back on the school soccer team since he's on a winning team where he's been living.
    Sara's Summary: Guess who I ran into at the mall, whose family's moving back to town? Chris . . . and he thinks he'll probably be back on our soccer team!
    You can summarize a story or article; or just a part of it.
    Archaeologists learn about the past by studying things ancient people left behind. The people can be grouped by the technology they used: Stone Age people used stone tools; Bronze Age people first made metal tools. A painting or carving may show people in carts. That's technology. Scraps of material are clues to how people used technology to make clothing. And written journals tell how people used technology to make medicines from plants.
    Summary: Scientists find evidence of how people used technology during their lifetimes. Different technologies were used at different times in history to make tools, clothing, art, vehicles, and medicines.

Posters, book covers, and ads are summaries. They give all the most important information about something in a small space! Sometimes you have to write or give an oral book report, and on many tests, you're asked to write a short essay about a selection. That's why it's important to learn to look for the most important facts and sharpen your summarizing skills!

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Summarizing Text Practice Exercises

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