Very often students are required to perform different academic assignments during their educational process, such as writing an analysis, thesis, research papers, various articles, and essays, etc. For many students writing an essay is a chance to demonstrate their abilities as the author, authenticity, and freshness of their thinking.
If we are talking about the skills to summarize, generalize the main ideas, make some conclusions and transfer it into the essay in your own words, summary and response kinds of essay take the significant place here. So let’s take a look at these types of the essay in more details.
The summary is a shortened version of text presentation. The key function of the summary is to convey the subject and the main ideas of the author of the article, scientific or literature work, its most important theses and differences from other articles of the same subject. In other words, it is a combination of short content and objective characterization of the text.
Its purpose is to attract the attention of the reader, to awaken the reader’s interest by combining the essence of the work with the minimum amount of language tools. Thanks to the summary the reader gets an opportunity to make a tentative presentation about the unfamiliar to him work or article and find the necessary information in it. A good summary should demonstrate the features of the article in terms of its purpose and content, novelty, relevance, and uniqueness to the audience, without quoting and retelling the text of the author.
A Response is a brief form of written evaluation or critique of the work that contains conclusions and comments of the person from the audience. The core function of the response is to attract the attention of the audience to the principal points and questions of certain work, give an objective assessment of the author and leave the own impression. A strong response analyzes the ideas you agree or disagree with, and determines the strong and weak sites of the essay in accordance with logic, style, text organization and quality of a thesis statement and supporting examples.
In contrast to review, the response provides a general description of the work without a detailed analysis, but it includes practical tips. Also, it should be written in a first person, with using such expressions, as “I think,” “I believe,” “As for me,” etc.
Steps in Writing
In order to write an effective summary or response essay, it is important that students have a good understanding of the material they are working on, so it is worth considering the stages of working on the text. There are the following steps:
- Look through the article, including the title, subtitles, the first paragraph, the first sentence of each paragraph and the last paragraph. Try to understand what is said in the text and determine the type of this text;
- Read the article, underline the main idea sentence in every paragraph;
- Write down the key facts and thoughts in your own words. Find the information that confirms these key facts, but do not go into details;
- Briefly summarize the conclusions made by the author in one sentence;
- Start writing your essay using your own notes without looking into the original;
- Re-read the essay you have written, make sure it does not repeat the author and check for errors.
Here are some tips to make your writing more effective and more interesting to the audience:
- Your summary should be about one-third of the length of the original article.
- Summarize the material briefly and do not use complex terminology so that the audience can easily perceive it. Your goal is to interest the reader and the audience so the language should be diverse, lively and clear.
- Give clear supporting arguments while writing the essay when expressing your or someone else’s point of view on the topic.
- In order to present material in a consistent and logical form, it is better to use simple sentences, introductory phrases and linking words in the essay, like by the way, in addition, it becomes obvious that…, etc.
Two Typical Formats for Summary/Response Essays
There are the following requirements for the structure and content of summary and response essays:
Summary essay template
- Title of the article and the name of the author (using APA format and MLA format).
- Summary of the main point of the author.
- Main Body
- Points you agree with the author.
- Points you disagree with the author.
- Supporting details. Examples.
- Response essay template
- Title of the article and name of the author (using APA format and MLA format).
- A brief summary of the main ideas of the author.
- Thesis statement: you agree or disagree.
- Main Body
- Supporting paragraph 1. Example.
- Supporting paragraph 2. Example.
- Supporting paragraph 3. Example.
Example of a summary and response essay
Here are some examples of how to write summary and response essay to the article:
«What Running Can’t Do for You» by James F. Fixx
Summary: In his article entitled «What Running Can’t Do for You» James F. Fixx criticizes those who talk about running as if it were a religion. The author maintains that there is an obvious and significant difference between these two pursuits. The runner, he observes, is interested in himself and is running for his own improvement and satisfaction, while traditional religion has to do with «caring about other people, or with compassion or with self-sacrifice» While Fixx agrees that running is a worthwhile hobby, he nevertheless concludes his article with a plea to the reader to accept running for what it can do, but not to confuse this sport with more spiritual and ethical activities.
Response: In this article, «What Running Can’t Do for You» James F. Fixx attempts to persuade the reader not to exaggerate the benefits of running. Because the author was an avid jogger who had written books and articles publicizing the value of jogging, a reader may very likely anticipate that this article, too, was written to encourage the reader may very likely anticipate that this article, too, was written to encourage the reader to take up Fixx’s favorite sport. Consequently, in his title, the author already alerts the reader to expect something different. The title, «What Running Can’t Do for You» indicates that, in this article, the author is going to suggest some limitations to running which he would like the reader to consider.
Why does Fixx say that treating running as a religion is «silly» and perhaps even «slightly dangerous»? We can see the answer to this question when we consider his comparison of religion and running and when we note his assumptions about religion.
Analyzing the reasons why some people have confused running with religion, the author draws on his own personal experience, pointing out that running does make the individual «feel better, look better, have more energy, and think more clearly.»
Clearly, Fixx admits that the benefits from running are considerable. However, he is concerned that when we go so far as to equate running with religion, we «deflect our attention from concerns that are far more important than getting into a pair of Adidases and breathing hard before breakfast.» Thus, the author concludes his essay with a plea to the reader to accept running for what it can do and not elevate it to a religious activity.
So, the summary is a brief, concise presentation of the material or a synthesis of the main ideas of the author presented in any source of information. Response unlike the summary gives the objective evaluation of a certain article. The ability to write a good, competent summary shows that a person has achieved a maximum understanding of the meaning of the article, that he is able to single out the main ideas of the author and is able to convey his understanding of what he has read.
Besides, a properly compiled summary or response essay to the article is a guarantee that the reader will definitely want to get acquainted.