Model, Exercises And Tips

The passage that follows can serve as a model.

The National Trust

The National Trust really means what it says. It is an association of men and women who seek to preserve places of historic interest and natural beauty; it is not a Government department, sustained by compulsory taxes, but a charity in the legal sense, depending for its existence on the voluntary support of the public. How it grew up is a story that throws a revealing sidelight on how things get done in Britain . Although it started as long ago as the mid-nineties and has, since the last war, been growing more and more effective, its exact position in the social and economic life of the nation is still widely misunderstood.

Average citizens, deafened by the laments of well-meaning people who cry havoc at any and every proposal to pull down a building or to build on an open space, are inclined to take a plague-on-both-your-houses line. They suspect that many of the preservers are unreasonable. On the other hand, they are equally suspicious of the crocodile tears of official and unofficial despoilers. Their instinct is sound. Much cant is talked about preservation; vandalism, sometimes commercial, sometimes bureaucratic, is rampant throughout the land. That is why the role of the National Trust has become increasingly significant. Before it takes properties, urban or rural, under its aegis, it screens them in a civilized and businesslike manner. The case for saving them from change or destruction has to be made out not merely on grounds of sentimental nostalgia, but because genuine historic or aesthetic values are at stake.

Two men and a woman began it. Canon Rawnsley, whose heart was in the Lake District , Sir Robert Hunter, a solicitor who loved the Surrey open spaces, and Miss Octavia Hill, that indefatigable doer of practical good works, were the founders in 1895. Their embryo Trust was first incorporated under license of the Board of Trade as a public company, not trading for profit, with power to acquire and preserve for the nation places of historic interest or natural beauty. Their first property was a small stretch of cliff overlooking the Barmouth estuary in North Wales , and to this was soon added the fourteenth-century timber-framed Clergy House at Alfriston in Sussex . The pattern had been set.

(from Graded Comprehension for Advanced Students by D.Fisher and J.Day)

Answer the following questions on the above text:

1. What is the National Trust? How did it start and grow up? (70—75 words).

2. Why has the role of the National Trust become increasingly significant? (50—55 words)

Possible answers :

1. The National Trust is a public organization with “power to acquire and preserve for the nation places of historic interest and natural beauty” and sustained by the voluntary support of the public. Founded in 1895 by Canon Rawnsley, Sir Robert Hunter and Miss Octavia Hill, it has become especially effective since World War II. Its first acquisitions were a stretch of cliff in North Wales and a fourteenth-century Clergy House in Sussex . (71 words).

2. Destruction of the environment continues on a great scale and can be prevented only by a well-organized campaign supported by the public. Average citizens, however, confused by over-enthusiastic preservers and, on the other hand, deceived by the “crocodile tears” of despoilers, are inclined to be indifferent and inactive. (48 words)

Note that Answer 1 retains the vocabulary of the original, with the structure of sentences changed. Answer 2 is given “in our own words”. You may use either approach to suit the circumstances.

Passages 1—2 are provided with questions which bring out the main points of your summary. The questions do not follow each passage closely, the aim being, where possible, to encourage you to use your own words. The number of words is not indicated for each question in Passages No 1 and 2, so you should use your own judgement and vary it according to the relative importance of each point.

Finally, you are asked to summarize a passage entirely on your own (Text 3). Here you are expected to find all the points in each piece for yourself. Rule I to follow is: Read the passage carefully two or three times to be sure that you know what it is about. Isolate the main idea of the piece, state it to yourself and supply a meaningful title. With the title in mind, read the passage again to see how it is constructed, or, in other words, how the main idea is developed. While reading you have to observe the progress of the development, the windings of the thought which will enable you to follow Rule II: Divide the passage up into its sections, using paragraph divisions as a guide. Bear in mind that some paragraphs may be more “packed” or “dense” than others (that is, the thought is expressed with more economy) and that you should take more material from there for your precis. Rule III, therefore, is: Vary the number of words allotted for each section of the passage depending on the density of thought. In order to ascertain the relative density of the sections, write in your rough note-book the important words and phrases and use them in making rough notes on the important information of each division. Then, putting aside the original, write the draft of your summary, and count the number of words you have used.

In the rough draft it is likely that you will go well over the word limit. Correct your draft carefully, bringing the number of words down to the set limit. In doing so, use the methods of generalization and substitution. Generalization involves making a general statement instead of mentioning a number of individual points. Substitution means choosing a single word for a phrase and a phrase for a clause or sentence; a noun is often a satisfactory substitute for a noun clause, an adjective for an adjective clause, etc. Here are two examples:

1. Because I could not remember where I had left my car, I walked down street after street looking carefully at all the parked cars.

la. Unable to remember where I had parked, I went down street after street looking carefully at each car.

2. The Captain did not know for what port he was bound or why the expedition was being undertaken. His orders were contained in a sealed packet which was not to be opened until he was 200 miles out to sea.

2a. The Captain sailed under sealed orders for an unknown destination.

When you have brought your precis to within the prescribed limits, re-read the original and compare it carefully with your precis, to make sure you have omitted nothing essential. Write a fair copy of your precis, stating at the end the exact number of words you have used.

Some more advice will probably not be amiss. Remember that in a summary reported not direct speech is used. Archaic words are replaced by ones in modern use. See that your precis reads smoothly as a piece of continuous prose. The sentences in the summary must follow one another in an orderly and logical sequence. Vary sentence beginnings by using such phrases as: At this point . . . ; On the other hand . . . ; In this way . . . ; In this respect .. . ; etc.

Use conjunctions and connectives, such as: Nevertheless .. . ; However, … ; Despite . . . ; Moreover … ; Therefore, . . . ; Although …. Verbals can also be used, e. g.: Being .. . ; In doing . . . ; Having .. . ; After having . . . , etc.

If all these requirements are fulfilled, the summary becomes an original composition. However mechanical an exercise summary-writing may seem, it is in fact a step further on the road to complete independence in your writing.

Model, Exercises And Tips
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