Writing Summary for University: Here’s How!

The end of the semester is approaching, the exams are just around the corner, and you still have to write your summaries. But what exactly has to be included in the Summary? What is the best place to start? And what is perhaps completely superfluous? In this article, Plagiarismexperts explains how you can achieve the perfect Summary!

What are the benefits of writing summary?

Writing summary brings you many advantages in your learning process. On the one hand, filtering out the most important content is already a critical examination of the material. 

On the other hand, you will get an overview with a summary that will help you filter out essential details that you should pay special attention to in a further step. Why? Imagine you are an architect and you want to win a competition with your next building project. How do you proceed? You will probably start with a floor plan before planning the kitchen.

This is how you should deal with the Summary. It is not at the end of your learning project but the beginning. By writing your Summary, you are laying the foundation for productive and efficient learning. Make sure you don’t get lost in the details, and always keep an eye on the big picture.

Writing the Executive Summary – Where do you start?

Getting started is not difficult! First, collect all of your learning materials. Then start with the structure that the professor specified for the lecture or seminar. Read carefully how the material was arranged.

Did the lecturer proceed chronologically? Is there a focus on thematic priorities? Identify the common thread by critically questioning the structure of the event and learning it by heart. Did the professor devote a separate topic to each lesson? Are there topics that span multiple sessions? How are the different contents related to each other?

As soon as you have internalized the structure, you can skim through the slides or texts. Which buzzwords catch your eye? Are there visual indications, such as italic, highlighted, or red marked font? Then, under each topic block, write the most important keywords that you could find when you skimmed it.

Filter out the important things, but how?

After you have assigned the most important keywords to the individual subject blocks, you can concentrate on reading. If you find it challenging to eliminate unimportant things afterward, you can use redacting text instead of highlighting the important stuff with the highlighter. Then you should ask yourself whether you can see a pattern in the scripts. For example, if you are writing an exam on film history, you can look for whether the professor has named three influential directors for each lecture. So in a certain way, you are looking for a system behind the details!

If the learning material consists mainly of scientific texts or is challenging to understand, you can use the excerpt methods. Make sure you avoid going into too much detail. You can start writing once you have recognized a pattern and the most important theories, models, people, or relationships.

How do you write the perfect Summary?

It is important to remember that a good summary must be written understandably. A mere listing of keywords lacks coherent understanding. Write down objectively and without “frills” in short sentences what the respective topic is about. Stay true to your structure from event to event. Also, consider whether you want to use a color legend. 

You could use green for definitions, blue for theories or methods, and red for necessary key data or time spans. In no case should you write something in the Summary for the university that is not yet completely clear to you! Also, condense all important information. As a rule of thumb, you can keep in mind that your Summary should not make up more than a tenth of the entire material.

The Summary is – what now?

After you have written the Summary, you have created the perfect basis to deepen your knowledge. It will be easier for you to memorize details because you have already laid out your “building project” floor plan with the Summary and have put every information in the right room. You should therefore pay attention to this when writing your Summary for the university:

  1. Collect learning materials
  2. Internalize the structure of the event
  3. Skim the script: Identify key keywords
  4. Read carefully and recognize the central theme
  5. Compress the subject matter to a maximum of a tenth in short sentences

You should also consider whether you would like to use index cards for more extensive factual knowledge or whether you would like to create an additional learning poster based on your Summary. Another option is to create a mind map to make your Summary visually appealing. As a visual or haptic learner, you also benefit from it.

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