Example of Summary Writing with CIE Examiner’s Assessment.

Read the passage below and write the content points on ‘The Problems’ faced by the small farmers in the developing countries and the ‘Ways they are being helped’ to overcome the problems. Then make use of the content points are write summary of 160 words about the problems and the ways they are tackled.

Paying fair makes life sweeter for growers

Juanita Garcia is a coffee farmer living high in the Nicaraguan hills. We met at the end of her long, back-breaking day. Her house, miles from her small farm, is simple. Outside are a few bananas and orange trees, inside a bed, chairs, an open fire, a few months’ corn supplies. No decoration, no ornaments, no frills.

Juanita summed up her aspirations. What she wanted for herself, her family and community she said, was just ‘a life of dignity’. Until recently there was little chance of that. The world market that bought her small crop was always precarious and unstable. The coffee went through the hands of dozens of middlemen all taking their cuts. The price yo-yoed around but mostly was near the basement. Life for her and the others in her community was uncertain, poverty-stricken and with little hope.

Several years ago, the Fairtrade Foundation in London helped put her co-operative in touch with a British chocolate maker who wanted to offer a new quality bar. It now buys directly from the co-operative farmers on the alternative European ‘Fairtrade’ market at a price guaranteed at or above the world price. The few pennies more that the consumer pays in Britain go directly to the farmers to help themselves develop. ‘We didn’t make enough money to live on before Fairtrade’, said Juanita. ‘Now we get a better price and the money comes directly to us. Now we have hope’.

Talk to small farmers around the world about their aspirations and few mention money. Words like ‘dignity’, ‘pride’, ‘hope’, and ‘decency’ keep coming up instead.

In the Dominican Republic, Jose Rodriguez, a small cocoa farmer, said: ‘I am not in search of money. I just want everybody to have the means to a decent life. ‘Fairtrade has given him and the 8,000 other small farmers who make up the Conacado association and sell to British chocolate makers that hope, he says.

In Costa Rica, Arturo Jimeneza Gumez came to a co-operative selling Fairtrade bananas after laboring on one of the giant US-owned banana estates. Now he is a small farmer in his own right, and believes Fairtrade had changed his life: ‘Maybe we are only farmers but we have the right to dream and to plan for our children. Our dream is that our look on us as human beings. I thank God for the Fairtrade system.’

In St. Vincent, one of the four Windward islands that supply Britain with many of its bananas, Renwick Rose works with a group trying to persuade British supermarkets to offer Fairtrade bananas. ‘When you buy a cheap banana (one sold on the conventional market) you are unwittingly participating in the exploitation of labour. There are children, mothers, fathers and blood sweat and toil behind that banana. Fairtrade is not just asking you to pay more- but just what it costs.’

Phil Wells of the Fairtrade Foundation says at least 500,000 farmers around the world are probably now benefiting from Fairtrade. ‘The point, though, is that very many millions, the bulk of small farmers around the world, are suffering terribly.’ He says. The House of Commons, now sells Fairtrade coffee, as does the European parliament, and with help it should be possible to get for more people with a professed social conscience to follow suit.

Actress Julie Christie, a Fairtrade supporter, said: ‘The world has reached a stage where consumerism triumphs over all. Conversely, our role as consumers is one of the powers left to us. Fair trade makes our decision easier- we know that Fairtrade-marked products are produced without exploitation.’  The Guardian


Content points:

  • The candidate, after marking important points in the text, has written them in his own words. For example instead of ‘long, back-breaking day’ the candidate writes hard and tiring’. Similarly in place of ‘world market’ being ‘precarious and unstable’ it is changed to ‘uncertain and volatile’ so on and so forth. The candidate can copy the phrases as it is from the text. No marks will be deducted if the points are picked/lifted as it is from the text, however, changing the points into substitute words would allow the candidate to write the summary in a better manner. Remember, a summary has to be written in your own words and in simple language .


The Problems

Paying fair makes life sweeter

  1. The work is hard and tiring
  2. The farmers have to sell their produce in a volatile and uncertain world market
  3. They have to sell through middle men
  4. Which means that the farmer’s profit is negligible
  5. This leads to the farmers living in near poverty
  6. Their lives are lacking in hope and dignity
  7. The farmers and their families are exploited for the labour
  8. They cannot make secure plans for their children.

Ways in which they are being helped

  1. Fair trade arranges for (European) food manufacturers to buy direct from small-farmer co-operatives
  2. This gives the farmers an alternative outlet they can sell at a price guaranteed the same as a higher than the world price
  3. The extra cost paid by the consumer goes direct to the farmers
  4. This gives the farmers hope and restores their independence
  5. British supermarkets are being encouraged to stock Fairtrade goods
  6. Fairtrade wants to pull an end to exploitation
  7. It is working hard to get support from a range of
  8. people with social consciences.

 There are two responses given here:

Candidate’s Response 1

Small farmers in the developing world work long hours. They make very little profit from their crops because they have to sell through middle men who take a large share of the profit. The world market is uncertain and because the farmers are unable to store their crops, they are not able to wait to get the best price. They live very poor lives and their futures are uncertain. Some international organizations, however, are doing what they can to help the small farmers. An organization called ‘Fairtrade had arranged for food companies in ‘Europe to but direct from groups of small farmers at a price guaranteed to be or above the world price. The consumers in Europe pay a little more for goods sold in this way, but small amount of money to them makes a great difference as the profit goes directly to them; this gives the farmers hope and helps to make them independent.

Candidate’s Response 2

Small farmers are very back-bracking. Their houses are miles form farm. Crops are precarious and unstable and they go through the hands of dozens of middlemen who take there cuts. Few of them mention money. Words like decence and pride keep coming up instead.

Senegalese onions are very good quality and cheaper than their Dutch counterparts. Surely, a consumers dream. They do not get much money and the government does not want to do anything to help them.

Fairtrade is an organization that helps people to buy chocolate.


  • Summary 2 is a C or perhaps an ungraded one while summary 1 is an A. Lets see why!
  • Once the candidate has jotted down all the points he now rearranges them in a paragraph form. He/she has added all the content points in his/her summary but it is not necessary to write them in the same sequence as jotted above.
  • The candidate uses different colours to chalk down the points e.g  the problems are highlighted in red colour and the ways to help the small farmers are marked in blue. This will help avoid confusion while the candidate jots the content points.
  • In the first response of the summary the sentences are kept short, simple and changed accordingly keeping in mind that the purpose of a summary here is to inform. In contrast,the sentences in the second response are fragmentary and replete with spelling mistakes.
  • When summarizing a text no quotes or examples ( Phil Wells , 50o,000 farmers are benefiting,House of Commons,four Windward islands  e.t.c), are included from the original text therefore, the candidate has omitted all the illustrations cited in the text and focused only on the core points. No quotes are present in the second summary as well.
  • The information provided here is complete and concisely written in approximately 155 words. That means the candidate does not exceed the word limit of 160 words as required in the question. There are many irrelevant points added in the latter response. Moreover, the length it is extremely short up to 88 words) which is not up to the standardised criteria of summary writing.
  • Summary 1 is written entirely in own words and no sentence is lifted from the text. Remember, no marks will be given if the summary is copied because the examiner wants to know how you have interpreted the text which he will assess through the summary you have written.
  • You can shuffle your content points but keep in mind whatever manner you write the points and sentences should be linked.
  • In the first example, instead of repeating ‘and(s)’ and ‘but(s)’, see how the candidate has linked all the points with transition words (because, however, but, and) giving continuity to thoughts.
  • It would have been better if the summary had been divided into two paragraphs because this would have proportionate  ideas divided in the  two parts of the content points i.e. ‘problems faced by the small farmers’ and ‘the help provided to them’. However, it is still written in a coherent manner, therefore marks will not be deducted. Unlike the second summary is incoherently written with no proper proportion of ideas.
  • Nearly all content points are nicely weaved into the summary in the first. There is no track of content points in summary 2.
  • There are no spelling mistakes and no grammatical errors in the former. In the latter there are many spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

Source: GCE O-Level Cambridge English Revision Guide, IGCSE First Language English, CIE Discussion Forum





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