Advanced Reading Comprehension

You are going to read one or two texts and answer the comprehension questions that follow each text, using your own words throughout as far as possible. Complete sentences are not required, and some questions can be answered by a short phrase or a single word. The focus of the comprehension questions is on awareness of the use and impact of language (recognising and understanding the force of lexical items, rhetorical and stylistic devices, and referencing).

Advanced Summary Writing

This task follows the comprehension questions. You are required to select appropriate information from the text(s) and organise it into a well-constructed and grammatically accurate summary of about 100 words. The paragraph must be written in complete sentences and should be in a formal or neutral register. All the information required is found in the text(s), and you are not expected to offer your own opinion. The task focus is on productive language, so text(s) will be well within the reading competence of learners at C1–C2 levels.

Assessment of Summary Writing

An impression mark for summary skills is awarded using the Summary Mark Scheme below. Content points are separately assessed. The 10 marks for summary writing skills are divided into five bands, as described in the mark scheme, and learners can be awarded one of two performance levels within each band. For example, in Band 4, 4.1 represents weaker performance, while 4.2 represents stronger performance within Band 4.

Length
About 100 words are asked for. Learners producing very short or long summaries will be penalised, as specified in the mark scheme.

Spelling & Punctuation
These are important aspects of accuracy and must be taken into account. American spelling and usage is acceptable.

Handwriting
If handwriting interferes with communication, the learner will be penalised. Totally illegible responses receive 0.

Summary Mark Scheme
Note: This mark scheme is interpreted at C2 level. A separate mark scheme is used to assess content of every specific task.

Outstanding realisation of the task set:

  • Totally relevant
  • Concise and totally coherent
  • Skilfully organised, with effective use of linking devices
  • Skilfully re-worded, where appropriate
  • Minimal non-impeding errors, probably due to ambition

Clearly informs and requires no effort on the part of the reader.

Good realisation of the task set:

  • Mostly relevant
  • Concise and mostly coherent
  • Well organised, with good use of linking devices
  • Competently re-worded, where appropriate
  • Occasional non-impeding errors

Informs and requires minimal or no effort on the part of the reader.

Satisfactory realisation of the task set:

  • Generally relevant, with occasional digression
  • Some attempt at concise writing and reasonably coherent
  • Adequately organised, with some appropriate use of linking devices
  • Adequately re-worded, where appropriate
  • Some errors, mostly non-impeding

Adequately informs, though may require some effort on the part of the reader.

Inadequate attempt at the task set:

  • Some irrelevance
  • Little attempt at concise writing, so likely to be overlength and incoherent in places OR too short
  • Some attempt at organisation, but only limited use of appropriate linking devices and may use inappropriate listing or note format
  • Inadequately re-worded and/or inappropriate lifting
  • A number of errors, which sometimes impede communication

Partially informs, though requires considerable effort on the part of the reader.

Poor attempt at the task set:

  • Considerable irrelevance
  • No attempt at concise writing, so likely to be seriously over-length and seriously incoherent OR far too short
  • Poorly organised, with little or no use of appropriate linking devices and/or relies on listing or note format
  • Poorly re-worded and/or over-reliance on lifting
  • Numerous errors, which distract and impede communication

Fails to inform and requires excessive effort on the part of the reader.

Negligible or no attempt at the task set:

  • Does not demonstrate summary skills
  • Incomprehensible due to serious error
  • Totally irrelevant
  • Insufficient language to assess
  • Totally illegible

 

Teaching Tips

To help students prepare for the comprehension questions and the summary writing task, the following may be useful:

  • Encourage students to read as widely as possible to help extend their range of vocabulary.
  • Provide exercises which will help students to understand textual features such as the use of different words or phrases to refer to the same object or theme.
  • Do exercises which encourage students to recognise ways in which texts are structured and organised at discourse (whole-text) and sentence level, for example reassembling jumbled text or completing gapped texts.
  • Give students practice in describing the meaning of a specific word or phrase in context.
  • There are two steps students need to take when writing the summary:
    • selecting and interpreting specific and key information from the text(s);
    • presenting the relevant, key information in a coherent and concise manner with appropriate use of cohesive devices.
  • Provide frequent practice in selecting specific information from a variety of texts to help students to find relevant information.
  • Provide regular practice in presenting four points of information in about 100 words to develop students’ ability to convey information concisely.
  • Increase students’ awareness of linguistic devices which mark the development of a text by working with linking words and doing exercises where students have to combine sentences.
  • If possible, find texts on similar topics, e.g. from different newspapers or internet articles, and ask students to note down the main points from each and discuss the differences between them.
  • Remind students to use their own words and not to rely on “lifting” words from the text(s). 
  • Encourage students to read through their summary when they have written it, to check for overall coherence and for any irrelevant information. They should also check for spelling and grammatical mistakes.