Summary & Response Essays

In order to write well, you need to practice good reading skills. You can’t expect to understand something just by glancing over it once. You need to read it once to get the general sense of the article, and then read it again more carefully, looking for the main point and the key supporting points. By reading it a third or even a fourth time you should be able to develop a very good sense of the author’s intention and method of supporting his or her main ideas to effectively get the message across.

A thorough and complete reading will enable you to do several things with the article: you’ll be able to summarize the article, you’ll be aware of the author’s intended audience and purpose, you’ll make your own personal connections to the article, you’ll be able to organize it yourself and consider the strength or value or even the weaknesses of the article. You’ll also be able to consider using the author’s work to support your own ideas.

Your entire class may be assigned to read the same article. We’ll use a sample article for this exercise so you can get the hang of the SAR. Read the article with the intention of actually understanding it and connecting to it. For example, all of us tend to do more than one thing at a time. It’s called multi-tasking, and depending on what combination of tasks you’re doing, it may be effective or it may not. Alina Tugend discusses the dangers of multi-tasking in an article she wrote for the New York Times. You can practice summarizing and responding and analyzing Tugend’s article in this section. Then, when you do your own research for a project for class, you’ll know how to go about the same process. Tugend’s article is found here: