Summary writing as a topic asks of you one very simple question: what is the appropriate summary of the text provided. Basically, whatever the text provided, you are supposed to encapsulate in a clear and succinct manner. Generally the stimulus of the question consists of one paragraph and the answer options are one-line statements, referring to the paragraph.
Keep in mind that you are not supposed to write the summary actually but identify one actually from the given options. Yet, in fact, one of the most useful methods to solve this question could be writing a summary for the stimulus provided in your own words and then co-relating it with the options.
The answer you select must follow from the information in the stimulus. But be careful: even if an answer choice must be true according to the stimulus, if it fails to capture the main point it cannot be correct. This is the central truth of Summary Writing questions: The correct answer must pass the Fact Test (that is it consist of facts mentioned in the paragraph), but with the additional criterion that the correct answer choice must capture the author’s point.
Red Herrings for summary writing
Many Summary Writing problems feature a structure that places the conclusion either at the beginning or in the middle of the stimulus. Most students have an unstated expectation that the conclusion will appear in the last sentence, and the test makers are able to prey upon this expectation by creating wrong answers that paraphrase the last sentence of the stimulus. To avoid this trap, simply avoid assuming that the last sentence is the conclusion.
Two types of answers typically appear in Summary Writing questions. Both are incorrect:
1. Answers that are true but do not encapsulate the author’s point.
2. Answers that repeat premises of the argument.
Each answer type is attractive because they are true based on what you have read. However, neither summarizes the author’s main point and therefore both are incorrect.
CAT Questions Analyzed
- The human race is spread all over the world, from the polar regions to the tropics. The people of whom it is made up eat different kinds of food, partly according to the climate in which they live, and partly according to the kind of food which their country produces. In hot climates, meat and fat are not much needed; but in the Arctic regions they seem to be very necessary for keeping up the heat of the body. Thus, in India, people live chiefly on different kinds of grains, eggs, milk, or sometimes fish and meat. In Europe, people eat more meat and less grain. In the Arctic regions, where no grains and fruits are produced, the Eskimo and other races live almost entirely on meat and fish.
- Food eaten by people in different regions of the world depends on the climate and produce of the region, and varies from meat and fish in the Arctic to predominantly grains in the tropics.
2. Hot climates require people to eat grains while cold regions require people to eat meat and fish.
3. In hot countries people eat mainly grains while in the Arctic, they eat meat and fish because they cannot grow grains.
4. While people in Arctic regions like meat and fish and those in hot regions like India prefer mainly grains, they have to change what they eat depending on the local climate and the local produce.
The first thing we need to do is to identify the subject of the paragraph. That is clearly how the eating habits of people change according to produce and climate. The line which helps us identify this is: ‘The people of whom it is made up eat different kinds of food, partly according to the climate in which they live, and partly according to the kind of food which their country produces.” The balance of the paragraph is the continuation of the same by virtue of examples. It is now child’s play to identify Option 1 as the answer. Option 2 is only partially true. It only talks of requirements and not of what grows in those regions. Option 3 talks only of produce and not requirement. The passage is not concerned with what people like or prefer but with what is locally available or required. Option 4 talks of preference, something which is again absent in the paragraph.
- You seemed at first to take no notice of your school-fellows, or rather to set yourself against them because they were strangers to you. They knew as little of you as you did of them; this would have been the reason for their keeping aloof from you as well, which you would have felt as a hardship. Learn never to conceive a prejudice against others because you know nothing of them. It is bad reasoning, and makes enemies of half the world. Do not think ill of them till they behave ill to you; and then strive to avoid the faults which you see in them. This will disarm their hostility sooner than pique or resentment or complaint.
- The discomfort you felt with your school fellows was because both sides knew little of each other. You should not complain unless you find others prejudiced against you and have attempted to carefully analyze the faults you have observed in them.
2. The discomfort you felt with your school fellows was because both sides knew little of each other. Avoid prejudice and negative thoughts till you encounter bad behaviour from others, and then win them over by shunning the faults you have observed.
3. You encountered hardship amongst your school fellows because you did not know them well. You should learn to not make enemies because of your prejudices irrespective of their behavior towards you.
4. You encountered hardship amongst your school fellows because you did not know them well. You should learn to not make enemies because of your prejudices unless they behave badly with you.
The author says a few very simple things: do not carry resentment for someone simply because you do not know them, secondly do not consider bad of another unless he behaves in a bad manner with you, and lastly, even if he does, overcome it with avoiding the faults you observe in them. This is the flow of thought that the author follows in the paragraph. All you need to do is to establish the same thought process in a particular option. In our case, it is clearly option 2. Always remember: t helps to trace the stimulus in your words, and then trace it with the answer options, the closest fit will be the correct answer.
3. Modem bourgeois society, said Nietzsche, was decadent and enfeebled — a victim of the excessive development of the rational faculties at the expense of will and instinct. Against the liberal-rationalist stress on the intellect, Nietzsche urged recognition of the dark mysterious world of instinctual desires — the true forces of life. Smother the will with excessive intellectualizing and you destroy the spontaneity that sparks cultural creativity and ignites a zest for living. The critical and theoretical outlook destroyed the creative instincts. For man’s manifold potential to be realized, he must forego relying on the intellect and nurture again the instinctual roots of human existence.
1. Nietzsche urges the decadent and enfeebled modem society to forego intellect and give importance to creative instincts.
2. Nietzsche urges the decadent and enfeebled modem society to smother the will with excessive intellectualizing and ignite a zest for living.
3. Nietzsche criticizes the-intellectuals for enfeebling the modem bourgeois society by not nurturing man’s creative instincts.
4. Nietzsche blames excessive intellectualization for the decline of modern society and suggests nurturing creative instincts instead.
In this question, you need to do two things: first identify what the stimulus says, then you need to spot the difference between answer options. The stimulus talks of how the modem bourgeois society has become enfeebled and decadent, the reason given by the Nietzsche is the intellectualization of society, which has led to a smothering of creativity. Nietzsche talks of a revival of these instincts at the cost of intellectualization. Now let’s have a look at the options:
Option 1: Nietzsche does not urge the decadent and enfeebled modem society to forego intellect but he urges the individual to do so.
Option 2: Nietzsche does not urge the decadent and enfeebled modem society to smother the will with excessive intellectualizing, that is something he wishes the society to give up.
Option 3: Nietzsche never blames the intellectuals for the state of affairs and hence this option is rejected too.
Option 4: As by our analysis of the stimulus, this is precisely what Nietzsche says, and hence this is the correct answer.
Once again, the important points that you need to keep in your mind while solving these questions are:
- Identify the subject of the paragraph provided.
- Identify what the author says with respect to the subject.
- Do the above two in your words
- Co-relate with answer options.