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Summary and Response Essay
Topic & Purpose of Assignment:
For this assignment, you will be writing a summary and a response to a short reading. There are
various readings to choose from (see list below), and all are located in the back of our textbook,
They Say, I Say.
● Kenneth Goldsmith’s “Go Ahead: Waste Time on the Internet”
You will choose only one of the readings for this assignment, as you will first summarize the
reading that you chose and then respond to that reading. Below, you will find explanations for
both summary and response.
Summary is an invaluable skill in oral or written communication, as it relies heavily on complete
comprehension of a reading (essay, scholarly article, magazine or website or newspaper article,
book, book chapter, and so on). An effective summary will demonstrate a thorough understanding of content (what is in the reading), context (when it was written, by who, and for
whom), and style (how it is written).
For this assignment, you will summarize the central idea, main claims, and relevant supporting
reasoning and/or evidence contained in the reading.
When drafting the summary, consider the following elements:
● Identify the author’s name, title of the work (in quotation marks), date, and publication
information (names of journals/newspapers/ magazines are italicized) in the first couple of
● Identify the author’s thesis (main point) clearly and early in the summary.
● Identify the author’s major supporting points and identify a few carefully chosen details and
● Organize the information in a clear and cohesive way with transitions between ideas.
● Use paraphrases and quotes sparingly and with clear purpose (with proper citation).
● Carefully edit with well-constructed sentences, and effective grammar and punctuation.
Response is basically your reaction to what you read; it too relies on focused, purposeful
construction. This isn’t simply a matter of “liking/not liking” or “agreeing/disagreeing” with
what you read. These responses are required to include more than just your personal
preference. They will also include an assessment of how the reading’s design and strategies
(diction, tone, examples, anecdotes, etc.) influence its overall goals.
Unlike the summary, it is composed of YOUR opinions in relation to the reading being
summarized. It examines ideas that you agree or disagree with and identifies the reading’s
strengths and weaknesses in reasoning and logic, in quality of supporting examples, and in organization and style. A good response is persuasive; therefore, it should provide assertions
(claims), examples, and personal experience that either refute or support the reading you’re
responding to, depending on your stance.
Suggested Organization of Summary and Response Essay
I. Introduction (1 paragraph) – Should contain a hook (attention-grabber), set the context for
the essay, and contain your thesis statement (described below).
a. Thesis statement: What is the author’s thesis (from your chosen essay)? Do you agree
with the author? Why or why not? (your response)
II. Summary: (2-3 paragraphs) Remember you are only summarizing (you may have fewer or
more than these three points). This section should mostly be written in your own words
rather than using quotations from the reading.
a. Main Point 1
b. Main Point 2
c. Main Point 3
III. Response Section (3 – 5 paragraphs)
a. Respond to Main Point 1 by stating whether you agree or disagree and offer explanation
and proof to defend your point of view.
b. Respond to Main Point 2 in same manner (agree/disagree)
c. Respond to Main Point 3 in the same manner (agree/disagree) – – – continue this pattern
for up to five main points.
IV. Conclusion (1 paragraph) – should contain both a recap of your response, as well as a closing
statement regarding your overall response to the chosen reading.
● You are expected to use at least 2 – 4 direct quotes and 2 – 4 paraphrases from your
chosen reading to incorporate into your response (not summary). *Note: no long,
lengthy quotes (block quotes), i.e., quotes longer than two, typed lines.
● Length: 2 – 4 double-spaced pages in APA format, 12-font, Times New Roman, plus a
References page (referencing whichever reading you chose).
● Include a personal, non-generic title (not “Summary Response” or “My Reaction”).
Stuck? Study your last paragraph—the title idea might be there.