Essay Writing

Summarising vs Analysing

How can our teens avoid summarising, or that dreaded comment, ‘storytelling!’, in their essays?

What’s the difference between summarising and analysing?

Summarising is a retelling of what happens in a text, while analysing is interpreting what happens in a text!

Put simply, summarising is

  • stating what someone has done,
  • what an author has written,
  • or retelling an event without any additional interpretation from the essay writer

Take this sentence:

‘Character becomes angry because best friend has betrayed him.’

There’s nothing new from the student that is inserted here. All that is provided is the fact that the character was betrayed by the best friend, and their reaction is anger.

Now consider this sentence:

Character’s anger at the best friend’s betrayal is a result of the damage inflicted upon their relationship.

In this sentence, the student has added in their understanding that the betrayal inflicted damage on their relationship. This was not part of the event in the text – that phrase about the damaged relationship is what the student understands has happened as a result of the event.

This is why high school English teachers are always emphasising the need for analysis – it’s a demonstration of the student’s depth of understanding!

As our teens progress from Year 7 to Year 12, they are expected to write more and more analysis in their essays. So it is super important that when we talk to our teens about their texts, we support our teen’s interpretations and discuss them constructively, so that they are familiar with this kind of textual interrogation!

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