How to Write a Summary and Response Essay - Essay Example | Happyessays (2023)


Very often students are required to perform different academic assignments during their educational process, such as writing an analysis, thesis, research papers, various articles, and essays, etc. For many students writing an essay is a chance to demonstrate their abilities as the author, authenticity, and freshness of their thinking.

If we are talking about the skills to summarize, generalize the main ideas, make some conclusions and transfer it into the essay in your own words, summary and response kinds of essay take the significant place here. So let’s take a look at these types of the essay in more details.

The summary is a shortened version of text presentation. The key function of the summary is to convey the subject and the main ideas of the author of the article, scientific or literature work, its most important theses and differences from other articles of the same subject. In other words, it is a combination of short content and objective characterization of the text.

Its purpose is to attract the attention of the reader, to awaken the reader’s interest by combining the essence of the work with the minimum amount of language tools. Thanks to the summary the reader gets an opportunity to make a tentative presentation about the unfamiliar to him work or article and find the necessary information in it. A good summary should demonstrate the features of the article in terms of its purpose and content, novelty, relevance, and uniqueness to the audience, without quoting and retelling the text of the author.

(Video) Analyzing the Example Summary Response essay

A Response is a brief form of written evaluation or critique of the work that contains conclusions and comments of the person from the audience. The core function of the response is to attract the attention of the audience to the principal points and questions of certain work, give an objective assessment of the author and leave the own impression. A strong response analyzes the ideas you agree or disagree with, and determines the strong and weak sites of the essay in accordance with logic, style, text organization and quality of a thesis statement and supporting examples.

In contrast to review, the response provides a general description of the work without a detailed analysis, but it includes practical tips. Also, it should be written in a first person, with using such expressions, as “I think,” “I believe,” “As for me,” etc.

Steps in Writing

In order to write an effective summary or response essay, it is important that students have a good understanding of the material they are working on, so it is worth considering the stages of working on the text. There are the following steps:

(Video) ProfBTV: The Summary/Response Essay

  • Look through the article, including the title, subtitles, the first paragraph, the first sentence of each paragraph and the last paragraph. Try to understand what is said in the text and determine the type of this text;
  • Read the article, underline the main idea sentence in every paragraph;
  • Write down the key facts and thoughts in your own words. Find the information that confirms these key facts, but do not go into details;
  • Briefly summarize the conclusions made by the author in one sentence;
  • Start writing your essay using your own notes without looking into the original;
  • Re-read the essay you have written, make sure it does not repeat the author and check for errors.

Here are some tips to make your writing more effective and more interesting to the audience:

  • Your summary should be about one-third of the length of the original article.
  • Summarize the material briefly and do not use complex terminology so that the audience can easily perceive it. Your goal is to interest the reader and the audience so the language should be diverse, lively and clear.
  • Give clear supporting arguments while writing the essay when expressing your or someone else’s point of view on the topic.
  • In order to present material in a consistent and logical form, it is better to use simple sentences, introductory phrases and linking words in the essay, like by the way, in addition, it becomes obvious that…, etc.

Two Typical Formats for Summary/Response Essays

There are the following requirements for the structure and content of summary and response essays:

Summary essay template

(Video) How to Write a Summary Response Essay: American English Academic Writing - Speaking with Steph

  1. Introduction
  • Title of the article and the name of the author (using APA format and MLA format).
  • Summary of the main point of the author.
  1. Main Body
  • Points you agree with the author.
  • Points you disagree with the author.
  • Supporting details. Examples.
  • Conclusion
  • Response essay template
  1. Introduction
  • Title of the article and name of the author (using APA format and MLA format).
  • A brief summary of the main ideas of the author.
  • Thesis statement: youagree or disagree.
  1. Main Body
  • Supporting paragraph 1. Example.
  • Supporting paragraph 2. Example.
  • Supporting paragraph 3. Example.
  • Conclusion

Example of a summary and response essay

Here are some examples of how to write summary and response essay to the article:

«What Running Can’t Do for You» by James F. Fixx

Summary: In his article entitled «What Running Can’t Do for You» James F. Fixx criticizes those who talk about running as if it were a religion. The author maintains that there is an obvious and significant difference between these two pursuits. The runner, he observes, is interested in himself and is running for his own improvement and satisfaction, while traditional religion has to do with «caring about other people, or with compassion or with self-sacrifice» While Fixx agrees that running is a worthwhile hobby, he nevertheless concludes his article with a plea to the reader to accept running for what it can do, but not to confuse this sport with more spiritual and ethical activities.

(Video) The Summary Response Essay

Response: In this article, «What Running Can’t Do for You» James F. Fixx attempts to persuade the reader not to exaggerate the benefits of running. Because the author was an avid jogger who had written books and articles publicizing the value of jogging, a reader may very likely anticipate that this article, too, was written to encourage the reader may very likely anticipate that this article, too, was written to encourage the reader to take up Fixx’s favorite sport. Consequently, in his title, the author already alerts the reader to expect something different. The title, «What Running Can’t Do for You» indicates that, in this article, the author is going to suggest some limitations to running which he would like the reader to consider.

Why does Fixx say that treating running as a religion is «silly» and perhaps even «slightly dangerous»? We can see the answer to this question when we consider his comparison of religion and running and when we note his assumptions about religion.

Analyzing the reasons why some people have confused running with religion, the author draws on his own personal experience, pointing out that running does make the individual «feel better, look better, have more energy, and think more clearly.»

(Video) ENC 1101 Summary/Response Essay

Clearly, Fixx admits that the benefits from running are considerable. However, he is concerned that when we go so far as to equate running with religion, we «deflect our attention from concerns that are far more important than getting into a pair of Adidases and breathing hard before breakfast.» Thus, the author concludes his essay with a plea to the reader to accept running for what it can do and not elevate it to a religious activity.


So, the summary is a brief, concise presentation of the material or a synthesis of the main ideas of the author presented in any source of information. Response unlike the summary gives the objective evaluation of a certain article. The ability to write a good, competent summary shows that a person has achieved a maximum understanding of the meaning of the article, that he is able to single out the main ideas of the author and is able to convey his understanding of what he has read.

Besides, a properly compiled summary or response essay to the article is a guarantee that the reader will definitely want to get acquainted.

(Video) ENG 101 Summary Response Paper


How do you write a summary and response essay? ›

Write an informative summary of the material. Condense the content of the work by highlighting its main points and key supporting points. Use direct quotations from the work to illustrate important ideas. Summarize the material so that the reader gets a general sense of all key aspects of the original work.

How do you write a summary for an essay example? ›

A summary begins with an introductory sentence that states the text's title, author and main point of the text as you see it. A summary is written in your own words. A summary contains only the ideas of the original text. Do not insert any of your own opinions, interpretations, deductions or comments into a summary.

How do you start a good response essay? ›

Write the introduction

Introduce the name and author of the work. Include a very brief summary in concise terms, establishing just enough for a reader who is otherwise unfamiliar with the material to be able to follow your analysis. Highlight the main points and areas you'll cover in the body of your paper.

How do you start a response essay example? ›

The First Paragraph

In the case of a reaction essay, the first sentence should contain both the title of the work to which you are responding and the name of the author. The last sentence of your introductory paragraph should contain a thesis statement. That statement will make your overall opinion very clear.

How many paragraphs should be in a summary? ›

Limit your summary to one paragraph. (As a general rule, a summary should not be longer than ¼ the length of the essay.)

How many paragraphs are in a response paper? ›

Typically, a reaction paper is a five-paragraph structure that includes the introduction, body, and conclusion.

How do you write a summary answer? ›

Pick from the passage only the information demanded by the question. Keep strictly to the contents of the passage and be as brief as possible. Use your own words in presenting your answers; do not copy out whole sentences from the passage in answer to summary questions.

How do you start a summary and response paper? ›

  1. Step 1: Identify the main idea of the reading. Create a topic sentence that identifies the main idea of the reading. ...
  2. Step 2: Identify the supporting details of the reading and for the response. ...
  3. Step 3: Identify the author's purpose for writing. ...
  4. Step 4: Write a summary-response of the reading.

What is summary and response paragraph? ›

The summary should take up no more than one-third the length of the work being summarized. The Response: A response is a critique or evaluation of the author's essay. Unlike the summary, it is composed of YOUR opinions in relation to the article being summarized.

How to write a thesis statement for a summary and response essay? ›

A good thesis statement needs to do the following:
  1. Focus the main idea of your thesis into one or two sentences.
  2. Write the answer to the main question of your topic.
  3. Clearly state your position in relation to the topic.
  4. Do not state the obvious. Give a disputable stance that requires support or evidence.


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