The first step in writing a summary and response essay is to thoroughly and critically read the article you will be addressing.
When you read an article critically, you are not just seeking to understand what the author is saying, but questioning the author’s points and analyzing why and how the ideas were presented. It is also important to consider how effectively the author presents the arguments.
Annotating the article will help you with this process. Annotating is basically a notetaking system directly on the article. Read through the article once, then get a highlighter and pencil and follow the steps as you re-read the article:
1. Read the article’s title and first paragraph. Make a note in the margin about what expectations you might have for the article based on the introductory information. What is the author’s
topic? What is the tone? What might be the author’s main point?
2. Locate and highlight the thesis of the article. If there is no one sentence that contains the thesis statement (an implied thesis), mark the sections where the author’s main point is most evident. In the margin, write a “T” or an asterisk so you can quickly come back to the thesis.
3. Highlight any words that you don’t know, or sections that you don’t understand. Write a “?” in the margin so you can look up definitions later.
4. Highlight the main points in the article. These are often topic sentences. Write “MP” in the margin.
5. Make notes in the margin of any questions you might have. Why did the author use a certain example? What has the author left out?
6. Note any sections where the author has made an effective or ineffective point.