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Starting with law
Starting with law

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Reading to reformulate

This type of reading aims to identify the main points of a piece of text to enable you to make your own notes. Being able to do this effectively is very important for all students, but particularly so for law students who have to read a lot of material. In the next activity you will practise reading a text to identify the main points. Again, we recommend that you read the text through quickly, to gain an overall impression of it, then reread it, highlighting the main points. Then write brief notes that you could use again.

Activity 7 Reading and making your own notes

Timing: Allow about 25 minutes

Read Reading 2 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , which is an extract about the impact of prison on the families of prisoners. Highlight the main points and write some brief notes.


You may have chosen different points, but Figures 5 and 6 show the points that we highlighted and the notes that we made.

Described image
Figure 2 The points we highlighted
Described image
Figure 3 Our notes

Learning to make a précis (pronounced pray-see) or to summarise a piece of text is another important skill for law students and follows on from reading to reformulate. A précis is a summary or a concise statement.

Activity 8 Learning to write a précis or summary

Timing: Allow about 25 minutes

Using the notes that you made in the last activity, prepare a précis of the extract in Reading 2. If possible, try to do this in a few sentences and ideally in no more than 50 words.


There is no one correct answer to this. Our précis would be:

The families of prisoners, and in particular children, experience long-term disadvantage. There is only limited expertise in dealing with the problems of prisoners’ families. The social impact of imprisonment adds substantially to the cost of imprisonment. (37 words)