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An exam question a week - IGCSE Extended Reading - Question 3

Question 3 has two parts two it and it requires you to have the ability to summarise. You will be given a specific area to focus on and must write in full sentences and in your own words and capture the 'essence' of the topic. This means your answer will not include all the article just the main points. You will have to look at two articles for this question and summarise them both.

You should already be familiar with Passage A as you've answered two questions on it.

Identify the trigger word that you have to focus on then:

Quickly bullet point the areas you can remember from the text and scan the topic sentences (the sentence in each paragraph that tells you the main topic - usually the first sentence of a paragraph though not always: be careful of this) to double check you have got everything. You could write down what each paragraph is about along side it and cross out paragraphs that are not relevant.

Then turn your attention to Passage B. Skim read this article quickly and jot down the main points related to the question. Then go back again and scan each topic sentence writing down what each paragraph covers beside it. Make sure you have got only the main points related to the question - nothing more.

You get 15 marks for the content of your writing and 5 marks for your writing and are assessed on:

The reading objectives of:

  • Understand and collate explicit meanings (Understand the literal ideas of the text)
  • Understand, explain and collate implicit meanings and attitudes (Make inferences)
  • Select, analyse and evaluate what is relevant to specific purposes (Find the best information to meet the question requirements)

The writing objectives of:

Articulate what is thought, felt and imagined.
Order and present facts, ideas and opinions.
Understand and use a range of appropriate vocabulary
Use language and register appropriate to audience and context.
Make accurate and effective use of paragraphs, grammatical structures, sentences, punctuation and spelling.

So here is your question:


a) The first experiences at base camp on Aconcagua as described in Passage B

b) The environment  as described in Passage A

Your summary must be in continuous writing (full sentences; not note form). Use your own 
words as far as possible.

Aim to write no more than one page of A4.

Passage B

Graham explained that Aconcagua is the highest walk in the world, with no head for heights needed – just an aptitude for altitude. Unaccountably, he failed to mention that the exercise would involve living in a tent for three weeks on a series of desolate plateaux and a diet of reconstituted cardboard. I secretly relished the prospect of walking to the sort of heights where planes normally cruise. And thus I found myself plunged into the utterly alien world of high-altitude antics.
If yachting equates to standing under a shower tearing up £10 notes, then serious mountaineering resembles walking upstairs 1,000 times while ripping up £20 notes. To reduce the risk of frostbite nibbling your toes, you need double-plastic boots – just as uncomfortable, and twice as expensive, as you might imagine. I rented them. For £100. Each. Still, as I stepped from the plane into a sunny afternoon in the pretty Argentinian city of Mendoza, it was difficult even for me not to feel excited and optimistic. I would have had a spring in my step were it not for the fact that I had been wearing double-plastic boots all the way from London in order to save on baggage charges. Yet the maddening footwear seemed to have bought – or at least rented – some credibility. At the transit lounge at Buenos Aires, a fellow passenger had hailed me with a single word: “Aconcagua!” He was Brazilian and was flying to the Andes to tick the mountain off his list of the Seven Summits.

My First Hours on Aconcagua comprised a learning experience akin to the team-building ­exercises on which some companies spend a fortune. Gina, Graham and I posed for a picture at the trailhead on the Saturday after Christmas. While the sign didn’t quite invite those who passed the threshold to “abandon hope”, it could well have said “abandon all norms of daily life”.

After that single step, the subsequent 10,000 paces that afternoon took us past a lovely lake edged with flowers and patrolled by chirruping songbirds 10 sizes down from the mighty condor. Rapidly, though, life was squeezed out of the landscape. The climax of the Andes resembles the outcome of a battle of the gods, with the Earth’s crust crushed, up-ended and casually stacked at odd angles. We strode through a desolate canyon towards a wall of ice and snow, and into a new way of living. Water does not emerge on demand from a tap; you painstakingly harvest snow to melt. Human waste has to be collected and saved throughout the climb, to be presented for inspection by the lucky park rangers at the end. And while a train of mules shuttles wearily between the park entrance and Base Camp, bearing ­everything from four-season sleeping bags to 2012 Malbec, for the main climb you are on your own.

“Welcome to my world,” Graham said. “You feel rubbish. It’s cold, it’s windy. I can’t imagine getting to the summit.”

His pessimism was warranted, judging by the estimates of how many attempts fail. For most climbers, Aconcagua turns out to be Mount Disappointment. Of the 1,400 people who tackle the peak during the brief summer window between December and March, between two-thirds and three-quarters fail. And an average of nine of them die. Those, at least, are the figures discussed at Base Camp – the  platform at 11,500ft that looks, from a distance, like a badly sprung mattress due to the muddle of tents and latrines poking from it.

We spent five long days at Base Camp, acclimatising while swapping yarns with other climbers (though with only an ascent last summer of 735ft Box Hill in Surrey under my belt, I just listened).

Edited from Simon Calder's article in the Independent available here

Passage A
My winter on a husky farm in the Arctic Circle
Just over a year ago, I left my job at a national newspaper to work on a husky farm, 130 miles within the Arctic Circle in the far north of Finland. I handed in my security pass, packed away my notepads and prepared for a winter in darkness and under snow. My reasons for leaving, I realised, as I tried to explain my decision to friends and colleagues, were unclear. But, at 26, I was restless. I was dreaming of Arctic landscapes, cold and bleak expanses, perhaps in reaction to the noise and intrusion of London. Crowded living, urban alienation; they make films about that, don’t they? So I found a farm near the village of Hetta, deep in Finnish Lapland, that agreed to take me on as a dog handler for a busy winter season.

November 6, London
In my suitcase: one down-filled jacket, one PrimaLoft insulating jacket, four fleeces (varying heaviness), three pairs waterproof salopettes, two pairs fleece trousers, numerous base layer tops and long johns, many pairs thick socks (£21 a pop), head lamp, liner gloves, over-mitts, under-helmet balaclava, two polar Buffs, climbing knife, three Christmas puddings, one bottle Russian vodka. In summary, I’ve spent most of the money I’ve saved, and I haven’t left London yet.
On my flight from Heathrow I find myself staring blankly at a page of more than 100 husky mug shots I printed out before I left; I am meant to have memorised their names by the time I get there, but I am distracted and panicky. I put the page down and look out of the window instead.

December 17, Hetta
We are in the midst of a super-cold snap, with temperatures falling below -30C. I can’t go outside for more than a few moments without fully suiting up in cold-weather gear. The insides of my nostrils crackle with frost; any hair left uncovered picks up a grey sheen, as though I’ve aged 50 years in minutes. Occasionally my eyelashes freeze together. I learn that if any part of my body sticks to metal, I mustn’t panic and wrench away, or I risk ripping the skin clean off. One of the dogs, Monty, lost half of his tongue this way as a pup when he licked a metal post. It nearly killed him, and it took months of careful nursing and hand feeding in the house before he returned to work.
But while the temperatures drop, the tourist season is hotting up. Lapland’s economy depends almost entirely on a few short weeks before Christmas when visitors flood in from overseas. Suddenly it’s all go as we try to run as many safaris as possible, often working from 7am till past midnight.
In a rush this morning, I sped with my team out of the gates and took the first corner far too quickly. The sled flipped, dragging me through the snow on my stomach until the bar slipped out of my grip. By the time I’d jumped to my feet my dogs had overtaken the team in front and started a fight; I had had to throw myself between the two teams and wrestle them apart, growling and yelling. No harm done, but my nerves are jangling and my confidence has taken a knock.

December 21, Hetta
While freeing two dogs that have become tangled in the lines, I stupidly remove my gloves in -38C, and later find the colour has drained away from the tips of my fingers. They also have an unpleasant needling sensation. 'Congratulations,’ Pasi says. 'Your first frostbite.’ I’m thrilled and show them off to everyone.

December 25, Hetta and Valimaa
This week has been hard. We seem to be working non-stop and I haven’t seen daylight in three weeks. This is the polar night. The sun will not rise above the horizon for a further 10 days. It is dark enough to use head torches for most of the day, but at noon the skies are incredible, streaked with magenta and crimson and orange.
To tell the truth, I’m running on empty. Every waking moment for weeks has been spent feeding or harnessing or sledding or shovelling snow or shovelling shit. When, on Christmas Eve, I’m sternly told off for not cleaning kennels properly, I’m so tired and it’s so unfair that I find myself in tears, sobbing into a bucket of frozen meat as I chop it into pieces.
'Oh dear,’ Dot, another of the guides, says when she finds me. 'Feeling fragile?’ I laugh. It is a bit ridiculous.
Christmas Day itself is just as dark and cold as all the other days but it feels like we’ve turned a corner: the hardest part is over. The tourists will soon return to wherever they came from, the daylight will return from wherever it went. After a Christmas feast, five of us return to the wilderness farm. I drive; others grab some sleep while they can. When we arrive, past midnight, it strikes me how lucky we are. The air is so still and the sky is so clear, the stars so incredibly bright. 

Edited from an article by Cal Flyn in The Telegraph - Full article available here

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