How to Write a Good Critical Precis: Step-by-Step Guide
If you are wondering how to write an excellent critical précis, don't skip this article. As you know, precis writing requires close attention to details and a special ability to explain ideas briefly and concisely. This type of paper should also prove that a student understands the article's central argument that needs to be explored.
Consider the writing tips collected by academic professionals in this guide to compose a meaningful precis with a well-organized structure. On top of that, you will find a precis sample to get inspired.
What is a Précis?
Before we get to the tips on the writing process, let's learn what is a precis. Having a french origin, a précis means a summary of a text which maintains the proportions, tone, and meaning of the original work. It shouldn't contain the author's opinion about the work - the summary must be objective and unbiased.
A good precis should stick to the following objectives:
- sum up of an author's abstract
- offer in-depth analysis
- explain the significance of the original article
- go beyond the interpretation of the original text
Precis should be written in your own words. A student should avoid copying original phrases and sentences unless this is the best way to describe a particular concept or idea.
There is no strict word count requirement for precis. Its length may vary depending on the school assignment, be it argumentative writing, etc. As a rule, a typical critical precis for college is 500-1500 words long. The paragraphs should be the maximum short and precise. In case you don't have the exact requirements, there is one tried and tested formula to calculate the best optimal length for a precis: it should be 1/4 of the original piece you are summarizing.
Features of a Good Precis
Although a 5 paragraph essay format and a precis have a similar style, they serve different purposes, and both require a unique approach. Let's find out what are some of the common characteristics of a critical precis.
A typical precis should be:
- Objective: Avoids personal ideas and opinions on the issue. Instead, it should have an objective summary of your work.
- Coherent: Provides a logical interconnection between the original text's ideas and keeps your target audience's interest throughout the entire precis.
- Concise: Focuses on points that really matter. It is advised to skip unnecessary details, which can lead to wordiness and repetitions.
Make sure that your precis has all the features mentioned above.
Summary vs. Precis
Precis differs from a summary in terms of structure and language use. While a summary briefly lists the text's significant ideas, a precis is written to analyze the work thoroughly. Unlike a small overview, a precis highlights every important detail necessary for analysis. As for the structure, the latter is more expanded and comprehensive.
5 Prewriting Steps to Take
If you have never written a précis before, you can find this task quite challenging. To make the whole process more straightforward, we will break down this assignment into simple steps. In general, writing a précis should start with careful preparation. Good research and proper analysis will allow you to nail your piece.
Here are several steps you should consider to be ready for writing a précis.
- Choose a relevant source. Try to pick the material which you can both summarize and analyze effectively. The best sources to consider are journal articles, books, and newspaper articles. Whatever you decide to select, it must be related to the subject or the specific research problem you need to study.
- Grasp the central idea. Reading the original text attentively helps to determine all unclear points. Use online sources or dictionaries, if necessary. It would be best to read the original text as many times as needed to comprehend it fully.
- Pay attention to details. Write down key phrases and sentences that you think are especially important. All specific information that you find in the chosen material will serve as a basis for future analysis. Remember, your task also involves a close investigation of the article.
- Make thorough analysis. Given the purpose of précis writing, you need to show your critical skills in the piece of writing. Explore all essential elements of the text to make your précis stand out.
- Prepare a plan. Take notes and highlight the critical details of the original text to create a précis outline. This step allows building the structure of an essay in a clear and organized manner.
Critical Precis StructureNow that you are done with the prewriting process let's discuss what important components your precis should contain. The typical structure includes an introductory sentence, a body paragraph, and a conclusion. Below, we will shed more light on each of these crucial elements.
Typically, an introduction should be only 1 sentence long. Its primary goal is to introduce the chosen article to your target audience. Make sure to include the following information in the introductory sentence:
- Author's full name
- Article' genre
- Title of publication
- Year of publication
- Rhetorically powerful verb ("assert," "argue," "prove," "disprove," and "explain)
- Thesis statement
Sometimes the students create a hook sentence in the introductory part; however, it's not necessary.
Your next step in writing a precis requires explaining how the author supports the thesis statement. To do this, you must clearly define the purpose of the work. For this reason, it's essential to choose a text that aims to teach the reader instead of simply providing some information. As you explain the purpose, remember to build your sentence with the "in order to" phrase.
The last thing a writer should include in the critical precis is the target audience's description. The intended reader determines multiple critical factors: the language use (formal or informal), purpose, and examples. Sometimes you may also explain how the author interacts with his readers by examining evidence.
The effective conclusion has two purposes: to summarize the reading and explain the importance of the original text. In other words, you should encourage people to continue research on the given problem. Ensure you don't express a subjective point of view in the concluding part of your critical precis.
Tips on Creating a Critical Precis
If you were assigned to compose a precis, the best way to prepare a compelling precis quickly and without effort is to follow these helpful tips from a pro. To write a precis with ease, keep these simple steps in mind.
- Show in-depth analysis of evidence. You should identify the main claim and all supporting examples used by the author and focus on your findings throughout your writing. Demonstrate the results of your study in a precis.
- Keep the main idea of each paragraph. The precis should be concise. With this in mind, you should stick to the central idea of writing. Thus, swaying between irrelevant points would be a bad idea.
- Stick to the precis structure. Organize your thoughts with the help of a well-crafted outline. Make sure to follow the structure and cover all crucial information in three paragraphs. Include thesis, methods, results (findings), and conclusion.
- Keep your writing brief and clear. There is no need to go around things that don't add up to the text comprehension. Be specific and try to avoid wordy sentences. This way, you will be able to communicate your thoughts clearly.
- Use transitional phrases and sentences. Bind the parts of the paper in an easy-to-follow way. Don't forget to add transition words and phrases ("moreover," "at the same time," "on the other hand," etc.)
- Avoid copying the original text. Feel free to use your creativity and try to sum up the article in your own words. You may quote only in rare cases and where applicable to do so.
- Double-check it for mistakes. Once the précis is written, make sure you proofread and edit it. All connections should be logical. In addition, the original tone and meaning must be appropriately reflected in your writing.
Critical Precis ExampleSometimes, it's easier to have a look at some examples to understand what exactly is expected from you to write. We offer you to hover over the sample attached below to get a general idea.
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