What is a Good Critical Precis?

What is a Good Critical Precis?

Imagine you got an assignment to write an 800-word precis of Shakespeare in the Bush by Laura Bohannan. It is a wonderful essay about teaching a true meaning of Hamlet to one of the West African tribes.

What is a precis? Our article will give the answer to this question. Readers may have a look at the example of precis to get the main idea of this assignment.

What Is a Precis

A precis is a text summary which has to reflect the key points of the original text, its tone, and mood. Of course, when your task is to write a precis of such an interesting article, you want to add many details. A good precis cannot be long and complicated. It must have a clear, precise structure.

Remember: don't give personal opinions on the analyzed work because you are not writing a critical book review. The goal of precis is to guide people through unfamiliar reading. It means that the voice and opinions must be understandable for those who have not read the original text.

Keep in mind that a precis is not a:

  • Plan/outline of the original passage
  • Simple abstract of the text
  • Selection of the most prominent phrases and sentences
  • Chain of facts and sentences that are not connected

A good precis has the following features:

  1. Precis is written in a writer's own words. A writer shouldn't simply copy original sentences - he or she needs to compress and paraphrase them.
  2. It is logically ordered, with all parts of it being connected to each other.
  3. Precis is written in reported A writer can't use the first person pronouns (I, we) as precis is always written in the third person.
  4. Precis never contains any additional information not mentioned in the original text.

How to Write a Precis

There is a structure your precis should follow. Also, there are several short rules a writer must obey while working on his precis. The most distinguished essay authors obeyed these rules.

  • Understand the size of your precis. A precis constitutes ¼ of the original source in length. Thus, choose the major points and restate the entire text to make it shorter.
  • Even though it is not a summary, a student still should include a summary of the original text. It is critical to avoid details. A summary/abstract should occupy no more than one paragraph.
  • When working on your arguments, remember about the clarity. Make it obvious what you try to convey using simple language and essay structure.
  • The correctness of precis is another critical factor. Its meaning is associated with correct English grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The authenticity of facts and figures matters too.
  • Objectivity determines the candid construal of your text. Use credible evidence instead of your personal ideas/opinions.
  • The coherence of information gives the logical interconnection. While reading, your target audience wants to see links - build them using different transition words.
  • Conciseness is the last critical factor. It is a sign that your information does not include unnecessary details. Prevent your precis from wordiness and repetitiveness. Choose words/phrases wisely by enriching your vocabulary.

You must understand why teachers may assign tasks like precis writing to do it with passion. In order to write a good precis, keep in mind that it reflects your ability to express thoughts. Precis writing develops critical thinking and ability to summarize. Work on precis makes writer capable of highlighting the basic points of the original article.

Tips for Writing a Precis

How to write a precis essay? There is no particular template for precis writing. There are things you can do to make your writing process easier.

  • Divide your precis into several parts. Authors themselves help by adding subheadings, so pay attention to these dividers. They mean new ideas will be discussed in a new paragraph.
  • Take notes. Whether you are reading the text for the first time or re-reading it, write the key ideas down to analyze and reorganize them later.
  • Think about the main idea in each precis section. Write each new idea down in a single, well-structured sentence.
  • Create a thesis statement on the basis of your prepared material. It should be an overarching statement which expresses the main theme of the entire text.

There are more tips to be explored.

How to Write a Good Critical Precis?

Step-by-Step Precis Writing

It is time to write the draft of precis. The main tips include finding an excellent article to analyze and prepare an outline. Precis outline will help not to get lost. Many online articles explain how to prepare a good outline.

We'll discuss how to write a precis step-by-step.

  1. Choose the article or story to analyze and conduct in-depth research. Pick sources available online for free. Select texts which are FULLY accessible online. If you can't view the full original text, choose another one. The best choice ever is a critical article written by a famous
  2. Explain why you chose the particular work. Your topic should be somehow relevant to your class. Always consider teacher's instructions.
  3. Once you decide on the topic, begin composing an outline. Precis outline involves a detailed structure. Refer to it each time you start working on a new section.
  4. List all arguments on a separate paper.
  5. Begin your opening paragraph by introducing the author's work. Explain what his main purpose is. No need to involve a hook sentence in this type of academic writing.
  6. The introduction is the most critical part of precis. Once you introduced the author's name and analyzed work, mind two other critical elements. Explain the main points; provide evidence used to support them. Second, explain/describe the target audience. It will give an overall picture of the purpose. End up your first paragraph with a thesis
  7. The next paragraph may include the summary of your work. Make it short by throwing out the details. Your readers are interested in the core arguments.
  8. The final precis paragraph is your conclusion. It has to be short, with a restated thesis. Don't forget to stress the importance of original text. Name all purposes and highlighted points again.

Now we can move to the part with precis example. If you want a complete precis essay example, you can find some here.

Precis Structure and Introduction Examples

Obviously, the longer the article/essay is, the longer your precis can be. It is worth mentioning that a critical precis essay has a specific structure:

  • Introduction. Here you can give information about the analyzed work and its author.
  • Text body. This part contains the main ideas and concepts.
  • Conclusion. Explains why the original article is important.

A good example of the opening paragraph/summary of the precis might be:

In the critical article titled "Who Cares If Johnny Can't Read," Larissa MacFarquhar claims that the US citizens are reading more than they used before even though media argue about the opposite. She adds the time has come for the American population to reconsider the significance of this activity, especially when taking into account "high culture" works. The author supports her arguments with credible evidence. It is based on facts and figures from scholarly literature. She has compared the past and current reading practices to prove its critical role. Her purpose is to break particular myths about reading. Farquhar seems to have hip and rebel youth as her target audience. She stresses that the ideas she disagrees with are outdated.

In case the precis example above seems too lengthy, you may write a shorter introduction:

In his essay published back in 1936, "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" J.R.R. Tolkien condemns scholars of his age for mining Beowulf merely for a historical certificate of Anglo-Saxon epoch, instead of valuing the piece as one of the greatest and most inspiring poetry works of all time.

More Examples of Precis Format

A precis format is the format of any other essay. However, it has some nuances. As an example of the passage under analysis, we chose the two opening paragraphs from The Beauty of Japanese Gardens in Kyoto by Roxana Robinson from http://www.travelandleisure.com/.

I was having breakfast on the 17th floor of the Hotel Okura. One long wall of the restaurant is a window, so I was overlooking half of Kyoto. Below was the Kamo River, flowing between old stone terraced banks. Beyond this was a patchwork of single-story buildings, interspersed with a few swooping orange temple roofs. The city spreads on to climb the lower slopes of Mount Daimonji, then stops abruptly, giving way to the forest. This rises to an elegant skyline: a long, wooded mountain ridge, lightly brushed with soft clouds, drifting silver mist. I was in Kyoto to look at gardens. I'm interested in the way different cultures respond to landscape, and in the fundamental question of what a garden is. In Japan, a deep connection to landscape is part of the culture. Shinto, Japan's oldest religion, considers certain natural forms - rocks, trees, groves, or mountains' to be sacred, representing the kami, ancestral spirits or deities, who inhabit them. Shinto is still widely practiced, coexisting peacefully with Buddhism; a profound engagement with nature is central to both religions. Mountains are sacred spaces, and building on them was long prohibited, except for shrines or temples. That's why this beautiful forested mountain, carved with clouds, was still untouched, dreaming silently above the city.

Let's underline the main points of these small paragraphs:

  • City view observation
  • The purpose of visiting Kyoto
  • Shinto's worldview

These are the main points around which we are going to build our small precis. It is a nicely written abstract, with beautiful complex sentences and word combinations. Yet, we won't include these tropes into our final writing because our goal is to communicate the main thoughts of the text.

Another introduction example may be:

John Doe's work known as "How to Write a Precis" (2015), argues that any person can learn how to compose a rhetorical precis. He supports this position by outlining the structure, drawing the details of the efficient writing procedure, and offering extra considerations on the shape of precis work. Taking into account the language and voice of the author in this article, John Doe's target reading audience consists of the students and academic staff.

The analysis of the original text below received a high grade.

Roxana Robinson begins her article The Beauty of Japanese Gardens with a story of how she was observing Kyoto, the Kamo River and Mountain Daimonji from the hotel room. She noticed that the city is located on the lower slopes of the mountain. The rest was covered by forest. The goal of her visit was to study gardens and landscape as a part of the Japanese culture. According to Japan's religion Shinto, mountains, rocks, and trees are sacred, this is why building on mountains is prohibited.

We hope this post has helped you understand the concept of precis and the ways of writing a good critical summary.

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