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How to Write a Critical Precis? Short Guideline from Experts

So, here you are again. Googling about yet another academic assignment your teacher just handed out in the classroom. Now that you have typed ‘how to write a precis’ let us help you out with everything you need to know about this type of assignment.

Let’s start by understanding the basics.

A critical precis is the sort of academic assignment which is often given to students enrolled in liberal arts and humanities programs. The critical precis basically is an expository essay that requires students to write a summary of a text. The purpose of this type of assignment is to inform the readers about the text: to address elements such as the author, his or her publication, the main plot and basically everything there is about the details of the text.

But let’s dig a little bit deeper and understand the word ‘precis’.

So, what is precis and how to write it?

Precis is derived from the French, which means ‘summary’. So, this goes without saying that whenever you are given any assignment and the professor uses the word ‘precis’, it has something to do with a summary.

Reading University, based in UK, has created an interesting video that helps with an understanding of what critical precis is:

A rhetorical precis needs to be a logical, concise and clear summary of the given passage, which holds essentials regarding the subject.

Meanwhile, want to know how many references are enough for 1500 words essay? Check our article by following the link.

Writing a precis requires understanding its qualities and characteristics. Here are some crucial ones you need to focus on:

  • A precis is not the interpretation or a re-write;
  • A precis is the summary of abstracts;
  • You can use quotes from the original passage in your precis;
  • A precis needs to summarize the content gathered from the passage;
  • A precis needs to share and explain the original meaning of the passage;
  • Writers need to keep 1/4th compared to the original length of the passage they are summarizing;
  • A good precis must be aligned with a standard format: the thesis and the methods adopted by the author need to be presented in the precis, alongside its conclusions and results.

With the characteristics out of the way, let’s talk about a precis’ format.

Precis format

A lot of students confuse short with easy and quick. When it comes to writing a summary, which is the 1/4th of the content that you are given, it does not mean it will be quick or easy to write. Why? Because you are not paraphrasing it. You need to understand and be original and grasp what really happened in the passage.

But that is just one tip. Let’s look into it step-by-step:

  • Start by reading the original passage or piece;
  • Understand the main points and the claims or the arguments;
  • Look into the evidence;
  • Understanding everything which is new to you by researching it (use your internet!);
  • Look into the appeals used by the author;
  • Use your critical thinking;
  • Evaluate the author’s meaning in the text;
  • Time to restate the author’s thesis;
  • Use your own words to give the summary;
  • Keep reading the original passage and check your summary in case you missed something.

You might want to paraphrase your content more and more each time you read your draft, and that is okay. Start by paraphrasing the text and the thesis you have written. Make sure you are fully explaining the evidence and the main points through a logical structure. Introduction, main body, and conclusion: these are the three main headings you need to address in the summary that you are writing of the given passage. The article about critical thinking skills might help you.

So, here’s everything you need to know about writing a precis. It is very basic and clear once you have a full understanding of what is required and what needs to be addressed in the passage.

Now you know how to do a precis, but in case you need assistance, our expert team of writers is ready to help. Simply email us via a contact form or contact us using our live chat.

Vasy Kafidoff

Vasy Kafidoff is a co-founder and CEO at Writing Metier, who has a keen interest in the academic world and technology. He is a cryptoromantic and blockchain enthusiast for more than 4 years now, and he is excited about the way technology shapes financial and educational systems. Check his personal blog to find more tips on writing.

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