How To Write a Precis and Impress Your Grader

How To Write a Precis and Impress Your Grader
Table of Contents
  1. How To Write a Precis and Impress Your Grader
  2. What Should You Know about Precis?
  3. What should you remember about a Precis?
  4. How to Write an A+ Precis?
  5. 7 Must-Follow Rules To Succeed with Your Precis
  6. Surprising Insights About Writing a Precis
  7. Here’s a Right  Way to Write Your Precis
  8. Main Precis Writing Steps Everyone Should Know
  9. Effective Precis Structure and Introduction Examples
  10. Can’t-Miss Precis Introduction Examples
  11. Don’t Forget to Review Your 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. You may have many questions: "what to do", "how to start", "what is rhetorical precis?". Our article will give you answers to these questions. You may also have a look at examples of precis to get the main idea for this assignment.

What Should You Know about Precis?

A precis is a text summary which has to reflect the key points of the original text of the author, its tone, 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 your personal opinions on the analyzed work because you are not writing a critical book review or analytical essay. The goal of your precis is to guide people through unfamiliar reading. It means that the voice, opinions of your text must reflect the author’s voice, his thoughts and be understandable for those people who have not read the original text.

What should you remember about a Precis?

Keep in mind that a precis is not a:

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

A good precis has the following features.

  • Precis is written in a writer's own words and mood.
  • A writer shouldn't simply copy original sentences - he or she needs to compress and paraphrase them in his precis. Each sentence of your précis should be unique - it is your writing work.
  • Precis should be logically ordered, with all parts of it being connected to each other.
  • A writer can't use the first person pronouns (I, we) as precis is always written in the third person.
  • Precis never contains any additional information or details not mentioned in the original text even if it supports the main idea if the author.

How to Write an A+ Precis?

It is not so easy as it may seem. In order to write a good precis, you should read the text carefully, understand not only its meaning but also author’s main purpose, distinguish its thesis statement, be able to explain it to your reader.

There is a certain structure which you should follow in your precis. Also, there are several short rules a writer must obey while working on his precis to succeed with it. The most distinguished essay authors obeyed these rules.

7 Must-Follow Rules To Succeed with Your Precis

  1. Understand the size of your precis and keep controlling it. A precis constitutes ¼ of the original source in length. Thus, choose the major points and restate the entire text to make it shorter.
  2. Even though precis 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.
  3. When working on your precis arguments, remember about the clarity, make it obvious what you try to convey using simple language and essay structure.
  4. The correctness of a book precis is another critical factor - its meaning is associated with correct English grammar, spelling, punctuation. The authenticity of facts and figures matters too.
  5. Objectivity determines the candid construal of your text, use credible evidence instead of your personal ideas or opinions.
  6. The coherence of information gives the logical interconnection. While reading, your target audience wants to see links - build them using different transition words.
  7. Conciseness is the last critical factor of precis - 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. In order to write a good precis, keep in mind that it reflects your ability to express thoughts. Precis writing develops critical thinking, ability to summarize. Work on precis makes writer capable of highlighting the basic points of the original article.

Surprising Insights About Writing a Precis

How to write a book precis and get a good grade? There is no particular template for precis writing, but there are things you can do to make your writing process easier.

  • Divide your precis into several parts

Distinguish several sections of precis. Authors help themselves by adding subheadings, so pay attention to these dividers - they mean that new ideas will be discussed in a new paragraph or section of precis.

  • 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.

  • Provide the main idea in each section

Think about all ideas which are important and use them in your precis. Write each new idea down in a single, well-structured sentence.

  • Create a thesis statement

You should create your precis thesis statement on the basis of your prepared material. It should be an overarching statement which expresses the main theme of the entire text. Don’t forget the follow the tone of the author of the text.

You can find more tips on how to write a process analysis essay here, use them in your writing.

  • Don’t give your own opinions 

Even if you have to use your own words when you write the précis, don’t try to express your personal opinion and evaluate the original text. It is not your goal. In this assignment, you should make a summary based on your analysis so just describe what exactly the author wanted to claim by his text.

How to Write a Good Critical Precis?

Here’s a Right  Way to Write Your Precis

Now it is time to write the draft of precis. The main tips include finding an excellent article with an interesting topic to analyze and prepare an outline. Precis outline will help not to get lost. Many online articles explain how to prepare a good outline. Follow the simple rules from these articles and you will be able to write an effective outline without any problems. Find the steps of writing precis below.

Main Precis Writing Steps Everyone Should Know

  • Choose the article or story to analyze and conduct in-depth research. Check how to improve your research capabilities here. Pick sources which are 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 writer or journalist.
  • Explain to your reader why you chose the particular work, your topic should be somehow relevant to your class, always consider teacher's instructions.
  • Once you decide on the topic, begin composing an outline. Precis outline involves a detailed structure of the paper, refer to it each time you start working on a new section.
  • List all arguments on a separate paper;
  • Begin your opening paragraph by introducing the author's work. Explain what his main purpose is. Another feature to be mentioned that there is no need to involve a hook sentence in this type of academic writing.
  • 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 to your reader and a better understanding of the text. End up your first paragraph with a thesis.
  • 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.
  • 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 examples. If you want a complete precis essay sample, you can find some of them here.

Effective Precis Structure and Introduction Examples

Obviously, the longer the article, the essay is, the longer your precis may. But it can’t be more that one page. It is worth mentioning that a critical precis 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.

The introduction of the précis should include the name of the author, title of the work, its genre, publication date. In some cases, it is enough to give the name of the author. Sometimes, you need to tell something about author’s life, his/her relationship or even origin (English, French, Indonesian, etc. ) if it can help to understand his thoughts, purpose of the writing piece. Read more about introduction here.

Each body paragraph of the assignment reflects a separate section or the part of the original text. You need to provide the evidence which the writer gave in his text to support the idea.

In the conclusion, you should restate the thesis statement or the main idea of the author.

Can’t-Miss Precis Introduction Examples

A good example of the opening paragraph or introduction of the precis might be:

In the critical article with a title "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.

Another good introduction of the rhetorical precis example may be the following.

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.

Other Shining Precis Examples

A precis has almost the same format as any other essay. However, it has some nuances. As an example of the passage under analysis, we can show you the two opening paragraphs from The Beauty of Japanese Gardens in Kyoto by Roxana Robinson from

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 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, word combinations. Yet, we won't include these tropes in our final writing because our goal is to communicate the main thoughts of the text.

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

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.

Don’t Forget to Review Your Precis

It is the last step of your writing work but not the least. It is important to read and revise your writing piece. Read and make sure that it clearly expresses the main idea of the author, the importance of the article or book and the meaning of the text. The tone, voice of the original text should be also preserved. Also check the structure of your work, grammar, punctuation.

We tried to gather and summarize only important information and we hope this post has helped you to understand the concept of precis, the ways of writing a good critical summary. Now you know what is rhetorical precis and can succeed with it. Don't worry if working on a critical precis seems difficult, remember: you always have a reliable assistant by your side. No matter how complex your material is, send your instructions to the professional team of writers - in this way you have an opportunity to order an A+ essay. Let us handle any topic to impress your grader!