A Comprehensive Guide to Write the Perfect Precis

Precis writing is an integral part of various MBA exams & Bank, Government Exams like UPSC, SSC, NABARD, SEBI, SIDBI, SBI PO etc. It tests your ability to read, understand and present text in a clear, crisp and concise manner.

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The following article explains precis writing in detail and also provides steps to help you write your own precis:

What is Precis writing?

‘Precis’ (pronounced ‘Preisi’) is an old French word meaning ‘Cut short’. Precis is a concise summary or a miniature version of a passage, which includes all the essential points, mood and tone of the author, and the main idea or gist of the passage. In short, Precis is a condensed version of a bigger passage.

Why is Precis writing helpful?

Writing a precis trains the writer to read passages carefully with concentration. It also helps you develop the skill to distinguish essential and non-essential parts of passages and forces you to pay close attention to what you’re reading.

Precis writing also improves one’s overall writing skills, like construction of sentences in logical order and helps in expressing thoughts concisely, effectively and clearly, by choosing words carefully.

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Steps to write a Precis

Step 1: Read the given passage carefully. Underline or highlight the important points and keywords or make a note of them (whichever is convenient). If you’re making a note of the important points, note them down in the same order as given in the original passage.

Step 2: After reading, make a note of the central theme/main idea/gist and the tone of the author of the passage.

Step 3: Re-read the article and compare it with your notes or check if you have missed underlining any crucial point.

Step 4: Provide your precis an appropriate title (you can also do this after you finish writing your precis).

Step 5: Draft a precis based on the notes you have taken down or points you have underlined. Keep the following points in mind while writing your precis:

  • A Precis isn’t simply the abstract of the passage, nor is it a mere selection of important sentences of the passage. A Precis needs to convey the main idea of the original passage, including all the important points, the author’s facts, opinions, ideas and thoughts, with absolute clarity, in the precis writers own words.
  • The main idea of the passage needs to be conveyed as accurately and as briefly as possible in the precis. Do not add long sentences or garrulous thoughts in your precis.
  • The precis should be written in the precis writer’s own words (no copy-pasting) and should include all the essential points and the gist of the original passage, so that, the reader will be able to understand the idea behind the original passage without having to go through it.
  • The language used to write precis should be clear, crisp & concise.
  • Include a statement which explains why the research was conducted (in case it’s a research) or why the piece of writing was written (in case of an article)
  • Discard the non-essential parts of the original passage and do not include them in your precis.
  • Precis is always written in third person and in a reported speech. Any history related fact in a precis is to be written in past tense.
  • A precis needs to be objective. It doesn’t offer evaluations or critical analysis. Hence, refrain including your opinions, subjective interpretations, personal reactions, wishes, remarks or criticisms in your precis.
  • Do not include abbreviations or contractions in your precis.
  • A Precis should make logical sense and follow the chronology of events in the same way as the original passage.
  • Officials mentioned in the precis need to be provided designations instead of names or titles. In case the designation is missing, you can use their personal name.
  • There are no rigid rules to how lengthy your precis can be, but as a general rule, your precis should be not more than one-third of the total number of words in the original passage.
  • The precis needs to make logical sense and have the exact same logical structure, chronology, proportions, order, ideas, facts and thoughts as that of the original passage.
  • The precis needs to read smoothly. Precis is a connected whole. The precis reader needs to be able to sift from one point to another in a smooth manner.

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Step 6: Review your precis. It’s important to review your precis to confirm that you have included all the essential points, supporting evidence and the gist from the original passage and to ensure coherence, correctness with respect to grammar and spellings and clarity. Post-review, count the number of words of the precis and put them down in a bracket at the end.

A good precis

  • Is Clear, Concise, Coherent, and Precise
  • Is written in the precis writer’s own words
  • Contains all the essential points, author’s tone, facts, opinions, thoughts and main idea of the original passage
  • Is well-knit and makes logical sense and follows a logical order
  • Won’t contain details not found in the original passage
  • Is well-structured, has no language errors, and makes a meaningful passage

Here’s a sample Precis for your reference:

Precis Writing

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We hope the above tips help you write better precis.

We wish you all the very best!

Further reading

How to Tackle the Descriptive Section in English Language

How to Make Notes for Bank Exams

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