You may have experienced a situation where you were required to write a critical précis essay to a published work and wondered what your instructor was talking about and how you can approach this kind of essay. First, I will explain what a précis essay entails, then give a simple step by step guide to writing a critical précis paper.
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What is a Critical Précis Essay?
A critical précis essay is commonly assigned in liberal arts and humanities programs as an expository essay (intended to describe or explain something). It is a ‘to the point’ and detailed summarized type of writing that gives the key ideas in a simple way using the standard structure.
You may use it to analyze a dissertation, scholarly article, or any type of published work. This type of essay presents a quarter of the original work using your words.
The structure of a critical précis essay includes the main ideas presented as the thesis supported by the published work and any arguments mentioned in the text and their outcomes.
The critical précis essay should be between 400 to 1200 words depending on the length of the original work (follow the instructor’s guideline on the exact number of words).
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Steps to writing a Précis Essay
Step 1: Prepare to write the critical précis essay.
Read the instructions carefully regarding your essay and note down what you understand. Reread the work again to ensure that you do not miss out anything.
Get a pen, paper, and notebook. These are important tools in the process of writing the précis paper. Having them ready will also help save time.
Step 2: Make the first draft of your critical précis essay.
Thoroughly read the work under analysis and note the important claims and points made by the author. Reread again if there are parts that you haven’t understood well.
Do not focus on your opinion of the work but rather the message that the author communicates. In some cases, the work under analysis could be so personal, so do not appeal to your own feelings.
Note down the persuasive appeals used by the author. Ensure you understand how the appeals were applied and the implication to the work under analysis.
Point out the evidence used to back up the claims made by the work. Write them down and ensure they are accurate.
Remember that the essay should communicate the author’s original work to the reader without having to go through the literature. Be as clear as possible as the reader should get the bigger picture of the original work.
Note down the thesis used by the author by keeping it to the point and brief. A thesis statement is a short sentence that brings out the idea that is presented in an essay. The thesis should express a claim that can be confirmed in the paragraphs that follow.
In every section, write one or two sentences in your own words. The writing should be in relation to the text you have read. It should not be vague.
Check whether the first draft of your critical précis essay matches the original work’s message.
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Step 3: Create an outline for your critical précis essay
As I mentioned before, the standard format for all essays includes
- The Introduction
The introduction is normally the first part of the essay and is normally captured in the first paragraph. This section contains the following:
- The author of the original text
- The title of the published work
- The genre (critical article, fiction or non-fiction book, poem, essay novel, or play)
- The intended audience for the essay – the audience determines the formality or informality of the language, the examples used, and the purpose of the critical précis essay.
- The publishing date (put in parenthesis)
- A rhetorically accurate verb that represents the thesis (such as argue, prove, explain, or disprove)
- And the thesis
- The body
This section captures all the points in form of a series of paragraphs, normally between 3 to 6. The paragraphs will depend on the number of points that need to be covered.
This section should contain the following:
- Separate paragraphs with each representing the author’s purpose thought, and ideas as they developed the original text.
- Focus on analyzing how the author approached the main topic within the work rather than your personal opinion about their presentation
- Focus on specific items such as the arguments, characters, and plot
As a standard rule for all essays, make sure to start body paragraphs with a topic sentence. The next sentences within the paragraph expound on the main argument at the start.
- The conclusion
This presents the summary of the work. It should restate the thesis of the author but not written word for word.
- Avoid adding unnecessary information to the essay: It should be concise and presentable.
- The précis essay should have coherence with the original work. It should not deviate as it will lack meaning.
- Use simple and clear language to communicate the ideas of the author for the reader to easily understand. Ensure the flow is as smooth as possible to avoid the reader getting bored.
- Stay objective (this not a review of the article but an objective presentation). The points for discussion should be backed up with evidence.
- Do not give personal opinions. This will dilute the relevance of the précis essay.
- Check for punctuation and grammatical errors because it should be error-free. You could use free grammar tools or ask a friend to check it out for you.
- Use a logical structure to present your critical précis essay. The structure of a précis essay can be found online and if in doubt, contact us for our consulting service or order.
- Do not copy the exact words or quotes from the text, as this leads to plagiarism.
- Double-check the academic requirements
- Read the whole work to make a comprehensive critical précis essay.
- Use a consistent, simple language.
- Avoid repetitions, wordiness, and watering down the content to lose meaning. Write only when you are presenting points which you can substantiate. Do not write to fill the pages.
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