Writing a précis

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By Christine Jenkins

In the 2014 National Curriculum for English, a new skill is included in ‘Writing’ for Years 5 and 6: “draft and write by… précising longer passages”. Although note-taking has previously featured in curriculum documents, this is the first time the skill of writing a precis has been included. So what is a precis and how can it be taught in a useful and meaningful way to 9 to 11 year olds?

What is a précis?

A précis is a condensed version of a text, keeping the main points and order of the original. Usually it reduces the text to approximately a third of its original length. The word précis comes from the French, meaning precise. It is this emphasis on precision which helps to distinguish a precis from a summary in academic writing, although at KS2 the focus should be on developing the ability to condense information into a shorter version.


What is the value of writing a précis?

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