A précis is not a critique or review of a longer work. It is a very concise summary of that longer piece of work. It is an abridged statement of the argument and evidence provided by the author. It is difficult to write because you must distill the essence of a longer (and often very complex argument) without injecting your own judgment about the strengths and weaknesses of the original.
The précis (2 pages) is to be written on at least one of the books marked by an asterisk (*) in the Readings table.
We will assign the books for each student collectively. Please be sure to send copies to both the instructor and to each student in the seminar. With the exception of readings for the first three sessions, all précis are due on the day the reading is assigned or suggested. Those from the first three sessions must be submitted by Session 4.
“Précis: The Pursuit of Power.” (PDF)
This example appears courtesy of a MIT student and is anonymous by request.