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In a few recruitment examinations, precis writing questions are given. In the ensuing IOB examination also precis writing is included as a subject in English descriptive paper. I am posting certain tips for answering these questions correctly. A few worked out exercises are also given herein. Please work out these and given your comments. best wishes

 Precis writing tips The summary or précis of a passage has to be expressed in the fewest and clearest words possible. In a summary you should mention only important points and leave out all unnecessary details. What is a good precis? A summary or précis is the shortened form of a passage. A good summary should be complete in itself. It should be able to convey the ideas expressed in the original passage so that a reader who does not have enough time to read the original one should have no trouble getting the message. A summary should be brief, clear and precise. It should be brief, but it shouldn’t be a number of disjointed simple sentences. A good summary should give ideas, facts or points in the order in which it appears in the original. Note that it is best to write summaries in the same tense as the original. The original passage may contain pieces of conversation. When you summarize it, all the sentences given in the direct speech should be changed into indirect. The summary should be in the writer’s own words. As far as possible, avoid using the vocabulary used in the original. Also note that a summary shall not contain points not mentioned in the original. How to summarize a given passage? Read the given passage thoroughly and try to understand what it means. If you don’t understand the passage after reading it once, read it twice or thrice. Try to find out what the passage is really about. And then provide a title for it. Underline important points in the passage. Prepare a sketch or outline summary, containing all the points which you have marked in the passage. Compare the outline with the original passage. If you have left out some points, add them. If the outline contains some unnecessary details, strike them out. Prepare your summary with the help of your notes. Don’t refer to the original. Finally, read what you have written. Correct all spelling or grammatical errors if any. Some important points If the passage is in poetry, express its ideas in prose. Write the précis in simple language. Avoid lengthy sentences containing many clauses. Don’t use phrases such as ‘the writer says’, ‘I think’ or ‘in my opinion’. 

PASSAGE 1 Neglect of small things is the rock on which the great majority of the human race have split. Human life consists of a succession of small events each of which is comparatively unimportant and yet in which these small events are dealt with. Character is built upon little things well and honourably transacted. The success of a man in business depends upon his attention to little things. The comfort of a household is the result of small things well-arranged and duly provided for. Good government can only be accomplished in the same way-by well-regulated provision for the doing of little things. Precis: Importance of Small Things Neglect of small things is the cause of a great many failure. Success in life depends of handling small events properly; character is formed by doing little things honourably and smoothly; business, domestic happiness and even good government are possible only by paying proper attention to small things.

 PASSAGE 2 Unemployment arises from a variety of causes. One that is always recurring, and of the effects of which we have had a recent example, is the disorganization of industry resulting from a long war: this is a serious problem admitting of no easy solution at the best of times. Again, there is the unemployment, which follows a marked diminution in the quantity of any raw product. Such as cotton: fewer hands are required in the mills and factories. We may call this cause ‘bad harvest’. Similar but more serious is the effect of changes in industry due to the invention of machinery which does more work and requires fewer workers. And yet another serious cause is a strike or lock-out and this is the more to be deplored because such a stoppage sometimes is due to a very trivial matter, perhaps the fact that men are working half an hour longer than the regulations of their union permit. Precis: The Causes of unemployment The causes of unemployment are several. First, there is the disorganisation of industry by a long war. Another is a fall in the quantity of raw materials. A more serious cause is the invention of labour saving machines. Another equally important cause is a strike or lock-out due to some very trivial reasons.

 PASSAGE 3 Among the manifold misfortunes that may befall humanity the loss of health is one of the severest. All the joys which life can give cannot outweigh the sufferings of the sick. Give the sick man everything and leave him his suffering and he will feel that half the world is lost to him. Lay him on a soft silken couch, he will nevertheless groan sleepless under the pressure of the sufferings, while the miserable beggar blessed with health sleeps sweetly on the hard ground. Spread his tables with dainty meats and choice drinks, and he will trust back the hand that prefers them and envy the poor man who thoroughly enjoys his dry crust. Surround him with pomp of kings; let his chair be a throne, and his crutch a world-swaying sceptre; he will look with contemptuous eye on marble, on gold, and on purple, and would deem himself happy, could he enjoy, even were it under a thatched roof, the health of the meanest of his servants. Precis: Blessings of Health The loss of health is the greatest misfortune that a man can suffer from. No pleasure of the world can sooth and comfort a sick man. A sick man passes unhappy days and sleepless nights. Everything, howsoever sweet and pleasant it may be, appears to him insipid and tasteless. Instead of having the kingdom of the whole earth with his sick health he would prefer the humble lot of a poor but healthy beggar. So great are the blessings of health that all the riches of the world pale into insignificance before them.

 PASSAGE 4 Those who face life with a feeling of security are much happier than those who face it with a feeling of insecurity at any rate so long as their sense of security does not lead them to disaster. And in a very great many cases, though not in all a sense of security will itself help a man to escape dangers to which another would succumb. If you are walking on a chasm, on a narrow plank, you are much more likely to fall if you feel fear than if you do not. And the same thing applies to the conduct of life. The fearless man may, of course, meet with sudden disaster, but it is likely that he will pass unscattered through many difficult situations in which a timid man would come to grief. This usual kind of self confidence has, of course, innumerable forms. One man is confident on mountains, another on the sea, and yet another in the air. But general confidence towards life comes then anything else affections one has need for. And it is this habit of mind considered as a source of zest that I wish to speak about in the present chapter. Précis: Optimism versus Pessimism A person who has self-confidence leads a far happier life than a pessimist. A sense of security enables him to overcome dangers and calamities. He emerges out of many difficult situations, uninjured and unharmed; whereas a coward generally yields to them. Self-confidence has numerous forms. But general confidence towards life can be attained by developing the right sort of affection for it. Self-confidence is certainly a great source of inspiration.

 PASSAGE 5 When I go into a stranger’s library, I wander round the book-shelves to learn what sort of a person the stranger is, and when the comes in I fell that I know the key to his mind and the range of the interests. A house without books is a characterless house, no matter how rich the Persian rugs and how elegant the settees and the ornaments. The Persian rugs only tell you whether he has got money, but the books tell you whether he has got a mind as well. It is not the question of money that we don’t buy books, I repeat that books are the cheapest as well as the best part of the equipment of a house. You can begin your library with the expenditure of a couple of shillings. Nearly, all the best literature in the world is at your command at two shillings a volume. For five pounds you can get a library of fifty books. Even if you don’t read them yourself, they are priceless investment for your children. What delight is there like the revelation of book, the sudden impact of a master, spirit, the sense of window flung wide open to the universe? It is the adventures of the mind …. the joy or which does not pass away, that give the adventure of life itself beauty and fragrance. Precis: The Importance of Books A man is known by the books he reads. Books are an index to the mind and the interests of a person. A person who has no library of his own is poor, no matter how rich his furniture may be. Books are so cheap nowadays that one can have a moderate library within the small sum of five pounds. The money spent on books, is never wasted. Even if the owner does not avail himself of his books, his children will read them with profit. There is no pleasure like the pleasure of enjoying good books; and what is more, one always gains in knowledge and wisdom by studying the works of great writers.

 PASSAGE 6 The man’s power is active, progressive, defensive. He is eminently the doer, the creator, the discoveror, the defender. His intellect is for speculation and invention; his energy for adventure; for war and conquest; wherever war is just, conquest is necessary. But the woman’s power is for rule, not for battle – and her intellect is not for invention or creation, but for sweet ordering arrangement and decision. She sees the qualities of things their claims and their places. Her great function is praise: she enters into no contest but infallibly adjudges the crown of contest. By her office and place, she is protected from all danger and temptation. The place, she is protected from all danger and temptation. The man in his rough work in open world, must encounter all peril and trial; often he must be wounded, or subdued, often misled and always hardened. But he guards the woman from all this; within his house as ruled by her, need enter no danger, no temptation, no cause of error or offense. This is the true nature of home – it is the place of peace; the shelter, not only from all injury, but from all terror, doubt and division. In so far as it is not this it is not home; so far as the anxieties of the outer life penetrate into it and unknown unloved for hostile society of the outer world is allowed by either husband or wife to cross the threshold it ceases to be home; it is then only a part of the outer world which you have roofed over and lighted fire in. Précis: Man versus Woman Man’s duties are public whereas woman’s are domestic. Man’s intellect is meant for making discoveries, inventions, and wars. Woman’s intelligence finds outlet in the sphere of arrangement, decision and order. She shuns contest out by nature is shrewd enough to adjudge things rightly. Man runs risks, encounters dangers and protests woman from peril and difficulties. A real home is one, which is free from the anxieties of the outer world and from the inroads of unwholesome tendencies.

 PASSAGE 7 Morals and manners, which give colour to life are of much greater importance laws, which are but their manifestation. The law touches us here and there, but manners are about us everywhere, pervading society like the air we breathe. Good manners as we call them are neither more nor less than good behaviour; consisting of courtesy and kindness, benevolence being the preponderating element in all kinds of mutually beneficial and pleasant intercourse amongst human beings. “Civility”, said Lang Montague, loses nothing and buys everything. The cheapest of all things is kindness its exercise requiring the least possible trouble and self sacrifice. “Win hearts”, said Burleigh to Queen Elizabeth, “and you have all men’s hearts and purses”. If we would only let nature act kindly, free from affectation and artifice, the results on the social good humour and happiness would be incalculable. The little courtesies which from the small change of life, may separately appear of little intrinsic value, but they acquire their importance from repetition and accumulation. They are like the spares minutes or the great a day, which proverbially produce such momentous results in the course of a twelve month or in a lifetime. Precis: The Importance of Good Manners and Morals Manners and morals are more important than laws. The latter affect us but rarely while former govern the whole of our social life. The basic elements of good behaviour are courtesy, kindness and benevolence, things which cost nothing but which pay us a lot. The little natural acts of kindness though they may be apparently insignificant build our real success and happiness.

 PASSAGE 8 What is the degree of economic inequality that should be allowed to exist in any community? Clearly, there can be no universally valid answer at any rate in existing circumstances. In a society where the minimum wage is very small it may be necessary to fix the rate of inequality at a higher level than in one where the majority of people are earning something more nearly approaching the optimum income. They may seem unjust and inexpedient. But the expediency of reducing all income to a level far below the optimum is probably greater than the in inexpediency of the keeping of few incomes to at or above the optimum level. No society can make progress unless at least some of its members are in receipt of an income sufficient to ensure their fullest development. This means that where minimum wages are low, as they are in even the richest of contemporary communities it may be necessary to allow the best paid individuals to draw an income twenty or even thirty times as great as that of the worst paid. If ever it becomes possible to distribute the optimum income to all the inequality rate may be greatly reduced. There is no reason in such a society why the highest incomes should be more than two or three times as great as the lowest. Précis: Degree of Economic Inequality Economic inequality is greater in societies having low minimum wages than where wages appreciably approach optimum incomes. Such inequality though unjust is inevitable and preferable to reducing all incomes of levels far below the optimum, since social progress depends upon some at least drawing for their fullest efficiency incomes that may be 20 to 30 times greater than the minimum. Where however, optimum incomes could be distributed to all, the highest incomes be only two to three times greater than the lowest.

 PASSAGE 9 Broken friendship, like China, may be repaired, but the break will always show. Friendship is a precious thing too precious treasure to be carelessly broken or thrown away. The world handles the word ‘friend’ lightly; its real, true deeper meaning is forgotten, and acquaintance of an hour or the chance-comer is designated by the term, which in itself bears a wealth of meaning. Your friend is the one who appreciates you’re your faults as well as your virtues-who understands and sympathises with your defeats and victories, your aims and ideas, your joys and temptations, your hopes and disappointments, as no one else does or can. It is your friend to whom, you turn for counsel, for comfort, for praise; he may not be as learned as some or as wise as others, but it suffices that he understands you, and even his quite listening gives strength and renewed courage. Blessed is the man or woman into whose life has come the beauty and power of such a friendship. Prize it well. Do the break, for when it comes it cannot be mended and the jarring note mars the harmony. It is not alone a question of forgiveness that may be full and complete. It is the hurt in the heart that will not readily heal and the confidence that will not fully come back. Précis: The Value of Friendship Friendship is a very precious gift. It should not be easily given up. Even the acquaintance of an hour bears a wealth of meaning. Our friend is a person who understands and appreciates us. Our friend is a person who understands and appreciates us. He sympathises with our joys and sorrows. In times of trouble he is a source of counsel, comfort and courage. We should regard such a friendship as a rare blessing. We should always keep it unbroken, for the confidence, which is once lost can never be restored.

 PASSAGE 10 “To be good is noble but to teach others how to be good is nobler – and no trouble” said a well known writer. This may account for the great preponderance of preaching over practice. We do not mean the preaching which we get from the pulpit, but that which is given freely and without stint it buses, in the streets and even in the homes of our land. Where is the parent who does not discover himself telling his child not to do just what he himself does regularly? How many people are there who are certain that they know just how to make a fortune, and who are certain that they know just how to make a fortune, and who tell others so? and they have never made anything save financial mistakes. The man who can not find his way his way even to a modest competence knows just how to save the nation from all its economic ills. It is no trouble to preach, but it is considerable trouble to carry out what we preach. This is so true that the honest preacher preaches to himself even more than to his hearers in every season. Only the man who is striving to climb the loftiest heights knows just how difficult is the way. And so the man who climbs as he preaches will preach all the more earnestly, and the effectively, because he is trying to answer his own prayers and work out his own salvation. Precis: The Supremacy of Preaching over Practice To preach goodness is noble than to practice it. It is generally seen that those who fail in practice are best suited to the work of preaching. The man who knows to make a fortune is one who does nothing but financial mistakes. The man who never swam knows how to instruct another in swimming. The man who cannot succeed even in a small competition knows just how to save the country from all its economic troubles. The truth is that only that man who has himself suffered difficulties can most earnestly and effectively tell others the way to success.

 Passage 11 Our society is built with money for mortal money is present in every joint of circumstance, it might be named the social atmosphere, since in society it is by that alone that man continue to live and only through that they can reach or it permits us to be clean in person, opens for us the doors of the theatre, gains us books for study or pleasure, enables us to help the distress of others and puts us above necessity so that we can choose the best of life. If we have scruples, it gives us an opportunity to be honest; if we have any bright designs here it is, what will smooth the way to their accomplishment. Penury is the worst slavery and will soon lead to death. But money is only a means, it pre-supposes man to use it. The rich man can go where he pleases, but perhaps pleases himself nowhere. He can buy a library or visit the whole world but has neither patience to read nor intelligence to see. The table may be loaded and the appetite wanting; gained the world and lost himself; and win with all his wealth around him in a great house and spacious and beautiful women, he may live as blank a life as any ‘tattered ditcher’. Without an appetite, without an aspiration, void or appreciation, bankrupt of desire and hope, there in his great house let him sit and look at his finger. It is perhaps more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire. Although neither is to be despised, it is always a better polity to learn an interest than to make a thousand pounds, for the money will soon be spent or perhaps you may feel no joy in spending it but interest remains imperishable and ever new. Precis The Limitation of Money Money is the basis of our society. It not only provides the necessaries and amenities of life but also enables us to practice virtue and to attain our cherished ambitions. Poverty, on the contrary, is a great curse. But money is only a means and man is always more important than money. Wealth can procure all the means of happiness but not happiness itself. A rich man may possess the best things of life but the may fail to enjoy them. A hobby or the capacity to appreciate good things of the world is always preferable to a large fortune.

 Passage 12 When you come to a good book you must ask yourself. “Am I inclined to work as an Australian minor would? Are your pickaxes and shovels in good order, and I in good trim myself, my sleeves well up to the elbow and my breath good, add my temper?” And keeping the figure a little longer, even at the cost of tiresomeness, for it is a thoroughly useful one, the metal you are in search of being the author’s mind or meaning his words are as the rock which you have to crush and smelt in order to get as it. And your pickaxes are your own care, wit and learning; your smelting furnace is your own thoughtful soul. Do not hope to get at any good author’s meaning without these tools and that fire; often you will need the sharpest, finest chiseling and fusing, before you can gather one grain of the metal. And, therefore, first of all, I tell you, earnestly and authoritatively (I know I am right in this), you must get into the habit of looking intensely at words, and assuring your self of their meaning, syllable by syllable-pay, letter by letter. For though it is only by reason of the opposition or letters in the functions of signs, sound in functions of signs, that he study of books is called literature and that a man versed in it is called, by the consent of nations, a man of letters instead of a man of books, or of words you my connect with that accidental nomenclature this real principle that you might read all the books, or of words you might read all the books in the British Museum (if you could live long enough), and remain an utterly ‘illiterate’ uneducated person; but that if you read ten pages of a good book, letter by letter, that is to say with real accuracy you are for ever in some measure an educated person. Précis: The Importance of Careful Reading To extract the utmost value of a book a man must work at it like a miner extracting metal from a rock. He must have his wit and learning as keen and his thoughtful soul as bright, as the miner has his pickaxes and smelting furnace. He must learn to study words intensively, letter by letter. A man might read all the books in the British Museum, and yet remain uneducated, but anyone who has read ten pages of a good book with real attention is in some measure educated.

 Passage – 13 Friendship is above reason, for, though you find virtues in a friend, he was your friend before you found them. It is a gift that we offer because we must; to give it as the reward of virtue would be to set price upon it and those who do that have no friendship to give. If you choose your friends on the ground that you are virtuous and want virtuous company. You are no nearer to true friendship than if you choose them for commercial reasons. Besides, who are you that you should be setting a price upon your friendship? It is enough for any man that he has the divine power of making friends, and he must leave it to that power to determine who his friends shall be. For, though you may choose the virtuous to be your friend, they may not choose you; indeed, friendship cannot grow where there is any calculated choice. It comes like sleep, when you are not thinking about it; and you should be grateful, without any misgiving, when it comes. So no man who knows what friendship is ever gave up a friend because he turns out to be disreputable. His only reason for giving up a friend is that he has ceased to care for him; and, when that happens he should reproach himself for this mortal poverty of affection, not the friend for having proved unworthy. For it is inhuman presumption to say any woman, when you have fallen out of love with her, that she is unworthy of your love. In friendship and in love we are always humble, because we see that a free gift has been given to us; and to lose that humility because we have lost friendship or love is to take a pride in what should shame us. Precis True Friendship Friendship is a natural gift. It cannot be argued or discussed. It develops instinctively. We do not contract friendship with a person either because he is virtuous or because we expect to gain something form him. To put a price on friendship is to degrade it. If we fall out with a friend, we should not find fault with him. We should rather blame ourselves for being unworthy of retaining the friendship.

 Passage 14 Scientists now say that when it comes to wooing a lady, the malodorous male may enjoy a distinct advantage over his sophisticated and sanitized rival, much to the indignation of the latter. It seems that such discrimination might be due to the karmic consequences of using deodorants. A recent study conducted by biologists at the University of Pennsylvania has revealed that the locker room aroma of male perspiration helps to reduce stress and induce relaxation in women. If the way to a man’s heart is said to be through his stomach, it seems that the way to a woman’s favours is via her nose. When asked, why women choose the men they do, a philosopher is said to have replied “Who knows?” in fact, ‘Who nose’ might have been more apt. it can, however, be argued that the face or the physique was never a serious consideration in the rat race for female affections, considering that women were reputed to have a nose for greenbacks rather than an eye for biceps. But now it seems the dice is heavily loaded in favour of what lies beneath the arm rather than what lies between the ears, with eau de pasina scoring heavily over eau de cologne. Always accused to smelling a rat where none existed, women can now hope for a legitimate way of sniffing around. Perfumed deodorants may go our of fashion as men learn to enhance their natural bodily odours by egg or onion sprays. Always fastidiously clinging to the proper use of the language, Dr. Johnson, the lexicographer, was once assailed by a lady at a party with the words, “Oh! Sir, you smell!” Which the good man was quick to correct as, “No, ma’am you smell. I stink”. Precis--Scent of a Man Biologists have come to the conclusion through their study that men’s body smell emanating from perspiration helps women to reduce their tension. In this finding there is a suggestion that men not using synthetic pleasant smelling scents are more likely to be favoured by women than the men stopping the unpleasant smell by using sophisticated scents. Therefore, the way to woman’s favour is through her nose and the nose must get man’s natural body odour.

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