In CSS paper for English (Précis & Composition), aspirants are asked to write a précis of the given passage and also to suggest a suitable title as out of the total 20 marks allocated to this question, 15 go to précising the text and 5 to suggesting a suitable title. Here is a sample passage that will help you know how the given paragraph should be précised so as to get the maximum marks in it. So, here we go:
There is an enemy beneath our feet – an enemy more deadly for his complete impartiality. He recognizes no national boundaries, no political parties. Everyone in the world is threatened by him. The enemy is the earth itself. When an earthquake strikes, the world trembles. The power of a quake is greater than anything man himself can produce. But today scientists are directing a great deal of their effort into finding some way of combatting earthquakes, and it is possible that at some time in the near future mankind will have discovered a means of protecting itself from earthquakes. An earthquake strikes without warning. When it does, its power is immense. If it strikes a modern city, the damage it causes is as great as if it has struck a primitive village. Gas mains burst, explosions are caused and fires are started. Underground railways are wrecked. Buildings collapse, bridges fall, dams burst, gaping crevices appear in busy streets. If the quake strikes at sea, huge tidal waves sweep inland. If it strikes in mountain regions, avalanches roar down into the valley. Consider the terrifying statistics from the past 1755: Lisbon, capital of Portugal – the city destroyed entirely and 450 killed. 1970: Peru: 50,000 killed. In 1968 an earthquake struck Alaska. As this is a relatively unpopulated part, only a few people were killed. But it is likely that this was one of the most powerful quakes ever to have hit the world. Geologists estimate that during the tremors, the whole of the state moved over 80 feet farther west into the Pacific Ocean. Imagine the power of something that can move an entire subcontinent! This is the problem that the scientists face. They are dealing with forces so immense that man cannot hope to resist them. All that can be done is to try to pinpoint just where the earthquake will strike and work from there. At least some precautionary measures can then be taken to save lives and some of the property.
Extract the themes
The given paragraph consists of 334 words and as per the rules, it is to be précised to its one-third, that is 110 words (with a margin of 5-10 words).
Based on the above paragraph, we-arrive at the following theme sentences for the four paragraphs:
1. Earthquake – the deadly enemy of mankind.
2. Damage caused by an earthquake, in general.
3. Damage caused by an earthquake, in particular,
4. What can the scientists do?
The above four theme sentences can be developed into the following outline:
Earthquake: the deadly enemy of mankind
- Earthquake strikes all without a distinction of national boundary or political affiliation.
- The power of a quake is greater than that of a man-made weapon of destruction.
- Scientists are trying to find out means to combat earthquakes; they will find some way to protect themselves from earthquakes.
Damage caused by an earthquake, in general:
- Strikes without warning.
- Modern city when struck reduced to a primitive village.
Damage caused by an earthquake, in particular.
- Quake strikes plains, seas and mountains; causing all-round destruction.
- In 1755, Lisbon destroyed, 450 killed.
- In 1970, Peru struck, 50,000 killed.
What can the scientists do?
- In 1968, Alaska hit, subcontinent moved 80 feet into the Pacific Ocean.
- Scientists cannot resist the powerful earthquake.
- They can predict the place of origin of the quake so that precaution can be taken to save men and property.
Based on the above outline, we can make the following rough draft:
Earthquake is the deadly enemy of mankind. Earthquake strikes all without a distinction of nationality or political affiliation. The power of a quake is greater than that of any man-made weapon of destruction. An earthquake strikes mankind without a warning. A modern city when struck is reduced to rubble. A quake strikes plains, seas and mountains causing all-round destruction. The quake struck Lisbon in 1755 killing 450; Peru in 1970 killing 50,000; Alaska in 1968 moving it 80 feet into the Pacific Ocean. Scientists are trying to find out means to combat earthquakes and they are able to predict at least where the earthquake will hit so that precaution can be taken to save men and property from destruction.
As the number of words in the rough draft is more than required we shall have to reduce it further without reducing the ideas.
The final draft would look like as follows:
Earthquake is the mankind’s deadly enemy. Earthquake strikes all without a distinction of nationality or political affiliation. The power of a quake is greater than that of any man-made weapon of destruction. An earthquake strikes mankind without a warning. A modern city when struck is reduced -to a nibble. A quake strikes plains, seas and mountains causing all round destruction. The quake struck Lisbon in 1755 killing 450; Peru in 1970 killing 50,000; Alaska in 1968 moving it 80 feet into the Pacific Ocean. Scientists are trying to find out means to combat earthquakes, to predict the origin of the quake so that precaution can be taken to save man and property from destruction. (114 words)
Title: Earthquake: The Great Destroyer