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How to Answer Paragraph Organization Questions? (English)

LET exam paragraph order english lesson

Paragraph organization is another common type of question in the LET. It usually comes out of the English Specialization Exam or the General Education exam.

In this type of test question, you will be presented with a number of sentences (usually 4 sentences) and you will need to arrange them in the proper sequence.

Here is an example of a paragraph organization questions from M.T.S.J Pangan and MD Novales’ Licensure Examination for Teacher (LET) Reviewer:

Example 1 (Difficulty Level: Easy):

A. By trying, man learns to solve his problems through satisfying acts and eliminate actions which are annoying.

B. He used a hungry cat in a puzzled box where it tried ways to get out in order to get to the food.

C. Edward C. Thorndike’s connectionism theory of learning establishes the trial and error way to learn.

D. He established the fact that like the cat, man too, learns by trial and error.

Choices:

1. ACBD

2. BACD

3. ACDB

4. ABCD

This type of LET questions tests comprehension skills and your skill in organizing ideas in a paragraph. While this type of question may seem intimidating at ‏at first, don’t worry because we will create a systematic way of answering it.

Let’s try to find the best answer using the process of elimination.

Suggested Steps:

1. Read all the sentences while trying to find the topic sentence.

The topic sentence is unique because it can usually stand on its own and it states what the paragraph is all about. When spotting the topic sentence, you may be able to eliminate some of the options by looking for pronouns. Topic sentences should have its own noun subject. If the sentence only has a pronoun subject, it cannot be the topic sentence.

In our example above, both B and D only have pronoun subjects. Any choice with B or D as the first sentence should be eliminated. With this reasoning in mind, we can proceed to remove option 2 (BACD).

1. ACBD

2. BACD

3. ACDB

4. ABCD

While paragraph creation in the real world varies in form, when taking the LET, you should anticipate that the topic sentence will be used as the first sentence in the sequence. In our example above, the choices have made it easy for us to spot the topic sentence because other than option 2, all options have A as their first sentence. We can safely assume that sentence A is the topic sentence.

2. Decide on a second sentence by organizing the ideas logically through clues in context and sentence construction

Pronouns are the biggest clues for this kind of LET question. We already mentioned that sentences B and D have pronouns (He) as their subject.

B. He used a hungry cat in a puzzled box where it tried ways to get out in order to get to the food.

D. He established the fact that like the cat, man too, learns by trial and error.

We could get more clues on the best sequence by figuring out the subject of the pronoun ‘He’ in these sentences. Both sentences A and C have possible candidates (man for sentence A and Edward C. Thorndike for sentence C). By looking at the context of the sentences however, we will be able to see that they are talking about an experiment in the trial and error method of learning.

With this in mind, we can safely assume that Edard Thorndike is the subject of the pronouns in both sentences. We can also assume that that sentences B and D should come after sentence C, which talks about Edward Thorndike. Any answer that puts B or D before C should be eliminated.

1. ACBD

2. BACD

3. ACDB

4. ABCD

At this point, we only have options 1 and 3 to choose from.

3. Decide the order of the two remaining options

For this type of question, you will often find yourself deciding the sequence of the last two sentences. In our example above, the choices left are ACBD and ACDB. You will need to decide which of these two sentences should go first and last:

B. He used a hungry cat in a puzzled box where it tried ways to get out in order to get to the food.

D. He established the fact that like the cat, man too, learns by trial and error.

In this example, we can conclude that B should go first because the cat introduced in this sentence is later referenced in sentence D. The paragraph will not make sense if D comes first.

Answer: Option 1. (ACBD)

Let’s review the process that we used to answer this type of LET question:

  1. Read all the sentences and choose the topic sentence (first sentence in the sequence).
  2. Use pronouns and their subjects to identify the sequence of other sentences.
  3. Check the choices and eliminate the options that do not put the topic sentence first.
  4. Eliminate options that do not fit the correct sequence based on the use of pronouns.
  5. Use logic to eliminate options where the sequence does not make sense.
  6. After establishing the positions of at least two sentences, decide on the sequence of the remaining sentences (only if necessary).

By using the steps above, sometimes, you will be able to find the answer instantly. Take this questions for example:

Example 2 (Difficulty Level: Easy):

A. Before, his religion was basically involved with rituals and ceremonies.

B. The religion of the teacher helps him in reducing his fears and uncertainties.

C. His religion responds to his needs for a means to allay fears about the uncertainty of events contrary to natural laws.

D. Religion is important because it provides spiritual nourishment for his total being.

Choices:
1. ABCD

2. BACD

3. DBCA

4. CBAD

The first step is to identify the topic sentence. In this case, this is easy to spot because all other sentences already use pronouns without establishing a noun subject. We can safely assume that the topic sentence should have the subject of all these pronouns.

A. Before, his religion was basically involved with rituals and ceremonies.

C. His religion responds to his needs for a means to allay fears about the uncertainty of events contrary to natural laws.

D. Religion is important because it provides spiritual nourishment for his total being.

Topic Sentence: B. The religion of the teacher helps him in reducing his fears and uncertainties.

Luckily, only one of the choices has B as the first sentence. The answer is option 2 (BACD).

1. ABCD

2. BACD

3. DBCA

4. CBAD

Leveling Up

Too easy? Let’s try one with a higher difficulty level:

Example 3 (Difficulty Level: Average):

A. Many innovations without proven results and follow up evaluation are educational wastages

B. One wonders in the final analysis if these changes have been deeply rooted on basic problems of the people they serve.

C. Some curriculum changes were mere fads without foreseeable achievements.

D. What we need are innovations that overcome the miseducation of the young.

Choices:

1. BACD

2.ACDB

3. ABCD

4. CBAD

As with the other examples, the first step is to read all the sentences and identify the topic sentence. In this example, we do not have a lot of pronouns and almost all the sentences can stand alone as topic sentences. Among them, only sentence B some sort of pronoun clue:

B. One wonders in the final analysis if these changes have been deeply rooted on basic problems of the people they serve.

With this clue, we are able to assume that ‘these changes’ refer to the change mentioned in sentence C.

C. Some curriculum changes were mere fads without foreseeable achievements.

We can now assume that C should surely come before B. The next step is to eliminate the choices that do puts B before C.

1. BACD

2.ACDB

3. ABCD

4. CBAD

Now that options 1 and 3 are out of the picture, we only have options 2 and 4 to consider. At this point, you will need to go back to these two options and recite the sentences aloud to check which sounds better. Of the two options, the sequence with sentence A as the topic sentence (2. ACDB) makes more sense rather than putting C first.

There are times when you will need to make an intelligent guess with this type of question. In this case, we guessed that option 2 is the correct answer.

Example 4 (Difficulty Level: Hard): No pronoun clues

In the next example, we will discuss how to make a decision when the sentences presented have no pronoun clues. Consider this example question:

A. A responsive educational system should be directed towards regional cooperation.

B. Commonality of educational objectives should be replaced by better ways of achieving goals that fit the regional needs.

C. It is necessary to revolutionize the contemporary methodologies in the teaching-learning processes.

D. The educational goals should seek for a better way of experimentation in the teaching strategies and technologies.

Choices:

1. ABCD

2. ABDC

3. BCAD

4. DABC

In this question, we do not have the luxury of pronouns in any of the sentences. In fact, the list merely gives you barely related sentences. To answer this type of paragraph organization question, you should put yourself on the position of the person who created this question. You should remember that test makers always have some sort of reasoning to justify the correct answer.

Find the best topic sentence among the choices

To make it faster for you when answering on exam day, you could start by examining your choices of answers. Look at the answers provided. Now, just like the process in the previous example, you should ask yourself which of the options have the best topic sentence.

Options 1 and 2 have the same topic sentence (A). Option 3 has sentence B while option 4 has D. Right off the bat, we can eliminate option 4.

D. The educational goals should seek for a better way of experimentation in the teaching strategies and technologies.

The subject of the sentence “The educational goals” seem to be referencing a subject that is discussed in the previous sentence. The sentence seems to already offer a specific solution. Topic sentences tend to be general in nature. (This is true only for test questions like this. In real world applications, there may not even be a topic sentence in each paragraph.)

1. ABCD 2. ABDC 3. BCAD 4. DABC

Both sentences A and B seem general enough to become topic sentences. However, in option 3 where B is the topic sentence, sentence A is the third sentence. In this type of question, you should remember to group sentences that discuss a similar topic. Both sentences A and B, discuss that the educational system should benefit the region. They should be grouped together.

With this reasoning, we can eliminate option 3.

1. ABCD

2. ABDC

3. BCAD

4. DABC

Your turn

Now, we only have options one and two to consider. Both options have sentences A and B as the first two. They seem to be supporting each other well. The only difference is the sequence of the last two sentences. At this point, you will need to decide whether you will put sentence C or D first.

What do you think is the correct answer?

Leave your best guess in the comment section below and let’s have a light discussion about it.

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