Jump to content
Linguaholic

Questions on paragraph organization


Recommended Posts

You are given five to six sentences which you have to organize into a single paragraph.  You will be asked in which order of sentences is the most logical and coherent, which should be the first sentence, the second, third, and so on.  This is one of the trickiest questions ever, even moreso than other language proficiency questions such as reading comprehension.

Has anyone encountered these types of questions? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never encountered this sort of question and I'd need to know the context in what they were actually looking for, but I would just work through the sentences and order them with regards to the level of importance. So finding the topic sentence that would set up the rest of the paragraph would be your first look and then order the sentences in a way that supports that topic sentence.

Kind of strange question overall though as it seems like a really subjective notion as to what order the sentences should be in.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The only time I can recall doing any such thing was in school at the primary level. This was usually given to help students in learning how to create an essay. You would therefore have to find the sentence that best suit the topic and make that your number one sentence and then place the others in the correct order that would make sense.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I have.  I have found in several tests when I have applied for different jobs in the past.  Some were extremely easy and obvious, but others were a real challenge.  I hated those!  But I guess they are necessary, after all they want to make sure you are a good writer and can use the language well.  That doesn't make that kind of questions more pleasant tho :P

Link to post
Share on other sites
Scribendi: World-Class Editing and Proofreading

    I would imagine this is an overall comprehension exercise. As has been mentioned, the purpose is for you to determine the logical flow of thought, if an essay, or monologue, or conversation, if a dialogue.

  As an ESL teacher, I have had many students to help through this type of exercise. Don't feel bad if it takes two or three tries to almost get it right. Practice makes perfect.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

I can't recall if this type of question is typical to TOEFL or TOEIC. In any case, this type of question is indeed one of the best type of questions to test a student's skill in writing. A test taker who is able to arrange sentences to come up with a cohesive paragraph sure knows paragraph development well.

This type of question is a bit tricky to develop. A test developer will riddle the given sentences with a lot of transition words to make the item easy. However, to make this type of question more difficult, the test developer will rely more on the flow of ideas without making the transitions obvious. Thus, it can be a tricky item to answer.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, I've encountered this numerous times growing up. I believe around here, they start the first graders off with pictures that tell a story and make them put the pictures in the correct order. As the child ages, eventually they must put the paragraphs in order. Finally, around fourth grade is when they start to do sentence order for a paragraph around here. However, it was very confusing when I was a child because they said that a paragraph needed a minimum of 3 sentences at first. Then, they changed their mind and made it six.

The structure of the paragraph itself is similar to the essay or story as a whole. There's a beginning, a middle, and an end: an introductory sentence, explanatory sentences, and a conclusion. This can get really confusing because an essay is meant to discuss the explanatory sentences from the introductory paragraph or 'paragraph 1'. All in all though, once a person manages to get all of this down, it's easier than it looks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have my own formula when it comes to organizing sentences in paragraphs and I think I picked it up subconsciously from reading a lot growing up. I'm not exactly sure how precise they are in terms of technicalities of rules but I'm fairly sure it's good enough to at least be comprehensible.

What I do is to just try and use which sentences help build up the idea and put it up first and when the topic shifts, I tend to put the next sentences in a new paragraph.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It is a little confusing but when you read through the paragraphs then it does make sense as to which one should be first and last. A story always starts with an introduction and a middle and then the end has the conclusion to the first paragraph in it. They can be complicated when the paragraphs given are extracts from a book or not complete and this can make it rather difficult but always read through a few times and this will help you make sense of which is first, second and last.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey all.

This is not an uncommon exercise for ESL students, and I have seen it on tests.

The thing is, it is how a professional writer will often go about structuring or composing his/her writing. Too many think that a writer sits down, invents a title, writes the first word and finishes with the final word and everything comes out in the right order. Nothing farther than the truth!

A good writer will probably begin with some theme in mind and construct some type of controlling statement. From there, he/she will often jot down a number of ideas that are to be included in the work. These ideas will not necessarily come out of our heads in any particular order; in fact, they can often be rather intuitive and stormy. Consequently, the writer must go back over those notes and put them into the order that will best represent the main theme.

In addition, as others have mentioned above, that order will necessarily contribute to the flow and eventual understanding of the writing on the part of the reader. It can be called logical or whatever; however, the most important aspect will be that it flows in an understandable fashion. What good is writing is the reader doesn't understand it?

So, the test question aside, I would encourage anyone wanting to improve their writing in English to do just what the question asks. Jot down a number of ideas and put them into the best, communicative order. Such practice not only improves writing skills, but will help you overcome anxiety when such a question is posed. Again, it is not an unusual practice when writing, it's rather the norm.

peace,

revel.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

It is pretty easy.  The first sentence should be the overall theme for the paragraph.

For the tests where I have seen this type of question, the ´trick´ is always that a small detail is included in each sentence that makes no sense unless that sentence comes AFTER a certain sentence.

1. Topic sentence

2. Sentence that contains no references to information in a different sentence

3. Sentence that contains a reference to something in #2

4. Sentence that gives a reference to something in #3

Usually with those type of questions, they want you to be able to understand that something within a sentence is referencing something in a different sentence, so therefore must go after it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It is not difficult if you read the entire six paragraphs and then you will find the order that they need to go into automatically. The start of a story will become clear as well as the ending right away and the middle pieces will be easy to puzzle together once you have read over it a few times.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've encountered a few of these little buggers, but I found them to be fairly easy. You can tell the first and last sentences right away, and then from there I just try to identify which sentences go after the 1st and before the last

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...