Organization
Organization
Organization questions deal with the logical structuring of the passage on the level of the sentence, the paragraph, and the passage as a whole. These questions ask you to organize sections to maximize their coherence, order, and unity by asking three types of questions:
  1. Sentence Reorganization
  2. Paragraph Reorganization
  3. Passage Reorganization
Sentence Reorganization
Sentence reorganization questions often involve the placement of a modifier within a sentence. Your ability to reorder a sentence correctly will depend on how well you have absorbed your grammar lessons above—specifically the “Misplaced Modifiers” section. For example,
Austen wrote about a society of manners, in
 
which love triumphs over a rigid social hierarchy
 
 despite confinement to her drawing room. 
43
43. A. NO CHANGE
B. (Place after love)
C. (Place after Austen)
D. (Place after society)
You probably guessed that the underlined phrase does not modify “hierarchy,” “love,” or “society.” The pronoun “her” in the underlined phrase should tip you off that “Austen” is being modified. If you read “Misplaced Modifiers” in the previous chapter, you should already know the cardinal rule of placing the modifier next to the modified word. So the correct answer is C because the underlined part modifies “Austen.”
Approximately half of the organization questions on the English Test will ask you to reorder sentences. All of these sentence reorganization problems will look similar to the one above. Study up on your modifier placement in order to get them right.
Paragraph Reorganization
A couple of questions will ask you to reorder sentences within a paragraph. They will look much like this:
      [1] In April, I’m usually in a bad mood because
 
of my debilitating pollen allergies. [2] In
 
November, despite the graying trees and the
 
short days, I’m elated because I can
 
celebrate both Thanksgiving and my birthday.
 
[3] My mood changes with the months.
 
[4] In the summer months I feel happy
 
from days spent in the sun.
 
61. Which of the following
provides the most logical
ordering of the sentences in
the preceding paragraph?
A. 1, 4, 3, 2
B. 3, 4, 2, 1
C. 3, 1, 4, 2
D. 2, 1, 4, 3
The best way to approach these questions is to decide which sentence should come first, and then to eliminate incompatible answer choices. Ask yourself: which sentence logically comes first in this sequence? Sentence 3 makes a good topic sentence because it provides a general argument that can be followed and supported by examples. By deciding that Sentence 3 should come first, you can immediately eliminate choices A and D because they do not begin with Sentence 3. Now you can move on to arranging the rest of the paragraph. Each of the remaining sentences talks about a different time of year: April, summer, and November. The three sentences should fall in that chronological order (April, summer, November), as this is the most logical arrangement in this example. Therefore, the correct answer is C.
If you are totally lost on a paragraph reorganization question, you can often look to the answer choices for clues. You can look at the first sentences given to you by the answer choices and see whether any of them sound like topic sentences. If you can identify a topic sentence, you’re well on your way to getting the correct answer.
Passage Reorganization
These appear at the end of passages. They will ask you either to insert a sentence where it best belongs in the passage or to move a paragraph to a different location in the passage. Questions that ask you to insert a sentence will generally look like this:
72. The writer wishes to include
the following sentence in the
essay: “That summer, I spent
so much time on the beach that
I could smell only a
combination of sand and
seaweed when I finally
returned to school.” That
sentence will fit most
smoothly and logically into
Paragraph:
F. 2, before the first sentence.
G. 3, after the last sentence.
H. 4, before the first sentence.
J. 5, after the last sentence.
This question is basically a strategy question disguised as an organization question. It asks you to identify the sentence provided as an appropriate topic or concluding sentence for Paragraphs 2, 3, 4, or 5. When the answer choice calls for the sentence to be placed “before the first sentence,” then it would become the topic sentence of the paragraph. When the answer choice calls for the sentence to be placed “after the last sentence,” then it would become the concluding sentence.
Questions that ask you to relocate a paragraph will generally look like this:
74. For the sake of the unity and
coherence of this essay,
Paragraph 4 should be placed:
F. where it is now.
G. after Paragraph 1.
H. after Paragraph 2.
J. after Paragraph 5.
To answer this question, look at (and perhaps underline) the topic sentences of each paragraph. These topic sentences, removed from the passage, should follow a logical chain of thought. For example, look at these topic sentences:
Topic Sentence 1: Seasonal variations affect many aspects of my life.
Topic Sentence 2: This April, the sight of leaves and the sounds of returning birds cheered me so much that I hugged a tree.
Topic Sentence 3: The return of the warm weather also meant that I got some much-needed exercise after being stuck indoors all winter.
Topic Sentence 4: My mood changes with the months.
Topic Sentence 5: The weather’s effect on my mood and my fitness always reminds me of the undeniable connection between people and nature.
Even without reading the whole passage, you can take an educated stab at the correct answer. Consider the logical organization of an essay: introduction, supporting paragraphs, and conclusion. According to this structure, Topic Sentence 1 should present the passage’s argument, and it should be followed by three paragraphs supporting the argument and a final paragraph presenting a conclusion.
Now take a look at Topic Sentence 4. It makes a general argument about the weather’s effect on the author’s mood. Ask yourself where the paragraph best fits into the passage: is it a supporting paragraph or a conclusion? It’s unlikely that Paragraph 4 is a conclusion because it narrows the focus of the essay to talk about the author’s mood, while other paragraphs in the essay discuss the author’s physical condition. If it’s a supporting paragraph, then where does it belong? Eliminating choice J (which would make it the conclusion) leaves you with three options for a supporting paragraph.
Your next step should be to take a look at the remaining Topic Sentences. Topic Sentence 2 also discusses the weather’s effect on the author’s mood, but it deals specifically with April weather. Topic Sentence 3 discusses the weather’s effects on the author’s physical health. If you choose Choice F and keep Paragraph 4 where it is, the passage will be ordered like this: introduction, weather/mood, weather/health, weather/mood, conclusion. This order doesn’t make much sense because it inexplicably divides the weather/mood discussions. Choices G and H place the weather/mood paragraphs side by side. Choice G puts Paragraph 4 (general weather/mood) before Paragraph 2 (April weather/mood), while choice H puts 2 before 4. When writing an essay, moving from the general to the specific makes more sense than moving in the opposite direction because you want to support your claims with specific evidence. So by using good writing strategy, you will arrive at the correct answer: G.
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