Writing Organization: GED Test Prep
The GED Language Arts, Writing Exam includes questions about organization: how ideas are arranged in a text. This article reviews key strategies and patterns writers use to effectively organize their ideas.
On the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam, questions about organization are designed to measure your ability to organize ideas effectively. You may be asked to identify the best sequence of sentences or paragraphs, the best place to move a sentence or paragraph, or the best sentence or paragraph to eliminate to improve a paragraph's unity or coherence.
This section reviews three aspects of organization:
- essay structure and organizational patterns
- effective paragraphs
Essay Structure and Organizational Patterns
Most nonfiction texts have the basic underlying structure of main idea?→ support. They begin with a main idea (sometimes called the thesis or theme of the text) that controls the whole passage. It is this idea that the text will develop. The rest of the text then provides support for that idea in the form of examples, definitions, reasons, and so on. Most paragraphs function this way, too. In fact, you can think of a paragraph as a mini-essay.
On this basic level of main idea → support, everything in the passage or paragraph should support or develop that main idea. When sentences or paragraphs lose focus, when they stray from that controlling idea, the passage or paragraph loses its effectiveness.
Writers can use several different strategies for organizing their support. One of these strategies often serves as the overall organizing principle for the text while individual sections may use other techniques as well. For example, imagine an essay comparing and contrasting two film versions of Frankenstein. The support will be organized by comparison and contrast. But the writer may also use other organizational techniques within that comparison and contrast structure. For example, she may use order of importance when explaining what makes one version better than the other.
The four most common organizational patterns are:
- chronological order
- order of importance
- comparison and contrast
- cause and effect
To answer many of the questions about organization on the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam, you will need to be able to determine the writer's purpose and be able to recognize organizational patterns on both the essay and paragraph level. By identifying the organizational pattern, you can determine where to insert sentences or paragraphs and if any sentences or paragraphs are misplaced, such as a sentence that is out of chronological order.
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