Reading - Organization Questions for CBEST Exam Study Guide (page 4)
Passages on the CBEST are always organized logically. Learning to recognize that organization may also give you some ideas on organizing your essays in the Writing section. In this lesson, you'll learn about two types of organization questions: structure and misplaced sentences.
Structure questions have stems (the question part) that start out like these:
- Which of the following best represents the arrangement of the passage?
- Which of the following best describes the organization of the passage?
- The sequence of the passage is best represented by which of the following?
Where to Find Structure Answers in the Passage
To answer structure questions, you will need to skim the passage carefully enough to discover the gist of each sentence; that is, whether it is a statistic, an example, a quote, an opinion, and so on.
Sample Passage and Questions
Try the six Success Steps on the structure questions that follow this passage.
Many extended-time programs use heterogeneous grouping of multi-age and/or multi-ability students. Mixed-ability grouping is based on the theory that lower-ability students benefit from working in small groups with their higher-achieving peers, and high-ability students reinforce their knowledge by sharing with their lower-achieving peers. Researchers also have found that multi-age grouping benefits students' mental health as well as academic achievement and contributes to positive attitudes toward school.
Because the voluntary nature of participation in an extended-time program results in a range of student ages and skills, heterogeneous groups may result naturally. Often, however, extended-time program planners arrange groups so that high- and low-ability students work together—with the expectation of cooperative rather than competitive learning. In Chicago's ASPIRA program, students are selected for participation with a goal of mixing high achievers and at-risk participants, and these groups work together closely in all activities.
- Which of the following best describes the structure of the passage?
- The passage begins with a hypothesis, and then gives an explanation and support for this theory.
- The passage starts with a main idea, gives an example, and then draws a conclusion.
- The passage opens with an introduction to the topic, then gives a more detailed account of the topic.
- The passage begins with a statement, supports that statement with research, and gives real life examples.
- The passage begins with an event and then continues the narrative.
- Which of the following would be the best outline for the passage?
Here's how you could use the six Success Steps to answer question 1.
- It seems as though the passage is about students of different ages and abilities learning together.
- The first paragraph tells why and the second tells how students come to be in groups of mixed age and ability.
- The first sentence states a fact. The other sentences in the paragraph seem to cite research. It doesn't say so at first, but later it says, "Researchers also found …,"which implies that research was involved in the theories before that sentence.
- Choices c and e are out. The passage does not give much introduction to the topic, and does not start with an event.
- The next sentences support the topic sentence with research. The answer must be choice d.
- For this question, you don't need to use this step.
If you use the same method to answer question 2, you will quickly eliminate choices d and e on the basis of the first few sentences. You eliminate a because there are no quotations. You are left with choices b and c, which are very close. Choice c contains a vague word, discussion, which could describe almost any kind of structure. Choice b is more precise. The first paragraph in the passage gives the theory, and the second gives the application of the theory. The better answer is choice b.
Six Success Steps for Structure Passages
- Skim the passage or read the topic sentences to understand the general topic and the purpose of the passage.
- Notice the logical sequence of ideas that the author uses.
- The description of sentences in the answers goes in the same order as the sentences in the passage, so notice the first sentences. Do they state a theory, introduce a topic, quote a famous person?
- Read the answer choices. If the first few sentences state a theory, then the first part of the correct answer should say that the author states a theory, gives a hypothesis, or other words to that effect. Eliminate any answers that do not match.
- Go back to steps 3 and 4; look at the next few sentences.
- You should have eliminated at least one or two answers. When only two or three are left, read them to see what possibilities they reveal for the rest of the passage. Read the next sentences of the passage and find the answer that matches the rest of the structure.
Two Success Steps for Misplaced Sentences
- Read the passage to determine the main idea.
- Be suspicious of any sentence that has no connection to the main idea.
You may be asked to find the sentence that does not flow logically, or that is not necessary to the purpose of the passage. Such questions often start out like this:
- Which sentence, if omitted from the passage, would be least likely to interrupt the sequence of ideas?
- Which of the following is least relevant to the main idea of the passage?
Seven Success Steps for Simple Main Idea Questions
- While reading or skimming the passage, notice the general topic.
- Go through the answer choices. Cross out any that are completely off the topic.
- Cross out any answer choices that are too broad for a short passage. ("The constellations" might be the subject of a book, but not the main idea for a paragraph or two.)
- Eliminate any answer that is on the general topic, but not the specific topic of the passage.
- Cross out any that only deal with one sentence of a paragraph, or one paragraph of a longer passage.
- If you are still left with two answers that seem to fit most of the sentences in the passage, then choose the one that is most precise or specific.
- If you have crossed them all out, check the choices again. Carefully try to decide whether there is another meaning to any of the answer choices. If you're still stumped, go back to the answer that was the most specific and seemed to cover more of the passage than the others.
Where to Find Misplaced Sentences
You will usually be directed to a particular paragraph in a passage. If the first sentence states the main idea of the paragraph, it is unlikely to be the misplaced sentence, but you should read each sentence in the paragraph carefully, thinking about its relevance to the main idea.
Sample Passage and Question
The goal is to discover the sequence of bases in the DNA. If this is a mitochondrial DNA fragment, the sequence will match the person's mother and maternal relatives. The DNA is divided down the center like a zipper. Heat is used to cause the division. Only one half of the DNA (one side of the zipper) is used. The sequence of bases will be discovered by re-creating the other half of the DNA.
- Which of the sentences in the first paragraph is least relevant to the main idea of the paragraph?
- Heat is used to cause the division.
- The DNA is divided down the center like a zipper.
- The goal is to discover the sequence of bases in the DNA.
- If this is a mitochondrial DNA fragment, the sequence will match the person's mother and maternal relatives.
- Only one half of the DNA (one side of the zipper) is used.
The passage describes the process of dividing DNA. The second sentence has nothing to do with the process; instead it focuses on the makeup of the DNA. Since each of the other choices provides information about the process of DNA division, the answer is choice d.
Preparing for Organization Questions
To further prepare for the test, as you read any book, magazine, or paper, you might want to take note of different ways paragraphs are structured and how sentences follow in a logical sequence.
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