Reading Order of Importance Help

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Updated on Sep 21, 2011

Order of Importance

Continuing your study of the structure of reading material, this lesson shows you how writers use order of importance—from least to most important or from most to least important. Understanding this commonly used structure improves your reading comprehension by helping you see what's most important in a piece of writing.

It's a scientifically proven fact: People remember most what they learn first and last in a given session. Writers have known this instinctively for a long time. That's why many pieces of writing are organized not in chronological order but by order of importance.

Imagine again that the writer is like an architect. How would this type of writer arrange the rooms? By hierarchy. A hierarchy is a group of things arranged by rank or order of importance. In this type of organizational pattern, hierarchy, not chronology, determines order. Thus, this architect would lay the rooms out like so: When you walk in the front door, the first room you encounter would be the president's office, then the vice president's, then the assistant vice president's, and so on down to the lowest ranking worker. Or, vice versa, the architect may choose for you to meet the least important employee first, the one with the least power in the company. Then the next, and the next, until at last, you reach the president.

Likewise, in writing, ideas may be arranged in order of importance. In this pattern, which idea comes first? Not the one that happened first, but the one that is most, or least, important.

Most Important to Least Important

In the following paragraph, the writer starts with what is most important, hoping that by putting this item first, the reader will be sure to remember it. After you read the passage, answer the questions that follow. Each question is followed by its answer to guide you through your reading of the passage.

Choosing a doctor is an important decision. Here are some things you can do to make the best choice. The single most important thing is to interview the doctors you are considering. Ask questions about the practice, office hours, and how quickly he or she responds to phone calls. Pay attention to the doctor's communication skills and how comfortable you are with him or her. The second thing you should do is check the doctor's credentials. One way to do this is to ask your health insurance company how they checked the doctor's credentials before accepting him or her into their network. Another thing you can do is to look at the environment of the doctor's office. Be sure patients aren't waiting too long and that the office is clean and professional. Finally, spend some time talking with the receptionist. Keep in mind that this is the person you'll come into contact with every time you call or come into the office. If he or she is pleasant and efficient, it will certainly make your overall experience better.
  1. According to the passage, what's the most important thing you can do to be sure you choose the right doctor?

The answer should be clear: The writer tells you clearly that the "single most important thing is to interview the doctors you are considering."

  1. What is the second most important thing you can to choose the right doctor?

When a writer starts out by saying "the most important thing," you know that the writer will be starting with the most important idea and ending with the least important. The second most important thing, therefore, is the second piece of advice offered in the paragraph: "Check the doctor's credentials."

  1. What's the third most important thing?

The writer is going from most to least important, so according the passage, the third most important thing is to "look at the environment of the doctor's office."

  1. Finally, what is the least important tip the writer offers?

The answer is the last piece of advice the writer offers: "Spend some time talking with the receptionist."

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