Reading Comprehension Organization Practice Test (page 3)

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Updated on Sep 20, 2011

Practice Passage 3

Now it's your turn. In this exercise, you'll take a paragraph that is organized one way—by cause and effect—and add another structure: order of importance.

Here's what you should do: Reread the following two paragraphs about mandatory school uniforms. Decide which author you agree with most. Then, look carefully at the effects the author predicts. Which effect do you think is most important? Which is least important? Rank these effects in order of importance. Then, decide whether you want to start with the most important idea and end with the least important, or vice versa, start with the least important idea and end with the most important. Finally, put it all together in a paragraph in the space provided.

Paragraph A

Mandatory school uniforms are a bad decision for our district. If students are required to wear a uniform, it will greatly inhibit their ability to express themselves. This is a problem because dress is one of the major ways that young people express themselves. A school uniform policy also directly violates the freedom of expression that all Americans are supposed to enjoy. Consequently, young people will doubt that their basic rights are protected, which will affect their larger outlook on civil liberties. Furthermore, school uniforms will interfere with the wearing of certain articles of religious clothing, and this will create tensions among certain religious groups that can lead to feelings of discrimination. In addition, school uniforms will place an undue financial burden on many low-income families who may not have the money to spend on new uniforms every year, especially if they have several children. Finally, school uniforms will negate one of the most important concepts we can teach our children—individuality. When push comes to shove, we'd all be better off choosing individuality over uniformity. Mandatory school uniforms are a step in the wrong direction.

Paragraph B

Mandatory school uniforms will have a tremendously positive impact on our district. If students are required to wear a uniform, it will greatly inhibit gang behavior since they will no longer be able to wear gang colors. As a result, schools will experience an overall decrease in school violence and theft. Since violence is one of the major concerns that parents, teachers, and students raise about our district, this change will be welcomed with open arms. In addition, school uniforms will instill a much-needed sense of discipline in our student body, and discipline is something that is, unfortunately, in short supply in our school district. Also, students dressed in uniforms will feel a strong sense of community with their peers, which will lead to a more harmonious school environment. Finally, if students were wearing school uniforms, administrators and teachers would no longer have to be clothing police, freeing them to focus on more important issues than whether someone is wearing a dress that is too short or a T-shirt with an inappropriate message. You can make our schools a better place by supporting mandatory school uniforms.

  1. Rank the ideas of the paragraph you have chosen in order of their importance to you.
  2. Now write a paragraph, choosing whether to put the ideas in the order of increasing importance or decreasing importance.

Creating a brief outline is the best way to ensure that your ideas are organized according to your chosen method of ordering.

Some students prefer to discuss all of the similarities of a topic or issue first and then move on to discuss the contrasting elements in the separate blocks of paragraphs that follow. Still others prefer to alternate their focus by shifting from comparison to contrast on a point-by-point basis throughout the entire essay. Either style is fine, as long as the key points are restated in your concluding paragraph.

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