ParaPro Reading Study Guide: Organization

Knowing the different organizational patterns an author uses in a passage is imperative to answer this question correctly. The author will lay out a passage and ask you to determine how the passage is organized. The options will usually include one of the following patterns:

Compare/Contrast: When the author shows how things are alike or different.

Example: Golf and tennis are similar sports in that they aren’t team sports. However, they also provide many differences, such as the type of ball used and the location they complete.”

Problem/Solution: The author lays out a conundrum with how to solve it.

Example: “Hurricanes continue to cause destruction across many coastal communities. One way to deal with better limit the potential destruction is to build stronger buildings and more higher seawalls so the water won’t infiltrate into homes as much.”

Cause/Effect: When an author explains an incident and the consequences of it.

Example: “Inflation has had a major impact on the economy. As a result, home prices have increased and more people are living paycheck to paycheck.”

Degree Order: When an author lays out a passage in order of most important to least important.

Example: Planning a vacation involves a lot of planning. The most important thing you must do is first buy your plane or train ticket. The second most important step is packing appropriately for your trip.

Chronological Order: When an author lays out a passage in order of time order, starting with the earliest event first.

Example: “America’s pursuit of independence was a long and demanding journey. It began in 1773 when the English tried to impose taxes on all types of goods, including tea. This led to the Boston Tea Party. In 1776, America voted to break free from England and declare their own independence. In September 1783, they officially won the Revolutionary War, making them a fully free nation.”

Spatial Order: When an author uses directional words to describe the positioning of something.

Example: “The front of the house includes a large doors with bushes. The right end is where you’ll find the master bedroom. In the back yard, you’ll find a playground and exercise area.”

Classification: The author groups a selection in a specific category. This will usually include a phrase followed by a colon and sequence of terms.

Example: Baseball has four bases: first, second, third, and home plate. You will also find that each team has three outfielders: left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder.”

Description: The author will use a lot of adjectives to describe a scene, painting a picture in the reader’s mind. They will invoke the five senses to allow you to better “see” the story.

Example: “It was a clear and sunny day. As we sat on the beach, we could smell the fresh salt water coming from the East. The ocean was a distinct turquoise-blue color while the waves crashed in and the white caps flew high into the air.”

Flashback: The author starts a story in the present before going back in time.

Example: “The earth shook, knocking my book off the shelt. Immediately, I thought back to the last earthquake I experienced and how I was trapped in the elevator.”

Understanding these will go a long way in you figuring out the answer to the question. The biggest mistake that students make is they confuse the different “order” options. Therefore, it’s important to know the difference between chronological order, degree order, and spatial order.

Example 1

The Civil War is one of the most destructive battles in American history. It started with the South’s secession from the Union when Abraham Lincoln called for all states to be free and abolish slavery. The South followed it in April 1961 by firing the first shot at Fort Sumter, officially beginning the Civil War. The war then endured through a series of significant battles that turned the tide, none more so than the Battle at Gettysburg in 1863 which gave the North the upper hand. Two years later in 1865, the North trapped the South and forced Robert E. Lee to surrender.

How is the information in the passage organized?

  1. Chronological order
  2. Degree Order
  3. Spatial Order
  4. Problem/Solution

The answer is A. Two huge clues are in this passage. It starts with the word “First,” which helps indicate the earliest instance of the Civil War getting started. It also gives the years of each important moment in order, starting with 1861 and 1865. If it were in degree order, it would explain the most important moments to the least important. If it were spatial, it would use directional words, perhaps to describe where the battles took place.

It’s essential to note that some passages could be organized a couple of different ways, but there will never be four options where two are similar and it can be argued for either one. For example, spatial order tends to be descriptive, since it describes a setting; thus, you probably won’t get those two options in the same question.

Organization Review Test

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