PTE – Reading – Re-Order Paragraphs

The Pearson reading tests assesses a candidate’s basic comprehension skills in order to determine if they are ready to integrate into an English-speaking environment. This part of the test consists of 5 different task types. Each of these question types comes with its own unique set of difficulties that need to be overcome in order for you to score well in them. In this article we will pay particular attention to the Reorder Paragraphs Question


Reorder Paragraphs Question Format


In this question you will be asked to reorder a group of mismatched sentences that make up a paragraph. There is only one correct order of sequence for this paragraph.

This type of question tests your ability to understand the how an academic text is organized.

The reading texts for this item type are up to 150 words in length. There are two to three Re-order paragraphs items in PTE Academic, depending on the combination of items in a given test. They are presented together in a single block.

Remember that the reading module is times as a whole, so time management is crucial. Do not spend too much time on one particular question. For this question type in particular I recommend spending on average 2.5 minutes per task, with a maximum of 3 minutes. This will ensure that you have sufficient time for all the other questions.


How Is This Question Displayed?


You will find a set of instructions at the top of the screen, followed by to panels. The left panel will contain different paragraphs that are not in order. The right panel will be empty. To select a text box you will need to click on the text box. The selected text box will be highlighted in blue.

To move paragraphs between panels you have to hold the left button of the mouse down and drag the text box between the panels. You can also drag text boxes within a panel.

Alternatively you can use the left and right arrow buttons to move the text box between panels and the up/down arrow buttons to re-order the text boxes in the right panel.

Also, if you double click on a selected text box, it will move to the bottom of the opposite panel. To deselect a text box you simply need to click on another text box.

Once you are satisfied with your choices, you can select the ‘next’ button to move onto the next question. Remember that reading tasks are not individually timed, so the timer will continue to countdown on the screen.

Here’s how this question will look on test day:


How Is This Question Scored?


Your score for this question will affect both your reading and writing score. You will get one point for every sentence that is in the correct spot Therefore you will get full marks if you have placed every sentence correctly, and you will only get a partial score if just some of your sentences are in the correct spot.

There is no negative marking for this particular question type, meaning that it is important to attempt every question, since you have nothing to lose by trying. Who knows, your educated guess might just earn you a few points.


Skills Tested In The PTE Reading – Reorder Paragraphs


Here is a list of important skills that you need to be able to do in order to score well in this question.

  • identifying the topic, theme or main ideas
  • identifying supporting points or examples
  • identifying the relationships between sentences and paragraphs
  • understanding academic vocabulary
  • understanding the difference between connotation and denotation
  • inferring the meaning of unfamiliar words
  • comprehending concrete and abstract information
  • classifying and categorizing information
  • following a logical or chronological sequence of events


Strategies For This Question Type


As mentioned before to answer this question, one needs to understand the structure of typical academic text and how cohesive devices are used to link sentences between paragraphs. You will also be able to follow a chronological order of sequence.

The first step to answering this question is to identify the independent sentence. This will be different to the other segments within the text. It introduces the main concept of the entire paragraph, information presented in the introduction paragraph will be on a more general level.

The independent sentence is usually called the topic sentence. You have to locate the topic sentence for this paragraph. Almost all paragraphs contain a topic sentence at the beginning. A topic sentence usually contains the main or central idea of a paragraph. All other sentences within a paragraph link to the topic sentence in some way, so the topic sentence will not begin with any linking word, and it will not refer back to any other sentences.

The next step would be to locate the second part of the text. This always connects in some way to the first part. For example, it might go into more specifics about something mentioned in the introduction.

For example:

To connect the rest of the sentences you need a solid understanding  of the following concepts

Sentence Structure

You need to understand basic sentence structure and paraphrasing. Most sentences follow a basic structure of subject - verb - object.

For example:

The cat chased the mouse.

The cat is the subject of the sentence.

Chased is the verb and the mouse is the object.

The next sentence that follows will use the object of the first sentence as the subject of the second sentence and so on

For example

The mouse ran away

Now, the mouse has become the subject of the next sentence.

Now the above example is oversimplified and I used it to illustrate a point, but you also need to note that when the objects are used as subjects in the second sentence, they will often be paraphrased or be a synonym of the original sentence.

For example


Grammar


Use the grammar to help you find links between ideas in one sentence and the next.


Articles


The first time a noun is mentioned in a text it is usually preceded by the article a or an. The second time its mentioned in a text it is preceded by the article the

For example, He bought a car. The car is blue.

There is a similar trend with the words this and these. They also move from general to specific as with the example above

The car becomes this car.

The cars become these cars.


Pronouns


Pronouns also show the development of sentences in a paragraph. Usually when a person or thing is first mentioned in a text, their names are used.

For example Susan or the children

When they are subsequently mentioned in a text, their names are replaced with pronouns.

For example:

Nouns get replaced with it / its

A person’s name gets replaced with he/ she or his/ her.

People get replaced with they/ theirs


Chronological Order And Linking Words


You should also look for words that show linking between segments. For example if a paragraph starts with the words nevertheless, furthermore, however or although, it is clear that they are referring to things that were mentioned in previous paragraphs.

Look at clues related to the present, past or future, or for clues linked to the order that ideas come in. Keep an eye out for words or phrases that demonstrate a chronological order of events, such as firstly, secondly, or lastly. They are not always there, but often you will see them.

For example:

Sometimes there are useful linking words like ‘after that’ or ‘finally.’ That makes it easier to find the sequence.

At other times the tenses can indicate the correct order. For example, ‘was’ and ‘were’ indicate the past. ‘will be’ indicates the future.  ‘Have’ with a verb (e.g. have spread) indicates a time from the past until now.

If the text consists of different tenses, think about how these could be logically organized or presented. Most texts use this simple structure, when it comes to tenses. They start in the past – move forward in time – end in the present.


How Can You Best Prepare For The PTE Reorder Paragraph Question?


Try first examining real paragraphs through active reading. Notice how each point is connected and how sentences flow from one to the next.

Also take a look at sample PTE questions with sample answers to get a better idea about the type of texts used for this particular question.

As you practice more and more of these skills, you will find that the speed at which you answer practice reading tests and exercises will gradually improve and hopefully your score will improve as well.

Once you have learnt all the necessary skills needed to solve this question type, you can begin to practice. Taking regular timed practice tests will help check the effectiveness of your preparation for this question type and improve your speed

This will help improve your stamina when it comes to answering questions in succession and you will become familiar with what is expected of you on test day. Make sure that you practice using authentic Pearson practice materials, so that you get a real exam feel

However, I must add that continued practice without proper feedback is entirely useless. There’s no point in taking many practice exercises or mock tests, if you are only going to make the same mistakes.

Practice Example

Let’s take a look at the following sample question

Read the text boxes and then restore the original order

  1. 1
    Such a willingness, though not easy, could transform those involved.
  2. 2
    But the key was a desire to really feel what the other person or party wanted and felt.
  3. 3
    The climate of openness and transparency he created in his sessions, if replicated within the family, the corporation, or in politics, would result in less angst and more constructive outcomes.
  4. 4
    Rogers felt that psychologists had the most important job in the world, because ultimately, it was not the physical sciences that would save us, but better interactions between human beings.

Model Answer

Rogers felt that psychologists had the most important job in the world, because ultimately, it was not the physical sciences that would save us, but better interactions between human beings.

The climate of openness and transparency he created in his sessions, if replicated within the family, the corporation, or in politics, would result in less angst and more constructive outcomes.

But the key was a desire to really feel what the other person or party wanted and felt.

Such a willingness, though not easy, could transform those involved.

Answer Explanation:

Rogers felt that psychologists had the most important job in the world, because ultimately, it was not the physical sciences that would save us, but better interactions between human beings.

This is the first text box because it introduces the topic and contains the main idea of the text. In addition, it attributes ideas to "Rogers;' the only individual named in this text. Afterwards, Rogers is only referenced using the pronoun ‘he’, which implies that in this paragraph is the first time he is mentioned.

The climate of openness and transparency he created in his sessions, if replicated within the family, the corporation, or in politics, would result in less angst and more constructive outcomes.

This is the second text box because it expands the main idea by describing the results of better interactions. Additionally, the pronouns "he" and "his" indicate that this person was named in a preceding text box.

But the key was a desire to really feel what the other person or party wanted and felt.

This is the third text box because it describes how to obtain the described results. The coordinating conjunction "but;' at the beginning of the text box, also indicates that information preceded this text box.

Such a willingness, though not easy, could transform those involved.

This is the fourth and last text box because it concludes the paragraph by suggesting overall results or consequences. In addition, "such a willingness" refers to the phrase, "a desire to really feel what the other person or party wanted and felt:' indicating that this text box comes after the third text box.

To best prepare for the reading test, it would be best to enroll in an PTE course with an experienced PTE teacher. Make sure that the course you choose also has practice tests and questions that reflect the actual levels of the PTE exam.