A vital sign of good English language skills is the ability to understand how different parts of a text relate to each other. A large text is written to convey an essential meaning. The various sentences and paragraphs play an important role. They complement each other and together convey the meaning of the text.

This is what is essentially tested in the Reorder Paragraph questions in the PTE Reading section.

You will see paragraphs or sentences from a text arranged in a wrong order. You have to drag the paragraphs and drop them into correct positions.

They key skill here is the ability to understand how sentences and paragraphs connect to each other. It could be a grammatical relation such as between a noun in one paragraph and a pronoun in another paragraph, or it could be a logical relation such as the cause in one paragraph and the effect in another paragraph.

Let’s look at the basics first:

 Number of questions2~3
 ScoringContributes to Reading score.
 Negative markingNo
 Time to answerNo time limit on per question basis. Be mindful of the overall time limit for the Reading section.

It is important to understand how the scoring works for Reorder questions. You will get a point for each pair of paragraphs that is arranged in the right order. You won’t get score based on the individual position of each paragraph. Your focus should be on getting pairs in correct order.

PTE Reorder Paragraph Method

When you start attempting this question your first goal should be to identify the leading paragraph. This is often easy to do as the leading paragraph has some unique characteristics. First of all, the leading paragraph introduces a concept or theme of the whole text. It is independent and self-contained. It does not require other paragraphs or sentences to complete its meaning.

Once you have found the leading paragraph, you should look for the next paragraph. There are two things to consider. First, the second paragraph should add on to what the first paragraph introduced. Second, the paragraph should have a link with something in the previous paragraph. For example, if the first paragraph talks about the general concept of Global Warming, the second paragraph can discuss a specific incident related to it.

You should then repeat the same process for subsequent paragraphs. Ask yourself these questions?

Which information is missing in this paragraph? Which paragraph contains that information?

These questions will guide you to correct paragraphs.

Once you have arranged all paragraphs in the right order, make sure you read them again. Sometimes in a subsequent reading you will feel that a paragraph can be moved in another place. Do it and see how it impacts the meaning of the whole text.

At times you will be confused between different paragraphs. In that case you should put each paragraph in the position one by one and see how it effects the order of other paragraphs and the meaning of the text.

PTE Read Aloud Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks to use in Reorder paragraph questions:

Look for the independent sentence

Once you identify the paragraph for the first position, rest will become easier. So, you will immediately look for it. Ask yourself this question – “Which sentence does not depend on any other sentence to complete its meaning?” That will be your leading sentence.

Look for noun-pronoun relationships

Grammar clues can help you identify relationships between paragraphs. For example, if the second paragraph has “He” in it, then you ask yourself – “Who does this ‘He’ refer to?”. Look for the sentence which tells us about this person, the sentence which has this noun in it.

Look for connecting words

Words such as however, therefore, because, indicate that the sentence preceding these words is linked to the sentence before in some way. Sentences beginning with one of these words are rarely the opening sentences. When you come across such a word, look for a sentence which completes the relationship indicated by the connecting word. For example, “However” indicates an exception, “Because” indicates reason, etc.

Look for logical relationships

Successive paragraphs in a text are supposed to add to the meaning of the paragraphs before them. If paragraph A talks about a general concept, paragraph B might give more details of it in a particular year and paragraph C might provide an example of the concept. Look for such relationships and use that to put the paragraphs in the right order. An example would obviously not come before the definition!

Try different options

A simple approach, though somewhat more time consuming is to just try different options and see if they make sense. For example, after the first paragraph, just put in the remaining paragraphs in 2nd place one by one and see which one makes more sense.

Start noticing paragraph connections

Any reading that you do, start noticing how paragraphs are linked to each other. This skill is at the core of reorder paragraph question type. Start understanding how paragraphs transition from one to another. Make this a part of your everyday reading on any website that you prefer. Brain Pickings is one resource that we love! The articles are always interesting.

Take the FREE Practice Test and find out how many reorder paragraph questions can you get correct!