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Organizing information | Quick guide

How does the passage or paragraph make its point?

Organizing information questions ask you to understand and analyze how a passage works to make an argument:
  • What is the progression of ideas in the passage?
  • What is the purpose of a specific paragraph?
  • “Which one of the following most accurately describes the organization of the last paragraph in the passage?”
  • “Which one of the following most accurately describes the organization of the passage?”


When Organizing Information questions ask about the entire passage, it can be helpful to read the first and last sentence of each paragraph. Paragraph breaks are natural indicators of a shift in the discussion, so this strategy can help you review how the discussion progresses from one claim or supporting point to the next.
Top Tip: Think about how the author builds the argument—within each paragraph and from paragraph to paragraph.
Does the author:
  • state a thesis, give evidence, and then address an opposing position?
Or does the author:
  • present a contradictory or paradoxical situation, then give examples for how it manifests, then discuss a potential solution?
Or does the author:
  • present one side of a debate, then another, then argue for a one side or introduce a third point of view?
This kind of “ordering” is what you will see in the choices.
Note that the options for these questions won’t track every twist and turn of the author’s development of the main point. They will instead be very broad characterizations of the way the main point is developed. So don’t be concerned if the choice you like best seems to contain very little detail. The incorrect choices will be at a similar level of generality but will clearly fail to capture how the passage as a whole is organized.

Common wrong choice types

  • Wrong order Tempting wrong choices for organizing information questions might include the right elements of the passage, but in the wrong order. For example, a wrong choice could say that the author’s point of view was stated at the beginning of the passage when it was actually stated at the end.
  • Not quite! Other wrong choices might mischaracterize the role a particular paragraph plays in the passage.
  • Sounds clever, but just wrong Some choices, while temptingly written, simply don’t reflect the way the author structures/organizes/builds their argument.

Comparative Reading questions about organization

Comparative reading sets may have their own organizing information questions. Usually, you’ll have to identify a specific strategy used by both passages. Here’s an example:
  • “Which one of the following is an approach used in both passages to help make a point about _____?”
Since the right answer will be an approach utilized by both passages, you know that you can eliminate a choice as soon as you see that at least one passage doesn’t use the strategy the choice describes.
You might also be asked to pick a choice that sums up the relationship between the passages:
  • Which one of the following most accurately describes a relationship between the two passages?
Unlike single-passage variants, this type of organizing information question asks you to understand and identify how the passages relate to one another. Is one narrower in focus than the other? Does one make a recommendation or argument, while the other simply sums up background information? Try to come up with a general answer like this in your own words first, then head to the choices and see if one matches your prediction.

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