How Authors Develop Sentences, Paragraphs, and More | Reading
In the broadest term, a paragraph is a complete thought. Paragraphs that have well-designed sentences help the reader understand the main message of the whole text. Analyzing how authors’ ideas are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text is a high emphasis topic on the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ Reading subtest.
Let’s look at how paragraphs are structured to make them effective.
Analyzing how Ideas are Developed
The key to effectively communicating your ideas in any type of writing is to organize your thoughts into paragraphs. A good paragraph should have an introduction, evidence, and a conclusion. In addition, a good paragraph will focus on a central theme, idea, or subject.
You may recall in a previous TASC test Reading blog post, we discussed how to find the main idea, or central idea, of a text. If you were reading an article discussing global warming, you could say, “The third paragraph convinces the reader that global warming is real.” You’ve found the main idea.
Building from that skill, this topic requires you to answer the question: how does the author convince the reader that global warming is real? Did the author compare or contrast? State evidence in chronological order? State a cause and effect with statistics and hard evidence?
Seven Commonly Used Patterns of Organization
Authors develop ideas through forms of organization. When analyzing how authors develop ideas, consider the following patterns of organization:
- Cause and Effect. The results of something are explained.
- Chronological. Information in the passage is organized in order of time.
- Compare and Contrast. Two or more things are described, and their similarities and differences are discussed.
- Problem and Solution. A problem is described and a response or solution is proposed or explained.
- Sequence/Process Writing. Information is organized in steps, or a process is explained in the order in which it occurs.
- Order of Importance. Information is expressed in a hierarchy or by priority.
- Spatial/Descriptive Writing. Information is organized in order of its location on the page (top to bottom, left to right).
Reading study tip: throughout a text, sentence and paragraph structures can change multiple times depending on the author’s organization form. Discovering how the author argues certain points will help you discover their organization form.