ACT Reading: Paragraph Structure

ACT Reading: Paragraph Structure

The ACT will ask you about the structure of a paragraph. Sometimes the question will be about a single sentence within a paragraph; other times the question will be about the inclusion of an entire paragraph. It’s important to get plenty of test prep to make sure you’re ready for paragraph structure questions.

 

Strategies

  • Read the entire passage before looking at the questions

    It’s imperative that you understand a passage’s purpose. Looking at the questions beforehand will mislead you when you’re reading the passage.

  • It’s all about context

    When you’re asked about the placement of a sentence in a paragraph, it’s important for you to understand how it connects to the sentences before and after it. If it makes no sense as is, find the replacement in the answer choices.

  • Questions about omitting entire paragraphs

    Questions about omitting entire paragraphs. Sometimes the ACT asks you the impact on a passage if an entire paragraph were omitted. Think about the importance of that paragraph and then find the answer choice that best summarizes how the omission of that paragraph would impact the passage.

  • Adding sentences

    The test-makers also like to have you decipher which sentence would make most sense to add to a paragraph. Think about which answer choice fits best with the paragraph, the sentences before and after its insertion, and even the first sentence of the next paragraph (if there is a next paragraph). All the transitions should be smooth.

Paragraph Structure Practice Question

The most basic type of bow is a physical gesture that is used as a greeting in both meeting and parting. When two people within the Japanese tradition, greet each other in this way, they will bow towards each other, keeping their backs straight and looking down with their eyes. A deeper bow signifies a more formal greeting. Clothing choice in different cultures can signal degrees of formality. To show the lightest degree of respect, a person may bow up to 45-degrees, but a casual greeting with a friend or family member.

What change would you make to the underlined portion in the paragraph above?

  1. NO CHANGE
  2. Formal clothing is the type of clothing that a person would wear to a wedding.
  3. Formal clothing had different designs, depending on its country of origin.
  4. DELETE the underlined portion

Sometimes when you’re reading the passage the underlined sentence will just feel out of place, like the one above does. The rest of the paragraph is discussing bowing in Japanese tradition and this sentence is discussing clothing choice in different cultures around the world. The correct choice will always stay on the same topic as the rest of the paragraph, thus eliminating A from our answer choices. Now, we need to see if there’s an answer choice that talks about either clothing choice within Japanese society or the tradition of bowing. B isn’t it since there’s no connection to Japanese customs or the bowing tradition. C isn’t it, either, since this sentence, if inserted into the paragraph, makes for a very rough transition from both the sentence before and after it. Also, there’s no mention of either Japan or the custom of bowing. Last, if we read the paragraph without the underlined sentence, it makes perfect sense! That means we should DELETE the underlined portion, making D the correct answer.