Listen to this post: reading-structure
To prepare for TOEFL iBT reading, you will need to not only practice reading academic passages but also respond to how the passages are organized; that is you should consider the structure of those reading passages. There are some things you can do which will improve your ability to understand the organization of reading passages.
Map the organization of the reading passage by dividing the text into two sections: the introductory paragraph(s) and the conclusion. Draw a line after the introduction and right before the conclusion begins. Then use the following methods of note-taking to help you understand the reading passage. Remember your purpose is to learn to read rhetorically, a skill which will help you tremendously for TOEFL IBT and for college-level reading assignments.
1) Make a map of the idea structure of the passage by drawing a circle in the center of the page and label it with the text’s main idea. Then record the text’s supporting ideas on branches that connect to the central idea. Ask yourself, “How are the ideas related?”
2) Describe the structure of the reading passage by making a descriptive outline. Make some brief statements about each paragraph or section. How does each section affect the reader? What is the writer trying to accomplish? What does each section say? Once you have made a descriptive outline, ask questions about the organization of the reading passage: “Which paragraph is the most or least developed? Should the writer have developed a paragraph more? Did the writer spend too much time developing a particular paragraph? Which section has the most or least compelling argument?” Using the map that you constructed in step one, ask yourself, “What is the main argument of the text? Is it an implicit or explicit argument?”
3) Like TOEFL iBT reading, make a chart so you can fill in the main points, arguments, key words, and so on.
Once you have completed steps 1-3, create a 150 word summary of the structure of the text using your maps, outlines, and charts.
After reading this post, you may be thinking to yourself, “Reading rhetorically sure takes a lot of effort.” True, being an active reader requires careful thought and meaningful notes, but approaching reading from this perspective will help you to be better prepared for TOEFL iBT rhetorical questions or for assigned readings in your college classes.
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