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1.1: Order of Ideas

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on August 7, 2009 .

This resource deals with order of ideas.

Order of Ideas

In good paragraphs, sentences are arranged in logical order. There is no one order that will work for every paragraph. But there are a few organization patterns that paragraphs often follow. For example, sentences in a paragraph may be arranged to show time or sequence of events. In other paragraphs, sentences may be arranged in order of importance, moving from most important point to least important point or from least important to most important. In another common pattern, a paragraph’s sentences move from the most general point to the most specific, or vice versa. It’s important that all the sentences in a paragraph follow the pattern so that the paragraph is clear and logical.

The organization of a document is like the structure of a paragraph because there is not a standard pattern that works for every document. However, it is important that the document follow a logical order. Paragraphs in a document might be arranged to show time or a sequence of events. In other documents, paragraphs may be arranged from least important to most important point, or vice versa. Many documents will be arranged so that points move from most general to most specific, or most specific to most general. Like paragraph organization, the organization of a document should be consistent.

On the GED, some questions will ask you to restructure paragraphs or ideas within paragraphs. When answering these questions, use the following guidelines:

Read the passage carefully and make note of ideas that seem out of place. If an idea or paragraph seems out of place, there is a good chance that it is not in logical order.

Think about the type of organization pattern that the paragraph or document seems to follow. Overall, do ideas or paragraphs appear to be placed in chronological order? Do ideas flow from least to most important, or vice versa? Does information move from most general to most specific, or vice versa? Get a general sense of the organization of the paragraph or document. Understanding a general idea of organization will help you spot sentences or paragraphs that do not seem to follow the pattern.

Look for sentences that provide support for a point. This support might be examples, reasons, explanations, or details. In an effective paragraph, these sentences will directly follow the point they are supporting.

For each question, look at the options presented for restructuring the paragraphs or ideas. Do any of the options match what you noted the first time you read the passage? How would the changes proposed affect your reading of the passage? Remember that your goal should be to choose the organizational change that will make the passage most logical and clear. Sometimes, no revision will be necessary.

Order of Ideas Exercise

Consider the organization of the paragraph below. Reorganize the ideas so that the paragraph’s organization is logical.

Hotels and transportation on trips can be expensive if you don’t book them plenty of time in advance. When you go on a trip, you need to think about how much money to allot for things like transportation, food, and hotels. It is important to plan your trips carefully. Planning your trip carefully will allow you to have a more relaxed trip. Another thing to plan for is how much time you want to spend sightseeing and doing different sorts of activities. Even though you may want to do everything, you have to remember that there are only so many hours in the day!

Click here for exercise answers.


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