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Improving Paragraphs

In these questions, you will be given a short, first draft of an essay. The sentences of the essay will be numbered, and you will be asked to improve the sentences and the paragraphs. Some of the questions will be just like improving sentences questions, but others will require you to understand the context of the essay and to improve it by strengthening what is said in the passage. This tends to make these questions harder than error identification and improving sentences questions. You should read the questions before quickly reading the essay, because although the content questions will require you to understand the essay, most of the questions can be answered without referring to the essay. Following are the three basic types of improving paragraph questions:

Revising Sentences
These questions are like the improving sentences questions. The sentence that you will be asked to revise will be reprinted in the question, and you may, but probably will not need to, refer to the essay to answer it.

Combining Sentences
As the name implies, these questions require you to combine two sentences. The sentences that you need to combine will be reprinted in the question, and you may, but probably will not need to, refer to the essay to answer it. Usually, you will be able to tell without referring to the essay whether the sentences complement each other in which case they should be joined with a word like and; or whether the sentences oppose each other in which case they should be joined with a word like but. However, the best answer will often use a complete rewrite instead of just a conjunction such as and or but.

Content Questions
These questions require you to understand what the essay is trying to say. You may be asked to strengthen the argument in the essay: Which of the following sentences would be best to add at the end of the essay? Or you may be asked the purpose of a sentence: Sentence 3 is best described as . . . . Or you may be asked where to insert a new paragraph: Where is the most logical place to begin a new paragraph?

Example:
  1. Stonehenge, one of the many magnificent wonders of the ancient world, has long been shrouded in mystery.
  2. Its creation and purpose have generated numerous theories down the years.
  3. One thing is for certain: it took many hours of manpower to develop this amazing site.
  4. Hundreds of men would have had to have helped with the construction because there were three phases of it.
  5. In Phase 1, a circular ditch and bank were dug out of the ground, probably with the use of crude tools made from animal bones.
  6. Phase 2 involved transporting approximately 80 stones, each weighing about 4 tons, from 240 miles away.
  7. These stones were to be arranged in a circle, and, although such construction began, it was never finished.
  8. Many speculate that a majority of the 4 ton stones that were hauled in were eventually removed and replaced by the larger stones used in Phase 3.
  9. Approximately 30 stones were used in Phase 3, each weighing at least 25 tons and each originating 20 miles away from the Stonehenge site.
  10. These stones were arranged in an outer circle and then capped with additional stones.
  11. How workers hoisted such heavy stones to their upright positions without modern-day cranes is one of the mysteries surrounding Stonehenge.
  12. Without its enigma, however, it would not be the tourist attraction it is today.
 
Question-1

What is the best version of sentence 4 (reproduced below)?

 

Hundreds of men would have had to have helped with the construction because there were three phases of it.

  1. Hundreds of men would have had to have helped with the construction because there were three phases of it.
  2. Hundreds of men must have helped with the construction because there were three phases of it.
  3. Hundreds of men must have helped with the construction because there were three phases of construction.
  4. Because there were three phases of construction, hundreds of men must have helped.
  5. Hundreds of men must have helped with the three phases of construction.
Solution

Choice (A) requires that you make no changes to the sentence; however, there are clearly some problems with the sentence as it is. First, “would have had to have helped” is rather wordy and not very direct. Second, the “it” in the sentence is not clearly defined. Therefore, Choice (A) is incorrect.

 

Choice (B) is incorrect as well. Although the wordiness of the sentence has been corrected with more direct phrasing, the “it” still has not been defined. In addition, the sentence implies that since there were many men working on the project, it ended up being three phases. This takes away from the author’s intended message that it took hundreds of men in order to complete the project because the project entailed three phases.

 

Choice (C) seems to have corrected some problems; however, although we have now defined “it”, the sentence sounds a bit redundant. It also presents the same problem as Choice (B) since it sounds like the construction occurred because of the men.

 

Choice (D) switches the order of the sentence around a bit and is the correct answer. The sentence is a cause-effect sentence: because there were multiple phases of construction, many men must have been needed. This answer-choice correctly defines this cause and effect relationship.

 

Choice (E) clearly shows a sentence that does not at all depict the cause and effect relationship.
 

 
Question-2

Which sentence would function best as a concluding sentence after sentence 12 (reproduced below)?

 

Without its enigma, however, it would not be the tourist attraction it is today.

  1. The purpose of Stonehenge is still an enigma too, although most believe that it was used as a sacred burial ground for prominent people.
  2. Thousands visit the site in Southern England each year, and work is in progress to better preserve Stonehenge so generations can enjoy the wonder.
  3. Tourists can stay in one of the many hotels that have been built within kilometers of Stonehenge.
  4. Many other tourist attractions are nearby as well.
  5. The sheer magnitude of the attraction is amazing.
Solution

Choice (A) is incorrect because it raises a new topic about Stonehenge. Therefore, it does not function well as a concluding sentence, nor does it continue the topic of tourists as introduced in sentence 12.

 

Choice (B) is the right answer because it continues the discussion about tourists. Moreover, it functions well as a concluding sentence because it gives a brief picture of Stonehenge’s future.

 

Choice (C) continues the topic of tourists; however, it veers too far off of the topic of Stonehenge. The purpose of the paragraphs is to give information on Stonehenge, not to cater to tourists.

 

Choice (D) again veers too far off topic by bringing up other tourist attractions in the area.

 

Choice (E) is incorrect because, while it offers a tidbit of information that might be good for a tourist to know, it veers off subject and does not provide an effective conclusion.
 

 
Question-3

Which transitional word or phrase would best work to improve the flow between sentences 7 and 8 (reproduced below)?

 

These stones were to be arranged in a circle, and, although such construction began, it was never finished. Many speculate that a majority of the 4 ton stones that were hauled in were eventually removed and replaced by the larger stones used in Phase 3.

  1. However, many speculate…
  2. Nevertheless, many speculate…
  3. Consequently, many speculate…
  4. Therefore, many speculate…
  5. In fact, many speculate…
Solution

Choice (A) and Choice (B) are incorrect because the transitional words “however” and “nevertheless” show contrast. There is no contrast between the two sentences; rather, the second sentence explains more about the first.

 

Choice (C) and Choice (D) are incorrect because the transitional words “consequently” and “therefore” are transitional words that signal a result of some kind. In this instance, the second sentence is not a result of something occurring in the first, so these words do not work here.

 

Choice (D) is correct because the transitional phrase “in fact” is a phrase that shows agreement. In this case, the second sentence more clearly defines the first; therefore, “in fact” works.
 





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