This section covers the following topics

  • Logical Structure
  • Logical Structure Questions
  • How to Approach?
  • Common Question Stems
  • Step to Practice

Logical Structure

Passage structure questions ask us to determine the relationship between different parts of a passage. The key to this question type is understanding the relationship between each idea and paragraph. We must be able to separate ideas that support a thesis from the thesis idea itself. These questions are referred to by some as logical structure questions.


Logical Structure Questions

Some questions will ask about the structure of the passage as a whole: Does the author present her own new idea? Does the author contrast two ideas, evenhandedly showing the strengths and weaknesses of both? Does the author sharply criticize a particular position or perspective?

For such questions, huge help will be the “logical direction” words — “moreover”, “although”, “ironically”, “but”, etc. Always pay attention to these words as we read, notice the way they shape the paragraph, and we will start to develop an intuitive sense of the logical structure of the passages.


How to Approach

We know that our primary goal while reading is to find the main point of the passage. Although in the majority of passages the main point is stated in the first paragraph, it is not always the case that the main point appears in the first or second sentence. The main point of many passages has appeared in the final sentence of the first paragraph or in the first sentence of the second paragraph. On average, about 30% of the questions deal directly with the main idea.

As we read, attempt to identify the underlying logical structure of the passage. This will help us quickly find information once we begin to answer the questions. Awareness of this general structure will allow us to reduce the time we spend searching for information when we need to refer back to the passage.

Keep in mind that it is neither possible nor necessary for us to know every detail of a passage. For many questions we should return to the passage to confirm what we remember from our first reading of the passage.

Once we have finished reading the passage, take a moment to focus on the main point and the arguments that support the main point. Many students get so caught up in absorbing the information presented in a passage that they fail to take the time to mentally organize that information. If we are having difficulty remembering the main point of the passage, take a moment after reading the passage to write down the main point in a short, simple sentence.

Refrain from heavily underlining or marking up the passage. This will waste entirely too much time. Limit what we write to noting where the author makes a major point or changes the course of his or her argument.

Pay attention to the language the author uses in the passage. The following word lists can help identify the direction the author is taking with his or her argument

Continuing the same ideaIntroducing a new idea
furthermore
moreover
additionally
similarly
in fact
indeed
for example
however
but
still
yet
although
in contrast
nevertheless

 

Our state of mind when approaching these passages is extremely important. Make sure to take a positive, energetic attitude to the passages. Many passages in the Reading Comprehension section discuss conflicts between different viewpoints and this makes the reading inherently more interesting.


Common Question Stems

  1. One function of the third paragraph of this passage is to
  2. The author uses the adjective xin line y to emphasize that
  3. Which of the following best describes the relation of the first paragraph to the passage as a whole?
  4. The author refers to xin line y primarily to
  5. In the context of the passage, the word x(line y) most closely corresponds to which of the following phrases?

Step to Practice

Logical structure questions test the test taker’s combination of comprehension and reasoning skills. We must understand that the answer is not clearly stated or implied – and are generally to be found in the options. Hence, before analyzing the options ensure to have adequate comprehension of the details, to evaluate the option

Let’s try out one of the problems! Give yourself about 2 minutes to answer this Logic-Based Reading Comprehension (Logic RC). Afterwards, we’ll solve the problem and also discuss how to approach Logic RC questions in general.