TOEFL iBT : PURPOSE, METHOD, OPINION QUESTIONS

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In general, some of the questions from the reading section of TOEFL iBT test ask why an author does something (a purpose question), how an author does something in a passage (a method question), and what an author thinks about something in the reading text (an opinion question). Hence, under this subject article, we will get to learn about those three types of questions along with each of their sample presented.

A. PURPOSE QUESTIONS
First of all, the purpose questions practically ask why the author of a passage implies a certain piece of information to be raised in a reading text. Well, as part of your additional information, the ETS refers to this kind of question as a ‘rhetorical purpose’ question which tends to assess your comprehension about a certain degree of development of the given passage. In other words, the type of purpose question basically asks you why an author makes his or her point, or why an author supports and strengthens his or her point of view in a certain way such as:

- Why an author mentions a specific piece of information

- Why an author applies a certain sequence of events in order

- Why an author uses a certain example and refers to a study

- Why an author quotes a person or a document and makes a comparison

- And so on

In addition to that, the purpose questions may also ask you the importance of a sentence or paragraph to the passage referred. Some examples in relation to their categories can be further illustrated in these following ways:

a. Why does the author mention _________ in paragraph ______ ?

b. Why does the author provide an example of _________ ?

c. The author refers to _________ to indicate that .........

d. Why do the scientists mentioned in paragraph ______ claim that .........

e. Why does the author give details about _________ in paragraph ______ ?

f. The author quotes _________ to emphasize that .........

g. And so forth

So, in order for you to have a better understanding about how those typical questions applied in the reading section of TOEFL iBT test, you may take a look at one of the passages derived from the reading preview test along with an example given.

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As you can see from the sample presented above, the topic of a passage is about behavioral borders. The author basically provides two examples of animals that are affected by behavioral barriers on the first basis. After that, the author then gives an example of a behavioral boundary, so the third choice of answer to that reading pasage which is ‘To provide an example of a behavioral barrier’ is the correct one.

The Amazon is clearly a behavioral boundary (not a physical one) where ‘The birds could free fly over the river, but they seldom do’ (see the last sentence), according to what the author says. So, in order to help you answering this type of question correctly, you must think like the author; imagine that you have written a passage and the reason why would you use such an example, word, fact, etc.

B. METHOD QUESTIONS
Second of all, the types of method questions technically ask how the author of a passage explains something or accomplishes something from the given text. Again, you need to take a note that these questions are literally about the ongoing sequences or development of the passage. To put it simply, the typical method questions will practically ask how does an author strengthen or clarify a point of view that he or she has made.

Here are some of the illustrations to show you how the method questions may appear in the reading section of TOEFL iBT test:

- In paragraph ______ , the author explains the concept of _________ by .........

- How does the author explain the idea of _________ in paragraph ______ ?

- The author demonstrates the significance of _________ by .........

Here's the following sample from one of the passages of the reading preview test along with an example of a method question provided.

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As you can see from the sample above, the author explains the concept of biological barriers by giving an analogy. Meaning to say, the author basically compares two things or ideas in order to clarify one of those things, which is the idea of biological barriers.

According to the passage as you can see from above, it is clear to notice that the author basically compares a familiar type of barrier – farmers’ barbed wire fences that prevent cattle from leaving their to the less familiar concept of biological barriers that block the dispersal of species.

Although the author does give an example of an organism that is not blocked by barriers ‘the housefly’, however, the author does not provide any illustrations of how barriers are formed nor have the houseflies been affected by biological barriers. In any case, there could be one or two method questions in each reading section, so you really need to be careful when choosing the best answer.

C. OPINION QUESTIONS
Last but not least, there will also be the types of opinion questions which will assess how well your understanding of what an author expresses, perceives, and thinks about some issues or ideas. In many situations, the author’s opinion is usually not stated directly and therefore, you have to infer or guess what he or she implies by the language and idea presented in the passage.

Here are some of the examples of opinion questions that you will come across in the reading section of TOEFL iBT test along with the sample passage provided from the reading preview test:

- Which of the following statements that best express the author’s opinion of _________ ?

- In paragraph ______ , the author expresses the opinion that .........

- What is the author’s idea of _________ ?

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As revealed from the passage given above, only the first answer choice that best summarizes the author’s opinion of Thor Heyerdahl’s theories. In fact, the evidence of this answer can be found in paragraph 4 where the author says ‘Any commentary about Easter Island would be incomplete without mentioning the theories of Norwegian explorer and scientist (Thor Heyerdahl)’. So, it is clear to clarify that the author believes the Norwegian explorer and scientist ‘Thor Heyerdahl’ is an important expert on Easter Island because anything written about the island would not be complete without examining those ideas.

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1 comment:

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