PTE Preparation Blog

Re-order Paragraph - How to get the scores you need in one attempt

The task to put text boxes together in the correct order in re-order paragraph question is similar to putting a jigsaw puzzle together. The skills required...

Author: GLS LLP       Date: 10-03-2017

Most PTE test takers find the task in Re-order Paragraph type complex and approach these questions with fear. We believe the reason is that they do not understand the task and do not know how to approach the question. In this blog, we will provide clarity on these questions. As you read this blog, you will find that re-order paragaraph is indeed an easy and simple item type that requires little effort to answer correctly in one attempt.

The task

Re-order paragraph is a reading item type which has 2-3 questions. The questions are designed to test your ability to comprehend the organization and cohesion of an academic text.

The top section of the screen for re-order paragraph question will contain instructions. The instruction will say something to the effect that "The text boxes in the left panel have been placed in a random order. Restore the original order by dragging the text boxes from the left panel to the right panel". These instructions will remain same for all questions in this item type. So, do not waste time reading them but understand and be aware of what the instructions are going to be for this item type.

Beneath the instructions will be two boxes/panels laid horizontally. The box/panel on the left side will contain text boxes. Expect 4-5 text boxes placed incorrectly in a random order. The box/panel on the right side will be empty. You have to place the text boxes in the right order by dragging them from the left to the right box/panel. You can also drag the text boxes within the right box/panel as well.


The communicative skill scored in this section is reading.

The reading sub skills tested and that you have to display in this task are identifying the topic, theme or main ideas; identifying supporting points or examples; identifying the relationships between sentences and paragraphs; understanding academic vocabulary; inferring the meaning of unfamiliar words; comprehending explicit and implicit information; comprehending concrete and abstract information; classifying and categorizing information; following a logical or chronological sequence of events. Do not get intimidated by number of sub skills. Whenever you read, you apply these sub skills subconsciously, no matter the language.

You get partial credit for re-order paragraphs item type. Which basically means that you do not have to get all the text boxes in correct order to get a score. You get a score of 1 for every pair that you put together correctly. For example, if there are 5 text boxes, let's call them a,b,c,d,e. The correct pairs here are ab; bc; cd and de. If you get all pairs in order, you get maximum score 4 for this question. If you get only 2 pairs correct, say bc and de, you score 2 for this question.

Strategies and Tips

The task to put text boxes together in the correct order in re-order paragraph question is similar to putting a jigsaw puzzle together. The skills required are the same. When you attempt to put a jigsaw puzzle together, you have parts of a complete picture in different pieces. You lay these pieces in front and try to guess what the complete picture could be like. When you have what you think is the complete picture you try and put the pieces together in the right order. While you put the pieces together you constantly review and correct the final picture till you have solved the puzzle correctly. You know you have solved the puzzle correctly when all the pieces fit together perfectly and the end image makes sense.

The strategy to solving the re-order paragraph puzzle is exactly the same as for jigsaw puzzle, except instead of pieces of a picture you have words in sentences from a paragraph and in the end, instead of a complete picture you get an academic paragraph.

If it is an academic paragraph that you get in the end then it is imperative that you understand the structure of academic paragraphs to form a complete strategy for this question type. Now, any academic paragraph consists of three components, namely Topic Sentence, Body and Conclusion. Topic sentence and body feature in all academic paragraphs while conclusion may or may not form part of an academic paragraph.

The first sentence of any academic paragraph is always the topic sentence. The topic sentence introduces and clearly states the main topic/idea/point of the paragraph or developed further in the paragraph or it will preview the kind of information that the rest of paragraph is likely to contain or it will link back to the previous paragraph. Generally, when academicians are looking for a certain piece of information in an academic text they read only the topic sentence of each paragraph to assess if the information is likely to be in that paragraph and if they should read further.

The body comes after the topic sentence. It is here that the main topic/idea/point introduced in the topic sentence is elaborated further. Elaboration may include description, analysis, implications, inter-relationships exemplification or any combination of these.

Conclusion forms the last part of any paragraph. It is here that the author tries to round off what has been said in the paragraph; or qualifies his views.

Before you start to put the text boxes in the correct order it is imperative that you read and understand the information in the text boxes and its type. Just like in jigsaw puzzle the goal of this exercise is to deduce the main topic/point/idea that the author has tried to put forth in this jumbled up paragraph. At this stage do not worry about the accuracy of your deduction. Just a basic idea of the paragraphs topic/idea/point will do at this stage. As you put the text boxes together you will have opportunity to tweak this deduction and finally get it accurate.

The next step is to get the first sentence of the paragraph. The first sentence is always the topic sentence. Read the text boxes to see the content of which text box meets the criteria of a topic sentence. Drag this box to the right. If you feel unsure, do not worry, it is important to begin, you can correct any errors later.

After topic sentence, it is turn to identify the body of the paragraph in order. This is an art and depends on the type of information. If it is a process, then the order of process will determine the order of text boxes. If it is a narrative then the chronological order will determine the order of text boxes. So, identify the type of information and ask yourself what factors of the text could help you determine the correct order of the text boxes.

Grammar of the text in the boxes contains important clues as to the order of the box in the paragraph. For example, nouns are always preceded by pronouns in a paragraph (Noun Rachel will be referred to as she). Another source of hint are words that reflect transition between ideas (such as and, but, finally).

After you have arranged the text boxes in order, revise your answer. When you read the ordered text boxes, ask yourself does the text make grammatical sense, does the text present the topic/idea/point in a coherent manner and most importantly does the text box order meet the criteria of common sense. If you are unsure of the position of any text box in the paragraph, move it to another likely position and revise the answer. Use this trial and error method till the ordered boxes make sense and you are sure of the answer.

We hope you found the tips in this section helpful. For complete PTE preparation and practice of re-order paragraph item type, We strongly recommend that you enroll for one of our PTE preparation courses. You will get to practice your skills in an environment that simulates actual PTE test. You will get G-Analytics to tell you what skills you need to focus on most and personal tutor feedback to help you with any difficulties that you face. So you get the scores you need in one attempt.

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