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    Reading Comprehension
  I: Introduction
  II: The Challenge
III: The Five Steps  
  IV: 11 Question Types
Macro Questions
spacer1: Main Idea
spacer2: Purpose of the Passage
spacer3: Tone
spacer4: Passage Organization
spacer5: Category of Writing
spacer6: Identity of the Author
Micro Questions
spacer7: Detail of the Passage
spacer8: Definition of a Term
spacer9: Support for a Premise
spacer10: Function of Passage Part
11: Inference
  V: Tips
  VI: Sample Essays

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IV: Type 2 - Purpose of the passage
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How to identify it: Look for synonyms for purpose, such as objective, goal, main strategy.

What is the purpose of the passage?

Why did the author write the passage?

For which of the following reasons did the author write the passage?

What was the author’s primary objective?

The overall objective of the passage is which of the following?

How to tackle it: Verbs, verbs, verbs. The purpose of a passage can often be summarized by a single descriptive verb. Ask yourself: What is the passage doing? Is it arguing a point? Or praising something the author likes? Or is it merely describing a person or place or event? Often the answer choices will also start with verbs, and so once you've found the verb that best describes the passage's purpose, you're half done: all you need to do now is look for the one that fits your own mental description. For example, if the passage is a description of a new species of bird, look for words that mean “describe”: explain, discuss, etc.

Which of the following is the author’s main purpose?

A) Present . . .
B) Argue . . .
C) Persuade . . .
D) Lament . . .
E) Praise. . .

The answer must be (A), "present," because its meaning is the closest to “describe.” Both words suggest a measured and objective style of writing Choices (B) and (C) suggest that the author is offering a specific point of view, which isn't true if he's simply describing a new species. Choice (D) implies that the passage is about something sad or lost, which isn't true either. Choice (E) could potentially make sense if the author's description is extremely enthusiastic, but again this implies bias or a specific point of view, which we haven't identified in the passage. Therefore (A) is by far the best answer.
 Macro Questions: Tone