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    Reading Comprehension
  I: Introduction  
  II: The Challenge  
  III: The Five Steps  
  IV: Question Types  
       Macro Questions  
           1. Main Idea  
           2. Purpose of the Passage  
           3. Tone  
           4. Passage Organization  
           5. Category of Writing  
           6. Identity of the Author  
       Micro Questions  
           7. Detail of the Passage  
           8. Definition of a Term  
           9. Support for a Premise  
           10. Function of Passage Part  
           11. Inference  
  V: Tips  
  VI: Sample Essays  
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IV-2: Question Types: Macro Questions- Purpose of the Passage
 
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How to identify Purpose of the Passage questions: Look for synonyms of purpose, such as objective, goal, and 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 them: Verbs, verbs, verbs. The purpose of a passage often can 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? Is it merely describing a person, place, or event? Often the answer choices will start with verbs: 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.

1. Main Idea

3. Tone