The Paragraph Improvement section accounts for only 6 questions per test, so mastering it shouldn’t be your first priority, but it should be an eventual priority. You’re going to see a lot of the same grammatical themes we’ve already discussed in Error ID and Sentence Improvement popping up again here. In fact, if you’ve got all those things down pat, there’s really not much more to think about here, excepting one very important thing.
In the Paragraph Improvement section, you’re dealing with paragraphs. Duh, right? But it’s important to remember that in a paragraph, every sentence should flow logically from the one before it and into the one after it. And every new paragraph should flow nicely from the one before it and into the one after it as well. Paragraphs should be neatly organized around a main idea. When a question begins by saying “In context,” this is what it’s talking about. You’re being asked to make the paragraph and the sentences therein flow nicely together, on top of all the grammar fixing you’ll be doing. Don’t sweat this too much, it’s easier than it sounds. Here are some common types of questions.
- Which sentence should be removed? The one that has the least to do with the paragraph it’s in. If a sentence caused you to pause and make sure you read it right because it seems to have come from left field, that’s the one you want to get rid of.
- Which sentence is best to come at the end? Two common correct answers here…both supported heavily by context. You’re looking either to summarize the author’s argument (but don’t fall for overfacile choices that say things like “To sum up…” those are there to trick you), or you’re looking to neatly wrap up the second paragraph.
- What should be done to this sentence? Usually, they’ll present you with a sentence here that’s grammatically incorrect due to one of the rules we’ve already discussed (commonly a run-on, but not always). Fix it just like you would a Sentence Improvement question, but pay attention to the sentences before and after to make sure you’re not creating awkwardness elsewhere.
- Miscellaneous Main Idea questions. These come in all shapes and sizes (sometimes they’ll come right out and ask you what the main idea is; sometimes they’ll ask you to pick a good title for the passage), but the song remains the same: pick the choice that best encapsulates the main idea of the passage.