This type of question on the exam will cover the ability to: analyze words/phrases, interpret text structures, assess point of view, identify fact versus opinion, determine the meaning of unknown words, understand figurative language, and understand college-level words/phrases.
Effect on Meaning and Tone
The author’s choice of words helps the reader understand the tone and what is really meant by the words. For example, “My bratty brother ate all of the pizza!” would show that the character finds her brother annoying and is upset. If instead the author wrote, “My younger brother ate all of the pizza,” it would change the tone and meaning. Now, the tone is neutral and the reader doesn’t yet know the mood of the character who is speaking.
Evidence of Author’s Attitude
The author’s attitude toward the characters can be found by examining the words used. The author’s attitude can be neutral, positive, or negative. “The lowlife neighbor was peeking through the windows again while my wife undressed,” would indicate a negative attitude toward that neighbor, for example.
The structure of a text is how the information is arranged. The five most common text structures are: sequence, description, cause and effect, problem and solution, and compare and contrast. The structure ensures that the text is coherent and logical for the reader.
Relationship of Text Parts to Each Other
The nine different types of relationships between text are: comparison, clarification, addition, contrast, spatial order, cause/effect, example, time, and summary. By using these relationships when writing a text, an author creates an easily understandable piece of writing.
Contribution to the Whole
The text structures used throughout the text combine to create the whole picture of what the author is trying to get across to the reader. If, for example, the author’s purpose is to persuade you to use only herbal medicines, you would expect the author to provide reasons for and against this practice, as well as clarification of what the author wants. All of these parts together would give the reader the perspective needed to make a decision.
Use of Transition Words
Transition words are used to create connections and organize the text. They help the reader determine the relationship types between sentences. Some examples of transition words for each type of relationship are noted here:
comparison: just like, similarly
contrast: however, although
example: such as, for example
spatial order: above, next to
addition: and, also
clarification: in fact, of course
cause/effect: because, as a result
summary: in conclusion, all in all
time: first, until
There are many ways that an author can choose to organize a text. Some of an author’s choices include: cause/effect, compare/contrast, problem/solution, sequence, and order of importance.
The author of every text has some reason for writing. It could be to persuade, inform, or entertain an audience. No matter what the reason, all authors begin with an idea that they develop into a text. The author chooses what point of view would be best for a particular type of text and audience.
Point of View
The point of views include: first person, second person, third person (limited, multiple, omniscient). Examples: First person: I just got home. Second person: You just got home. Third person limited (only one character’s point of view is revealed by the narrator): She just got home. Third person multiple (point of view for multiple characters is shown): Alice: She has just arrived home and is going to start cooking dinner. Boris: When he arrives home, he smells the soup his wife is making. Third person omniscient (narrator is all seeing and all knowing): Boris is feeling upset because he really hates eating soup in the summer time. Little does he know that Alice made it because she is upset with him and wants him to be unhappy.
You already know that an author has three purposes for writing a text and that these are persuasion, giving information, and entertaining the reader. Examples of these are: Persuasion: An essay about the horrible reality of animal testing would be meant to persuade people to be against it. Informing: A science textbook is written to inform the reader. Entertaining: Fiction books are created to entertain the reader.
Before a text of any type is written, there is a person with an idea. Using references to find out information regarding this idea helps an author develop a story or informational text. Each little piece of information that the author discovers or imagines helps to create their text.
Language usage includes: grammar, syntax (word/phrase arrangement), style (expository, persuasive, narrative, or descriptive), and word choice.
There are many different types of text that you may encounter in life, such as insurance claims, essays, poems, fiction books, magazines, and newspapers. There are context differences in each of these. The style and word choice of an insurance claim would be more formal, whereas a fiction book would have informal words for pleasure-reading.
Fact and Opinion
Many texts include both facts and opinions. Facts are true information, whereas opinions are what someone feels or thinks. A fact can be proven, whereas an opinion cannot—it might be different for different people. The statement, “The sky is blue” is a fact, while “The sky is beautiful” is an opinion.
You are expected to determine the meanings of words using affixes, context clues, and syntax. On the exam, you may encounter unknown words and multiple-meaning words. You will have to figure out their meaning by using context clues.
Of course, there is no one who knows every single word in the English language. There are over 170,000 words in the English language and the average adult is familiar with only 40,000 of those. The Praxis exam will use words that are unfamiliar to you in order to test your skills at figuring out the meaning of unknown words.
There are many words in the English language that have multiple meanings. For example, the word reservation can be used to describe: an area of land, doubt, or the booking of a room in a hotel. There are many lists of this type online and one good way to prepare for this type of question would be to study some of them to enrich your vocabulary before the test.
Using Context Clues
A few types of context clues could help you figure out unknown words. Often, the use of the word in the sentence and the other words around it can help. “Did you see all of the antediluvian stuff in grandmother’s attic? That phone was gigantic and those clothes looked insane!” Using context clues, which in this sample sentence involves examples, one can figure out that antediluvian means extremely old.
Figurative language includes many literary devices such as similes, metaphors, hyperboles, personification, and irony. Nuance means a slight difference in meaning and it is created by connotations and/or subtext.
Vocabulary knowledge is very important at this stage of your life. As a prospective teacher, you are expected to have a college-level command of the English language. You should be able to use context clues to figure out most unknown words at this point. One good way to enrich your vocabulary is to read often and critically. Look up words you don’t know to confirm their meaning.