Page 2 Reading Study Guide for the TABE

Reading: Evaluation

For this type of TABE Reading question, you will not only need to understand what is printed, but you will also need to do something with that information. You might have to “read between the lines” to determine what the author meant by a statement. This is called making an inference. Here is some information to help you.

Author’s Purpose

The author’s purpose is not usually explicitly stated in a piece. Instead, it must be inferred by the reader. Author’s purpose varies, but is typically either to persuade, inform, entertain, express feelings or emotions, or to simply describe.

To determine the author’s purpose, first look at the tone of a piece. Is it academic, sarcastic, casual, descriptive, or formal? Next, look at the intended audience. Is information being related simplistically? Is an event being described in great detail? Finally, look at the work as a whole. What is the topic? What is the support being used?

A persuasive essay might use emotional arguments to sway the reader. An informative essay likely delivers facts and figures. An entertaining piece uses descriptive language and usually tells a story. A word expressing feelings or emotions also uses descriptive language, but has a more one-on-one tone. Finally, a descriptive essay focuses on using descriptive words and providing users with a detailed idea or image.

Author’s Tone

The author’s tone is typically described in one of three words: positive, neutral, or negative. A positive tone portrays the subject matter in a supportive, positive light. A neutral tone is usually more dry and academic in nature, presenting facts and figures with little personal evaluation or opinion inserted. Finally, negative tone portrays the subject matter negatively, providing arguments or facts to go against the subject.

Writing Devices

A writing device is a literary tool used to illustrate an idea with greater emphasis than simply stating it outright. Writing devices include: compare/contrast, cause and effect, analogy, point of view, transitional words, and sequence emphasizing.

Compare/contrast either identifies the similarities between objects or ideas or identifies the differences between objects or ideas.

Cause and effect is a device used to illustrate a causative relationship. Cause and effect demonstrates the first action or thing (cause) and its corresponding consequences (effect).

An analogy is a device used to illustrate an idea using another idea to create a parallel. Among the most famous of analogies is, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Point of view (often abbreviated POV) is the lens through which a story is told. First person point of view utilizes “I” or “we” while narrating. Second person point of view, though rare, speaks directly to the audience by using “you.” Third person limited tells the story from an outside perspective (using “he” and “she”), but is limited to knowing the narrator or protagonist’s thoughts, while third person omniscient peeks into the thoughts and motivation of all characters.

Transition words include words such as “and,” “but,” and “or,” but also includes more complex words such as: therefore, consequently, and heretofore. These words are used to connect two sentences, and denote a sense of transition. A transition may demonstrate the passage of time, or simply a commonality between ideas.

Finally, sequence emphasizing is a method used to illustrate which idea in a list of ideas is most significant. Typically, the most important item in a list is identified first, and the least important is listed last. Items can also be ordered chronologically, listing from beginning to end.

Passage Types

There are countless types of passages in the literary world. The most common and important, however, may be summed up by these four: narrative, expository, technical, and persuasive.

A narrative passage is one that tells a story. The story needs not be long and complicated, but it must be the purpose and focus of the piece.

An expository passage is one in which a given concept or idea is explained or expounded upon. These types of passages are typically used to inform a previously uninformed audience.

Technical writing is usually quite dry in nature, providing readers with facts, figures, or information regarding a specific field. Technical writing is often found in the arenas of computers, engineering, chemistry, business, and finance. Depending on the target audience, technical writing is not usually outsider-friendly because it may use technical jargon that is difficult to recognize outside of the given field.

Persuasive pieces are designed to sway the audience to the author’s way of thinking. How this is done varies from person to person, but the technique often involves arguments with details supporting the author’s ideas and appeals to emotion.

Predicting from Given Information

Predicting the outcome from given information can be tricky when studying English. The best means of doing this is to first skim through the passage. How is the information presented in the rest of the passage? Are things listed chronologically? Are ideas leading one into the other? Is the passage in question erratic in its layout? To predict the outcome with given information, identify key words and phrases in the text, identify the most important information using the question presented, and identify the most likely conclusion.