PTE Re-order paragraphs

PTE Re-order paragraphs is part of the PTE Reading task, in this article we will provide you a brief guide on how to approach this question the right way. For exercise, please visit our quiz page to practice.


When you start attempting this question your first goal should be to identify the leading paragraph. This is often easy to do as the leading paragraph has some unique characteristics. First of all, the leading paragraph introduces a concept or theme of the whole text. It is independent and can stand alone as a sentence, which means it does not require other paragraphs or sentences to complete its meaning.

Once you have found the leading paragraph, you should look for the next paragraph. There are two things to consider. First, the second paragraph should add information to what the first paragraph introduced. Second, the paragraph should have a link with something in the previous paragraph. For example, if the first paragraph talks about the general concept of Global Warming, the second paragraph can discuss a specific incident related to it.

You should then repeat the same process for subsequent paragraphs. Ask yourself these questions?

Which information is missing in this paragraph? Which paragraph contains that information?

These questions will guide you to correct paragraphs.

Once you have arranged all paragraphs in the right order, make sure you read them again. Sometimes by proof reading you will feel that some paragraphs can be arranged in a different sequence. Do it and see how it impacts the meaning of the whole text.

At times you will be confused between different paragraphs. In that case you should put each paragraph in the position one by one and see how it effects the order of other paragraphs and the meaning of the text.

1. How you are scored

Partial credit:
1 Each pair of correct adjacent text box
0 Minimum score

2. Read the full text

You are given jumbled text and need to reorder them in a paragraph that makes logical sense. Most of the sentences given will have a structure and a chronology i.e. sequence of events that happen one after the other. Your goal is to simply identify this.

Read all the text boxes quickly before you start re-ordering them, and use the keywords to form an overall idea of what the original text is about.

3. Find the topic sentence first

1) Covers Main idea

Start with the first sentence as this is the most easily to identify. It is usually a clear statement about the topic, and all the other sentences are related in some way to this sentence. This is the sentence that will have the overall topic idea/statement within it.

2) Independent sentence

The first sentence can stand alone; it does not begin with a linker or a pronoun that refers to something or someone (e.g., ‘he’ or ‘this’), nor does it depend on any other sentences given there (so it should not begin with therefore, besides, hence etc.).

Note any paragraphs that begin with conjunctions such as However, Nevertheless, But, Also, Furthermore, Therefore, Whereas, Similarly, Alternatively, and so on. Such sentences do not usually go first. Additionally, those paragraphs that refer back to text in a previous paragraph and contain pronouns referring to someone (e.g., he, she, his, her, himself, herself, them, they, themselves, those) or something (it), they cannot be the leading sentences. Any other clues that related to sequences (Another, firstly, secondly, finally, next, subsequent, following, in addition, too) should be noted as they will probably not be the first sentence.

In summary, first sentence is the independent sentence

  • not starting with discourse markers
  • not starting with individual pronouns

PTE Re-order paragraphs

3) Article

Even articles can help you identify the first sentence to some extent. Sentences that contain definite article “the” are almost never the first sentence except some phrases as below.

“The” is a definite article, whereas “A” and “An” are indefinite articles. “The” is used to denote something or someone specific or when the person or thing that has been introduced already. “A” or “An” are used while introducing something for the first time and also for stating general facts.

For example

a) A man and a woman are sitting opposite me.

b) The man is American, but I think the woman is British.

In the second sentence. “the” has been used along with “man” and “women” because they have already been introduced to readers in the first sentence. Hence, the correct order is a) b).

4. Order of idea

Below are some reorder techniques to follow, which can help you to arrange sentences in logical order.

  • Past – Present
  • Problem – Solution
  • Idea – Example
  • Question – Answer
  • Full Name – Partial Name

We are going to explain “Full name – Partial name” strategy here in detail. If there are two sentences, one covers the full name of a person whereas another refers the same person by the partial name, or simply refer the person by “he, she, him, her, etc.” we would know the sentence with full name should come first.

For example

a) Additives could reduce the noise but none effectively got rid of it, until Midgley realised that adding lead to petrol solved the problem completely.

b) Thomas Midgley started his career working on a major problem of the day, called engine knock where fuel burnt in an uncontrolled explosion.

Following Full Name- Partial Name strategy, we will know the correct sequence should be b) a).


a) There had already been some legislation to prevent such abuses – such as various Factory Act to prevent the exploitation of child workers.
b) These markets had become rapidly dominated by powerful enterprises who were able to act in their own interests, against the interests of both workers and consumers.
c) Mill was able to see an expanded role for the State in such legislation to protect us against powerful interests.
d) Markets may be good at encouraging innovation and following trends, but they were no good at ensuring social equality.
e) He was able to argue that the State was the only organ that was genuinely capable of responding to social needs and social interests, unlike markets.


First, you need to find the independent/starting sentence, which is the sentence that doesn’t contain any discourse markers and proper nouns.

With that being said, let’s look at which sentence(s) can or can’t be considered as independent /starting sentence.

a) contains “prevent such abuses”, b) contains “These markets”, c) contains “such legislation” e) contains proper noun “he was able to”. Hence we can rule out all of aforementioned sentences and starting sentence is d)

we can see in a), it mentions “there had been some legislation to prevent such abuses”, from which we can extrapolate the sentence before a) must have mentioned some type of abuses. After reading through all sentences, it is clear that b) is the only sentence that covers some sort of abuses “enterprises are against the interests of both workers and consumers.” Hence it should be b) a)

so d) b) a)

Finally, we have c) and e) left, as mentioned above, the sentence with full name should come before those with partial name and “he” or “she”, hence we can conclude that e) should come after c) even without reading the content thoroughly (although we don’t recommend test takers to skip any sentence for Paragraph Reorders).

Hence the answer is d) b) a) c) e)

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