Re-Order Paragraphs: The Ultimate PTE Academic Reading Tips

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The Re-order Paragraphs task in the PTE Reading section is essentially testing your ability to understand the meaning conveyed in a short text. It is testing your ability to understand how different parts of a text are related and how sentences within a text are connected. Ultimately, can you tell how each sentence complements each other to convey the overall meaning of the text?

Today’s blog article is going to take a look at the Re-order Paragraphs task in detail. We will take you through the best method and strategies to use in approach to this task. We will then apply these tips to a mock prompt and look at some main takeaways and ways to improve.

You will be prepared for PTE success in no time!

What is the task?

●Reading: Re-order Paragraphs
●You will have to re-order a number of sentences to form a complete paragraph.
●The prompt length will be up to 150 words long.

How long do you have to complete each item in this task?

●Approximately 2 – 2.5 minutes per task but this is just a guideline as individual item types in the reading section are not timed separately.

How many of these prompts will I have to complete?

●2 – 3 (this varies)

How are you scored?

‘Your response for Re-order Paragraphs is judged on your ability to understand the organization and cohesion of an academic text.’

●One point is awarded for each pair of correct matching text boxes.
●This means, even if your whole answer is not right, you get points for correct pairing.
●This question type only affects the score of your reading.

Let’s take a look now at the method we can apply to PTE Reading: Re-order Paragraphs in order to achieve PTE success.

Step 1

Skim each sentence within the text for the overall topic or main idea of the text. It is always useful to have an idea of the overall topic before you get straight into making your decision on the order.

Step 2

This is when you start to put the paragraph together in the correct order. Read through each sentence in detail and look for the topic sentence, the first sentence of the paragraph.

The key features of a topic sentence are:

1.It introduces the topic and the controlling idea of the paragraph.
2.It can exist independently.
3.It is the most general sentence in a paragraph.

Step 3

We can approach matching the rest of the paragraph in a number of ways.

Essay Structure

What follows the topic sentence? Yes, the main supporting point. The main supporting point should add to what the first sentence introduced, becoming more specific.

What follows after the main supporting point in a paragraph? Yes, supporting details.
Supporting details should be even more specific and provide examples to back up the main point.

What follows after the supporting details? A concluding sentence. A concluding sentence sums up what has been said and repeats the controlling idea of the sentence with a final thought, possibly a prediction for the future.

Of course, not all paragraphs are created equally but it’s possible you can use this kind of breakdown to decide the order of the paragraph.

Grammatical Connectors

Another way to match sentences is to find grammatical connectors within the paragraph which link one sentence to another. Let’s look at some examples of the most important kinds of words that can help.


He, she, they, this, these etc. are commonly used to refer back to the previous sentence rather than repeating the name of the subject or object again.

E.g. Jim was crossing the road with his dog. He tripped before he could realise the dog lead was tangled in his legs.

E.g. Brain diseases are growing in numbers throughout the developing world. The good news is there are many different ways to treat these diseases.


We use indefinite articles for first reference to something. We use definite articles for the second reference when it is clear what thing we are talking about. So, we can use these to give us a clue as to matching sentences.

E.g. I was talking to a man. The man was laughing.

E.g. She gave me a present. The present was very expensive.

Connectors and transition words

These kinds of words tell us that the sentence containing these words is linked to the sentence before in some way. These words will rarely appear in the opening sentence.
Look for a sentence which completes the relationship indicated by the connecting word, for example cause and effect.

“However” which indicates an exception or contradiction.
“Because” indicates reason.
“Therefore” indicates reason.

Time connectors

These would provide a good way for you to link sentences in order of time.

E.g. Finally, elephants are known to grieve for their loved ones.

E.g. Firstly, I would like to discuss the effect of caffeine on the human body.

If all the above fails, you could revert to trial and error. This might be a more time-consuming way to approach this task. But if you are stuck, try to match different sentences together reading them to yourself and see if they make sense.

Step 4

When you have made your decision and rearranged all the sentences to make the correctly ordered paragraph, read them again. Consider if the paragraph has a logical flow. Does the paragraph sound correct and the meaning correctly conveyed? If not, you can make some changes

Now let’s apply this four-step method to our PTE Reading mock prompt today.

Skim the text for gist, identify the topic sentence and use grammatical connectors to match the rest of the sentences. Don’t forget to leave time to review.

re-order paragraph pte1
re-order paragraph pte2

Why is this the correct order? Let’s have a look behind the logical reasoning which makes this the correct order.

Topic Sentence: C

•Introduction to the topic of exercise expanding our life span.
•Can exist independently and is very general.

Second sentence: E

•Follows the meaning and logical flow of the paragraph and is more specific, introducing the main supporting point – walking as a specific kind of exercise.

Third sentence: A

•‘But’ is a conjunction which suggests a contradicting point to the preceding point.
•Namely walking would be good for our bodies but some people think it is not enough.
•Logical flow – argument being developed further.

Fourth sentence: B

•However – a transition word which suggests a contradicting point to the previous point.
•Logical flow – argument being developed further.

Final sentence: B

•Also – adds more benefits to the benefits already listed in sentence B of the paragraph.
•It is a good concluding sentence which suggests the rest of the essay may discuss more benefits of walking.

So, there you have it, a logical process we can apply to completing the PTE Reading task, Re-order Paragraphs. We are going to leave you with some main takeaways from today’s lesson and tips for this task.

PTE Reading – Re-order Paragraphs Tips

•This is a task based on logic. You shouldn’t have to guess.
•Don’t get overwhelmed looking at the sentences as one big chunk, break it up.
•Make pairs as you will get one point for every correct pair.
•Draw on your knowledge of how to organise and structure an essay.
•If you are really stuck, use trial and error.
•Do not stress over unfamiliar words. Try to gain an understanding of their meaning through context but do not spend much time on this.
•Read academic texts at home, taking down new words and their definitions.
•When you read, highlight the main theme and pay attention to connectors used to link sentences together.
•Practice, practice, practice!

Wrapping Up

Were you able to use this method? Which step was the most difficult to apply? Which step do you think was the most useful? Please let us know with your comments and suggestions. Don’t forget practice makes perfect. Take every opportunity to apply these strategies to practice tests and sample questions on the Re-Order Paragraphs PTE reading task.

Good luck with your PTE Academic Re-order Paragraphs task practice!

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