Tutorials-Skill 13

Skill 13: DETERMINE THE TONE, PURPOSE, OR COURSE

Other types of review questions occur occasionally in the reading section of both the paper TOEFL test and the computer TOEFL test. Possible questions of this type are multiple- choice questions that ask about (1) the tone of the passage, (2) the author’s purpose in writing the passage, and (3) the course in which the passage might be used.

A question about the tone is asking if the author is showing any emotion in his or her writing. The majority of the passages on the TOEFL test are factual passages presented without any emotion; the tone of this type of passage could be simply informational, explanatory, or factual. Sometimes the author shows some emotion, and you must be able to recognize that emotion to answer a question about tone correctly. If the author is being funny, then the tone might be humorous; if the author is making fun of something, the tone might be sarcastic; if the author feels strongly that something is right or wrong, the tone might be impassioned. Look at a multiple-choice example from the paper TOEFL test that asks about the tone of a passage.

HOW TO IDENTIFY THE QUESTION
What is the tone of the passage?
What is the author’s purpose in this passage?
In which course would this reading be assigned?

WHERE TO FIND THE ANSWER

Tone
Look for clues throughout the passage that show if
the author is showing some emotion rather than
just presenting facts.

Purpose
Draw a conclusion about the purpose from the main idea and supporting ideas.

Course
Draw a conclusion about the course from the topic of the passage and the supporting ideas.

HOW TO ANSWER THE QUESTION

Tone
1. Skim the passage looking for clues that the author is showing some emotion.
2. Choose the answer that identifies the emotion.

Purpose
1. Study the main idea in the topic sentence and the details used to support the main idea.
2. Draw a conclusion about the purpose.

Course
1. Study the main idea in the topic sentence and the details used to support the main idea.
2. Draw a conclusion about the course.

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