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TOEFL iBT Reading Question- Type 4- Rhetorical Purpose Questions

Rhetoric is the art of speaking or writing effectively.  In Factual Information questions you are asked WHAT information an author has presented. In Rhetorical Purpose questions you are asked WHY the author has presented a particular piece of information in a particular place or manner.  Rhetorical Purpose questions ask you to show that you understand the rhetorical function of a statement or paragraph as it relates to the rest of the passage.

Sometimes you will be asked to identify how one paragraph relates to another.  For instance, the second paragraph may give examples to support a statement in the first paragraph.  The answer choices may be expressed in gernal terms, (for example, "a theory is explained and then illustrated") or in terms that are specific to the passage.  (The author explains the categories of adptation to deserts by mammals and then gives an example.")

A Rhetorical Purpose question may also ask why the author mentions a particular piece of information (Example: Why does the author mention "theability to grasp a pencil"?  Correct answer:  It is an example of a motor skill developed by children at 10 to 11 months of age) or why the author quotes a certain person.


How to recognize Rhetorical Purpose Questions

These are examples of the way Rhetorical Purpose questions are typiclly worded:

1.) The author discusses X in paragraph 2 in order to...

2.) Why does the author mention X?

3.) The author uses X as an example of...


Tips for Rhetorical Purpose Questions

1.) Know the definitions of these words or phrases, which are often used to describe different kinds of rhetorical purposes: "definition," "example", "to illustrate", "to explain," "to contrast" "to refute",  "to note", "to criticize," "function of"

2.) Rhetorical Purpose questions usally do not ask about the overall organization of the reading passage.  Instead, they typically focus on the logical links between sentences and paragraphs.



Passage Excerpt"... Sensitivity to phsical laws is thus an important consideration for the maker of applied-art-objects.  It is often taken for granted that this is also true for the maker of line art objects.  This assumption misses a significant difference between the two disciplines.  Fine-art objects are not constrained by the laws of physics in the same way that applied-art objects are.  Because their primary purpose is not funtional, they are only limited in terms of the materials used to make them.  Sculptures must, for example, be stable, which requires an understanding of the properties of mass, weight distribution, and stress. Paintings must have rigid stretchers so that the canvas will be taut, and the paint must not deteriorate, crack, or discolor.  These are problems that must be covercome by the artist because they tend to intrude upon his or her conception of the work.  For example, in the early Italian Renaissance, bronze statues of horses  with a raised foreleg usually had a cannonball under that hoof.  This was done because the cannonball was needed to support the weight of the leg..."



Why does the author discuss bronze statues of horses created by artists in the early Italian Renaissance?

A) To provide an example of a problem related to the laws of physics that a fine artist must overcome

B) To argue that fine artists are unconcerned with the laws of physics

C) To contrast the relative sophistication of modern artists in solving problems related tothe laws of physics

D) To note an exceptional piece of art constructed without the aid of technology.


Feb 9, 2013 7:23 PM
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English, Italian
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