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In the reading section of the PTE it is important to manage your time and stay calm. On average you should spend around two minutes on each task. Some tasks will be a little quicker and some a little slower. With the Reorder paragraphs test you may need to spend a little longer; around 2 to 2.5 minutes on each question. To do that you will need some strategies which we will look at below.

Read our Guide for Nervous Readers Here

It is important to remember that what you are actually doing in this task is re-creating a paragraph of writing. The correct answer will be a paragraph that flows logically. Let’s look at the task now.

The Reorder Task

The Reorder paragraphs test looks like this. It is a paragraph of writing in which the sentences have been mixed up. Your job is to move each of the sentences on the leftover to the right and ensure that they are in the correct order.

You need to draw on your knowledge of how to write an essay. If you were writing about the information in the task above, how would you organize it? Which sentence would logically come first? Which one would come next, and so on. Do it now. Work out the order. (We’ll look at the answer in a moment.)


Look at the strategies below. Understanding them will help you in the Reorder paragraphs test. Remember that the answers are not random. They are logical. Some questions will be easy and some will be more difficult, but there is a logic to all of them.


  1. Find the independent sentence.
  2. Look for links.
  3. Look for a time sequence.
  4. Think about the overall structure.
  5. Use trial and error.

Independent Sentence

Find the sentence that introduces the topic and is independent (it won’t have any references to information that must come before it). Let’s identify one now.

Which of the following is an independent sentence?

  • The other historical link comes from the 8th Century when Pope Gregory proclaimed November 1st to be All Saints day..
  • Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31.
  • It is related to an ancient Celtic festival where people lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off ghosts.


  • The first one is not independent because of the words ‘the other.’
  • The last sentence begins with ‘it.’ (Sometimes ‘it’ has a general meaning [It was beautiful weather yesterday.], but usually ‘it’ has a specific meaning [It fell on the floor.]. So you need to check if ‘it’ refers to anything.) In this case ‘it’ has a specific meaning and thus must follow on from another sentence.
  • The second sentence is the only independent sentence.

Sometimes there may be two independent sentences. What can you do? In Reorder paragraphs test always try starting with the simplest one. Remember that the first sentence will usually be general and introductory.


Use the grammar to help you find links between ideas in one sentence and the next.

  • Look for articles. ‘The’ is often used the second time a subject is mentioned (eg. 15,000 women >> the women / to assist >> the assistance).
  • Look for other linking words like pronouns (eg. Mr. Roberts >> He). Other examples are ‘this, these, she, it’ and ‘ they.’
  • Look for signal words like ‘also’ and ‘additionally.’ They signal that another example or another reason is being added. Other signal words are ‘however’ and ‘but.’ The signal change or contrast.

Time sequence

Look at clues related to the present, past or future, or for clues linked to the order that ideas come in. They are not always there, but often you will see them.

  • Sometimes there are useful linking words like ‘after that’ or ‘finally.’ That makes it easier to find the sequence.
  • At other times the tenses can indicate the correct order. For example, ‘was’ and ‘were’ indicate the past. ‘Will be’ indicates the future.  ‘Have’ with a verb (eg. have spread) indicates a time from the past until now. Think about the overall meaning. If there are different tenses, think about how they will be organized. Here are two common structures.
  • Start in the past – move forward in time – end in the present
  • Start in the present – jump back to the past – come forward in time – end in the present or future


Think about possible structures.

  • First, Start with the subject – then add details, explanations and /or examples
  • Start with the subject – then add details, an action, more details, and a result of the action
  • Start with a general sentence – introduce a problem and a solution

Trial and Error

Using the strategies above it will sometimes be relatively easy to put the sentences into order. If it isn’t easy, then you can use trial and error as well. Start by identifying the independent sentence, then look for the next one. Try the one you think will work. If it doesn’t seem to work, then replace it. If it does work, look for the 3rd sentence. You might find that 1, 2 3 and 4 work beautifully, but 5 doesn’t fit anywhere. In that case, you need to check everything. See where 5 may fit and then re-build around it.


Now, let’s have another look at the answer to the re-order paragraph at the start of this blog. The correct order is CEBAD. The reasons are in the right column below.

How did you go? If you made a mistake, try to work out where you went wrong. If you got it right, well done! Congratulate yourself.

Are you ready to approach the task with more confidence now? Try the practise examples below.

Practice Reorder Paragraphs Test

Practice 1

The text boxes below have been placed in random order. Restore the original order.


Click to show/hide answer

Answer: DBEAC

D is the only independent sentence.

B picks up the subject. The words ‘this seemingly harmless position’ link with the first sentence ‘slouched … with your head jutting forward.’

E continues the subject of the head position with the pronoun ‘it’ – ‘it can even …’

A continues the subject and adds new information – the weight.

C shows contrast.

The first three sentences could be DAC, but then B & E wouldn’t fit anywhere.

Practice 2

The text boxes below have been placed in random order. Restore the original order.


Click to show/hide answer


This is a bit tricky because we might expect the words in A to start the paragraph – ‘A recently published study.’ However, if we keep reading the sentence, we see the words ‘such manuscripts.’ A doesn’t make sense as a first sentence.

B could be independent, but its subject matter must come after A because it tells us about the surprising discovery.

E is an independent sentence. The subject is ‘written texts’

D follows with ‘the texts.’

A ‘such manuscripts’ (synonym for ‘texts’) – a new idea is introduced here – ‘the role of women’ and ‘surprising discovery.’

B explains the discovery and picks up the subject with ‘a woman’

C must follow B because it picks up the thread that starts with the ‘role of women,’ continues with ‘a woman’ and now C uses ‘the woman.’

Practice 3

The text boxes below have been placed in random order. Restore the original order.


Click to show/hide answer


D is an example of a sentence that begins with a pronoun ‘it,’ but it in this case ‘it’ has a general meaning and doesn’t refer to anything in particular. D is an independent sentence.

C continues the idea of ‘varieties’ of banana plant.

A is talking about finding and ‘planting’ a tree. ‘Finding’ it logically comes before watering.

B and E may be a bit tricky. E is giving you a one-time instruction. It means ‘after planting, you should water it.’ B, on the other hand, is a more general instruction of what to do regularly after the plant has settled. It is the final instruction.

All Comments 6
  • Syed Murtuza Shareef says:

    Mr. Jay you are just amazing, i am following you on youtube and on E2 for PTE Academic Exam for which i need a preparation by looking all your videos, however, I need to get 79+ at any cost.
    Besides i need your advise, shall i follow the online videos or will you be my mentor for 1 to 1 session classes until i well prepared for my exam.

    • Hi there!

      Thank you for reaching out to us! We would love to help you prepare for your PTE further than just what is on our YouTube and Blog!

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      • Hi Team,

        I have given exam on 6th of April and my scores are below mentioned.

        Writing :57

        I required score at least 79. I have not booked my exam yet but planing to give next exam by May first week. Please suggest me what can I do to improve my score.

        Pooja Saini

  • Hello team,
    I need your guidance for reading and speaking section .I have attempted one mock test and my score are as under:
    I require 75+ for my PTE Academic so kindly help me to achieve so. THANKYOU.
    Daxa Karena

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