ACT Reading: Organization of Ideas

Organization of ideas questions on the ACT Reading section will supply you with a reading passage with portions that correspond with sets of alternative words/phrases. From the options, you must choose the answer choice that works best in context, including a choice for “NO CHANGE.” You may even be asked to add a whole sentence that fits best within the structure of a paragraph or the essay.


  • Read through the entire passage.

    Since you’ll be asked several questions about each reading passage, it’s important to understand the passage’s main idea, or purpose.

  • Take notes.

    If you notice a mistake for an underlined word/phrase while reading, make a note of what you think the answer should be. This could save you precious seconds when answering the question.

  • Put the underlined word/phrase in context.

    Closely read the sentences before and after the underlined word/phrase to understand what ideas are being relayed. If you’re still confused, you might need to read two or three sentences before and after the underlined word/phrase.

  • Eliminate answer choices with irrelevant information.

    If an answer choice has information that’s not found anywhere else in the passage, eliminate it. You want your answer to correspond with the ideas of the passage.

Organization Practice Question

In the 1200s, in the Transylvania court of King Vlad Tepes, an obscure music critic named Alexus of Vinnitsky was serving as interim court composer, the king commissioned him to teach music appreciation to his oppressed, starving peasants. Though Alexus had never even spoken to anyone lacking an advanced degree, he reluctantly took the job, since rent on his hut was overdue.
As he pondered what method might educate the rabble, Alexus began considering how uneducated peasants learn to appreciate religion through simple but awe-inspiring Church music. He suspected that this model may or may not explain fully how music can influence, including teaching religious doctrine
For the underlined phrase above, which change would you make:

  2. Noble students usually had between one and two years of schooling by age 25, and he
  3. Given that his music students were better educated, he intentionally
  4. After conversing with the peasants’ noted witch doctor, he

Let’s go through all the choices to see which answer’s correct. The original sentence (Though Alexus had never even spoken to anyone lacking an advanced degree, he reluctantly…) isn’t a very good sentence, so maybe there’s a better answer than A. B states that Alexus’s past students had more education than peasants, an idea that doesn’t make sense for why he would take the job. In C, the key word is “intentionally.” Alexus wasn’t interested in the job (he really needed to pay the rent on his hut), so C cannot be correct. And D just brings in irrelevant information and also cannot be correct. Since the original sentence is the only one that makes sense for the organization of ideas, the answer’s A) NO CHANGE.