TOEFL Reading Sentence Simplification Question
In this type of question you are asked to choose a sentence that has the same essential meaning as a sentence that occurs in the passage. Not every reading set includes a Sentence Simplification question. There is never more than one in a set.
How To Recognize Sentence Simplification Questions
Sentence Simplification questions always look the same. A single sentence in the passage is highlighted. You are then asked:
- Which of the following best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence? Incorrect answer choices change the meaning in important ways or leaves out essential information.
Tips For Sentence Simplification Questions
- Make sure you understand both ways a choice can be incorrect:
- It contradicts something in the highlighted sentence.
- It leaves out something important from the highlighted sentence.
- Make sure your answer does not contradict the main argument of the paragraph in which the sentence occurs, or the passage as a whole.
“. . . although we now tend to refer to the various crafts according to the materials used to construct them-clay, glass, wood, fiber, and metal-it was once common to think of crafts in terms of function, which led to their being known as the “applied arts”. Approaching crafts from the point of view of function, we can divide them into simple categories: containers, shelters, and supports. There is no way around the fact that containers, shelters, and supports must be functional. The applied arts are thus bound by the laws of physics, which pertain to both the materials used in their making and the substance and things to be contained, supported, and sheltered. These laws are universal in their application, regardless of cultural beliefs, geography, or climate. If a pot has no bottom or has large openings in its sides, it could hardly be considered a container on any tradition sense. Since the laws of physics, not some arbitrary decision, have determined as general form of applied –art objects, they follow basic patterns, so much so that functional forms can vary only within certain limits. Building without roofs, for example, are unusual because they depart from the norm. However, not all functional objects are exactly like; that is why we recognize a Shang Dynasty vase as being different from an Inca vase. What varies is not the basic form but the incidental details that do not obstruct the object’s primary function. . .”
Which of the following best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence? Incorrect answer choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.
- Functional applied-art objects cannot vary much from the basic patterns determined by the laws of physics.
- The function of applied –art objects is determined by basic patterns in the law of physics.
- Since functional applied-art objects vary only within certain limits, arbitrary decisions cannot have determined their general form.
- The general form of applied-art objects is limited by some arbitrary decision that is not determined by the laws of physics.
It is important to note that the question says that incorrect answers change the original meaning of the sentence or leave out essential information. In this example, choice 4 changes the meaning of the sentence to its opposite; it says that the form of functional objects is arbitrary, when the highlighted sentence says that the forms of functional objects are never arbitrary. Choice 2 also changes the meaning. It says that the functions of applied-art objects are determined by physical laws. The highlighted sentence says that the form of the object is determined by physical laws but the function is determined by people. Choice 3 leaves out an important idea from the highlighted sentence. Like the highlighted sentence, it says that the form of functional objects is not arbitrary, but it does not say that it is physical laws that determine basic form. Only choice 1 makes the same point as the highlighted sentence and includes all the essential meaning.