Part One: Sample Questions
Here are some examples of what questions about conflict might look like on the GED® test.
- What is the writer’s purpose of writing this passage?
- The purpose of this passage is to…
- How does the information in the ___ paragraph support the purpose of the text?
Part Two: Basic Information about Purpose
The purpose of the text is pretty easy to understand. Purpose is just what it sounds like— the reason why the author wrote the text. There are a few reasons why author’s write non-fiction pieces. Let’s explore them now.
To Narrate an Event—
A passage that is narrated retells an event as it happens. We call these types of writings “narratives”. Typically, these stories are told in chronological order.
To Inform about Facts and other Information—
In this type of passage, the author is writing to present facts. Often they will use data to help explain the situation, idea or theory.
To Persuade Someone to Feel a Certain Way—
Here, the writer is attempting to make someone change their mind about a particular subject matter. Examples of persuasive writings include, political speeches, editorials, and other types of reviews.
To Simply Entertain—
And sometimes, authors like to write just for the fun of it; so that people can read just for the fun of it. Examples of entertainment pieces are memoirs and different types of articles.
Part Three: Practice Questions
1. On the way to the airport, I grabbed a celebrity gossip magazine to read on the flight.
The purpose of this magazine would be which of the following below?
A. A narrative
B. To Informal
Read an excerpt from Helen Keller’s, “The Story of My Life,” then answer questions 2 through 4.
“The morning after my teacher came she led me into her room and gave me a doll. The little blind children at the Perkins Institution had sent it and Laura Bridgman had dressed it; but I did not know this until afterward. When I had played with it a little while, Miss Sullivan slowly spelled into my hand the word “d-o-l-l.” I was at once interested in this finger play and tried to imitate it. When I finally succeeded in making the letters correctly I was flushed with childish pleasure and pride. Running downstairs to my mother I held up my hand and made the letters for doll. I did not know that I was spelling a word or even that words existed; I was simply making my fingers go in monkey-like imitation. In the days that followed I learned to spell in this uncomprehending way a great many words, among them pin, hat, cup and a few verbs like sit, stand and walk. But my teacher had been with me several weeks before I understood that everything has a name. One day, while I was playing with my new doll, Miss Sullivan put my big rag doll into my lap also, spelled “d-o-l-l” and tried to make me understand that “d-o-l-l” applied to both. Earlier in the day we had had a tussle over the words “m-u-g” and “w-a-t-e-r.” Miss Sullivan had tried to impress it upon me that “m-u-g” is mug and that “w-a-t-e-r” is water, but I persisted in confounding the two. In despair she had dropped the subject for the time, only to renew it at the first opportunity. I became impatient at her repeated attempts and, seizing the new doll, I dashed it upon the floor. I was keenly delighted when I felt the fragments of the broken doll at my feet. Neither sorrow nor regret followed my passionate outburst. I had not loved the doll. In the still, dark world in which I lived there was no strong sentiment of tenderness. I felt my teacher sweep the fragments to one side of the hearth, and I had a sense of satisfaction that the cause of my discomfort was removed. She brought me my hat, and I knew I was going out into the warm sunshine. This thought, if a wordless sensation may be called a thought, made me hop and skip with pleasure.”
2. In the first paragraph, Helen Keller says, “I did not know that I was spelling a word or even that words existed; I was simply making my fingers go in monkey-like imitation.”
Which of the reasons below best explains why she may have included it in the passage?
A. Because recounting the events chronologically allows readers to gain insight about the entire process
B. To explain to readers the hopelessness of the situation and to discourage parents from getting a teacher like Miss Sullivan.
C. Because she wanted to explain to readers the cause of her blindness.
Answer: A. Because recounting the events chronologically allows readers to gain insight about the entire process
3. The purpose of Keller’s writing can be best stated as:
A. A persuasive essay to convince the general public why blind children should be given free teachers.
B. To provide readers with an encouraging narrative that shows the challenges endured and overcome.
C. It is an entertaining text from the perspective of a teacher who dedicates her life to help young blind children.
Answer:B. To provide readers with an encouraging narrative that should the challenges endure and overcome.
4. How does the last sentence of the piece support the purpose of the text?
A. It mirrors the hopelessness of the first paragraph, leaving readers feeling sorry for the little girl.
B. It uses figurative language to describe the redeeming character traits of Helen Keller.
C. It narrates Helen’s feeling of pride, allowing readers to feel joyful about her growth opportunity.
Answer:C. It narrates Helen’s feeling of pride, allowing readers to feel joyful about her growth opportunity.