In Praxis Core Writing there are three basic categories of questions. One category has questions about text types, purposes, and production. The other categories focus on language skills and research skills.
Text/type/purpose/production questions are the biggest contributor to your score. Questions in this category are worth 60% of your final score.
In this post, we’ll look at a Core Writing revision-in-context passage and question set. Revision-in-context passages are generally 250-300 words long, containing 15-20 numbered sentences. These numbered sentences are referenced in 6 questions that appear alongside the passage.
Praxis Core Writing Practice: Revision-in-Context Passage
Questions 1-6 refer to the following passage
(1) The Southwestern U.S. enjoyed steady population growth and economic expansion through much of the twentieth century. (2) Their region continued to expand during the twenty-first century. (3) It is because cities such as Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Phoenix are continuing to flourish and grow. (4) The Southwest largely owes its last several decades of growth to one of the United States government’s greatest engineering achievements: the Hoover Dam.
(5) The United States population expanded ever-Westward in the first three decades of the 1900s. (6) American business interests and government officials alike searched for ways to irrigate this very dry and dusty region of the nation. (7) In time, developers set their sights on the Colorado River. (8) This river flows through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Southern California. (9) The river is home to a few different common species of frogs and fish. (10) The Colorado seemed like an ideal source of irrigation, provided that the river’s powerful flow could be harnessed.
(11) Entrepreneurs and government agencies investigated possible sites for a dam on the Colorado River. (12) Finally, in 1927, the United States Congress proposed it at the Nevada-Arizona border. (13) The dam had to be big, because it held back what was then, and still is, the largest man-made lake in the United States. (14) The amount of water in the lake, when full, could cover the whole state of Connecticut ten feet deep. (15) Only a huge dam could stand up to the pressure of so much water.
- Note: This text was adapted from “The Greatest Dam in the World:” Building Hoover Dam, an article from the United States National Park Service website.
In context, which of the following is the most effective way to revise and combine sentences 2 and 3 (reproduced below)?
Their region continued to expand during the twenty-first century. It is because cities such as Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Phoenix are continuing to flourish and grow.
- A) Their region has been continuing to expand during the twenty-first century, with cities such as Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Phoenix continuing to expand and grow.
- B) Regional expansion has continued during the twenty-first century, with cities such as Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Phoenix continuing to flourish and grow.
- C) They expanded into the twenty-first century, with the cities of Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Phoenix flourishing and growing.
- D) The region continued its expansion in the twenty-first century ; it is because cities like Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Phoenix flourished and grew.
- E) The twenty-first century saw expansion, and it is because of the growth and flourishing of cities Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.
In context, which of the following is best to insert at the beginning of sentence 6 (reproduced below)?
American business interests and government officials alike searched for ways to irrigate this very dry and dusty region of the nation.
- A) During this period,
- B) In reality,
- C) In contrast,
- D) After that,
- E) With some reluctance,
In context, what is best to do with sentence 9 (reproduced below)?
The river is home to a few different common species of frogs and fish.
- A) Add “living in it” to the end of the sentence.
- B) Change “home to” to “the home of.”
- C) Change “a few” to “some.”
- D) Insert “Interestingly” at the beginning of the sentence.
- E) Delete it from the passage.
In context, what is the best version of the underlined portion of sentence 11 (reproduced below)?
Entrepreneurs and government agencies investigated possible sites for a dam on the Colorado River.
- A) (As it is now)
- B) Beginning in 1902, entrepreneurs
- C) Although it was dangerous, entrepreneurs
- D) In addition, entrepreneurs
- E) According to some reports, entrepreneurs
In context, which is the best version of the underlined portion of sentence 12 (reproduced below)?
Finally, in 1927, the United States Congress proposed it at the Nevada-Arizona border.
- A) (As it is now)
- B) to the entrepreneurs and government agencies,
- C) the construction of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River,
- D) an alternative solution
- E) a compromise that could keep all parties happy
Which sentence, if added immediately after sentence 16, would make the most suitable conclusion to the final paragraph?
- A) However, modern innovations in architecture now allow much smaller dams to hold back even greater amounts of water.
- B) Even if the size of the dam was the most important consideration, the designers of the dam also considered the dam’s outward physical appearance.
- C) Growth of the Southwest was not continuous, as the population of this region remained roughly the same from the 1970s to the year 2000.
- D) Once the Hoover Dam was completed in 1935, it held back Lake Mead, the central source of irrigation and drinking water for the thriving American Southwest.
- E) Dams are an important part of the infrastructure in other U.S. regions as well, including the Pacific Northwest and the Mid-Atlantic.
Answers (A) contains the plural possessive pronoun “their,” while answer (C) uses the plural pronoun “they.” In both cases, there isn’t an antecedent for the plural possessive pronoun. Sentence 1 only mentions “the Southwestern U.S.” This is a singular antecedent, because it refers to just one American region.
With answers (D) and (E), “it” lacks a clear antecedent. In (D), “it” seems like a pronoun that could either refer to “the region” or “expansion.” And in (E), “it” could either be referencing “twenty-first century” or “expansion.” With very careful reading, one can guess that “because” is referring to the cause of the Southwest’s expansion in both (D) and (E). However, these answer choices have confusing, awkward construction
Answer (B) avoids pronoun confusion entirely because it doesn’t use pronouns. And really, pronouns are unnecessary. The adjective “regional” makes it clear that “expansion” is being described as it relates to the region of the Southwestern United States.
In answers (B) and (C), “in reality,” and “in contrast” suggest that a contradiction is being introduced. However, the idea that people would want to irrigate the Southwest doesn’t contradict the previously stated idea that more and more people were moving to the Southwest. So these phrases don’t fit the tone or purpose of the paragraph.
By saying “after that,” answer (D) incorrectly suggests that people began looking for a way to irrigate the Southwest after the time period mentioned in sentence 5, “the first three decades of the 1900s.” You can tell this is incorrect for two reasons. First, it’s highly unlikely that people would populate the dry, dusty Southwest increasingly for three whole decades before they even began to look for a good source of irrigation. Secondly, the next paragraph says that Congress decided on a site for a Southwest irrigation dam in 1927. This year falls within the first three decades of the century.
Answers (A), (B), and (C) don’t really change the meaning of the sentence at all. Moreover, (A) and (C) add completely unnecessary words to the sentence, making it slightly awkward and overly wordy. (D) doesn’t fit the meaning of the sentence; if the species of frogs and fish are common, there’s noting interesting about the fact that a river has them.
(E) is the best choice. The sentence should be deleted from the passage because it is off-topic. The passage is primarily about using a dam to irrigate the American Southwest. It isn’t about river biology or the types of animals found in the Colorado river.
Choice (A) doesn’t work. As the sentence is, there is no transition from the ideas in the previous paragraph to the ideas in the new paragraph. This makes the opening of paragraph 3 seem abrupt and “choppy.”
Answers (C) and (E) do not match the meaning found in the rest of the passage. The passage gives no indication looking for a site for the dam was dangerous, as suggested in (C). And the idea that people looked for an ideal site for the Hoover Dam is treated as a confirmed fact, not a disputed fact or rumor.” So when (D) says that only “some reports” suggested people were looking for the best place to dam the Colorado River, this doesn’t really make sense.
(B) adds the best transition. By mentioning that the search for a dam building site began in 1902, (B) makes a connection to the time frame mentioned in the previous paragraph. This also fits well with the phrase “Finally, in 1927” in the next sentence.
If the sentence is left as-is, “it” lacks a clear antecedent. “It” could be referencing investigation, a site for a dam, a dam itself, or the Colorado River. So answer (A) can be eliminated.
Answer (B) simply doesn’t make sense. “Proposed to the entrepreneurs and government agencies” is an incomplete thought. What was proposed to them? (If you want to nitpick, you might point out that “proposed to” could mean they asked the entrepreneurs and government agencies to marry them. This would be a complete thought… but that makes even less sense!)
(D) and (E) don’t fit the meaning of the passage. In (D), proposing a place to build a dam is not an alternate solution to some other previously suggested solution. A dam is the solution that had been proposed all along. And in (E), the reference to compromise doesn’t make sense. In the passage as a whole, there’s no suggestion that people disagreed on dam sites and needed to compromise.
Answers (A), (B) and (E) don’t fit in well with the overall theme of the passage. The passage isn’t about modern architecture (A) or about the superficial appearance of the dam (B). And the passage doesn’t look at dams in other regions than the Southwest at all (E).
(C) has some relevance to the passage, as the rate of population growth in the American Southwest is the reason that the Hoover Dam was necessary and remains important. However, only the first paragraph focuses this theme. So (C) would fit best somewhere in paragraph 1, not at the end of paragraph 3.
(D) works very well as a conclusion for the whole passage. It reminds people of the main subject of the passage — the Hoover Dam. And it reinforces the passage’s main idea: that the Hoover Dam is vital to providing water to people in the Southwest.
Praxis Core Writing Text Types, Purposes, and Production: The Essays
As I mentioned before, both of the essays in Praxis Core Writing (source-based and argument-based) also fall under the category of text types, purposes, and production. In my next post on this type of Praxis Core Writing Question, I’ll show you sample Praxis Core Writing Essay questions and answers.