Praxis Elementary Education Exam—Writing Structures

By Carla C. Kirkland, Chan Cleveland

Students use common structures to organize their writing, such as cause and effect, chronological, and compare and contract. The Praxis Elementary Education exam will require that you be familiar with these structures.

The following list contains some common structures, when they are used, and linking words that are often used with them.

  • Cause and effect is used to explain what caused something to happen. Linking words include because of, as a result of, for this reason, thus, and consequently.
  • Chronological is used to describe events in the order they happened; it is used most often in narrative writing. Linking words include first, then, now, at last, once, next, when, later, before, and after.
  • Compare and contrast is used to look at the similarities and differences between two or more objects, texts, ideas, and so forth. Linking words include similarly, likewise, in the same way, in contrast, on the other hand, however, and alternatively.
  • Conflict/resolution is used to describe a conflict within a person or between people and how it was resolved. It is used in narrative writing and may include an epiphany or “aha!” moment when a character “sees the light”. There are most likely to be chronological linking words, used as the story unfolds.
  • Emphatic (order of importance) is used to show relation of (at least) three things to each other. Linking words include more, most, first, greatest, better, best, worse, and worst.
  • Problem/solution is used to explain how to solve a problem; it is used in expository writing. Linking words include one solution, another possibility, hence, therefore, furthermore, in addition, mainly, more importantly, and most importantly.
  • Spatial is used to describe the various parts of something in relation to the location of other parts. Linking words include above, over, behind, next to, underneath, to the right of, to the left of.

Practice question

  1. A fifth-grade teacher is using a sample, anonymous student essay-in-progress to clarify a point. The problem she is addressing in the student’s work is that it seems choppy; it’s hard to follow the flow. Which answer choice best describes the problem?
    A. lack of linking words
    B. lack of support detail
    C. unclear thesis (central idea)
    D. grammatical errors

Answer and explanation

  1. The correct answer is Choice (A).
    Linking words connect ideas and help make the essay flow smoothly within and between paragraphs. Choice (B) is wrong because support details create conviction, not flow. Choice (C) is wrong because the problem isn’t an uncertainty about the essay’s focus. Choice (D) is wrong because grammatical errors may cause confusion but not choppiness.