Sentence Simplification - TOEFL Reading

To avoid mistakes in Sentence Simplification task in TOEFL Reading section you need to show your understanding of COMPLEX sentences by choosing answers that expresses all the key info in the complex sentence. The simplified sentence must contain all of the essential information of the original, and must not contradict it.


  • Break into smaller parts by looking for punctuation and transition expressions.
  • determine what the individual elements are and then restate them to yourself in even basic English before looking at the answer choices.
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By the 1980s dance had come full circle and modern dance (or, by this time, 'contemporary dance') was clearly still a highly technical and political vehicle for many practitioners. Existing alongside classical ballet, the two art-forms were by now living peacefully next door to one another with little of the rivalry and antipathy of previous eras.The present time sees us still in the very competitive artistic atmosphere where choreographers compete to produce the most shocking work, however, there are still glimpses of beauty to be had, and much incredible dancing in an age where dance technique has progressed further in expertise, strength and flexibility than ever before in history.

Which of the following best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence?
          A.  Currently, dance is a very competitive artistic field and although choreographers attempt to produce the most shocking possible work much beauty can be found and the technical abilities of dancers have increased.
          B.  Dance is not as shocking as it was in the past, but it remains a competative race between choreographers who work with dancers who are more technically adept than ever before.
          C.  Current dance is a competition between choreographers to produce the most shocking possible work, although some beauty can still be found.
          D.  Current dancers are stronger and more flexible than ever before choreographers are striving to produce works that are more shocking than ever before.
The answer is choice A.  Choice B contradicts the reading by saying that "dance is not as shocking as it was in the past."  Choice C doesn't mention the improved abilities of the dancers, while choice D doesn't mention the fact that glimpses of beauty can still be found in today's styles of dance.

Sample explanation

“Already struggling with a new language and culture, these workers could not speak out about working conditions for fear of losing their jobs, and this forced them to endure exploitation by the factory workers”.
a simplification to its essential meaning reveals something like this:
“Workers had difficulties with language and control. They could not talk about their work conditions becaue they were afraid of losing their jobs.  The workers were exploited by factory workers”.
Now, with this clear focus, let’s look at the possible answers:
a)  Because they did not speak the same language as the factory owners, the workers were not able to discuss conditions in the factory.
Tempting, but incomplete. as the exploitation of the workers is not mentioned.
b)  Langauge and culture were serious problems in the workplace, but workers were even more afraid of being exploited by the factory owners.
Again, tempting as all the concepts (language, culture and exploitiation are mentioned, but this answer adds a comparitive (“even more afraid”) that is not in the original sentnece.  Incorrect.
c)  The factory owners forced the workers to learn a new language and culture because it was necessary for them to succeed in their jobs.
Here we can best see how a subject + verb + object focus can reveal an incorrect answer.  The owners didn’t force the workers to learn anything.  Instead, fear forced the workers to accept the owner’s exploitation, a quite different meaning.  Incorrect.
d)  The workers experienced cultural difficulties, poor conditions and exploitation because they needed their jobs.
The correct answer because all of the important concepts are mentioned and the meaning of the original sentence is not changed in the process.  These concecpts may appear in different places and as a different grammatical category from what is in the original sentence but the essential meaning is respected

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