If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Transitions | Lesson

A guide to "transitions" questions on the digital SAT

What are "transitions" questions?

On the Reading and Writing section of your SAT, some questions will ask you to select the most logical transition word or phrase to connect information and ideas within a brief passage .
Transitions questions will look like this:

Transitions: Example
Iraqi artist Nazik Al-Malaika, celebrated as the first Arabic poet to write in free verse, didn’t reject traditional forms entirely; her poem “Elegy for a Woman of No Importance” consists of two ten-line stanzas and a standard number of syllables. Even in this superficially traditional work, ______ Al-Malaika was breaking new ground by memorializing an anonymous woman rather than a famous man.
Which choice completes the text with the most logical transition?
Choose 1 answer:

How should we think about transitions?

Transitions are the glue that holds ideas together. They connect sentences in ways that tell the reader how those sentences are related. Is there an argument being made? A story being told? The transitions used in the text should reflect that relationship.
The relationships between ideas usually fall into the following categories:

Agreement or disagreement

Do the sentences express the same underlying idea? If so, we may want to use an agreement transition like "similarly".
Do the sentences identify a disagreement or contrast? If so, we may want to use a disagreement transition like "however".

Sequence and order

Are the events in the sentences being organized by time or by position? If so, we may want to use a sequence transition like "previously".

Addition and exemplification

Does the second sentence elaborate on the first? If so, we may want to use an addition transition like "furthermore".
Does the second sentence provide an example? If so, we may want to use an exemplification transition like "for instance".

Cause and effect

Is the second sentence caused by or a consequence of the idea in the first sentence? If so, we may want to use a cause and effect transition like "therefore".

How to approach transitions questions

Transitions questions ask you to select the "most logical transition". However, these questions are actually as much about how well you understand the text as they are about the transitions themselves. So be sure to read carefully!
To answer a transitions question, follow these three steps:
Step 1: Summarize the text in your own words
Don't just skim the passage . Read it closely, and try to summarize the main idea in your own words. This can be tricky since an important transition word is missing. If you're struggling to understand the text, try to translate each sentence into a simple bullet point.
Step 2: Identify the relationship between the passage’s ideas
The transition we're asked to select will connect two ideas from the passage. How are those ideas related? Do they disagree? Does one cause the other? We should be able to place the relationship into one of the four categories discussed above.
Step 3: Select the transition that matches the relationship
Only one of the choices will offer a transition that matches the relationship we identified. We can select it with confidence!
If you find yourself stuck between two choices, try plugging them each into the blank. Which transition creates the clearest meaning when placed in context?

Top tips

Be flexible

There is an enormous variety of transition words and phrases, and the exact transition you expect to see might not be offered in the choices. If you think the sentence needs a disagreement word, but "however" isn't an option, look for a transition with a similar function (like "on the other hand").

Eliminate copycats

If two choices seem to function in a similar or interchangeable way (like "also" and "in addition"), you can safely eliminate them both. They can’t both be right, so they must both be wrong!

Your turn!

Practice: Transitions
Reforestation efforts, while undeniably valuable, often result in forests with limited biodiversity. ______ care should be taken to plant a wide variety of native flora in depleted woodlands.
Which choice completes the text with the most logical transition?
Choose 1 answer:

Practice: Transition words and phrases
The "Gordie Howe hat trick", an unofficial statistic in which a hockey player scores a goal, records an assist, and gets in a fight all in the same game, is named after hockey great Gordie Howe. ______ Howe only achieved this feat twice in his professional career, far fewer times than many other players.
Which choice completes the text with the most logical transition?
Choose 1 answer:

Want to join the conversation?