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Writing: Transition Sentences — Video Lesson

Writing: Grammar

Video transcript

- [Instructor] We are looking at question 20 over here. And the whole sentence is underlined. So I'm going to read the paragraph before it for context. Let's dive into this passage. "When Tony Kushner, the screenwriter for 'Lincoln', portrayed two Connecticut congressmen as voting against the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, a current Connecticut Congressman wrote a letter to the movie studio urging it to correct this error. Kushner responded by stating 'Lincoln' upheld the expectations of a dramatic film because it illustrated the amendment's narrow vote, and Doris Kearns Goodwin, the film's historical consultant defending Kushner script. Why then is historical accuracy important in films?" Okay, that's the underlined sentence. "Kate Williams, a British historian believes that filmmakers have a great responsibility. How they present the past is how it gets remembered. Historical consultants must assure that filmmakers take this responsibility seriously. As films continue to engage with history, historical consultants will continue to preserve histories intricacies." So the prompt for this question, "which choice provides the most effective transition from the previous paragraph," clues me into the category for this question, and that'll help us develop a strategy. This is a transition sentences question. These questions aren't about grammar or punctuation. They require you to understand what the passage is arguing and make a good judgment as an editor. You'll see one to two questions like this on test day. So real quick, here are some top tips for a transition sentence question. So first, restate ideas and find the gap. Summarize the information before and after the transition sentence. If we notice any obvious gap, then we can look for a choice to fill it. Next, identify the purpose. What's the purpose of the information you're transitioning to? What does it do? Does it support or counter an argument? And if so, the best transition will restate that argument either for a reminder, or to generate contrast. Is that the answer to a question? If so, the best transition might restate that question. Then, answer the question being asked. There are gonna be some choices that look very tempting because they're related to the topic of the passage, but you need to focus on what the question is actually asking. What's the best transition? And finally, don't judge the choices for grammar. Every choice will be grammatically correct. So don't think like a copy editor. You're trying to choose the best transition between ideas. Let's head back to the passage and I'll give you some space now to pause the video and think through this question on your own. Okay, let's go for it together. Let's restate the ideas from these two paragraphs. So paragraph one is about how Tony Kushner bent the historical record for drama's sake in his film "Lincoln" and how his historical consultant, Doris Kearns Goodwin, defended that decision. Paragraph two quotes a different historian who says filmmakers must represent the past responsibly. And the author says that is a consultant's job to enforce that responsibility. So it seems like that second historian, Kate Williams, would disagree with Doris Kearns Goodwin, about what a historical consultant's job is. Is it to make changes to history for the sake of entertainment, or is it to represent the past accurately? So we have a conflict between these two points of view. So what's the purpose of the information that we're transitioning to? I would say they challenge to Goodwin and Kushner's position and choices. We're looking for something that introduces an opposing point of view. Basically, what does the other side say? So let's look at our choices real quick. Our choices are choice A, "Why then is historical accuracy important in films?" B, "What about directors who are less concerned about historical accuracy?" C, "Consequently, do movies that take place in the very recent past require historical consultants?" Or D, what sources should filmmakers consult to ensure historical accuracy in their films? And with that in mind, we can knock out B because it's asking about directors, and we don't hear from a director in the next paragraph. We hear from a historian. B is also wrong because it introduces a perspective that is less concerned with accuracy, while the perspective being introduced is actually more concerned with accuracy. All right. How about C? It sounds fancy and smart, right? But it starts with consequently, which would introduce a continuation of meaning, right? It implies a certain kind of cause and effect relationship as a consequence of the previous paragraph. "Do movies that take place in the very recent past require historical consultants?" But we're trying to find a choice that introduces a contrasting perspective. Choice C also references movies in the recent past which is not something that gets mentioned in that second paragraph. So we can cross this one out too. So choices A and D are still in the running. Choice A feels right to me because it says why then is historical accuracy important in films? And that matches my question. What does the other side say? Okay, so how about D. Let's check D. So first, it doesn't match our prediction, which was based on what the second paragraph actually contains, Kate Williams' perspective. Instead, choice D introduces sources and methods. And that's not what Kate Williams' perspective is. It's a stretch to infer that the author is implying that Kate Williams is a source that everyone should consult to ensure accuracy. When it comes down to it, D asks a question that the rest of the passage doesn't actually answer. That settles it. Our choice is A. Let's review our strategy, restate ideas and find the gap. Where's the gap and how can we fill it? Identify the purpose. Ask, what's it for? Identifying the purpose of the information that we're transitioning into can help narrow down choices and answer the question being asked. Don't let yourself get distracted by shiny glittering choices that "sound the smartest". Every choice is grammatically correct. And they've been written to sound tempting. Your job is to find the choice that actually answers the question that's being asked. Look, these can be time-consuming questions because they require you to slow down and really understand large chunks of the passage. If you are someone who tends to run out of time on the writing and language section, always remember that there are easier questions waiting for you further along in the test. As your friend, I caution you to avoid getting sucked into quicksand on questions like these if they're holding you up. But by being methodical and patient, you can knock out wrong choices and reason your way to the right answer. Good luck out there. You've got this.