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SAT (Fall 2023)

Course: SAT (Fall 2023) > Unit 11

Lesson 3: Writing: Grammar

Writing: Transition Words — Video lesson

David demonstrates a Transition Words question on the SAT Writing and Language test. Created by David Rheinstrom.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] We are looking at question 39. The underlined word is nevertheless. "Nevertheless, they each planned to work three days a week, with a day of overlap on Wednesdays. They also planned to talk on the phone each evening to discuss the day's work." And the choices are: no change, so nevertheless, to this end, however and similarly. And that tells me that this is a transition words question. You're gonna see three to five of these on your exam, and what these questions ask you to do is evaluate a transition word used in the passage and see if it's right for its context. This is testing your ability to avoid errors in transition words. Like if I see a sentence that begins with however, it should be contrasting with the sentence that came before it. If it doesn't, then we need to choose another option. There are tons of transition words or phrases in English. There are, in fact, too many to list, but luckily they fall into a few major categories. On the Khan Academy Test Prep Team, we roughly categorize transitions as cause and effect, contrast and others. Cause and effect transitions do what you'd expect, they show a cause and effect relationship between one sentence and the next. These are words and phrases like subsequently, therefore, as a result. Contrast transitions, same deal. They show contrasts between two sentences. I mentioned however earlier in the video, and this list includes however, as well as words and phrases like but, although and on the other hand. The others bucket is a miscellaneous category that includes addition words like and, also and furthermore, or example transitions like for instance or for example, and conclusive transitions like overall, ultimately or in conclusion. So the word we've got underlined for question 39 is nevertheless, but I'm going to pretend like it's not there. I'm gonna read on either side of the transition and see which category fits. So I'm gonna read this first paragraph to myself, skip the underlined word and just say blank and then ask myself what category best fills in that blank. So "Effective communication is crucial to the success of a job sharing arrangement. In determining how working time and responsibilities would be divided, steps were taken by Levine and Rocco to ensure that the arrangement provided fluidity and consistency for the employees whom they jointly managed. 'It's our job to be seamless,' they noted. Blank, they each plan to work three days a week with a day of overlap on Wednesdays. They also planned to talk on the phone each evening to discuss the day's work." What could fill in that blank? So we know that Rocco and Levine, these two managers who share one job, want to make sure that their shared responsibilities keep everything consistent for their employees and they do that by communicating with each other. They say they want to be seamless, and then in next sentence they share how they accomplish that. So really this feels like a cause and effect relationship. That's the category that I'm looking for. So I could say something like as a result, or subsequently, or something similar to either of those choices. It's important to be flexible, 'cause all things being equal, the transition I'm looking for probably won't show up in the choices. So we just want to match category to category. With our prediction made that we're looking for a cause and effect transition, let's head over to the choices. Okay, A, no change which is nevertheless. To this end, however, similarly, these are our choices. Let's cut them down to size. So we've identified the purpose of the transition, which is to say the desire to be seamless job sharers causes this set of behaviors. It's cause and effect, and therefore it's not nevertheless, 'cause nevertheless is a contrast transition. And now that we know that we're not looking for a contrast transition, we can knock out not only no change, but however as well. A time-saving tip would be that if you see two choices in the same category, in this case both nevertheless and however are in the contrast category, you can cross them out. They're copycats of each other. And if they're functionally identical, they can't both be right, so therefore they must both be wrong. So right away, that leaves us with to this end and similarly. So what is the purpose of each of these transitions? To this end is cause and effect, which is the category that we're looking for. And similarly is in that other bucket, it's an additive transition. And because I'm looking for a cause and effect transition, I'm just gonna choose to this end as my answer. Let's recap our strategies. So number one, read the passage without the transition to make a prediction. Two, once you've made the prediction, compare your prediction to the choices. Three, knockout copycat transitions. If there are two that fall into the same category, they can't both be right. And four, be flexible. If the prediction that you've made doesn't match one of the choices, try to find something that is in that same category that you're imagining.