Sentence Addition—Up Close
Sentence Addition—Up Close
The purpose of adding a sentence is usually to smooth over a rough transition from paragraph to paragraph. Transitions are words, phrases, or entire sentences that give the reader the context necessary to understand the flow of your ideas in an essay. They’re like training wheels for readers. Transitions take readers gently by the hand, leading them through a piece of writing.
When you see a Sentence Addition question and are preparing your own answer, think how best to improve the transition between the paragraphs or sentences. Here are two examples of the ways the SAT phrases Sentence Addition questions:
Which of the following sentences should be added after sentence 7 in order to link the second paragraph to the rest of the essay?
Which of the following sentences should be inserted at the beginning of the third paragraph, before sentence 10?
Be especially careful with questions like the second example above, which ask you to insert a sentence at the beginning of a paragraph. Sentences that begin paragraphs are usually topic sentences. A topic sentence tells the reader the subject or purpose of the paragraph. Topic sentences are crucial parts of the essay as a whole because they determine how each paragraph functions and fits in the context of the entire essay.
To understand the context for these sentences, you have to do more than just read the sentence before and the sentence after. You have to understand how the paragraph relates to the previous entire paragraph. If you’ve followed step 1, you’ll have at your fingertips an outline of what each paragraph does. You can follow your outline to assess how one paragraph relates to another. Then you can write a possible topic sentence and examine how your sentence contradicts, modifies, or agrees with the main idea of the previous paragraph.
Here’s a Sentence Addition question based on the sample obesity essay:

(1) Sixty-one percent of adults suffer from it, but around 300,000 people die every year from diseases directly related to obesity. (2) Obesity is related to diabetes, high blood pressure, and getting heart disease.

1. Which of the following sentences should be inserted at the beginning of the next paragraph, before sentence 2?
(A) obesity is only a problem for the elderly
(B) obesity is a serious problem that affects hundreds of thousands of people.
(C) obesity can cause cancer
(D) obesity has no known cure
(E) obesity is not necessarily an inherited condition
Follow our five-step method:
  • You’ve already read and outlined this passage, so you can skip straight to step 2.
  • Read the question but not the answer choices (step 2). The paragraph in this example lacks a topic sentence, so the question is asking you to supply one.
  • Go back and read the context sentences quickly (step 3). A quick glance back at the passage and your outline reveals that the paragraph is about obesity, the huge numbers of people who suffer from it, and the diseases that result from it.
  • Now come up with your own answer (step 4).You might generate a topic sentence that says something like, “Obesity is a very serious condition,” or some similar broad phrase that presents obesity as serious business.
  • Step 5 tells you to check the answer choices. B does exactly what your topic sentence did—it presents obesity as a grave problem that affects many people. So B is the correct answer.
Help | Feedback | Make a request | Report an error