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:
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
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
Here’s a Sentence Addition question based on the sample
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.
the following sentences should be inserted at the beginning of the
next paragraph, before sentence 2?
||obesity is only a problem for the elderly
||obesity is a serious problem that affects
hundreds of thousands of people.
||obesity can cause cancer
||obesity has no known cure
||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
- 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