The Key to SAT Reading Comprehension Questions

SAT Reading Comprehension questions demand careful attention in order to answer correctly. Understandably, it’s easy to get lost in all the text or make a silly mistake due to mental fatigue.

So wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to make Reading Comprehension passages simpler, perhaps with a sort of “road map” that guided you through a passage’s main points?

Transition words provide this kind of map, or rather, they provide signposts to help you understand how the passage’s ideas fit together, which makes answering questions a whole lot easier. Transition words are words and phrases like but, although, because, and in addition, and they help connect ideas together, contrast ideas, or position one idea to support another.

Recognizing transition words will help you summarize the main points of the passage and locate the information you need to answer questions correctly. In general, there are four broad categories that correspond to the different ways transition words function within writing.

 

Addition words

Addition words add on to an idea, or in the case of an argument, preceding reasons or premises. An author uses addition words to set up additional evidence, establish similar ideas, or buffer a line of reasoning.

further furthermore
in addition not only… but also
additionally in fact
also not to mention
and besides
as well as what is more

Countering words

Some transition words signal a change in direction from one idea to a contrasting idea. These countering transition words help complicate or refute an idea. Think of them as a U – turn sign: The passage was going in one direction, but now it’s going in the opposite direction.

but while
however conversely
yet though
still when in fact
on the other hand in contrast

Reasoning words

As the name suggests, reasoning transition words signal that a statement is a reason for another statement. (This other statement is often called a conclusion.) The conclusion is a separate statement that may precede or follow one or more reasons.

because being that
since seeing that
as in light of
for in that
due to owing to

Concluding words

In an argument, a conclusion is a statement that is given as a result of reasons or premises. Concluding transition words mark an idea or statement as a conclusion, which means that likely other statements in the passage serve as reasons for this conclusion. Additionally, conclusions can be used as reasons in a new argument.

as a result therefore
hence consequently
so thus
because (of this) accordingly
as a consequence ergo

 

Hopefully, you’ve encountered all of the transition words above before; their meaning should be familiar. However, what’s important is what they do in a passage. Use the above categories and their associated transition words to uncover a passage’s structure and identify its main points.