The SAT’s Writing and Language Test often assesses whether students understand how to use transitional words or phrases. These are the terms that create cohesiveness within paragraphs by establishing logical relationships between sentences. For example, “therefore” creates a cause and effect relationship between clauses or sentences, while “however” would establish a relationship of contrast between ideas. Here’s an example of how the SAT tests whether students understand how to use these transitional elements:
“Over the past generation, people in many parts of the United States have become accustomed to dividing their household waste products into different categories for recycling. Regardless, paper may go in one container, glass and aluminum in another, regular garbage in a third.
Students have to determine whether the word “regardless” best expresses the logical relationship between the first and second sentences. Since the second sentence provides examples that illustrate how the waste products are divided, the transitional prepositional phrase “for example” should be used instead of the term “regardless,” which means “in spite of.” A comprehensive list of these transitional terms and the relationships they create are available for download at