This is Part 5 of a multi-part series on how to write a stellar SAT essay. Check out the other parts here: [part 1part 2part 3, part 4]

Things You’ll Learn From This Post:

  • Paragraph 3 is identical to Paragraph 2 w/ one exception (transition)
  • There needs to be transition between paragraphs
  • “Like” and “Addition” transitions
  • Transitions are still topic sentences, so relate them back to your thesis

We’re onto Paragraph 3 now. It’s exactly the same as Paragraph 2 with one exception. You still start with a topic sentence, but because this is your second example paragraph, you need to seamlessly transition between the end of Paragraph 2 and the beginning of Paragraph 3.

Something as simple as “Another situation where…” or “(Your example) is another event that (supports your thesis)” are okay. They are better than no transition at all.

But we’re not happy with “okay” around these parts. We want things to be spectacular!

There are many ways to transition, but here are a couple tried and true favorites. No need to get fancy, just enough to show you can transition. Abrupt changes are bad. Smooth is good, like Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal.

The “Like” Transition (moving between the same aspect of your thesis):
Let’s say you’re writing on the power of words to move people to great action. The first example you give is King George VI giving a powerful and rousing speech that inspired the English people to be brave and fight in World War I. The second example you give is simply another example of how someone used words to inspire action. For example, maybe the president of a club at your school gave a speech that made everyone pitch in. You are talking about the same aspect of your thesis – that words have the power to move people to action. In these situations, use the “like” transition.

e.g. “In the same way that King George VI’s speech riled a nation to arms, the president of my school’s community outreach club used passionate and deliberate words to inspire our club to fundraise over $5,000 for the homeless orphans of L.A.”

Remember, the transition is also a topic sentence. That means it needs to relate back to your thesis, so go ahead and give your thesis a nod. I did that above with “[someone] used passionate and deliberate words to inspire…[action].” Because, remember? I’m trying to argue in my essay that words are powerful and can get people to do something.

The “Addition” Transition (moving between different aspects of your thesis):
Let’s say one of your body paragraphs talks about how spending time in nature is important because it helps people observe phenomenon they would not otherwise pay attention to, which can lead to great discoveries about our universe. To support this point, you brought up the example of Isaac Newton and his observation of gravity as an apple fell and hit his head.

Let’s say your next paragraph has nothing to do with the importance of taking time to observe things in nature. Instead, you want to bring up a completely new aspect about the importance of nature, like how it gives people an opportunity for philosophical reflection and to work through life’s issues without violently punching through a wall like my roommate did in college. Weird guy. Don’t be like him. If only this guy, let’s call him Jimmy, had spent some time outdoors instead of cooped up at the library or lab studying all the time…maybe he could have prevented this explosion. He could have gotten in touch with his emotions and realized he was being irrational.

Here’s one way to transition between these two unrelated examples:

e.g. “Beyond giving people pause for observation, which has led to some of the universe’s greatest discoveries, spending time in nature also allows people to work through emotional issues, reflect, and gain perspective, which can reduce anger and adverse consequences.”

These two types of transitions (“like” and “addition” transitions) should serve 99% of you writers, so use them when appropriate.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT, spend too much time fretting over transitions. Throw something in and leave it. Even if it doesn’t sound perfect or how you want to word it, leave it. You have more important matters to tend to than worry about a transition (like deep analysis). The fact that you have a transition is enough. Remember, SAT graders are not looking for perfection in 25 minutes, only evidence that you know there should be a transition.

Peter Peng is a SAT/ACT tutor and college admissions essay consultant based in the greater Los Angeles area. He is currently working on a book entitled The SAT Decoded and can be reached at