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The following is an article taken from Choices Magazine after a visit to The High Street Central Mystery Shopping Club.

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By our guest writers EssayEdge. The Harvard educated admissions essay editors.

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Lesson Four: Transitions

Applicants often ignore transitions to their own detriment. A good essay must use transitions within paragraphs and especially between paragraphs to preserve the logical flow of the essay. An essay without good transitions is like a series of isolated islands; the reader will struggle to get from one point to the next. Use transitions as bridges between your ideas. As you move from one paragraph to the next, you should not have to explain your story in addition to telling it. If the transitions between paragraphs require explanation, your essay is either too large in scope or the flow is not logical. A good transition statement will straddle the line between the two paragraphs.

You should not have to think too much about how to construct transition sentences. If the concepts in your outline follow and build on one another naturally, transitions will write themselves. To make sure that you are not forcing your transitions, try to refrain from using words such as, “however,” “nevertheless,” and “furthermore.” If you are having trouble transitioning between paragraphs or are trying to force a transition onto a paragraph that has already been written, then this may indicate a problem with your overall structure. If you suspect this to be the case, go back to your original outline and make sure that you have assigned only one point to each paragraph, and that each point naturally follows the preceding one and leads to a logical conclusion. The transition into the final paragraph is especially critical. If it is not clear how you arrived at this final idea, you have either shoe-horned a conclusion into the outline, or your outline lacks focus.

If you are confident in your structure, but find yourself stuck on what might make a good transition, try repeating key words from the previous paragraph and progressing the idea. If that doesn’t work, try this list of common transitions as your last resort:

If you are adding additional facts or information:

as well, and, additionally, furthermore, also, too, in addition, another, besides, moreover

If you are trying to indicate the order of a sequence of events:

first of all, meanwhile, followed by, then, next, before, after, last, finally, one month later, one year later, etc.

If you are trying to list things in order of importance:

first, second etc., next, last, finally, more importantly, more significantly, above all, primarily

If you are trying to connect one idea to a fact or illustration:

for example, for instance, to illustrate, this can be seen

To indicate an effect or result:

as a result, thus, consequently, eventually, therefore,

To indicate that one idea is the opposite of another:

nonetheless, however, yet, but, though, on the other hand, although, even though, in contrast, unlike, differing from, on the contrary, instead, whereas, nevertheless, despite, regardless of

When comparing one thing to another:

In a different sense, similarly, likewise, similar to, like, just as, conversely.

Exercise #7: Transitions

Connect the following sentences using an effective transition, when needed. (In some cases, the two sentences will be able to stand without a transition.)

  1. Ordinarily, I took my responsibility seriously and would write down classmates' names to preserve the silence and decorum of the school environment.

    When a different teacher walked in, a teacher known to punish too hard and painfully, I decided to save my friends from his hard strokes, and I erased all the names.

  2. Despite the windy conditions and below freezing temperatures, I could not tear myself away from the awe-inspiring beauty of the cosmos.

    Despite the frustration and difficulties inherent in scientific study, I cannot retreat from my goal of universal understanding.

  3. But the sadness with which she responded, stating, "He died when he was a baby,” convinced me that it was true.

    It affected me as nothing ever would again.

  4. Finishing the test in an unspectacular six minutes and five seconds, I stumbled off the erg more exhausted than I had ever been. That night, I went home and caught a cold.

    Had I followed my survivalist and rationalist instincts, I would have quit rowing then and there;

  5. Immediately, I realized that I must dedicate my life to understanding the causes of the universe's beauty.

    The hike taught me several valuable lessons that will allow me to increase my understanding through scientific research.

  6. After my grandfather’s death, I began to understand and follow his sage advice.

    I pulled out a picture of my grandfather and me at Disneyland.

  7. Often, she had to work from dusk to dawn living a double life as a student and a financially responsible adult.

    My mother managed to keep a positive disposition.

  8. In addition to working and studying, she found time to make weekly visits to terminally ill and abandoned children in the local hospital.

    My mother developed the value of selflessness.

  9. My mother made me learn Indonesian, the official language of our country.

    Also, she wanted me to develop interests in various academic and extracurricular fields.

Answers:

1) However; 2) Similarly; 3) The shock of this revelation at such a tender age; 4) That was three seasons ago. 5) In addition; 6) To cope with his passing; 7) Despite the burdens she faced; 8) From her experiences during college; 9) My mother did not only want me to have a broad knowledge of languages. 

Continue to Essay Clichés

From Essays that will get you into College, by Amy Burnham, Daniel Kaufman, and Chris Dowhan. Copyright 1998 by Dan Kaufman.  Reprinted by arrangement with Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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