ACT transition words are an important part of taking the ACT. The ACT wants to gather information about your academic knowledge, and a part of that is your ability to understand the transitions between ideas in a sentence. They also look at how you understand transitions in a paragraph, or an entire essay. Thus, you will encounter transition words throughout the ACT, in the English, Reading, and (optional) Writing sections. Anywhere from 3-7 questions on the ACT will deal directly with transition words.
Transition words and phrases tell us what information might come next in a sentence and creates a clear flow between ideas. Here is a list of words and phrases that you may encounter during your test and/or test preparation.
Examples of Transition Words
Addition, contrast, and causation are the three most common types of transitional words and phrases found on the ACT. You may find transition words that mean something else. But, understanding these three kinds will give you a higher chance of succeeding at those questions.
Addition Transition Words and Phrases
Addition words indicate that the next idea being introduced will be more of the same. Another way to look at it is words that “continue” the thought. Some examples of this kind of phrase are:
- In addition to
- For example
- In fact
- In conclusion
- As well as
- In other words
- That is
- For instance
Example: With his mouth full, Peter gushed about the delicious cake. Moreover, he scraped every last bit of frosting off of the plate with his fork before taking a final taste.
Causation Transitional Words and Phrases
Causation words convey that the second idea described was a result of the first. Some examples are:
- As a result
- As such
- For this reason
- In conclusion
- To that end
Example: You have disobeyed the club’s rules of conduct; consequently, your membership is hereby terminated.
Contrast Transitional Words and Phrases
Contrast words show the difference between what came before the phrase and what comes after.
- In spite of
- On the other hand
- In contrast
- On the contrary
- Despite this
- Alternatively / Alternately
- Even so
- In any case
Example: Mary overheard her neighbors gossip: “I can’t believe she takes her cat on walks, that’s only for dogs! What a weird lady.” Nevertheless, she continued taking little Mr. Muffins on his afternoon stroll.
Closing Transition Words
Some transition words are used to introduce the end of a thought, paragraph, or essay. Strong closing transition words can set your ACT essay up for success, or help you if you come across one in the English and Reading portions of the test. Here are a few options you may encounter:
- All in all
- To summarize
- All things considered
- To sum up
- To conclude
- In the final analysis
- In conclusion
- In summary
- In essence
- In short
Example: [The first sentence of the final paragraph of an essay on mangos.] Altogether, the mango is a healthy, delicious, and versatile fruit that belongs in every kitchen.
Study for Transition Questions on the ACT
Here are a few strategies to help you with questions that directly ask about transition words on the ACT.
- To choose the best transition word, you must understand what comes before and after the word. Spend time reading the first and second parts of the sentence. Then, test each transition word out, reading it together in your head. Then, choose the answer that makes the most logical sense.
- If two answers mean the same thing, then neither is the correct answer. It will help to familiarize yourself with the lists above, so that you can quickly recognize transitional phrases and words in the same category.
- Transitional words and phrases are not always located at the beginning of a sentence. Some of these phrases are between sentences or clauses. Others are found in the middle of a sentence. If a transition word is in the very middle of a sentence, there needs to be a comma before and after.
- PRO TIP: If you have no clue what the correct answer might be, relax and read the sentence through in your head. Do it slowly, with each answer suggestion. Choose the option that feels and sounds the most natural.
Note: All of this can be even more confusing if you learned English as a second language. Prior to your ACT, make sure you look into and request ACT accommodations for English Language Learners if needed.
Practice for Transition Words and Questions on the ACT
Remember, there are only 3-7 questions on the test that ask about ACT transition words. If you’re not quite grasping them, don’t stress too much. There are 75 questions in the ACT English section alone, 40 more in Reading, and 215 ACT questions in total. We wouldn’t recommend memorizing our list to stay above the fray. Rather, have a general understanding of transitional words and phrases and focus on questions you are confident about. Then, bolster your knowledge through preparation with ACT grammar practice and our guide to ACT English strategies. These 10 books to improve your vocabulary can also help strengthen your English skills.
If you need to take the ACT writing section, check out our ACT writing tips and this list of 2021-22 ACT Writing Practice Test Sample Essays to prepare yourself. We also offer a collection of comprehensive packages to help you prepare for the entirety of the ACT.
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