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This lesson unit identifies and explains the different question categories that appear on the Edit-Revise passage related exam section.

Question Categories – Passage Related Edit-Revise

Like reading, there are typical question categories or sub-types that can help test takers identify wrong and right answers for the Edit-Revise passage related questions, and each includes some different processes students should know.


“Best Accomplishes Goal” Questions

Some passage related edit-revise questions ask which answer choice best accomplishes the goal of the author. For example, does the answer provide an example similar to the text or does the answer support the author’s thesis claim? Let’s see an example.

Passage excerpt:

(1) Some new office buildings are designed to consider the health and happiness of employees inside, but most older buildings were designed with spaces that depend on artificial lighting. (2) While many employers may worry about the cost of reconfiguring such buildings to increase the amount of natural light, the investment has been shown to be well worth the cost.(3)  For one, lack of exposure to light has a significant impact on employees’ health.


Which of the following provides the most appropriate introduction to the passage?

A. Studies have shown employees are happier and more productive when they work in an environment that affords exposure to adequate amounts of light.
B. Modern office buildings are always superior to older buildings.
C. Studies have shown employees are happier and more productive when they work in an environment in which they feel comfortable.
D. Modern office buildings typically provide new features like energy loss prevention measures unavailable in older structures.

The correct answer is A. Sentence 1 indicates buildings can be designed to consider employee health and happiness and it cites “artificial lighting” as an example that does not consider health or happiness. Sentence 2 focuses on the topic of natural light and suggests the benefits outweigh the costs. Sentence 3 provides a negative relation between low exposure to natural light and health. All sentences refer to natural lighting and employee health, so an appropriate introduction must pull together the idea that natural light leads to health and happiness. Option A provides this information in the example of a study that leads to the ideas mentioned in sentences (1-3). Option B fails because modern versus old buildings are mentioned in the introduction to highlight the differences in lighting, but the contrast between the buildings is not the subject of the passage. Option D which parallels option B (note parallels between answer choices are often seen in the edit-revise sections) is wrong for the same reason and it focuses on energy efficiency which not considered in the passage text. Option C parallels the correct answer, A, however, it is too broad. “Comfortable” suggests happiness, but that happiness could result from any feature. The passage focuses on the impact of natural light.

Hopefully, readers appreciate that this repetitive question sub-type, and the Edit-Revise passage related categories that follow, are different than reading question categories. Nevertheless, many of the wrong answer types like Too Broad or Barely Relevant appear also for Edit-Revise passage related questions. Edit-Revise passages are, after all, a reading exam section, albeit a different type.

Note, there are a few different types of goals these questions can address, and each is different. Moreover, these goals tend to repeat throughout the Edit-Revise passage related exam section. The following table outlines the common goals and some useful information about how to approach each.

Question Format: Which sentence…

best supports the primary claim or topic in the passage?


Identify the main idea of the paragraph or passage. Find the answer that is consistent with the idea in all parts.

develops the ideas in the paragraph?

Identify the function of the sentences before and after and find the answer consistent with the relationship between them. e.g. cause-effect, contrast, etc.

clarifies the relationship between ideas?

Identify the function of both sentences. The answer will be the correct transition that reflects the relationship between them. e.g. cause-effect, contrast, etc.

most clearly introduces the topic of the passage?

Identify the topic of the passage. Find the answer that first tells the reader what is the topic. Note the difference between “introduces” the main topic and the format above, “supports” the main topic.

improves the organization of the paragraph?

This is essentially a scrambled paragraph where only one sentence needs to placed in proper order. Identify the function of each sentence and understand how the paragraph develops. The same tools used in scrambled paragraphs are useful here: repeat words, transitions, pronouns, and parallelism.

Transitions Questions

Another type of Edit-Revise passage related question on the SHSAT will ask about the appropriate transition between sentences. For example, “What transition word or phrase should be added to the beginning of sentence 10?”

Sentence 10: My nephew likes to watch superhero movies.

A. Therefore, he doesn’t like Superman.
B. In other words, he doesn’t like Superman.
C. However, he doesn’t like Superman.
D. For instance, he doesn’t like Superman.

The correct answer is option C. The second sentence contrasts with the first sentence by presenting information that is opposed to the first idea. however, is an example of an appropriate transition to contrast two ideas. Option A, therefore, suggests a cause-effect relation between the two sentences: the idea in the second sentence is a conclusion drawn from the first idea. This is not the relationship indicated by Superman, one example of a superhero movie. Option B, in other words, is an additive point that tries to explain the idea before so it is not the appropriate transition. Option D, for instance, suggests the second sentence is an example of the first idea. It is not. The first idea suggests my nephew would like Superman, a superhero movie.

There are four basic types of transitions and a host of more focused ideas and transition words associated with each: Additive, Sequential, Causal, and Adversative. The appropriate transition reflects the correct relationship between ideas in the sentences. For those who recall scrambled paragraphs on the SHSAT, this was a useful skill to help organize sentences in a paragraph. Although scrambled paragraphs may be long gone, it is still an essential skill to help identify appropriate relationships and order sentences. The next type of question will also rely on the same skill.





Typically seen in expository passages that convey a series of facts.

Typically seen in chronological passages.

Typically seen in explanatory passages like science passages.

Typically seen in argumentative passages where things are contrasted.

Ideas Conveyed:

Ideas Conveyed:

Ideas Conveyed:

Ideas Conveyed:

Addition, Similarity, Clarification, etc.

Continuation, Digression, Conclusion

Cause, Effect, Purpose

Conflict, Emphasis, Dismissal





furthermore, also, too, besides, similarly, likewise, by the same token, in other words, that is…

To begin, subsequently, next, then, incidentally, in summary, overall, all in all…

Because, seeing that, due to, as a result, hence, for this reason, so, therefore, for the purpose of, so as…

But, however, on the other hand, while, in contrast, indeed, even more, above all, either way, at any rate…

Sentence Placement Questions

Some questions ask where a sentence should be placed, and test takers have to decide on the order of sentences that make logical sense.

Sentence 1: I have a cat named Sugar.

Sentence 2: She follows me everywhere.

In this case, the introduction of the cat, Sugar, must come before a description of how Sugar behaved, so the logical order is defined.  Identifying the relationship between sentences and how they are organized also requires an ability to recognize transition clues.

Sentence 1: Cats are great.

Sentence 2: For instance, they are funny to watch.

Sentence 3: In addition, they tend to mind their own business.

Sentence 4: Dogs, on the other hand, are always jumping up on people.

The first sentence is a claim, perhaps a thesis claim. The next two sentences are examples that provide evidence, “For instance” in the second sentence indicates an example. “In addition” in sentence 3 highlights that it is another example additive to the first. “On the other hand” in sentence 4 contrasts the behavior of cats in the prior sentence to how dogs behave. The transitions all provide clues about sentence placement.


Include or Exclude Sentence Questions

Some passage related questions for the Edit-Revise will ask test takers if a sentence should be included or where. For example, “Where should the following sentence be added to best support the ideas of the second paragraph?”

New Sentence: Active extracurricular calendars also help students develop their resume for college.

Paragraph 2: (6) Most students strive to attend the Ivy League. (7) Good grades and strong SAT scores are essential for admission to top universities. (8) Athletic awards are not just an afterthought, and they should be included for athletes with high aspirations. (9) Even solid, well-rounded individuals will face tough competition for admission to top universities.

A. Before sentence 6
B. Before sentence 7
C. Before sentence 8
D. Before sentence 9

Up until this point, we have discussed the importance of using transition clues and identifying the function of sentences when attempting to answer Edit-Revise passage questions. Both come into play for this example. The function of the first sentence is to make a claim. Sentences 7 and 8 provide examples of what is needed to achieve the claim — admission to an Ivy League college. Sentence 9 summarizes with a word of advice — it is a competitive process. First, test takers should assess what is the function of the new sentence? Is it a claim, supporting evidence, an additional point, a contrasting idea, a concluding statement or something else? The new sentence is another example of what is needed to prepare a resume for an Ivy League college. It is likely to fit in the middle with 7 and 8. Will it come first, between 7 and 8, or after? Transition phrase clues will help the test taker more closely identify placement. The new sentence includes the word “also” which is an additive point that follows one or more other similar ideas. Thus, it will not come first. Sentence 8 mentions athletic awards in the context of a possible “afterthought” which suggests it will still be the last among the examples. The only choice remaining is to place the new sentence in the middle before sentence 8.

Comparable to the SAT, the SHSAT will ask which questions should be removed except the wording of the question prompt is likely to be, “Which of the following sentences is irrelevant? For example, which sentence is irrelevant to the ideas in the third paragraph, sentences (9-13)?

Paragraph 3: (9) It is well-known other religions pre-date Christianity. (10) Greeks worshipped Zeus and other gods while ancient gods worshipped the source of natural events likes volcanoes and the sun. (11) The bible is not even close to being the oldest text from a currently active religion. (12) The King James Bible is one of the more recent translations of original texts. (13) Dated thousands of years before Christianity’s Holy Bible, the Bhagavad Gita and Hinduism are the oldest among currently active religions.

A. Sentence 10
B. Sentence 11
C. Sentence 12
D. Sentence 13

All sentences refer to religion, in this case, even the irrelevant sentence. Expect the irrelevant sentence will include some features from the main ideas to disguise it from other options. The main idea of this paragraph is that Christianity is not the oldest religion; Hinduism is. The main ideas for the passage may be different, but remember to stay consistent with the question prompt which conditions relevance only on the ideas in paragraph 3. The correct answer is option C, sentence 12. The fact that the King James Bible is a recent translation adds nothing to the main idea; Hinduism is older than Christianity.


Precise Language Questions

Some passage questions will ask test takers to identify the most precise version of a particular sentence. Precise language requires more detail and specificity, but the correct answer is not just the most detailed choice necessarily. All the ideas or parts of the original vague or imprecise sentence must be included in the correct answer. Essentially, the correct answer must restate all parts of the text just like we learned from the reading section. Some answer choices will include parts of the original text, but leave out or add an extra idea that makes the answer option fundamentally different from the original text. Let’s see an example.

Which revision of sentence 9 uses the most precise language?

Sentence 9: They entered the office building in order to work.

A. The commuters, dressed in professional suits, funneled into the Manhattan skyscraper of Bank Two in order to begin work.
B. The commuters, dressed in suits and ties, entered the bank office building every Monday.
C. They, funneled into the Manhattan skyscraper of Bank Two in order to begin work.
D. The commuters funneled into the Manhattan skyscraper of Bank Two in order to begin work.

Option A is the correct answer. It provides the most specific or precise language, but it also reflects all the parts of the original text. By now this exercise should be familiar to readers. The original text has three parts: somebody identified as “they” is the subject, “enter office building” is the verb and object of the action, and for the purpose of going to work. “They” becomes commuters dressed in suits. “Enter office building” becomes funneled into the Manhattan skyscraper of Bank Two. “In order to work” is included essentially unchanged. Not all choices reflect all these elements. For example, option B does not state if the people entered the building to work or not. Other answer choices remain vague like option C where the subject remains “they”. Now that we have reviewed the different types of questions on this exam section, let’s practice these concepts with related exercises.

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