HiSET: Language Arts - Writing : Choosing effective opening, transitional, and closing sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for HiSET: Language Arts - Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Choosing Effective Opening, Transitional, And Closing Sentences

(1) Leo Tolstoy was a Russian author widely regarded as one of the greatest writers of all time. (2) His great works include lengthy novels like War and Peace and Anna Karenina as well as short stories, novellas, plays, and essays. (3) Tolstoy being born in 1828 in the southwest of Russia. (4) Although he had the good fortune of being born into a privileged family, his parents died while he was very young. (5) As a young man, he spent most of his time in Moscow and St. Petersburg. (6) What he was doing in Moscow and St. Petersburg was gambling. (7) In 1851, Tolstoy joined the Russian army. (8) This was also around the time that he began his writing career. (9) It might be inferred that his military service accounts for the dramatic transition from irresponsible youth to virtuosic literary giant. (10) In the 1870s, Tolstoy underwent a serious ideological shift. (11) During this period he began a dedicated study of biblical teachings and became an avid Christian pacifist. (12) Even though he was born to an aristocratic family, he believed that the aristocracy was a burden to the poor. (13) His political writings influenced much Christian anarchist thought that followed. (14) Tolstoy also became a staunch believer in the economic theory of Georgism. (15) Georgism holds that the natural resources of the land should belong to the community, rather than to a single private owner. (16) Many of these philosophies are evident in his fiction, which often includes characters who work the land and long, rhapsodic passages celebrating the natural world. 

If the writer wanted to insert a sentence between sentences (4) and (5), which would fit best in the passage? 

Possible Answers:

Anna Karenina is considered by some to be the greatest novel of all time. 

His wife Sophia was sixteen years his junior. 

More recent translations of Tolstoy's work have generated controversy. 

Tolstoy's work has gone on to influence many great artists. 

Tolstoy and his siblings were raised by relatives until they were old enough to live on their own. 

Correct answer:

Tolstoy and his siblings were raised by relatives until they were old enough to live on their own. 

Explanation:

This sentence effectively transitions chronologically from the sentence describing how Tolstoy was orphaned to how he spent his life as a young man. The other answers concerning his marriage and his work are not related to the sentences coming before or after. This is the only answer that provides a bridge between sentences (4) and (5) by alluding to both his family (the topic of sentence (4)) and his young adulthood (the topic of sentence (5)).

Example Question #2 : Choosing Effective Opening, Transitional, And Closing Sentences

Harrison had math test last Wednesday. He studied really well and thought that he did really good. When he walked into school today, Harrison’s teacher looked at him strangely. Harrison started to sweat, because he assumed the teacher’s expression meant he did poorly on the test. Harrison began to wonder wear he went wrong. The teacher walks around the room and handed out the graded assessments. Then the teacher, who had been walking around the room, paused in front of Harrison’s desk, and Harrison thought that he must of performed worst on the test than the rest of the class had. Then, to Harrison’s surprise, the teacher smiled, exclaiming that Harrison had scored one hundred percent. 

What is the most appropriate opening sentence for the passage?

Possible Answers:

A student took a math test.

Harrison was in eighth grade.

Many students take math class.

Eighth grade student, Harrison, experienced quite the scare in school today.

Harrison thought he did well on his math test.

Correct answer:

Eighth grade student, Harrison, experienced quite the scare in school today.

Explanation:

The correct answer choice gives the audience an insight into what passage they are about to read. An effective opening sentence is a "hook" that makes the reader interested in reading the rest of the selection. The correct answer choice foreshadows the plot of the passage and introduces the protagonist. The other answer choices are either too vague ("Many students take math class.") or jump into the plot of the passage too specifically ("Harrison thought he did well on his math test.")

Example Question #3 : Choosing Effective Opening, Transitional, And Closing Sentences

(1) The recent years have provided an increase in what many are calling “disruptive technologies:” applications and websites that allow the average person to circumvent the traditional means of doing business with taxis, hotels, and other services. These businesses are appealing because they cost much less, on average, than traditional services and can provide equal experiences. (2) The people who use them and the people who profit from them are passionate about these companies. (3) They have created millions of entrepreneurs who get what they put into their enterprise, while making traditional businesses rethink customer service and stuff like that. The question isn’t whether these disruptive technologies will last, but what other companies and industries are waiting to be disrupted. (4) Some of the most prominent examples of disruptive companies include Soooper, the driving service, Stay'nLay, the house-sharing service, and DogVacationland, a dog-sitting service.

Where should sentence 4 be moved in order to best organize the paragraph?

Possible Answers:

After sentence 3

After sentence 1

After sentence 2

Before sentence 1

Correct answer:

After sentence 1

Explanation:

The best place to add the specific examples of disruptive technologies is after sentence 1. The topic sentence introduces the idea of disruptive technology and this sentence would support the main idea with specific details with which readers may be familiar, providing background information that would allow readers to better understand the rest of the content in the paragraph. Sentence 4 would not be an effective topic sentence because is more of a detail than the main idea of the paragraph, nor is it an effective conclusion sentence because it does not tie the paragraph together. The other options place this sentence after ideas that do not logically flow to providing examples of the companies discussed. 

Example Question #4 : Choosing Effective Opening, Transitional, And Closing Sentences

(1) The film shows us the cultural phenomenon of rumspringa, a time in which Amish teens can metaphorically “run around” and explore the ways of the outside world without being punished for betraying their communities and families’ strict rules. (2) We see several young Amish partaking in unusual behavior, including drinking and smoking. As disturbing as some of the film are, the tumultuous period of rumspringa is educative because it results in education and is an enlightening experience. It gives the Amish a time to explore the “English” world and gain an understanding of what they will have to forego if they choose to join the Amish Church. (3) Amish teenagers get a chance to experience the clothes, music and lifestyles of the “English” and can judge for themselves how well suited they feel in those contexts.

The author is considering adding the following sentence:

"This footage is entirely uncharacteristic of the image of Amish life most people have--that is, meek and ascetic." 

What is the most logical position for this sentence in the paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Before sentence 3

After sentence 2

Before sentence 2

Before sentence 1

Correct answer:

After sentence 2

Explanation:

This sentence is best placed after sentence 2. This is the most logical place for the sentence because it describes the unusual behavior seen in the film and situates it within the context of Amish lifestyle, describing why the footage of drinking and smoking is unusual, as well as leading logically into how the experience can be educative for the teens. 

Example Question #5 : Choosing Effective Opening, Transitional, And Closing Sentences

      The rules of English grammar and writing are important to some poets. Proper grammar can help get the meaning of writing across to a wide audience. That is why many people were shocked with the inventive poetry of E.E. Cummings. He took risks and did all he could not to write in a single comprehensible English sentence. He E.E. Cummings lived an interesting and productive life. He is most widely known as “the poet who didn’t capitalize his name,” and his life, like his poetic style, was unique.

      Edward Estlin Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1894. He grew up with lenient, liberal parents. They supported his writing at an early age. Unlike many poets, he liked his parents and enjoyed his childhood. He attend public schools in Cambridge fore attending Harvard University, like his father. At Harvard, Cummings received a M.A. for English and Classical studies and graduated magna cum laude. He also helped found the Harvard Poetry Society.

Which of the following sentences would best conclude the second paragraph?

Possible Answers:

He always used a lowercase “i” to express the personal pronoun, which was one of his trademarks.

While in Paris, Cummings was exposed to a whole new world of creativity.

The height of his popularity was in the 1940s and ‘50s.

None of these

Correct answer:

None of these

Explanation:

The best answer is "none" because the options are details about the poet's life that do not fit with the content of the second paragraph. The paragraph focuses on E.E. Cummings's early life and education, and while the options are specific details about him, they do not summarize his early life or education, and so none of them are effective choice for a conclusion. 

Example Question #6 : Choosing Effective Opening, Transitional, And Closing Sentences

In one small town in California, [5] community leaders were worried about the next generation of kids growing up overweight because of the unhealthy food options. Local leaders decided to create a program in which [6] farmers taught kids how to cook healthy meals. In the six-week program, farmers taught kids how to grow fresh vegetables. In the newly-dug school gardens. [7] The kids were proud to eat tomatoes, lettuce, and beans that they had grown in their [8] own gardens. Plus, these vegetables can make delicious meals from all different cultures. [9]

Where does this sentence best belong?

Possible Answers:

This sentence should be deleted as it is not relevant to the passage.

Before sentence 7.

The sentence is in the correct place.

The beginning of the paragraph.

Before sentence 8.

Correct answer:

This sentence should be deleted as it is not relevant to the passage.

Explanation:

This sentence does not contribute relevant information to the passage. The passage focuses on healthy eating, not on food as it relates to culture.

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