Adding or Deleting Sentences

Kristin Fracchia
Lesson by Kristin Fracchia
Magoosh Expert
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This lesson is about the questions on the test that ask, whether or not you should be adding or deleting sentences. So this is a specific type of rhetorical skills question that you're going to see for sure on the test. So let's go ahead and talk through strategies and look at some examples of what these questions look like.

We're gonna start by jumping straight into an example and then I'm gonna walk through some strategies that you can use to deal with these types of questions. They tend to be tricky for a lot of students. So here's our question. At this point, the writer wishes to add the following sentence. The Liberator was founded in 1831 and was published in Massachusetts.

Should the writer make this addition here? Okay, so you're always gonna have a question? Should they add it, should they delete it, that's gonna go right here. And then you're going to have four answer choices. Two that begin with the yes and two that begin with no. And each of those answers are going to be followed by a specific because statement, a specific rationale.

So you need to be deciding not only should you delete it or should you keep it, and, but you should also be deciding why. So the ACT is going to be looking that you have the correct rationale for why something should be added or deleted from a passage. We're going to talk about the most common reasons that you should be adding or deleting something by the end of this video.

But let me go ahead and show you the passage so you can answer this question. Remember we're looking for whether or not the sentence about the Liberator being founded in 1831 and being published in Massachusetts should be added to this paragraph. So let me go ahead and show you the relevant paragraph, here is the spot, the highlighted spot we're looking at.

Now on the ACT you're going to see that a paragraph like this would be full of different errors that you'd be fixing as you go along. I fixed them all for you so you can focus on the highlighted part right now. So go ahead and pause the video, read the paragraph, and then we will go back to the question. All right, so here is our question again.

Now sometimes it's going to be easy for you to decide yes or no, and you'll be able to quickly eliminate two answer choices and get down to a 50/50 shot on a question immediately. Sometimes you're not gonna be sure whether or not you should answer yes or no. In fact, I find a lot of students are not sure when they're walking into the ACT, or not too familiar with it.

So we're gonna go through a strategy first, for when you are not sure if it's yes or no. Now this strategy has to do with dealing with the rationales first, and just deciding whether or not they are factually true. So we're not even gonna worry about yes or no right now, we're just gonna focus on the rationales.

So let's go ahead and read the first one. Because it gives the reader specific information information regarding The Liberator. Is that true, or is it not true? Well yes, it's true. So we can leave that one in play.

B, because it helps the reader understand why Garrison could not speak about slavery from personal knowledge. Does this sentence do that? I would say, no. It says nothing about Garrison and why he cannot speak about slavery from personal knowledge.

So, regardless of whether it says yes or no, that cannot possibly be the answer. C, because the reader can infer the date The Liberator was founded from the paragraph. Now it's not stated anywhere in that paragraph. You can't even really infer, the date that it was founded. So regardless of whether this says yes or no, it can't be the answer just because of the rationale.

D, because it distracts the reader from the focus of the paragraph. Now that, we have to rely on context, for we can't necessarily say whether it is distracting from the focus of the paragraph based on the sentence alone. But if you notice, we've got it down to a 50:50 shot, and, we actually didn't really need to read the paragraph. We could've just looked at the sentence to get it down to that.

So now we do need to decide yes or no because we have one yes answer, we have one no answer. But without even really having to think on that higher level, we've eliminated two answer choices. Okay, so now we need to think contextually. Does this sentence need to be added?

Or does it distract the reader from the focus of the paragraph? Now, we look at this paragraph, it's about Angelina and Sarah, and what that made them unique in the abolitionist community. And there is this reference to the Liberator here, William Lloyd Garrison is the editor of it. But it's not super crucial that we know when it was founded in order to, in order to solve it.

So, we can go back, and we can say, no the writer should not make this addition here it distracts from the focus of the paragraph. So if this paragraph was all about the Liberator, then for sure, we probably would wanna be choosing A and adding it. But, it's not really about that. It's a minor detail.

So let's go ahead and look at another example. This one is about deleting the sentence. So the writer is considering deleting the following sentence. Rather it was their firsthand experience with the institution of slavery and its negative effects on slaves. Now here's a, a question that's raised a little bit differently, but this is a question stem that you will see on the test.

If the writer were to make this deletion, the essay would primarily lose. Now this is not a yes or no question but it is a detail question, what would the essay lose if we delete this sentence? Now for this type of question, we wanna be focusing on paraphrasing, in our own words, what does this mean. And when we choose the answer choice, we just wanna choose the closest thing to that paraphrase.

So, rather it was a firsthand experience with institution of slavery, and its negative effects on slaves. So, this is basically telling us what, their firsthand expe-, their firsthand experience with the institution of slavery, and its negative effects on slaves was important. So we go back to the paragraph.

Okay, so this is it, is referring to the previous sentence, and saying what makes them unique and defined is their first hand experience with the institution of slavery. So if we go back to the question, the writer were to make this deletion that's the primary lose repetition of a point already made in the paragraph? No. That's not already stated.

A detail providing a similarity between the sisters and abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Theodore Weld, well this is the flaw in this answer choice, it's not a similarity, it's a difference. See an understatement of important information. Hm, I don't know. Let's leave that in play.

D, an explanation of what made the sisters special in the abolitionist community. Now, that sounds closest to my paraphrase, this is what makes them unique. Now, C, an understatement of important information, well, it's only an understatement. That is a, it's a statement. It is a declaration of important information, and so that's, you know, one, a little vague and two, also, not really true.

So this is closest to our paraphrase. I wanna point that out because that's what you always wanna be looking for in your answer choices on this one. Don't leap too far, don't reach too far. Just pick the closest paraphrase to what the sentence is actually saying. So I like to tell students whenever they see something about what a sentence would lose if they deleted certain information.

The sentence would lose the information that is stated in that sentence. It's as simple as that. So let's go ahead and review some common tips or some common tips. Some important tips for adding or deleting sentence questions. Okay, so the most common reason for adding a sentence is because it is necessary to clarify or explain something in the text.

So, if something is explaining or adding to an important point in the text, then go ahead and put it in. The most common reason for deleting sentence is because it's off topic, or unnecessary information at that point in the text, and that's really key. Sometimes you'll see something that was added and it was discussed maybe three paragraphs before in an earlier paragraph.

If at that point it doesn't fit in, then it doesn't fit in, and you should delete it or choose not to add it. And remember, make sure that the rationales in the answer choices make sense as reason to add or delete the given sentence, basically just make sure that they make sense at all. Are they factually true?

Is it what that sentence is actually doing? And if you think of it that way, you can really simplify this. Remember, don't go too far off off path, don't try to rationalize too much, just deal very factually, very straightforward, with the information that's in front of you, and what will happen if it is added or removed.

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