SAT Writing & Language: Rhetorics

Add or Delete Questions

Add or delete questions are two-part questions. First, you have to determine if the sentence should be added or deleted. Then, you have to identify the reasoning for why the sentence should be added or deleted.

Example: At this point, the writer is considering adding the following sentence: Joe then confronted Jane about the money she owed him.

Should the writer make this addition?

A. Yes, because the information clarifies Joe’s reasoning for his actions.

B. Yes, because the information helps explain how Joe and Jane originally met.

C. No, because the additional information distracts the reader from the main point of the essay.

D. No, because it’s unclear whether Joe wanted to argue with Jane.

When tackling these types of questions, always answer the yes or no part first. That way, you’ve automatically halved the number of choices under consideration.

The following is a good strategy to tackle Add/ Delete questions:

  1. Analyze the added sentence to see what it’s doing
  2. Refer back to the passage to see if the sentence should be added or not
  3. Answer the yes or no question first
  4. Eliminate the two “Yes” answer choices or the two “No” answer choices
  5. Provide the reasoning in your own words
  6. Pick the answer choice that most closely matches your reasoning

Note: The most common reason, by far, for not including/ deleting something is relevance. If the questions ask whether to add a sentence and your answer is no, the reason will likely be that the sentence distracts the reader or that it’s irrelevant to the focus of the essay. So, gravitate toward that answer choice first.

Example 1,2
[1] Most people are aware that a symbol composed of three arrows forming a triangle indicates that a container is somehow associated with recycling. [2] Far fewer individuals know what the little letters and numbers in the centre of this symbol indicate. [3] These markings designate the particular kind of plastic from which the item is made. [4] The letters are acronyms that designate the item’s broad category of plastic and provide detail about the specific thickness, density, and durability of the material. [5] For instance, “PET” and “PETE” both stand for the same thing, “post consumer polyethylene terephthalate,” while “HDPE” stands for “high density polyethylene.” [6] The numbers provide the same information in a different way a PET bottle can be designated by a numeral 1 inside the recycling arrows, while an HDPE bottle can be identified by a 2. [7] By referring to these symbols, consumers can discern where each item should be recycled. [8] Recycled materials should always be placed in the correct stream. [9] While this system is very accurate, it is not consumer friendly; people glancing over a product’s packaging they wish to recycle might encounter the symbol and not know what it means, resulting in their recycling it incorrectly. [10] So, the next time you purchase something made of plastic, make sure to decode these symbols!

1. The author is considering removing Sentence 4 from the passage. Should he or she do this?
Yes, because this sentence is beyond the scope of the passage because it provides unnecessary details about only letters when letters and numbers are each being discussed.
Yes, because this sentence disrupts the flow of the passage.
No, because the passage would lose valuable details and its parallel structure of discussing both letters and numbers would be disrupted.
No, because it is functioning as a transition in order to introduce a concept different from the one that has been discussed thus far in the passage.

2. The author is considering removing Sentence 8 from the passage. Should he or she do this?
Yes, because the sentence is extraneous and doesn’t fit the tone of the rest of the passage.
Yes, because the sentence provides information that conflicts with other information in the passage.
No, because the sentence provides information necessary to understanding the passage’s main idea.
No, because the sentence is transitioning to the passage’s conclusion.


1. Sentence 4 tells us exactly what the letters stand for. The sentence fits well in the paragraph’s two-pronged discussion of both letters and numbers. If we removed this sentence, the passage wouldn’t explain letters at all; it would jump straight to examples and then proceed to discussing the numbers in recycling symbols.

Option C says we should keep the sentence because it’s providing useful information and contributing to parallel structure; D says we should keep it because it’s a transition to a new idea. Well, it’s not a transition to a new idea. That means that the correct answer is C.

2. Did Sentence 8 stick out to you as you were initially reading the passage? You may have noticed its slight shift in tone. Whereas the rest of the passage is declarative and aims to provide general information to its reader until the last line, this sentence tells readers what they “should” do, as if providing direct instructions. Sentence 8 also repeats information conveyed by the sentence that precedes it. Thus, Sentence 8 isn’t necessary to this passage, and we can omit it. Answer A is the right answer.
Example 3
Fortunately, a new group of artists has discovered the murals, and efforts are underway to clean, restore, and repaint them. Once again, Siqueiros’s “America Tropical” is leading the way. [1] After a lengthy and complex restoration process, this powerful work is now a tourist attraction, complete with a visitor centre and a rooftop viewing platform. Advocates hope that Siqueiros’s mural will once more serve as an inspiration, this time inspiring viewers to save and restore an important cultural and artistic legacy.

At point [1], the writer is considering adding the following sentence: When it was painted in 1932, Siqueiro’s mural was considered offensive, but now it is acclaimed.

Should the writer make this addition here?

Yes, because it provides historical context for the changes discussed in the passage
Yes, because it provides a useful reminder of how people once viewed Siqueiro’s work.
No, because it unnecessarily introduces an unrelated point in the passage
No, because it uncessary repeats a point already made in the paragraph

First, read the passage with the suggested sentence inserted to get a sense of whether or not it should be included. When you add the sentence, it feels like an inappropriate interruption that diverts attention from the main focus of the paragraph. This narrows our options down to the two “no” answers, C and D.

Is the information in the sentence already given earlier in the paragraph? Skimming through the paragraph, you can see that it was not, so D has to be wrong. The correct answer is C.