The validity of simplifying the reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization as a degenerative chain transfer process was verified in this work. The simplified chain transfer mechanism enabled the direct modeling investigation of chain transfer coefficient in the RAFT polymerization. It also gave the analytical expressions for concentration, chain length, and polydispersity of various chain species. The comparison between the simulations based on chain transfer mechanism and those from general RAFT mechanism showed that this simplified mechanism can accurately predict RAFT polymerization in the absence of side reactions to adduct radicals other than fragmentation. However, significant errors are introduced at high conversion when side reactions to adduct are present. The chain transfer coefficient of RAFT agent is the key factor in RAFT polymerization. The polydispersity is more sensitive to chain transfer coefficient at low conversion. At high conversion, however, the polydispersity is mainly determined by termination, which can be controlled by RAFT agent concentration and the selection of initiator. At last, an analytical equation is derived to directly estimate chain transfer coefficient of RAFT agent from the experimental data. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011.