Reading Skills and Knowledge for Praxis II ParaPro Test Prep Study Guide
Practice questions for this study guide can be found at:
ETS, the maker of the ParaPro Assessment, says there are seven key skills to know for the reading section of the test. The key skills are as follows:
- understand the main idea or primary purpose
- understand supporting ideas
- understand the organization of a passage
- understand vocabulary in context
- draw inferences or implications from directly stated content
- distinguish between fact and opinion
- interpret graphic text
The next seven sections explain each type of skill, with examples that shouw how you might see the concept tested on the ParaPro Assessment.
Main Idea or Primary Purpose
For this question type, you need to be able to identify the main idea or primary purpose of the passage or a specific paragraph in the passage.
When standardized reading tests ask you to find the main idea of a passage, they are asking you to determine an overall feeling or thought that a writer wants to convey about his or her subject. To find the main idea, think about a general statement that brings together all of the ideas in a paragraph or passage. Look out for statements that are too specific—a main idea must be broad enough to contain all of the concepts presented in a passage. Test takers often confuse the main idea of a passage with its main topic. The topic is the subject—what the passage is about. The main idea is what the author wants to express about the subject.
Textbook writing and the passages on the Para- Pro Assessment often follow a basic pattern of general idea → specific idea. In other words, a writer states his or her main idea (makes a general claim about the subject) and then provides evidence for it through specific details and facts. Do you always find main ideas in the first sentence of the passage? The answer is no; although a first sentence may contain the main idea, an author may decide to build up to the main point. In that case, you may find the main idea in the last sentence of an introductory paragraph, or even in the last paragraph of the passage.
Read the following paragraph and answer the practice question that follows.
Experts say that if you feel drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, you haven't had enough sleep. If you routinely fall asleep within five minutes of lying down, you may have severe sleep deprivation. Microsleep, or a very brief episode of sleep in an otherwise awake person, is another mark of sleep deprivation. In many cases, people are not aware that they are experiencing microsleeps. The widespread practice of "burning the candle at both ends" in many societies has created so much sleep deprivation that what is really abnormal sleepiness is now almost the norm.
- What is the main point of this passage?
- If you fall asleep within five minutes every time you lie down, you are sleep deprived.
- If you experience enough microsleeps, you can attain the sleep you need to function.
- Sleep deprivation is a pervasive problem in many cultures.
- If trends in sleep deprivation continue, our society will experience grave consequences.
Choice a is a true statement, but too specific to be a main idea. Choice b is a false statement. Choice d is a speculative statement that is not implied in the passage. Only choice c represents a general or umbrella statement that covers all of the information in the paragraph.
Notice that in the sample passage, the author does not present the main idea in the first sentence, but rather builds up to the main point, which is expressed in the last sentence of the paragraph.
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