Finding the Main Idea: Reading Comprehension Review Study Guide (page 3)

Updated on Aug 24, 2011


Basically, the main idea of any piece of writing is the point that the author is making. So your task is to find out what that point is. To accomplish this task, you need to be able to differentiate between a subject and a main idea, because when you find the main idea, you've found the point. The subject of a passage is merely what is being talked about. What is being discussed? The main idea of a passage is what is being said about that subject. This is what you're looking to find out.

Oftentimes the main idea of a passage can be found in a topic sentence. A topic sentence will usually be at the beginning of a passage and will be a general idea that needs other ideas to support it. As you can see, identifying topic sentences can be a useful tool in finding the main idea.

But what happens if there isn't a topic sentence and nowhere in the passage is the main idea explicitly stated? How do you find it? You need to ask yourself, "What is the author's point?" Use the information you do have to lead you to the main idea. Determine what larger idea all the smaller ideas seem to support.

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Finding the Main Idea: Reading Comprehension Review Practice Exercises

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