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Finding the Main Idea: Reading Comprehension Review Practice Exercises

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Updated on Aug 24, 2011

Read the following study guide for a concept review:

Finding the Main Idea: Reading Comprehension Review Study Guide

PRACTICE

Identify whether the following statements are a subject or a main idea.

  1. hiccups and other ailments
  2. why hiccups occur
  3. how to sew on a button
  4. buttons, snaps, and hooks
  5. why apples are healthy

Identify whether or not the following sentences are topic sentences.

  1. Glass bottles can be recycled.
  2. It is important to vote in local elections.
  3. Some people need glasses to help them see clearly.
  4. Rats are a kind of rodent.
  5. Art classes should be mandatory.

Read the following passage and then answer the questions.

If you ask campers at Sunshine Day Camp what they did at camp on any particular day, they may answer that they went swimming or canoeing or that they played tag in the field. These are a few of the activities that Sunshine Day Camp provides, but not the ones of which the camp staff is most proud. The staff at Sunshine Day Camp meets once a week to brainstorm ways to teach the campers new skills. Their latest idea was a camp bake sale, where all the items sold were made at camp by the campers themselves. One whole day of camp that week was dedicated to teaching the campers how to bake.
  1. What kinds of activities does Sunshine Day Camp provide?
  2. What does the staff do once a week?
  3. How is the bake sale different from other camp activities?
  4. How does the staff feel about activities like the bake sale?
  5. What is the main idea of this passage?

ANSWERS

  1. subject
  2. Hiccups and other ailments is a general phrase, but doesn't lend itself to being supported by other ideas. It's not making a clear statement.

  3. main idea
  4. Why hiccups occur is an idea that needs some support. If you were to write an explanation for why hiccups occur, you would need reasons explaining why they occur. Other ideas revolve around the statement why hiccups occur.

  5. main idea
  6. How to sew on a button is a main idea and not just a subject because it needs more support. A reader would need to know the steps involved in sewing on a button.

  7. subject
  8. Buttons, snaps, and hooks describes a subject and not a main idea because there are no other ideas that revolve around it. There is no more to be said about it.

  9. main idea
  10. Apples are healthy is a main idea because the reader needs to know why apples are healthy. A statement is made about apples and more support is needed to back up the statement.

  11. not a topic sentence
  12. Glass bottles can be recycled is a fairly specific statement that doesn't need any support and is more likely used as support for a more general idea.

  13. topic sentence
  14. It is important to vote in local elections is a statement that needs support; for example, why is it important to vote in local elections?

  15. not a topic sentence
  16. The fact that some people need glasses to help them see clearly is a specific fact that does not express a main idea. It doesn't cry out for support and therefore is not a topic sentence.

  17. not a topic sentence
  18. Rats are a kind of rodent is a fact and it does not take a stand or need support in any way. It is not a topic sentence.

  19. topic sentence
  20. Art classes should be mandatory is an opinion that needs to be supported. It definitely expresses a main idea, so it is topic sentence.

The answers to questions 11 through 14 can all be found in the passage provided. The passage is shown again here with all of the pertinent information underlined.

If you ask campers at Sunshine Day Camp what they did at camp on any particular day, they may answer that they went swimming or canoeing or that they played tag in the field. These are a few of the activities that Sunshine Day Camp provides, but not the ones of which the camp staff is most proud. The staff at Sunshine Day Camp meets once a week to brainstorm ways to teach the campers new skills. Their latest idea was a camp bake sale, where all the items sold were made at camp by the campers themselves. One whole day of camp that week was dedicated to teaching the campers how to bake.
  1. Sunshine Day Camp provides activities like swimming, canoeing, tag, and baking.
  2. The staff meets once a week to brainstorm ways to teach the campers new skills.
  3. The bake sale is different from other camp activities because it is not a typical camp activity and it teaches the campers new skills.
  4. The staff is very proud of activities like the bake sale.
  5. The main idea of this passage is that camp does not always have to be just about swimming, canoeing, and typical camp activities. Camp can also be an opportunity for campers to learn new skills.
Even though the main idea is not explicitly stated within the passage, you can infer the main idea from the information you know: The staff is most proud of the bake sale, and they brainstorm each week for activities to teach campers new skills. Therefore, this camp is different from others because it teaches campers new skills.
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