How to Identify Main Idea


Exercise

Read this note before doing this exercise
The main idea of a paragraph is the most important statement which the writer has presented to explain the topic. Therefore, it is better to practise by identifying the topic and then ask yourself, 'What is the most important statement about the topic?' Remember to think about the tree diagram when you identify the topic.

Instructions:
Read each of the following passages and choose the best topic and main idea from the choices given. When you finish working on this exercise, click on the button 'Check your answers' to get feedback on your work.
Try to use context clues to guess the meanings of the unfamiliar words in the paragraphs. If they are too difficult and you want to check what they mean, click on the highlighted words in the paragraphs.



 
Plants are necessary for life on earth. All living things need plants because they provide food for animals. During photosynthesis, plants change the sun's energy into food and energy for animals. They use carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. All human beings and animals need oxygen to live.
 

1. What is the topic of this paragraph?

     A. Living things

     B. Photosynthesis

     C. Green Plants

     D. The Sun's Energy


2. What is the main idea of this paragraph?

     A.  Plants supply food for animals.

     B.  Plants are necessary for life on earth.

     C.  All human beings and animals need oxygen to live.

     D.  During photosynthesis, plants change the sun's energy into food and
          energy for animals.


 
Alladin had a wonderful magic lamp. By rubbing it, he could go anywhere he chose or could have anything he desired. A reader of good books has such a wonderful lamp. When you come home from school and open your book, you are whisked away in a moment to a world of adventure. Through this Alladin's lamp of reading, you are master not only of space, but also of time. The joy of reading, then, is the privilege of sharing the experiences of great men of every time and from any part of the world.
 


3. What is the topic of this paragraph?
     
     A.   A Magic Lamp

     B. Joys of Reading

     C. Reading

     D. The Advantages of Good Books


4.  What is the main idea of this paragraph?

     A.    Alladin had a wonderful magic lamp.
     B.   Reading can take you to a world of adventure.
     C. The joy of reading is the privilege of sharing the experiences of great
          men of every time and from any part of the world.
     D. Reading good books is as good as having a wonderful magic lamp.


 
Nothing is as useful as a flashlight on a dark night if a tire goes flat. Few inventions are as helpful to a child who is afraid of the dark. In fact, the modern flashlight brings light to many dark situations. Finding something in the back of a closet is easy with a flashlight in hand. A camper also needs one after the light of the campfire has faded.
 


5.  What is the topic of this paragraph?
     A.    Modern Invention
     B.    How to Use Flashlight
     C.    Necessary Thing for the Camper
     D.    Flashlight


6.  What is the main idea of this paragraph?
     A.    The modern flashlight brings light to many dark situations.
     B.    Nothing is as useful as a flashlight on a dark night if a tire goes flat.
     C.    Flashlight is helpful to a child who is afraid of the dark.
     D.    Flashlight is a necessary thing for the camper.


 
A credit card can be useful, as we will see. But credit cards can be poison because it is very easy to continue to use them even when we do not have the money to pay for what we buy. There is one other reason the cards are dangerous. The companies that issue them also charge the user to use the card. For any money that the user does not pay each month (the user's debt), the company charges a percentage of that amount in interest. If you owe the company $500 and do not pay it that month, the company adds from $6 to $8.50 to the $500. Then you owe from $506 to $508.50. The interest is added every month, so a bill that is not paid gets bigger and bigger.
 



7.  What is the best way to describe the topic of this paragraph?
     A.    The Interest Rate for Credit Card Users
     B.    How to Use Credit Card
     C.    Caution for Credit Card Users
     D.    Credit Card


8.    What is the best way to describe the main idea of this paragraph?
     A.    The companies that issue the cards charge the users in the form of
          interest.
     B.    A credit card is not only useful but also dangerous for the user.
     C.    A credit card can be dangerous because it is very easy to use.
     D.    The interest is added every month so a bill that is not paid gets bigger
           and bigger.


 

Athletic coaches frequently require wrestlers, boxers, judo contestant, and football team members to lose body water so that they will reach specified body weights. These specified weights are a lot less than the athletes' normal weights.

In contrast to the action taken by coaches, the doctors of America strongly condemn the loss of body water for athletes. They condemn loss of body water due to the fact that the loss of body water hurts the body. More specifically, a loss of three percent of body water impairs physical performance and a loss of five percent result in heat exhaustion. Moreover, a loss of seven percent of body water causes hallucination. Losses of ten percent or more of body water result in heat stroke, deep coma, and convulsions; if not treated, death will result.

 


9. What is the best way to describe the topic of this passage?
     A.    Hallucinations
     B.    Importance of Body Water
     C.    Loss of Body Water
     D.    A Cause of the Loss of Body Water


10. What is the best way to describe the main idea of this passage?
     A.   A loss of seven percent of body water causes hallucinations.
     B.     Body water helps to maintain physical performance.
     C.     Different views were held on the loss of body water.
     D.    Athletic coaches require wrestlers, boxers, judo contestant, and football
           team members to lose body water to reach specified body weights.




Return to the content page


 

Vocabulary

photosynthesis (n.)= the way that green plants make their food using sunlight

^Back to paragraph 1^

 

 

Vocabulary

whisk (v.)= to take or move someone or something somewhere quickly
privilege (n.)= a special right or advantage that only one person or group has

^Back to paragraph 2^

 

 

Vocabulary

flashlight or torch (n.)= a small portable electric light which gets its power from batteries.

^Back to paragraph 3^

 

 

Vocabulary

issue(v.)=officially give
debt (n.)=a sum of money that you owe someone

^Back to paragraph 4^

 

 

Vocabulary

condemn (v.)= to say that something is vey bad and unacceptable
impair (v.)= to make something worse
exhaustion (n.)=condition of being very tired
hallucination (n.)=something that is not real that someone sees because they are ill or have taken a drug
heat stroke or sunstroke (n.)=an illness caused by spending too much time in hot sunshine
convulsion (n.)=uncontrollable movements of muscles

^Back to paragraph 5^

 

 

 

  Created: June 17,2002   Last Modified: 6 Jan 2003

  Created by: Wanida Anchaleewittayakul  Email: wanida1113@hotmail.com
  Supervised by: Dr Merle Iles, Language, Literacy & Arts Education, The University of Melbourne.  Email: m.iles@edfac.unimelb.edu.au