Identifying main ideas and supporting details

By Harold Edwards,2014-04-29 19:38
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Identifying main ideas and supporting details

    Identifying main ideas and supporting details

    ; A main idea is THE most important idea in a paragraph or passage. The main

    idea may be directly stated, or it may be implied (meaning you have to use

    your brain and figure it out on your own).

     **If you could tell another person only one idea about a passage to help

     them understand the content, what would that one idea be? ; A topic sentence directly states the main idea in a paragraph.

    ; Supporting details explain, describe, prove, or give examples about the main

    idea and topic sentence.

     **Note-You are most likely to be asked about details that support the

     main idea. Keep in mind, if the answer choice doesn‟t give you more

     information about the main idea itself, it is probably not the answer. ; A thesis statement is a sentence that contains the main points of a nonfiction


    ; Instead of having a true topic, a work of fiction may teach a lesson or a moral.

    Determining sequence of events

    ; Chronological order is the sequence (or order) in which things happen.

    Chronological order tells which event happened first, next, and last. This type

    of order is used for narrating a story and in explaining a process step by step.

    **Look for words that show sequence (ex. before, after, then, while,

    lastly, finally, in the end). Also look for words that show time (ex. now,

    today, soon, next week/month, a year later, overt time).

    Following directions

    ; Some directions are clear and tell you exactly what to do, and some will be

    implicit or embedded (not directly stated) in the material. If directions are

    implicit, use the context to determine what you are meant to do. ; If specific directions are given and stated explicitly (directly), make sure to

    read one step at a time and take note of (1) the order of the directions (2) the

    specific details of the directions.

    Drawing conclusions

    ; An inference is a determination a reader makes based on the information

    provided in a passage. When you read, you draw conclusions by combining

    information from the text with what you already know. You have to think!

    ** You are not going to immediately know every answer on the grad exam

    (and that‟s ok). Take the time to think and figure out the best answer. You

    will not be able to find all the answers stated directly in the passages. Many

    of them will be implied. Use your brain!

    ; A generalization is a specific type of inference in which you apply

    knowledge in a passage to new situations that are related. Making a

    generalization requires you to come to a broad conclusion on specific

    information already given.

    Determining cause and effect

    ; A cause makes you react in a cartain way, or makes something happen. ; An effect is the reaction or other result of the cause.

    ; A single cause may lead to multiple effects, and a single effect may be the

    result of multiple causes.

    ; Look for words like: therefore, because, as a result, since, consequently, and

    for this reason to alert you to the author‟s use of cause and effect.

    ; Passages about cause/effect relationships may center on stories, science,

    history, or news events.

    Propaganda: Fact from opinion

    ; Propaganda displays extreme bias, or prejudice, for or against an issue or

    cause. The goal of it is to spread information and to persuade readers.

    Propaganda works hard to sell the reader on a product, an idea, or an opinion.

    ** Advertisers and politicians love the use of propaganda!

    **Propaganda is used to get the reader to react emotionally instead of


    ; A fact can be proven in a reference source (an encyclopedia, a dictionary, a

    map, or a history book).

    ; An opinion is a statement that shows a personal belief or viewpoint.

    **Statements that express something is good or bad in some way are usually


    **Opinions are beliefs that may or may not be shared by others.

    **Opinions are often stated using extreme words that suggest something is

    true all the time (ex. all, everyone, never, and nobody).

    **Opinions often use comparative and superlative terminology (ex. better/best,

    nicer/nicest, easier/easiest).

    ; Keep in mind that fact and opinion are not the same as asking if something is

    true or false. A statement presented as fact may be false (or disproved), and

    an opinion is often a true statement.

    Recognizing summary statements

    ; A summary is a short retelling of a passage that includes the main idea and

    most important details.

    ; Keep in mind, if you were writing a summary, you would include information

    from the beginning, middle, and end of the passage. **It only makes sense

    that the best answer choice for a summarizing question is going to be one that

    contains the most information from all through-out the passage. A summary

    does NOT just cover one, short section.

    Recognizing logic and arguments

    ; A fallacy is a false argument. It contains poor logic, weak evidence, or

    faulty reasons.

    ; A valid argument contains good logic, solid evidence, and clear reasons

    or examples.

    ; Types of fallacies:

    Ad Hominem attacking the person rather than his/her ideas

    Circular Argument stating the same thing over again in different words

    Testimonial using a famous person to endorse a product or idea

    Either Or presenting an issue as only having two sides/opions

    Cause/Effect implying that one thing happened because of another

    Name Calling just what it says…‟name calling‟

    Red Herring distracting the audience from the main issue

    Band Wagon doing something because „everyone‟ else is doing it

    Analyzing literary elements

    ; Setting place and time where a story takes place

    ; Plot sequence of events in a story

    ; Climax turning point in a story

    ; Conflict struggle in the story (can be with nature, one‟s self, others, or


    ; Foreshadowing clues or hints of events to come

    ; Suspense anticipation about what will happen in a story ; Antagonist an opponent of the hero in the story; usually causes


    ; Protagonist the hero or main character

    ; Dialogue conversation between characters

    ; Point of view perspective from which a writer tells a story st; 1 person point of view told from the “I” point of view rd; 3 person point of view writer tells the story using “he,” “she,” or

    “they” (narrator is not a character in the story)

    ; Mood atmosphere created through details in the setting and plot ; Tone feeling or attitude conveyed th the reader

    ; Theme the message or meaning in the work

    Understanding figurative language

    ; Figurative language does not mean what it actually says.

    **simile a comparison between 2 unlike things like or as

    **metaphor a comparison between 2 unlike things that does not use like

    or as

    **hyperbole an extreme exaggeration

    **idiom a phrase that means something different from its literal


    **personification gives human characteristics to a nonhuman thing

    Determining meaning of words

    ; Definitions or synonyms within text can be used to determine word

    meaning. Look for indicator words such as also, or, and which are. (ex.

    Some people have multiple ailments or medical problems.) ; Antonyms can often be found within text. Look for indicator words such

    as unlike.

    ; Comparison (similarities) and contrast (differences) can also be used to

    determine word meaning. Make use of the information within the text. (ex.

    The plan was disclosed to a number of people, but they did not tell it to


    ; Break down the word. Look at the meaning of the (1) prefix (2) suffix

    and/or (3) base word. Put the meaning of each part together to determine

    the total meaning .


    ; Previewing means scanning or skimming through it quickly to see what

    major ideas it contains before you spend time reading or studying it.

    **Look for: titles/subtitles, heading/subheading, topic sentences, key

    words, captions, illustrations and graphic displays, and footnotes

    ; Previewing enables the reader to get a general idea of the content of a

    passage. This can improve comprehension when the reader uses these

    previewed elements as a guide while reading.

    ; Predicting is deciding what will probably happen next. Even if your

    prediction is wrong, it will help keep you more focused on the massage

    you are reading.

    Discerning organizational patterns

    ; Authors organize ideas in multiple ways depending on the purpose and

    style of the work.

    ; Chronological order see above (sequencing)

    ; Spatial order describes things according to location and in relationship

    to each other.

    ; Order of importance lists main points or reasons in order of importance

    from least to most important, or from most to least important. ; Comparison and contrast see above (determining word meanings)

    ; Cause and effect see above

    ; Main idea with examples and anecdotes see above

    Demonstrate reference material usage

    ; Dictionary meanings, pronunciations, origins of words

    ; Thesaurus lists synonyms and antonyms

    ; Periodical a regular publication, such as a newspaper, magazine, or

    journal; gives current information

    ; Almanac a book published yearly that contains facts about weather and


    ; Atlas a book of maps

    ; Encyclopedia a collection of articles that gives general information

    about a variety of topics

    ; Reader’s Guide an index to periodical literature, which lists articles

    alphabetically by author and topic

    ; Appendix additional information collected at the end of a book related

    to the book‟s subject

    ; Glossary list of important terms in a book, with definitions ; Index an alphabetical listing of topics in a book with page references,

    usually found at the end of a book.

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