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).
; 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.
; 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,
; 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
; A valid argument contains good logic, solid evidence, and clear reasons
; 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
**hyperbole – an extreme exaggeration
**idiom – a phrase that means something different from its literal