Skill I: ANSWER MAIN IDEA QUESTIONS CORRECTLY
Almost every reading passage on the paper TOEFL test or computer TOEFL test will have a multiple-choice question about the main idea of a passage. Such a question may be worded in a variety of ways; you may, for example, be asked to identify the topic, subject, title, primary idea, or main idea. These questions are all really asking what primary point the author is trying to get across in the passage. Since TOEFL passages are generally written in a traditionally organized manner, it is relatively easy to find the main ideas by studying the topic sentences, which are most probably found at the beginning of each paragraph.
If a passage consists of only one paragraph, you should study the beginning of that paragraph to determine the main idea. Look at a multiple-choice example from the paper TOEFL test that asks about the topic of a passage with one paragraph.
HOW TO IDENTIFY THE QUESTION
What is the topic of the passage?
What is the subject of the passage?
What is the main idea of the passage?
What is the author’s main point in the passage?
With what is the author primarily concerned?
Which of the following would be the best title?
WHERE TO FIND THE ANSWER
The answer to this type of question can generally be determined by looking at the first sentence of each paragraph.
HOW TO ANSWER THE QUESTION
- Read the first line of each paragraph.
- Look for a common theme or idea in the first lines.
- Pass your eyes quickly over the rest of the passage to check that you have really found the topic sentence(s).
- Eliminate any definitely wrong answers and choose the best answer from the remaining choices.