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1 GED Reading Skills Locating Directly Stated Main Ideas ABE/ASE Content Standard 4. 01. 1 Determines the main idea (stated and implied) and identifies relevant materials
Definition • A stated main idea is the sentence that tells the most important point the author wants you to understand about the paragraph. • The stated main idea sentence is also called the topic sentence.
Steps to Determine the Stated Main Idea Sentence: 1. Read the paragraph carefully. 2. Determine the subject matter of the paragraph by asking yourself, “Who or what is this passage about? ” 3. Ask yourself, “What is it that author wants me to understand about this subject? ”
Steps, continued: 4. Search for a single sentence in the paragraph that answers the question, “What is it the author wants me to understand about this subject? ” A sentence that answers that question is the main idea of the paragraph. * This can be difficult. If so, then stop, reread, and think; any extra steps needed?
The mental process used to determine the main idea is… the same as the mental process you use in conversation.
The main idea of a paragraph… • Is often stated as a sentence. • Is never stated as a • Always contains the subject question. matter • Is never stated as a • Always states the most word or phrase. important point about the subject matter. • Is general enough to cover all the important info in the paragraph.
Effective readers always seek the main idea. • Why? To identify the most important idea in each paragraph. • Why else? To understand how the information in the other sentence relates to the main idea of the paragraph.
After determining the subject matter of a paragraph… • Ask yourself, “What does the author want me to know or understand about the subject matter? ” • The answer to this question is the main idea of the paragraph
The importance of determining the main idea: 1. Helps you focus your concentration on what you are reading. 2. Helps you recall more details, since the main idea is the “glue” that holds all the details together. 3. Helps in studying; take better notes; outline more efficiently.
More advantages: 4. Helps you write effective summaries. 5. Helps you write more complete and intelligent essay answers on test.
Example Passage • Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to walk on the surface of the moon, but they were not the last. That was Gene Cernan, the last man to step off the lunar surface. In total there have been twelve men who have walked on the moon, all of whom had done so between 1969 and 1972, which is the most recent non-Michael Jackson moon walking.
Locating a Main Idea at the Beginning of the Paragraph: The first sentence often states the main idea. Read to answer the question, “What does the author want me to understand about Charlie Chaplin’s tramp costume? Perhaps the most famous costume in film history is Chaplin’s Charlie the tramp outfit. The costume is an indication of both class and character conveying the complex mixture of vanity and dash that makes Charlie appealing. The moustache, derby hat, and cane all suggest the fastidious dandy. The cane is used to give the impression of self-importance as Charlie swaggers confidently before a hostile world. But the baggy trousers several sizes too large, the oversized shoes, the too-tight coat-all these suggest Charlie’s insignificance and poverty. Chaplin’s view of mankind is symbolized by that costume: vain, absurd, and –finally-poignantly vulnerable.
Another example of main idea at the beginning: The electronic nature of computers gives them several important attributes. First, computers are extremely fast at processing instructions, that is, at performing calculations and at making logical comparisons. Second, computers are extremely accurate in their processing; rarely does a computer make an electronic mistake that it does not catch and signal to the computer operator. Almost all errors in computer data processing are caused by faulty programs prepared by humans. Third, computers are extremely reliable; being primarily electronic and without moving parts, they seldom have failures. Subject Matter: the electronic nature of computers What is the most important point the author wants me to understand about the electronic nature of computers?
Locating a Main Idea at the End of a Paragraph: Sometimes the last sentence of a paragraph states the main idea. What does the author want me to understand about forgetting? How much do you remember of what you learned over the past academic year? How many of your high school classmates could you call by name right now? How many times a week do you forget appointments, chores, and other details of everyday life? Before you groan in self-disgust, take heart at how normal you are. We all forget all kinds of things all the time. *Remember- When searching for the main idea, you can eliminate questions, because the main idea is never stated in a question form. You can eliminate the first three sentences of this paragraph. So, the main idea has to be one of the two that are left.
Another example of the main idea at the end of the paragraph: Osmosis The diffusion of water across a selectively permeable membrane has been given a special term: it is called osmosis. Osmosis is defined as the net movement of water molecules from the area of greater concentration of water to the area of lesser concentration of water across a selectively permeable membrane.
When the Last Sentence of a Paragraph is a Stated Conclusion: Sometimes an author will state an important conclusion that is based on information in the paragraph. It is so important that s/he wants you to recognize it and understand it. The conclusion is typically at the end. It is often the main idea of the paragraph. It is frequently signaled by such words as: -In conclusion -thus -consequently -therefore -as a result -so -finally -for these reasons
Example of conclusion sentence that is the main idea sentence: Energy in its various forms, from heat to gasoline, plays a larger part in the budget of poor families than well-to-do families. This is because energy is largely used for essentials. For families in the lowest ten percent of households, energy accounts for a full third of household expenditures; whereas for households in the top ten percent, it absorbs only five percent of household expenses. Therefore, a jump in energy costs will penalize the poor much more severely than the rich. Subject matter: the effect of energy costs on poor and rich families Main idea sentence: _______________
Locating a Main Idea Sentence Within the Paragraph: Occasionally, the main idea sentence is neither the first or the last sentence, but somewhere in the middle. What does the author want me to understand about victimless crimes In white-collar or index crimes people’s economic or personal well-being is endangered against their will (or without their direct knowledge). Sociologists use the term victimless crimes to describe the willing exchange among adults of widely desired, but illegal, goods and services (Schur, 1965; 169). Many Americans view gambling, prostitution, public drunkenness, and use of marijuana as victimless crimes in which there is no victim other than the offender.
Another example of main idea within the paragraph: What does the author want me to understand about status? When we speak of an individual’s “status” in casual conversation, the term usually conveys connotations of influence, wealth, and fame. However, sociologists use status to refer to any of the full range of socially defined positions within a large group of society-from the lowest to the highest position. Within American society, a person can occupy the status of president of the United States, fruit picker, son or daughter, violinist, teenager, resident of Minneapolis, dental technician, or neighbor.
No Shortcuts! • Don’t try reading just the first and last sentences. • Don’t depend totally on conclusion signal words or bold faced words. • Do read the whole paragraph.
Helpful Hints • Eliminate questions. • Eliminate connecting sentences between paragraphs. • Eliminate detail sentences, or isolated facts, or examples. • Sometimes you can eliminate introductory information.
Practice in The Kaplan GED Preparation Book Reading pp. 62 -62 Social Studies pp. 417 Science pp.