The main idea is the most
important point or idea in a reading passage. It is a general statement.
A main idea usually occurs at the beginning of a passage, either as a
title or a topic sentence. Sometimes it is repeated at the end as a
Answers to questions about main ideas may require a statement of the
idea or a title that summarizes the main idea.
Some students prefer to answer the questions about main ideas first while
they still have a general idea of the passage. Answering questions
about details first can cause the reader to forget the main idea.
In reading for the main idea, use your skimming skills, that
is, read the text superficially.
Although dinosaurs have long captured
man's imagination, no human ever saw one. For over one hundred
million years dinosaurs roamed the earth, but for some unknown
reason, they perished seventy million years ago, years before man
There are several theories as to why the giants disappeared. Some
scientists believe that the earth became too cold; others believe
that it became too dry; still others argue that smaller mammals ate
the dinosaur eggs before they had an opportunity to hatch.
Whatever the reason, their great bodies sank into the mud where
slowly the bones, teeth, and even the skin became fossilized. Today
huge stone footprints and enormous skeletal structures are the only
record we have of their mysterious existence.