1.2 Identifying the main ideas

Read the text “How to Prepare for a Job Interview” before you start with this section.
Congratulations! You have just finished reading the text and now, you have new found knowledge about the topic “How to Prepare for A Job Interview”. Now, let’s look at three strategies that can help you comprehend the text better. Don’t worry, you may have already taken these  strategies when you were reading the text just now!

Identifying the main ideas

How Do You Locate the Main Idea?

Once you can find the topic, you are ready to find the main idea. The main idea is the point of the paragraph. It is the most important thought about the topic.
To figure out the main idea, ask yourself this question: What is being said about the person, thing, or idea (the topic)?
 The author can locate the main idea in different places within a paragraph. The main idea is usually a sentence, and it is usually the first sentence. The writer then uses the rest of the paragraph to support the main idea.
Let’s use the paragraph below as an example. First find the topic, then look for the main idea.
  1. Don’t walk into a job interview with zero knowledge about the business you are interviewing with. Research the company beforehand — visit its website, follow it on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and do some simple Google searches to see what you can find out about its history and its leadership team. Be sure to showcase your newfound knowledge during your interview. This will boost your credibility with the interviewer and will help you to formulate intelligent questions to ask him or her.
The topic is : Preparation.
The main idea is: You must prepare yourself before you go for an interview.
Let’s try again. This time, you try it on your own and discuss your answer later with your teacher.
Your clothing should be neat, pressed, and professional looking. It’s better to dress too conservatively than too casually. Be well groomed with clean, manicured nails. Keep tattoos under wraps and remove any facial piercings if you have them. If the work environment seems casual, you’ll be able to gauge later what’s acceptable — after you have the job.
The topic is: _______________________________.
The main idea is: ______________________________.
Now, try out your predicting skill on the rest of the text. One important thing to remember though is that while the main idea is usually in the first sentence, the next most common placement is in the last sentence of a paragraph. The author gives supporting information first and then makes the point in the last sentence.
Adapted from:Study Skills. A Landmark School Student Guideby Diane Vener,
© 2002 Landmark School, Inc.
Let’s view the following video explaining how to identify main ideas.


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