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GMAT Tuesdays with Kevin: Reading Comprehension – Main Idea

Hello! :) This week, I’ll explore some basics of the GMAT’s “main idea” questions and prepare you with a strategy for tackling these types of questions.
As always, leave me a comment or question below, and I just might make a GMAT Tuesday video out of it :).

About the Author

Kevin has taught for over ten years from San Francisco to Japan, helping students prepare for tests, like the GRE, GMAT, and SAT. He enjoys sharing what he learned, so even more students can achieve their goals. When he is not helping students dominate standardized tests, you can find him in the Pacific Ocean or on a granite dome in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Follow him on Google+ and on Twitter @KevinRocci!

9 Responses to GMAT Tuesdays with Kevin: Reading Comprehension – Main Idea

  1. Parth June 2, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    Hi Kevin,

    In order to determine the Main Idea while taking notes (Reading the Passage),should we keep focus only on what is explicitly mentioned in the first/ last lines of the paragraphs or can the Main Idea be a logical inference from the information provided in the passage content?

    • Kevin
      Kevin June 2, 2014 at 9:13 am #

      Hi Parth, great question! In nearly every case, the author will be fairly explicit about the main idea of a passage. It might be written subtly. It might be so apparent what it is. And it might not just be contained within a single sentence. But the author wants to convey their point to the reader. Good authors make easy for the reader to understand the main idea.

      When it comes to paragraphs, the main idea might be a little bit harder to determine. You may need to synthesize the information at the beginning and at the end of the paragraph, and you will probably need to think about to the main idea of the entire passage to really understand the main point of a paragraph. Since a paragraph is somehow connected to the overall purpose of the passage, it’s great to try and understand the paragraph within the context of the main idea of the passage.

      So this was a long answer to your question. I suppose the short answer is—it depends. Sometimes it will be easy to know the main point of a paragraph from what is explicitly stated in the first and last sentence. Sometimes you will need to take what is said and combine it and synthesize it—perhaps do some small inferring—to grasp the main point of a paragraph.

      Does that help? Let me know if that makes sense or not. :)

      Happy studying! :)

      • parth June 2, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

        This helps a lot!

        Thanks for the explanative reply Kevin :)

        • Kevin
          Kevin June 3, 2014 at 10:00 am #

          Awesome! So happy to be able to help! :)

  2. deepak February 7, 2014 at 2:51 am #

    Hi Kevin, great video as usual .

    …..and thank you for illustrating some typical trap answers in these main idea question types.

    • Kevin
      Kevin February 7, 2014 at 9:46 am #

      Thanks! Glad to hear that you liked it, Deepak! Definitely have to watch out for those traps. :)

  3. Rachel
    Rachel February 4, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    OMG no purple shirt!?

    • Kevin
      Kevin February 4, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      Change > Status Quo :)

    • Margarette
      Margarette February 11, 2014 at 10:54 am #

      I want to like all of these comments!!

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