How to Identify the Main Point of an Article Or Essay - Reading Comprehension Tips
Students often wonder how they can be sure they have correctly identified the main point of an article or essay they were assigned to read. Nonfiction articles and essays actually include many clues to the author's thesis. Someone who is trained in reading comprehension or nonfiction writing will have no difficulty spotting those clues. To find the main point of an article or essay, look for the preponderance of the evidence
Note the title. Nonfiction titles and subtitles usually include one or two of the keywords that will be in the writer's main point or thesis statement.
Find repeated words. The keywords in the writer's main point will be words that the writer uses often in the article or essay. As you read, look for significant words that are used throughout the piece. (Ignore common words that show up in writing on every subject, like the words and, the, but, there.) Typically there will be at least two, but no more than five, keywords.
Find synonyms for the keywords. Most writers will use synonyms to provide variety while directing attention toward the main point. Also look for words related to the terms you identified as keywords. For example, if you identify the word analyze as a keyword, look for words with the same root, such as analysis or analytical.
Look in likely places. Writers usually put their thesis at the end of their introduction and the beginning of the conclusion. As you read, look in those places for sentences that include the key words you identified earlier.
Do not look in the introduction for a thesis that includes a list of list of points the piece is to cover. Also do not look for a repetition of the thesis in the conclusion. Good writers make their point clearly but not blatantly.
Look for a topic and assertion. The main point is going to make an assertion about the topic of the essay or article. If topic is mules, the thesis is going to assert something about mules.
Check the topic sentences. Topic sentences usually state a reason for believing the thesis is true and almost always include at least one keyword from the thesis statement. A topic sentence is usually the first sentence of a body paragraph, but sometimes it is the last.
By following these simple reading comprehension tips, you can feel confident you made a correct identification of the main point of the essay or article.
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