Main Idea Worksheets

The main idea contains the primary point or concept that an author wants to communicate to his readers. This, of course, is not limited to just authors as it can apply to anybody wanting to convey the main point. As a teacher, for instance, you can ask your students to work on main idea worksheets to find the main idea of a passage of text. Main idea and details worksheets are especially essential for students who struggle with reading comprehension.

Main Idea Worksheets

What is a main idea? 

Usually, in reading comprehension tests, there is always a question that’s related to finding the main idea. You can help students understand what they’re reading through practice using finding the main idea worksheets. The main idea is the primary concept or point that an author wishes to convey to his readers about the topic.

In a paragraph, for instance, when the main idea is directly stated, it gets expressed in a topic sentence. This gives a comprehensive view of what the paragraph is all about and it’s supported by details in the following sentences within the paragraph. For articles that have several paragraphs, you can find the main idea in a thesis statement that’s supported by similar points.

In other words, the main idea is a short but comprehensive summary that covers all of the ideas the paragraph discusses in a general manner. It, however, doesn’t include specifics as these details come in later paragraphs or sentences that add meaning and context. These details are important to support the argument of the main idea.

What are main idea worksheets for? 

The main idea, which is also known as the main point or the central idea, is the most important concept of a text. It represents the primary point that the author wants to communicate and might be clearly expressed as a sentence or through main idea paragraphs. As a rule, the main idea is usually supported by other details or points that reinforce its premise. These supporting ideas may be either implied or directly stated.

Identifying the main idea in main idea worksheets pose a challenge to many students, especially in nonfiction texts. For readers to find and comprehend the main idea of a text, they must not only understand the text but must also have the ability to make connections within the context and find more comprehensive ideas. Furthermore, they should learn how to recognize then disregard unimportant information.

Identifying main ideas in a central idea worksheet can come easy to good readers as this usually involves a 2 or 3-step process. Struggling readers might struggle one of these steps. If you have students who have difficulties in identifying main ideas in main idea and details worksheets, you might want to try using simpler resources and worksheets. These will give your students the opportunity to practice the identification of main ideas.

Strategies for finding the main idea 

If you can find the topic, does this mean you can easily find the main idea? Remember that the main idea is the primary concept of the paragraph and is the most important idea throughout the topic. A good way of figuring out the main idea is to ask yourself the question: “What does the text say about the thing, idea or person?”

The author can put the main idea in a number of places or even in main idea paragraphs. Often, though, it is in a sentence – usually the first sentence. The rest of the paragraph is then used by the author to support the main idea. For your students to understand what they’re reading, they first need to find the main idea.

When using finding the main idea worksheets, your students will see the relevance of the other details to the main idea, thus, providing a basis for remembering what they’ve read. Here are some steps to share with your students when working on a central idea worksheet:

Identify the topic

Thoroughly read the text and try to identify the topic. Ask simple questions like – what or who is the paragraph all about? This is one way of figuring out the topic. At this point, you don’t yet have to worry about what argument the text makes about the topic.

Summarize the text

After thoroughly reading the text, make a 1-sentence summary in your own words. Just be using about 10 to 12 words to discuss what the text is all about. This makes it easier to find the main idea.

Focus on the first and last sentences of the text

Most writers have the habit of putting the main idea either at the first or last sentence of the text. Try isolating these two sentences and see if they make sense as the text’s overarching theme.

But when the author uses words like however, but, nevertheless, in contrast, and so on, this may indicate that the main idea is actually in the second sentence. Should you encounter one such word that qualifies or negates the first sentence, it serves as a hint that the second sentence contains the main idea.

Try to notice repetition

If you have read through the paragraph and seem to have a hard time summarizing it because of too much information, try searching for repeated phrases, words or ideas.

Writers usually present their main idea clearly when writing reports, essays, stories, and similar text. You may also notice that everything within the text supports the primary topic of thought starting from the characterizations and setting to the supporting evidence and arguments. Because of this, you can identify the main thought necessary to fully understand the text story or get swayed by the arguments.

Main Idea Worksheets Middle School

Common mistakes when finding the main idea 

Choosing the main idea from a list of choices in main idea worksheets differs from creating a main idea when writing your own text. Those who write multiple-choice tests can trick you by giving distracting choices that may seem like the correct answer. Read the passage thoroughly and use your skills to identify the main idea on your own and avoid making the following mistakes:

  • Choosing an idea with a scope that’s too narrow.
  • Choosing an idea with a scope that’s too broad.
  • Choosing an idea that’s too complex and contrary to the real main idea.