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Main Ideas and Supporting Details
Main Idea and Supporting Details
Apply Skills of Inference and Interpretation
Analyze Relationships Among Ideas
Use Critical Reasoning Skills
Apply Skills for Outlining, Summarizing, and Interpreting
Organize the Main Ideas in a Passage
Interpret Information in Charts, Graphs, or Tables
Practice Reading Tests

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Apply Skills for Outlining and Summarizing Written Materials and Interpreting Information Presented in Graphs or Tables

Organize the Main Ideas in a Passage into an Outline or Another Form of Graphic or Tabular Organization

Of all the required skills in reading, these may be the most difficult because they are the least practiced. You may be asked on the test to identify which of several choices best organizes or summarizes material for studying.

Organization may take the form of:


an outline or

a map (a graphic form of outlining or notetaking).

A summary is a brief statement of the main ideas and supporting details. It answers the question of what the passage was about and what was said about it. Whatever the form of the test question, there are several things to check for.

First, and probably most important, the outline or summary must be complete. That is, it must include the important points from the entire passage. The testmakers realize that students often begin an outline or a summary in considerable detail and then tire before they reach the end of the passage or section. A correct outline or summary must cover the whole passage.

Another common problem students have when outlining or summarizing that testmakers will check for is the failure to identify the important points made by the author. It is very easy to mistake a lengthy example or cute comment for the important point that introduces the example or contradvpt the comment. Also, the outline or summary must accurately reflect what the author says. Comments outside of the actual passage should be avoided.

Finally, you must recognize that the purpose of outlining or summarizing is to help you study better. Sometimes, the author of a passage may not have used the clearest method of organization in the passage. The wise student will reorganize the passage to make it easier to understand or remember. On the test, therefore, the correct answer may not be the one that simply follows the author’s pattern; it may be one that makes the reading better organized or clearer.