Find the Main Idea Worksheets and Practice

Whether you're a teacher standing in front of a classroom full of kids, or a student struggling with reading comprehension, chances are good you'll need to become very familiar with finding the main idea of a passage of text. Every reading comprehension test, whether it's for school or college admissions (like the SAT, ACT or GRE) will have at least one question related to finding the main idea. Students can learn to understand what they read by practicing with main idea worksheets.

Three of the following main idea worksheets come complete with two PDF files. The first is a worksheet you can print for distribution in your classroom or personal use; no permissions are required. The second is an answer key.

Main Idea Worksheets

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Print the PDF: Main idea worksheet No. 1

Print the PDF: Main idea worksheet No. 1 answers

Have students write short paragraph essays, about 100 to 200 words each, on 10 different topics including William Shakespeare, immigration, innocence and experience, nature, the right-to-life debate, social movements, novelist and short story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, the digital divide, internet regulation, and classroom technology.

Each main idea topic provides a brief write-up detailing a specific issue related to an individual—such as Shakespeare's works, which highlighted the value of women in society—or issue. Students can then show their ability to pick out the main ideas in their brief essays.

Main Idea Worksheet No. 2

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Print the PDF: Main idea worksheet No. 2

Print the PDF: Main idea worksheet No. 2 answers

Students will have another chance to practice their skills in picking out the main idea and writing about it with 10 more topics, including the physical environment of classrooms, China's growing power, the effect of rain, why boys and men tend to score higher than girls or women on math tests, movies, support for U.S. troops, educational technology, copyright and fair-use laws, and even how the social environment affects the breeding rate of mares and foals.

Main Idea Practice No. 3

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Print the PDF: Main Idea Worksheet No. 3

Print the PDF: Main Idea Worksheet No. 3 answers

The topics in this area are a little different than in the previous two slides. Students will need to pick out the main idea, answer multiple choice questions, and then write brief essays on the environment, Asperger's syndrome, a school district's expansion plans, students with special needs, and legends.

Main Idea Practice: Ancient Summer

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For this topic, students will not find the main idea on a series of worksheet topics. Instead, students will learn about various aspects of ancient summer celebrations and beliefs. Print the article, which details ancient summer customs, and have students write essays about ancient solar celebrations, traveling the heavens, fire and water, Saxon traditions, Roman festivals related to summer, and midsummer for modern pagans.

The answers to the main ideas are found within the article's sections. For example, when they arrived in the British Isles, Saxon invaders brought with them the tradition of calling the month of June. They marked midsummer with huge bonfires that celebrated the power of the sun over darkness.