How to Find the Main Idea - Worksheet

Main Idea Practice

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Finding the main idea of a paragraph or essay isn't as easy as it seems, especially if you're out of practice. So, here is a main idea worksheet suitable for middle schoolers, high schoolers, or above. See below for more main idea worksheets and reading comprehension questions with printable PDFs for busy teachers or people just looking to boost their reading skills.

Directions: Read the following paragraphs and compose a one-sentence main idea for each on a piece of scrap paper. Click on the links below the paragraphs for the answers. The main idea will either be ​stated or implied.

Printable PDFs: Main Idea Worksheet 1| Main Idea Worksheet 1 Answers

Main Idea Paragraph 1: Shakespeare

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The idea that women are not equal to men has been a prevailing, common theme in literature since the beginning of time. Like their predecessors, Renaissance writers staunchly laid down the tenet that women were less valuable throughout the pages of effusive literary writings, where women are alternately idolized as virtuous or shunned as harlots. One man proved to be a glaring contradiction to this falsity. That man was William Shakespeare, and he had the courage in those turbulent days to recognize the value and equality of women. His portrayal of women differed than that of many of his contemporaries during the Renaissance era.

What's the main idea?

Main Idea Paragraph 2: Immigrants

Montage of images of immigrants in United States on flag in the Immigration Museum, Ellis Island.
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America has been hailed as “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” ever since that frightful night Francis Scott Key penned the words to The Star-Spangled Banner. He believed (as the First Amendment guaranteed) that America was a place where freedom would reign, and every person had the right to pursue every dream. This may have been true for citizens of the U.S., but not so for many immigrants who chose this great country as their home. In fact, many of these travelers have experienced horror beyond imagination. Often, their stories are not ones with happy endings; rather, they experienced hopelessness trying to achieve the American Dream — a dream that was not theirs to have.

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Main Idea Paragraph 3: Innocence and Experience

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Children dream of the day when they will be grown up. They will no longer have bedtimes, ​bath times, curfews, or any other restrictions. They believe that being an experienced adult will truly give them freedom. Then they grow up. They are saddled by bills, responsibilities, sleepiness, and an overwhelming urge for more vacations. Now they long for the days they could roam free all summer without a care in the world. Innocence has always battled with experience. Taking one view, author William Wordsworth believed that innocence was the highest state and could not see past the golden curls of youth, whereas author Charlotte Smith believed that maturity offered the most to humanity through wisdom.

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Main Idea Paragraph 4: Nature

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Nature is valued highly in many cultures. The majestic sweep of a mountainside or the vast expanse of glittering seas can inspire people everywhere. Painters, designers, poets, architects, and various other artists have drawn strength and enlightenment from magnificent works of nature such as these. Among those gifted people, poets seem to be the best at expressing the awe and wonder of viewing art in nature. William Wordsworth is just that kind of poet. He believed that nature is a cleansing vent for troubled minds, extending clarity to the lives of humans. His poetic works have inspired nature-lovers for centuries by displaying the true beauty that only a seasoned writer, like Wordsworth, can accurately depict.

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Main Idea Paragraph 5: Right to Life

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The Right To Life Group is a non-partisan group dedicated to life. They strongly believe in preserving human life, both born and unborn, and the notion that a person has the right to dignity “from the time of fertilization to natural death.” Life is sacred to this group of people, and as such, they stress that they do not believe in violence to dissuade abortion doctors from completing abortions. Anti-abortionists who kill clinic workers are considered criminals by the RTL staff as they choose to ignore one of the Ten Commandments given in the Law of the Old Testament of the Bible: Thou shall not kill. RTL members cling to this mandate theoretically and practically, speaking out against violence toward clinics.

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Main Idea Paragraph 6: Social Movements

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Society, though not perfect, is a working group of people trying to live together in peace. For the most part, people tend to obey the laws set before them and abide by societal codes. However, some people believe the government has made desperate errors, and they wish to change the status quo only to bring peace again in a different way. Those people begin what are known as social movements. These are small groups within societies that seek change. These social movements can rally around anything from saving eagles to saving trees and once a social movement is in motion, it either is inculcated into society or fizzles out. Either way, society will emerge from the social movement and will stabilize again into peace.

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Main Idea Paragraph 7: Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze
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Nathaniel Hawthorne is a name associated with many different styles of writing that have intrigued the reader well past the 19th century. Born in the infamous city of Salem, Massachusetts on Independence day in 1804, he grew up with many obstacles that influenced his writing and led him to adopt various patterns instead of relying on one sole medium to convey his thoughts. He was a novelist, a master of the short story, and a poetic essayist. One facet, though, that tied his works together, was his brilliant use of the concepts of both the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Hawthorne combined and intertwined those concepts to project themes in his various short stories and novels, of which he was a master.

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Main Idea Paragraph 8: Digital Divide

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The digital divide is an issue that sheds light on a pervasive social situation in the U.S.: some people in the U.S. have access to the Internet and its extensive array of information, but other people do not. The difference between the people who can sign on and those who can’t is a difference that has always divided the nation: race or ethnicity. In today’s society, the Internet is power because of the vast amount of information it provides, opportunities it creates, and its linkage to future societal norms. Therefore, the digital divide is not an easily solved economic issue as it may seem at first, but rather a social issue, and one that is merely a glimpse into the bigger picture of social inequality.

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Main Idea Paragraph 9: Internet Regulation

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Because the Internet exists in a world that is already regulated with policies and laws, government officials, upholders of current laws, should be the people responsible for the regulation of the Internet. With this responsibility comes the enormous task of managing the protection of First Amendment rights, and honoring social and public interests across the world. That being said, the ultimate responsibility still rests in the hands of Internet users who vote — they, along with the officials elected to serve them, make up the global community. Voters have the ability to elect responsible individuals to the appropriate posts, and the elected officials have the responsibility to act on the will of the people.

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Main Idea Paragraph 10: Classroom Technology

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Despite modern outcries for technology in schools, some skeptics believe technology has no place in the modern classroom, and argue against it for several reasons. Some of the loudest, most heavily researched arguments come from The Alliance for Childhood, an organization whose mission involves supporting the rights of children globally. They have completed a report called, "Fools Gold: A Critical Look at Computers and Childhood." The document's authors purport these: (1) there are no conclusive stats that prove technology's helpfulness in school, and (2) kids need hands-on, real-world learning, not computer training. Their research backs up their claims, which heightens the debate about what real learning means.

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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "How to Find the Main Idea - Worksheet." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Roell, Kelly. (2020, August 27). How to Find the Main Idea - Worksheet. Retrieved from Roell, Kelly. "How to Find the Main Idea - Worksheet." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 20, 2023).