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McGraw-Hill's Top 50 Skills For A Top Score: ASVAB Reading and Math by Dr. Janet Wall

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Skill 1 Find the Main Idea in a Sentence in the Passage

On the ASVAB you might be asked to identify the main idea of a paragraph. The main idea is the thought or set of words that best describes the meaning of the paragraph. It’s the main message that the author wants to convey. As you read a paragraph, your goal is to decide what the paragraph is generally about—to identify the main idea.

Often the author will state the main idea in the first sentence and then provide supporting ideas and facts later in the passage. So when you are looking for the main idea of a passage, be sure to look closely at the first sentence. However, sometimes an author will provide the supporting information first, and then end with a sentence that gives the main ...

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