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Reading Comprehension 18 - Topic and Main Idea
India is home to a diversity of cultures and religions.

Reading Comprehension 18 - Topic and Main Idea

This Upper Primary quiz will help, not only your reading comprehension, but also your writing of English. Just as a building has its structure - with a foundation, walls, doors, windows, rooms and roof - so also a written passage has a structure. Here, the structure is determined by topic, main idea, topic sentence and supporting details. Obviously, the writer and reader must follow this structure for better communication. If there is variance between the two then there could be miscommunication!

Whenever anyone presents his point of view it is imperative that the structure be followed so that when a reader reads the passage he is able to decipher what the writer says by understanding the structure. This quiz is about the fundamentals of that structure.

When you write something you write to present an idea, or what can also be called a topic. For instance, Sachin Tendulkar’s greatness could be a topic.

Within the topic you need to present a main idea. For instance, Sachin Tendulkar’s technique could be the main idea. Here, the writer needs to talk about what he wants the reader to know about the topic and this would represent the main idea.

The main idea is explicitly stated in the form of a sentence and this sentence is termed the topic sentence. For instance, a topic sentence could be - 'Sachin Tendulkar’s sound batting technique is the hallmark of his greatness and has contributed immensely to his great batting exploits all around the world on any type of batting surface'.

In order to support the main idea the writer would need to furnish details that would add strength to the main idea. These supporting details could be in the form of specific details, such as data or quotes. For instance, Sachin Tendulkar’s technique for playing forward defence, back foot defence, leaving the balls outside the off stump, stepping out to smother the spin while playing the spinners and playing with soft hands to drop the ball down would qualify as supporting details. Additionally, you could give statistics of Sachin’s batting records. Thus, when a reader reads a properly structured passage on Sachin Tendulkar he would be able to understand the communication more easily.

In reading comprehension it is to the reader’s advantage if he can quickly break down the structure to its elements and the quiz that follows helps you to do just that. Read the three passages that follow and answer the questions posed to test your comprehension skills.
1 - Gandhi.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an attorney who went to South Africa to conduct his practice. There he saw for himself the system of apartheid. Once he was travelling on the train and he had bought a first class ticket. He was summarily thrown out of the train because of his race. That incident spurred him on to take up people’s causes and he made a mark in South Africa. Armed with his experience in South Africa, Gandhi returned to India and spearheaded the independence movement. Thanks to his efforts India was able to achieve independence without shedding any blood as Gandhi used non-violence as a tool to convince the British to grant independence to India. Gandhi proved that one committed person can move the masses and make a difference.

2 - Management.

As a manager I find that being open and honest with the staff members helps me to get the best out of them. It has worked for me very well when I share information with them truthfully. I set up a meeting once a week with my staff where we exchange notes openly and I encourage the staff to speak out their minds. The meeting helps all of us to share our views candidly. I find that the staff members look forward to the meeting and in order to make a good impression in the meeting their work in the week prior to the meeting is always of a high order.

3 - Holidays.

In a country like India, where diverse cultures are prevalent, organisations find it difficult to announce holidays from work. In order to satisfy all sections of society and accommodate all cultures they have devised a system that is called ‘Restricted Holidays.’ In this system, all employees of an organisation get to choose ten holidays per year of their choice, which they have to make from a total list of 29 holidays. The 29 holidays listed come under the category of ‘Restricted Holidays’ and they comprise days which are important to the major cultures followed in India. So, if you are a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian or a person of any other faith, you can choose the 10 holidays that matter to you. The ‘Restricted Holidays’ system has worked well and employees are satisfied with the system.
1.
What is the topic of the first passage?
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
South Africa
India
Apartheid
While all the options are covered in the passage, Gandhi and his efforts is the main topic
2.
In the first passage about Gandhi, what does the author want you to know about the topic?
Apartheid is bad.
Gandhi was a good attorney.
Gandhi's travel on a train.
Gandhi proved that one committed person can move the masses and make a difference.
The main idea of the topic is that one committed person such as Gandhi could move the masses and make a difference. Here, Gandhi was able to move the masses and force the British to grant independence
3.
In the first passage, which of the following is NOT a supporting detail to the main idea?
An incident spurred Gandhi on to take up people’s causes and he made a mark in South Africa.
The fact that Gandhi was an attorney.
Gandhi used non-violence as a tool to convince the British.
Gandhi spearheaded the independence movement.
The fact that Gandhi was an attorney is immaterial to the main idea. People with any profession can be committed and move the masses through their actions
4.
What is the topic of the second passage?
Weekly meetings.
Staff speaking their minds.
A manager's relationship with their staff members.
Sharing information.
The topic is a manager and how he handles his staff members
5.
In the second passage, what does the author want you to know about the topic?
How staff members behave before a meeting.
It is impossible to control the staff members.
It is difficult to be a manager.
Being open and honest with the staff members helps a manager to get the best out of them.
The author is relating an experience of him being a manager and how he is able to get the best out of his staff members through honesty
6.
In the second passage, which of the following is NOT a supporting detail to the main idea?
The fact that the manager is male.
Sharing of information with staff members truthfully.
Encouraging staff members to speak out their minds.
Staff members work in the week prior to the meeting is always of a high order.
A manager being a male or female should have no bearing on his/her role as a manager. All the other options are details supporting the main idea
7.
What is the topic of the third passage?
Hindus
Christians
Restricted Holidays
Muslims
The topic is clearly on Restricted Holidays
8.
In the third passage, what does the author want you to know about the topic?
The differences between a Hindu, Christian and Muslim.
The effective way of satisfying employees' cultural requirements in respect of declaring holidays.
Diverse cultures are prevalent in India.
How to choose 29 holidays.
The author is explaining a method devised by organisations to declare holidays for their employees taking into consideration their cultural requirements
9.
Which sentence contains the main idea of the third passage?
"The ‘Restricted Holidays’ system has worked well and employees are satisfied with the system."
"The 29 holidays listed come under the category of ‘Restricted Holidays’ and they comprise days which are important to the major cultures followed in India."
"In a country like India, where diverse cultures are prevalent, organisations find it difficult to announce holidays from work."
"In order to satisfy all sections of society and accommodate all cultures they have devised a system that is called ‘Restricted Holidays.’"
The topic sentence in the passage is the sentence that formally states the main idea. The other options are all details supporting the main idea
10.
"The 29 holidays listed come under the category of ‘Restricted Holidays’ and they comprise days which are important to the major cultures followed in India." -
To which category does this sentence of the third passage belong?
Supporting details
Main idea
Topic
Irrelevant
A passage comprises a topic, the main idea and supporting details. A statement that tells the author’s point about the topic is the main idea. Supporting details contain the evidence to justify the main idea. Supporting details usually comprise percentages, dates and figures
Author:  V T Narendra

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