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Suniti's Advice Corner

Rocking the SAT Critical Reading Section: 3 Steps to Master the Main Idea Question

Posted by Sybil St. Hilaire on Fri, Jun 28, 2013

As a private tutor, I have found that all of my students are certain of two things. The first is that the SAT will have a reading section, and the second is that this reading section will be really, really hard. I promise you that you can rock the reading section. You just have to figure out how to tackle it and what’s being asked of you. One of the questions you’ll definitely be asked is something along the lines of “What is the main idea of this passage?”

hs reader resized 600Acing main idea questions is simple and requires you to follow a few simple steps. To start we should understand the purpose of main idea questions. The SAT uses these questions to test whether you understand an author’s main point.

Main idea questions usually include phrases like,  “the purpose of this passage is to…”, “the central thought of this passage”, in addition to questions that explicitly ask about the main idea of a passage.

Now that you can identify main idea questions, it is important to have a clear and efficient approach to tackling them.

When faced with a main idea question do the following three things to get to the right answer: 

  1. Read the blurb at the beginning of the reading passage, this blurb is normally in italics.
  2. Skim the first paragraph - this is where the author gives an overview of what they want to cover in the passage. Read for general understanding and do not get distracted by the details.
  3. Skim the conclusion - this should confirm the main idea you identified in the other two sections. In this final paragraph, the author reiterates the main idea of the passage.

Now you’re ready to rock the main idea questions in the SAT reading sections! To hear some more of my tips, sign up for a free trial.

*Congratulations to Testrocker student Vaidehi Agarwalla for getting a PERFECT score on the SAT reading section! 

Let's rock the SAT together!

Your private tutor,


Suniti, TestRocker, ultimate private tutor

Suniti is the creator of TestRocker, an online SAT test prep service that helps you unlock your dream SAT score. TestRocker is based on Suniti’s highly successful and proven method of teaching students how to maximize their SAT and ACT scores, a method she has perfected through tutoring thousands of students in the U.S., Asia, and the UK for more than a decade.  Her intuitive and comprehensive approach has now been adapted for the online space.

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Suniti is the creator of TestRocker, an online learning platform that helps you unlock your dream PSAT, SAT and ACT scores. TestRocker is based on Suniti’s highly successful and proven method of teaching thousands of students how to maximize their PSAT, SAT and ACT scores for over a decade.

TestRocker is an award-winning PSAT/SAT/ACT program that empowers students to take control of their test preparation. After taking a diagnostic test, students receive a customized study plan, individualized to their strengths/weaknesses. Students practice and learn concepts through videos. Each of the 2000+ questions on TestRocker is accompanied by a video explanation from Suniti. TestRocker has the largest video library in the world for PSAT/SAT/ACT preparation. 

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