IELTS Reading Tutorial 3 | Main Ideas & Supporting Ideas

Identifying main and supporting ideas

What is the difference between the main idea(s) in a paragraph and the supporting ideas? The majority of paragraphs in typical discursive or argumentative articles/passages will contain a minimum of one main idea and usually these ideas will be supported using some examples or additional detailed explanations.

How does identifying main ideas and supporting points help me answer IELTS Reading questions? Being able to separate main ideas from supporting points is a key reading skill. It helps you understand a text more quickly. It helps you find the important information, which IELTS Reading questions often test.

Quickly read each paragraph and try to identify the main ideas and the examples which support it - and underline them.

IELTS Reading multiple choice questions

Multiple choice IELTS Reading questions often require detailed reading of the paragraphs because the questions may be written to test your understanding of the main idea or supporting points. Also, the wrong options (called distractions) will come from the same part of the passage as the answer, and you need to eliminate these.

How to approach IELTS Reading multiple choice questions

Underline the key words in the question and use these to quickly find the part of the passage that you need to read in detail. In some IELTS Reading multiple choice questions, the options complete a sentence and in others, they answer a question.

IELTS Reading test practice TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN questions

Take some time to read the instructions to this type of task carefully so that you understand the difference between a FALSE answer and a NOT GIVEN answer.

If you write FALSE as your answer, you are saying that the information in the statement contradicts (is the opposite) of the information in the passage. This is quite different from a NOT GIVEN answer, which says that you can find nothing in the passage about this information.

How to approach IELTS Reading TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN questions

Underline the key words in the questions and use these to find the right part of the passage (even a NOT GIVEN statement will be based on something in the passage).
  • For a TRUE answer, make sure that the information in the passage exactly matches the idea in the statement.
  • For a FALSE answer, make sure that the statement contradicts the information in the passage.
  • For a NOT GIVEN answer, you should be able to find the topic of the statement in the passage but nothing on what is said about the topic.

TIP: Even if you believe the answer is TRUE according to your own general knowledge and experience of the world. You must find evidence in the passage for a TRUE answer to be correct.

Your answers must be based on the IELTS reading passage - not on your opinion.