Identifying Key Points in a Text

Identifying Main Ideas or Arguments

The main ideas or arguments of a text are usually found in topic sentences, which are often the first or last sentences of a paragraph.

Look for statements that express an opinion, make a claim, or provide a summary. These are likely to be the main ideas or arguments.

Distinguishing Key Points from Supporting Details

Key points are the main ideas or arguments, whereas supporting details or examples are used to explain, illustrate or prove these key points.

For example, in a paragraph about climate change, the key point might be “Climate change is a serious threat to biodiversity,” while the supporting details might include statistics about species extinction rates.

Summarising Key Points Concisely

Once you’ve identified the key points, you can summarise them in your own words. Aim to be concise, capturing the essence of the point in as few words as possible.

For example, you might summarise the key point about climate change as “Climate change threatens biodiversity.”

Identifying the Purpose or Message of a Text

The purpose or message of a text is its overall point or argument. It’s what the author wants you to understand or believe after reading the text.

To identify this, ask yourself: “What is the author trying to say? What is their main argument or message?”

Identifying Key Points Under Exam Conditions

In an exam, you need to identify key points quickly and efficiently. To do this:

  • Skim the Text – Start by skimming the text to get an overall sense of its content and structure. This can help you identify where the key points are likely to be.
  • Focus on Topic Sentences – These often contain the key points. If you’re short on time, focus on these.
  • Practice – The more you practice identifying key points under timed conditions, the faster and more efficient you’ll become.