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RC Perfection Chapter 8: Part III

Every passage will have a Main Point Question, so it’s crucial that we don’t lose points on these. The majority of intermediate/advanced students will have a basic idea on how to approach these questions, so I will focus on the trickier aspects of Main Point Questions.

First, in passages where the author has expressed their personal opinions, this will be included in the correct answer choice. If the author was simply explaining a complex issue or scientific theory without expressing what they personally think about it, then it doesn’t really matter. But if we can detect the author’s voice, tone, attitude, stance, or opinion on what’s being described in the passage, then the author’s position must appear in the correct answer.

This is why when we are reading a passage, we start out by trying to decipher the Author’s Purpose. We try to read the first sentences/paragraph of the passage with extra care and attention, in order to situate ourselves within the scope of the discussion, and to attempt to come up with a hypothesis of why the author is writing this passage.

We then use subsequent information to confirm or modify our hypothesis. Finally, once we have a clear idea of the Author’s Purpose, we can use that to derive the Main Point of the passage.

I use the CEER framework as a crutch if I am at a loss or am having trouble with either of these questions.

The Main Point of a passage may need to be inferred sometimes. In easier passages it may be given to us either in the first or the last paragraph; but in more challenging passages, we may have to ask ourselves what are the key points the author makes in the passage, and what do they support, collectively.

Beware of answer choices that state one or multiple key points that appear in a passage. Again, the Main Point of a passage is its central thesis, we are not looking for a partial description of what happens in the passage, or even a comprehensive description of what happens in the passage. Be especially careful with laundry list type answers.

Continuing along that line of reasoning, the correct answer choice doesn’t even have to cover all the points made in the passage. As we have seen in the practice earlier, the correct answer can appear incomplete at times, but as long as they express the author’s opinion and no other answer choice does, it can be acceptable.