Main Point Questions

Can't listen to audio right now? Turn on captions.


Hello, this lesson presents strategies for answering main point questions on the RC section. Main point questions are usually worded very directly. The most common variation of the question asks which one of the following most accurately states or expresses or captures the main point of the passage. Although the question is typically worded directly, you should be aware that the Lsat writers occasionally use new language to ask typical questions.

For example, you might be asked which one of the following most accurately and completely summarizes the passage. Even though it's phrased a little bit differently, it's still a main point question and you should approach all of these variations the same way. Most question says begin with the main point question but occasionally you will find a question set with no main point question.

As we discussed in the lesson on approaching RC questions and on reading strategies. You should answer the main point question first because that takes advantage of our reading strategy which focuses on main points and the main dispute. You should always pre phrase an answer choice to a main point question, by articulating the main dispute of the passage.

And if you're using our process of annotation for the offset, the main points are easy to reference because they will be on your scratch paper. Even though your pre phrase will likely point you to the right answer the outset is tricky and you shouldn't underestimate how good those test makers are writing incorrect answers. So it's also important to use the process of elimination to ensure that you've gotten the right answer.

To answer main point questions, you should compare the answer choices in two ways. First, compare each answer choice to the list of main ideas from the passage but remember that for some RC questions more than one answer choice could conceivably answer the question. And you're instructed to choose the best answer, therefore, you should also compare the answer choices to each other to determine which one is most similar to the list of main ideas.

Find the best answer by eliminating the worst answer choices first. Eliminate the ones are obviously weaker than others but if an answer choice is plausible or confusing, leave it in play for now. At this stage, it's better to keep a wrong answer than it is to eliminate the right one. Once you've eliminated all the two or three answers, identify the differences in the remaining answer choices.

And continue to look for reasons to eliminate answers rather than reasons to choose an answer. To illustrate the strategy for main point questions, I'm going to use the first passage from the June 2007 LSAT that we walked through in the reading strategies lesson. You can also find a link to the passage below this lesson so that you can reference the entire passage on your own.

I recommend that you watch the reading strategies video first where we walk through this passage. But at the very least, tackle the passage on your own so that you'll be set up to answer a question like this. Otherwise, you're gonna lack the context for us to walk through the question and eliminate the answer choices.

So go ahead and pause and do that if you haven't already. Okay, let's go ahead and jump into the first question. The first question in this set is a main point question. Sometimes main point questions can appear quite long, but that's because the answer choices are long as well. So the question itself is pretty straightforward.

You should not skip main point questions because our reading strategy focuses on identifying main points. It's smart to answer these types of questions first before delving into the details of the passage for more specific questions. So let's go ahead and read the question. Which one of the following was accurately expresses the main point of the passage?

Notice that I'm not including the answer choices here yet, because remember that trap answers can influence your interpretation of the passage so we want to pre phrase first. The first step to pre phrasing an answer to a main point question is articulating the main dispute. Use your main idea scratch paper notes to summarise the main ideas of the paragraph and the main dispute.

It's tempting to move quickly to the answer choices but some of the trap answers play on the biases of your memory. When you read an RC passage, you're gonna read that first paragraph a few minutes before you read the final paragraph. And it's easier to remember something that you just read, then something you remembered a few minutes ago or you read a few minutes ago.

So your memory tends to overemphasize the information towards the end of the passage. Pre phrasing will help you avoid this bias trap. So, here's an example of what I might have written down for my pre phrase. A rift exists between poetry and fiction in the US, but writers like Rito Dove are successfully bridging this rift.

Now let's go to our answer choices now that we have a pre phrase. Answer choice A states that Rita Dove's work has been widely acclaimed primarily because of the lyrical elements she has introduced into her fiction. This answer choice is a little too narrow, it's not exactly wrong except for maybe the primarily part. It's not a stretch that Rita's work is acclaimed for this reason but it just doesn't cover the whole passage.

It's narrowly focused on Rita and not the rift that she is an example of. And it doesn't cover her poetry either which has equal weight and examples. Let's take a look at answer choice B. Rita Dove's lyric narrative presents clusters of narrative detail in order to create a cumulative narrative without requiring the reader to interpret it in a linear manner.

This one suffers from the same flaw as A but it's actually even narrower. It picks up on just one detail from the last paragraph. Which you just read and it's not broad enough to encompass the entire passage. Is your choice C, now, this is a little better, it says working against a bias that has long been dominant in the US. Recent writers like Rita Dove have shown that the lyrical use of language can effectively enhance narrative fiction.

It addresses a major issue in the US, it treats Rita as an example, it's pretty similar to our pre phrase, so we're gonna leave it and come back. Remember, we don't get too attached to any answer choices at this stage. Answer choice D states that unlike many of US contemporaries, Rita Dove writes about relying on the traditional techniques associated with poetry and fiction. Now, this is true but it again focuses primarily on Rita Dove who is used as an illustrative example of a larger issue and it doesn't address the major rift.

Answer choice E, redubbed successful blending of poetry and fiction exemplifies the recent trend away from the rigid separation of the two genres, that has long been prevalent in the US. Now this answer sounds a lot like our pre phrase, in this Rita Dove is the example and the major rift and the genres is being addressed. So let's pit C and E against each other and see which one is stronger.

Focus on finding the differences between them, pitted against each other, the too detailed nature of C might stand out to you. Note that the second part just talks about fiction, but the passage itself addresses Rita's role in both poetry and fiction. So answer choice E is going to be our answer. Here's a summary of the strategies for main point questions.

Answer main point questions first to take advantage of our reading strategy which focuses on main points. Second, pre phrase an answer to the question by skimming the main points, define the main dispute of the passage. Next, use an effective process of elimination by comparing answer choices to the main dispute and then comparing answer choices to each other.

Finally, eliminate the worst answers first, defer making a choice on any plausible or confusing answer choices until you're down to just two or three answer choices. And when you do that, remember to remain critical and eliminate rather than getting attached to one of the two. That's it for main point questions.

Read full transcript