Those sorts of questions, which require you to understand the "big picture" of a passage, can definitely be tricky! You know you've encountered one when you see one of these phrases in the text of the question:
- “The author’s primary purpose in this passage is . . .”
- “The passage is mainly concerned with . . .”
- “The best title for this passage would be . . .”
- “The author’s discussion of … is primarily intended to explain . . .”
- “Which of the following most completely and accurately describes the passage . . .”
Kevin discusses how to solve main idea questions in this excellent GRE blog post. He recommends a strategy that is pretty similar to the RAMA method we discuss in our article about GRE reading comprehension strategies. RAMA stands for:
- Re-phrase the question in your own words. This will help you understand what information you're looking for in the passage, which can making finding the correct answer a lot easier.
- Anticipate the answer. Looking at the passage and finding an answer to the question before you look at the answer choices can prevent you from falling prey to "trap answers."
- Match the answer. Once you know what you're looking for, try to find the option in the answer bank that most closely matches it.
- Be aware of wrong answer choices. Knowing some of the most common types of wrong answers to these questions will help prevent you from picking those wrong answers on the test!
I hope you find these resources helpful. Happy studying!