The following exercise is a sample one. Its purpose is to show how the information you have studied in Parts One and Two is put to use in reading.

A second purpose of the sample exercise is to preview the 30 exercises which appear in Part Four. Reading the sample passage and answering the sample questions will help you get off to a good start.

The answers to all the questions are fully explained. Reasons are given showing why the correct answers are the best answers and where the wrong answers are faulty.

Complete the sample exercise carefully and thoughtfully. Do not go on to Part Four until you are certain that you understand main ideas and how to recognize them.

Sample Exercise

Coffee is a universal beverage that is served in different ways around the world. In London, for example, some Englishmen dip mustard into their coffee, while in Denver, a person might add a dash of ketchup. Strips of orange and lemon, peel, cloves and cinnamon sticks are not unusual additions to the brew in Europe. An Asian delight consists of coffee brewed in boiling sugar. Perhaps the richest cup of coffee can be enjoyed in Ireland where whiskey and whipped cream are important ingredients. In Australia a waitress will ask, "Do you want black or white?" Black is plain black coffee, but white is half coffee and half warm milk. If an Australian orders iced coffee, he will be served a cup of steaming coffee with a scoop of ice cream. It sounds like the Australian version of a "snowball in hell."

1. Which statement best expresses the main idea?

  1. The richest cup of coffee can be enjoyed in Ireland.
  2. Asians enjoy a sweet cup of coffee.
  3. Coffee is enjoyed in a variety of ways.
  4. Australians have an unusual sense of humor.

2. The paragraph suggests that coffee can be

  1. expensive.
  2. rare.
  3. common.
  4. exciting.

3. The paragraph could be entitled

  1. Some Like It Hot.
  2. Coffee Around the World.
  3. Oriental Delights.
  4. A Snowball in Hell.

4. Circle the outline which illustrates the structure of the paragraph and underline the topic sentence: ▼ ▲ ♦ ▊.

Answers and Explanations

1. The best answer to the first question is c, coffee is enjoyed in a variety of ways. This sentence states the main idea of the paragraph because it expresses in a general way all the facts discussed in the other sentences.

Answers a, b, and d are wrong for these reasons:

Answers a and b: These two answers express details which are narrow in scope as compared to the topic sentence. They play a lesser role in the paragraph.

Answer d: Although there may be a suggestion that Australians have a sense of humor, answer d deals with a detail, not a main idea.

2. The best answer to the second question is d, exciting. The paragraph does not state directly that coffee is an exciting beverage; however, it does discuss interest-arousing, international recipes.

Answers a, b, and c are wrong for these reasons:

Answer a: Some of the preparations described in the paragraph could be expensive, but expense seems to be a minor consideration.

Answer b: The world-wide popularity of coffee makes it anything but rare.

Answer c: Uncommon and unusual recipes are described in the paragraph.

3. The best answer to the third question is b. Coffee Around the World. The topic sentence states that coffee is a universal beverage, and the supporting sentences detail some of the ways coffee is prepared in different countries.

Answers a, c, and d are wrong for these reasons:

Answers a, c, d. Each of these expresses only a part of the total answer. They are incomplete because they lack the more comprehensive meaning found in the correct answer.

4. For question 4, you should have circled the inverted triangle (▽) because the paragraph begins with the topic sentence. The broadest statement, therefore, comes first. The supporting sentences become less and less important.

In keeping with the above explanation, you should have also underlined the first sentence: Coffee is a universal beverage that is served in different ways around the world.

If you had difficulty answering these questions correctly, review the paragraph and questions. If, after that, you still do not understand the answers and explanations, check with your instructor before going on.