How to Answer Main Topic Questions on the ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Subtest

By Rod Powers

The ASVAB will ask questions to see if you can find the main topic. This type of question asks you to discern the main topic, point, or idea of the paragraph. When you look for the main point, skimming the paragraph rather than reading it in its entirety is often helpful. Try this one on for size:

The farmers’ market reopened the second weekend of May. Amid the asparagus and flowers, shoppers chatted about the return of temperatures in the seventies. Across the street, children (and their dogs) were playing Frisbee in the park. Finally, spring had come to town.

What is the main point of the passage?

  • (A)The farmers’ market has reopened.

  • (B)Children like playing Frisbee.

  • (C)Spring had come to town.

  • (D)Shoppers were chatting.

In this paragraph, you may think that the farmers’ market reopening is the main point, but the other information about the temperature and the kids playing Frisbee tells you that the main idea is something a bit broader than the market opening. The main idea is stated in the last sentence: “Finally, spring had come to town.” Therefore, Choice (C) is the correct answer.

When skimming for the main point of a paragraph, start with the first sentence, and then read the last sentence. The main idea is often contained in one of these sentences.