Listening Skill 7 - Main Idea Questions

A main idea question asks you to identify the general gist, or main ideas, of a lecture or conversation. 

In order to correctly answer a main idea question, you must be able to:

  • listen for the most important ideas in the passage
  • distinguish between main ideas and minor details
  • generalize the information presented in the entire lecture or conversation.

You should listen for main idea signpost words:

What I want to talk about today is ...

Today, we'll be discussing ...

Today's lecture will focus on ...

The point we'll be addressing today is ...

So today, we'll look into ...

1, Listen to part of a lecture in a history class. 

What is the main idea of the lecture?

A, Some problems and solutions associated with exploration

B, The positive impact of exchanges between cultures

C, How Europe was influenced by the Columbian Exchange

D, The exchange of animals that resulted from the Columbian Exchange

2, Listen to part of a discussion in a music class. 

What aspect of pianos does the professor mainly discuss in the lecture?

A, The role of the piano in European society

B, The importance of the piano in Western music

C, Differences between early and modern pianos

D, Reasons for the high cost of early pianos