Apply as a tutor to teach students online from anywhere in the world.


Apply as a tutor to teach students online from anywhere in the world.


How Can You Extract Important Points in Text?

Extract Important Points in Text

Students are exposed to many fiction and nonfiction textual information throughout their school years. Often, it becomes hard for them to skim through the critical information and understand it. Because of the excess textual content, they cannot distinguish between important info and gibberish. So, it might be troublesome to memorize and grasp the main idea of what the author is trying to tell you.

Teachers should help students and devise strategies to help them in determining importance of texts. This way, students can ace their exams and not have to read unnecessary texts the night before the paper.

We have provided a detailed guide to help you find important points in the text you read. 

Determining Importance

Determining importance is the process of finding important information in the text. This technique is taught in many schools, but most students are unaware of it.

Tanny McGregor is an internationally recognized teacher and author. She explained the importance of this process by giving the example of a spaghetti bowl and strainer. When we strain the spaghetti from the strainer, the water is left out, and only the spaghetti is contained. Our brain is exactly like that. It is not made to remember everything. 

Like the strainer, our brain must retain important information and strain the rest.

“Your brain is like the strainer and the words are like the noodles. The spaghetti water is unimportant, so you don’t have to keep it. When you read something, it’s pouring in through your eyes and brain.”

– Tanny McGregor

Strategies to in Determining Importance of Text

The following strategies can help students determine important information in texts:

1. Extract Bold Details

After you understand what determining importance is, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Instead of going into the minor details, see the bold and highlighted parts of the text. For example, look for the important structure the text holds. Extract headings, subheadings, captions, highlighted tidbits, illustrations, etc. You can get a major idea of what the author is trying to convey from these things. 

2. Look for Repetition

Many authors repeat certain keywords and phrases throughout the text. These keywords mostly give away the crux of the content they are writing on. You must look for the text's repeated words and phrases to highlight the main ideas.

This activity helps students develop analytical skills and look for patterns and clues given in the text to come to a conclusion. 

Interesting Read: Which is The Best Time to Study?

3. Draw it Out

Another interesting way to retain important information from text is to draw it. You can use illustrations or charts to help you separate important ideas from certain sections. 

Doodling is also an effective technique while studying. Most students doodle important information in their notebooks while reading a passage. You can make separate charts for characters, settings, events, etc. If your text is nonfictional, you can make sections like examples, usage, definitions, mechanisms, history, etc. 

Lists and columns can also be made. This helps visual learners visualize and memorize important points while funneling out information. 

4. Summarize Subheadings

Students find it hard to determine important information when there is a lot of gibberish available online. With unnecessary information given in textbooks, they get lost in words. 

Another important strategy is to summarize the subheadings and parts of the given information. You can read the whole text and then write a concise summary of every paragraph or subheading at the end. The summary should entail the main theme of that specific section. Instead of writing it down, you can verbally summarize and repeat it yourself.

This strategy can help you remember the whole text's important information without retaining unimportant details.

–Five-sentence summaries

Writing five-sentence summaries is a great way for students to retain more of what they read and to highlight the most important points.

Number the sections as you read them and maintain order while writing a summary. Start from the beginning, middle, or the end. And then sum up all the important information.

5. Numbers are Important

Numerical information in nonfictional text is very important. If you see stats, numbers, facts, and figures, simply write them down in your notebooks. You can also highlight them, underline them or circle them as desired.

Students can determine a set of annotation patterns for note-making. It helps them easily remember factual information.

6. The Umbrella Method

The umbrella method is beneficial for visual learners and great for classifying details according to their relationship to bigger topics and concepts. It teaches students to look for similarities and highlight key points in their reading. 

  • Take a piece of sticky note and jot down one idea per topic, character, place, etc. 
  • Gather your thoughts and identify any connections between them.
  • Map out connections between big and small ideas. 

Before the "small" ideas, put the "big" ones first. The "big" concepts are the roofs over the "small" concepts. The primary concept is the overarching theme for all the subtopics and must be regarded as crucial data. This way you can easily remember the primary concepts/big ideas.

7. Pile it On

This concept is borrowed from Serravallo's excellent reading tactics book. Readers take notes while they read by using sticky notes. Use one sticky note for every idea. Then, collect all the ideas that are related to one theme upon completion. Take a look at all of them to compile the concepts. 

Readers can use this to sort through their reading, highlight key points, and extract concepts as they go. 

Read More: Impress Your Teachers With Grammar Skills

Finding Main Ideas in Fictional Texts

Finding the main points in nonfiction is tougher than skimming through fiction. Fictional stories are more interesting than conceptual textual information. 

The story has characters, plot twists, interesting themes, climaxes, and falling action. It keeps the reader engrossed to the point that hardly any information is missed. Still, there are some techniques that you can use to find the main points in fictional texts.

  • Map the story

To understand a story better, you need first to map it out. Extract the following information first:

  • Beginning
  • Background Knowledge (characters and setting)
  • Problem
  • Rising Action
  • Main Event/ Climax
  • Falling Action
  • Solution
  • End

  • Annotate and analyze the text

In most English exams, examiners ask you to extract important information and analyze a text. When you are analyzing a fictional text you need to look at the language the writer is using, the structure of your text and its effect on the audience. The main things you need to focus on are:

  • The characters
  • The narrative voice of the story
  • The structure of paragraphs and sentences
  • The effect on readers

The next step is to annotate your text. 

The questions can differ according to the exam type. You can be asked to find specific phrases or evidence in a text to support your analysis. Or, to explain how the writer is creating tension and making you feel.

When you are extracting information, try to read the text multiple times from beginning to end. Then have a look at the questions, and go back to reading your text again. Highlight specific phrases or sentences that will provide good evidence for your answer.

Structuring your answer:

When you write a paragraph, make sure each one focuses on a main idea. Here's what you can include in a paragraph:

  • Connect to the question: Start by mentioning what the question is about.
  • Provide evidence: Use quotes or examples from the text to support your idea.
  • Discuss the evidence: Explain why you chose that evidence and how it relates to your point.
  • Link your ideas: Use words like "Firstly," "On the one hand," or "Similarly" to connect your thoughts.
  • There are different ways to structure paragraphs, like PEE (Point/Evidence/Explain) or PEEL (Point/Evidence/Explain/Link). You can choose the one that works best for your ideas.

Using quotations:

  1. To back up your points, use short and relevant quotes from the text. Don't copy large sections of text - be selective.
  2. Embed the quote within your own sentence instead of just placing it in the middle of a page.
  3. For example, instead of: "He ate like an elephant." This is an example of a simile, which shows that he was hungry.
  4. You would write: The author uses the simile of the man-eating "like an elephant" to convey the impression that he is famishing.

When analyzing quotes:

  1. Focus on why the writer chose specific words.
  2. Discuss the connotations or hidden meanings of words.
  3. Consider how the word is used in the sentence and paragraph.
  4. Analyze any literary techniques used, like metaphors or similes.
  5. Connect the language choices to other parts of the text.
  6. Think about how readers might respond to the language used.

Pro Tip: If you want to improve your understanding of reading texts, hire an English tutor who will help you level up your scores. 

Let’s Wrap it Up!

We discussed some useful tips for extracting important information from lengthy and dull texts. However, you can use this strategy to determine the importance of texts after thoroughly practicing these tips.

By doing that, you'll get better at picking out the most important bits from what you read. So, keep at it, and soon, you'll be a pro at understanding texts!

Find Top Tutors in Your Area

Find A Tutor

With over 3 years of experience in teaching, Chloe is very deeply connected with the topics that talk about the educational and general aspects of a student's life. Her writing has been very helpful for students to gain a better understanding of their academics and personal well-being. I’m also open to any suggestions that you might have! Please reach out to me at chloedaniel402 [at]