ISEE Primary 3 Reading : Main Idea

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ISEE Primary 3 Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Main Idea

Adapted from “How the Camel Got His Hump” in Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (1902) 

Now this is the next tale, and it tells how the Camel got his big hump.

Presently the Horse came to him on Monday morning, with a saddle on his back and a bit in his mouth, and said, “Camel, O Camel, come out and trot like the rest of us.”

“Humph!” said the Camel; and the Horse went away and told the Man.

Presently the Dog came to him, with a stick in his mouth, and said, “Camel, O Camel, come and fetch and carry like the rest of us.”

“Humph!” said the Camel; and the Dog went away and told the Man.

Presently the Ox came to him, with the yoke on his neck and said, “Camel, O Camel, come and plough like the rest of us.”

“Humph!” said the Camel; and the Ox went away and told the Man.

At the end of the day the Man called the Horse and the Dog and the Ox together, and said, “Three, O Three, I’m very sorry for you (with the world so new‐and‐all); but that Humph‐thing in the Desert can’t work, or he would have been here by now, so I am going to leave him alone, and you must work double‐ time to make up for it.”

That made the Three very angry (with the world so new‐and‐all), and they held a palaver, and an indaba, and a punchayet, and a pow‐wow on the edge of the Desert; and the Camel came chewing milkweed most ’scruciating idle, and laughed at them. Then he said “Humph!” and went away again.

Presently there came along the Djinn in charge of All Deserts, rolling in a cloud of dust (Djinns always travel that way because it is Magic), and he stopped to palaver and pow‐wow with the Three.

“Djinn of All Deserts,” said the Horse, “is it right for any one to be idle, with the world so new‐and‐all?”

“Certainly not,” said the Djinn.

“Well,” said the Horse, “there’s a thing in the middle of your Howling Desert (and he’s a Howler himself) with a long neck and long legs, and he hasn’t done a stroke of work since Monday morning. He won’t trot.”

“Whew!” said the Djinn, whistling, “that’s my Camel, for all the gold in Arabia! What does he say about it?”

“He says ‘Humph!’” said the Dog; “and he won’t fetch and carry.”

“Does he say anything else?”

“Only ‘Humph!’; and he won’t plough,” said the Ox.

“Very good,” said the Djinn. “I’ll humph him if you will kindly wait a minute.” 

"Camel my friend, what's this is hear of your doing no work, the world so new-and-all?", and the Djinn

"Humph!"

"Camel, you've given the Three extra work ever since Monday morning, all on account of your 'scruciating idleness." 

"Humph!"

"I shouldn't say that again if I were you. You might say it once too often. Camel, I want you to work."

"Humph!"

No sooner has Camel said it than he sees his back, that he is so proud of, puffing up and puffing up into a great big lolloping human

"Do you see that hump? That's your very own humph that you've brought upon your very own self by not working. Today is Thursday, and you've done no work since Monday, when the work began. Now you are going to work," said Djinn. 

"How can I with this humph on my back?" asked Camel.

"That's made a-purpose all because you missed those three days. You will be able to work now for three days without eating, because you can live on your humph; and don't you ever say I never did anything for you. Stay with the Three, and behave."

"Humph! Humph!"

From that day to this the Camel always wears a humph. Now we call is "hump" so that we will not hurt his feelings. However, he has never yet caught up with the three days that he missed at the beginning of the world, and he has never yet learned how to behave. 

What is the main idea of the passage? 

Possible Answers:

Everyone should help with work that needs to be done, and there are consequences for not helping. 

The ox did not help with any of the work. 

The dog is the best worker. 

The horse was able to convince the camel to help with the work. 

Correct answer:

Everyone should help with work that needs to be done, and there are consequences for not helping. 

Explanation:

This passage is about a camel not helping out with work that needed to be done. Three other animals, the horse, dog, and ox, all tried to get the camel to help, but because he refused to help they had to do extra work. Near the end of the passage, a magical person comes and punishes the camel for not working. He gives the camel a hump on his back and tells the camel to start working. The hump on his back was the camel's consequence for not helping with the work for the first three days. 

Example Question #2 : Main Idea

“Honest Abe” 

Abraham Lincoln is not just the face on the penny. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States and he was known as “Honest Abe." This nickname started when he was a young boy working in a store. If he gave someone the wrong change back, then he would follow them home and give them their left over money. “Honest Abe” is remembered as an honest boy and a great president. 

Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 in a one-room home in Kentucky, and then later moved to Indiana and later Illinois. He grew up very poor and after his mother passed away, his older sister took care of him. Abraham Lincoln did not have an easy time growing up, but he was very smart. Most of what he knew he learned on his own by reading books, he was self-taught.

Lincoln became president in 1861. Lincoln wanted to end the use of slavery in the United States, which upset many people. Because of this, some states did not want to be apart of the United States and tried to have their own laws and rules. A war started and lasted for 4 years. This became known as the Civil War. After it ended, all of the states of the United States stayed together, and President Lincoln said that all slaves needed to be set free. 

Abraham Lincoln’s life was too short. He died at age 56, but he will always be remembered. 

What is the main idea of the passage? 

Possible Answers:

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president. 

Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky. 

Abraham Lincoln in on the penny. 

Abraham Lincoln was a great president and person. 

Correct answer:

Abraham Lincoln was a great president and person. 

Explanation:

The main idea of a passage is what the passage is about. It's not just a detail found in the passage. In the passage we learned the Lincoln is on the penny, was born in Kentucky, and that he was the 16th president. These are all details found in the passage, not the main idea. The main idea of this passage was that Abraham Lincoln was a great person and president. 

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