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Topic Sentences

Identifying or stating the main idea of a paragraph can be a difficult skill for many students. Although not all paragraphs have clear-cut topic sentences, an effective paragraph often begins with a topic sentence.

Students should try to use topic sentences in the body paragraphs of their essays on the GED Writing Test. In addition, on Part I of the Writing Test, some items may ask students a question like this: "Which sentence would be most effective if inserted at the beginning of the paragraph?" These items ask students to identify a good topic sentence.

Use a variety of paragraphs to teach students how an effective topic sentence can

  • link the paragraph to the overall main idea of the essay
  • introduce the specific topic of the paragraph

Teaching Tip:
Help students identify effective topic sentences for paragraphs. Give students three to four paragraphs with the topic sentences removed. Next, provide students with four to six possible topic sentences. Have the students match the correct topic sentence to each paragraph. Debrief the activity by having students discuss their reasons for choosing particular topic sentences.