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A Sample Reading Exercise

Read the following paragraphs. Then go back through each paragraph and underline the topic sentence and any definition(s) and/or examples that might appear. As a suggestion, you may want to use a highlighter to identify the topic sentences, since these sentences specify the main topic to be discussed in the paragraph. Underlining could also be done with two different colored pens -- e.g., red for definitions and black for examples. Then, when you need to review this material later, you can quickly identify important concepts and ideas. Naturally, you can simply underline in one color if you wish.

Paragraph 1:

There is little question that our population is aging and living longer. Therefore, you may wish to purchase an annuity to protect yourself against the financial risk of living too long. An annuity is a contract that guarantees an income for life. Whether you live to be 65, 85 or 105, an annuity will provide you with a monthly income. This assurance of a lifetime income is known as the mortality guarantee. No other investment or retirement product can make this guarantee. This makes an annuity an ideal retirement vehicle.

Paragraph 2:

The keys to a financially secure retirement are time and money. A person who begins to set aside money at age 55 for retirement at age 65 may not achieve the same financially secure retirement as an individual who begins accumulating money for retirement purposes at age 35. The larger the sum of money accumulated over a long period of time, the more secure the retirement years will be.

Paragraph 1: The topic sentence is usually the first or second sentence in the paragraph. In this paragraph, it is the second sentence. The main topic is that an annuity can protect you against the risk of living too long.

The third sentence is a definition of an annuity: a contract that guarantees an income for life.

The fifth sentence defines the guarantee of mortality: the assurance of a monthly income for life.

Paragraph 2: The topic sentence is the first sentence, which states that time and money are the key elements for a financially secure retirement.

The second sentence is an example of what is meant by the use of time and money when planning for retirement.

We hope you did well on this exercise. When reading technical or unfamiliar material, be an aggressive reader. It is important to extract main ideas and important concepts from the material by means of note taking or underlining.

In the example at the beginning of this chapter, Leslie is responsible for reading and studying technical material for a two-week training program. Undoubtedly, she will be tested on what she learns. By marking and underlining topic sentences, definitions and examples, she can easily review these reading assignments for testing purposes.