Reading comprehension deficiency is a serious condition that affects 100% of students taking the HESI A2. If you suspect you may have a reading comprehension deficiency, follow up with your educational resource. Side effects of reading comprehension deficiencies include confusion, frustration, fatigue, inadequate exam score, and, rarely, heartbreak.

Did you get the main idea? How about the author’s tone? Do you think the above snippet was factual? In case you answered “No” to any of those questions, listen closely. That passage was a satire mimicking prescription drug disclaimers. The tone of the author was ironic, and the snippet was not factual.

While that introductory example may have been easy, reading comprehension is actually one of the more difficult topics to master as choosing the correct answer relies on your ability to be objective, yet evaluating a text can feel subjective.

Fret not! We’re here to break it down and give you a game plan complete with helpful tips.

What’s the main idea of reading comprehension? Identifying the main Idea!

The main idea is basically a rundown of the story. Questions that can help you solve for the main idea include:

• What do you think the author wanted you to know?
• What is the text about?

Another topic that falls under “main idea,” is purpose. What is the purpose of the main idea?

• It draws the reader in.
• It lets the reader decide if they want to keep reading.

Identifying the main idea is key to understanding a passage. The purpose of the main idea is generally revealed within the first paragraph. Another trick to solve for the main idea is to look at the title. Sometimes a piece’s title may tell you what you need to know.

Identifying supporting details is important too. It is important to relate supporting details to the main idea but to recognize them as supporting, rather than central.

Next up, author’s tone!

Why does the author choose the words that he or she chooses? To relay how he or she feels about certain subjects or people. The words an author uses to describe give the reader a sense of the author’s attitude.

The tone can also set the mood for the main idea and can be helpful when trying to figure out what a text is trying to relay.

Remember when we said reading comprehensive requires a reader to be objective? The author’s tone, if carefully crafted, can influence you! You may find yourself agreeing with something you might not ordinarily agree with due to the author’s tone.

What are some tricks to identify the author’s tone?

• How are people, places, and events described in the text? What adjectives are used?
• Is the author trying to prove something or persuade you to believe something?

In conclusion, it’s time to learn to draw conclusions.

Drawing conclusions, also known as logical inference, is the part of reading comprehension that feels subjective. It’s the part where you, the reader, extrapolate upon the text. You read between the lines and attempt to answer the question of why or how.

How does this work? Well, the answer is NOT that the author gives you explicit instructions on how to feel or what to think. The author lays the groundwork for you to get there on your own.

In a fictional piece, this might look like “How did this make the main character feel?” or “Why do you think that event happened?”
In a non-fiction piece, this might mean being able to identify traits/trends from a data chart or infer a pattern if given some type of facts/figures.

What are some helpful tips for drawing conclusions?

• Look at the facts, and try to develop a pattern.
• What do you believe to be the cause of the action in question?
• Form connections between events.

Let’s put these tips to practice. Read the passage below and do your best to answer the questions. Then we’ll walk through the answers together.

Limiting Influenza Spread in Society

Influenza is a serious virus that affects most people at one point or another. While potentially serious for small children and geriatric adults, influenza is generally just a nuisance for healthy adults. Due to this, many people ignore habits that can prevent the acquisition and transmission of the disease.

The gold standard of influenza prevention is vaccination. It is key for every person over the age of 6 months to obtain a vaccine annually. Not only does the vaccine protect against personal infection, it protects the community through a phenomenon called herd immunity. While some people doubt the efficacy of vaccines, the CDC publishes solid data yearly to show otherwise. Furthermore, numerous pipelines are working towards “smarter” vaccines with higher rates of protection.

Another very important step of infection control is actually quite simple – hand washing! While influenza is a respiratory virus, washing one’s hands before eating and drinking limits the spread of the virus. Additionally, washing one’s hands upon entering one’s home helps limit the spread of the virus to touch surfaces. Hand washing is especially important when caring for a sick loved one.

Last, but not least, it is of utmost importance for people to stay home and rest if they acquire influenza. Many people believe that they are healthy enough for work or that their child is healthy enough for social time. They are, however, mistaken and, quite frankly, rude due to the risk of spreading disease. Resting is key to recovery and is also key to limiting the spread of the disease.


1. What was the purpose of this passage?

2. What was the tone of this passage?

3. Was this a factual or opinionated text?

4. How do you think the author would feel about parents opting out of routine vaccine such as MMR or DTaP for their infants?


1. The purpose was to spread knowledge about influenza prevention techniques. Remember, the purpose of the main idea is generally presented within the first couple of sentences and can also sometimes be found in the title.

2. The tone was serious and bordered on resentful. The author states, “Due to this, many people ignore habits that can prevent the acquisition and transmission of the disease” and “They are, however, mistaken and, quite frankly, rude due to the risk of spreading disease.”

3. This text is factual and opinionated. Some of the referenced information can be found in credible sources. The author even referenced the CDC. Other pieces of information are the author’s opinion (i.e., when he or she states that leaving the home with active influenza is “rude.”)

4. You should infer that the author would not respect that decision. The author references herd immunity and displays a tone of disdain for people who choose to “ignore” infection control techniques.