Reading for Thinking - Online Practice:
Paraphrasing Topic Sentences

Copyright © 2005 Laraine Flemming.
General distribution outside the classroom and redistribution are strictly prohibited.

Directions: Click the appropriate button to identify the statement that best paraphrases the topic sentence.


There are those who claim the American dollar bill's symbol of a pyramid topped with an eye bears a secret meaning. However, the pyramid was never meant to be mysterious. On the contrary, the pyramid on the dollar bill was a carefully chosen symbol designed to characterize the United States as a place of progress and faith. The Roman numerals on the pyramid base refer to 1776, the year the country was founded. The pyramid is also unfinished, representing our country's future growth. The eye in a triangle radiating light represents the overseeing eye of a deity. The motto above the pyramid, "Annuit Coeptis," means "He has favored our undertakings." Below the pyramid, the motto "Novus Ordo Seculorum" means "a new order of the ages." (Sources of information: U.S. Department of the Treasury Bureau of Engraving and Printing,

Which of the following best paraphrases the topic sentence?

a. All of the images printed on the $1 bill symbolize America's principles and goals.

b. The pyramid and eye on the back of the $1 bill was carefully created to represent American values.

c. The dollar's symbolism is typical of American currency.

d. American currency should be redesigned to better reflect our country's separation of church and state.


In her famous 1969 book, On Death and Dying, author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified five stages of death (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). Ever since the publication of that best seller, Kübler-Ross's five stages have generally been accepted as accurate, even scientific. Recently, however, Kübler-Ross's well-known sequence has come under fire, in part because more attention is being paid to the eccentric views on death she publicly expressed starting in the 1970s. For instance, Kübler-Ross began claiming that death did not exist at all. Inspired by what she claimed was an "out of body" experience, she started talking about death as the fountain of youth. From her new perspective, death was not an end but the beginning of spiritual renewal, a time when people would "become complete again." Her description of death as a "sixth stage," where people refreshed themselves before returning to the living was criticized as irrational nonsense. Kübler-Ross's critics worried that she might be encouraging those of her fans who had psychological problems to embrace death as a way out of their pain. With more attention being paid to Kübler-Ross's unusual views, it's not surprising that her notions about death are being taken less seriously. (Source of information: Ron Rosenbaum, "Dead Like Her," Slate, September 23, 2004,

Which of the following best paraphrases the topic sentence?

a. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross helped generations of people conquer their fear of dying.

b. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was never afraid of expressing unpopular points of view.

c. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's unusual personal beliefs have caused many people to dismiss her conclusions about the five stages of death.

d. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was oddly obsessed with death and dying.


One of the best-known first pets was Fala, Franklin D. Roosevelt's black Scottish terrier. The dog went everywhere with Roosevelt, once making the news when he was accidentally left behind on a trip to the Aleutian Islands. Roosevelt's Republican opponents accused him of spending $8 million to send a destroyer back to fetch the dog. The president's humorous defense of his dog only increased his popularity and probably helped Roosevelt win his historic fourth term. But Fala is not the only famous first pet; a number of other presidential pets have earned the public's notice. President Richard Nixon's dog Checkers, for instance, has been credited with saving his political career. In a speech on national television, Nixon defended accusations of financial irregularities by acknowledging the receipt of just one personal gift, a dog named Checkers. Nixon also claimed he would never give Checkers up.Gerald Ford's dog Liberty was so popular, the cast of the TV comedy show Saturday Night Live often included Liberty in their skits about the president. Millie, the springer spaniel of George and Barbara Bush, appeared as the author of a New York Times bestseller. First Lady Hillary Clinton increased the fame of the Clinton's first pets with her book "Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets." (Source of information: John S. Cooper, "First Pets, Part II,", October 27, 2000,

Which of the following best paraphrases the topic sentence?

a. Franklin D. Roosevelt's dog Fala was America's most famous First Pet.

b. Fala was the best-known of all the presidential pets.

c. Presidential pets are often in the news.

d. Several First Pets have achieved fame while residing in the White House.


Despite his failure as a presidential candidate, Ohio Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich's suggestion that we establish a new Department of Peace within the federal government deserves serious consideration. A Department of Peace might help stop the senseless loss of life occurring all over the globe. If we in the United States develop more peaceful ways to coexist with other nations, we might influence others as well. A Department of Peace could, for example, study the conditions that promote both domestic and international harmony. A Department of Peace could also sponsor conflict prevention and resolution initiatives in war-torn countries. It could establish a Peace Academy to train people in nonviolent conflict resolution. All of these measures could ultimately save lives here at home and abroad.

Which of the following best paraphrases the topic sentence?

a. For two reasons, Congress should create a Department of Peace.

b. A Department of Peace might help put an end to global bloodshed.

c. Congressman Dennis Kucinich is a creative problem solver with vision.

d. The U.S. government focuses too much on war and not enough on peace.


Several grueling races around the globe test the limits of human endurance. For instance, the Marathon des Sables is an ultramarathon held every April in Morocco. It covers 150 miles in 6 days through blazing heat and some of the most difficult conditions imaginable. One participant said, "The most difficult part was waking up at 5 a.m. with your legs so sore you can hardly stand up, feet blistered, bloodied, and bandaged, and then having to run a marathon in 120-plus degree heat with a 20-pound pack." In the Sahara Marathon, participants run 26 miles on sand roads through the harsh and unforgiving Sahara Desert. The Jungle Marathon is a 7-day, 124-mile race through the Amazon jungle of Brazil. For runners who prefer cooler climates, the Pike's Peak Marathon is known as one of the toughest in the world, for participants must run 26.3 miles up a mountain in Colorado, ascending 7,815 feet. The Everest Marathon is a 26.2-mile race over the rough mountain terrain of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. Runners can also participate in the North Pole Marathon, a 26.2-mile run over Arctic ice floes in sub-zero temperatures.(Source of information: "ITT Adventurers Race Through Sahara," ITT Industries,

Which of the following best paraphrases the topic sentence?

a. Marathon runners are the most physically fit people in the world.

b. Some marathon runners prefer races in hot climates, while others prefer racing in cold climates.

c. The Marathon des Sables is the world's most difficult race.

d. Many marathon races held all over the world force participants to push themselves practically to the end of human endurance.

Last change made to this page: 2/12/2008

RfT: Online practice