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Making Inferences on the Virginia End of Course Reading SOL

The Virginia End of Course Reading SOL was changed in 2013, and "making inferences" was a weaker area on the test for many students. Making inferences from the information in a reading passage can be challenging for students, and even more so for ESL students who often interpret text in a more literal or concrete fashion, than native speakers do. An inference is an educated guess or prediction about the information that we read. To infer is like being a detective, gathering the evidence, and then trying to see a bigger picture from that evidence or information. We process the information in our minds, and then take that information another step and draw a conclusion about the information. To make an inference is a higher order thinking process.  It is more sophisticated than simply repeating the main idea of the text. In an SOL multiple choice question, if the question asks the reader to infer information, then the correct answer is NOT in the text.  The answer is an educated guess that the reader makes based on what he has read.  While inference questions on SOL tests seem daunting, we all use inferences often in our daily lives.  If we hear evidence in a court case on the news, we often infer information about the defendant. If we see a funny cartoon, and laugh, often we laughed due to an inference we made about the cartoon.  An inference requires not only the information found in the text, but the reader using that information to reach a new conclusion.  Here are some examples of situations that would make us infer information:
1.)  Everyone was sick after they ate at the new restaurant (food was contaminated or the kitchen was unclean)
2.)  The man had an engagement ring in his pocket, and he was smiling. (man will ask woman to marry him)
3.)  A fire truck was at my neighbor's house. (possibly a fire or sick person in the house)
4.)  My boyfriend has stopped texting me.  (boyfriend may have found a new girlfriend)