How to Identify Inference Questions and Answer Them

Standardized tests with reading comprehension components like to throw in inference questions. Their purpose is to see if you can understand how the author feels about a certain topic or if you can draw conclusions from information that is not presented directly in the text but which is implied.

When you're reading to answer inference questions, it's important that you understand the main ideas of the passage. Don't focus too much on the details. Then understand how the main ideas are connected. Look at the way the paragraphs are organized. Determine what the author's purpose is in writing the text. What are they trying to convince you of?
When you read an inference question, try to put it into your own words. This will help you to understand the question better. They may use phrases like "could be interpreted to say" or "hints/suggests that."

Read the text for words like "except" or "however" that indicate perhaps how the author feels about the topic or that indicate a contrast or comparison of ideas. You probably won't find the answer to the question in one place, so look around the text to find the answer to the question. You need context to be sure you answer the question correctly.

Ignore answers that are obviously wrong. This will help you in identifying the correct answer if you get stuck between two at the end. You may find answers that say the opposite of what is said in the text or perhaps a few pieces of the answer are right but not all of them. Answers that are likely to be wrong are ones that contain exclusive words, such as "always" or "none."

Make sure that the answer you select is not one that is only a "possible" answer. There is only one right answer, so you don't want an answer that just seems like it might be the right answer. You need to find the one that IS.

Inference questions don't have to be that tricky to answer. It takes reading the text for main ideas, understanding connections, and being able to identify information that is not directly stated from context from different parts of the text.


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