# Comprehension Skills (Inferential Questions)

In this article, we will be learning more about how to tackle inferential questions within the comprehension component. We will be looking at inference skills, how to identify an inference question, and how to differentiate between direct and inference questions.

## What Are Inference Skills/ Questions?

1. Inference questions that fall into this subcategory require you to fill in the missing information. This means that we need to read between the lines and figure out what is implied. So, information is not explicitly mentioned in the question.
2. The gist of most of the questions is, "If something is said in the passage, what is the logical extension?"
3. Deduction questions are very close to detail questions, except that you must make a logical deduction rather than relying only on information in the passage. Making a logical deduction means that we are looking for ‘Why’ or ‘How’ type questions. "Why do you think …?", "How do you know …?", Explain fully why you think …” are some of the common examples of inference questions.
4. Inferential questions are also known as ‘extrapolative’ questions.
5. Inferential questions have responses that are indirectly stated, induced, or require other information.
6. Inference questions often include the phrases “could be interpreted to mean” or “suggests that."

## Difference Between Inference And Direct Questions

Direct question means that we can see the answer in the comprehension passage. But, the difference with an inference question is how the person feels.

## Practice Questions

Excerpt 1:

(The text below is about a stranger who left a deep impression on the writer.)

As if the situation could not get any worse, the weather changed suddenly. Thunder rumbled, and lightning cracked open the ashen sky. Dark, ominous clouds gathered overhead as a storm approached. We both knew that there had been reports of freak typhoons occurring in the surrounding states. Although it wasn't cold, my mother and I trembled like leaves.

Question 1:

The writer uses the simile ‘trembled like leaves”. What does the phrase suggest about what the writer and her mother were feeling?

1. Both of them were feeling fearful that they were going to be caught in a possible typhoon.
2. Both of them were shivering because it did not take very much for them to feel cold.
3. They were shaking and since they were quite skinny, like leaves, they trembled violently.
4. They were feeling scared because it was about to rain.

Option (1)

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (1) - “Both of them were feeling fearful that they were going to be caught in a possible typhoon" as the writer and her mother were fearful or scared that they would be stuck in a heavy storm.

Excerpt 2:

(The text below depicts the writer standing in front of the mirror and observing her reflection.)

My feet grudgingly carried me to the mirror and I looked on with dejection at my reflection. Critical eyes scanned for every inch of imperfection. The longer I stared at it, the more I failed to recognise the person in the mirror. A dark-haired, ghostly figure stood in front of me. Doubts began to flow through my unbridled mind, powerful and effortless, like the current of a meandering river passing through.

Question 2:

What does the phrase “scanned for every inch of imperfection” suggest about the way the writer was observing herself?

1. The writer had amnesia and was observing herself while doubt filled her mind.
2. She was very critical of herself because she had a mental disorder.
3. She was observing herself very meticulously because she had amnesia.
4. She was scrutinising herself very carefully as even the most minute of flaws mattered to her.

Option (4)

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (4). The clue is in the second line of the passage, where it is stated that “My feet grudgingly carried me to the mirror and I looked on with dejection at my reflection. Critical eyes scanned for every inch of imperfection". So, this means that most of the minute flaws mattered to her, or she is very self-conscious.

Excerpt 3:

(The text below is about a father’s visit to his daughter’s home.)

Prema had offered to drive to the airport to receive her father, who was visiting from Delhi, India, but he insisted on renting a car and following directions off the Internet. When she heard the sound of tyres on the gravel drive, she started picking up and putting away the toys and plastic animals that were scattered across the living room floor by Prakash. “Turn off the television, Peanut,” she called out to him now. “Don’t sit so close to the screen. Dadu’s here.”

Question 3:

“Don’t sit so close to the screen. Dadu’s here.”

Who is the person being referred to as “Dadu” in the sentence above?

1. The person is Prema’s grandfather.
2. The person is Prema.
3. The person is Prakash.
4. The person is Prakash's grandfather.

Option (4)

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (4) - "the person is Prakash's grandfather". The clue is in the first and last sentences of the passage where it is mentioned that Prerna had offered to drive to the airport to receive her father, and then in the last sentence, she tells Prakash to switch off the television as "Dadu's here". So, in this case, as Prerna was waiting for her father to arrive, the first 3 options are incorrect and thus eliminated. So, the correct answer is option (4).

Excerpt 4:

(In the text below, a man is trying to evade the police by hiding in a manhole.)

There was a prolonged scream of brakes and the siren broke off. "I'm done for! They've discovered my whereabouts," he uttered despairingly. He tried to keep a cool head. Panicking would simply exacerbate matters. Looming above his head in the pouring rain, a stern face hovered over the manhole. It was time to face the music.

Question 4:

What does the phrase "time to face the music" tell you about the man?

1. The man is a musician and from the band The Police.
2. The man was guilty of some wrongdoing and had to face the consequences.
3. The man was desperately trying to escape from the police.
4. The man was in grave danger and was about to die.

Option (2)

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (2) - “The man was guilty of some wrongdoing and had to face the consequences.”. Referring to the phrase mentioned in the last sentence of the passage, options (1), (3) and (4) are eliminated.

Excerpt 5:

(The text below describes a scene during World War I.)

His chin making a dent in the mud, Jacob aimed. The rifle moved, steadied, dropped a little and steadied again. The rifle kicked back with a sudden jerk, surprising Jacob himself, and half a mile across the muddy field, the enemy soldier took a few staggering steps before collapsing in a heap on the ground. Back in the trench, Jacob was looking queer. No one spoke.

Question 5:

Why did the enemy soldier collapse?

1. He was hit by a bullet fired by Jacob.
2. He took a few staggering steps.
3. The field was muddy and that caused him to fall.
4. He had stepped back into the trench and that caused him to collapse.

Option (1)

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (1) - “he was hit by a bullet fired by Jacob".

Answer the following questions based on the concepts we’ve covered in this article. If you get stuck, revisit the relevant section to revise the concepts.

Excerpt 1:

(The text below describes a fugitive trying to escape the police by hiding in a manhole.)

Slowly, he let his body sink until he could feel more prongs. He swung gently, suspended in the dank space; the siren seemed to screech at the very rim of the manhole. He released his grip and dropped into the depths. He was washed violently into an ocean of tepid, leaping water. The gushing water pushed him against a wall again and again, battering his skull. He wondered if this was death. Frenziedly, his fingers scrabbled for something to hold onto. Finally, his fingers found a crevice. He stabilised himself and measured the force of the current with his own muscular tension. He stood slowly in water that rushed past his knees with alarming velocity.

Question 1:

Which of these options does NOT answer the question?

[From the sentence "He stabilised himself and measured the force of the current with his own muscular tension", what impression is the writer trying to convey about the main character?]

1. He is calm.
2. He is rational.
3. He is a good swimmer.
4. He is composed.

Excerpt 2:

(The text below is a narrative from the perspective of a mammoth.)

The matriarch came upon a sight that confused her weak eyes. On the banks of the river she had been following, stood a structure like none she had ever seen before. It was like a bird’s nest on the ground, but bigger. From it came animals who walked only on two legs and donned fabrics in strange, garish colours with metallic teeth and rows of sewn-on eyes along their edges; they were like water birds that prowled the shore, but much larger. Others poured from the immense nest, and she could see that her presence was causing great excitement, for they made unfamiliar sounds.

Question 2:

“From it came animals who walked on only two legs…”

What is referred to as “animals” in the above phrase?

1. Birds are referred to as animals in the above sentence.
2. Humans are referred to as animals in the above sentence.
3. Mammoths are referred to as animals in the above sentence.
4. Dinosaurs are referred to as animals in the above sentence.

Excerpt 3:

(The text below describes an incident of snatch theft.)

Standing before her, a portly man had dramatically extracted his wallet from his pocket. It looked as if he was flaunting its contents. As if by sorcery, a scrawny, predatory man appeared out of thin air and snatched the wallet from his grasp. Changing course, he sped towards Ava at breakneck speed.

Without flinching, she stuck out the umbrella she was holding. It caught him between his flying legs, causing him to trip and fall. The wallet arced through the air and landed on a grass patch.

Question 3:

"Without flinching, she stuck out the umbrella she was holding".

With reference to the sentence, what is your impression of Ava?

Which of these answers is NOT correct?

1. Ava is courageous.
2. Ava is able to keep her composure in the face of danger.
3. Ava is quick-thinking.
4. Ava is skilful with her umbrella.

Excerpt 4:

(The text below is a recount of the writer's experience suffering from an eating disorder.)

Day after day, I was binge eating. Friends and family members started becoming concerned about my weight gain. Others started mocking me. Nothing stopped me from what I was doing as I felt it was a place of solace for me. Thoughts of giving up this habit would hit me now and then but I would enter the kitchen, once everyone had gone to bed, and devour a dozen glazed doughnuts the next moment. Once, I went to the fridge with a gnawing sense of urgency. In the fridge was a single slice of cheesecake. Its disappearance would be obvious. I did not eat it. Instead, I controlled my urge to eat and went to bed crying.

Question 4:

Why do you think the author did not eat the last slice of cheesecake?

1. He controlled his urge and went to bed crying.
2. He did not want anyone to know about the eating disorder.
3. He did not want it to be too obvious.
4. Eating the last cheesecake would not satisfy him.

Excerpt 5:

(The text below describes Jeremy's experience with a grizzly.)

The first time Jeremy encountered a grizzly was in Alaska, when he unwittingly surprised one on a trekking trail. This resulted in the bear’s subsequent show of its displeasure. It ferociously bit into Jeremy’s forearm as he attempted to defend himself with all his might. Unmatched in strength, Jeremy capitulated.

In the aftermath of such a traumatic experience, Jeremy’s interest in nature peaked instead. Unlike most survivors who face distress and hold malice towards animals that injure them, he increased his dedication for bear conservation and protection.

Question 5:

Suggest a reason why Jeremy, unlike most survivors, might have grown to love nature instead.

1. He was amazed by his near-death experience and was keen to experience it again.
2. His love for bears superseded his fear of death.
3. He had experienced firsthand the awe-inspiring ability of a grizzly bear.
4. He was not distressed and does not hold malice towards the animal that injured him.

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