# Comprehension Skills - Inference Questions

In this chapter, we will be discussing the below-mentioned topics in detail:

• Inference skills
• How to identify an inference question (how such inference questions are typically phrased)
• Differentiating direct* and inference questions
• Worked examples
• Identifying keywords
• Reasoning process

* Here, the direct question means factual questions like who, how, what, where, when, and why.

## Inferential Skills

1. Inference questions that fall into this subcategory ask you to fill in the missing information.
2. The gist of most of the questions is "If something is said in the passage, what is the logical extension?" Such questions require students to analyse contextual clues in the text and read between the lines, before making logical connections and inferring the answer.
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.

## How to identify an inference question

1. Also known as an ‘extrapolative’ question
2. Inferential questions have responses that are indirectly stated, induced, or require other information. Sometimes this information is also implied as well, like why, how, what etc.
3. Inference questions often include the phrases "could be interpreted to mean" or "suggests that".

### Difference between Inference and Direct Questions

She took off her red coat and sat in the waiting room, still talking loudly on the phone.

“If that’s how you want it, fine!” she said and mashed the End Call button. She then crossed her arms, lowered her eyebrows and said “Humph!” to nobody in particular.

Impression:

The exclamation mark after the word "fine" indicates some emphasis on the dialogue. Furthermore, mashing the end button depicts some intense emotion there.

So, it is from the dialogue and the words used to describe her gestures that we are able to infer how the woman feels.

Question 1:

Close at hand is a bridge over the River Thames, an admirable vantage ground for us to make a survey. The river flows beneath; barges pass, laden with timber, bursting with corn; there on one side are the domes and spires of the city; on the other, Westminster and the Houses of Parliament. It is a place to stand on by the hour, dreaming. But not now. Now we are pressed for time. Now we are here to consider facts; now we must fix our eyes upon the procession — the procession of the sons of educated men.

###### Image Credit: Peter Kostov - unsplash.com

According to the passage, Woolf chooses the setting of the bridge because it __________.

1. is conducive to a mood of fanciful reflection.
2. provides a good view of the procession of the sons of educated men.
3. is within sight of historic episodes to which she alludes.
4. is symbolic of the legacy of past and present sons of educated men.

B) provides a good view of the procession of the sons of educated men.

Explanation:

Woolf is looking at the beautiful scenery. It means she is reflecting. It is a place to stand by the hour, dreaming. This is because of the beautiful scenery that exists.
The second thing is that she is observing people.
Combining both the facts, we can infer that the correct answer is Option B.

My Thoughts:

Normally we'd be on the bridge to dream and have fanciful reflection, but that's not the case now. Instead, now we have to do something else while standing on the bridge. What is that something else? Fixing our eyes on the procession of the sons of educated men.

Question 2:

The text below describes Matto Grosso, a province in Brazil notorious for its danger.

With such a motley crew jumbled together in a savage land and with such a lot of rabble around, it is a miracle that there are some rules and codes of conduct in place. Yet, there is an especially rigid ethic which is firmly enforced. For example, theft is considered an absolute atrocity and a grave sin. The thief is condemned as a man bereft of honour and dignity. He who steals will not be spared his life, for moral rectitude is the premier virtue in Matto Grosso. Instead of being delivered into the hands of the law, the thief typically will face a bullet, with the vultures left to finish him off.

What does the phrase "face a bullet" tell you about how the thief will be executed?

1. The thief will be fed to vultures.
2. The thief will be murdered.
3. The thief will be shot to death.
4. The thief will be delivered into the hands of the law.

C) The thief will be shot to death.

Explanation:

The correct answer is Option C as "face a bullet" means that the thief will be shot to death.

Question 3:

In the text below, the author describes his cousin's husband whose occupation is a footballer.

Last week, I drove over to have dinner with my cousin and her husband. Her husband, among various physical accomplishments, had been one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven. He was a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such excellence at twenty-one that everything afterwards smacks of anti-climax. His family was enormously wealthy. He left Chicago and came East in a fashion that rather took your breath away. For instance, he'd brought down a string of ponies from Lake Forest. It was hard to realise that a man in my own generation was wealthy enough to do that.

The author describes the husband as "a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such excellence at twenty-one that everything afterwards smacks of anti-climax".

What does this suggest about his career?

1. The husband reached the peak of his football career at the age of 21, but his career went downhill shortly after.
2. The husband reached the peak of his football career at the age of 21 and has been successful ever since.
3. The husband stopped playing football after the age of 21 and focused on another career after that.
4. The husband left Chicago and came East in a fashion that rather took your breath away.

A) The husband reached the peak of his football career at the age of 21, but his career went downhill shortly after.

Explanation:

"Anti-climax" actually means when one has a climax and then he comes down from there. After the climax happens in any story or after being at the top of life, things start to become less exciting.
The correct answer is Option A because it goes up, which means he reaches such excellence at 21 i.e. the climax of his career. And then everything afterwards smacks of anti-climax because he is no longer a national figure, he just earned all his money and he went to the countryside to basically buy a string of ponies from Lake Forest. He has made his money i.e. done with his career.

Question 4:

The text below describes Britain’s endangered red squirrels.

The red squirrel is Britain's only native squirrel species and was once a common sight. But for decades now, these red squirrels have been battling for survival.
Grey squirrels, which were introduced by North America in the 1800s, pose a threat to the red squirrels’ very existence. Today, grey squirrels are a familiar sight across large parts of the United Kingdom, because the native red squirrels are now limited to certain parts of the region; these include northeastern Wales, northern England and Scotland.

From Paragraph 1: "But for decades now, these red squirrels have been battling for survival."

Which of these options does NOT reflect the state of the current population of red squirrels?

1. It suggests that the red squirrel population is dwindling.
2. It suggests that the red squirrel population is annihilated.
3. It suggests that the red squirrel population is endangered.
4. It suggests that the red squirrel population is shrinking.

B) It suggests that the red squirrel population is annihilated.

Explanation:

The correct answer is Option B because if they are "battling for survival", it means they still do exist and they are not completely wiped off from the Earth. But Option B suggests that the red squirrel population is annihilated i.e. they are totally removed or extinct. So, it does not reflect the state of the current population of red squirrels.

Question 5:

The text below describes different ways that may help protect one from mosquitoes and their deadly bites.

Yet, not all hope is lost. There are some effective methods we can adopt to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Mosquito nets can be placed over beds to prevent being bitten. While they help people stay safe at night, they do not kill any mosquitoes. Bringing more natural enemies of the mosquitoes like bats, birds, dragonflies, and certain kinds of fish into places where mosquitoes live might help to reduce the amount of mosquitoes in the area. This is a natural solution, but it does not always guarantee success. Mosquitoes can also be killed with poisons or sprays. The downside of using these sprays to kill mosquitoes is that other plants or animals may be harmed as a result.

How do we know that the effect of using mosquito nets is limited?

1. The natural solution of bringing the mosquitos’ natural enemies to reduce its numbers is more effective.
2. Mosquito nets can be placed over beds to prevent being bitten and can help people stay safe at night
3. The use of mosquito nets is only able to achieve the prevention of mosquito bites and not the killing of mosquitoes.
4. Some mosquitoes may enter through the holes in the nets and may still bite people at night.

C) The use of mosquito nets is only able to achieve the prevention of mosquito bites and not the killing of mosquitoes.

Explanation:

The correct answer is Option C i.e. the effect of using mosquito nets is limited as the use of mosquito nets is only able to achieve the prevention of mosquito bites and not killing of mosquitoes. While mosquito nets help people stay safe at night, they do not kill any mosquitoes. So technically the mosquito nets only help to prevent us from getting bites, but they do not actually kill any mosquitoes.

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.

Question 1:

The text below describes the writer's career as a teacher.

I began my teaching career in 1988 after a year-long training stint at the National Institute of Education (NIE). Teaching is in my blood. Being teachers, my parents and siblings might have all influenced me to become one as well. After taking my A Levels, I did some relief teaching in the school that my mother was teaching at. I relished the experience, especially the authority that the post gave me. Unfortunately, my parents’ love for Mandarin did not rub off on us. My siblings are all English teachers.

The writer says that "teaching is in my blood". Which one of these answers is NOT what she implied?

1. She means that teaching seems natural for her because her family members are all teachers.
2. She means that her talent for teaching is innate.
3. She means that teaching comes naturally to her.
4. She means that she would teach even if she was bleeding.

Question 2:

The text below is a description of the author’s daydreams of machines from his home in Zimbabwe.

I stood there at the base of the machine I had built for my home in Zimbabwe. Then I scaled the tower - slowly, one step at a time. From the top, I looked out onto the country that I loved - across the vast green fields and craggy slopes of highlands, which sent a familiar breeze through the valley and whipped the blades behind me. That night as I lay in bed, I let that daydream spin me off to sleep, the white noise of the machinery like a song my mother would sing. I went to sleep dreaming of Zimbabwe - home.

With reference to the phrase "like a song my mother would sing", which option does NOT reflect how the author felt about the white noise of the machinery?

1. It suggests that the white noise was like a lullaby to the author.
2. It suggests that the white noise reminded him of his mother.
3. It suggests that the white noise was comforting.
4. It suggests that the white noise was soothing.

Question 3:

The text below describes the writer’s account of the time his sister was ‘sold’ into an arranged marriage.

Shortly after the visitors left, Mother beat me up furiously when I used the word “sold” to refer to my sister’s arranged marriage. She said “dowry” was a much kinder and more civilised term. “The world has changed,” I retorted. “Odelia should be allowed to finish her schooling. She must not be married off at such a tender age.”

Which of the options does NOT reflect what the author meant when he said “the world has changed”?

1. Education for girls was deemed to be of lesser importance in the past, but now the world is becoming more accepting of girls finishing their schooling.
2. Girls were forced to marry off young in the past, but now more people are starting to feel that child marriage should not be encouraged.
3. Women no longer need dowry and should marry whomever they please because arranged marriage is illegal.
4. Education was unnecessary for girls in the past, but today with more women entering the workforce, education is becoming increasingly important.

Question 4:

The text below provides a description of Lagaan's sinister encounter with his photographer.

Lagaan towered over most men, and was always noticeable by a hideous scar that extended from the side of his mouth to his right ear. His ever-growing second chin rested beneath the first, which was heavily emphasised when he nodded vigorously. In the still photograph, Lagaan had taken the time to tilt his face to ensure that his head was positioned high enough to disguise his double chin, yet not too elevated as to seem arrogant. His wicked eyes showed great restraint in remaining polite, without revealing his insidious plot to murder his photographer's wife days later. He had a grotesque, protruding nose that he frequently inserted into matters that did not concern him.

"He had a grotesque, protruding nose that he frequently inserted into matters that did not concern him". Which of these options is NOT an acceptable inference of the given sentence about Lagaan’s personality?

1. He has an unlikeable personality.
2. He is a prying individual.
3. He is an intrusive individual.
4. He has an inquisitive personality.

Question 5:

The text below describes Margaret’s final day.

The sizzling sound and smells of frying had jolted me awake. I noticed my mother's stare as I walked barefoot to the kitchen. Her eyes were sad, and her skin was the colour of charcoal smouldering beneath the metal pots. I bowed to greet as is usual, but she disregarded me, preferring to wallow in the grief that the day would bring. Regardless, her approval was not needed for today’s agenda. "Regardless, her approval was not needed for today’s agenda".

Which of the following does NOT show the writer’s view of his mother’s opinion?

1. He sees her opinion as insignificant.
2. He sees her opinion as unintelligent.
3. He sees her opinion as irrelevant.
4. He sees her opinion as unimportant.

Question 6:

The text below describes Edmund and his student, the future queen.

“Princess, I must ask you to pay attention. The position which you will assume comes with enormous responsibilities. Not only must you be knowledgeable, you must also learn philosophy, morality and ethics. A good queen does not simply rule with the brain, but also with the heart.”
The princess huffed in frustration. She crossed her arms and glared at her tutor. He was lanky and his dusty brown cloak hung off his fragile frame. Tufts of white hair peeked out from behind his ears, which were too large for his head.
“I never wanted any of this, you know,” the princess responded snarkily.

Which option wasn’t a reason why the princess replied "snarkily"?

1. She was haughty and did not like others telling her what to do.
2. She was frustrated at being forced to go through the training.
3. She did not understand the importance of her training.
4. She realised the great responsibility on her shoulders as a future queen.

Continue Learning
Comprehension Skills - Vocabulary Questions Summary Writing
Expository Writing Comprehension Skills (Narrative Text) Flowchart Questions
Comprehension Skills (Non-Narrative Text) IYOW Questions Editing And Visual Text
Situational Writing Narrative Writing - Question Analysis And Building Characters
Comprehension Skills: Direct Questions Comprehension Skills - Unusual Effective Questions
Comprehension Skills - Point Identification and Paraphrasing Comprehension Skills (Narrative Text) Direct Questions
Comprehension Skills - Language Arts Comprehension Skills - Inference, Authorial and Literary Technique
Expository Writing - Identifying Structures Comprehension Skills - Inference Questions

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