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TOEFL Reading Skill 7: Make Inferences From Mentioned Details

In the Reading section of the iBT TOEFL test, you may sometimes be asked to answer a mul­tiple-choice question by drawing a conclusion from a specific detail or details in the passage. Questions of this type contain the words implied, interred, likely, or probably to let you know that the answer to the question is not directly stated. In this type of question, it is important to understand that you do not need to "pull the answer out of thin air." Instead, some informa­tion will be given in the passage, and you will draw a conclusion from that information.

The following chart outlines the key information that you should remember about ques­tions testing inferences.

IDENTIFY THE QUESTION

It is implied in paragraph X ...

It can be inferred from paragraph X ...

It is most likely that ...

What probably happened ... ?

FIND THE ANSWER

The answers to these questions are generally found in order in the passage.

ANSWER THE QUESTION

 1. Choose a key word or phrase in the question.

 2. Scan the passage for the key word or phrase (or related idea).

 3. Carefully read the sentence that contains the key word or phrase.


 Look at an example of an inference question.

Reading Passage: Ancient Coins


Long before coins were invented, metals such as gold, silver, copper, and bronze were used as a medium of exchange for trade.  However, each piece of metal had to be weighed each time it was used in trade to establish its value. The Lydians of western Anatolia were the first to begin producing metal coins in standard weights, the seventh century B.C., impressing a seal into the coin to indicate its value.

One such coin minted during the time of Lydian King Croesus, who ruled from 560 B.C. to 546 B.C., has been recovered by archeologists; this coin is imprinted with the heads and forelegs of two animals, a bull and a lion, who are facing each other. It was not until 525 B.C. that coins with images on both sides came into being.

 

Example 1: It can be inferred from paragraph 1 that gold came into use as a medium of exchange

       a. before 700 B.C.

       b. after 700 B.C.

       c. during the reign of King Croesus

       d. in 525 B.C.

In this example, you are asked to infer when gold came into use as a medium of exchange based upon stated information in the first paragraph. To answer this question, you should refer to the information about gold in the passage and draw a conclusion from that informa­tion. The passage states that long before coins were invented, metals such as gold ... were used as a medium of exchange and that the Lydians ... were the first to begin producing metal coins ... in the seventh century B.C. From this context, it can be determined that gold came into use as a medium of exchange before 700 B.C. To answer this question, you should click on the first answer.

Now, look at another example of an inference question.

Example 2: It is implied in paragraph 2 that coins from the time of King Croesus were all

       a. imprinted on one side only

       b. made of gold

       c. imprinted with two animals

       d. imprinted on both sides

In this example, you are asked to determine what is implied about coins from the time of King Croesus, based upon stated information in the second paragraph. To answer this question, you should refer to the information about coins and King Croesus in the second paragraph. The passage mentions King Croesus, who ruled from 560 B.C. to 546 B.C.  and that it was not until 525 B.C. that coins with images on both sides came into being. From this context, it can be determined that coins from the time of King Croesus were all imprinted on one side only. To answer this question, you should click on the first answer.