The Strategy for the Inference Question in TOEFL Reading

The Strategy for the Inference Question in TOEFL Reading

Here in this article, we are going to be talking about the inference question. This type of question is commonly being asked in the TOEFL Reading part. We will first begin with how to determine this question type during the reading part and then I will show you the necessary strategies to apply to an inference question. Let us then begin with our first part.

How to Determine Inference Question in TOEFL Reading

Determining the inference question type in TOEFL Reading is fairly easy. Because in the question itself the word “infer” is being used. There might be also questions where “imply” is also being used. It means that the word “infer” and “imply” will give us the hint to figure out the type of question. Let us now take a look at the following example and see how we are going to apply the strategy.

Example for the Inference Question in TOEFL Reading

It is clear that whales, guinea pigs, and dolphins are mammals. They breathe through the lungs, not gills, and give birth to young lives. Their slender bodies, lack of hind legs, and the presence of methyl and pits cannot hide their proximity to land mammals. However, unlike sea otters and pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walruses whose limbs functioned both on land and in the sea), it is not easy to imagine what the first whales looked like. Whales are extinct but now sea whales are fully known from fossils. How is the difference between a walking mammal and a swimming whale bridged? To date, no fossils appear to be intermediate or temporary between land mammals and cetaceans.

Which of the following can be inferred from paragraph 1 about early sea otters?
A) It is not hard to realize how they would appear
B) There were many of them
C) They inhabited the sea only
D) There weren’t many remainings of fossils

The Strategy for the Inference Question in TOEFL Reading

After determining the question type we are now going to apply the necessary strategy. In the detail question we first determine the keyword in the question we will do the same thing with the inference question as well. Our keyword here is “early sea otters”. We will no skim the whole paragraph and try to find which part of the paragraph early sea otters is mentioned. The following part of the paragraph has the term sea otters. Let us give that a closer look.

“However, unlike sea otters and pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walruses whose limbs functioned both on land and in the sea), it is not easy to imagine what the first whales looked like.”
The key to the inference question lies within the next sentence.

20% of the apples are green. If you see a statement like this in the inference question you should expect to see the following in the answer choices “80% of the apples are not green”. This is the whole idea of the inference question. Let us now go back to our question. I should expect to see statements as in the example.
unlike sea otters and pinnipeds it is not easy to imagine what the first whales looked like.

When we take a look at now our answer choices the selection A seems like the correct answer. The reason for that is we can understand that it is not easy to imagine how the first whales look like there is also the term “unlike sea otters” which means it is easy to imagine sea otters. Closest to that meaning is the selection A

  1. Find the keyword in the question
  2. Skim the paragraph and find the keyword
  3. Focus on the meaning and apply the strategy
  4. Choose the correct option based on the meaning

Conclusion

Inference question in TOEFL Reading is pretty doable if the explained strategy will be applied. It is also important to choose the correct key sentence and understand the meaning of it. Unlike “detail question“, the answer will not be explicitly stated in the paragraph. Instead of looking for the answer in the paragraph directly the way to solve this problem is to decipher the meaning from the paragraph and see which can be a suitable option.

If you would like to get coaching for TOEFL please check out the following link: https://drlanguage.org/toefl-tutoring/

For more information please check out the following link: https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/practice_sets/reading/

2 thoughts on “The Strategy for the Inference Question in TOEFL Reading”

  1. How I can solve the summary question? Could you tell me an effective strategy? This is because the TSTprep strategy is not working.

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