Fact or Opinion for Praxis I: Pre-Professional Skills Test Study Guide
Just because something is in print does not mean that it is fact. Most writing contains some bias—the personal judgment of a writer. Sometimes a writer's beliefs unknowingly affect how he or she writes about a topic. In other cases, a writer deliberately attempts to shape the reader's reaction and position. For example, a writer may present only one perspective about a subject or include only facts that support his or her point of view. Critical and inferential questions on the PPST Reading test—specifically evaluation questions—will ask you to judge the strengths or weaknesses of an author's argument. You will be required to distinguish between fact and opinion, and decide whether the supporting details or evidence effectively backs up the author's main point.
To separate fact from opinion, consider these differences:
- A fact is a statement that can be verified by a reliable source.
- An opinion is a statement about the beliefs or feelings of a person or group.
When determining whether a statement is factual, consider whether a source gives researched, accurate information. The following is an example of a factual statement—it can be supported by the recent national census:
The U.S. population is growing older—in fact, adults over age 85 are the fastest-growing segment of today's population.
Opinions, on the other hand, reflect judgments that may or may not be true. Opinions include speculation or predictions of the future that cannot be proven at the present time. The following statement represents an opinion—it offers a belief about the future. Others may disagree with the prediction:
Many believe that the population boom among elderly Americans will create a future healthcare crisis.
Language clues can alert you to a statement that reflects an opinion. Look for these common words that introduce opinions:
Most writing presents reasonable opinions, based on fact: A writer asserts her opinion and supports it with facts or other evidence. A writer can use different types of evidence to build an argument—some forms of proof are more reliable than other types. When you read, look for the forms of evidence listed here and consider how accurate each might be:
observations experiments interviews personal experience surveys and questionnaires expert opinions
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