Inference and Vocabulary Questions for Firefighter Exam Study Guide (page 3)
Questions that ask you about the meaning of vocabulary words in the passage and those that ask what the passage suggests or implies (inference questions) are different from detail or main idea questions. In vocabulary and inference questions, you usually have to pull ideas from the passage, sometimes from more than one place in the passage.
Inference questions can be difficult to answer because they require you to draw meaning from the text when that meaning is implied rather than directly stated. Inferences are conclusions that you draw based on the clues the writer has given you. When you draw inferences, you have to be something of a detective, looking for such clues as word choice, tone, and specific details that suggest a certain conclusion, attitude, or point of view. You have to read between the lines to make a judgment about what an author was implying in the passage.
A good way to test whether you have drawn an acceptable inference is to ask, "What evidence do I have for this inference?" If you can't find any, you probably have the wrong answer. You need to be sure that your inference is logical. It should be based on something that is suggested or implied in the passage itself—not on something you or others might think. Like a good detective, you need to base your conclusions on evidence—facts, details, and other information—not on random hunches or guesses.
Questions designed to test vocabulary are really trying to measure how well you can figure out the meaning of an unfamiliar word from its context. Context refers to the words and ideas surrounding a vocabulary word. If the context is clear enough, you should be able to substitute a nonsense word for the one being sought, and you would still make the right choice because you could determine meaning strictly from the sense of the sentence. For example, you should be able to determine the meaning of the italicized nonsense word below based on its context:
The speaker noted that it gave him great terivinix to announce the winner of the Outstanding Leadership Award.
In this sentence, terivinix most likely means
The context of an award makes c, pleasure, the best choice. Awards don't usually bring pain, sympathy, or anxiety.
When confronted with an unfamiliar word, try substituting a nonsense word and see if the context gives you the clue. If you are familiar with prefixes, suf- fixes, and word roots, you can also use this knowledge to help you determine the meaning of an unfamiliar word.
You should be careful not to guess at the answer to a vocabulary question based on how you may have seen the word used before or what you think it means. Many words have more than one possible meaning, depending on the context in which they are used, and a word you have seen used one way may mean something else in a test passage. Also, if you don't look at the context carefully, you may make the mistake of confusing the vocabulary word with a similar word. For example, the vocabulary word may be taut (meaning tight), but if you read too quickly or don't check the context, you might think the word is tout (meaning publicize or praise) or taunt (meaning tease). Always make sure that you read carefully and that what you think the word means fits into the context of the passage you are being tested on.
Practice Passage 3: Inference and Vocabulary Questions
The questions that follow this passage are strictly vocabulary and inference questions. Circle the answers to the questions, and then check your answers against the key that appears immediately afterward.
When fire chiefs talk about firefighter recruitment, they usually mean the effort that is made, shortly before an application period opens, to get candidates to apply for job openings. Recruitment is the way a fire department attracts new members. Fire chiefs who wish to diversify their department's workforce or attract specific groups of people (college graduates, licensed paramedics) have learned to target those groups in the recruiting effort. A productive recruitment drive is just part of what it takes to increase the diversity of a fire department. For recruitment to be really effective, managers must establish a positive climate within the department before encouraging candidates from traditionally underrepresented groups to become firefighters. Fire departments also must begin to recognize and take advantage of the recruitment impact of most of their public activities. Expanding the concept of recruitment in these two directions will make the recruitment drive itself more productive and will increase the likelihood that those who are recruited actually will become firefighters. The skills and dedication of the people working in the recruitment unit, the creativity that goes into designing the program, and the verbal, logistical, and financial backing given to the effort by top management all play important parts in the success of a department's recruitment drive. All of this effort and investment must be supported. The recruiters' message will be that the fire department wants to diversify its membership. But if other aspects of the department give out a conflicting message, or if the department is unprepared for a workforce that includes men and women from diverse backgrounds, much of your recruitment effort will go for nothing.
- The word climate as it is used in the passage most nearly means
- weather conditions.
- prevailing conditions.
- The passage suggests that a fire chief
- should leave recruitment to others.
- has to establish a welcoming atmosphere for all recruits.
- is better off not seeking to diversify.
- should ensure that each group hears the message they wish to hear.
- A concept is most likely
- a belief.
- a development.
- an idea.
- Which of the following best expresses the writer's views about recruitment?
- Recruiting campaigns must be general in nature.
- In order for a recruiting campaign to be successful, a fire department must leave the support of the program to professional recruiters.
- The chief must ensure that there is an atmosphere that is nonthreatening and positive for all recruits.
- The recruiter must not make it known that the department wants to diversify its workforce.
- b. This is a vocabulary question. Climate has three different definitions—meteorological conditions, a region with particular meteorological conditions, and a prevailing condition or atmosphere. Choice a, while correct, does not fit the sentence, which is about recruiting, not weather. Choice c, though it relates to weather, is not applicable to this sentence. Choice d, employment, does not fit the sentence's full context.
- b. This is an inference question, as the phrase the passage suggests might have told you. The passage as a whole is advising fire chiefs on what needs to be done in order to conduct a successful recruiting program and diversify employment. The passage makes it clear that the chief sets the tone and that diversity is desirable. It also makes it clear that recruiting must be part of everything that the department does, so choice b represents this attitude by stating that a welcoming atmosphere is necessary.
- d. This is a vocabulary question. Even if you had no clue that a concept was an idea, just refer back to the statement that productive recruitment programs need positive climate and a new look of the impact of public activities. These are ideas, so you have a good clue in these sentences. Although belief is part of an idea, it is not the idea itself. A development does not fit here and neither does work. Idea is the best fit.
- c. This is an inference question. The writer of this passage keeps adding on to the initial premise that a good recruitment program is vital to a department's efforts to diversify. Because the chief officer is the manager most responsible for the department's direction, choice c is the most correct. Choice d infers that the recruiters are not supposed to tell anyone that they are looking for a diverse candidate pool. That goes against the statement that recruiters should make it known that the department wants to diversify. The author also states that a recurring campaign must target specific groups, not just recruit in general, and it is necessary that a recruiting campaign have departmental support or it will fail.
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