Reading Inference Questions for CBEST Exam Study Guide (page 4)
Implication questions can be easily confused with detail questions. However, an implication question asks you to make an inference about the author's intent, rather than simply locating a detail in the passage. Knowing how implication questions are likely to be phrased will help you distinguish between the two question types. Implication question stems usually include words like these:
- The author implies that…
- The author suggests that…
- It can be concluded from this passage that…
- The passage implies that…
- The narrator hints that…
- It can be inferred from the passage that…
- Which of the following is closest to the author's outlook on…?
How to Find Implication Answers
Implications are not directly stated in the passage. If you find an answer choice in the passage, it is not the right answer. Look, however, for items, people, events, or ideas in the passage that might relate to other items, people, events, or ideas in the passage.
Nine Success Steps for Implication Questions
- Skim the passage to discover how the passage is organized and find the sentences that relate to the question's topic.
- Eliminate any answers that are off the topic.
- Eliminate any answers that parrot sentences in the passage, using the same or similar words.
- Look for an answer choice that draws a conclusion from information in the passage. For example, if the passage says that all unripe fruit is green, look for an answer choice that states that no unripe fruit is orange or red. If you find one like that, great! Most implication answers are not that easy to find.
- Eliminate any answers that are unreasonable, that cannot be drawn from facts in the passage.
- Eliminate any answers that can be concluded from the statements in the passage, but do not answer the question.
- Ask yourself these questions:
- If the author were to write another paragraph following this one, what might it be about?
- If the author were to explain the ideas in the paragraph in more detail or more explicitly, what more would be written?
- If the author could draw a conclusion from what has been written so far, what facts could be put together to form that conclusion and what would that conclusion be?
- If you are still left with two answers, choose the answer that is only one step removed from the statements in the passage. Go with the choice that can be most clearly concluded from the statements in the passage.
- If you have no answers left, look in another part of the passage for additional clue facts. Any choice using the same words as the passage is definitely not the correct answer. Check for answer choices that may mean something different from what you read, or that may contain answers to the questions you asked yourself in step 7.
Sample Passage and Question
Many educational reformers have focused their efforts over the last decade on instructional practices such as cooperative learning that emphasize problem solving and decision making over solitary reliance on memorization of facts and theories. Furthermore, programs that emphasize problem solving and decision making directly address the national education goal of helping students prepare "for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our modern economy." Several programs described here offer strategies for addressing problem solving and decision making, ranging from in-class discussions and the use of board games to designing and conducting community service activities. For example, tutors at Raising Academic Achievement focus on problem-solving skills and are trained to help students think, explore, solve, and look back when working on mathematics problems.
- Which of the following can be inferred from the information in the passage?
- Tutors at Raising Academic Achievement help ensure that students will be productively employed when they become adults.
- Cooperative learning emphasizes problemsolving techniques.
- Playing board games increases problemsolving skills.
- Responsible citizenship should be taught in school.
- Tutors at Raising Academic Achievement help students solve math problems.
Walk through the steps.
- The passage is short and the question offers no topic or location clues.
- It looks as though choice d is off the topic since the paragraph is not about teaching responsible citizenship; it is only mentioned in passing.
- Choice b is mentioned in the first sentence. Choices c and e are also mentioned. That gives us our answer already. Is choice a the answer? The passage does not explicitly state that the tutors will help future employment, but it does say that tutors help with problem-solving skills and that problem-solving skills will help with future employment. Choice a is one step removed from the facts of the passage, so it is the right answer.
You didn't need to use steps 4–9.
Sample Passage and Questions
Student-teacher interaction increases with instruction provided in one-on-one or small-group situations, where teachers give substantive feedback to students. This individualized attention is especially beneficial to low achievers. Effective extended-time programs establish individual goals for each student and work closely with the student to reach these goals. For example, in the Educational Program for Homeless Children and Youth in Devil's Lake, North Dakota, teachers evaluate each child before the program begins to identify academic weaknesses; subsequent individual tutoring focuses on these weak areas.
- The passage implies that
- children in the Educational Program for Homeless Children and Youth in Devil's Lake receive personal evaluation.
- one-on-one instruction enables children to receive more attention from teachers.
- small group situations do not help high achievers.
- the larger the group, the less children can learn.
- a large group enables teachers to identify and focus on weak areas.
Here's how you could use the nine Success Steps to answer question 2.
- There are no topic or location clues in the question.
- All the answers seem to be on topic.
- Choices a and b mimic the language of the passage.
- The passage says, "This individualized attention is especially beneficial to low achievers." This seems to be the opposite of choice c. A more careful look reveals that the passage does not imply that high achievers could not be helped at all by a small group; it only states that low achievers could benefit the most.
- Because choice c is unreasonable, it should be eliminated.Choice e might look good at first glance, but a careful reading shows that it says just the opposite of what the passage is saying. It should start,"A SMALL group.…"Choice d is the only one left, but you should check it. It seems to be a legitimate implication: The passage was talking about small groups providing more feedback, and choice d says the same thing in an opposite way. This is a reasonable inference from the passage.
You didn't need to use steps 6–9.
Six Success Steps for Word-in-Context Questions
- Locate the word and read a few lines above the word to understand the context. Notice any context clues—words or phrases that explain the meaning of the word.
- Eliminate any answers that have nothing to do with the passage or the context.
- You may encounter an answer choice that is a different part of speech from the word or phrase in the question. Think for a minute to make sure this answer choice doesn't have an alternate meaning that is the same part of speech, and if it doesn't, eliminate it.
- Place the remaining words in the blank and read to see which one fits best.
- If you know the meaning of the word, make sure the passage uses the word in the same way. Many of the answers will be different possible meanings of the word in question.
- Look for clues in root words, prefixes, and suffixes.
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