TOEFL Reading-The Inference Question

On the reading section. of the TOEFL, one of the type of reading questions is the inference question. An inference question requires to make an assumption, drawn a conclusion, based on the information given to you in the passage.


The seasonal nature of agriculture in ancient Egypt, along with advances in food storage, meant that the people had more time for leisure. At least the wealthy classes had time for leisure; the lower classes became a reliable source of labor. Within this organized system with an abundance of food resources, a rich culture flourished. While the pyramids and the elaborate tombs of the pharaohs are the most well-known manifestation of this culture, there are countless other achievements, including calendars, a form of writing, sophisticated architecture (particularly of temples), and a complex belief system including a pantheon of gods.

What can be inferred from paragraph 4 about the development of sophisticated culture in the history of ancient peoples?

It was only possible in areas with distinct seasons.
It began in the lower classes and percolated up to the higher classes.
It depends on stability in food resources.
It is delayed when the people spend too much time on leisure activities.

The following strategy will help you choose the correct answer choice for this inference question above.

Strategy: Use the keywords
A. Identify the key words in the paragraph and underline them. I highlighted, in red, the key points of the paragraph above.
B. Using the keywords, highlighted in red in the paragraph above, to come up with a main idea for the paragraph.
C. Now that you have used those keywords to come up with a main idea, now looks at the answer choice and eliminate the ones that don’t match up with your main idea. Identify the answer choices that matches or comes close to matching your main idea. That is your answer.

Here is a model of another inference question already done for you. The keywords I highlighted in red.

Strategy 1: Use the keywords

Identify the paragraph’s keywords:

The body that impacted Earth at the end of the Cretaceous period was a meteorite with a mass of more than a trillion tons and a diameter of at least 10 kilometers. Geologists first identified this impact in 1980 from the worldwide layer of sediment deposited from the dust cloud that enveloped the planet after the impact. This sediment layer is enriched in the rare metal iridium and other elements that are relatively abundant in a meteorite but very rare in the crust of Earth. Even diluted by the terrestrial material excavated from the crater, this component of meteorites is easily identified. By 1990 geologists had located the impact site itself in the Yucatán region of Mexico. The crater, now deeply buried in sediment, was originally about 200 kilometers in diameter.

Using the keywords you found, identify the main idea of the paragraph: 
A meteorite hit earth at the end of the Cretaceous period.  Geologists found a sediment layer with a lot of rare metal iridium and other elements that are mostly found in meteorites. 

Are any of the following answer choices similar to your main idea? 

A. The location of the impact site in Mexico was kept secret by geologists from 1980 to 1990.

B. It was a well-known fact that the impact had occurred in the Yucatán region.C.

C. Geologists knew that there had been an impact before they knew where it had occurred.

D. The Yucatán region was chosen by geologists as the most probable impact site because of its climate.


C is the only one which comes close to your main idea, 







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