Making Inferences: Lesson Six

Part One: Example Questions

Here are some examples of what these types of questions might look like on the GED® Exam.

  • What might have happened prior to the excerpt?
  • What is the likely reason that….
  • How did the character generally feel about…
  • Why did…

Part Two: But What Do “Inferences” Actually Mean?

Learning to infer changes the way we read passages. Applying inferences requires a simple shift in our mindset from being just a reader to becoming an “active reader”. But, to understand inferences better, we should look at how we make them in everyday life.

Sometimes when my friends and I go a movie that we love, we like to talk about what happened to the characters AFTER the movie ended. We pretend that the are real people  and we assume we know the answers about what would become of them. It’s fun for us to take when we know about them and insert our own background experiences to create their futures. When we do this, we are actually making inferences.

””>Have you ever heard the phrase, “reading between the lines”? Well that’s basically what making an inference is all about. In other words, inferences are guesses about what happens or is happening, even though it isn’t directly stated. An inference is simply the result of the information we know about the text, as well as what we personally know about the real world.You see, when we make inferences, we make our own ideas about what we think will happen, or what is happening in the text, based on what we’ve seen happen in our own lives. Inferences are what we assume the text is suggesting.

Part Three: Practice Questions

Read this excerpt from “The House on Mango Street” then answer the questions that follow.

Minerva Writes Poems

Minerva is only a little bit older than me but already she has two kids and a husband who left. Her mother raised her kids alone and it looks like her daughters will go that way too. Minerva cried because her luck is unlucky. Every night and day. And prays. But when the kids are asleep after she’s fed them their pancake dinner, she writes poems on little pieces of paper that she folds over and over and holds in her hand a long time, little pieces of paper that smell like a dime.

She lets me read her poems. I let her read mine. She is always sad like a house on fire – always something wrong. She has many troubles, but the big one is her husband who left and keeps leaving.

One day she is through and lets him know enough is enough. Out the door, he goes. Clothes, records, shoes. Out the window and the door locked. But that night he comes back and sends a big rock through the window. Then he is sorry and she opens the door gain. Same story.

Next week she comes over back and blue and asks what can she do? Minerva. I don’t know which way she’ll go. There is nothing I can do.

1. What can we assume about the nature of the neighborhood in which the two women live?

A. It is a neighborhood bustling with economic growth opportunities.
B. It has a cycle of perpetual social and economical issues.
C. There are not many people who live on the street.

2. How does the narrator generally feel about Minerva’s situation?

A. She seems to recognize a hopelessness of the situation.
B. She seems annoyed that Minerva will not embrace her inner-strength.
C. She seems confused about why Minerva would have married so young.

3. Both Minerva and the narrator enjoy poetry. Why do you believe poetry is a shared interest between them?

A. It offers an escape from the reality of their lives.
B. They both dropped out of school and are trying to continue their education.
C. They don’t each math and are trying avoid studying.