TOEIC : Making inferences based on the passage

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for TOEIC

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Example Question #1 : Making Inferences Based On The Passage

At the little town of Vevey, in Switzerland, there is a particularly comfortable hotel. There are, indeed, many hotels, for the entertainment of tourists is the business of the place, which, as many travelers will remember, is seated upon the edge of a remarkably blue lake—a lake that it behooves every tourist to visit. The shore of the lake presents an unbroken array of establishments of this order, of every category, from the "grand hotel" of the newest fashion, with a chalk-white front, a hundred balconies, and a dozen flags flying from its roof, to the little Swiss pension of an elder day, with its name inscribed in German-looking lettering upon a pink or yellow wall and an awkward summerhouse in the angle of the garden. One of the hotels at Vevey, however, is famous, even classical, being distinguished from many of its upstart neighbors by an air both of luxury and of maturity. In this region, in the month of June, American travelers are extremely numerous; it may be said, indeed, that Vevey assumes at this period some of the characteristics of an American watering place. There are sights and sounds which evoke a vision, an echo, of Newport and Saratoga. There is a flitting hither and thither of "stylish" young girls, a rustling of muslin flounces, a rattle of dance music in the morning hours, a sound of high-pitched voices at all times. You receive an impression of these things at the excellent inn of the "Trois Couronnes" and are transported in fancy to the Ocean House or to Congress Hall. But at the "Trois Couronnes," it must be added, there are other features that are much at variance with these suggestions: neat German waiters, who look like secretaries of legation; Russian princesses sitting in the garden; little Polish boys walking about held by the hand, with their governors; a view of the sunny crest of the Dent du Midi and the picturesque towers of the Castle of Chillon.

Adapted from "Daisy Miller: A Study" by Henry James, 1879. 

What can readers infer about the tourists who come to Vevey, Switzerland?

Possible Answers:

They are retired

They are Canadian

They are unsophisticated

They are wealthy

Correct answer:

They are wealthy

Explanation:

The best choice is "they are wealthy." We can infer this based on the passage because the town is described as having comfortable, grand and famous hotels. It is also compared to American resorts (Newport and Saratoga) which are primarily havens for wealthy people. The passage also describes the tourists as "stylish" which implies that they have some money. There is no mention of the tourists being unsophisticated--in fact, they are implied to be the opposite. The passage specifically mentions that many of them are American, so the Canadian choice is incorrect. The passage also specifically mentions young tourists, so the retired choice is also incorrect. 

Example Question #2 : Making Inferences Based On The Passage

If you wanted to build a house, of what should you build it? In a new country, people generally use wood; but after a time wood grows expensive. Moreover, wood catches fire easily; therefore, as a country becomes more thickly settled and people live close together in cities, stone and brick are used. Large cities do not allow the building of wooden houses within a certain distance from the center, and sometimes even the use of wooden shingles is forbidden. Of late years large numbers of "concrete" or "cement" houses have been built. Our grandfathers would have opened their eyes wide at the suggestion of a house built of sand, and would have felt anxious at every rainfall lest their homes should suddenly melt away. Even after thousands of concrete buildings were in use, many people still feared that they would not stand the cold winters and hot summers of the United States; but it has been proved that concrete is a success provided it is properly made.

From Diggers in the Earth by Eva March Tappan (1919)

What can we infer about concrete, based on this passage?

Possible Answers:

Concrete is more expensive than wood

Sand is one of the ingredients of concrete

Concrete is weaker than wood

Concrete can last longer than wood

Correct answer:

Sand is one of the ingredients of concrete

Explanation:

The answer is "Sand is one of the ingredients of concrete." We know this because the passage states "Of late years large numbers of "concrete" or "cement" houses have been built. Our grandfathers would have opened their eyes wide at the suggestion of a house built of sand, and would have felt anxious at every rainfall lest their homes should suddenly melt away." These lines gives us the clue that cement is composed at least partially of sand, which causes anxiety in older generations. We cannot infer that concrete is weaker than wood, and these lines disprove that answer choice: "but it has been proved that concrete is a success provided it is properly made." There is no mention that concrete is more expensive than wood or that concrete can last longer than wood. 

Example Question #2 : Making Inferences Based On The Passage

      The history of Greece goes back to the time when people did not know how to write, and kept no record of what was happening around them. For a long while the stories told by parents to their children were the only information which could be had about the country and its former inhabitants; and these stories, slightly changed by every new teller, grew more and more extraordinary as time passed. At last they were so changed that no one could tell where the truth ended and fancy began.

      The beginning of Greek history is therefore like a fairy tale; and while much of it cannot, of course, be true, it is the only information we have about the early Greeks. 

-Adapted from The Story of the Greeks by H.A. Guerber (1896)

Based on this passage, what can readers infer about fairy tales?

Possible Answers:

They contain unbelievable events

They are commonly told at bedtime

They are realistic

They are only written in Greek

Correct answer:

They contain unbelievable events

Explanation:

The best answer is "They contain unbelievable events." The author compares the stories of early Greek history to fairy tales, saying that the truth was changed slightly from generation to generation until the real history has changed so much that it is untrue. Thus, we can infer that the events in fairy tales are similarly unbelievable, making the answer choice "They are realistic" incorrect. The other answer choices, "They are commonly told at bedtime" and "They are only written in Greek" have no basis in this passage. 

Example Question #3 : Making Inferences Based On The Passage

      The history of Greece goes back to the time when people did not know how to write, and kept no record of what was happening around them. For a long while the stories told by parents to their children were the only information which could be had about the country and its former inhabitants; and these stories, slightly changed by every new teller, grew more and more extraordinary as time passed. At last they were so changed that no one could tell where the truth ended and fancy began.

      The beginning of Greek history is therefore like a fairy tale; and while much of it cannot, of course, be true, it is the only information we have about the early Greeks. 

-Adapted from The Story of the Greeks by H.A. Guerber (1896)

All of the following is true about the earliest history of Greece EXCEPT ___________________.

Possible Answers:

It was lost in a volcanic explosion

It was passed down through generations

It was not written down

The history was told through stories that changed a little with each telling

Correct answer:

It was lost in a volcanic explosion

Explanation:

The correct answer is "it was lost in a volcanic explosion." This is the correct answer because the passage states all of the other choices as facts about the earliest history of Greece, but there is no mention of a volcanic explosion erasing history. Since the question is asking for the one false statement, the best choice is "it was lost in a volcanic explosion."

Example Question #5 : Making Inferences Based On The Passage

      Pauline looked through the picket fence and scowled.

      "Oh, those poor little rabbits!" she whispered to herself. "I don't believe that boy has fed them this morning. And now he's gone off to play ball. It is a shame!" She glanced under the grape arbor, where some chickweed was growing luxuriantly, and for a minute she hesitated. The next, she was down among the chickweed, pulling it up by the handful.

      She approached the fence again, looked cautiously around, to make sure nobody was in sight, and then thrust the green stuff between the pickets.

      That first time of Pauline's feeding the rabbits was followed by a second and a third, and finally it came to be a common thing for her to peer through the fence to see if they were supplied with food, and if not to carry them a good meal.

Adapted from Dew Drops by Emma C. Dowd (1914)

Based on the passage, what inference can be made about Pauline?

Possible Answers:

She is caring

She is unhelpful

She is greedy

She is smart

Correct answer:

She is caring

Explanation:

The correct answer is "She is caring." From the passage, the reader can infer that Pauline is caring. We can come to this conclusion from her words ("Oh, those poor little rabbits!" she whispered to herself. "I don't believe that boy has fed them this morning. And now he's gone off to play ball. It is a shame!") and her actions (feeding the rabbits). None of the clues in the passage point to her being greedy, unhelpful, or smart.

Example Question #6 : Making Inferences Based On The Passage

An ant, walking by the river one day, said to himself, “How nice and cool this water looks! I must drink some of it.” But as he began to drink, his foot slipped, and he fell in.

“Oh, somebody please help me, or I shall drown!” cried he.

A Dove, sitting in a tree that overhung the river, heard him, and threw him a leaf. “Climb up on that leaf,” said she, “and you will float ashore.”

The Ant climbed up onto the leaf, which the wind blew to the shore, and he stepped upon dry land again.

“Good-by, kind Dove,” said he, as he ran home. “You have saved my life, and I wish I could do something for you.”

“Good-by,” said the Dove; “be careful not to fall in again.”

A few days after this, when the Dove was busy building her nest, the Ant saw a man just raising his gun to shoot her.

He ran quickly, and bit the man’s leg so hard that he cried “Oh! oh!” and dropped his gun.

This startled the Dove, and she flew away. The man picked up his gun, and walked on.

When he was gone, the Dove came back to her nest.

“Thank you, my little friend,” she said. “You have saved my life.”

And the little Ant was overjoyed to think he had been able to do for the Dove what the Dove had so lately done for him. 

Aesop's Fables: A Version for Young Readers by J.H. Stickney (1915)

Which of the following inferences can be made based on the passage?

Possible Answers:

The setting of the story is England

Hunting doves is illegal

Doves are similar in appearance to eagles

The ant cannot swim

Correct answer:

The ant cannot swim

Explanation:

The correct answer is "the ant cannot swim." We can infer this based on the events in the story: the ant tries to drink from the water, but slips and falls in, then calls out, “Oh, somebody please help me, or I shall drown!” If the ant could swim, he wouldn't worry about drowning in the water. None of the other statements have any support from the story, and so the best choice is "the ant cannot swim."

Example Question #7 : Making Inferences Based On The Passage

John Scott and Philip Lannes walked together down a great boulevard of Paris. The young American's heart was filled with grief and anger. The Frenchman felt the same grief, but mingled with it was a fierce, burning passion, so deep and bitter that it took a much stronger word than anger to describe it.

      Both had heard that morning the mutter of cannon on the horizon, and they knew the German conquerors were advancing. They were always advancing. Nothing had stopped them. The metal and masonry of the defenses at Liège had crumbled before their huge guns like china breaking under stone. The giant shells had scooped out the forts at Maubeuge, Maubeuge the untakable, as if they had been mere eggshells, and the mighty Teutonic host came on, almost without a check.

The Forest of the Swords: A Story of Paris and the Marne, by Joseph A. Altshelter (1915)

What can we infer about the setting of the story?

Possible Answers:

The story takes place during a war

The story takes place after the war is over

The story takes place during peacetime

The story takes place during in the future

Correct answer:

The story takes place during a war

Explanation:

The correct answer is "The story takes place during a war." We can infer this based on the details in the passage, including words like "cannons," "German conquerors," "guns," "shells," and "forts." There are no details that this story would take place in the future. There is strong support that the story is taking place during a war, and not after it or during peace time. We know this because of the line "Both had heard that morning the mutter of cannon on the horizon." For those reasons, the best choice is "The story takes place during a war."

Example Question #8 : Making Inferences Based On The Passage

      John Scott and Philip Lannes walked together down a great boulevard of Paris. The young American's heart was filled with grief and anger. The Frenchman felt the same grief, but mingled with it was a fierce, burning passion, so deep and bitter that it took a much stronger word than anger to describe it.

      Both had heard that morning the mutter of cannon on the horizon, and they knew the German conquerors were advancing. They were always advancing. Nothing had stopped them. The metal and masonry of the defenses at Liège had crumbled before their huge guns like china breaking under stone. The giant shells had scooped out the forts at Maubeuge, Maubeuge the untakable, as if they had been mere eggshells, and the mighty Teutonic host came on, almost without a check.

The Forest of the Swords: A Story of Paris and the Marne, by Joseph A. Altshelter (1915)

Based on the passage, we can conclude that the main characters think the Germans are ______________.

Possible Answers:

practical and wise

brilliant and gifted

ineffective and weak

powerful and dangerous

Correct answer:

powerful and dangerous

Explanation:

The best choice is "powerful and dangerous." This is the best choice because of the details found in the second paragraph: the characters state that the Germans "were always advancing" and that "nothing had stopped them." They also mention the defenses "had crumbled before their huge guns like china breaking under stone." These details give support for the idea that they are powerful and dangerous. These details go against the idea that they are "ineffective and weak." There is a strong negative connotation used to describe the Germans, so the responses "practical and wise," and "brilliant and gifted" are not the best choices since those descriptions have a more positive connotation.

Example Question #4 : Making Inferences Based On The Passage

The natives of Australia were always few in number. Australia produced no grain of any sort naturally; neither wheat, oats, barley nor maize. It produced practically no edible fruit, excepting a few berries, and one or two nuts, the outer rind of which was eatable. There were no useful roots such as the potato, the turnip, or the yam, or the taro. The native animals were few and just barely eatable, the kangaroo, and the koala being the principal ones. In birds alone was the country well supplied, and they were more beautiful of plumage than useful as food. Even the fisheries were infrequent, for the coast line is unbroken by any great bays, and there is thus less sea frontage to Australia than to any other of the continents, and the rivers are few in number.

Adapted from Peeps at Many Lands: Australia by Frank Fox (1911)

Which of the following can you infer from this passage?

Possible Answers:

Birds were used for medicinal purposes

Survival was difficult for most native Australians

Australian insects were a main source of nutrition

Native Australians had a great deal of time for leisure

Correct answer:

Survival was difficult for most native Australians

Explanation:

The correct answer is "survival was difficult for most native Australians." We can tell from the details in the passage that there was little food and few resources which would help a population survive. We also know that natives were few in number. From these clues, we are able to infer that survival was difficult. The answer choice suggesting that the natives had a lot of leisure time contradicts the idea that survival was difficult, so it is incorrect. The other answer choices have no support from the passage, and so the best choice is "survival was difficult for most native Australians."

Example Question #5 : Making Inferences Based On The Passage


"What am I going to do without you, Marjorie?" Mary Raymond's blue eyes looked suspiciously misty as she solemnly regarded her chum.

"What am I going to do without you, you mean," corrected Marjorie Dean, with a wistful smile. "Please, please don't let's talk of it. I simply can't bear it."

"One, two—only two more weeks now," sighed Mary. "You'll surely write to me, Marjorie?"

"Of course, silly girl," returned Marjorie, patting her friend's arm affectionately. "I'll write at least once a week."

Adapted from Marjorie Dean: High School Freshman, by Pauline Lester (1917) 

Based on the passage, what inference can be made about Marjorie?

Possible Answers:

She is moving into a house down the street from her friend Mary

None of these

She is moving far away from her friend Mary

She is being transferred into another class

Correct answer:

She is moving far away from her friend Mary

Explanation:

The correct answer is "she is moving far away from her friend Mary." Readers can tell that she is moving far away because of the lines, "You'll surely write to me, Marjorie?" If Marjorie were being transferred to another class or if she were moving down the street from Mary, she would not need to write letters to keep in touch. Therefore, the best choice is "she is moving far away from her friend Mary."

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