Common Core: 11th Grade English Language Arts : Textual evidence to support claims about implicit and explicit meaning: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.1

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Common Core: 11th Grade English Language Arts

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All Common Core: 11th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Reading: Literature

Passage adapted from Othello by William Shakespeare (1604)

 IAGO: Three great ones of the city,                                                  

In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,

Off-capp'd to him: and, by the faith of man,

I know my price, I am worth no worse a place:

But he; as loving his own pride and purposes,                   5

Evades them, with a bombast circumstance

Horribly stuff'd with epithets of war;

And, in conclusion,

Nonsuits my mediators; for, 'Certes,' says he,

'I have already chose my officer.'                                     10

And what was he?

Forsooth, a great arithmetician,

One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,

A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife;

That never set a squadron in the field,                            15

Nor the division of a battle knows

More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric,

Wherein the toga’d consuls can propose

As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practise,

Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election:            20

And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof

At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other grounds

Christian and heathen, must be be-lee'd and calm'd

By debitor and creditor: this counter-caster,

He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,                        25

And I—God bless the mark!—his Moorship's ancient.

From the language of the passage, which of the following is a reasonable inference to draw about the speaker?

Possible Answers:

He is young, but unduly experience and accomplished for a soldier his age

He is well-educated

He is near retirement

He is older than Michael Cassio

Correct answer:

He is older than Michael Cassio


The key here is to look at the overall tone and language of Iago's speech, as well as the limitations placed on your inferences by the literal content of what he's saying. Iago certainly emphasizes his experience and refers to himself as Othello's "ancient," so the answer choice characterizing him as "young" can be eliminated. About that "ancient," Iago is not literally calling himself ancient, but rather is characterizing him as a part of Othello's past, since he has named Cassio his lieutenant (it's more like he's saying that he's old news, as opposed to an old man). Iago actively uses Cassio's education as a way to denigrate him, so it is not reasonable to infer that Iago himself is highly educated. Ultimately, although he never states it, the most reasonable inference to make here is that Iago is older than Michael Cassio. Iago's emphasis on Cassio's lack of experience and his own long, hard won experience, makes the inference that Iago is older than Cassio a reasonable, if not directly stated, inference.

Example Question #2 : Reading: Literature

Passage adapted from "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street" by Herman Melville (1853)

I am a rather elderly man. The nature of my avocations for the last thirty years has brought me into more than ordinary contact with what would seem an interesting and somewhat singular set of men, of whom as yet nothing that I know of has ever been written—I mean the law-copyists or scriveners. I have known very many of them, professionally and privately, and if I pleased, could relate divers histories, at which good-natured gentlemen might smile, and sentimental souls might weep. But I waive the biographies of all other scriveners for a few passages in the life of Bartleby, who was a scrivener of the strangest I ever saw or heard of. While of other law-copyists I might write the complete life, of Bartleby nothing of that sort can be done. I believe that no materials exist for a full and satisfactory biography of this man. It is an irreparable loss to literature. Bartleby was one of those beings of whom nothing is ascertainable, except from the original sources, and in his case those are very small. What my own astonished eyes saw of Bartleby, that is all I know of him, except, indeed, one vague report which will appear in the sequel.

Ere introducing the scrivener, as he first appeared to me, it is fit I make some mention of myself, my employees, my business, my chambers, and general surroundings; because some such description is indispensable to an adequate understanding of the chief character about to be presented. 

Imprimis: I am a man who, from his youth upwards, has been filled with a profound conviction that the easiest way of life is the best. Hence, though I belong to a profession proverbially energetic and nervous, even to turbulence, at times, yet nothing of that sort have I ever suffered to invade my peace. I am one of those unambitious lawyers who never addresses a jury, or in any way draws down public applause; but in the cool tranquility of a snug retreat, do a snug business among rich men's bonds and mortgages and title-deeds. All who know me, consider me an eminently safe man. The late John Jacob Astor, a personage little given to poetic enthusiasm, had no hesitation in pronouncing my first grand point to be prudence; my next, method. I do not speak it in vanity, but simply record the fact, that I was not unemployed in my profession by the late John Jacob Astor; a name which, I admit, I love to repeat, for it hath a rounded and orbicular sound to it, and rings like unto bullion. I will freely add, that I was not insensible to the late John Jacob Astor's good opinion.

From the content of the passage, the reader can infer that Bartleby is ______________.

Possible Answers:

a young man

a doctor

None of the other answers can be inferred from the content of the passage

an accountant

Correct answer:

None of the other answers can be inferred from the content of the passage


The passage provides no additional information about Bartleby, except that he was an odd scrivener who we know little about beyond what the narrator implies. The passage deliberately keeps information about Bartleby scant, and spends a good deal of time discussing his work as a scrivener, which is defined within the passage as a "law copyist," a clerical position. It is extremely unlikely that Bartleby would have a clerical job, and on the side be working in any of the other professions referenced. While the text does not specifically preclude Bartleby's youth, it also does not make any direct reference to his age. In order to choose an answer to this question one must be able to find specific content in the text that could be directly tied to the inference.

All Common Core: 11th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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