English Language Proficiency Test : Inferences

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Example Question #1 : Connotation Of Excerpt

1 Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. 2 Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters…

3 Miss Brooke's plain dressing was due to mixed conditions, in most of which her sister shared. 4 The pride of being ladies had something to do with it: the Brooke connections, though not exactly aristocratic, were unquestionably "good:" if you inquired backward for a generation or two, you would not find any yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers—anything lower than an admiral or a clergyman; and there was even an ancestor discernible as a Puritan gentleman who served under Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, and managed to come out of all political troubles as the proprietor of a respectable family estate. 5 Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster's daughter.

In Sentence 1, what does “thrown into relief” mean?

Possible Answers:

Diminished

Questioned

Concealed

Accentuated

Contradicted

Correct answer:

Accentuated

Explanation:

Sentence 2 elaborates upon the idea introduced in Sentence 1. Miss Brooke’s physical beauty is so great that plain, “bare,” or “poor” clothes only serve to underscore or emphasis it. None of the other words make sense when substituted into the passage.

Passage adapted from George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871)

Example Question #1 : Connotation Of Excerpt

1 Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. 2 Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters…

3 Miss Brooke's plain dressing was due to mixed conditions, in most of which her sister shared. 4 The pride of being ladies had something to do with it: the Brooke connections, though not exactly aristocratic, were unquestionably "good:" if you inquired backward for a generation or two, you would not find any yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers—anything lower than an admiral or a clergyman; and there was even an ancestor discernible as a Puritan gentleman who served under Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, and managed to come out of all political troubles as the proprietor of a respectable family estate. 5 Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster's daughter.

To what does “mixed conditions” (Sentence 3) refer?

Possible Answers:

Extravagant wealth

Religious conviction

Social status

Uncertain parentage

Lack of education

Correct answer:

Social status

Explanation:

The paragraph in which “mixed conditions” appears discusses the Brooke sisters’ social status. It mentions their ancestors, their “respectable family estate” (Sentence 4), and their “birth,” or family’s social position. Thus, the “mixed conditions” denote the women’s good family name but modest income.

Passage adapted from George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871)

Example Question #2 : Connotation Of Excerpt

1 Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. 2 Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters…

3 Miss Brooke's plain dressing was due to mixed conditions, in most of which her sister shared. 4 The pride of being ladies had something to do with it: the Brooke connections, though not exactly aristocratic, were unquestionably "good:" if you inquired backward for a generation or two, you would not find any yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers—anything lower than an admiral or a clergyman; and there was even an ancestor discernible as a Puritan gentleman who served under Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, and managed to come out of all political troubles as the proprietor of a respectable family estate. 5 Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster's daughter.

What is the author indicating with the phrase “yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers” (Sentence 4)?

Possible Answers:

Wealthy misers

Immigrants

Farmers

Colonial patriots

Working-class people

Correct answer:

Working-class people

Explanation:

Sentence 4 goes on to elaborate upon this curious phrase: “yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers — anything lower than an admiral or a clergyman.” Thus we can see that “admiral and clergyman,” both fairly respected positions, is in contrast to “yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers.” The only choice that makes sense in this context is working-class men (“farmers” is too specific).

Passage adapted from George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871)

Example Question #1 : Connotation Of Excerpt

1 Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. 2 Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters…

3 Miss Brooke's plain dressing was due to mixed conditions, in most of which her sister shared. 4 The pride of being ladies had something to do with it: the Brooke connections, though not exactly aristocratic, were unquestionably "good:" if you inquired backward for a generation or two, you would not find any yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers—anything lower than an admiral or a clergyman; and there was even an ancestor discernible as a Puritan gentleman who served under Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, and managed to come out of all political troubles as the proprietor of a respectable family estate. 5 Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster's daughter.

In Sentence 5, to what does “frippery” refer?

Possible Answers:

Trickery

Etiquette

Manual labor

Paganism

Ornate clothing

Correct answer:

Ornate clothing

Explanation:

While Sentences 3 and 4 digress somewhat from the main topic of Sentences 1 and 2 (Miss Brooke’s style of clothing), Sentence 5 returns to the subject. Sentence 5 also notes that middle-class, respectable women such as the Brooke sisters regard this “frippery” as beneath their social position. Thus, it stands to reason that the “frippery” in question is foolishly ornate clothing.

Passage adapted from George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871)

Example Question #2 : Connotation Of Excerpt

1 Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. 2 Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters…

3 Miss Brooke's plain dressing was due to mixed conditions, in most of which her sister shared. 4 The pride of being ladies had something to do with it: the Brooke connections, though not exactly aristocratic, were unquestionably "good:" if you inquired backward for a generation or two, you would not find any yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers—anything lower than an admiral or a clergyman; and there was even an ancestor discernible as a Puritan gentleman who served under Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, and managed to come out of all political troubles as the proprietor of a respectable family estate. 5 Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster's daughter.

In Sentence 4, what does “proprietor” mean?

Possible Answers:

Challenger

Spendthrift

Iconoclast

Owner

Harbinger

Correct answer:

Owner

Explanation:

The surrounding context is useful for this question. The beginning of Sentence 4 establishes that the Brookes’ social class was respectable, and the end of the sentence establishes a similar idea: the family “managed to come out of all political troubles” with a “respectable family estate.” “Owner” is the only choice that makes the idea of the second half of the sentence match the first half. (A harbinger is an omen, a spendthrift is a person who squanders money, and an iconoclast is a rule breaker. None of these choices make sense in context.)

Passage adapted from George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871)

Example Question #1 : Connotation Of Excerpt

1 Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. 2 Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters…

3 Miss Brooke's plain dressing was due to mixed conditions, in most of which her sister shared. 4 The pride of being ladies had something to do with it: the Brooke connections, though not exactly aristocratic, were unquestionably "good:" if you inquired backward for a generation or two, you would not find any yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers—anything lower than an admiral or a clergyman; and there was even an ancestor discernible as a Puritan gentleman who served under Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, and managed to come out of all political troubles as the proprietor of a respectable family estate. 5 Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster's daughter.

In Sentence 4, what action is suggested by the phrase “if you inquired backward for a generation or two”?

Possible Answers:

Discovering damning evidence

Consulting uneducated locals

Conversing with town elders

Conducting genealogical research

None of these

Correct answer:

Conducting genealogical research

Explanation:

“Inquiring backward a generation or two” is a quaint way of suggesting genealogical research. There is nothing in this passage to indicate that the townspeople or elders can provide information about the Brookes’ heritage, nor is there anything to suggest that the evidence uncovered would be damning. The author simply means that, if someone were to consult a genealogical record that extended several generations into the past, they would discover more information about the Brookes’ ancestors.

Passage adapted from George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871)

Example Question #1 : Inferences

1 Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. 2 Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters…

3 Miss Brooke's plain dressing was due to mixed conditions, in most of which her sister shared. 4 The pride of being ladies had something to do with it: the Brooke connections, though not exactly aristocratic, were unquestionably "good:" if you inquired backward for a generation or two, you would not find any yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers—anything lower than an admiral or a clergyman; and there was even an ancestor discernible as a Puritan gentleman who served under Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, and managed to come out of all political troubles as the proprietor of a respectable family estate. 5 Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster's daughter.

Based on the passage, it can be inferred that “Cromwell” was a ______________.

Possible Answers:

religious iconoclast with a devoted following

political figure who remains revered today

religious leader with controversial opinions

secular founder of a school of art

political figure who fell from power

Correct answer:

political figure who fell from power

Explanation:

The reference to Cromwell appears in Sentence 4 and denotes a historical man, Oliver Cromwell, who was a 17th-century leader of England before being overthrown. Although it’s tempting to choose the “religious leader” options because the Brookes’ ancestor is described as “a Puritan gentleman,” read more closely. This same ancestor, after serving under Cromwell and then “conforming” or reversing his opinions back to the political majority, “managed to come out of all political troubles,” not religious troubles.

Passage adapted from George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871)

Example Question #1 : Inferences About The Author

1 Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. 2 Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters…

3 Miss Brooke's plain dressing was due to mixed conditions, in most of which her sister shared. 4 The pride of being ladies had something to do with it: the Brooke connections, though not exactly aristocratic, were unquestionably "good:" if you inquired backward for a generation or two, you would not find any yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers—anything lower than an admiral or a clergyman; and there was even an ancestor discernible as a Puritan gentleman who served under Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, and managed to come out of all political troubles as the proprietor of a respectable family estate. 5 Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster's daughter.

Why does the author mention the “village church hardly larger than a parlor” in Sentence 5?

Possible Answers:

To further characterize the sisters

To point out a discrepancy between the sisters’ actions and appearances

To foreshadow a religious conversion

To compliment the sisters for their religiosity

To increase the readers’ sympathy for the sisters’ plight

Correct answer:

To further characterize the sisters

Explanation:

The author is not primarily concerned with establishing setting in this passage. Rather, she is interested in describing her two main characters. Noting that the sisters live “in a quiet country-house” and attend “attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor” is a way to further develop their social class and habits.

Passage adapted from George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871)

Example Question #1 : Inferences

1 It has afforded the Author great amusement and satisfaction, during the progress of this work, to learn, from country friends and from a variety of ludicrous statements concerning himself in provincial newspapers, that more than one Yorkshire schoolmaster lays claim to being the original of Mr. Squeers. 2 One worthy, he has reason to believe, has actually consulted authorities learned in the law, as to his having good grounds on which to rest an action for libel; another, has meditated a journey to London, for the express purpose of committing an assault and battery on his traducer; a third, perfectly remembers being waited on, last January twelve-month, by two gentlemen, one of whom held him in conversation while the other took his likeness; and, although Mr. Squeers has but one eye, and he has two, and the published sketch does not resemble him (whoever he may be) in any other respect, still he and all his friends and neighbours know at once for whom it is meant, because—the character is so like him.

3 While the Author cannot but feel the full force of the compliment thus conveyed to him, he ventures to suggest that these contentions may arise from the fact, that Mr. Squeers is the representative of a class, and not of an individual. 4 Where imposture, ignorance, and brutal cupidity, are the stock in trade of a small body of men, and one is described by these characteristics, all his fellows will recognise something belonging to themselves, and each will have a misgiving that the portrait is his own.

How does the author view the schoolteachers’ response to his character?

Possible Answers:

Warily

Wryly

Trepidatiously

Indignantly

Elatedly

Correct answer:

Wryly

Explanation:

We can tell that the author’s response is one of humor by lines in Sentence 1 (“It has afforded the Author great amusement and satisfaction…”) and Sentence 3 (“While the Author cannot but feel the full force of the compliment thus conveyed to him…”). The author is being a bit sarcastic by discussing the schoolteachers’ attempted legal action as a “compliment,” so we know the humor is tempered with irony. Hence: wryness.

Passage adapted from Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby (1838).

Example Question #1 : Inferences About The Author

"The period under five years of age is one of very rapid growth. There is probably no other time in the life history of the individual when the body and mind are so responsive to environment and impressions, and when so much can be done to build up good health as during the preschool age." 

-Passage adapted from Healthy Children: A Volume Devoted to the Health of the Growing Child, by Sara Josephine Bake (1920)

What was most likely the author's occupation?

Possible Answers:

Lawyer

Mother

Doctor

Teacher

Correct answer:

Doctor

Explanation:

Although this passage teaches something about children, the most likely occupation (job) of the author is not a teacher or mother. The author speaks in scientific, medial terms that are research-based and is most likely a physician/doctor. 

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