Solving GMAT Reading comprehension inference question

GMAT RC Inference QuestionGMAT RC inference questions are one of the toughest question types. You can’t skim the content and infer. When you see the question framed as: "It can be inferred from the passage that" or “author's which statement do you agree to..” or “What do you mean by the word or phrase” , they are variations of the Inference question type.

Strategies to Solve GMAT Reading Comprehension Inference Question Type

1) Locate

Inference questions are most likely to quote a statement, phrase, or a word used by the author. Locate the paragraph. Once you know the paragraph, it becomes easier for you to dissect the author’s thoughts depending upon how the author has structured the passage.

2) Main Idea

This is a shortcut that many test takers miss. Once you note down the paragraph that the question is referring, create the summary of each paragraph, including the paragraph that is not referred. After understanding the main idea behind each paragraph and the passage in total, it becomes easier for you to infer the author’s point.

3) Underlying Meaning

The phrases and words used by the author cannot be taken on a literal sense. Look for context, primarily through paragraph summary, and understand the underlying meaning behind the statement. Can we go beyond the literal and find an alternative explanation?

4) Avoid Personal Assumption

While we logically group statements under an idea, it should never contradict the main idea of the passage, which we have reached in Step 1. This often happens when we include our personal biases and assumptions about a scenario in order to interpret the author’s statement. Summary of each paragraph prevents us from making such an error.

5) Process of Elimination

If you try to second guess author’s suggestion, you might lose precious time. The trick is to apply the process of elimination where you evaluate each answer choice and find whether the statement contradicts the main idea of the passage or paragraph. Three answer choices would be out of context or irrelevant for the passage, and you can quickly eliminate them. Solving GMAT RC Inference question comes down to evaluating two inference statements.

6) Find Contradicting Statement

Although we successfully eliminated three answer choices, picking the winner involves understanding the context, and subtly understanding what the author meant. Even after going through the summary of each paragraph, if you are stuck, analyze both the statements separately and find contradicting statements in the passage.

For example:

Answer Choice A:
Lack of storage in the Food distribution system is to be blamed for the rise in famine in Africa.

Answer Choice B: The corruption in the Food distribution system is to be blamed for the rise in famine in Africa.

Let us assume that both the statements are shortlisted because the author has covered corruption, and inefficient storage in the passage but the trick here is to look for statements that provide direct causation for the “rise in famine in Africa.”

If the lack of storage is inferred as leading to wastage and not rise in famine, you can eliminate Answer Choice A.

Going back to the passages where the author has mentioned the two factors is the trick behind solving such close GMAT RC inference questions.

The above post is an excerpt from Essential GMAT Reading Comprehension Guide. Download it here

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