IELTS Reading Making inferences

The most crucial skill required to succeed in the IELTS Reading test is learning to make correct inferences from texts. In general as well as in IELTS Reading making inferences means to figure out meaning from the text with the help of logic and evidences instead of from explicit statements.

How to make inferences in reading?

Take this sentence for example:

Since Leonard had missed breakfast, he readily accepted Janice’s offer of lunch.

From this sentence, we can fairly infer that Leonard was hungry. This is despite the fact that the word “hungry” has not been used at all.

Other inferences that can be made from this sentence are:

Janice asked Leonard to have lunch with her.

Breakfast and lunch are meals.

Although the words in the text may never mention certain things, the reader must figure out the underlying meaning by using common sense as well as intelligence.

Let us take another example:

After the death of her second husband Jacob, Marylyn vowed to finish the novel she was writing.

Decide whether the following inferences are True or False:

Marylyn has married at least two times.

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True. To have a second husband, you have to marry twice.

Marylyn started to write a novel after Jacob died.

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False. “To finish” means the work had started earlier than the incident of Jacob’s death.

Marylyn divorced her first husband.

Marylyn’s first husband is not alive.

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Not Given. These cannot be inferred from the text because the limited information provided about Marylyn and Jacob is insufficient to determine these things. Marylyn could have divorced her first husband before marrying Jacob or she could have married Jacob after the first husband’s death. Also, the first husband could have died after being divorced or may still be alive.

You have to be very careful not to make wrong inferences.

This skill to think logically and make accurate inferences from texts is vital for the IELTS Reading test, particularly in True, False, Not Given and Yes, No, Not Given questions.

Read the text below and decide whether the five sentences are True, False, or Not Given.

excerpt from Watchmen comics
Taken from the first issue of Watchmen comic book, published by DC Comics in 1986.
  1. None of Denise’s novels has ever been published.
  2. Only 42 copies of Denise’s romantic novel are available in the market.
  3. Denise started working in the grocery after failing as a writer.
  4. Denise likes to talk about her novels.
  5. The grocery store where Denise works only sells coffee and beans.
Click to reveal answers »

1. True, 2. False, 3. Not Given, 4. True, 5. Not Given

Next lesson:

IELTS Reading Structure of paragraphs

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