Inferences

There is a variant on the command of evidence question, and the only time you can ignore the “no assumptions” rule on the Reading section. On the new digital SAT, you can recognize inference questions by questions like:

  • Which finding from the study, if true, would most directly support this argument?
  • Which finding, if true, would most directly support the student’s claim?
  • Which finding, if true, would most directly support the researchers’ hypothesis?

Notice how all three questions have the qualifying phrase “if true” in them. This tells us we will need to read the passage carefully and then use the information to make our own inference about supporting data.

These questions test your ability to interpret evidence presented in a passage and identify how it supports a claim or argument. The evidence could be in the form of data, findings, examples, or other details.

Strategy:

  1. Read Carefully: Understand the main claim or argument presented in the passage.
  2. Identify Key Evidence: Look for specific information, data, or examples in the passage that directly relate to the main claim.
  3. Analyze the Choices: Each option may seem relevant, but the correct one will most directly support or demonstrate the claim.
  4. Eliminate Irrelevant or Weak Options: Some options, while related to the topic, may not directly support the claim or may be less specific in doing so.
  5. Look for Direct Connections: The correct choice will have a clear and direct link to the claim or argument, often explicitly stated in the passage.

Step number 5 is most important! While there may be answers that may seem like they could sort of fit, look for the answer with the most direct connection to what is being asked. The answer will almost be there in the text. There are some common things to look for in that section.

Lets look at an example:

In a study focusing on the impact of urban green spaces on residents’ mental health, researchers observed a significant decrease in stress and anxiety among individuals with regular access to parks and community gardens. The study argues that these green spaces serve as vital resources for mental well-being in urban settings.

Which finding from the study, if true, would most directly support this argument?

A) Residents living near green spaces reported higher levels of physical activity than those without access to such spaces.
B) The study found a direct correlation between time spent in green spaces and reduced levels of reported stress and anxiety.
C) Urban green spaces have been shown to increase property values in surrounding areas.
D) Green spaces often serve as community hubs, fostering social interactions among residents.

Let’s use our 5-step strategy to approach answering this problem.

  1. Read Carefully: The main argument in the study is that urban green spaces significantly reduce stress and anxiety, thus benefiting mental health.
  2. Identify Key Evidence: The question asks for the finding that best supports this argument about mental health benefits.
  3. Analyze the Choices: Evaluate each option to see how it directly relates to reducing stress and anxiety due to access to green spaces.
  4. Eliminate Irrelevant or Weak Options: A), C), and D) are related to green spaces but do not specifically address mental health improvements. They discuss physical activity, property value, and social interaction, respectively.
  5. Look for Direct Connections: B) explicitly states that there’s a direct correlation between time spent in green spaces and reduced stress and anxiety. This directly supports the study’s argument about mental health benefits and is the most relevant and specific piece of evidence in relation to the claim.

B is the correct answer. Again, the key to answering these questions is finding the direct connection between the argument in the passage and the evidence in an answer choice. In this case, the evidence in the passage was in the last sentence: “…these green spaces serve as vital resources for mental well-being in urban settings.” From here, we just needed to find an answer choice that directly provided evidence to increased mental well-being from green spaces, which we found in answer B.

Traps

The inference/implication answer choices

As usual, the test makers try and mislead you with some correct-sounding answers. However, you can spot when they are wrong because the answers are:
– Too specific,
– Use outside knowledge that is not in the passage
– Take the inference too far, or
– Switch the time or causation of the inference

Using process of elimination is very important on these types of questions – you should generally have 3 answers marked off as not correct.