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Traps in the TOEFL Inference Question Part 2

Updated: Jan 24, 2019

Just when you think you know how to avoid common traps in the Inference Question, another trap appears and you fall in it selecting the incorrect answer choice. Oh No!

Yes, there are more traps. But don’t be afraid! When you know how to see these traps, you can avoid them!

In an Inference Question, you are making a conclusion based on the information in the text. This conclusion should be 99% probably true. It is the MOST likely conclusion. When you look at the answer choices for this question, eliminate the following traps:

1. An answer choice that is a false causality.

This will add a cause/effect relationship that is not stated in the text.

2. An answer choice that is a false comparison.

This will add a more/less than relationship that is not stated in the text.

3. An answer choice that is a false combination. This will place two (or more) pieces of information from the text together and this new combination results in a false statement.

4. An answer choice that does NOT answer the question.

5. An answer choice that is highly possible. This may be the answer choice that you think could be the answer. However, there may be another choice that is MORE probable. Select the most probable choice. The correct answer choice is closest to the actual text. It might be so close that you will think it is too simple. Sometimes, TOEFL is simple!

Let’s Practice! Read the following text. Notice the different traps in the answer choices.

The woman went to the store to buy snacks for the trip. She saw that there were bananas on sale. She put them in her basket. She also selected two bottles of water, organic granola bars and dark chocolate. She placed all of her selected items on the checkout counter and asked the man behind her if he would save her place in line. He agreed. She ran down the aisle and picked up a jar of mustard. She was glad she remembered. The mustard would go well with what she had previously packed in her car.

What can be inferred about the woman's selection of the bananas?

1. The woman placed the bananas in her basket because she saw that they were on sale.

Trap #1. The text does not indicate a cause/effect relationship. The text says she saw they were on sale. Then, she placed them in her basket. She might have placed them in her basket even if they were not on sale.

2. The woman bought more bananas than dark chocolate.

Trap #2. There is not enough information about the quantities of each food item to determine if she bought more or less than another item.

3. The woman’s selection of the bananas that were on sale made her glad.

Trap #3. There are 2 pieces of information here: bananas that were on sale and the woman’s gladness. However, notice that she was glad she remembered the mustard. This gladness had nothing to do with the bananas.

4. The woman forgot to put mustard in her shopping basket along with her bananas.

Trap #4. This statement is true. However, it does not answer the question. The question asks us to draw a conclusion about her selection of the bananas.

5. The bananas that were on sale were perfectly ripe.

Trap #5. This possible. The bananas were on sale. They probably looked ready to eat. But do we know with 99.9% certainty that they were? Perhaps the bananas were brown. Perhaps they were green. Perhaps they were yellow. Again, just because she selects the bananas that were on sale doesn't make them ripe.

Correct Inference: The selected bananas will be part of the food supply for the woman's road trip.

Now, it's your turn. Eliminate the TOEFL traps in the question below. Select the correct answer choice.

What can be inferred about the man who holds the woman’s place in line?

a. The man agreed to save the woman’s spot because she asked him in a pleasant way.

b. The man is nice.

c. The man was more kind than other customers at the store.

d. The man did not place his items in front of her items at the checkout.


a. Trap #1 We don’t know why the man agrees to hold her spot. Also, the way she asks him is not mentioned.

b. Trap # 5 It’s possible that this man is nice. However, we do not have enough information in the text to infer this conclusion.

c. Trap #2 We don’t know if he was any more kind or less kind than others.

d. Correct Inference!

To see more traps in the Inference Question, click here and review Part 1 on this topic.

For further information on how to master this question, check out the Inference course here.

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