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Passage & Paragraph Inference Tricks & Tips 1

Passage & Paragraph Inference Tricks & Tips


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We all have to take those standardized tests where you’re presented with a large passage of text and must work your way through the multiple-choice problems that follow. Most of the time, you’ll get questions asking you to find the main idea, determine the author’s purpose, understand vocabulary in context, figure out the author’s tone, and, the topic at hand, make inferences. For many people, understanding how to make an inference is the toughest part of the reading passage, because an inference in real life requires a bit of guessing.

On a multiple-choice test, however, making an inference comes down to honing a few reading skills like these listed below. Read them, then practice your new skills with the inference practice problems listed below.

What exactly is an inference?

STEP 1: IDENTIFY AN INFERENCE QUESTION

First, you’ll need to determine whether or not you’re actually being asked to make an inference on a reading test. The most obvious questions will have the words “suggest,” “imply” or “infer” right in the tag like these:

  • “According to the passage, we can reasonably infer…”
  • “Based on the passage, it could be suggested that…”
  • “Which of the following statements is best supported by the passage?”
  • “The passage suggests that this primary problem…”
  • “The author seems to imply that…”

Some questions, however, will not come right out and ask you to infer. You’ll have to actually infer that you need to make an inference about the passage.

Sneaky, huh? Here are a few that require inferencing skills, but don’t use those words exactly.

  • “With which of the following statements would the author most likely agree?”
  • “Which of the following sentences would the author most likely use to add additional support to paragraph three?”

STEP 2: TRUST THE PASSAGE

Now that you’re certain you have an inference question on your hands, and you know exactly what an inference is, you’ll need to let go of your prejudices and prior knowledge and use the passage to prove that the inference you select is the correct one.

Inferences on a multiple-choice exam are different from those in real life. Out in the real world, if you make an educated guess, your inference could still be incorrect. But on a multiple-choice exam, your inference will be correct because you’ll use the details in the passage to prove it. You have to trust that the passage offers you the truth in the setting of the test, and that one of the answer choices provided is correct without stepping too far outside the realm of the passage.

STEP 3: HUNT FOR CLUES

Your third step is to start hunting for clues – supporting details, vocabulary, character’s actions, descriptions, dialogue, and more – to prove one of the inferences listed below the question. Take this question and text, for example:

Reading Passage:

The widow Elsa was as complete a contrast to her third bridegroom, in everything but age, as can be conceived. Compelled to relinquish her first marriage after her husband died in the war, she married a man twice her years to whom she became an exemplary wife despite their having nothing in common, and by whose death she was left in possession of a splendid fortune, though she gave it away to the church. Next, a southern gentleman, considerably younger than herself, succeeded to her hand, and carried her to Charleston, where, after many uncomfortable years, she found herself again a widow. It would have been remarkable if any feeling had survived through such a life as Elsa’s; it could not but be crushed and killed by the early disappointment of her first groom’s demise, the icy duty of her second marriage, and the unkindness of her third husband, which had inevitably driven her to connect the idea of his death with that of her comfort.

Based on the information in the passage, it could be suggested that the narrator believes Elsa’s prior marriages to be:

A. uncomfortable, but well-suited to Elsa
B. satisfactory and dull to Elsa
C. cold and damaging to Elsa
D. awful, but worth it to Elsa

To find clues that point to the correct answer, look for descriptions that would support those first adjectives in the answer choices. Here are some of the descriptions of her marriages in the passage:

  • “…she became an exemplary wife despite their having nothing in common…”
  • “…after many uncomfortable years, she found herself again a widow.”
  • “…the icy duty of her second marriage and the unkindness of her third husband which had inevitably driven her to connect the idea of his death with that of her comfort.”

STEP 4: NARROW DOWN THE CHOICES

The last step to making a correct inference on a multiple-choice test is to narrow down the answer choices.

Using the clues from the passage, we can infer that nothing much was “satisfactory” to Elsa about her marriages, which gets rid of Choice B.

Choice A is also incorrect, because although the marriages certainly seem uncomfortable based on the clues, they were not well-suited to her as she had nothing in common with her second husband and wanted her third husband to die.

Choice D is also incorrect, because nothing is stated or implied in the passage to prove that Elsa believed her marriages to be worth it in some way; in fact, we can infer that it wasn’t worth it to her at all because she gave away the money from her second husband.

So, we have to believe that Choice C is the best – the marriages were cold and damaging. The passage states explicitly that her marriage was an “icy duty” and her third husband was “unkind.” We also know that they were damaging because her feelings had been “crushed and killed” by her marriages.

STEP 5: PRACTICE

 

To get really good at making inferences, you’ll need to practice making your own inferences .

 

The Exams requires a very specific type of inference, not like the ones we typically make in our day to day. Instead of making bold claims about observed phenomenon, mingling aggregated experience with intuition, on the Exams, inferences must be based solely on the text. Let me show you what I mean. First an excerpt from Wikipedia:

The law school of Beirut (also known as the law school of Berytus and the school of Roman law at Berytus) was a center for the study of Roman law in classical antiquity located in Beirut (LatinBerytus). It flourished under the patronage of the Roman emperors and functioned as the Roman Empire‘s preeminent center of jurisprudence until its destruction in 551.

The law schools of the Roman Empire established organized repositories of imperial constitutions and institutionalized the study and practice of jurisprudence to relieve the busy imperial courts. The archiving of imperial constitutions facilitated the task of jurists in referring to legal precedents.

Below are two inferences. But one is based solely on what the passages says. The other is based on the text and your knowledge of the world. Which of these statements is an inference acceptable on the Exams?

  1. The formation of the law school of Beirut as a repository for imperial constitutions and as a place for the study of jurisprudence allowed Roman jurists to expedite cases in the imperial courts.
  2. With the destruction of the law school of Beirut and the loss of imperial constitutions and institutionalized jurisprudence, the Roman Empire experienced a slight decline in the administration of law and justice.

Statement A has support in the passage. We are told in the Wikipedia article that the law school “relieved the busy imperial courts.” Statement A does not say anything that is too far removed from this idea. Statement B, however, moves too far away from the passage. It’s logical and reasonable that the destruction of the law school would hamper the administration of justice, but nothing in the passage says this or even hints at it. So we always want to choose an inference that stays close to what is stated in the passage.

How to Identify an Inference Question

One crucial part of your studies is learning how to identify question types. Without knowing what you are asked to do, you can’t be successful. Usually the question stem will have a word or phrase that will signal it’s an inference question, like “infer,” “imply,” or “suggests.” Expect question stems like these:

  • “This passage most likely appeared as part of . . .”
  • “The author would probably agree (or disagree) with which of the following statements?”
  • “This article most likely appeared in . . .”
  • “The author implies that the best control for unlicensed handguns would be . . .”
  • “Which of the following might the author cite as an example of free trade as it is described in the passage?”
  • “Given the author’s position on the fluoridation of the public water supply what stand would the author probably take on the issue of mandatory immunizations?”

Strategy for Inference Questions

Part of your preparation should involve learning and internalizing a strategy for each question type. By test day, these steps should be habitual and done without thought.

1. Attack the Passage

Dive in and read the passage all the way through. Stay out of the details of the passage and focus on the main ideas. Focus on understanding the connection among the paragraphs, especially their connection to the main idea of the passage. Finally, determine the author’s purpose in writing, and the author’s opinion about the topic.

2. Rephrase Question

Read the question and put it into your own words. Rephrasing the question will force you to understand what it is asking. Make note of line numbers, concepts from specific parts of the passage, and any words like “except” or “not.” These clues will be crucial to answering the question correctly.

3. Evaluate Answer Choice based on the Passage

Read through each answer choice and decide whether the passage supports the statement. Usually, the support for the correct answer will be separated—not in one sentence, but based on the information in two or three sentences.

4. Eliminate Wrong Answers

Why fret over a right answer when there are so many wrong answers in front of you. Usually in my first pass through the answer choices, I aim to eliminate three blatantly wrong answer choices. This always makes it easier to find the right answer at the end.

These steps are similar to most of the Reading Comprehension questions, except that we are not anticipating an answer choice. Since there are many inferences that you can make on a single passage, it is often hard to predict the inference in the answer choices. So, it’s best to move to evaluating the answer choices instead of anticipating an inference.

Common Wrong Answers in Inference Questions

Standardized tests are great! They allow us to prepare for what will be on the test. As part of this process, ETS also standardized the wrong answers! That means we can be prepared to eliminate answer choices even before reading the question!

Detail from the passage

For the tired and lazy, the inattentive and unfocused, ETS will always give a detail from the passage as an answer choice. If a test taker is not aware that they are answering an inference question, they easily fall into this trap because they found something directly stated in the passage. Remember, an inference is something that is not explicitly stated in the passage. So it’s always important to identify the question type to avoid this wrong answer.

Distorting the passage

I sometimes think of these trap answers as half right and all wrong because ETS takes information contained in the passage and twists and distorts it enough to make the answer wrong. Usually this involves twisting the connection of ideas in the passage or misattributing an idea to the wrong person. Students get stuck with these because they see the part that is correct and then come up with reasons or situations in which the answer might be true. Anytime you find yourself trying hard to justify an answer choice, it is most likely going to be wrong.

Extreme Language

“Always,” “any,” “all,” “never,” “none,”—these words should set off an alarm in your head. The Exams passages are complex and subtle, not extreme and one-sided. The passages are well-reasoned and contain qualifying statements. As such, a passage will rarely support extreme, broad over-generalizations that contain these words.

Unrelated, Unsupported, or New

ETS loves a little sleight of hand. They try to slip in a new concept into the answer choice, something related but unsupported by the passage. The most obvious example is when they mention actual values when the passage only mentions ratios or percentages.  Do not be fooled! Be on the lookout for concepts not addressed in the passage.

 

Drawing Inferences


An inference…is a statement about the unknown made on the basis of the known.
S. I. Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Action (2nd ed.) p. 41

Inferences are evidence-based guesses. They are the conclusions a reader draws about the unsaid based on what is actually said. Inferences drawn while reading are much like inferences drawn in everyday life. If your best friend comes in from a blind date and looks utterly miserable, you would probably infer the date was not a success. Drawing inferences while you read requires exactly the same willingness to look at the evidence and come to a conclusion that has not been expressed in words. Only in reading, the evidence for your inference consists solely of words rather than actual events, expressions, or gestures.

To pull meaning from the page, readers need to draw all kinds of inferences. They need to infer main ideas; figure out how sentences and paragraphs relate; connect supporting details to main ideas; match pronouns to antecedents (the words to which pronouns refer); understand the function of allusions (references to people and events that are used to make a point); and determine how visual aids contribute to the author’s message (This is just a partial list). While it’s commonly assumed that writers supply every word readers need to construct meaning, nothing could be further from the truth. Readers almost always help create the texts they read. Those readers who don’t draw inferences to fill in gaps in the text are likely to miss or misunderstand the meaning intended by the author.

For an illustration of how important inferences are to communication between reader and writer, read the following sentence: “After reading that Paris Hilton told an interviewer how the beauty of her hit song ‘Stars Are Blind’ made her want to cry, I couldn’t help thinking of a quotation from Mark Twain: ‘Man is the only animal that blushes—or needs to.’ ” To understand that sentence, readers need to draw at least three essential inferences:

a. The author thinks the song is just awful.
b. Mark Twain thought that only humans blushed because they were the only ones who did things they needed to be ashamed of.
c. The author makes a connection between Hilton and Twain because she thinks Paris Hilton is one of those humans who should blush from shame.

Note as well how the author expects readers to infer that the antecedent for the pronoun “her” is Paris Hilton. Linking pronouns to antecedents is one of the most common kinds of inferences readers are expected to draw on a consistent basis.

What You Need to Know About Inferences:

1. There are logical and illogical inferences, inferences that “fit” the rest of the text and inferences that don’t. Make sure your inference has the right fit by relying on the author’s words more than on your own feelings and opinions. To give you an obvious example: If the writer uses glowing language to describe the presidency of Bill Clinton but never states an opinion of the Clinton years in office, you probably shouldn’t infer that the writer is a Clinton critic just because you yourself thought Bill Clinton was a terrible president.
2. Think of inferring implied main ideas as a two-step process, moving from part to whole. Your first step is to understand what each sentence contributes to your knowledge of the topic. Next ask yourself what the sentences combine as group to suggest. The answer to that question is the implied main idea of the paragraph.
3. If you draw an inference about the main idea, check to see if the your inference is contradicted by any statements in the paragraph. If it is, you have probably drawn an illogical inference, one that does not follow from the information given. With particularly difficult readings, see if you can actually identify the language or statements that led you to the main idea you inferred. This kind of close reading is a great inference check. It also gives you practice doing the kind of thoughtful reading that guarantees remembering.
4. Transitions such as “consequently,” “next,” and “in summary” definitely help readers make connections between sentences and paragraphs. Transitions are the considerate author’s way of saying, “This is the connection you need to make between what you just read and what’s coming up.” However, transitions are not as commonly used as readers might like. It’s often the reader’s job to supply sentence and paragraph connections. In other words, it’s the reader’s job to draw the right inference. If a sentence doesn’t open with a transition—and a good many won’t—make sure you know how the sentence you are reading connects to the ideas that came before.
5. Pay especially close attention to sentence openers. That’s where you will often get the clues you need to infer relationships between sentences and paragraphs.
6. Be on the look-out for key allusions or idioms (expressions that might seem completely out of place to those just learning the language, but which make sense to those who grew up hearing or reading these expressions), e.g., she loved her job; the money was “icing on the cake”). Allusions and idioms often suggest meanings that are central to the author’s message. For instance, if the writer says that “the shotgun marriage between the unions and management dissolved once the war was over” you can infer that the unions and management were working together because they were forced to by necessity. However, the writer doesn’t say anything about either side being forced by necessity. Instead, she uses an idiom and expects reader to draw the correct inference.
7. If the text includes visual aids, but neither the title nor caption tells you exactly how they relate to the author’s meaning, take the time to figure out the relationship between text and graphic. Inferring relationships between the author’s words and the visual aids will deepen your overall understanding of the point or points being made. You will also have two ways, one verbal, one visual, to anchor information in long-term memory.

To get you started thinking about inferences, here are a few warm-up exercises. If you sail through these, you can find more at Online Practice for Reading for Results.

Exercise 1

Directions: Each item in this exercise describes a famous person. It’s your job to infer the name of the person described.


1. A small-town lawyer from Illinois, tall and lanky with an Adam’s apple that could have gone down in the Guinness Book of Records had it existed in the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, he changed the face of American history, steering it through a civil war that left both sides bloody. Who knows what more he could have done had an assassin’s bullet not cut him down.

The person described is _______________________________

In drawing the correct inference, which piece of information is more useful:

a. He had a big Adam’s apple.
b. He steered the nation through a civil war.

Explain your answer:


2. Glittering and shaking to the strains of “Proud Mary,” this lady ruled the stage in the sixties, but Ike ruled the roost until she walked out the door. It took her almost a decade to get back on top but she still remains one of pop’s great divas. Closing in on sixty, she can still belt out rock and roll with singers half her age, and “Simply the Best” just may qualify as her own personal theme song.

The person described is _____________________________

In drawing the appropriate inference, which piece of information is more useful.

a. She ruled the stage but Ike ruled the roost.
b. She was a popular singer in the sixties.

Exercise 2

Directions: For each situation, draw what you think is an appropriate inference.


1. You have just gotten a pit bull puppy from an animal shelter. He’s lovable but nervous. If you raise your voice for any reason, he cowers and trembles. If you scold him, he hides. When you got him from the shelter, he had a slight limp and a deep scratch across his nose.

Inference:


2. You are a high school student sitting in class when a substitute teacher walks in and announces that your regular teacher is ill. Everyone in the class including you erupts in applause. The substitute raps his knuckles on the desk for order, but the students ignore him and talk louder.

Inference:


Exercise 3

Directions: Each item in this exercise introduces a topic. Six specific statements about the topic follow. Read them carefully. Then choose the more appropriate inference.


1. Topic: Shakespeare in nineteenth-century America

Specific Statements:

a. In the early nineteenth century, Shakespeare was the most widely performed playwright in both the North and Southeast.

b. In the first half of the nineteenth century, English and American actors could always earn money by performing Shakespeare in towns both big and small.

c. American audiences were famous for their participation in performances of Shakespeare’s plays: They hurled eggs and tomatoes at the villains and cheered and whistled for the heroes.

d. By the end of the nineteenth century, theater owners claimed that most ordinary people couldn’t understand Shakespeare, and they were refusing to stage his plays.

e. In the early 1800s, theater goers in big cities could often choose between three different productions of Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet; by the end of the nineteenth century, it was hard to find one production of a Shakespeare play, let alone several.

Inference

a. Early American audiences embraced Shakespeare’s plays enthusiastically because they wanted to prove that they were as clever and sophisticated as their former British rulers.

b. The role of Shakespeare in America changed dramatically as the nineteenth century drew to a close.


2. Topic: The medics in World War II

Specific Statements:

a. During training for combat, the medics were often despised because most of them had refused to take up arms.

b. The medics had their own barracks and were separated from combat soldiers, who referred to them as “pill pushers” and laughed at their medical drills.

c. In actual combat, it was often the medics who meant the difference between life and death for soldiers wounded in battle; they were the ones who braved gunfire to carry wounded soldiers to the hospital.

d. In many divisions, soldiers who had lived through combat took up collections in order to provide bonuses for the medics.

e. Interviewing veterans of World War II, author Stephen Ambrose consistently heard from men who believed they owed their lives to some member of the medical core.

Inference

a. The combat experience profoundly changed the way soldiers felt about the medical core.

b. Despite their bravery in the battles of World War II, medics never really received the respect that was due them.

Exercise 4

Directions: Read each paragraph. Then choose the inference that could effectively sum up the main idea.


1. When World War II broke out in Europe in 1939, the United States was the only major power without a propaganda agency. More important, despite prodding from England and France, the U.S. had no plans to create one. During World War I, a government-based group known as the Committee for Public Information had successfully stirred up public feeling against German-Americans because America was at war with Germany. As a result, many innocent German-American citizens had been insulted, beaten, even lynched. In addition, a good portion of the American public still believed that the United States had been tricked into entering World War I because of British propaganda. Distrustful of propaganda in general, there was little widespread support for a government agency dispensing it when the second world war broke out.

Inference

a. Because of what had happened during World War I, the American public was suspicious of propaganda and not inclined to support its use when World War II first erupted.

b. Aware of how the German government was using propaganda to spread hate and violence, the American public was reluctant to make use of it at the beginning of World War II.


2. At his death in 1971, trumpeter Louis Armstrong was much loved as a celebrity. Yet as a musician, he no longer commanded wide respect among the general public. To most people, he was the man with the toothy smile who made occasional appearances in television and movies usually singing what had become his signature songs “Hello, Dolly” and “It’s a Wonderful World.” Jazz enthusiasts, however, had another take on the passing of Louis Armstrong. To them he was the New Orleans-born musician who had, along with Bix Beiderbecke, introduced the solo to jazz. With records like “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue,” “I’m not Rough,” and “Potato Head Blues,” Louis became the first great jazz influence. As music critic Terry Teachout has written, Louis Armstrong was “the player other players copied.” Still, at his death, few really knew what Louis had accomplished. In his honor, radio and television broadcasts played “Hello Dolly,” not “West-End Blues,” his 1928 recording that starts off with what may be the most famous horn solo in jazz.

Inference

a. A hero to much of the jazz community, Louis Armstrong was forgotten by the general public at the time he died.

b. At his death, Louis Armstrong was a beloved celebrity whose spectacular achievements had been forgotten by all but devoted jazz fans.

Exercise 5

Directions: Read each paragraph. Then draw an inference that sums up the main idea.


1. In the movies, England’s King Richard the First—he of the lion heart and Robin Hood fame—is a hero of spotless reputation. In Hollywood’s many versions of the Robin Hood story, for example, Robin worships good King Richard and would willingly die for him. History, however, offers a different slant on Richard’s supposed goodness. In 1189, the Pope called for yet another crusade to take back the holy land of Jerusalem from Moslem rule. Intent on following the Pope’s order, Richard combined forces with King Philip the II of France. Together, they managed to take the town of Acre, a port on what is now Israel’s Northwestern coast. Attempting to blackmail the Moslem ruler Saladin into giving up sacred lands, Richard took 2,500 civilians hostage, many of them women and children. When Saladin refused, Richard promptly slaughtered every last one of his hostages.

Inference:


2. When Bonnie Parker met Clyde Barrow, she was twenty years old. Although she had been a rebellious child and teenager, she had never broken a law in her life. The worst thing she had done in her mother’s opinion was run off and get married to a shiftless womanizer who humiliated and neglected her. When Clyde came along, Bonnie was ripe for the attentions of a man who seemed to think she was both important and attractive. As long as he didn’t desert her, Bonnie didn’t much care about Clyde’s two-year jail sentence. In jail at least, she knew where he was, and she could write him daily letters about how much she loved him. Bonnie, however, got nervous when she heard that Clyde was planning a jailbreak. To bind him more tightly to her, she smuggled him a gun and helped him escape. After he got caught and sent back to prison, Bonnie was even more determined to wait for the man she called her “one true love.” Upon his release from jail, Bonnie took Clyde home to meet her folks and announced she was going to Houston, Texas to get a new job. The next time her mother heard from her, Bonnie Parker was sitting in jail and had formally started her career as one half of the most famous bandit duo in history.

Inference:

Inference Exercises: Answer Key

Exercise 1

1. Abraham Lincoln
Clue: He steered the country through civil war.
Explanation: Lots of people have big Adam’s apples, but America has had only one civil war.
2. Tina Turner
Clue: She ruled the stage but Ike ruled the roost.
Explanation: There were many popular women singers in the sixties but only one was linked to a domineering husband named Ike.

Exercise 2

Answers may vary.

1. Inference: The puppy may well have been abused by its former owners.

2. Inference: The students are going to take advantage of the substitute teacher.

Exercise 3

1. b; 2. a

Exercise 4

1. a; 2. b

Exercise 5

Answers will vary.

1. Richard the Lionhearted was not so pure of heart as some movies suggest.

2. Her romantic attachment to Clyde Barrow led Bonnie Parker into a life of crime.

 

Practice Set On Passage & Paragraph Inference


On Being Found Guilty of Treason

Robert Emmet

Born in 1778, died in 1803; became a leader of the United Irishmen, and in 1803 led an unsuccessful rising in Dublin; escaping to the mountains he returned to Dublin to take leave of his fiancée, Sarah Curran, daughter of an orator, and was captured and hanged.

MY LORDS:—What have I to say why sentence of death should not be pronounced on me according to law? I have nothing to say that can alter your predetermination, nor that it will become me to say with any view to the mitigation of that sentence which you are here to pronounce, and I must abide by. But I have that to say which interests me more than life, and which you have labored (as was necessarily), your office in the present circumstances of this oppressed country) to destroy. I have much to say why my reputation should be rescued from the load of false accusation and calumny which has been heaped upon it. I do not imagine that, seated where you are, your minds can be so free from impurity as to receive the least impression from what I am going to utter—I have no hopes that I can anchor my character in the breast of a court constituted and trammeled as this is—I only wish, and it is the utmost I expect, that your lordships may suffer it to float down your memories untainted by the foul breath of prejudice, until it finds some more hospitable harbor to shelter it from the storm by which it is at present buffeted.   1
  Was I only to suffer death after being adjudged guilty by your tribunal, I should bow in silence, and meet the fate that awaits me without a murmur; but the sentence of law which delivers my body to the executioner, will, through the ministry of that law, labor in its own vindication to consign my character to obloquy—for there must be guilt somewhere: whether in the sentence of the court or in the catastrophe, posterity must determine. A man in my situation, my lords, has not only to encounter the difficulties of fortune, and the force of power over minds which it has corrupted or subjugated, but the difficulties of established prejudice: the dies, but his memory lives. That mine may not perish, that it may live in the respect of my countrymen, I seize upon this opportunity to vindicate myself from some of the charges alleged against me. When my spirit shall be wafted to a more friendly port; when my shade shall have joined the bands of those martyred heroes who have shed their blood on the scaffold and in the field, in defense of their country and of virtue, this is my hope: I wish that my memory and name may animate those who survive me, while I look down with complacency on the destruction of that perfidious government which upholds its domination by blasphemy of the Most High—which displays its power over man as over the beasts of the forest—which sets man upon his brother, and lifts his hand in the name of God against the throat of his fellow who believes or doubts a little more or a little less than the government standard—a government which is steeled to barbarity by the cries of the orphans and the tears of the widows which it has made.   2
  I appeal to the immaculate God—I swear by the throne of Heaven, before which I must shortly appear—by the blood of the murdered patriots who have gone before me—that my conduct has been through all this peril and all my purposes, governed only by the convictions which I have uttered, and by no other view, than that. of their cure, and the emancipation of my country from the super inhuman oppression under which she has so long and too patiently travailed; and that I confidently and assuredly hope that, wild and chimerical as it may appear, there is still union and strength in Ireland to accomplish this noble enterprise. Of this I speak with the confidence of intimate knowledge, and with the consolation that appertains to that confidence. Think not, my lords, I say this for the petty gratification of giving you a transitory uneasiness; a man who never yet raised his voice to assert a lie, will not hazard his character with posterity by asserting a falsehood on a subject so important to his country, and on an occasion like this. Yes, my lords, a man who does not wish to have his epitaph written until his country is liberated, will not leave a weapon in the power of envy; nor a pretense to impeach the probity which he means to preserve even in the grave to which tyranny consigns him.   3
  Again I say, that what I have spoken, was not intended for your lordship, whose situation I commiserate rather than envy—my expressions were for my countrymen; if there is a true Irishman present, let my last words cheer him in the hour of his affliction.   4
  I have always understood it to be the duty of a judge when a prisoner has been convicted, to pronounce the sentence of the law; I have also understood that judges sometimes think it their duty to hear with patience, and to speak with humanity; to exhort the victim of the laws, and to offer with tender benignity his opinions of the motives by which he was actuated in the crime, of which he had been adjudged guilty: that a judge has thought it his duty so to have done, I have no doubt—but where is the boasted freedom of your institutions, where is the vaunted impartiality, clemency, and mildness of your courts of justice, if an unfortunate prisoner, whom your policy, and not pure justice, is about to deliver into the hands of the executioner, is not suffered to explain his motives sincerely and truly, and to vindicate the principles by which he was actuated?   5
  My lords, it may be a part of the system of angry justice, to bow a man’s mind by humiliation to the purposed ignominy of the scaffold; but worse to me than the purposed shame, or the scaffold’s terrors, would be the shame of such unfounded imputations as have been laid against me in this court: you, my lord [Lord Norbury], are a judge, I am the supposed culprit; I am a man, you are a man also; by a revolution of power, we might change places, tho we never could change characters; if I stand at the bar of this court, and dare not vindicate my character, what a farce is your justice? If I stand at this bar and dare not vindicate my character, how dare you calumniate it? Does the sentence of death which your unhallowed policy inflicts on my body, also condemn my tongue to silence and my reputation to reproach? Your executioner may abridge the period of my existence, but while I exist I shall not forbear to vindicate my character and motives from your aspersions; and as a man to whom fame is dearer than life, I will make the last use of that life in doing justice to that reputation which is to live after me, and which is the only legacy I can leave to those I honor and love, and for whom I am proud to perish. As men, my lord, we must appear at the great day at one common tribunal, and it will then remain for the searcher of all hearts to show a collective universe who was engaged in the most virtuous actions, or actuated by the purest motives—my country’s oppressors or I?   6
  I am charged with being an emissary of France! An emissary of France! And for what end? It is alleged that I wished to sell the independence of my country! And for what end? Was this the object of my ambition? And is this the mode by which a tribunal of justice reconciles contradictions? No, I am no emissary; and my ambition was to hold a place among the deliverers of my country—not in power, nor in profit, but in the glory of the achievement! Sell my country’s independence to France! And for what? Was it for a change of masters? No! But for ambition! O my country, was it personal ambition that could influence me? Had it been the soul of my actions, could I not by my education and fortune, by the rank and consideration of my family, have placed myself among the proudest of my oppressors? My country was my idol; to it I sacrificed every selfish, every endearing sentiment; and for it, I now offer up my life. O God! No, my lord; I acted as an Irishman, determined on delivering my country from the yoke of a foreign and unrelenting tyranny, and from the more galling yoke of a domestic faction, which is its joint partner and perpetrator in the parricide, for the ignominy of existing with an exterior of splendor and of conscious depravity. It was the wish of my heart to extricate my country from this doubly riveted despotism.   7
  I wished to place her independence beyond the reach of any power on earth; I wished to exalt you to that proud station in the world.   9
  I wished to procure for my country the guarantee which Washington procured for America. To procure an aid, which, by its example, would be as important as its valor, disciplined, gallant, pregnant with science and experience; which would perceive the good, and polish the rough points of our character. They would come to us as strangers, and leave us as friends, after sharing in our perils and elevating our destiny. These were my objects—not to receive new taskmasters, but to expel old tyrants; these were my views, and these only became Irishmen. It was for these ends I sought aid from France; because France, even as an enemy, could not be more implacable than the enemy already in the bosom of my country.   10
  Let no man dare, when I am dead, to charge me with dishonor; let no man attaint my memory by believing that I could have engaged in any cause but that of my country’s liberty and independence; or that I could have become the pliant minion of power in the oppression or the miseries of my countrymen. The proclamation of the provisional government speaks for our views; no inference can be tortured from it to countenance barbarity or debasement at home, or subjection, humiliation, or treachery from abroad; I would not have submitted to a foreign oppressor for the same reason that I would resist the foreign and domestic oppressor; in the dignity of freedom I would have fought upon the threshold of my country, and its enemy should enter only by passing over my lifeless corpse. Am I, who lived but for my country, and who have subjected myself to the dangers of the jealous and watchful oppressor, and the bondage of the grave, only to give my countrymen their rights, and my country her independence, and am I to be loaded with calumny, and not suffered to resent or repel it—no, God forbid!   11
  If the spirits of the illustrious dead participate in the concerns and cares of those who are dear to them in this transitory life—oh, ever dear and venerated shade of my departed father, look down with scrutiny upon the conduct of your suffering son; and see if I have even for a moment deviated from those principles of morality and patriotism which it was your care to instill into my youthful mind, and for which I am now to offer up my life!   12
  My lords, you are impatient for the sacrifice—the blood which you seek is not congealed by the artificial terrors which surround your victim; it circulates warmly and unruffled, through the channels which God created for noble purposes, but which you are bent to destroy, for purposes so grievous, that they cry to heaven. Be yet patient! I have but a few words more to say. I am going to my cold and silent grave: my lamp of life is nearly extinguished: my race is run: the grave opens to receive me, and I sink into its bosom! I have but one request to ask at my departure from this world—it is the charity of its silence! Let no man write my epitaph: for as no man who knows my motives dare now vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them and me repose in obscurity and peace, and my tomb remain uninscribed, until other times, and other men, can do justice to my character; when my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written. I have done.

 

1. Which of the following statements about Robert Emmet is best supported by the passage?

A. He was a patriot, willing to die for his cause.

B. He was a traitor, dishonoring his country.

C. He was a liar, vilifying noble men.

D. He was a hero, ambitious for glory.

The best answer is A. First, we must remember that the passage is a speech given by Robert Emmet right before he is put to death for treason. The people putting him to death believe him to be a traitor, (Choice B), but according to the passage, Robert was acting in defense of his country. We don’t know anything beyond what the passage tells us. We must rule out Choices B and C for lack of evidence within this passage.

We can also rule out Choice D, because he states clearly that he was not ambitious for his own glory. Hence, Choice A is the best answer.

2. Based on the information in paragraph two, one could infer that the government in Robert Emmet’s time was:

A. weakening.

B. disorganized.

C. oppressive.

D. permissive.

The best answer is C. In paragraph two, Emmet relays some of the government’s doings. “I wish that my memory and name may animate those who survive me, while I look down with complacency on the destruction of that perfidious government which upholds its domination by blasphemy of the Most High—which displays its power over man as over the beasts of the forest—which sets man upon his brother, and lifts his hand in the name of God against the throat of his fellow who believes or doubts a little more or a little less than the government standard—a government which is steeled to barbarity by the cries of the orphans and the tears of the widows which it has made.” Cries of orphans and tears of widows does not sound like a government weakening or permissive. Rather, the way Emmet characterizes the government, we are led to believe it was full of oppressors. Choice C is the best.

3. It can be reasonably inferred from Robert Emmet’s speech that he is most concerned about this after his death:

A. not finishing the task of finding freedom for Ireland.

B. leaving behind a young wife and small child to fend for themselves.

C. being characterized as a villain by people who didn’t understand his motives.

D. a poorly written epitaph about the role he played in the downfall of the United Irishmen.

The best answer is C. The last paragraph is dedicated to him asking not to have anything written on his gravestone. He doesn’t want people of that day to characterize him as a villain or traitor because they didn’t understand what he was trying to accomplish. Choice D is a tempting option because of the first half of the answer, but it is incorrect because of the last half. Choice A may have been true, but it wasn’t his prime concern. And we aren’t told anything about Choice B in the passage. Therefore, Choice C is the best answer.

4. It can be reasonably inferred from the passage that the Robert Emmet believed a partnership with France could:

A. help gain control of the government to benefit Emmet.

B. overthrow Ireland’s tyrannical rulers to free Ireland.

C. undo all the work he had done to free Ireland.

D. sentence him to death for treason.

The best answer is B. Emmet explains in paragraphs 7 – 10 that the reason he wanted to partner with France was this: These were my objects—not to receive new taskmasters, but to expel old tyrants; these were my views, and these only became Irishmen. It was for these ends I sought aid from France; because France, even as an enemy, could not be more implacable than the enemy already in the bosom of my country. We know that Emmet didn’t want power for himself as he clearly stated, so Choice A is out. Choice C is the opposite of what he believed and Choice D, although accurate, is not what he believed.

5. Based on the information in the passage, Robert Emmet’s tone could best be characterized as:

A. quarrelsome.

B. offensive.

C. angry.

D. passionate.

The best answer is D. The word “quarrelsome” implies a certain amount of irritability or cantankerousness. These were the last words out of his mouth! He would not be arguing petulantly like a child. Rather, he was passionate about what he believed and wanted to express that. He was not offensive (Choice B), there was no name-calling or bad language, so we can’t infer that his tone was violent or unpleasant in any way. And in certain parts his tone could be perceived as angry, but mostly, we have to infer that his speech was passionate, zealous and fervent because it was efficiently organized and stalwart in its aim. An angry speech would probably include less organization and more threats or raving. Hence, Choice D is the best choice.

 

Directions (Q.1-5): Below is given a passage followed by several possible inferences which can be drawn from the facts stated in the passage. You have to examine each inference separately in the context of the passage and decide upon its degree of truth or falsity.
Mark answer 
(a) If the inference is ‘definitely true’, ie it properly follows from the statement of facts given
(b) If the inference is ‘probably true’ though not ‘definitely true’ in the light of the facts given
(c) If the ‘data are inadequate’, ie from the facts given you cannot say whether the inference is likely to be true or false
(d)  If the inference is ‘probably false’, though not ‘definitely false’ in the light of the facts given
(e) If the inference is ‘definitely false’, ie it cannot possibly be drawn from the facts given or it contradicts the given facts.

Asia has become the growth centreof the world economy in recent years. Within the region, India and South Korea are the third and fourth largest economies after China and Japan. Though are Asia growth stories mainly revolve around India and China, South Korea has remained a key player for these countries as one of their major trading and investment partners. South Korea adopted outward-oriented economic policies with the beginning of its first five-year economic development plan in 1962, which resulted in high growth and the integration of the Korea economy with the rest of the world. Subsequently, high and consistent economic growth made South Korea one of the high-income economies in Asia. Korea is still growing at a faster rate compared to other developed economies. India on the other hand adopted an import substitution policy since its Independence until the early 1990s. Since then India has introduced wide-ranging economic policy reforms and is moving towards market-driven economy. This has resulted in consistent high economic growth over the last one-and-a-half decades.

Q1. Only Korean economy is considered as robust by the international community.

Q2. Japan’s economic growth over the last decade is the highest in Asia.

Q3. The Korean economy is traditionally different than the Indian economy in its approach.

Q4. The economic growth of India prior to 1990s was much higher than the present growth rate.

Q5. India and China together are considered to be driving force of the Asian economy.   

Solutions
Directions (1-5):

1. (e)
Robust word is not used anywhere in the passage.

2. (c)
Japan and China seem to be in that position.

3.(a)
South Korea adopted “outward-oriented economic polices” while India continued with “import substitution policy”.

4. (e)
Clear from the last sentence of the passage.

5.(b)
Though are Asia growth stories mainly revolve around India and China, South Korea has remained a key player for these countries as one of their major trading and investment partners.

 

Directions (Q.6-10): Below is given a passage followed by several possible inferences which can be drawn from the facts stated in the passage. You have to examine each inference separately in the context of the passage and decide upon its degree of truth or falsity.
Mark answer (a) if the inference is ‘definitely true’, i.e. it properly follows from the statement of facts given.
Mark answer (b) if the inference is ‘probably true’ thought not ‘definitely true’ in the light of the facts given.
Mark answer (c) if the ‘data are inadequate’, i.e. from the facts given you cannot say whether the inference is likely to be true or false.
Mark answer (d) if the inference is ‘probably false’,  though not ‘definitely false’ in the light of the facts given.
Mark answer (e) if the inference is definitely false’, i.e. it cannot possibly be drawn from the facts given or it contradicts the given facts.

“In its most ambitious bid ever to house 6 crore slum dwellers and realize the vision of a slum-free India, the government is rolling out a massive plan to build 50 lakh dwelling units in five years across 400 towns and cities. The programme could free up thousands of acres of valuable government land across the country and generate crores worth of business for real-estate developers. Proliferation of slums had an adverse impact on the GDP growth for years. Slum dwellers are characterized by low productivity and susceptibility to poor health conditions. The government believes that better housing facilities will address social issues and also have a multiplier effect and serve as an economic stimulus.”

6. Health and sanitary conditions in slums are far below the acceptable norms of human habitat in Indian cities and towns.
Answer:(a) The passage says that the slum dwellers are susceptible “to poor health conditions.”

7. Cities and towns of developed countries are free from slums.
Answer:(b) As slums have led to a lower GDP growth in India

8. Per capita income of slum dwellers is significantly lower than that of those living in better housing facilities.
Answer:(b) Low productivity is likely to lead to low income.

9. Majority of the slums in cities and towns in India are on prime private properties.
Answer:(e) The passage says to the contrary: getting rid of slums would “free up … valuable government land.”

10.Development of land occupied by slums in cities of India will not have any effect on the common public.
Answer:(c) We have no information regarding how the freed-up land will benefit the common public.

 

Direction (1-5): In each of the given question an inference is given which is then followed by three statements. You have to find the statement(s) from where it is inferred. Choose the option with the best possible outcome as your choice.

Q1. Dark side of social media.(A) Thus far, it has been indicated that to an extent, social media can in fact be understood as enhancing interpersonal relationships; after all this is the very reason it exists in the first place. However, it must now be asserted that it can not only bring people together, but also (and somewhat paradoxically) alienate people from each other.
(B) An application called Grubwithus, which was intended bring strangers together to share meals at actual restaurants. So, social media has begun to focus not just on either supplementing existing relationships or sustaining virtual ones, but also on actually turning virtual relationships into relationships in the empirical world. This is an example of how social media can be said to have an effect on interpersonal relationships.
(C) It matters little whether people are able to physically remain in touch with each other, if they can only do so at the expense of being psychologically alienated from each other. Social media, for example, may be able to bring together a group of friends. But this benefit is nullified, insofar as those friends will merely remain lost in their own virtual worlds, even when they are “together” in the real world.
(a) Only A
(b) A and B
(c) B and C
(d) A and C
(e) A, B and C
S1. Ans.(d)
Sol. 
Only A and C discuss the dark side of social media. B discusses the impact of social media on interpersonal relationships.
Q2. Problems faced by farmers.
(A) Indian soils have been used for growing crops over thousands of years without caring much for replenishing. This has led to depletion and exhaustion of soils resulting in their low productivity. The average yields of almost all the crops are among t e lowest in the world. This is a serious problem which can be solved by using more manures and fertilizers.
(B) Seed is a critical and basic input for attaining higher crop yields and sustained growth in agricultural production. Distribution of assured quality seed is as critical as the production of such seeds. Unfortunately, good quality seeds are out of reach of the majority of farmers, especially small and marginal farmers mainly because of exorbitant prices of better seeds.
(C) Although India is the second largest irrigated country of the world after China, only one-third of the cropped area is under irrigation. Irrigation is the most important agricultural input in a tropical monsoon country like India where rainfall is uncertain, unreliable and erratic India cannot achieve sustained progress in agriculture unless and until more than half of the cropped area is brought under assured irrigation.
(a) Only C
(b) A and B
(c) B and C
(d) A and C
(e) A, B and C
S2. Ans.(e)
Sol. All the three paragraphs are talking about problems faced by farmers in India.

Q3. Sainik School students are paying staff pensions.
(A) Ordinary soldiers and lower middle-class families, whose children might be the most motivated to become military officers, can no longer afford to send their kids to Sainik Schools. These have instead become affordable public schools for middle and upper middle class families, for whom a military career is almost never the first option.
(B) A student currently enrolled in Sainik School, Amaravathinagar in Tamil Nadu, is required to contribute to the pension of all the staff who worked in the school since it was founded in 1962. Even if the student is the child of a poor Army havildar, he has to pay a few thousand rupees every month in spite of the scholarships and financial support from both the State and the Centre.
(C) According to the estimates with the government, total expenditure on a Sainik School student is a minimum of 62,000 per year. Even in the case of students on a full scholarship, (excluding those from SC/ST and OBC communities), the parents now pay from their own pockets anywhere between 18,000 and 40,000 per annum. A part of this caters to the salary and pension of school employees.
(a) Only B
(b) A and B
(c) B and C
(d) A and C
(e) A, B and C

S3. Ans.(c)
Sol. Only B and C tell us that students of Sainik Schools are paying staff pension. A discusses the problems faced by soldiers because of that.

Q4. Political instability due to democracy.
(A) Even if a political party maintains power, vociferous, headline grabbing protests and harsh criticism from the popular media are often enough to force sudden, unexpected political change. Frequent policy changes with regard to business and immigration are likely to deter investment and so hinder economic growth.
(B) Democracies in countries with high per capita income have been found to be less prone to violence, but in countries with low incomes the tendency is the reverse. Election misconduct is more likely in countries with low per capita incomes, small populations, rich in natural resources, and a lack of institutional checks and balances.
(C) Democracy in modern times has almost always faced opposition from the previously existing government, and many times it has faced opposition from social elites. The implementation of a democratic government within a non-democratic state is typically brought about by democratic revolution.

(a) Only A
(b) Only B
(c) Only C
(d) A and C
(e) A, B and C

S4. Ans.(a)
Sol. Only A talks about political instability. B discusses election misconduct and C discusses opposition faced by democracy in modern times.

 

 

Q5. Technology has changed banking sector.
(A) Aside from more diverse ATMs, the United States was introduced to online or Internet banking, which revolutionized the banking industry. Customers were able to log on from their home computer and see all of their accounts and information on their personal screen.
(B) Checking balances could be done, as well as making transactions and payments, seeing images of checks and deposit slips, viewing previous statements, bill paying and transaction history could be searched. All of these tasks eliminated the need for paper statements and bills as well as the cost.
(C) Today, ATMs have expanded their locations and can be found in many places besides a bank. Cash machines have exploded all over the world. Customers can use these machines in places like shopping malls, as well as in the individual stores themselves.
(a) Only A
(b) Only B
(c) Only C
(d) A and B
(e) A, B and C

S5. Ans.(e)
Sol. All the three paragraphs talk of the reforms introduced by technology in banking sector.

 

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