The Reading Section Overview- TOEFL-iBT® (3/4)

The Reading Section Overview- TOEFL-iBT® (3/4)

Estimated reading time: 25 minutes

This is the third part of the 4 part series calledThe Reading Section Overview- TOEFL-iBT®.

If you haven’t read this from the start, click here to go to the first post. If you haven’t read part 2, then click here to continue reading from there.

However, if you have already read the previous posts,and have understood all well, then feel free to continue here.

This post is slightly more technical than the other ones, but it is written in a simplified version. It will be divided into the types of questions we will be working on right now.

Vocabulary

Reference

Paraphrasing

Purpose

Negative

Inference

Specific Detail

If you have already read this post and want to skip to a specific section, then just click on it to go straight there.

As you may be aware, every single passage of the test will be followed by a series of questions. They will all be multiple-choice, but the styles and tasks you must do are quite different.

Here we will go through every type of questions and explain them with examples from the passage we will be using.

We will work on explaining why every option is right or wrong to portray a clearer picture.

Here is our sample passage one more time.

Renewable just isn’t enough.

P1
For a few decades now, mankind has been claiming that in order to help counter the effects of global warming, a much larger portion of the resources must be allocated into renewable energy, specifically solar and wind power. Sunlight is inherently unreliable and as wind is the child of the sun, it too is deemed dubious as a steady source of energy. In addition, they create a significantly large carbon footprint due to all the material they require for construction, transportation, and maintenance. Adding the sheer cost of building solar and wind power plants is not only an overwhelming investment in the short term, but it has increased the prices of power in those countries who have already shifted towards these sources of energy. Many have looked at other alternatives in order to mitigate the negative effects.

P2
Ever since humans have harvested the energy of the sun and wind, it was known that these methods could not be applied to all areas, as the amount of sunlight and wind that a given area received, varied widely as soon as you shifted the geographically. The equatorial part of our planet receives the most amount of constant sunlight, making this the optimal place for solar farms to be built, which in consequence leaves nearly 75% of the planet without the capacity to do the same as conditions won’t be as advantageous. The northern and southern hemispheres with only partial sunlight through the larger portion of the year cannot compete, so alternatives must be set out. Yet wind is no stranger to this phenomenon. There are few places on the planet where the wind can be harvested at its maximum leaving us with the same geographical problem.

P3
In an ironic turn, the damage that these alternative sources of energy generate towards the environment is deterring many future projects. The energy output from a solar panel or a wind turbine takes years or even decades to erase the carbon footprint it leaves behind. It becomes clear once thinking that a standard wind turbine is over 300ft of height and can reach 250 tons in weight. Besides, many local communities have protested the construction of solar and wind farms due to the amount of space they require to function properly. Deforestation has taken place in parts of Europe and Brazil to make space for huge wind farms, devastating the local flora. Furthermore, the transportation of local fauna to new locations has led to tougher competition for their resources and many animals have not been able to adapt. Adding the amount of birdlife that has died by the heat produced by solar farms or by the blade of a turbine, it becomes clear that a larger degree of damage than what was expected is occurring.

P4
The largest barrier for these sources of renewable energy has been the cost. An investigation in the energy investment sector showed that the money that was injected into these two sources of renewable energy is long from harvesting its profits. According to a national press investigation, more than $300 billion were invested each year between 2010 and 2016 in solar and wind energy. However, by 2016 the combined output of solar plants and wind turbines constituted close to 5,5% of the planet’s electricity where solar made up 1,3% and wind 3,9%. Although countries like Denmark have been able to increase their solar and wind energy to over 50% of its energy output, they are not the role model everyone wishes to follow, as they have become one of the countries with the most expensive costs of electricity for the end-user.

P5
These findings have shifted the attention of many towards other forms of renewable energy, leaving one as the prize winner. The lack of consistent sunlight and wind have made France and Sweden a new beacon of hope when they proved themselves with some of the world’s lowest amount of carbon emissions per capita. Sweden has managed to make 95% of its electrical output from zero-carbon sources with 42 % of its electricity coming from Nuclear power plants and 41% from Hydroelectric power plants. Though Hydroelectric is a great and safe source, it has some immediate environmental effects and is limited to areas with sufficient water flow and specific geographical conditions. The greatest advantage of Nuclear is that it has very little restrictions with regards to geography and weather, in consequence, it can offer a constant output of electricity. Other countries like Costa Rica and Norway are following their steps working on a zero-emission plan through sources that will have far fewer negative effects on the planet.

Feel free to read the passage as we go through the types of questions. Just as in the test, you will find that if the question asks about a specific paragraph, then that paragraph will be placed right next to your question.

As you were reading the passage, you probably found that some sentences and words were highlighted in a darker color. This is an automatic flag for us when reading the passage that we will get questions about that specific area.

In the Reading Section, we will only get multiple-choice questions, though they will vary in style. Normally we will be presented with 4 options per question, which can help narrow down an option or a tricky part if we can make an educated guess.

Since there is no penalty for choosing an incorrect question it is important that we always choose an option and that we never leave a question without answering.

We should always try to eliminate one or two options before making an educated guess. We should avoid at all costs selecting an option at random. The only situation when I believe that to be ok is if we have a few seconds left to respond to the question.

Now here we will list the styles of questions that there are in the test, offer an example and go on a simple strategy to help you solve them in the shortest amount of time.

Keep in mind that we are all different and these strategies may not completely work for you, but they will work for most folks and if you don’t get it at first, it will help you figure it out better in your own way.

Vocabulary

As you may guess from the name, this type of question refers to specific vocabulary that we can find in the text.

Remember those highlighted words? Some of them will correspond to these questions. Having an ample vocabulary can really help solve these much faster.

Though likely, you won’t know the meaning of all the words. The important thing here is to be able to infer the meaning through context.

The folk of ETS will try to use more obscure vocabulary to prevent most participants from knowing the meanings. This does not mean they are evil, but rather that they are trying to make it even for everyone by making us deduce the meaning from context.

Let me give you a sample here from the passage above. Here I copy paragraph 1 to solve this question.

P1
For a few decades now, mankind has been claiming that in order to help counter the effects of global warming, a much larger portion of the resources must be allocated into renewable energy, specifically solar and wind power. Sunlight is inherently unreliable and as wind is the child of the sun, it too is deemed dubious as a steady source of energy. In addition, they create a significantly large carbon footprint due to all the material they require for construction, transportation, and maintenance. Adding the sheer cost of building solar and wind power plants is not only an overwhelming investment in the short term, but it has increased the prices of power in those countries who have already shifted towards these sources of energy. Many have looked at other alternatives in order to mitigate the negative effects.
Question 1. The word “dubious” in the passage is closest in meaning to:
A. Steadfast
B. Doble
C. Devious
D. Erratic

If you have a good vocab, you can understand this question pretty quickly and even be able to choose the right answer right away.

Some of these options can have very similar meanings to the word dubious, making it just a bit complicated to distinguish which is the true answer and which are inaccurate.

Most students with an Intermediate or Upper-Intermediate level of English will struggle a bit with this question mainly due to vocabulary. But the strategy that I have used with them that works the most is to not get distracted with the options that are given to you, and rather try to understand the meaning and put your own word in. let’s read the whole sentence where the word dubious

Sunlight is inherently unreliable and as wind is the child of the sun, it too is deemed dubious as a steady source of energy.

So they declare here that Sunlight is not reliable, and they continue to connect Wind with the Sun.

Then they attribute the qualities of the Sun to the Wind. From here we know that the Sun is unreliable, so the Wind must be unreliable as well as they are declaring that “it too is deemed ______as a steady source of energy.”.

We can eliminate options B and C as they are there distracting us with words that have nothing to do with it.

That leaves us with option A and D. Now the words steadfast can be a challenge for most, but the word erratic is much more common. If we compare the word erratic with unreliable, we can find some similarities which leave us with option D as the only valid option.

You can see how we solved this by only eliminating three options, but not knowing what the word in option A meant. We can make logical eliminations of choices to focus on fewer options and be able to select the correct one.

Here is another example with paragraph 3.

P3
In an ironic turn, the damage that these alternative sources of energy generate towards the environment is deterring many future projects. The energy output from a solar panel or a wind turbine takes years or even decades to erase the carbon footprint it leaves behind. It becomes clear once thinking that a standard wind turbine is over 300ft of height and can reach 250 tons in weight. Besides, many local communities have protested the construction of solar and wind farms due to the amount of space they require to function properly. Deforestation has taken place in parts of Europe and Brazil to make space for huge wind farms, devastating the local flora. Furthermore, the transportation of local fauna to new locations has led to tougher competition for their resources and many animals have not been able to adapt. Adding the amount of birdlife that has died by the heat produced by solar farms or by the blade of a turbine, it becomes clear that a larger degree of damage than what was expected is occurring.
Question 2. The word “deterring” in the passage is closest in meaning to:
A. Persuading
B. Dissuading
C. Grounding
D. Create

So, once again, let’s not get distracted with the options for the moment and let´s read the sentence where the mystery word is. It read:

In an ironic turn, the damage that these alternative sources of energy generate towards the environment is deterring many future projects.

If we eliminate the word deterring and read the sentence without it, we would have to put our own word in the blank space. Let’s try it:

“In an ironic turn, the damage that these alternative sources of energy generate towards the environment is _______ many future projects.”

We understand that we have to insert a word with a negative connotation to complete the “ironic turn”.

We understand that the damages that Solar and Wind energy do to the environment is not letting new projects continue or start. So we are looking for words like, stop, block, prevent, etc.

We must be able to eliminate a few options just by understanding that, so the words “Create” and “Persuade” from options A and D, must be eliminated.

We are left with options B and C, or the words “Dissuading” and “Grounding” respectively. Grounding may be uncommon to many, and breaking down the words can help. The root word is “ground”, which does not help us.

But “Dissuading” can be easier. We just have to look at the prefix, “Dis” that means “without” or “to remove”, and with this, we would have the correct answer, which would be option B

Reference

These represent the other individual words that we saw highlighted in the passage.

These are designed to see how well you can follow nouns through the paragraph and passage when a reference is made towards them. Let me show you here in paragraph 2.

P2
Ever since humans have harvested the energy of the sun and wind, it was known that these methods could not be applied to all areas, as the amount of sunlight and wind that a given area received, varied widely as soon as you shifted the geographically. The equatorial part of our planet receives the most amount of constant sunlight, making this the optimal place for solar farms to be built, which in consequence leaves nearly 75% of the planet without the capacity to do the same as conditions won’t be as advantageous. The northern and southern hemispheres with only partial sunlight through the larger portion of the year cannot compete, so alternatives must be set out. Yet wind is no stranger to this phenomenon. There are few places on the planet where the wind can be harvested at its maximum leaving us with the same geographical problem.
Question 3. The word this in the passage refers to:
A. Geographical problems
B. The lack of steady fuel
C. Darkness through most of the year
D. Issues with the location

So the Highlighted word is this which is making a reference to a previous noun. The whole sentence reads:

Yet wind is no stranger to this phenomenon

Here we are speaking of a specific phenomenon that we must be able to identify correctly. Just as the previous type of questions, we don’t want to be distracted with the options we have, but rather try to find the reference by ourselves so that we aren’t influenced.

We can understand that they are talking about a phenomenon, yet from this sentence alone we are unable to determine specifically which phenomenon they are talking about. In consequence, we will need to read a little bit further back.

The northern and southern hemispheres with only partial sunlight through the larger portion of the year cannot compete, so alternatives must be set out. Yet wind is no stranger to this phenomenon.

This helps quite a bit. From the previous sentence, we can gather which phenomenon they are talking about. They are declaring that the sunlight is not constant during the whole year in the northern and southern hemispheres. So that is the phenomenon!

Paraphrasing, it says: because the sun is not there throughout the whole year, it cannot compete. And this same phenomenon happens with the wind.

Once we read the options we can discard all of them except option B that says “lack of steady fuel” the fuel being the sun or the wind in this case.

We normally don’t read to the previous sentence, as the reference will tend to be within the same sentence, but at times it may be necessary, such as in this previous example.

Alternatively, if you see the options, you will see that options A and D are both talking about the same thing.

In the TOEFL-iBT, we will normally find these types of tricky options that can confuse us, but if we understand them, we know automatically that we have to discard both of them as there will only be one good option.

This can give us a large advantage if we are not sure of which is the correct answer by helping us eliminate fraudulent options and allowing us to get closer to the right choice by having fewer options on the board.

Paraphrasing

This will refer to the sentence that we will find highlighted in the passage.

Let me show you an example here:

P4
The largest barrier for these sources of renewable energy has been the cost. An investigation in the energy investment sector showed that the money that was injected into these two sources of renewable energy is long from harvesting its profits. According to a national press investigation, more than $300 billion were invested each year between 2010 and 2016 in solar and wind energy. However, by 2016 the combined output of solar plants and wind turbines constituted close to 5,5% of the planet’s electricity where solar made up 1,3% and wind 3,9%. Although countries like Denmark have been able to increase their solar and wind energy to over 50% of its energy output, they are not the role model everyone wishes to follow, as they have become one of the countries with the most expensive costs of electricity for the end-user.
Question 4. Which of the sentences below best expresses the information in the highlighted statement in the passage? The other choices change the meaning or leave out important information.
A. Countries like Denmark have increased their Solar energy production by 50% making it the country with the most expensive electricity.
B. Some countries now have very expensive electricity because they now have over 50% of their energy coming from wind and solar.
C. Some countries are no longer the energy role models because their electricity cost is one of the most expensive for the end-user due to the cost of wind and solar energy.
D. The end-user is unsatisfied with the prices that have increased over 50% due to the larger output from solar and wind that countries like Denmark have spearheaded.

This may be a bit tricky to get, even for native speakers. They want to see if your reading comprehension can decipher this riddle.

The best way to work with these sentences is to re-read the highlighted sentence and to understand the core meaning. The sentence reads.

Although countries like Denmark have been able to increase their solar and wind energy to over 50% of its energy output, they are not the role model everyone wishes to follow, as they have become one of the countries with the most expensive costs of electricity for the end-user.

There are several unnecessary words in there. So to understand the core meaning, I strongly advise students to trim it down and re-write it in a simpler language.

Let’s do that here:

Some countries now have more than 50% of their electricity from solar and wind sources, but other countries don’t want to follow this path because it makes electricity very expensive.

Easier to read right? But the message is essentially the same. By doing this we now understand the message the sentence is transmitting and we can go to the options to see which is closest to our new sentence.

What’s the message of option A? It reads:

Countries like Denmark have increased their Solar energy production by 50% making it the country with the most expensive electricity.

The core message here states that: the production of solar energy rose by over 50% making electricity more expensive.

This does not match our sentence.

This says that the production increased, and our sentence declares that production is already more than 50%. Furthermore, in option A they only mention solar energy and completely ignore the Wind.

We must discard this option.

Let’s see option B. It reads:

Some countries now have very expensive electricity because they now have over 50% of their energy coming from wind and solar.

The core message here is: countries’ electric bill is higher because of the source of electricity.

This is closer to our highlighted sentence, but not quite there yet. It fails to refer to the fact that other countries don’t want to follow this path because the electricity is very expensive. So, unfortunately, we must discard this option as well.

Continuing with option C, that reads:

Some countries are no longer the energy role models because their electricity cost is one of the most expensive for the end-user due to the cost of wind and solar energy.

The core message here is: some countries do not want to follow the steps of those who have invested heavily in wind and solar because that electricity is more expensive.

This is perfect. It tackles all the main points of our highlighted sentence. Not in the same order but all of them are there. We can see that option C is correct.

However, we must corroborate by reading the final option.

So we must read option D. That says:

The end-user is unsatisfied with the prices that have increased over 50% due to the larger output from solar and wind that countries like Denmark have spearheaded.

The core message here is: the consumer is unhappy with the rise in electricity because some countries have used solar and wind energy.

This is obviously incorrect. At no point is the consumer mentioned. They are of course inferred, but even so, there are many other incongruencies.

Like the price of electricity rising over 50% when it was the energy source which increased by 50%.

So we are forced to discard this final option.

We have to be careful with these questions as the use is synonyms may and will be used against us to confuse us. Which is why we must always get the core message of each sentence to solve them faster.

Remember, these may be difficult for native speakers as well because not everyone has a good level of reading comprehension. So remember to practice all you can and read a lot.

Purpose

From here and on we will have a harder time discovering questions as we will have to read the question itself to see it.

These types of questions will ask for the reason why the author has placed a piece of information. The information can be the cause or consequence of an event or to serve as an introduction to a new piece of evidence, an example or argument.

The best way for you to understand is by looking at the example below.

P2
Ever since humans have harvested the energy of the sun and wind, it was known that these methods could not be applied to all areas, as the amount of sunlight and wind that a given area received, varied widely as soon as you shifted the geographically. The equatorial part of our planet receives the most amount of constant sunlight, making this the optimal place for solar farms to be built, which in consequence leaves nearly 75% of the planet without the capacity to do the same as conditions won’t be as advantageous. The northern and southern hemispheres with only partial sunlight through the larger portion of the year cannot compete, so alternatives must be set out. Yet wind is no stranger to this phenomenon. There are few places on the planet where the wind can be harvested at its maximum leaving us with the same geographical problem.
Question 4. Why does the author use the first sentence of paragraph 2?
A. To illustrate that humans have existed since the harvesting of solar and wind energy has been present?
B. To demonstrate that this is not a new problem and that geographical limitations have existed since humans have harvested the wind and sun?
C. To present an introduction to the next sentence that says that 75% of the planet doesn’t have constant sunlight?
D. To show that wind and solar energy are not as effective as most people might think?

The question uses the word “why” to find the purpose. A bit more time needs to be dedicated to this question as we will have to do some reading. We definitely need to read the first sentence which says:

Ever since humans have harvested the energy of the sun and wind, it was known that these methods could not be applied to all areas, as the amount of sunlight and wind that a given area received, varied widely as soon as you shifted the geographically.

Long sentence, I know, but we can see a bit of the flow of information going on here. I´ll simplify it here:

Ever since X, it was known that Y, because of Z.

So what we will be doing here is simplifying the sentence to make it more digestible. With this new shorter form of the same sentence, the purpose becomes clearer.

If we quickly scan the rest of the paragraph we will see that it continues to give support on the main idea of the sentence. Geographical factors do not permit a good level of collection of wind and solar energy, and this was known for a long time.

Let´s go through the options to see which three we can discard.

Option A reads:

To illustrate that humans have existed since the harvesting of solar and wind energy has been present?

Tempting, because of the time reference. But not quite there. This sentence is expressing that the existence of humans and solar and wind energy have existed from the same time. This is wrong as this is not what is mentioned in the text.

Here is option B:

To demonstrate that this is not a new problem and that geographical limitations have existed since humans have harvested the wind and sun?

This is a very good option as it hits all the points one by one. It declares that the problem has existed for a long time and it continues to express that geographical issues with harvesting solar and wind energy have existed since they began being harvested by humans.

However, we cannot select this one as the ultimately correct option until we can eliminate the rest of the options.

So we must continue checking option C that says:

To present an introduction to the next sentence that says that 75% of the planet doesn’t have constant sunlight?

Ok, so this seems logical as sentence 2 continues with expressing similar information as in the first. It pushes on the comment that solar and wind energy cannot be harvested equally throughout the whole planet.

Yet, this option would be incorrect because the purpose of the first sentence is not to serve as an introduction, but rather to demonstrate how the issue has existed for a long time. Unfortunately, we will have let go of this option as well.

So we continue to the final option. Letter D, that declares:

To show that wind and solar energy are not as effective as most people might think?

Utterly wrong! Thought the passage as a whole serves to demonstrate this point, this is not what the sentence is declaring.

So we must be very cautious with not mixing the purpose of the passage and that of the sentence they are looking for.

Keeping things separate will help us comprehend a lot more. We must eliminate this option as well.

After successfully discarding 3 options, we are left with option B as the only correct one.

This question can be presented in a small variety of ways such as:

“The author uses X as an example of ”, “Why do scientists now believe that ”, “Why is the word __ mentioned in the paragraph?”

Once we get some practice with the test, we will be more familiarized with the question style and get better and better.

Negative

These questions don’t represent the largest challenge, but they can be a bit confusing if we don’t have a very good reading comprehension level. Aside from this, we need to know some vocab because some paraphrasing will be going on here.

P3
In an ironic turn, the damage that these alternative sources of energy generate towards the environment is deterring many future projects. The energy output from a solar panel or a wind turbine takes years or even decades to erase the carbon footprint it leaves behind. It becomes clear once thinking that a standard wind turbine is over 300ft of height and can reach 250 tons in weight. Besides, many local communities have protested the construction of solar and wind farms due to the amount of space they require to function properly. Deforestation has taken place in parts of Europe and Brazil to make space for huge wind farms, devastating the local flora. Furthermore, the transportation of local fauna to new locations has led to tougher competition for their resources and many animals have not been able to adapt. Adding the amount of birdlife that has died by the heat produced by solar farms or by the blade of a turbine, it becomes clear that a larger degree of damage than what was expected is occurring.
Question 5. All the following are mentioned in the paragraph as a reason for future plans of these alternative sources being affected EXCEPT:
A. The amount of time it takes for these investments to eliminate their carbon footprint.
B. The amount of lost flora and fauna due to flooding when building dams.
C. The death toll of several avian species due to wind turbines and solar panels.
D. The initial cost in money and material for these power plants to be great.

If you read the paragraph carefully, you´ll be able to deduce this one, though you´ll see that it can take a while.

Let´s skim the paragraph and go sentence by sentence while finding the arguments.

Sentence 1:

In an ironic turn, the damage that these alternative sources of energy generate towards the environment is deterring many future projects.

Here we see that the main piece of info states that many projects will probably not develop because these alternatives have problems.

Sentence 2:

The energy output from a solar panel or a wind turbine takes years or even decades to erase the carbon footprint it leaves behind.

This one declares that these power plants have a large carbon footprint and that they take years to counter that effect.

Sentence 3:

It becomes clear once thinking that a standard wind turbine is over 300ft of height and can reach 250 tons in weight.

Here they support the previous argument by showing the dimensions of a single wind turbine. This hints on a large investment.

Sentence 4:

In addition, many local communities have protested the construction of solar and wind farms due to the amount of space they require to function properly.

The continue here stating that the space these power plants require is very large and affecting a lot of communities.

Sentence 5:

Deforestation has taken place in parts of Europe and Brazil to make space for huge wind farms, devastating the local flora.

They push the environmental argument by explaining how forests need to be taken down to build large solar and wind power plants, which in consequence has a ripple effect on the local fauna.

Sentence 6:

Furthermore, the transportation of local fauna to new locations has led to tougher competition for their resources and many animals have not been able to adapt.

Here they continue supporting the previous sentence claiming that the local fauna has suffered in a reduced space where there is more competition with more limited resources.

Sentence 7:

Adding the amount of birdlife that has died by the heat produced by solar farms or by the blade of a turbine, it becomes clear that a larger degree of damage than what was expected is occurring.

Finally, they continue with the fauna issue focusing on the birdlife being affected by these power plants. Finishing the paragraph by summarizing that there were more negative effects than what was originally expected.

So what we must find in this type of question is the piece of information that is NOT mentioned in the paragraph. So here we will do that with the options that we have.

Option A reads:

The amount of time it takes for these investments to eliminate their carbon footprint.

We can find this option is reflected in sentences 2 and 3 that read:

Sentence 2: The energy output from a solar panel or a wind turbine takes years or even decades to erase the carbon footprint it leaves behind.

Sentence 3: It becomes clear once thinking that a standard wind turbine is over 300ft of height and can reach 250 tons in weight.

So here we see how this option is very present. Meaning that we have to eliminate it.

Let us continue with the next option and see if it is present in the paragraph.

Option B reads:

The amount of lost flora and fauna due to flooding when building dams.

We cannot really find evidence of flooding or dams within the paragraph. So we know this must be the correct sentence.

However, we must always be sure by eliminating the remaining options.

Continuing with the next option we have option C that reads:

The death toll of several avian species due to wind turbines and solar panels.

We can find plenty of evidence of this one in the final sentence which reads:

Sentence 7: Adding the amount of birdlife that has died by the heat produced by solar farms or by the blade of a turbine, it becomes clear that a larger degree of damage than what was expected is occurring.

Though we do not find the word “bird” clearly mentioned in this sentence we can relate the term “avian species” which is another way of saying a birdlife.

Since the evidence is here, we must eliminate this option as well.

Finally, we proceed to option D which reads:

The initial cost in money and material for these power plants to be great.

We can find some clear and not so clear information from the passage in sentence 3 that reads:

Sentence 3: It becomes clear once thinking that a standard wind turbine is over 300 ft of height and can reach 250 tons in weight.

From here we can see the cost in materials as the wind turbine is 300 ft tall and can weigh 250 tons.

What we can infer from here is that a large initial investment in money is also needed as these materials will not come at zero cost. So we must eliminate this option as well.

It can be seen from here that the only valid option was option B as it was the only one which was not 100% mentioned in the paragraph.

Option D can be tricky for many, as only part of the information is mentioned in the text, but we must remember that the rest can be inferred from that. furthermore, we must never forget that there will only be one correct answer.

Inference

As its name states, in this type of question, we must some inferring.

Now the information that we must infer will not be stated directly in the passage or paragraph but will be a conclusion that we will be able to draw upon the information that is offered.

Let’s look at this paragraph below and its question to see it clearly.

P5
These findings have shifted the attention of many towards other forms of renewable energy, leaving one as the prize winner. The lack of consistent sunlight and wind have made France and Sweden a new beacon of hope when they proved themselves with some of the world’s lowest amount of carbon emissions per capita. Sweden has managed to make 95% of its electrical output from zero-carbon sources with 42 % of its electricity coming from Nuclear power plants and 41% from Hydroelectric power plants. Though Hydroelectric is a great and safe source, it has some immediate environmental effects and is limited to areas with sufficient water flow and specific geographical conditions. The greatest advantage of Nuclear is that it has very little restrictions with regards to geography and weather, in consequence, it can offer a constant output of electricity. Other countries like Costa Rica and Norway are following their steps working on a zero-emission plan through sources that will have far fewer negative effects on the planet.
Question 6. Which of the following can be inferred from paragraph 5:
A. Nuclear energy is limited severely by the same factors as Solar, Wind, and Hydroelectric?
B. Countries like Sweden have invested heavily in Solar and Wind energy.
C. Costa Rica is a country that holds high environmental standards.
D. France cannot produce wind or Solar energy due to large initial cost.

The first thing we can find when reading the options is that some of the declarations sound like half-truths which means that we must pay closer attention. Though most elicit information directly from the passage, we must keep in mind that we have to infer the information.

Let’s look in further detail checking out each option.

Option A reads:

Nuclear energy is limited severely by the same factors as Solar, Wind, and Hydroelectric?

This option can be eliminated by one sentence in the paragraph that is put down here:

The greatest advantage of Nuclear is that it has very little restrictions with regards to geography and weather, in consequence, it can offer a constant output of electricity.

So we can infer that Nuclear power plants can be placed almost anywhere in the world leaving the limitations of sunlight and wind behind.

Option B reads:

Countries like Sweden have invested heavily in Solar and Wind energy.

Now to counter that option, we can read the following sentence from the paragraph:

Sweden has managed to make 95% of its electrical output from zero-carbon sources with 42 % of its electricity coming from Nuclear power plants and 41% from Hydroelectric power plants.

From that sentence, we can infer that Sweden has invested heavily in Nuclear and Hydroelectric which produce 42% and 41%. If we add these values together, we will get a total of 83%.

We know that Sweden has made 95% of its electrical output from zero-carbon sources, which leaves us with an extra 12% of the electricity of that country coming from Solar, Wind and other sources. Just a small fraction of the overall source.

Unfortunately, we must eliminate this option as it cannot be properly inferred that Sweden invests heavily on Solar and Wind energy.

What about option C? It reads:

Costa Rica is a country that holds high environmental standards.

Here is the sentence that mentions Costa Rica:

Other countries like Costa Rica and Norway are following their steps working on a zero-emission plan through sources that will have far fewer negative effects on the planet.

They state here that Costa Rica and Norway want to follow the plan of Sweden and France who have a very large percentile of zero-carbon electrical sources.

This will lead us to infer that countries such as Costa Rica want to reduce their carbon emissions by changing to zero-carbon electrical sources. So this option should be the correct one. However, we must be able to discard the final option to be sure.

The final option, D, reads:

France cannot produce Wind or Solar energy due to large initial cost.

We actually have no reference to cost in the whole paragraph.

Though it is implied that countries such as France cannot produce Solar or Wind energy because of geographical factors.

So we have to eliminate this final option as well. Leaving the correct option as letter C.

Detail Question

Yes, we will be asked about a very specific piece of information.

This can be an advantage as we will usually have to skim through the passage or paragraph in order to find the requested detail.

They will not be asking about general termes, or to infer any information as in the last question, but rather to look for the exact piece of detail.

P5
These findings have shifted the attention of many towards other forms of renewable energy, leaving one as the prize winner. The lack of consistent sunlight and wind have made France and Sweden a new beacon of hope when they proved themselves with some of the world’s lowest amount of carbon emissions per capita. Sweden has managed to make 95% of its electrical output from zero-carbon sources with 42 % of its electricity coming from Nuclear power plants and 41% from Hydroelectric power plants. Though Hydroelectric is a great and safe source, it has some immediate environmental effects and is limited to areas with sufficient water flow and specific geographical conditions. The greatest advantage of Nuclear is that it has very little restrictions with regards to geography and weather, in consequence, it can offer a constant output of electricity. Other countries like Costa Rica and Norway are following their steps working on a zero-emission plan through sources that will have far fewer negative effects on the planet.
Question 7. According to the author, in paragraph 5, what is the largest advantage that Nuclear power plants have?
A. They are not restricted to one area.
B. They can produce up to 42% of a country’s electrical needs.
C. They are very popular in countries such as Norway.
D. They have been getting cheaper, hence becoming a better option for many.

I know I said before that we must look for a specific detail, but this does not mean it will be very easy to find. The specific information we must look for will be hidden behind paraphrased sentences to test our reading comprehension.

Once again we will go option by option discussing them.

Option A reads:

They are not restricted to one area.

Sounds good. Here is the sentence where we can find this information:

The greatest advantage of Nuclear is that it has very little restrictions with regards to geography and weather, in consequence, it can offer a constant output of electricity.

So it says “ it has very little restrictions with regards to geography and weather”. This sounds very accurate as these plants can be placed almost anywhere. But we need to discard the rest to be sure.

Option B reads:

They can produce up to 42% of a country’s electrical needs.

This can be debunked with the following sentence:

Sweden has managed to make 95% of its electrical output from zero-carbon sources with 42 % of its electricity coming from Nuclear power plants and 41% from Hydroelectric power plants.

Though Nuclear power does produce 42% of Sweden`s electrical output, this does not mean that it can produce the same percentile for any country. So we must drop this option.

Option C. reads:

They are very popular in countries such as Norway.

Yes, you can argue that this will occur as Norway wants to invest in it in the future as does Costa Rica, yet this is not stated as an advantage.

Furthermore, Norway does not have Nuclear power plants at the moment. We must eliminate this option.

The final option, letter D reads:

They have been getting cheaper, hence becoming a better option for many.

Once again there is no mention of this in the paragraph. Though we can be able to find some hints of economical references in the text as a whole, they refer to Wind and Solar power plant and they are not in the paragraph where we are being asked to search.

This final option must be let go.

This will leave the correct option as letter A where they declare the geographical advantage of Nuclear.

This question can be presented in a series of ways. Here are a few that are common:

According to the paragraph, which of the following is true of X?
According to the paragraph, how did X do Y?
The author’s description of X mentions which of the following?
According to paragraph 4, why does X do Y?

So here we have seen the types of questions which will be presented first in the Reading Section.

In the next post, we will continue with the most challenging questions from the test. We may not even get one of them, but we must be aware that they are often worth more than 1 point. To go there, just click here.

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