GMAT Tip: Inference Questions

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The GMAT Tip of the Week is a weekly column that includes advice on taking the Graduate Management Admission Test, which is required for admission to most business schools. Every week an instructor from a top test prep company will share suggestions for improving your GMAT score. This week’s tip comes from Andrew Mitchell, director of prebusiness programs and GMAT instructor at Kaplan Test Prep.

Think about how you would define the word “inference.” If you are like most people, you’ll come up with a definition along the lines of “a piece of information that is not explicitly stated but is still likely to be true.” On the GMAT, however, an inference is not something that is likely to be true but something that must be true based on the information provided. An answer choice that might be or could be true will be incorrect, whereas an option that has to be true no matter what will be right.

Whenever you come across an inference question, you need to keep the phrase “must be true” in mind at all times. For example, if the question states, “I only eat foods that are delicious” and “I eat cake,” you can infer that cake is delicious because this must be true, even though it is not explicitly stated. If the question says, “Cake is delicious,” however, and you find an answer choice that also says, “Cake is delicious,” you have found the correct answer. An option will never be incorrect because it seems, or is, explicit in the passage. Therefore, when you approach an inference question, read the information provided, accept the information as true. and look for an answer that must be true.

Mitchell helps manage Kaplan Test Prep’s GMAT business, including marketing, program development, and delivery. Still an active GMAT and GRE instructor, Mitchell is leading Kaplan’s efforts to revamp its curriculum to teach the GMAT’s new Integrated Reasoning section. A best-selling author, his previous experience includes consulting for the Pentagon and product development at Google. Mitchell graduated from Harvard University with a B.S. in physics in 2001 and completed his MBA in 2007 at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

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