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Making Inferences

When effective readers link their prior knowledge with the literal
information in the text to interpret, make assumptions, predict and/or
draw conclusions about what they have read – they are making inferences.
These interpretations, assumptions, predictions and conclusions are not explicitly
stated in the text, they represent what the reader thinks he/she knows as a result
of taking the information in the text, reasoning from it and forming an inference.
Inferring is therefore related to prior knowledge, making predictions and visualisation.

How does making inferences support reading and comprehension?

Skilled readers learn to infer before, during and after reading.

Before reading they make inferences based on the title, illustrations and prior knowledge. During
reading they infer to gain, build and monitor comprehension, drawing on their knowledge of the
author’s purpose, context, structural features of the text, sentence structure and vocabulary

After reading they infer based on the author’s purpose, outcomes of what they read
and the events that may follow.

the Language of making inferences

What information is What information is What information or ideas I think the word means...
stated? inferred or implied? do I need to combine? because...

The answer isn’t in the text. Use your background or world

To answer the question, I need Look for key words that knowledge, to fill in the gaps Using these clues I can
to think about how the text and provide clues to a hidden using the key words to select a infer that...
what I already know fit together. message. best fit answer.

After reading the text I This word could mean I think the character/s is I think the character is...
think that... because... thinking this because... because...

Tips to support making inferences

It is important to explicitly teach students to use

clues in the text to form inferences, e.g. help
students to think of inferring as being like a
Effective detective and to use the clues in the text to work
readers out what is happening and why.
search for
deeper meanings These clues become evidence that build up and
or read between the enables students to make, describe and explain
lines, i.e. they search for inferences they are making.
implied information.

Adapted from Zimmermann, S. (2003); Cameron, S. (2009) and First Steps Reading resource book (2013).
QAR (Question answer relationship)
Making inferences is classified as In My Head - Author and me. This is because background knowledge is
a source of information for making inferences.

The answer is in one place in the text. Words from the question and words that answer

the question are often ‘right there’ in the same sentence.

Key skills: Locate and recall
The answer is in the text. Readers needs to ‘think and search’, or put together different
Think and

parts of the text to find the answer. The answer can be within a paragraph, across

In the text paragraphs, or even across chapters and books.

Key skills: Locate, recall, integrate and interpret

The answer is not in the text. Readers need to use their own ideas and experiences to
answer the question.
On my

Key skills: Making connections

The answer is not in the text. To answer the question, readers need to think about how
and me

the text and what they already know fit together.

In my head
Key skills: Critique and evaluate

Graphic Organisers Inference Ladder

Inference: ________
What I What I What I What I 1. What is the question?
read thought about inferred learnt Clue

2. Record clues as you

engage with the text.

Inferences Clues 3. Read each of the

clues and integrate
Inferences Words that Clues from Prior knowledge and interpret the Clue
made helped me illustrations (what I already information to support
during infer that helped knew) that
reading me infer helped me infer you to make a/some
inference/s. Clue

What I saw / viewed What I inferred

Inference Equations
* *
+ =
* * Clue Clue Inference
* *
+ =
Inference helped me to: Word & picture clues Background Knowledge Inference

+ + =
Clue Clue Clue Inference
Write your own inference equations:

Adapted from Zimmermann, S. (2003); Harvey S. and Goudvis A. (2005); Raphael et al (2006); Cameron, S. (2009); Davis A.
(2011); and First Steps Reading Resource Book (2013).