Although some Critical Reading questions are phrased as inference questions, they are in reality closer to “main point” questions and can be treated as such. I find the following to be an ideal example (from

The ability of the “I Have a Dream” speech to high- light King’s early career at the expense of his later career accounts for the tone of impatience and betrayal that often appears when modern-day supporters of King’s agenda talk about the speech. Former Georgia state legislator Julian Bond said in 1986 that commemorations of King seemed to “focus almost entirely on Martin Luther King the dreamer, not on Martin King the antiwar activist, not on Martin King the challenger of the economic order, not on Martin King the opponent of apartheid, not on the complete Martin Luther King.”

Question: It can be inferred that, for Julian Bond, a portrait of “the complete Martin Luther King” (lines 10-11) would

(A) celebrate King’s influence both within and outside the United States
(B) acknowledge the logical lapses in some of King’s later work
(C) compare King with other significant figures of his era
(D) achieve a balance between King’s earlier concerns and his later ones
(E) reveal information about King’s personal as well as his public life

The primary mistake most people make when attempting to answer a question such as this is that they only read the lines directly involving Julian Bond. These lines tell us that Bond favors a public image of King that would include his more radical activities (antiwar activism, economic equality, etc.) as well as his less provocative ones (MLK the dreamer). That much is relatively clear.

There is, however, no answer that matches that summary, and so here a lot of people start to get confused. The key to answering a question such as this is to realize that we are being asked not to summarize Bond’s words but rather to understand why they are placed where they are within the argument. In other words: what point is the author using Bond’s words to support?

Where does an author typically place the point in relation to the evidence? Before. So we must back up and look at the preceding sentence, which tells us that King’s modern-day supporters are often upset that people focus on King’s early career rather than his later career.

In other words, they want to “achieve a balance between King’s earlier concerns and his later ones” (D).

What makes this an inference question, however, is the fact that the words “For example” (or “for instance”) never appear in the second sentence. Based on our knowledge of where examples are typically situated in relation to the points they support, we must therefore make the logical jump that Bond is being cited in order to provide evidence for the idea that King’s modern-day supporters are unhappy with the relative lack of focus on his later career.

So it turns out that the right answer is simply a reworded version of an idea explicitly stated in the passage — it’s just not the idea that we were perhaps expecting.