Inferential comprehension

The interpretation of information and the ability to draw conclusions requires the reader to be able to read and understand the text whilst identifying the key message the text is conveying.

The ability to locate and identify important information and draw conclusions requires the student to:

  • connect to the text (using prior knowledge)
  • predict the expected content of the text
  • visualise the content of the text (bringing the text to life)
  • locate and evaluate the significance of information or ideas within the text
  • link the supporting information or ideas to the key message and be able to use this as evidence to support the conclusions drawn
  • question the text content (is it authentic and accurate; critique the text)
  • question the author’s intent and viewpoint
  • draw inferences from the ideas, themes or characters in the text.

Activity 1: question, think, discuss

Students view a text and predict the expected content. The students then read the provided text and consider the key ideas and facts. Provide the students with a scaffold to record their findings. This activity can be completed in pairs or groups.

The students record their thoughts and findings from the text in the provided scaffold and identify the theme and ideas that they consider central to the understanding of the text. Throughout the activity students read, write and then reread the text to record the key ideas or themes. After the information or interpretation is recorded, the students discuss this information and decide if the selection is accurate or relevant. After the discussion students can change their selection and view, ensuring they refer back to the text and can justify their decision.

In the table below tell students to list as ‘We found…’ the evidence for what they write as ‘We think…’ . Students should write all the temporal (timeframe) and causal (reasoning) relationships they infer could explain the events in the text. The conclusion is their final combined inference.

Scaffold to record findings (PDF 134.37KB)

Once students complete this activity they can share with another pair or group or can provide feedback to the class.

Activity 2: the text says, I say and so ...

Provide the students with a text. Ensure students are able to read the text and any unfamiliar vocabulary has been discussed and explained to ensure all students can access the content of the text.

Provide the students with the scaffold. The students are to locate significant events or information from the provided text. The students record selected sections from the text that support their understanding of the text and support the main idea or message of the text.

The students then comment on why they selected this piece from the text and why this piece is significant in the ‘I say’ column. After the students have recorded their thoughts they need to discuss this with a partner and share their findings and thoughts.

Once they have completed the discussion with a partner they complete the ‘and so’ column to either confirm or adjust their interpretation and conclusions drawn from the text and restate their understanding in their own words.

Text says scaffold (PDF 86.49KB)

Activity 3: inferring temporal relationships

Ask students to highlight the words in the text that show the order in which the events took place. Students then list the events that occurred in chronological order, and write a series of sentences that combine this information using conjunctions of time such as before, previously, after, subsequently, when, just as, although, while, or adverbs such as later, afterwards, then, at that juncture, next.


Australian curriculum – ACELY1742: Interpreting, analysing, evaluating: Interpret, analyse and evaluate how different perspectives of issue, event, situation, individuals or groups are constructed to serve specific purposes in texts.

NSW syllabus – EN5-2A: Interpret, analyse and evaluate how different perspectives of issue, event, situation, individuals or groups are constructed to serve specific purposes in texts.

NSW literacy continuum – Comprehension, Cluster 15, Marker 2: Makes reasoned inferences based on implicit information (including causal and temporal relationships).

Return to top of page