How to Draw Conclusions from a Passage

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  • 0:00 Drawing Conclusions
  • 1:30 Example Passage
  • 3:15 Practice Passage
  • 4:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

You might be able to understand everything the author says in a passage, but can you figure out what the author ISN'T saying? Try your hand at drawing conclusions - but not jumping to conclusions - in this video lesson.

Drawing Conclusions

When you read a passage, sometimes the most important points won't be directly stated in the passage. Instead, you have to put together some puzzle pieces to figure them out. This is called drawing conclusions. Drawing conclusions means putting together ideas in a passage to understand a point that wasn't directly stated in the passage. You already do this all the time. For example, let's say I tell you this tale of woe:

When I left the house this morning, the kitchen was totally clean and all the dishes were done. The only person home all day was my roommate Jeremy. And when I got home, the kitchen was a mess and there were dirty dishes everywhere, and I had to do them again just to make my own dinner! Ugh, it's so unfair.

It's not hard to draw the conclusion that I'm blaming Jeremy for the mess in the kitchen. On the other hand, if you conclude from this passage that somebody has probably broken into my house and is secretly using my dishes and also poisoning all the food in my fridge, then you're jumping to conclusions. Jumping to conclusions means drawing conclusions without any evidence to support them, or before you know all the evidence. I haven't given you any reason to suspect a break in or any other problem more serious than a messy and annoying roommate.

But most reading passages won't be quite that straight forward as my Jeremy problem, so let's take a look at drawing conclusions from more advanced or literary passages.

Example Passage

Here's an example. Let's say you read this passage:

The ancient Roman orator and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero was a phenomenal speaker. Even 2,000 years later, Cicero's words still have the power to make readers see Cicero through Cicero's eyes: the father of his country, the savior of the Republic, the last true patriot. My high school students compare Cicero's self-descriptions to the ancient Roman version of a perfectly-curated social media post: The personal branding is so compelling, and it appears so authentic, that it's hard to see past.

Now let's think about what conclusions we can draw from this passage. For example, what does the writer really think about Cicero? The writer of this passage never actually comes out and says directly that Cicero wasn't as great as he made himself out to be, but you can draw that conclusion from the passage. The passage first discusses Cicero's view of himself (the father of his country, the savior of the Republic, the last true patriot). But then the passage goes on to say that it appears authentic, implying that the image is not the whole truth.

The social media comparison also highlights this: A perfectly-curated social media post is one where the person carefully chooses what to share, often to present certain kind of image to the world. Just like someone who posts about his amazing vacation, but not the morning he slept in and was late to work.

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