Many students often get confused between identifying an inference and a conclusion. What exactly is the difference between the two? An inference is an unstated or partial conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence provided. An inference may not provide the central idea, but it may lead to or support the central idea.
Workers who get seven hours of sleep at night tend to be more alert the next day than those who don’t get seven hours of sleep. A worker’s productivity depends on one’s level of alertness.
If you are a worker, you are likely to be more alert the next morning if you get seven hours of sleep.
Workers that want to be productive the next day should try and get at least seven hours of sleep the night before.
In the above example, the inference only takes the evidence one tiny step further and can be partially related to the conclusion. The conclusion provides the central idea behind the passage, and sets a more definitive tone. If you are a little confused, don’t worry. You don’t need to distinguish between the conclusion and inference on the exam, just know that inferences are similar to conclusions, taking evidence a tiny step further down the line of reasoning.