5 Steps for Graphics Interpretation Questions on the GMAT

Analyzing graphs, including pie charts, column graphs, scatterplots, and more, is a key skill to possess on the GMAT. Being able to interpret problems that use graphs in different forms will be crucial for your Data Insights score and overall GMAT score. You will be given a statement with two blanks. Fill in each blank with one of several choices presented to you in a drop-down menu.

This article covers five strategies for interpreting graphics questions on the GMAT.

• 1. Start with the Big Picture

Do not just skip the graphic entirely and go straight to the statement. You’ll be more likely to fall into traps set by the statement if you haven’t looked at the graph yet.. Read every tiny piece of writing on or near the data, including titles, the labels for the x and y-axes, column names, and even footnotes.

• 2. Pay Attention to Symbols.

Once you understand the big picture, take special care to note any units (mph, m/sec, cm2, etc.) on the graph, or any symbols provided. Are we dealing with seconds, minutes, or hours? Does one graph represent the month of June, while another graph represents the entire year?

• 3. Locate Any Trend in the Data.

Quickly note the relationship between any given variables in the graph. For Venn diagrams, ask yourself where the least and greatest number of people lie. Do any variables have a direct or indirect correlation? Where does the data seem to spike or significantly decrease?

• 4. Look at the Answers Before Reading the Statement.

The statement contains the two drop-down blanks you need to fill in. Before reading the statement, click on the drop-downs to view the format of the answer choices. Are they words? Numbers? Are they close together or far apart (in other words: can you estimate)? The form of the answers will give you valuable clues as to how to think about solving the statement.

• 5. Identify the Keywords in the Statement

Even small words like “less than” or “equates to” can make a huge difference. What keywords are found in the statements that are ALSO found in the graphic? Move slowly through each statement.

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