graphics interpretation questions on the gmat

5 Steps for Graphics Interpretation Questions on the GMAT

Analyzing graphs is a key skill to possess on the GMAT. Being able to interpret problems that use graphs in different forms such as: Venn diagrams, and scatter plots will be crucial for your Data Insights score and overall GMAT score. will be two statements, each with a missing portion. Fill in the blank with one of four 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. This will significantly decrease your accuracy as you will spend the majority of your time focusing on understanding the graphic thoroughly to later “interpret” it. Make sure you 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. Scroll down or left/right if necessary to ensure you’ve caught everything.

  • 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. Identify the keywords in the sentences.

    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.

  • 5. Predict before looking at the drop-down

    Come up with your own answer choice before clicking on the options in the drop-down menu when taking a practice test or quiz. If you do not find your answer as one of the presented options, you have likely made a simple mistake either in 1) your understanding of the way information if presented in the graphic, or 2) your understanding of the specific phrasing of the statement. Don’t worry if your predictions are off at first.