How to ace Data Interpretation in GRE?
Do you want to know how to ace GRE Data Interpretation? Have you started your GRE preparations? Are you having difficulty with the Quant section?
If your answer to any of the above questions is ‘Yes’, then you’ve come to the right place! But to understand how to tackle Data Interpretation in GRE, we must first have a comprehensive idea of what it is in the first place.
What is GRE Data interpretation?
Data interpretation GRE is not like regular data interpretation. To be successful in this section, you need to have special skills. If you’re just beginning your GRE prep, you need to know how important this section is, and how you can increase your GRE math score by turning this section into your strength. Data Interpretation may not seem like the most prominent question type on the GRE, but on test day, you can be sure to see at least 6 questions from this concept out of a total of 40 questions in the GRE Quant section. That’s 15% of the entire math section – which should tell you how important this section is if you want to succeed in quant.
Data Interpretation in GRE, or DI for short, is one of the 5 types of questions that fall under the Quantitative syllabus. They require you to analyze and interpret data that is often in a pictorial form and subsequently answer questions based on them. This could be either in the form of a table, a graph, or a chart and is followed up by either multiple choice or numeric entry questions.
Some questions on data interpretation in GRE are straightforward, others might be a little trickier- this is because it is also possible that you may be asked to determine if the diagram you’ve been given has enough information to answer the question
GRE Importance :
DI is a crucial part of the Quant sections on the GRE because it assesses a different set of skills. It tests your ability to understand, visualize, and extrapolate information; a skill that is of grave importance in Grad school, especially if you wish to enter the STEM streams.
Data Interpretation in GRE doesn’t require an understanding of some of the more academically complex math concepts that are needed to tackle other parts of the exam; rather it measures a more cognitive aspect of your profile. For instance- pictures speak a thousand words, and figures/graphs/charts, all allow you to understand what’s going on without the tediousness of reading a long passage. Graphs help you learn a lot of information in a shorter amount of time, but the chances of error also increase. There are no pre-learned formulae you can apply, but rather have to rely on your wits to get it accurately. This is where the GRE measures your interpretational skills.
Thus, if you aspire to achieve a score of 160+ in the Quant section, then it’s important to spend enough time learning and practicing Data Interpretation in GRE. On average, you can expect a minimum of 4 to 5 questions in each Quant section.
This means that DI GRE carries a weightage of 20% in the Quant section
Common Mistakes to Lookout :
While attempting such questions, we have noticed that most students tend to make similar kinds of mistakes. While there are only 4 to 5 DI questions per section, attempting them successfully is pivotal if you wish to achieve a score of 160+. We have made a list of the most common types of errors students are liable to make:
Misinterpreting data due to impatience or over-confidence
Remember how at the start we mentioned that Data Interpretation in GRE questions are really tricky? Well, this is why. More often than not, most students tend to get DI questions incorrect- not because they don’t know how to solve them, but rather, because they know how to solve them a little too well…
That’s right! Most students tend to see a DI question that may seem pretty simple at first glance and get carried away; not giving it a second thought. This is a mistake. Being overconfident and trying to solve such questions in a hurry in an attempt to perhaps save a precious few seconds can leave you vulnerable to errors. In DI GRE questions, the answer may not always be what meets the eye. So, take your time, reason out what the question asks, and then attempt it.
Speaking of saving a few precious seconds, this is another type of error most students commit. While time-management isn’t strictly a Data Interpretation in GRE error, it plays a significant role in it. As per our student data, these questions usually take a little longer to solve. This is important to keep in mind so that you can equally balance your Quant section.
Lack of practice
Since these questions don’t test memory or any pre-learned skills- but rather measure your interpretation and extrapolation abilities- they won’t come easy, especially for new newcomers. Data Interpretation in GRE requires repeated practice to gain mastery. Practice makes perfect!
It is also pretty common for students to overlook certain details in the figure when faced with these types of questions. Because this question doesn’t offer any elaborate textual data but relies on your ability to understand and analyze the figure, it could be possible that students overlook minute details that might hold the key to finding the right answer.
Different Types of DI Questions
On the GRE, Data Interpretation questions can come in a plethora of forms.
If you wish to ace Data Interpretation in GRE questions, then it is imperative to understand the different types of questions that constitute this category, so that you can familiarize yourself with them. This will help you approach DIs with confidence on your test day!
There are 4 principal types:
- Pie Charts
- Column Charts
- Line Graphs
- Box and Scatter Plots
The most popular- and perhaps also the easiest, Pie Charts are circular graphs divided into sectors; each of which holds some significant data that when put together form a whole. The sectors demonstrate percentages or proportions of a quantity that is demarcated in the question alongside.
The beauty of the pie charts is that they convey a lot of information easily. You must be able to then extrapolate the information from the chart to answer any question given to you.
Column charts are the second most common type of questions based on data interpretation in GRE. Also known as ‘Bar Graphs’, these figures showcase rectangles or ‘columns’ with varying lengths. These lengths highlight different data; that is, their measurements are proportional to the values they represent.
While most column charts are plotted vertically, don’t be surprised if they are horizontally presented to you as well. The basic concept and premise remain the same: the length of the bars is proportional to their value!
Another type of DI GRE question that is bound to come at least a few times in your exam is Line charts. You must have already seen these types of graphs feature on TVs and newspapers often. This is because they are the most common type of chart used to compare progress between two (or more) quantities.
For example, the GDP growth rates of two countries over time can be plotted using line graphs, or the performance of two stocks over the last quarter.
So, what is a line graph? A line graph demonstrates information in the form of a series of data points that are connected by a straight line- called the trendline.
The most significant aspect to understand this type of data is that Line graphs help you understand movement or growth!
Box and Scatter Plots
And last but not least is the Box and Scatter Plot graphs. Now, while such graphs are only occasionally given on the GRE, it is our duty to stay prepared for any such contingencies.
A scatter plot is a way of displaying bivariate data. This means that it examines two separate variables for a common subject or set of subjects. A simple example of a scatter plot is a relationship between two variables such as the age and weight of several people and plotting that on the same graph.
Tips to Ace Data Interpretation in GRE
Here are some special tips and tricks to help you ace the DI GRE!
- Develop a Strong Conceptual Understanding
- The Art of Being Approximately Accurate
- Watch Out for Keywords
- Two is Better than One
Develop a Strong Conceptual Understanding
As mentioned above, DI GRE isn’t a test of your memory or rote-learning skills, but rather, it is a measure of your understanding and extrapolating of ability. It examines how well you have understood and internalized the concepts you are taught, rather than test your ability to recall certain formulae.
Thus, it is important to be well-prepared and thoroughly clear in your notions regarding topics such as
- Percentages & Ratio
Building a strong conceptual base especially in these topics ensures that you proceed with the correct methods, despite traps in the question.
The Art of Being Approximately Accurate
We have spoken at length about how DI GRE questions can sometimes cost you more time than their counterparts. Thus, this technique will help you limit the time you spend on such questions, without the cost of losing out on accuracy.
Firstly, it is important to understand that the GRE is designed to test your presence of mind! This means that you will encounter some challenging numbers and calculations. But it’s possible that this perception can also work against you sometimes.
Unless a question has multiple steps, we suggest that you round off your values and proceed with your calculations. If your answer is closest to any of the options; mark it and move on! This will save you time as well as unnecessary effort.
However, beware! Don’t use this tip if the answer choices are too close to one another. These could be traps. This is a trick that works often, but not always. Your forethought is required before you choose to mark an answer.
Watch Out for Keywords
Another DI GRE hack is utilizing keywords. Read the question carefully and understand clearly what you’ve been asked to answer. What the creators of the GRE love doing is presenting you with two correct answer choices- but to two different questions!
They do this by presenting you with excess data; useless information to bait you into including that in your calculations. The final value of this calculation will then be given as one of your answer choices. While your calculations are correct, they will have lured you into getting the answer to the wrong question.
This is once again to test your focus and presence of mind. If you haven’t read the question- the actual question- correctly because you were in a time crunch, or simply overconfident, then you will end up choosing the wrong answer and hence lose out in a silly manner.
Common things to look for are units of measurement in the axes, decimal points, and other such smaller details in the fine print.
Two is Better than One
Interpreting data quickly is a skill that comes with practice. You need to cultivate it, just as you would hone any other talents. Make sure you practice different kinds of charts and questions. This will help you overcome most of the problems mentioned above. And since DI GRE is a sure-shot question carrying 20% of the Quant section weightage, it pays to perfect your techniques.
A recommendation from us would be to practice questions where there is more than one type of chart and require you to correlate data. This will help you understand the relationships between different types of information and the variables connecting them better.
Additionally- and perhaps luckily for you– DI GRE questions don’t usually reflect the same level of difficulty as questions from other categories, such as Algebra or Arithmetic for example. That is to say, GRE understands the nature of such questions and therefore doesn’t set the difficulty of these too high. If you make yourself aware of the strategies needed to address such questions, then you should be in a safe spot.
This was a comprehensive article on how to ace the Data Interpretation questions on the GRE. Follow these tricks, and you are bound to ace it!