Solving Graphics Interpretation questions in GMAT Integrated Reasoning is one of the key skills test takers need to hone in order to achieve a good score.
This video from the new GMAT tutorial series produced by PrepAdviser and examPAL gives you an overview of Graphics Interpretation.
Integrated Reasoning (IR) is a section in, and of itself, on the GMAT. It is unique in that it combines both mathematical skills and verbal skills. In the Integrated Reasoning section, we will face 12 questions in 30 minutes – which means we have an average of 2.5 minutes per question. This may sound like a lot, but the truth is IR questions are a lot of work, and hence, this is the GMAT section in which we are most pressed for time. The Integrated Reasoning section gets its own score – between 1 and 8, in single digit increments.
There are two other special things about this section: one is that we get to use a calculator – and we will need it! The other is that this is the only section on the test which is not computer-adaptive: the questions do not change based on how well or poorly we are doing.
Questions on the Integrated Reasoning section fall into four separate categories: Graphics Interpretation, Two-Part Analysis, Table Analysis, and Multi-Source Reasoning.
In this video, we are going to discuss Graphics Interpretation.
In Graphics Interpretation questions, we are presented with a graph of some sort.
When first approaching these questions, we need to study the graph and try to see what TALE it tells us. This means we will look at the following aspects:
- Text – We will read it, including the title – if there is one – and take notes.
- Axes – What does each axis represent? In which units?
- Legend – What does each symbol, colour or texture represent in the graph?
- Example – We will pick a random point and ask ourselves: what does it represent?
Next to the graph, we will find a passage of text, which we have to read. Not only do we need to read the text in order to answer the question, but the text is often crucial to understand the information presented in the table as well. For example, in this case, only by reading the text will we understand that the increments of 10 on the y-axis represent thousands of kilometres. Similarly, the text is not enough without the graph – there is lots of information which can be found in the graph only.
Finally, and most importantly, at the end of the text will be two sentences, in which a word or a section is left blank. Our job is to complete each sentence by choosing the right option from a drop-down menu.
It is important to note that both of these sentences make up a single question, and there is no partial credit – in order to get the points for the question we have to get them both right.
In this case, the first statement asks us to choose the amount of kilometres per hour a satellite was flying at a specific time, while the second statement asks us to determine which date this satellite last sent a signal.
When looking at the statements, it is important to ask ourselves several questions:
- What are we looking for? These include things like:
- Words that point us to formulas: such as “probability”, “profit”, “mean” and so on.
- Subjects that demand that we ask another question. For example, if the question mentions “ratio”, we should immediately ask – is a quantity given in the question or only ratios?
- Asking – Is that really the subject? Some questions seem at first to be about a particular topic, but actually are about something else.
- If the question says “products are produced” – does that mean it is a work problem? It could be, but it could be something else.
- If “distance” is mentioned – is the question about figuring out a rate? That is not necessarily the case.
- Next, we need to ask ourselves – how can we find what we are looking for? Visually? Using a formula? Where in the graph should we look for the data? And do we need a calculator?
- Finally, we need to ask – how should we approach the question? We should remember the different tools at our disposal:
- If the question calls for a tough calculation, we can take the precise approach and use the calculator. IR has some crazy calculations just because there is a calculator – so use it or lose it!
- If there are no numbers at all, we can take the alternative approach and just pick numbers to use in the question.
- Finally, we have to use logic and learn all we can from the graph visually. Many IR questions do not require any calculation at all.
So this is the first part of Integrated Reasoning, out of four. Do not miss the other three!