How to prepare for Data Interpretation

Data Interpretation questions form an integral part of most of the competitive papers. In certain papers, it may be a separate section and for some others it could be a part of Quant or Reasoning Section. To master this area, you need to combine skills with strategy. You would need to master skills such as enhanced calculation speeds and employing logical tricks to simply the question. This section tests your ability to interpret and comprehend graphical data and then answer the questions that follow. What is essential is that you need to have an idea of all the types of questions that are asked, so that you can attempt them in the correct manner.

Along with mathematical and logical ability, this area is all about managing your time. So what you need to focus on is how to make sure you spend the minimum possible time on each of the questions. At the same time, it is essential to note that you perhaps cannot answer all the questions. There arises a need to realize where to stop and move onto the next set of data questions in case you are getting stuck on a particular set. Go through the following points, which will prove very important while preparing for data questions.

- To master DI Section must be thorough with Table (at least up to 20) , Squares, cubes, Square roots, percentage to fraction conversion & vice versa
- Tables, Bar graphs, league matches, line graphs, percentage change, case lets and data sufficiency are a few topics on which the questions are asked in the paper.
- Some of the mathematics areas which you must be good at are percentage, averages & ratio proportion.
- Most of the graphs are picked from any newspaper, journal or any other written source. These graph present or analyze real life scenarios. Try to relate given data to real life scenario to understand. Ask yourself why this data was collected?. Understand data thoroughly & logically clear basic terminology given in graph before jumping to questions.
- Further more certain types of data graphs are quite common: round robin matches in a particular sport, sales figures for a particular company, no of consumers among various competitors, investment and returns of a particular company etc.
- Understand the nature of data given whether Absolute or relative. Absolute data is lot easier to handle ( figures are in meters, Kg, seconds...). Comparative data can ne slightly tricky to handle ( figures are in percentage, parts per million, per thousand, ratios..etc).
- Another important aspect is that you need to be aware of the options given. In certain questions, the exact to the point answer is not necessary. The options are spaced in such a manner that approximations can be done. Thus looking at the options before answering the questions saves plenty of your time. In addition to this, in general also, the use of options is a must while answering data questions.
- In addition to this a selective approach is a must. You should decide which blocks to attempt based on the factors such as your strengths and weaknesses, level of difficulty of the block and the time constraint. Furthermore a selective approach can also be used within a particular block. This is because certain questions within the same block can be attempted within a very less time as compared to the other questions which are more strenuous and consume a lot of your time

Solved Examples

- Find the % change from 20,16,15,768 to 18,01,78,879.

- -10.45%
- 21.56%
- -35.76%
- 4.55%

This question seems really tough on the face of it. Now this type of questions can be answered very easily since the gap between options is considerably high.

To answer this, firstly the last digits of both the numbers can be left and the remaining values are 20 and 18. Knowing there is a decrease the answer has to be either a) or c). We know that 10% of 20 is 2, and -10% gives you 18. Therefore the answer can be only a).

Given below are a few more examples of seemingly tough calculations that illustrate the fact that learning the decimals and fraction equivalents are really helpful to answer certain questions.

- Find 6.25% of 3200. If you have to solve this question traditionally, it will really take 20 - 30 sec. But just knowing that 6.25% = 1/16th of a number, can really make it very simple for you i.e. then you just have to do 3200 x 1/16 = 200.
- Find 77% of 3600. Just like above, it will take too much time if we go by the long division method. Knowledge of fractions can come to our rescue here and it actually tells us that 77% is 7/9th of anything. Knowing this, the only calculation that you have to do is 3600 x 7/9 = 2800 and this is the answer.
- Find 91⅔ % of 7200. You only have to know here that 91? % is actually equal to 11/12th of the number and then you can easily answer as 7200 x 11/12 = 6600.
- 6⅔ % of 4500 is what percent of 750? Firstly knowing that 6⅔ % is actually 1/15th of the number. Thus, the number we are searching for becomes: 4500 x 1/15 = 300 Now further 300 is 2/5th of 750 i.e. 40% (Another instance of how we use the knowledge of fractions and percentages).

The above examples illustrate the use of basic mathematical knowledge in solving questions. Learning squares, cubes, tables, percentage to fraction relationships, etc. can go a long way in helping you master Data Interpretation questions, as these not only help you solve the questions but allow you to do so more efficiently.

The above form a series of comprehensive tricks and tips that you can use to master this section of various examinations. To end the piece, always remember one simple nugget of wisdom that never fails: tips and tricks are important but practice is the most important of all things. Make sure you practice your skills on a regular basis.