DATA INTERPRETATION : The types and their characteristics - Samrat Roy

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    Samrat Roy, Regional Manager, ENDEAVOR Careers Pvt. Ltd., is based out of Kolkata. He has trained over 15000 students for various competitive examinations like CAT, GMAT, GRE in the last 13 years. His area of interest is Quantitative Aptitude(QA), Data Interpretation(DI) and Logical Reasoning(LR).

    One of the major areas in CAT and almost all the other Management entrance tests is Data Interpretation(DI). As the name suggests, a given set of Data followed by some questions are to be comprehended, analyzed and answered by a candidate. Many people are of the opinion that DI is the only area which extends its utility beyond the B-School campus and far into the corporate career of a person.

    Over the years, in different examinations, we have seen DI getting clubbed with Math though sometimes it is placed as a separate section. Some tests prefer calculation based DI sets, while some prefer Logic based DI sets or, to create a twist, a combination of the methods.

    Types of DI sets:

    The basic types of DI sets are as follows

    (1) Tables: Tables are the most common types as most of the information can easily be represented in this form. In our daily life we come across various information in tabular form e.g. scorecard, grocers bill, restaurant bill etc. It has been seen that most CAT takers comprehend tables very easily and tables are more calculation driven DI sets. The typical calculation would include finding average, ranking them, finding the percentage change etc.

    (2) Bar Diagrams: The second type of Data representation is “bar diagrams” where bars of different sizes and colour are used. Here, the questions are a mix of calculation as well as comparison of data. Ex – Bar chart representing the runs scored in every over of a cricket match. The advantage of a bar diagram is that each bar is distinct from the other and can be easily identified. Bar diagrams are of two types, normal and stacked bars.



    (3) Line Graphs: The line graphs are pretty similar to the Bar Diagrams. If we join the top points of every bar we end up with a line diagram. The lines may or may not be distinct in nature and that will determine the difficulty level of the set. Many questions of a line diagram are of comparison as we can compare the growths, increase, decrease by looking at the slope of the lines in the figure.


    (4) Pie Charts: One of the most frequent ones in any test is a pie chart. Apart from calculation, they can be highly logical too. Pie charts can range from very easy direct ones to very complicated logical ones. In pie chart most questions are related to percentages.


    (5) Combination graphs: This is where a combination of the previous types are given. The set may contain a combination of a table and a pie chart or a bar and a line graphs. These sets in most cases are not calculation intensive and are logical in nature. With a good knowledge of the previous types this has never been difficult for the students.


    (6) Misc. graphs: These are other types of graphs which are not commonly seen in our day to day life and at times create problems for the examinees. At times the interpretation of the graph becomes difficult and time consuming. Example – scattered diagrams, radar charts etc.



    (7) Logic based sets: In this type a student requires combination of logical analysis and calculation. These sets are quite interesting in nature. They are risky too as cracking the puzzle is equally important as solving and answering all the questions. Ex – Games and tournaments etc.

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