Interpreting data on the GRE math section may come in many forms: charts, graphs, tables, or extrapolating information from a reading passage. Mastering all the different ways to interpret data will be an important part of scoring well on the GRE. Make sure to remember the following tips and strategies when faced with a data interpretation question. Then, use them to solve the sample problem below.
GRE Data Interpretation: Tips and Strategies
GRE Data Interpretation: Practice Question
What is the average (arithmetic mean) height, in inches, of the 5 students’ mothers?
Answer and Explanation
After you examine the graph carefully, you should notice that the y-axis has the height of each student’s mother in inches. That means you will only refer to the information on the y-axis, as the x-axis (height of father) is not relevant to this question. With this in mind, we see that two mothers are 60 inches tall, one is 65 inches tall, and the other two are 70 inches tall. To find the average, we need to add all their heights together and then divide by 5, the total number of mothers. Let’s do the math:
60 + 60 + 65 + 70 + 70 = 325 (all heights together)
325 ÷ 5 = 65 (average height—or arithmetic mean—of the mothers)
Now that we’ve done the math, we can see that C is the right answer!
(There’s another, faster way to solve this problem. If you’re good at noticing patterns, you would’ve seen that the average of the two mothers at 60 inches tall and the other two mothers at 70 inches tall would’ve been 65 inches. This is the same height as the other remaining mother, meaning the average height for all the mothers would be 65. Looking for patterns like this can save you time when completing data interpretation questions, but if you’re stuck, just do the math to get the correct answer.)
Data interpretation questions on the GRE require you to read and examine any charts, graphs or tables closely. Getting enough test prep will ensure you’re ready for any data interpretation questions that come your way on test day.