Data Interpretation - 1




To some DI appears to be toughest puzzle of all. I received so many queries on DI that I devout a two phase strategy to discuss it. First phase is on general funda and second on specific funda. Today is first funda - general gyaan.

General Funda

Data interpretation - yes! It's a test of interpretation and not on calculations. Keep it in mind - DI is not a test of data calculation. Some of you tend to avoid this section - my request - DON'T AVOID!

If you can grasp it, it's one of the most scoring sections and you can score a lot of marks here! Now that CAT is one month away, spend a week on data interpretation - what are the questions and why did you avoid them - analyze thoroughly. One week of only DI - I bet you can crack at least half of the questions in CAT06 if you were a perpetual avoider till now!

Don't panic looking at the problem - it's not rocket science and it can be solved even without using pen and paper. Yes, you heard it right - 90% of the DI problems can be solved without using pen and paper.

For that you need two things -

  • Idea about fractions and percentages
  • Think smart - where you can avoid calculations - Avoid it!

Let's take the possible problems one by one:

1. Graphical interpretation

Here mostly you'll get line graphs, bar graphs, pie chart, 3 D graphs, flow diagrams, etc. To familiarize you have excel which can generate all the above graphs and tables.

Now-a-days, CAT exams focus less on complex calculations and more on interpretation. 

My funda is -

  • Try to attempt where there are 5+ questions for a pair or a graph

  • Take first 5 seconds to look at the graph

  • Take next 25 seconds to read the questions. What do they want from you?

  • Next 30 seconds look at the graph from question point of view - try to analyze what you need to do to answer. You'll need fractions and percentages to answer most - be it growth rate or interest!

Now answer. You'll need less than 30 seconds per question. Hence, you'll solve total 5 questions in (5+25+30+30*5)=210 seconds or 42 seconds per question - which is quite impressive!

Try it! 

Here if there's a complex graph with one or two questions to answer then try to avoid it if possible. Not because it's complex - because it'll eat out your time! If all questions are like that then you are left with no choice but to answer!

Try not to use pen and paper for solving - use mental calculator to solve - it'll save a lot of time.

2. Analytical Reasoning or Logical Reasoning

Same principles apply here. Read the questions first and then look at the table, mentally chalk out your strategy how you are going to solve it and then solve. Most of these tables are a bit tricky - so read the questions carefully what is expected of you. You can use your paper and pencil here to do rough calculations if you are not able to track the question mentally.

It is very important to understand the structure of the questions in this section. If you can understand the structure - the actual thing expected from you - this part is fairly easy to solve. Don't panic looking at big tables.

3. Data Sufficiency

 No one is expecting exact answers from you in this section. So, no need for paper work. For those who get confused here, this is what you should be doing -

  • Read the question first - follow it carefully - what you need to answer. Is it only x or both x and y? Be clear on it! Many a times examinees just look at the equations without a single glance at the question asked - that's a big big mistake! Even when you know eveything you just pick the wrong answer.
  • Look at the first equation only - block the second one with your palm. Can you solve the above question with this equation? Mark yes or no there.
  • Now look at the second equation. Again, can you solve the question asked with only this equation? Mark yes or no.
  • Now look at both - together. Can you solve the question asked with both? Mark yes or no. 
  • Tally the yes and no-s. You have already got an answer!

All these hardly takes 30 seconds to do! See - it's simple. Only thing you need is a structured pattern to answer them!

 So, what's the bottomline?

  • Try solving problems in your head
  • No need to solve - for some problems just a careful look will solve it
  • Follow a structure to solve the problems.

Now that CAT is just one month away - use your time to revise what you have done till date and chalk a strategy. Without a pre-defined strategy you'll be lost in CAT - this is the opportune time. 

Wait for the second part where I'll discuss solving specific problems in DI!

All the best!