GRE Data Analysis

The GRE data analysis questions (or, like many people call them, the "graph" questions) require you to interpret and utilize graphs, charts, and tabulated data. There will be a handful of such questions in each of the two GRE quantitative sections. There is no general rule or fool-proof study method which will prepare you for all possible data analysis questions types. Plots, charts, and tables can be presented in many formats and styles, so it does not make sense for you to memorize each type of plot or chart that you might expect to see.

However, there are general tactics that you can employ when answering data analysis questions -- tactics that are simple steps which you can use to read, analysis, and understand any graphic or tabular data set. Among the key things that you should remember:

  • BEFORE you read the question, look at the chart, table, or data that is provided and make sure you understand what information the data is trying to convey.
  • Take note of any units that are used on the chart, and realize that you may have to convert percentages to ratios, pie charts to percentages, bar graph values to concrete numbers, etc.
  • If possible, estimate. Sometimes data analysis questions can be answered without performing a great deal of calculations.
  • Just as in the reading comprehension questions, do not assume outside knowledge. Answer each data analysis question using only the information that is given.
There are many data analysis topics that you should be familiar with. Many of them are described here. They include:
  • Averages
  • Box Plots
  • Normal Distributions
  • Counting Methods - Sets