In this video from the new GMAT tutorial series produced by PrepAdviser and examPAL we’re going to discuss a specific question we see in this section called Table Analysis.
In this type of question we’re presented with a data table summarizing information of some kind. The table will be headlined by a title. It’s important to pay attention to the title, as it usually gives us some important context about what is presented in the table. For example, in this table, the title both tells us the identities of the people mentioned in the table (family members of the president and vice-president), and the year for which the table presents information. Note that it also gives us important additional information about the context (such as – the entire families of the president and vice president are included) which can be quite important.
But the special aspect of these tables in these questions is that we are given the option to sort them by any of their columns – just like an Excel document or Google Sheets.
In this example, we’re given the option of sorting the table by first name, last name, percentage of salary income, and so on and so forth.
For those of us who often work with spreadsheets, this is familiar territory.
Now, to the right of the table, we have a question, which is really made up of three statements, each of which refers in some way to the information in the table.
By these statements are two columns – true and false, and for each statement we have to select the appropriate column. What’s important to realize is that there is no partial credit – each table is a single question, and in order to get points for it we have to get all three true or false statements right!
To give an example, let’s look at the first statement in this question – “only one of the families has a non-salary income”. Now, it’s clear from this statement that we’re going to have to compare both families – so we should sort through them by family name!
Following this, we have to figure out which is the relevant column to find what we are looking for. Since we are asked about the relationship between income and salary, this is the fourth column. By adding up the percentages of each person’s salary out of the entire family’s income, we can see that the Jones family adds up to less than 100%, meaning they must have some additional income.
So, what did this teach us about solving a Table Analysis question?
First, we have to make sure we extract all the relevant information from the table: we need to read the text, examine the headers and use the title to understand the context. We should also pick an example – this means selecting a table cell at random and asking: “what does this represent”? If we’re not sure, that’s a sign we do not understand the table. We’ll re-examine the aspects of the table we’ve just discussed until we feel we have cleared it up.
Second, we should move on to the question. We need to ask ourselves:
- What are we looking for exactly?
- How can we find it? Is it through comparing data? Is it by using a formula?
- Where should we look for the data?
- Do we need a calculator?
Finally, when asked to compare data, (such as “which is larger/ smaller?”) or to follow a trend, we’ll look for logic first (such as direct or inverse proportions).
So this was the third part of Integrated Reasoning, out of four. Only one left!