Data Interpretation Tricks
Data Interpretation is easily the most neglected topic during CAT preparation. Most often, people assume that there is nothing they can do to improve their scores in DI and hence, do not try to work on this topic. Many people simply do not know how to prepare and hence, avoid this section. However, DI contains 10 out of 60 questions in CAT and properly attempting it can easily be the difference between 90 percentile and 99 percentile or above. With this in mind, we bring to you 10 tips to improve Data Interpretation Score in CAT.
1. Read the question carefully
The first and the most important step in solving any Data Interpretation question is to read the question carefully. You should read all the data that comes with the graphs or table in the question. Many a times, the data given below the graph turns out to be more important than most of the numbers in the graphs.
2. Analyze the Data Carefully
The next step should be to analyze the given graph/data carefully. Do not try to see the questions first and find out the answers accordingly. You will waste your time if you follow that method. Try to understand the graph. What is it about? Which years does it cover? Is the data in absolute terms or in percentage terms? What do the two axis signify?, etc. Look at the statistics for each graph, chart, table or pie diagram. Look carefully at the labels. Make sure you understand the central them of the data.
3. Don’t worry about too much data
Try to understand the question. Sometimes, the question contains lots of data that is unrelated and not required for answering the questions. When you look at the question you may get discouraged by the lengthy tables or by the amount of information below the graphs. But, if you were to understand what the data is about and then look at the question, you may find that you only have to use part of the data. Hence, it is important that you do not get disheartened by the size of the data and skip the question without looking closely at it.
4. Skip Questions that need too much Calculation
Some questions ask too much from you. They require lots of calculation in order to be solved. These questions are known as the speed breakers. Such questions are best left alone, at least in the first round. Once you have finished solving all the easy questions and still have time for the section to end, you should attempt these questions. If you try such questions, you will lose your precious time on them and may not be able to attempt some simple questions that may follow. By attempting easy questions first, you will improve Data Interpreatation Score in CAT
5. Avoid Unnecessary Calculations
We have a habit from our school days to solve questions in a step by step method. This is a very good habit for school exams but a really bad habit when it comes to attempting CAT papers / mocks. There are many unnecessary calculations that we do which cost us a precious few seconds per question. Sometimes, there are many steps that can be skipped but we still do it as we are trained to solve in a step by step method. Learn to skip those steps.
6. Pay close attention to the units used
Sometimes, the questions will use a different unit for the question and another unit for the data. For example, the data given may be about sales volume in Millions. However, the question may ask about sales volume in lakhs. If you do not pay close attention to the unit, you may chose the wrong answer. Another question may talk about two roads for example and may give the time in hours in one case and minutes in another. Always convert the units into the ones asked. So, if the question asks how many minutes it will take, convert the data given in hours into minutes. Or if the question asks in hours, convert the data in minutes to hours.
7. Learn to Approximate
CAT is not about finding the exact answer always. Most of the times, the options given are far enough from each other to give you enough room for approximation. So, for example, if you are asked to divide 542678/181234, you can easily approximate that the answer will be somewhere around 3 by looking at the first 2 numbers only. 54/18 is 3. So, instead of dividing it and finding the accurate answer, try to find an appproximate answer. This will give you the correct answer more often than not. If however, the options are close, you will still be able to eliminate 1 or 2 options easily.
8. Do not assume anything
Sometimes there are questions which will ask us to find out something holistic data for which is not available. Always be alert enough to see whether the data given is enough to answer the question or not and do not go forward with answering the questions based on assumptions.
There is a joke on this which I am sure most of you may have heard. It goes something like this:
A man was driving with his son to some destination. Midway, they had an accident and the son was injured. The father took him to the hospital. The doctor there saw the boy and said “He is my Son”. How is this possible?
—> The Doctor is his mother.
Female Doctors do exist.
The joke relies on the fact that most people would assume the doctor to be a man. This leads to this riddle/joke’s punchline.
9. Don’t attempt DI sets in the last 10 minutes
Last 10 minutes often bring with them anxiety and solving DI questions requires a cool head which aids analysis of data. Solving a set may prove costly as panic may kick in and if one is not able to solve the set it may lead to loss of time which otherwise could have been devoted to singlets.
10. Learn to skim through data
In recent years CAT/XAT have been giving sets which have a lot of data in them and all the data is not required to solve the questions. Skimming through the data and avoiding entanglement becomes an important part of the process. So focus on what is required in the question rather than forming tables/ consolidated form for all the data.