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Next Generation GMAT: Graphics Interpretation

Launching in June 2012, the Next Generation GMAT exam will include a 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section with four new question formats, which measure skills that management professors have identified as important for incoming students to have. This is the second in a series of Graduate Management News articles spotlighting the new question formats.

Skills tested: Graphics Interpretation problems measure test takers’ ability to interpret and analyze data presented in different graphical formats. Test takers integrate data, discern relationships among data, and make inferences from a set of data. Some graphics interpretation questions require quantitative analysis, such as calculating change in a given value over time or comparing different rates of growth. Others require interpretive skills, extracting meaning from an overall presentation of data.ds

Click on the graphic for a sample question using Adobe Flash animation

Description: Each Graphics Interpretation prompt presents a graph or graphical image, such as a scatter plot (see example), x/y graph, bar chart, statistical curve distribution, or pie chart, and will usually have some text explanation. Each prompt has several statements to be completed with fill-in-the-blank drop-down menus, and test takers are asked to interpret the graphic and choose the word, number, or phrase from each drop-down menu to make each statement correct.

Relevance: Integrated Reasoning involves not only assimilating data from different sources but also interpreting information presented in different ways. Advances in computer technology, database systems, and computer-generated graphics have led to much more sophisticated data collection and measurement as well as to new graphical formats to present data. All of this data has to be analyzed and interpreted. Business schools and the business world demand people to evaluate data presented in different formats both to interpret past events and to predict future outcomes. 

Quote: "Data-based graphics are ubiquitous in presentations and reports encountered in the business world and in the MBA classroom. The ability to critically evaluate these graphics, extract the information they contain and properly interpret it in the context of the management issues at hand is invaluable.  Graphics Interpretation places an emphasis on these skills. Across the MBA curriculum, this is a type of skill both demanded and developed.”

Peter Klibanoff
Associate Professor of Managerial Economics & Decision Sciences
Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

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