Each of the four Integrated Reasoning question types on the GMAT tests your analytical ability in a slightly different way, so your approach depends on the question format. Table analysis questions present you with a table that contains several columns of data, similar to the one shown.

As you can see, a little bit of explanatory material precedes the table, but don’t waste too much time reading those words. Usually, everything you need to answer the question appears in the data table.

GMAT table analysis Sample table analysis format

The Sort By feature at the top of the table allows you to organize the information by column heading, an element that comes in handy when you analyze the three statements that follow the table. When you click on Sort By, a drop-down menu of all column headings appears. Clicking on the column heading in the menu causes the table to rearrange its data by that category.

So, if you were to click on Cuisine Type in the drop-down menu in the preceding figure, the table would rearrange the order of the rows alphabetically so that all the American restaurants would be listed first, followed by the Asian, Italian, Latin, Mexican, Steakhouse, and Seafood restaurants, respectively.

Using the information in the table, you decide whether the proper response to each statement is True or False, Inferable or Not Inferable, Yes or No, or some other similar either/or answer choice dictated by the specifications of the question. Then you indicate your choice by clicking on the circle next to the appropriate answer.

These questions require you to manipulate data and make observations and calculations. Some of the most common calculations are statistical ones, such as percentages, averages, medians, and ratios, so table analysis questions can be some of the easiest questions to answer in the IR section. Here’s how to make sure you get them right:

  • Jump to the question immediately. Most of the information you need appears in the table, so you rarely need to read the introductory paragraph that comes before the table. Glance at the column headings to get an idea of the type of information the table provides, and then move promptly to the question.
  • Read the question carefully. You’re most likely to get tripped up on these questions simply because you haven’t read them carefully enough to figure out exactly what data they ask you to evaluate.
  • Isolate the relevant column heading. Often, the key to answering a table analysis question is ordering the data properly. Quickly figure out which column provides you with the best way to arrange the data and sort by that column. For example, if you were asked for the neighborhood on the list with the most participating restaurants, you’d sort by neighborhood.
  • Make accurate computations. Determine exactly what calculations the question requires and perform them accurately, either in your head or on the calculator. Based on the figure, for example, you could easily figure the restaurant with the greatest average daily number of meals sold by sorting by that column and glancing at the highest number. However, calculating which participating restaurant in the downtown neighborhood brought in the greatest average daily gross revenue may require the calculator to multiply each restaurant’s price per meal by its average daily number of meals sold.
  • Make use of your noteboard. Keep track of more complex calculations on your noteboard. As you calculate each downtown restaurant’s average daily gross revenue, for example, record the results on your noteboard. Then you can easily compare the four values without having to memorize them.

Table analysis questions may not require that you use all the data provided. For example, you didn’t need to evaluate Cuisine Type for any of the question parts in the example question. Don’t worry if you don’t use the data in some columns at all. Part of the task in answering table analysis questions is knowing what data is important and what’s irrelevant.

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