GMAT Integrated Reasoning: Table Analysis

March 15, 2012

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In its new Integrated Reasoning section, the GMAT really wants to determine whether you can work with tabular data. Nowhere is this more clear than in the format of "Table Analysis."

Table Analysis brings together two skills: parsing tabular data, and making logical deductions. The latter should be familiar--it's what underlies almost all of Critical Reasoning, as well as a fair amount of Reading Comprehension. Dealing with tables, while it does appear on a Quant question here and there, has never been a top priority of the GMAT.

Now it is. Table Analysis questions take advantage of the computer-based nature of the GMAT. These aren't just tables, they are sortable spreadsheets. The GMAC has made available a few sample questions, which you can try here. (There will be more practice material available next month with the release of the 13th edition of the GMAT Official Guide.)

As I've noted, the deductions you are expected to make are very similar to those in Critical Reasoning. In fact, you may find them to be easier. The challenge here is facing a new set of data and understanding how all the pieces fit together.

Like the other question types on the new Integrated Reasoning section, Table Analysis is intended to gauge your skills in more "real-world" scenarios. Odds are, you've dealt with plenty of spreadsheets in your life, so you are accustomed to making decisions based on this sort of data. The challenge, then, is like that of Reading Comprehension. You may be familiar with the format, but the content (market share of soybeans, the percentage of Russians who visit museums, etc) is probably unfamiliar.

When more practice material is released, I'll have more to say about how to attack these new question types. In the meantime, think a little more logically about what your spreadsheets are saying to you--it just might boost your GMAT score.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

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