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How to improve data interpretation skills for analysing the graphs perfectly . Any material which I can practise from ?

Anonymous A asked on Sep 03, 2019 - 2 answers
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Francesco
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replied on Sep 03, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

Vlad already mentioned some resources you can use for practice; in terms of the general approach for the analysis, I would recommend the following steps:

1. Read the graph

  • Ask for one minute of time to understand the graph.
  • Summarize what the graph is about. Read in particular the graph title (often forgotten), the axes and the legend.

2. Analyze the graph

  • Repeat the main question you have to answer. Many people don’t spend time to clarify the specific question they have to answer; consequently, they answer the wrong question. Don’t be one of them and be sure to restate what is the main insight you have to derive
  • Provide an analysis related to the question. Once you have a clear understanding of the graph, then, and only then, you can move to an analysis of how the graph can answer the question you have repeated.

3. Provide a conclusion for the graph.

  • Answer to the question asked. Again, very often people simply state what the graph is about, without providing any conclusion. A great candidate will provide a connection between the analysis done and the previous question formulated, with a clear summary of the whole analysis
  • Present the next steps to follow based on such conclusion. As a last step, a great candidate will present what can be done next to help further the client on the particular question asked.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Vlad
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replied on Sep 03, 2019
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Hi,

Several things about analyzing the tables / charts:

  1. Take a minute to look at the graph / table. It's important ot gather the thoughts!
  2. Read the graph title
  3. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc)
  4. Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary)
  5. Identify whats going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures,
  6. Look for unusual things (consultants love to integrate these traps in charts) - correlations, outliers, etc
  7. Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think of potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  8. Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

Sources to learn from (prioritized):

  1. "Say it with Charts" by Gene Zalazny
  2. "Pyramid Principle" by Barbara Minto
  3. Learn basic statistics (Any GMAT or MBA prep guides)
  4. Check all available MBB presentations and publications. Practice to derive conclusions and check yourself with the actual ones from the article / presentation
  5. GMAT IR part (Official guide and Manhattan prep)
  6. "Consulting Bible" and "Vault guide for consulting" - check the chapters on cases with graphs in these books

Good luck!