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Is the priming method recommended for graph and table questions?

Patrick asked on Sep 28, 2018 - 3 answers
Msc. Business & Entrepreneurship, Looking for top consulting opportunities

The priming method which is recommended for answering verbal reasoning test questions involving paragraphs of text: is this method also recommended for questions involving graphs and tables or should you 'clear' the table or graph instead?

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Guennael
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replied on Sep 28, 2018
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Patrick - let me take another crack at your question since you added more details.

Updated question: "Within the context of a written exam which involves table and graph interpretation, should candidates read the question and answer choices first before looking at the graphs/tables?"

Updated answer: Yes, I recommend you at least look at the question before even looking at the data. Exhibits will often be complex, so it will help you to know in advance what kind of thing you should be looking for. This is exactly for this same reason we also suggest you look at the question before reading a long paragraph of text. Checking the question takes you a few seconds, and might save you 30 seconds or a minute of analyzing the exhibit.

Thanks for clearing things up Guennael! Much appreciated. — Patrick on Sep 29, 2018

Vlad
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replied on Sep 28, 2018
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Hi,

I don't totally understand your question.

For the tables and graphs in the case you can use the following approach:

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

Good luck!

Thank you for your sources and input Vlad. What I was referring to specifically was graphs and tables within the context of psychometric tests. Thanks for the advice on case approach though it will be very helpful! — Patrick on Sep 28, 2018

Guennael
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replied on Sep 28, 2018
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I really have trouble understanding the question - these terms you use definitely aren't mainstream. Did someone sell you a 'secret sauce' that no-one understands?

Let me address the question I think you asked (or I think you should have asked), which is "how do I analyze a graph or table?"

Here, I suggest a 3-step process. This method is tried and true, and is what I credit to my passing the BCG 1st round:

1. First, give me the lay of the land. What are we looking at? What is the exhibit even talking about?

2. Second, start reading the data; what's the story?

3. Third and most important, what's the insight? What am I going to do with this? How does it help you get to the final recommendation? What is the new logical hypothesis based on this?

This 3rd step is where you earn your keep. Perhaps just 5% of the time you will spend working, but easily 50 (or 80)% of the value you will bring.

Hope this helps; if I misunderstood the question, please ask again - others may be confused as well.

Thx,

G.

ex-BCG Dallas

Hi Guennael, thanks for your response. Sorry my question is unclear. Within the context of a written exam which involves table and graph interpretation, should candidates read the question and answer choices first before looking at the graphs/tables? — Patrick on Sep 28, 2018 (edited)