Reading / interpreting charts/graphs

graphs interpreting charts reading
New answer on Jul 16, 2020
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Apr 02, 2019

Hi community,

Could anybody tell me are there any resources that might help to read and interpret charts & graphs? I think that this is a useful skill for everyone trying to get to MBB. Thank you!

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Serhat
Expert
replied on Apr 22, 2019
BCG | Kellogg MBA |82% Success rate| 450+ case interview| 5+ year consulting | 30+ projects in ~10 countries

In addition to all those great points from the experts, I would add GMAT Integrated Reasoning books as a great source to practice

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Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 02, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

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
  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!

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Francesco
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replied on Apr 03, 2019
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

Vlad already mentioned several resources you can use for self-preparation. In terms of the general approach, you can structure a graph analysis considering 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 raised.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Robert
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 16, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

For general advice how to improve graph reading, the GMAT chapter for integrated reasoning is a good ressource (I believe it was added 2012 or 2013 to the GMAT, so you can take any GMAT ressource after that period).

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind to give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

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Jorit
Expert
updated an answer on Apr 02, 2019
ex-BCG | Kellogg MBA | 200+ coaching session| 50+ actual interviews | Flexible scheduling

Only thing I have to add to Vlad's comment is that the practice materials for the McKinsey PST and BCG Potential test can also definitely help.

(edited)

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Anonymous replied on Jul 16, 2020

Dear A,

The structure and the process itself for beter analysing was nicely explained by Francessco. What I can add here is thet you just have to practice keeing in mind that mechanism until you start making it automatically.

Best,

André

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 16, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

I would practice leveraging GMAT.

GMAT unfortunately only gets better with practicing. Good news is that there are many ways of doing so!

There are free exams in the internet that you can use for practice (the one of LBS MBA page, Verits prep, as well as some free trials for courses such as the one of The Economist (https://gmat.economist.com/)

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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