Graphics Interpretation questions present a graph, diagram, or other visual representation of information, followed by one or more statements containing a total of two blanks. The blanks should be filled in with the option from each drop-down menu in order to create the most accurate statement or statements on the basis of the information provided.

Many of the graphs included in Graphics Interpretation questions involve two variables plotted on vertical and horizontal axes. Graphs of this type include bar graphs, line graphs, scatter plots, and bubble graphs.

To read these graphs, determine what information is represented on each axis. Do this by carefully examining any information that may be provided, including labels on the axes, scales on the axes, the title of the graph, and accompanying text. To find the value of a data point on the graph, determine the corresponding values on the horizontal and vertical axes.

Tips for Graphics Interpretation

Here are some tips to help you efficiently move through graphics interpretation questions:

1. Analyze the graph or chart to determine exactly what information it provides and how: Observe the labels and examine the numerical increments carefully.

2. Click on Select One to view all the answer options: To see the possible answers in the drop-down menu for each blank, you have to click on the box that says Select One. Filling in the blank is much easier when you’re limited to just the several available choices. Don’t attempt to answer the question without seeing the answer choices first.

3. Eliminate illogical answer choices: Approach the two parts of a graphics interpretation question much like you would a standard multiple-choice question. Eliminate obviously incorrect options and use your reasoning skills to select the best answer from the remaining choices.

4. Make estimations: The data in charts and graphs are rarely precise, so most of your calculations are estimates or approximations that you can work out on your noteboard or in your head rather than on the calculator.

Example

Scientists, health professionals, and life insurance agents are interested in examining the percentage of people in a population who will live to a certain age. One way to measure this information is to look at the percentage of the population who has died after a certain number of years. The following graph displays the results of such a study.

Approximately _____ (10, 40, 60, 80) percent of the population lives to at least 80 years of age. A person who was a member of the study population would still have an 80 percent chance of being alive at around a maximum age of _____ (15, 35, 55, 80) years.

How to Solve

Filling the first blank in the question tests your graph-reading skills. Find 80 years of age on the horizontal axis. Move your finger from the 80-year mark upward on the graph until you reach the plotted curve. Move your finger to the left to see that at 80 years, about 60 percent of people have died. Don’t stop there and choose 60 percent, however. The question asks for how many are alive at the 80-year mark. Subtract 60 from 100 to get that approximately 40 percent of the population lives to at least 80 years. The correct answer is 40 percent.

To complete the second blank, make sure you look at the answer choices first. Because the statement concerns the maximum value, consider higher ages first. The oldest option is 80, but it’s very unlikely that 80 percent of people are alive at age 80, so try the next highest age, 55. Move along the graph until you reach 55 years. At 55 years of age, 20 percent have died, leaving a maximum of 80 percent alive. Ages above 55 can’t be right, so 55 is the correct answer.

If you start with the first option of 15 years, you may be misled. Note that the graph shows you that at about 15 years of age, less than 5 percent of people have died, which means that more than 95 percent of the population are still alive. That’s more than 80 percent, but the statement regards the maximum age where 80 percent of the population is still kicking, so 15 can’t be correct.