In June of 2012, the GMAT will contain a new 12 problem Integrated Reasoning section. To help you prepare for the IR section, we are working out the problems for you! Below is a sample IR Table Analysis problem from the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) at www.mba.com. You can find this and other integrated reasoning problems from the GMAT here.
Question type! Table Analysis
Whenever you are given a table in the Integrated Reasoning, you should spend a few seconds evaluating the table.
Read any information above the table since it will give you important information about the table. In this case, the table is giving information about the percentage of populations visiting selected cultural institutions in a single year. This is a critical piece of information to keep in mind when answering questions. Since you’re dealing with a percentage of a population, you can only make conclusions about percents, proportions and ratios. Likewise, the relative size of the population of each country/political union is completely irrelevant as we are dealing solely with the percentages of the population. Don’t let your knowledge of or assumptions about the size of populations confuse you. The fact that Brazil’s population is smaller than that of the U.S. will be totally irrelevant when you’re tackling these questions.
From the top of the table, we know the table is giving us five pieces of information: Country/political union, Public library, Zoo/aquarium, Natural history museum, Science/technology museum.
Tip! When working with a table, always look for the ways you can sort the table. This can save you a lot of time when you’re answering questions.
Now let’s look at our questions. We need to determine whether or not each statement, if true, would help explain some of the information in the table. We already have the conclusions (the information presented in the table) and now we are looking to see what statements provide causal information that is copacetic with the data in the table.
Tip! Since every problem on the Integrated Reasoning section is a little different, always read the instructions before answering thequestion.
Let’s start with the first statement: The proportion of the population of Brazil that lies within close proximity to at least one museum is larger than that of Russia.
Take some time to analyze this table and the way the data is presented. Note that the table goes from lowest to highest, with the smallest percentages of the population at the top of the table and the greatest percentages of the population at the bottom. We see that Russia and Brazil are the two countries with the smallest percentage of the population that attend both natural history and science/technology museums. Only 5% of Russia’s population visits natural history museums, and only 2% of the population visits science/technology museums. According to the table, 7% of Brazil’s population visits natural history museums and 4% visit science/technology museums. Therefore, we can say that a greater percentage (or proportion) of Brazil’s population visits museum than that of Russia.
Now that we understand what the table is saying about the percentage of the population visiting museums in Russia and Brazil, let’s take another look at the proposed explanation: The proportion of the population of Brazil that lies within close proximity to at least one museum is larger than that of Russia.
Could this help explain why a greater percentage of the population of Brazil goes to museums? If a greater proportion of Brazil’s population lives closer to one museum than that of Russia, then it is probably easier for them to visit a museum since residents do not have to travel as far. If it is more convenient to visit a museum, then a greater percentage of the population is likely to visit in any given year. Therefore, the statement “The proportion of the population of Brazil that lies within close proximity to at least one museum is larger than that of Russia” could help explain why a greater percentage of Brazil’s population visits museums than that of Russia. Select “Would help explain” next to this statement.
Now let’s look at the next statement: Of the countries/political unions in the table, Russia has the fewest natural history museums per capita. The next statement continues to refer to natural history museums, so let’s keep the table sorted by natural history museums.
The statement is asking about the number of museums per capita, in other words, a ratio of the number of museums to the size of the population. Remember, since our data is in the form of percentages, we can only draw conclusions about other percents, proportions and ratios. Since the statement deals with a ratio, it could potentially explain findings about the percentages of a population.
Now we must decide of the statement is logical. From the table, we see that only 5% of Russia’s population visits natural history museums every year. Could the fact that Russia has the fewest natural history museums per capita help explain this fact? To help visualize this problem a little better, let’s use some real numbers.
Tip! If you’re confused about an abstract problem, make an example scenario with some real numbers based on the information given.
Let’s say that Russia only has 1 museum per 100 people. Let’s say that Country A, on the other hand, has 1 museum per 50 people. What could this indicate about the visiting habits of the population? In Russia, museums would be much more crowded than in Country A, since 100 people would all have to go to the same 1 museum. This extra crowding could make the experience of going to museums in Russia much less pleasant. (Bigger crowds lead to longer lines and wait times and could make it more difficult to see artifacts.) If going to the natural history museum is an unpleasant experience, then fewer people may visit in any given year.
As our scenario shows, a low number of museums per capita can affect an individual’s experience at a museum negatively. Therefore, it could explain why a smaller percentage of a country’s percentage goes to the natural history museum every year. Select “Would help explain” for the second statement.
Now let’s look at our last statement: Of the countries/political unions in the table, the three that spend the most money to promote their natural history museums are also those in which science is mostly valued.
Remember, we must be able to determine whether the table can be explained by the statement above. Does the table say anything about who spends the most money to promote their natural history museums? No! Does the table say anything about where science is mostly valued? Absolutely not.
Tip! Don’t assume! Correct answers are never, ever based on assumptions.
You could eliminate the answer based on this fact alone, but, for the sake of thoroughness, let’s go one step further. Let’s make two assumptions (something you should never, ever do on any standardized test) and see if they could support our statement:
- The top three countries with the greatest percentage of the population visiting natural history museums are the ones that spend the most money promoting natural history museums.
- The top three countries with the greatest percentage of the population visiting science museums are the ones in which science is most highly valued.
The top three countries with the highest percentage of the population visiting natural history museums are Japan, the United States, and South Korea. Are these the also same countries with the highest percentage of the population visiting science museums? No; the top three countries with the highest percentage of the population visiting science museums are the U.S., China, and the European Union.
Since these two lists of countries are different, they do not support the two assumptions that would make the third statement accurate. Select “Would not help explain” as your final answer for the third statement.
Looking for Integrated Reasoning practice? Check out the links below!