Understanding the Data Insights Section of the GMAT Focus Exam
The GMAT exam is going to witness a significant change this year. The GMAT Focus Exam, an updated version of the current GMAT, will be introduced in the 4th quarter of 2023. From the latter part of 2024, the GMAT Focus exam will be the only version available to the test-takers. While candidates preparing for GMAT are often familiar with the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections, there is a lot of confusion surrounding the Data Insights section, the new section that will be introduced in the GMAT Focus exam. In this blog, we will demystify the Data Insights section, discuss each question type included in this section, and provide video explanations for each question type. By the end of the blog, a test-taker will be familiar with how this section will look and feel.
Overview of the GMAT Focus Exam
The upcoming GMAT Focus Exam will have three sections:
- Verbal Reasoning – 23 questions; 45 minutes
- Quantitative Reasoning – 21 Questions; 45 minutes
- Data Insights – 20 questions; 45 minutes
All three sections will contribute equally to the final score, ranging from 205 to 805.
The Data Insights Section
The Data Insights section will be scored on a scale from 60 to 90, and it will be the only section that will give access to an on-screen calculator to the test-takers. This section will assess a candidate’s abilities in five question types. We have described each of the question types below along with a sample question and a video explanation for that particular question type:
Question Type 1 – Data Sufficiency: For these questions, a test-taker needs to determine if the given data is sufficient to solve a specific problem. These questions will have a problem followed by two separate statements. A test-taker will need to evaluate each statement separately and determine whether the information provided in the statements, separately or combined, is sufficient to solve the problem. These questions will be in the traditional multiple-choice format.
What is the monthly rent for a certain apartment?
(1) The monthly rent per person for 4 people to share the rent for the apartment is $375.
(2) The monthly rent per person for 4 people to share the rent of the apartment is $125 less than the monthly rent per person for 3 people to share the rent.
(A) Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient.
(B) Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient.
(C) BOTH statements TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient.
(D) EACH statement ALONE is sufficient.
(E) Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient.
Question Type 2 – Multi-Source Reasoning: In this question type, information will be presented from different sources, such as spreadsheets, emails, or web pages. The information will be presented in two or three separate tabs, and a student will need to analyze the data in each tab to answer a set of questions. The Multi-Source Reasoning questions can either be in the form of traditional multiple-choice questions or either/or questions (True/False, Yes/No, Justified/Unjustified etc.), in which a test-taker will need to choose between one of the two choices available to them. For the either/or question type, there might be three statements associated per question, and a test-taker will need to get all the options correct. No score will be given for a partially correct answer. Each question prompt might have multiple questions associated with it as well.
Email from administrator to research staff
January 15, 10:46 a.m.
Yesterday was the deadline for our receipt of completed surveys from doctors who were invited to participate in the Medical Practice Priorities Survey. Did we get enough returns from this original group of invitees to get reliable statistics? Do we need to invite additional participants?
Consider each of the following statements. Does the information in the three emails support the inference as stated?
|○||○||Consider each of the following statements. Does the information in the three emails support the inference as stated?|
|○||○||The project coordinator does not expect to be able to meet the goal for numbers of completed surveys received.|
|○||○||The administrator is willing to accept some risk of exceeding the budget for compensating participants.|
Question Type 3 – Table Analysis: In the Table Analysis question type, a test-taker will find a table containing several rows and columns of data provided, and they will have the option to sort or filter the data based on the prompt given. The questions may require calculating percentages, comparing values across different categories, or identifying relationships within various data points in the table. This type of question will have either/or questions with three associated statements, and a candidate will need to choose all the statements correctly to get a score.
The table displays information on Brazilian agricultural products in 2009.
|Comodity||Production, world share (%)||Production, world rank||Export, world share (%)||Export, world rank|
For each of the following statements, select Yes if the statement can be shown to be true based on the information in the table. Otherwise select No .
|○||○||No individual country produces more than one-fourth of the world’s sugar.|
|○||○||If Brazil produces less than 20% of the world’s supply of any commodity listed in the table, Brazil is not the world’s top exporter of that commodity.|
|○||○||Of the commodities in the table for which Brazil ranks first in world exports, Brazil produces more than 20% of the world’s supply.|
Question Type 4 – Graphics Interpretation: This question type involves analyzing information presented in graphical forms, such as graphs, charts, or diagrams. A test-taker will need to interpret the data represented in the graph and answer questions based on their analysis. The questions may ask a candidate to identify trends, estimate values, compare data sets, or draw conclusions from the graphical representation. A candidate will generally need to choose the correct answer from two drop-down menus. Again, both choices need to be correct.
Refer to the pictograph of a survey of students at Central Community College. Each symbol represents 10 students in a sample of 300.
Use the drop-down menus to complete each statement according to the information presented in the diagram.
If one student is selected at random from the 300 surveyed, the chance that the student will be under 30 or a high school graduate or both is
If one student is selected at random from the 300 surveyed, the chance that the student will be both under 30 and a high school graduate is
Question Type 5 – Two-Part Analysis: The Two-Part Analysis question type consists of two related components that are presented together. A test-taker will need to analyze each component separately and then select appropriate response options from a multiple-choice list. These questions can be answered by selecting one option from each of the two different columns provided.
The Quasi JX is a new car model. Under ideal driving conditions, the Quasi JX’s fuel economy is E kilometers per liter (E km/L) when its driving speed is constant at S kilometers per hour (S km/h).
In terms of the variables S and E, select the expression that represents the number of liters of fuel used in 1 hour of driving under ideal driving conditions at a constant speed S, and select the expression that represents the number of liters of fuel used in a 60 km drive under ideal driving conditions at a constant speed S. Make only two selections, one in each column.
|Liters of fuel in 1 h||Liters of fuel in 60 km|
a) The Data Insights section requires both Verbal and Quantitative skills, so honing both skills are necessary.
b) The questions in this section are often wordy, complex, and filled with distracting information. Efficiently extracting the necessary information (both verbal and quantitative) is crucial for success in this section. Sharp critical reasoning and data-analytical skills are absolutely essential for test-takers to ace Data Insights questions.
c) Time management is a critical skill for the Data Insights section. Finishing all the questions within the given time can be challenging due to the complexity and multipart nature of the questions. On an average, test-takers will have around 2 minutes and 15 seconds per question.
d) Quick comprehension and strategic planning are essential for achieving success in this section.
The Strategy: Comprehension, Planning, and Execution
While specific strategies are required for each question type, the strategy that works for most questions will have three parts to it: Comprehension, Planning, and Execution.
Comprehension: Understand the prompt and question, even before you delve into the infographic, if the question has one.
Planning: Formulate a plan of action, and then approach the infographic for relevant data.
Execution: Use the collected information to solve the problem.
Even though the Data Insights section is new to GMAT, it is important to note that no new question types will be introduced in the section. Essentially, the Data Insights section is a combination of the current GMAT’s Integrated Reasoning question types and Data Sufficiency questions (currently part of the Quantitative section).
The Integrated Reasoning section in the current GMAT exam is not included in the main score, which often leads test-takers to under-prepare for this section. However, this was not the intended goal of the GMAT test makers when they introduced the Integrated Reasoning section in 2012, as they consider critical engagement with data to be one of the most important skills for B-School students. With the inclusion of the Data Insights section in the main exam, students will now need to prepare for this section with the same level of rigor as they do for the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections. Test-takers must recognize the significance of the Data Insights section and allocate sufficient time and effort to effectively prepare for it.