Understanding the GMAT Focus Data Insights Section

May 16, 2024

As if the GMAT wasn’t a big enough challenge, the GMAC, the body that administers the GMAT, has added a new twist to the GMAT Focus Edition: the Data Insights (DI) section.

If you are someone who has decided to take the GMAT Focus Edition, you’re definitely feeling the pressure.

If it makes you feel better, this is absolutely normal; everyone’s feeling the stress that you are feeling.

This new section has thrown GMAT aspirants into somewhat unfamiliar territory. What makes things worse is that there aren’t too many official DI resources available right now.

Amidst this stress, you’re probably searching for clarity and solid advice on how to effectively navigate this new section. The internet’s vast sea of information might leave you more confused than confident about what exactly the DI section demands.

This is where our blog comes into play.

We’ve tailored this blog to shed light on the Data Insights section, from breaking down the types of questions to offering expert preparation tips. After exploring this blog, your GMAT prep will definitely be a little less worrisome because you’ll know all that you need to know to tackle the DI section.

In this blog, we will discuss the following…

1. Introduction to GMAT Focus Data Insights

2. What are the five types of GMAT Data Insights Questions?

3. Understanding GMAT Data Insights scoring

4. GMAT Data Insights Preparation Strategies

5. Avoiding Common GMAT Data Insights Pitfalls

6. GMAT Test Day Essentials for Data Insights

    7. Frequently asked questions

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    Grab your free copy of ‘Demystifying GMAT Focus Edition’

    Introduction to GMAT Focus Data Insights

    The GMAT Focus Data Insights section is a pivotal segment within the GMAT Focus Edition. The Data Insights section consists of 20 multiple-choice questions that need to be completed in 45 minutes.

    This section is not just another add-on; rather, it’s one of the three sections (the other two being the Verbal Reasoning section and the Quantitative Reasoning section) that contributes directly to 1/3rd of your overall GMAT score.

    Over the years, the GMAT Verbal and Quant scores have become stable with many candidates now easily hitting high scores in these sections. Most candidates are now looking at Data Insights to give them an extra edge.

    In essence, this section tests how well you can find important information in the given data and use it to make good decisions, which is very important in today’s business world. These skills are needed in areas such as marketing, finance, and managing operations. 

    These skills are needed in areas such as marketing, finance, and managing operations. Doing well in this part of the test can improve your overall GMAT score and increase your chances of getting into top business programs.

    What specific skills are tested in the Data Insights section of the GMAT Focus?

    The data insights section of the GMAT tests a candidate’s ability to interpret and analyze data presented graphically or in text form. It assesses skills such as data sufficiency and data interpretation and tests if candidates can draw insights from complex data sets to make informed decisions.

    Let’s delve into these crucial skills:

    Data Analysis: This skill involves diving into datasets to spot trends, patterns, and anomalies. It’s not just about recognizing the data; it’s about understanding how this data can inform decisions. To excel, you must demonstrate strong quantitative analysis skills and an understanding of statistics. So be sure to pay close attention to statistics when you are preparing for the quant section.

    Data Interpretation: Accurately interpreting data is essential. You’ll need to navigate through complex datasets and extract relevant insights that answer the questions posed. This requires going beyond the numbers to understand the story they convey and the decisions they can support.

    Critical Thinking: This skill involves checking if arguments are valid and seeing how relevant the data is to draw logical conclusions. Your ability to think critically shows how well you can analyze information and make informed decisions. This is an important skill in any business setting.

    Problem-Solving: Often, this section presents real-world business scenarios where you’ll need to apply your analytical skills to identify and resolve issues. You need to use data to find practical solutions and showcase your ability to tackle business challenges effectively.

    Quantitative Reasoning: This skill is essential for working with numerical data, doing calculations, and interpreting results correctly. The test checks whether you can understand the broader meaning of the numbers and how they affect business decisions.

    What are the five types of GMAT Data Insights Questions?

    You’ll see five types of questions in the Data Insights section.

    1. Data Sufficiency Questions (DS): These questions check if you can decide whether the statements given in a question offer enough information to solve a mathematical problem. You won’t need to solve the problem, but you will need to decide if the information provided is sufficient to solve the problem. Typically, 20% – 40% of the questions belong to this category.

    2. Graphics Interpretation Questions (GI): Here, you’ll need to interpret data from various kinds of graphic elements, such as scatter plots or bar graphs. These questions make up 10% – 25% of the questions in the DI section. This question type expects you to understand visual data well and quickly get insights from it.

    3. Table Analysis Questions (TA): In these questions, constituting 10% – 20% of the section, you’ll analyze data-filled tables to assess the accuracy of statements based on the table of data. It’s crucial to scan tables thoroughly and quickly to determine which data points support or refute a statement.

    4. Two-Part Analysis Questions (TPA): These questions present a problem divided into two related parts. You need to find the correct answer for each part while considering how they are connected. These questions make up 20% – 40% of the section. They require strong analytical skills and the ability to handle complex problems. Being familiar with Critical Reasoning questions from the verbal section will help a lot with these.

    5. Multi-Source Reasoning Questions (MSR): These questions make up 15% – 40% of the section. They require you to gather information from multiple sources, like texts and tables, to solve complex problems. These questions test if you can combine information from different formats and turn it into clear answers.

    Note: Those familiar with the classic version of the GMAT will realize that most of the question types seen in the Data Insights section used to be a part of the Integrated section of the old GMAT.

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    Grab your free copy of ‘Demystifying GMAT Focus Edition’

    Understanding the scoring

    The Data Insights section, along with the Quantitative and Verbal sections, contributes equally to your overall score. Your total score for the GMAT Focus Edition ranges from 205 to 805 points. Each section is scored on a scale from 60 to 90 points.

    The Data Insights score is based on three factors:

    1) the number of questions answered

    2) whether the answers are correct or incorrect

    3) the difficulty and other parameters of the questions answered.

    Let’s have a look at the percentile chart. 

    The percentiles for the DI section indicate how your score compares to other test-takers. For example, achieving a score of 81 in the DI section places you in the 90th percentile. This means that you have done better than 90% of the students who took the test.

    Interestingly, very few students score above 85 in DI. The range of 85 to 90 is particularly challenging, with only a small number of students reaching these heights.

    However, with effective time management, thorough analysis, and consistent practice, achieving a score between 80 and 84 is a realistic and commendable goal.

    For those beginning their DI preparation, the key is to gradually climb up the percentile chart, improving steadily with each practice session and test.

    Keep in mind that the percentiles for the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the GMAT differ significantly from those in the DI section. Over the years, the percentiles for Verbal and Quant have stabilized, meaning there are well-established benchmarks for scoring in these sections.

    For instance, a score of 84 in the Verbal section might place you in the 90th percentile, while the same percentile in Quant might require a score closer to 86.

    Furthermore, the GMAT Focus uses an adaptive scoring system, meaning the questions you get depend on how well you’re doing in that section.

    If you answer correctly, the questions get harder, which means they are at a higher level/score. If you answer incorrectly, they get easier, which means they are at a lower level/score. The goal is to accurately measure your abilities.

    In this adaptive format, your score depends not just on how many questions you get right, but also on the difficulty of those questions. You will get a higher score if you miss fewer difficult questions than if you miss several easy ones. So, it’s important to focus on accuracy, especially with harder questions.

    What are the best study resources for GMAT Data Insights?

    Practice is key to mastering Data Sufficiency questions and achieving a high score on the GMAT exam. Here are some resources that you can use to practice and improve your skills:

    GMAT™ Official Guide 2023-2024 and GMAT™ Official Guide 2024-2025: Each of these guides features over 800 real GMAT questions for comprehensive practice and preparation.

    GMAT™ Official Guide Data Insights Review 2023-2024: eBook & Online Question Bank: Focused on data analysis, this guide provides detailed insights and strategies for handling the data-driven aspects of the GMAT, supplemented by an eBook and an online question bank for targeted practice.

    GMAT™ Focus Official Practice Questions – Data Insights: This set offers specialized GMAT Data Insights practice questions designed to improve skills in interpreting and analyzing data, ideal for mastering the Data Insights sections of the GMAT.

    The good news is that these practice questions are a complimentary addition when you join any of the Crackverbal courses.

    GMAT Club: GMAT Club is a popular online community where you can find a wealth of resources, including practice questions, explanations, and discussion forums. Engaging with the GMAT Club community can provide valuable insights and help you refine your problem-solving techniques.

    GMAT Prep Courses: Explore Crackverbal’s specialized GMAT prep courses, such as GMAT Live Online, GMAT Personal Tutoring, and GMAT Fast Track, each designed to enhance your skills in Data Sufficiency questions and other question types.

    Speak to one of our expert GMAT Advisors today to find out more about how we helped pur students with their prep.

    Avoiding Common GMAT Data Insights Pitfalls

    Several common pitfalls can hinder your performance in the GMAT Data Insights section. In our experience, these are the most common pitfalls that students fall into:

    How to avoid overreliance on Calculator in GMAT Data Insights?

    While calculators can be helpful for complex calculations, relying too much on them can slow you down. Know when it’s necessary to use the calculator and when mental math skills can suffice. Strive to improve your mental math abilities to speed up calculations and enhance efficiency. Balance calculator use with mental calculations to tackle quantitative reasoning questions more effectively. By reducing excessive calculator dependence, you can enhance your performance in the Data Insights section.

    How to address weak areas in GMAT Data Insights Preparation?

    Focusing solely on your strengths and ignoring weaknesses is a common mistake. To excel in the Data Insights section, address your weak areas. Begin by taking a diagnostic test to identify areas needing improvement. Allocate more study time to these topics, utilizing practice questions and additional study resources or seeking help from tutors if necessary. Need a tutor to help you out? 

    Grab your free copy of ‘Demystifying GMAT FE’

    Grab your free copy of ‘Demystifying GMAT Focus Edition’

    How to manage time effectively during GMAT Data Insights preparation?

    Poor time management can significantly impact your performance in the GMAT Data Insights section. This segment involves complex questions and detailed data analysis, demanding both quick thinking and accurate responses. Failure to manage time effectively can result in unfinished questions or rushed, error-prone answers.

    To avoid this pitfall, practice under timed conditions resembling the actual exam. Familiarize yourself with the time needed for various question types and develop strategies to utilize time efficiently. For instance, consider skipping time-consuming questions and returning to them later if time permits. Regular timed practice sessions can improve time management skills, ensuring completion of the section within the allocated time frame.

    Tips for quick analysis under exam conditions

    Time is of the essence during the GMAT, and being able to quickly analyze data is crucial:

    Prioritizing Data: Start with the most critical data points. Once these are understood, move on to analyze secondary details if time permits.

    Using Visual Cues: Leverage graphs, charts, and tables to quickly spot trends and patterns. These visual tools are often the fastest way to comprehend complex data.

    Estimating: When exact calculations are not necessary, use estimation techniques to save time and focus on solving the problem.

    Pace Yourself: Keep an eye on the clock, but don’t let it pressure you. Keep a steady pace. Break down the allotted time by sections or question types to ensure you cover everything without rushing.

    Eliminating Distractions: Keep your focus sharp by ignoring irrelevant data and sticking to the specifics of the question.

    Mistakes to avoid during the test

    Avoid common errors that can detract from your performance:

    Avoiding Over-Interpretation: Stick to what the data shows; do not infer beyond the provided evidence.

    Checking Your Calculations: Always double-check your calculations to avoid simple mathematical errors.

    Reading Carefully: Take the time to fully understand each question before diving into the data. Misunderstanding the question is a common error that can lead to incorrect answers.

    Managing Time: Keep an eye on the clock to ensure you have enough time to address all questions adequately.

    By adopting these strategies, you will enhance your ability to handle the challenges of the Data Insights section effectively. Focus on improving your data analysis skills, practice under timed conditions, and be mindful of common mistakes. With dedication and practice, you can significantly boost your performance and increase your chances of success on the GMAT Focus test.

    Conclusion

    Avoid common errors that can detract from your performance:

    Avoiding Over-Interpretation: Stick to what the data shows; do not infer beyond the provided evidence.

    Checking Your Calculations: Always double-check your calculations to avoid simple mathematical errors.

    Reading Carefully: Take the time to fully understand each question before diving into the data. Misunderstanding the question is a common error that can lead to incorrect answers.

    Managing Time: Keep an eye on the clock to ensure you have enough time to address all questions adequately.

    By adopting these strategies, you will enhance your ability to handle the challenges of the Data Insights section effectively. Focus on improving your data analysis skills, practice under timed conditions, and be mindful of common mistakes. With dedication and practice, you can significantly boost your performance and increase your chances of success on the GMAT Focus test.

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    Frequently asked questions

    Is the Data Insights Section More Important than the Quantitative Section?

    No, both the Data Insights and Quantitative sections are equally important in the GMAT exam. They both contribute to your total score. To achieve a high score, it’s crucial to prepare thoroughly for both sections.

    How Many Hours Should I Dedicate to Data Insights Preparation?

    The time needed varies for each person, depending on strengths and weaknesses. Set up a study plan with regular practice tests, focusing on areas that need improvement. Practice various question types and review key concepts regularly.

    Can Practice Tests Accurately Predict My Data Insights Score?

    Practice tests are useful for gauging your understanding, but they might not always predict your exact score. They help identify strengths and areas needing improvement. Analyze feedback carefully and take multiple tests for a better assessment.

    What Types of Questions Are Typically Included in the Data Insights Section?

    This section includes questions requiring you to analyze data from graphs, tables, and texts. You need to synthesize this information to answer questions accurately.

    Are Calculators Allowed in the Data Insights Section?

    Yes, an on-screen calculator is allowed. However, use it sparingly to save time and develop your mental calculation skills.

    What Skills Are Tested in the Data Insights Section?

    This section tests your ability to analyze and interpret data, manage complex information, and apply logical reasoning to solve problems.

    How Should I Approach Studying for Complex Data Insights Questions?

    Focus on understanding underlying concepts rather than just memorizing answers. Practice with various data sets and explain your reasoning process to ensure full comprehension.

    What Is the Best Way to Improve Speed in the Data Insights Section?

    Practice regularly under timed conditions. Learn to quickly identify relevant information and discard irrelevant data to improve speed and accuracy.

    How Critical Is Time Management in the Data Insights Section?

    Time management is very critical. Practice pacing yourself to ensure you can complete all questions within the allotted time without rushing.

    Can I Skip Questions in the Data Insights Section During the Exam?

    While you can skip questions, it’s generally not advisable. Try to make an educated guess on every question to maximize your score.

    How Do I Handle Data Overload in Complex Questions?

    Quickly identify key information and break down complex data into manageable parts. Simplify information without losing critical details.

    What Are Common Mistakes to Avoid in the Data Insights Section?

    Common mistakes include over-relying on the calculator, misinterpreting data, and spending too much time on one question. Practice various question types and learn to interpret data correctly.

    Is There a Specific Order I Should Follow When Answering Data Insights Questions?

    No specific order is required, but answering easier questions first can help secure those points before tackling more challenging ones.

    How Should I Balance Study Time Between Data Insights and Other Sections?

    Allocate study time based on your strengths and weaknesses. Ensure you cover all sections adequately, focusing more on areas where you need improvement.

    What Resources Are Best for Data Insights Preparation?

    Use the GMAT Official Guide, online courses, and practice tests. These resources provide a variety of question types and help reinforce key concepts.

    How Can I Improve My Analytical Thinking for the Data Insights Section?

    Engage in activities that require critical thinking, like puzzles and logical reasoning exercises. Regular practice with data interpretation questions also helps.

    Should I Focus on Accuracy or Speed When Practicing?

    Both are important. Start with accuracy to understand the concepts, then gradually increase speed while maintaining accuracy through timed practice sessions.

    What Role Does Mental Math Play in the Data Insight Section?

    Mental math helps save time on calculations, allowing you to focus on data interpretation. Practice basic arithmetic to improve your mental math skills.

    Can I Use External Resources During the Exam?

    No, only the on-screen calculator and scratch paper provided by the test center are allowed. External resources are prohibited during the exam.

    How Do I Stay Motivated During My GMAT Preparation?

    Set clear goals, track your progress, and reward yourself for milestones achieved. Joining study groups or finding a study partner can also keep you motivated.

    How Can I Ensure I Understand the Questions Correctly?

    Read each question carefully, identifying key terms and instructions. Practice paraphrasing questions to ensure you grasp what is being asked.

    What Should I Do If I Experience Test Anxiety?

    Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing and visualization. Simulate test conditions during practice to build confidence and reduce anxiety.

    How Important Is Reviewing My Mistakes?

    Reviewing mistakes is crucial for improvement. Analyze why you got a question wrong and focus on understanding the correct approach to avoid repeating the same errors.

    Written by Nitha J

    Nitha, our verbal mentor at Crackverbal, blends creativity and expertise to guide students in mastering English and critical thinking. With her background in content writing and teaching, she's committed to your success in verbal communication.

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