How Many Data Interpretation Questions on the GRE?

For students who spend most of their time studying from the ETS book and the on-line paper-based tests, you are probably used to seeing four Data Interpretation questions per test.

On the actual test, which has twenty questions per math section, there are only three Data Interpretation questions per section, leading to a total of six Data Interpretation questions on the test (not including the experimental section, if it happens to be Data Interpretation).

I know that was a mouthful, so I’m going to simplify things:

1st math section (20 questions total): 3 Data Interpretation questions

2nd math section (20 questions total): 3 Data Interpretation questions

Total number of Data Interpretation questions: 6

Is there a set number for the type of questions I can see?

Data Interpretation simply means that there is a graph/chart/table and a series of questions relating to graph/chart/table. Each chart/table/graph will have three questions, which is consistent with the above. Meaning, each math section will have one table/chart/graph.

Questions themselves typically draw on percent/fraction/decimal conversion and require some estimation (if you don’t want to fiddle with the calculator). Concepts from statistics, such as mean, median, and mode, also pop up frequently. As to the number of such questions, it is random. The takeaway: know your statistics.

On the Data Interpretation section you may see bar charts, you may see a pie graph, you may see a graph with a bunch of funky lines. You might likely see a combination of such graphs for a set of three problems, and will have to combine information from both graphs to answer a question.

There is, however, no clean breakdown in the types of graph. Your best strategy is to prepare as much as possible, so that you will have exposure to almost every kind of graph permutation that the GRE will throw at you.

Takeaway

There will always be exactly three questions per Data Interpretation set. Each math section will feature exactly one Data Interpretation set. Each set of three questions will pertain to the exact same charts/bars/graphs.

There is no solid breakdown in terms of the type of charts/bars/graphs. So make sure to practice as many variants of the charts/bars/graphs to be ready for test day.

Author

• Chris Lele is the Principal Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh. Chris graduated from UCLA with a BA in Psychology and has 20 years of experience in the test prep industry. He's been quoted as a subject expert in many publications, including US News, GMAC, and Business Because. In his time at Magoosh, Chris has taught countless students how to tackle the GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, MCAT (CARS), and LSAT exams with confidence. Some of his students have even gone on to get near-perfect scores. You can find Chris on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook!

10 Responses to How Many Data Interpretation Questions on the GRE?

1. vikas sirwal June 5, 2015 at 12:17 am #

hey chris……
what should be the minimum time allotted for data interpretation questions in the quanta section. ? (how many out of 20 mins)

• Chris Lele June 5, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

Hi Vikas,

So there is 35 minutes per math section in the GRE section adaptive test. For Data Interpretation, you shouldn’t take longer than 2:00-2:30 on any question. Usually, there will be a a couple of easy to medium questions followed by a difficult question. Knowing this, you should be prepared to skip and come back to (if you have time) the tough DI question (it’s usually easy to tell which question is the tough one–you’ll typically have to integrate lots of information).

Hope that helps!

2. Anna November 23, 2013 at 2:22 am #

Hi Chris,

How specific would you say one should be when reading values off bar charts in these DI questions. I have been doing practice questions from a few different resources and some seem to approximate the value and round it off, others do it much more precisely. So while one would round off 18% to 20% (which is a rough guess since the bar is slightly below 20), the other would use 18%. In dealing with large figures this makes a significant difference on the answer you get. Is there a standard approach to tackling this?

• Chris Lele November 25, 2013 at 11:47 am #

That’s a great question! I’d say be somewhat liberal (18% to 20%) when rounding your answer choices–unless, you end up getting two possible answer choices. In that case, you’ll have to be a little more specific. In general, I’d say that on most DI questions a little rounding up/down will get you an answer that is only close to one of the answer choices.

Hope that helps!

• Anna November 27, 2013 at 1:15 am #

Thank you, that makes sense!

• Chris Lele November 27, 2013 at 9:56 am #

You are welcome!

3. jelebu July 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

That’s great info. Thanks for the follow up, Chris!

• Chris Lele July 3, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

You are welcome!

4. jelebu June 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

Hey, Chris. Great post! I know the new GRE isn’t inter-section adaptive (questions don’t get harder or easier within the section based on your correct or incorrect responses), but I do recall reading (on Magoosh, I think) that we know some questions do get progressively harder. Are the data interpretation questions like this? That is, if I know there are three data interpretation questions per section, can I assume that the first one will be easier than the second, which will be easier than the third? Or is that only true of quantitative comparisons?

Thanks!

• Chris Lele July 1, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

Hi Jelebu,

The progressively harder applies to the QC, as far as math is concerned. That said, there is a loose correspondence with DI and difficulty level. Meaning, often the hardest of the three questions is the last one. But this isn’t always the case. Though it seems, though again this isn’t 100% the case, that the first DI tends to be easier than the other two.

Hope that helps!

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