Understanding Charts and Tables

Anytime you have a chart or a table, you should be asking yourself, what is being shown and the data presented. It is in this chart, a decade’s work of data is being displayed.

You see here, 1980 through 1989 and it shows varying amounts of some quantity each year. You have to ask yourself if any trends can be detected and so as you review this chart you will notice that there appears to be a four-year cycle in occurrence. See right here in 1982 we had a pretty high year and so it increased from 1981.

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Mini-test: UNDERSTANDING CHARTS AND TABLES

Question 1: Line graphs
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Question 2 of 2

Question 2: What is NOT a good strategy for approaching charts, tables, and graphs?
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The following transcript is provided for your convenience.

We go to four years down the road to 1986 and we have another high quantity year and that increased from 1985. Then notice in 1982, it decreased and it moved on to 1983 and the same thing happens here in 1986, it decreases as it moves into 1987. We have highs and lows on this chart that are separated by four-year intervals, so we have a four-year cycle in effect because we have a high in 1982 and a high in 1986, four years apart.

Then we have lows in 1980 and 1984, 1988 all four years apart. This chart only goes to 1989, but if it went to 1990, we could refer that 1990 would be a high year as well and then you should also ask yourself if there is anything remarkable about any of the data points. It appears here that there was an extremely low point in 1988 and so you want to try and figure out and form a hypothesis of why that is.

Now this chart isn’t very specific. Generally, a chart will have a title and it will have a label for whatever these numbers stand for over here. If you add some more information, you could make an educated guess or a hypothesis about why 1998 was such a low year. That’s the kind of analyzation you want to be doing whenever you’re dealing with a chart or a table. You don’t want to just be taking the information you’re given at face value, you want to be trying to determine why the data is the way that it is.