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Circle graphs (also called pie charts) let you see the relative amounts of different categories. For example, if you run a local grocery store and want to see where your sales are coming from (perhaps because you are considering whether to re-allocate floor space), you might look at a chart like the following:

and conclude that as most of your sales come from produce, you may want to allocate more space to new kinds of produce.

Now, when reading a circle graph, the percentages of the different sections will generally be labelled as in the above. So circle graph tells you that in January of 2010, 23% of all sales were from frozen foods, 10% of all sales were from pharmaceuticals, and so on.

Now, if you are given the actual value (as opposed to the proportion) of any category, you can find the value for each category. So, for example:

Example 1

Suppose that in January of 2010, the grocery store sold 23,000 worth of frozen foods. How many dollars worth of canned foods did they sell?</span> <span class="s1">[ss_toggleable_text]</span> <span class="s1">We know from the above diagram that 23% of all sales in January of 2010 were of frozen foods. Thus, letx

    be the total amount of sales made in January 2010. We get that <span class="ql-right-eqno">   </span><span class="ql-left-eqno">   </span><img src="https://7sage.com/wp-content/ql-cache/quicklatex.com-b6dcd5d410df414731b2d745fb5f7108_l3.png" height="12" width="101" class="ql-img-displayed-equation quicklatex-auto-format" alt="\[.23x = 23000\]" title="Rendered by QuickLaTeX.com"/> so

x = 100000.Then, as canned foods make up 7% of all sales that month, we conclude that the store sold7000 worth of canned food.

[/ss_toggleable_text]

We can also use circle graphs to determine various trends. For example, by comparing the following charts:

we can conclude that the proportion of revenue from canned foods drastically shrunk from January 2010 to 2011.

Example 2

From January 2010 to January 2011, which category grew the most as a proportion of total sales?

Answer

Now, if we know the actual value of some category in 2010 and the actual value of some category in 2011, we can calculate the value of each category and 2010 and 2011. Thus, we can calculate the absolute increase in revenue for any particular category as follows:

Example 3

Suppose in January 2010, the total amount of goods sold was 200,000. In January 2011, the amount of canned foods sold was6,000. Find the absolute change from 2010 to 2011 in the amount of dairy products sold.

Answer


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A box plot is so named for its iconic shape:

(They can also be laid out horizontally). The parts of the graph correspond to:

Looking at a box plot can give you a quick sense of what the distribution of the data looks like. For example:

Example 1

Find the 25th percentile, 50th percentile, 75th percentile, range, and median for the below boxplot:

Answer

Example 2

[think of another example]


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A histogram looks a lot like a bar graph and, indeed, you can think of it as a special kind of bar graph. But instead of having just any kind of category (as a bar graph does), histograms have, as their categories, certain ranges of values. So, for example, suppose the students in your class score the following scores on their test:

$$100, 98, 68, 88, 79, 92, 90, 85, 86$$

Now, those numbers are kind of unwieldy. So to get a sense of how many students are acing your class (getting an A) or failing your class (getting an F), you might categorize their test scores according to certain ranges. So put all the 90-100 scores together in one category, all the 80 - 89 scores in the same category, and so on. Graphing this, we would get the following:

This graph tells us that 4 students scored between 90 and 100; 3 students between 80 and 89; and so on.

Example 1

In the following histogram, approximately how many students scored a 170 or higher?

Answer

Example 2

[think of another example]


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Talk of "data" is ubiquitous -- what does that word mean in the context of the GRE? We will think about data as observations of given variables. Now what does that mean?

Well suppose we are trying to help our child increase her earnings from a lemonade stand. Some days, she sells a lot and some days she sells almost nothing. To figure out why, we might start keeping track of how much she sells on a given day. So we would start making a table that looks like:

Date Lemonades Sold
7/2/19 1
7/3/19 2
7/4/19 5
7/5/19 2
7/6/19 3

Now, each of the rows in the table is an observation. And we have our variables at the top of the columns: the date and the number of lemonades sold. And more generally: variables are just the characteristics that we keep track of, while an observation is a set of values for our variables on some particular occasion.

Now, a very simple way to keep track of data is via a frequency distribution. This is a table that records, on the left-hand side, possible values of a given variable, and on the right-hand side, it records how often those values appeared. Applied to the above table, we would get:

Lemonades Sold Number of Days (when that many lemonades were sold)
1 1
2 2
3 1
4 0
5 1

This table answers questions like "How often did my child sell three lemonades?" To find the answer, we go to the "Lemonades Sold" column and look for the row with three lemonades sold. In that row, the right hand column (corresponding to the number of days) says one. So there was one day where the child sold three lemonades.

And, in addition to a frequency distribution, we can also create a relative frequency distribution which records, on the left-hand side, possible values of a given variable, and on the right hand-side, the percentage of all observations where that value occurred. So, in the above example, we would get:

Lemonades Sold Proportion of Days
1 20%
2 40%
3 20%
4 0%
5 20%

since the total number of days is 1 + 2 + 1 + 0 + 1 = 5 and \frac{1}{5} = 20% and \frac{2}{5} = 40% and so on through the table.

Now, to really get a handle on what is driving her lemonade sales, we should probably add some more variables (e.g. daily temperature, day of week) and collect some more observations:

Date Lemonades Sold Day of Week Temperature (Fahrenheit)
7/2/19 1 Tuesday 68
7/3/19 2 Wednesday 73
7/4/19 5 Thursday 75
7/5/19 2 Friday 70
7/6/19 3 Saturday 71
7/7/19 2 Sunday 71
7/8/19 5 Monday 78
7/9/19 4 Tuesday 75
7/10/19 3 Wednesday 72
7/11/19 3 Thursday 73

Here are some practice problems on the above concepts:

Practice Problems:

  1. Using the above data, construct a frequency table that tells you how often a certain number of lemonades was sold:
    Answer

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In the next few posts, we’ll unpack some of the statistical terms that the GRE throws around. These terms can be seen as ways to answer two main questions:

  1. What’s Typical
  2. What’s Possible

In the former category, we have the median, mean, and mode. Essentially, these give you a sense of what the average value is, or what the most common value is. They give you a sense of what a typical value might be.

In the latter category, we have the range, quartiles, and percentiles. These give you a sense of the possibilities and how the values are distributed.

In later posts, we will give actual definitions of these concepts. But first, some overarching advice about learning these concepts.

There are four main ways you’ll get tested on these concepts.

  1. Given some data and asked to compute the value of one of these terms.
  2. Given some data and told to alter the data in some way (e.g. by adding 10 to every value) and then compute the value of one of these terms.
  3. Given some graph/chart and asked to estimate the value of one of these terms.
  4. Asked a question that requires knowledge of some property of these concepts (e.g. that interquartile range is always less than the range).

So you want to understand the formal definition well enough to do 1 and 2, but also have some intuitive sense for the concepts (which can help in doing problems of type 3 or 4). In what follows, we’ll try to help in building that intuitive sense for these concepts.


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For reasons known only to ETS, number line problems are categorized with geometry. Such problems are basically algebra problems: they present you with some diagram or some facts about certain variables and then ask whether some equations or inequalities could be true, given certain relationships among the variables. Here is a straightforward example:

Example 1

x                         y
A. x is greater than y
B. y is greater than x
C. The two quantities are equal
D. It cannot be determined which, if any, is greater.

Answer

Now, a number line simply gives all the numbers from least to greatest. So the numbers to the right of the number line are greater than those to the left. And if there are markings on the number line, then you may (provided the question says nothing to the contrary) assume that the markings are evenly spaced. What does this mean? Well in the following diagram:

you know that the distance between x and y is only half of the distance between x and z. Using algebra, we could express this as:

    \[2(y - x) = z - x\]

Now, how do we solve number line problems? It will depend on what the question asks for. Some questions ask for which of the following could be true, whereas others ask about which of the following must be true.

If the questions asks which equations could be true, then we are looking for either a set of numbers that makes the equation true and is compatible with the diagram/given information, or we want to show that the equation is somehow inconsistent with our diagram/given information.

If the questions asks which equations must be true, then we are looking for either a set of numbers that is compatible with the diagram/given information but makes our equation false, or we want to show that the equation somehow follows from the diagram/given information.

Whether you should look for a specific example or some proof of the consistency/inconsistency of the given equation is a judgment call that you need to make in the moment. It's hard to give general principles about when to do which, but after doing some practice problems and just thinking about the equation at hand, you should develop some sense of how to decide if an equation is consistent or not. For example:

Example 2
Let x > y and y \neq 0. Must the following be true?

    \[\frac{1}{x} < \frac{1}{y}\]

Answer

After doing some practice problems, you get a sense of which numbers to consider when you come to one of these problems. And by running through those numbers quickly, you can often show that some equation either can be satisfied (which answers whether the equation could be true) or can be violated (which answers whether the equation must be true).

The only real piece of advice I have here is two-fold: First, always try easy, concrete numbers. Don't just think about "one negative and one positive value." It's a lot more general to think that way, but also a lot harder to evaluate. Try, instead, -1 and 1 or -100 and 100. Nice, easy numbers to calculate. And if you want a small number, try \frac{1}{10} or \frac{1}{100}. Second, it is easy to think about what happens if both are normal, natural numbers (e.g. 1 and 2). But also think about what happens if they are small, positive numbers (e.g. \frac{1}{10} and \frac{1}{100}) or only one is positive (e.g. 1 and -1) or both are negative (e.g. -1 and -2). If the equation works (or is always violated) in all of those cases, then probably it's always true (or always false).

When it comes to proving that some equation is either always true/false given the diagram/information in the question, look for easy inferences. And if you can't see a way to prove it quickly, consider just flagging it and coming back. If you've gone through a few diverse examples and they all come out the same way, probably the equation actually is always true (or always false) and the time spent confirming that might be better spent on other problems.

Practice Problems:

1. The markings on the below number line are evenly spaced:

Which of the following must be true (select all that apply):
A. x - y < z
B. xy + xz > 0
C. zxy + zx + zy > 0

Answer

2. Suppose we know x, y > 0 and z < 0. Which of the following must be true (select all that apply):
A. xyz + x^2 + y^2 > 0
B. xyz + x^2 + y^2 > z
C. xyz - x^2 - y^2 < z

Answer

3. Suppose we know x > y > z. Which of the following must be true (select all that apply):
A. x > 0
B. z + y < x
C. xyz < 0
D. xz > y^2
E. xz < y^2

Answer

4. The markings in the below number line are equally spaced. Which of the following could be true:


A. rt + 2s > 0
B. \frac{1}{t} > \frac{1}{s}
C. t-r < s

Answer

5. The markings in the below number line are equally spaced. Which of the following must be true:


A. t^2 > s-r
B. t+s > s-r
C. s + 2t > 2s - 3r

Answer


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Geometry questions sometimes involve various graphs. For example:

Example 1
Find the area of the following square:

Answer

Now, these problems do not differ substantially from what we have before. Essentially, graphing problems give you the same information in a slightly different way. So instead of telling you how long the sides of a particular shape are, they might give you the coordinates of the endpoints. But of course, we know how to infer the length of that side, for we know the Pythagorean Theorem:

Example 2
A rectangle has a side whose vertices are at (1, 3) and (2, 2). Find the length of that side.

Answer

In this vein, a more realistic problem might look like:

Example 3
A triangle has vertices at (1, 4), (2,3), and (0,0). Find its perimeter.

Answer

Similarly, graphing problems can involve angles:

Example 4
A triangle has vertices at A = (0,0), B = (2, 2), and C = (2,0). Find the degree of angle BAC.

Answer

In short, if you have a geometry problem that involves certain points or a diagram, you can generally use those points or that diagram to infer aspects like the lengths of certain sides or the degrees of various angles, and then use that information as you normally would.

Practice Problems:

1. A rectangle (shown below) has vertices at (0,1), (2, 0), and (2,5). Where is its fourth vertex?

Answer

2. A circle has its center at point (3, 3) and its circumference includes the point (2, 4). Find its radius.

Answer

3. A triangle has vertices at (1, 4), (2,3), and (0,0). Find its area.

Answer

4. The square in the following diagram has points at (2, 1) and (1, 4) as labelled. What is the area of the square?

Answer

 


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There are also two relationships between angles and circles which are crucial. First, let's define the term "central angle":

Central Angle: A central angle is an angle located at the center of a circle with endpoints on the circumference of that circle

Now, the crucial fact to learn is:

Central Angles and Arcs: In the following diagram:

The degree of angle AOB = \frac{a}{2\pi r}360

Thus, we can determine the degree of any central angle by looking at the length of its arc, and vice versa.

Example 1
The circle below has a radius of 2 and a has a length of \pi. What is the degree of angle AOB?

Answer

Example 2
The circle below has a radius of 6 and the degree of \angle AOB is 47 degrees. What is the length of a?

Answer

A related fact to the above is:

Circumference Angle Theorem: In the following circle with radius r:

The degree of angle ACB = \frac{1}{2} \frac{a}{2\pi r}360.

This theorem is also called the Inscribed Angle Theorem.

In essence, if you have an angle on the circumference of a circle, its degree will be one-half the degree of a central angle with the same endpoints. In pictures:

Now, what may be surprising about this is that it does matter where on the circumference the angle begins from. In other words:

the angles ACB and ADB above have the same degree.

Finally, you must be careful to make sure that you are comparing the angle on the circumference to the correct central angle. For example:

ACB and ADB do not have the same degree. That is because they give rise to different central angles:

Thus, it is not enough to look at the endpoints of your angle. You also need to look at where on the circumference the angle is, so you can be sure to compare it to the relevant central angle.

 

Practice Problems
1. The below circle has a center at O. Find \theta:

Answer

2. Find the value of \theta.

Answer

3. In the following diagram, r = 1. Find \theta.

Answer

4. The radius of the following circle is 1. Find \theta.

Answer

5. The radius of the following circle is 1. Find \theta.

Answer

6. The radius of the below circle is 1. Find \theta.

Answer

7. In the below circle, which is larger?
\angle ADB            \angle BCA
A. \angle ADB
B. \angle BCA
C. They are equal.
D. It cannot be determined.

Answer


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Now, with respect to triangles, there are two main facts you need to know:

Triangles have 180 degrees: The angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees.

Reverse Pythagorean Theorem: Triangles whose side lengths obey the Pythagorean Theorem (i.e. the triangle has side lengths a, b, c and a^2 + b^2 = c^2) must have a right angle.

Sometimes, a problem will be somewhat sneaky: instead of directly telling you that a triangle is a right triangle, it will give you the side lengths and leave you to make that inference. (Recall here our Reverse Pythagorean Theorem)

The final fact which can help in finding an unknown angle is the following formula for the sum of all the angles of a polygon:

Polygon Angle Sum Formula: For an n-sided 2D shape, the sum of all the interior angles is equal to (n-2)180.

What is an interior angle? Well on a polygon, we have some sides and some vertices (points where the sides meet). For example:

At each vertex, there is are two angles:

The interior angle, sensibly enough, is the angle that is insidethe polygon. In the above diagram, it is the blue angle.

Thus, our formula lets us calculate, for any polygon, the sum of all of its interior angles. This can be helpful when you are given almost all of the angles of a polygon and you need to find the final angle. 

Practice Problems

1. What is the sum of the interior angles for a 13-sided polygon?

Answer

2. Find the value of any interior angle of a regular 14-sided polygon.

Answer

3. Find the angles of the below polygon:

Answer


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Given parallel lines, there are four main relationships that angles can have to one another: vertical angles, interior angles relationships, exterior angle relationships, and corresponding angles. These relationships can all be derived from one another, and in what follows, we include some of those derivations so that, if you forget one of them on exam day, you can recover it from knowledge of the others.

Vertical Angles: Two angles formed by the same lines are vertical angles if they are on opposite sides of the point of intersection between the two lines.

This is a fundamental fact that is often critical in finding an unknown angle. For example:

Example 1:

Answer

Interior Angles:

In the above diagram,

    \[\angle 1 + \angle 3 = 180\]

    \[\angle 2 + \angle 4 = 180\]

    \[\angle 1 = \angle 4\]

    \[\angle 2 = \angle 3\]

Example 2:

In the following diagram, let \angle 1 = x and let \angle 3 = 2x - 30. What is the value of x?

Answer

Exterior Angles:

In the above diagram,

    \[\angle 5 + \angle 7 = 180\]

    \[\angle 6 + \angle 8 = 180\]

    \[\angle 5 = \angle 8\]

    \[\angle 6 = \angle 7\]

Example 3:

In the below diagram, let \angle 5 = 3x - 40 and \angle 8 = 2x + 10. What is the value of x?

Answer

Corresponding Angles: Two angles (which are in the same relative position) formed by a single line cutting across two parallel lines. Such angles are equal.

For example:

In this diagram, \angle 4 and \angle 6 are corresponding angles and thus equal in degree.

Practice Problems:

1. Find the value of \theta.

Answer

2. Find the value of \theta.

 

Answer

3. Find the value of \theta.

Answer

4. Find the value of \theta.

Answer

 


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