Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation (QA-DI)


In the banking tests conducted by IBPS, SBI or RBI, you are tested on your understanding of basic concepts of mathematics that have been touched upon during our school days, and the calculation skills. While each one of us has been exposed to, and taught  the concepts in our school days, you would have retained some and have forgotten the associated formulae, a few of the concepts, properties as we have not had exposure to such questions for many years.

The various question types asked in this section are:

Question Type* Number of Questions Weightage in Section
BODMAS/Calculation Techniques/Approximations 10 to 15 25-30%
Data Interpretation 15 to 20 40-50%
Odd Man Out/Complete the Series 5 10%
Mathematics 5 to 10 20-25%
Data Sufficiency/Quantitative Comparison 5 10%
Total 40 100%

*Broadly every exam covers these topics, but may not have all such question types in a single paper or slot. However, these form a comprehensive list of questions appearing in the QA section.

We will have a look at each question type separately; Before we head there, to excel in this section we must quickly realize that faster computations and reaching to our answers is the key. So, a few MUST KNOW TOOLs for you –

  • Multiplication tables up to 30
  • Squares and Cubes up to 20
  • Reciprocals and percentage equivalents up to 30
  • Factorials up to 10
  • Every problem that you solve should be looked through the application of these. PRACTICE and PRACTICE

Also master the art of approximation –

  • have a look at answer choices to check whether they are close to each other.
  • If they are not, then using the above tools quickly approximate and eliminate the choices
  • Approximation may lead to selecting an incorrect choice if the options given are very close to each other.

NOW closer look at the questions ….

1) BODMAS, Calculations and Approximations

  • The key concepts tested here are:
BODMAS rules
Squares, cubes, square roots and cube roots
Rules of Surds and Indices
Multiplication and division of large numbers
Addition and subtraction of fractions
  • Practice as many questions as you can, without using a calculator at any point. The more questions you work on, the better you become. However, only solving a large number of questions may not help. You need to look at the way you have calculated the answer and compare it with the methods given in the solution.

2) Data Interpretation

  • The questions here are mostly grouped in nature, of about 5-6, based on certain data provided. You can get complete marks for a set if you understand the given data. Sets in this section may be based on data depicted in the forms of:

– Tables Single or multiple

– Line Graphs  Standard or cumulative

– Bar Graphs  Standard or cumulative

– Pie Charts “ Based on actual values, percentages or degrees

– Combinations of the data sets given above

  • The calculations for these questions are often very time consuming. The MUST KNOW TOOLs and their application, along with computational techniques like vedic maths are helpful in increasing the speed.
  • Be aware of silly calculation mistakes that most of us are prone to.
  • Practice is important but knowledge of certain basic mathematical concepts is also helpful. These are:

– Conversion between percentages and fractions, and vice versa

– Ratios

– Averages

  • In these sets, focus on understanding how the given data is to be read and what the question demands. This will help identify the required calculations and save vital time.
  • Approximate numbers and eliminate answer options wherever possible (& applicable).

3) Mathematics

  • Maths involves the maximum amount of preparation in the QA section. Since the number of questions asked from each chapter does not exceed one or two, the amount of time required to prepare for these goes up drastically.
  • However, these math questions cannot be ignored as you can (and should) attempt 70-80% of these based on your comfort level with certain chapters. This is unlike DI sets where you may not be able to attempt a complete set at all if you do not understand the given data/questions.
  • These questions also help build the fundamentals of data interpretation and are required to solve data sufficiency and quantitative comparison questions.
  • Some of these concepts are:

– Averages, Ratio and Proportion, Mixtures and Alligation

– Percentages, Profit and Loss (with discounts)

– Simple and Compound Interest, Growth Rates

– Variation, Time and Work (includes pipes and cisterns)

– Time and Distance (includes trains, boats, races, etc.)

– Number Theory (includes HCF, LCM, divisibility, etc.)

– Linear and Quadratic Equations

– Sequences, Progressions and Series (includes Arithmetic Progression., Geometric Progression, etc.)

– Permutations & Combinations, Probability

  • Do not try to solve all the individual questions. Identify chapters (and concepts) that you are most comfortable with and try to solve those first.
  • Build your basics with school level textbooks as most questions conform to the difficulty level and style given in these textbooks.

4) Data Sufficiency/Quantitative Comparison

  • One of these two question types might appear in some QA sections. While the question structure is unfamiliar, the data within these questions is based on the concepts of calculations and mathematics covered above.
  • The purpose of Data Sufficiency questions is NOT to solve a problem but to identify whether the problem can be solved with the given data or not.
  • Similarly, Quantitative Comparison questions focus on finding out the relationship (>, <, =, ≥, ≤etc) between two variables, after calculating the value of these variables.
  • The key to solve such questions is to read and understand the instructions very carefully, and then follow them to the letter since these instructions may vary from paper to paper.
  • You should start practicing these questions only after you are comfortable with the concepts of the chapters mentioned above.

5) Odd Man Out/Complete the Series

  • You will have a sequence of 5-6 numbers and you need to identify a number that either continues the series or does not fit in.
  • These do not require conceptual knowledge but basic calculation skills (multiplication, squares, factorials, etc.) are very useful.
  • Most series are based either on difference between consecutive terms or some multiplicative pattern between consecutive terms.
  • Practice is essential for these. However, even with practice you may not be able to identify the logic for certain questions of this type in the exam. If you are unable to get the pattern in 2-3 minutes in the exam, it is advisable to leave the question for the time being and come back to it later