Tables are used when someone wants to provide exact number values across a range of different value types. There can be a row or column that represents each field’s percent of the total, but often, as opposed to pie charts, tables don’t provide data in relationship to the whole.
Examples of tables you might encounter on the GED math test are for train schedules, taxes and population change.
There are three basic elements to most tables that once you understand them you will be able to answer any question about that table. These are table name, column name and row name. Let’s look at an example.
Obviously the title of this table is “Florida College and University Key Figures.” The title is most often just above the table itself. This title tells us what data is in the table, the key figures, and what they are about, Florida colleges and universities. If the data covers a time range, then that is also in the table. So if the author of this table wanted to represent the data as coming from 2010 the table might then be called “Florida College and University Key Figures, 2010.” Always read the title carefully because there is sometimes some information contained in the title that you will need to be aware of in order to answer the GED questions correctly.
The columns of a table go up and down, and the rows go left and right. The column titles are often the topmost cell of each column and the row titles are often in the rightmost cell of each row. There are no real rules as to what type of data should go in column titles and row titles.
The way to read a table is to find out where the two fields you are interested in intersect. Let’s say you want to find out how many students are enrolled in the University of South Florida. The two fields you are interested in are the University of South Florida and student enrollment. By glancing at the table you know that the schools are in the row titles, so scan the row titles for the University of South Florida. Since the school attributes are in the column titles, find enrollment there. The point where our row and our column intersect is the value we are interested in. There were 45,713 students enrolled at USF when this table was produced.