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Interpreting Graphs - Concept

Teacher/Instructor Alissa Fong
Alissa Fong

MA, Stanford University
Teaching in the San Francisco Bay Area

Alissa is currently a teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area and Brightstorm users love her clear, concise explanations of tough concepts

It's important to learn about interpreting graphs so that we can understand graphing which is a fundamental part of Algebra and later math courses. Interpreting graphs involves understanding what the shape of a curve represents in real life situations. We should also understand what slope means and how to interpret what a high or low slope value represents. An understanding of plotting points is also important.

When you're asked to look at graphs
and interpret what they mean, it's
important that you keep a
few key points in mind.

The first thing you want to be sure you
look at is how the axis are labeled
in terms of words.
Like, for example, a lot of times you see
graphs where the horizontal axis is
time and the vertical axis is
something like distance.
Those are really common math problems.
But be careful you look to see if the time
is in minutes or hours and look at
the vertical axis and see if the distance
is in like feet or miles or
yards or whatever.

Along those same lines, be really careful
that you look at how it's scaled.
Like sometimes the hours would be
marked like 1, 2, 3, 4 hours.
Sometimes it might be like 10, 20, 30,
40 hours or sometimes it's something
like skipping by 5s,
5, 10, 15, 20 hours.
That's something else to keep in mind.

Lastly, you want to make sure when you're
looking at these kinds of graphs I
don't just guess and move on quickly.
A lot of times students, when they see
a graph that's already drawn for them,
they don't take the time to look and
interpret and think about the graph.
They tend to think, oh, no writing needed,
I can just look at the graph and
guess and move on.
Really spend some time to think about it,
because these tend to be easier types
of problems and you want to make
sure you get them correct.

The last thing I want to tell you guys is
that if you are in a state where you
have like a high school exit exam something
or a qualifying exam you have
to pass to move on to the next course,
this type of interpreting graph
problems is really, really common.
So make sure you put your
best foot forward.

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