Unit 10: Line Graphs and Bar Graphs

Every SAT test will have at least one graph with an accompanying question. These are usually straightforward, but make sure you don’t rush through them.

An Example:

John runs at different speeds as part of his training program. The graph shows his target heart rate at different times during his workout. On which interval is the target heart rate strictly increasing then strictly decreasing?

A) Between 0 and 30 minutes
B) Between 40 and 60 minutes
C) Between 50 and 65 minutes
D) Between 70 and 90 minutes

Here, we are being asked where the heart rate is increasing over time (positive slope), and then decreasing over time (negative slope). To get to the right answer, we just evaluate each time period and see if that time period reflects the description or not. With answer A, the values increase, then stay the same. With answer B, we see the values going up and then down. We should check C and D to be certain we haven’t missed something, but this is our answer!


  1. Understand the Graph: Check the axes on the graph to make sure you know what is being compared. Look at the units and labels as well.
  2. Interpret the Graph: Although you can’t write on the graph because the SAT is now digital, take your time looking at specific portions of the graph. Look at the intervals, search for trends, and find the part of the graph that answers the question.

The same strategy can be applied to different forms of graphs, like bar graphs as well!