Data Analysis Fundamentals

The following questions are designed to see how you approach a data analysis project. Some applicants may find these questions quite easy from a technical standpoint, but they are valuable for us in seeing how you think about a problem.

You are NOT expected to perform the analyses discussed here. The assessment is simply to understand how you would plan out analyses which answer each question given the resources currently at your disposal (for example, free open-source analysis tools such as Python or R). The questions intentionally give applicants plenty of room for creativity in how they answer, and you should plan your analyses to use whatever software and methods you think are best suited to the task. If you are unsure of how to interpret any of the questions, simply pick one interpretation and note it in your response. Please keep your answers concise and focused on just the essential steps.

To get started, go to Analyze Boston, the City of Boston’s open data portal ( and look at the 311 service requests dataset. (The associated data dictionaries are also available on that site.) All of the following questions are based on this dataset.

Question 1: How would you analyze the ways in which patterns of 311 service requests varied across neighborhoods in 2017? *

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