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Jun 23 2017

2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide – Detailed Analysis / Question Categorization

2018 GMAT Verbal Official GuideGMAT Genius has thoroughly analyzed the 2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide and we want to share our insights with you. Feel free to read our detailed analysis of the 2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide or skip down to our conclusions. Wishing you tremendous success with the GMAT!

Overview of 2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide

The Official Guides for GMAT Review contain retired real GMAT questions, and are an essential component of your GMAT preparations. The GMAC places questions in order of increasing difficulty, based on its assessment of difficulty. The 2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide has no overlap with questions in the main Official Guide.

The 2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide contains 45 new questions out of the 301 total questions, representing 15% new content. These are new questions that we have not encountered before; they are not questions recycled from older GMAC resources.
 

Sentence Correction

The 2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide contains 113 Sentence Correction questions. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 35 31% +4
Medium 26 23% (25)
Hard 52 46% +21

In the Sentence Correction section, questions are not fully presented in order of progressive difficulty, contrary to what the back cover of the book claims. Based on difficulty levels provided in the online version, Medium and Hard difficulty questions are interspersed. The following table shows the question numbers for each difficulty level:

Difficulty Question #s
Easy 189-223
Medium 224-247, 259, 261
Hard 248-258, 260, 262-301

The Sentence Correction section contains 17 new questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 8 / 0 / 9. This is in lieu of 17 questions from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 4 / 8 / 5. The GMAC has also upgraded the difficulty of 17 Medium questions from the prior edition to Hard difficulty in this edition.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Our assessment skews towards the easier side, but contains notable differences from the GMAC. Our difficulty assessment is only 63.8% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, clearly showing that there is subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Super Easy 4 4% (1)
Easy 34 30% +4
Medium 43 38%
Hard 27 24% (1)
Very Hard 5 4% (2)

Although Sentence Correction questions typically entail multiple grammar concepts (as described on our website), GMAT Genius classifies questions based on our assessment of the primary tested concept. We classify the 113 Sentence Correction questions as follows:

Concept Number Percent Change
Verb Agreement 7 6.2%
Verb Tense 13 11.5% (1)
Pronoun Ambiguity 9 8%
Pronoun Agreement 11 9.7%
Parallel Construction 28 24.8% (4)
Misplaced Modifiers 17 15% +2
Idioms 11 9.7% +1
Comparison & Quantity 8 7.1%
Expression & Meaning 9 8% +2

Here’s a list of the 17 new Sentence Correction questions:
198, 202, 204, 207, 209, 211, 212, 220, 267, 268, 270, 274, 284, 285, 286, 292, 293

Here’s a list of the 113 Sentence Correction questions categorized by primary grammar concept:

Concept Question #s
Verb Agreement 202, 203, 229, 242, 269, 284, 287
Verb Tense 200, 201, 204, 219, 221, 223, 228, 250, 262, 266, 276, 278, 289
Pronoun Ambiguity 214, 241, 252, 255, 263, 271, 273, 277, 288
Pronoun Agreement 190, 206, 208, 218, 233, 235, 253, 268, 281, 292, 298
Parallel Construction 191, 193, 194, 196, 205, 210, 212, 213, 226, 227, 244, 245, 246, 248, 249, 251, 254, 256, 265, 270, 279, 280, 285, 293, 294, 296, 297, 301
Misplaced Modifiers 189, 195, 197, 198, 209, 211, 224, 230, 231, 236, 238, 257, 258, 259, 282, 283, 290
Idioms 192, 220, 222, 234, 237, 243, 260, 264, 272, 274, 295
Comparison & Quantity 215, 225, 232, 239, 247, 286, 291, 299
Expression & Meaning 199, 207, 216, 217, 240, 261, 267, 275, 300

Critical Reasoning

The 2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide contains 83 Critical Reasoning questions. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 31 37% (3)
Medium 27 33% +1
Hard 25 30% +2

In the Critical Reasoning section, questions are not fully presented in order of progressive difficulty, contrary to what the back cover of the book claims. Based on difficulty levels provided in the online version, Easy and Medium difficulty questions are interspersed. The following table shows the question numbers for each difficulty level:

Difficulty Question #s
Easy 106-135, 139
Medium 136-138, 140-163
Hard 164-188

The Critical Reasoning section contains 12 new questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 1 / 5 / 6. This is in lieu of 12 questions from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 4 / 5 / 3. The GMAC has downgraded the difficulty of Hard questions from the prior edition to Medium difficulty in this edition.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Our assessment skews slightly more towards the middle, but contains notable differences from the GMAC. Our difficulty assessment is 70.5% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, clearly indicating subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Super Easy 1 1%
Easy 18 22% (6)
Medium 40 48% +2
Hard 16 19% +2
Very Hard 8 10% +2

We have grouped the questions based on the question type categorization that GMAT Genius uses for Critical Reasoning (as described on our website). We break down the 83 Critical Reasoning questions as follows:

Concept Number Percent Change
Weaken 20 24.1% +1
Strengthen 16 19.3% (1)
Assumption 7 8.4% +1
Reasoning 3 3.6%
Conclusion 7 8.4%
Explain 5 6% (2)
Evaluate 7 8.4% +1
Boldface 4 4.8%
Complete the Passage 14 16.9%

Here’s a list of the 12 new Critical Reasoning questions: 112, 141, 144, 154, 161, 162, 166, 173, 175, 179, 182, 187

Here’s a list of the 124 Critical Reasoning questions categorized by CR question type:

Concept Question #s
Weaken 122, 124, 125, 128, 131, 136, 141, 143, 159, 164, 168, 171, 173, 176, 177, 179, 182, 185, 186, 187
Strengthen 106, 110, 112, 115, 121, 138, 139, 140, 142, 155, 158, 167, 170, 175, 181, 188
Assumption 119, 144, 156, 166, 172, 180, 184
Reasoning 123, 150, 157
Conclusion 107, 113, 117, 118, 126, 147, 165
Explain 114, 132, 135, 153, 154
Evaluate 111, 120, 146, 149, 162, 163, 178
Boldface 133, 160, 169, 183
Complete the Passage 108, 109, 116, 127, 129, 130, 134, 137, 145, 148, 151, 152, 161, 174

Reading Comprehension

The 2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide contains 105 Reading Comprehension questions across 19 passages. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 34 32% +6
Medium 27 26% (10)
Hard 44 42% +4

The Reading Comprehension section contains 16 new questions in 4 passages, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 6 / 4 / 6. This is in lieu of 16 questions in 3 passages from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 0 / 10 / 6. The GMAC has upgraded four Medium questions to Hard.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Whereas the GMAC assigns the same difficulty to all questions for a given passage (except in the Diagnostic Exam section), GMAT Genius assesses the difficulty of each question individually. Our assessment skews easier, but contains notable differences from the GMAC. Our difficulty assessment is only 67.0% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, in large part due to different difficulty assessment methodologies. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Super Easy 6 6%
Easy 32 30% +3
Medium 38 36% (1)
Hard 21 20% (1)
Very Hard 8 8% (1)

We have grouped the questions based on the question type categorization that GMAT Genius uses for Reading Comprehension (as described on our website). We break down the 105 Reading Comprehension questions as follows:

Concept Number Percent Change
Primary Purpose 14 13.3%
Author’s Tone 6 5.7%
Organization 3 2.9%
Function 15 14.3%
Specific Reference 24 22.9% (1)
Inference 40 38.1% +1
Critical Reasoning 3 2.9%

Here’s a list of the 16 new Reading Comprehension questions: 5 to 10, 54 to 57, 89 to 94

We have not provided a list of Reading Comprehension questions by category because it makes sense to practice on one passage at a time, rather than attempting all the Primary Purpose questions (for example) at one go.

Online Interface

2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide Online InterfaceThe 2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide includes an access code (see inside front cover) that provides 12-month usage of an online version of this Official Guide. The online practice interface is the same as it was previously, except that the onerous limit of 10 saved sessions has been increased to 25 saved sessions in Exam Mode plus 25 saved sessions in Practice Mode (which you should not use, as mentioned below). The 100 questions from the Diagnostic Test chapter of the main Official Guide, but that are not contained in this printed book, are available in a separate tab that works with Exam Mode functionality.

Since the GMAT is a computer-based test, we believe that it is advisable to work though the questions online. We strongly suggest that you use Exam Mode rather than Practice Mode, since we recommend that students practice using timed question sets that replicate test day conditions. The functionality of the online platform is good overall. You can choose practice sets by question type and difficulty level. Every question lists the corresponding book question number for easy cross-referencing.

Other Notes

The Official Guides are for practicing with real GMAT questions, not for learning the underlying concepts. The brief introductions to the concepts tested on the verbal section are highly inadequate. We recommend that you use additional study materials to learn the verbal concepts.

Although all questions include answer explanations, many GMAT test takers are far from satisfied with these explanations. Most GMAT test takers consider the Sentence Correction explanations quite cryptic. The Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension explanations, however, are reasonably good overall.

Conclusions

The 2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide has three primary weaknesses, in our opinion:

  1. An insufficient amount of difficult practice questions, particularly based on GMAT Genius’ assessment of difficulty.
  2. Sentence Correction explanations are too cryptic.
  3. In the Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction sections, questions are not fully presented in order of progressive difficulty, contrary to what the back cover of the book claims.

Despite these flaws, the 2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide is an essential source of GMAT practice. We believe that every GMAT aspirant must use this book (or the prior edition). For the best value, we recommend purchasing this book as part of the 2018 GMAT Official Guide Bundle. If you already have the 2017 edition of this book, however, the replacement of 45 questions is not sufficient to make this edition worth purchasing.