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Jun 06 2016

Preview of 2017 GMAT Official Guide Verbal

2017 GMAT Official GuideGMAT Genius has been working closely with the publisher of the Official Guides for GMAT Review over the past few weeks, in advance of tomorrow’s official release of the 2017 editions, to help improve the online version of the Official Guides. In this fourth post of this series of exclusive previews of the 2017 GMAT Official Guides, we now turn to the verbal section of the main Official Guide. We will focus on how the 2017 GMAT Official Guide differs from the 2016 edition in terms of verbal question difficulty and math concepts.

Sentence Correction – Difficulty

Both the 2017 and 2016 editions of the GMAT Official Guide contain 158 Sentence Correction questions, including the identical 18 Sentence Correction questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the guides. The allocation of question difficulty, as assigned by the GMAC, has slightly shifted away from Hard.

Difficulty 2017 2016 Change
Easy 35 35
Medium 50 45 +5
Hard 73 78 (5)
Total 158 158

A total of 21 new Sentence Correction questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2017 GMAT Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 7 / 9 / 5. This is in lieu of 21 questions from the 2016 edition that have been removed, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 7 / 4 / 10. The GMAC has not reclassified the difficulty of any question, so these new and removed questions alone account for the differences in the number of questions per difficulty level.

Sentence Correction – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 21 new (in 2017) and the 21 removed (from 2016) Sentence Correction questions. We have categorized these questions based on the primary grammar concepts that are tested on Sentence Correction.

Concept 2017 2016 Change
Verb Agreement 3 3
Verb Tense 4 4
Pronoun Ambiguity 0 1 (1)
Pronoun Agreement 2 0 +2
Parallel Construction 6 2 +4
Misplaced Modifiers 3 1 +2
Idioms 1 2 (1)
Comparison & Quantity 0 3 (3)
Expression & Meaning 2 5 (3)

Although we cannot draw definite conclusions from this data about question composition on the GMAT, what stands out is the decrease in the Comparison & Quantity and the Expression & Meaning categories, offset by the increase in Parallel Construction related questions . The increase in the Parallel Construction category exactly offsets the decrease in these types of questions in the 2017 Verbal Official Guide.

Critical Reasoning – Difficulty

Both the 2017 and 2016 editions of the GMAT Official Guide contain 141 Critical Reasoning questions, including the identical 17 Critical Reasoning questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the guides. The allocation of question difficulty has very slightly shifted away from Hard.

Difficulty 2017 2016 Change
Easy 41 40 +1
Medium 45 45
Hard 55 56 (1)
Total 141 141

A total of 19 new Critical Reasoning questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2017 GMAT Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 4 / 11 / 4. This is in lieu of 19 questions from the 2016 edition that have been removed, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 3 / 11 / 5. The GMAC has not reclassified the difficulty of any question, so these new and removed questions alone account for the differences in the number of questions per difficulty level.

Critical Reasoning – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 19 new (in 2017) and the 19 removed (from 2016) Critical Reasoning questions. We have grouped these questions based on the question type categorization that GMAT Genius uses for Critical Reasoning.

Concept 2017 2016 Change
Weaken 5 3 +2
Strengthen 6 3 +3
Assumption 2 4 (2)
Reasoning 0 3 (3)
Conclusion 3 1 +2
Explain 2 1 +1
Evaluate 0 2 (2)
Boldface 0 0
Complete the Passage 1 2 (1)

Although we cannot draw definite conclusions from this data about question composition on the GMAT, what stands out most is an increase in the Strengthen category offset by a decrease in the Reasoning category.

Reading Comprehension – Difficulty

Both the 2017 and 2016 editions of the GMAT Official Guide contain 156 Reading Comprehension questions, including the identical 17 Reading Comprehension questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the guides. The allocation of question difficulty has noticeably shifted towards Medium. This is a bit misleading, however, because the GMAC has upgraded two passages with 11 questions from Easy to Medium, and downgraded two passages with 10 questions form Hard to Medium.

Difficulty 2017 2016 Change
Easy 51 54 (3)
Medium 73 65 +8
Hard 32 37 (5)
Total 156 156

A total of 21 new Reading Comprehension questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2017 GMAT Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 13 / 3 / 5. These 21 questions are in five new passages with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 3 / 1 / 1.

A total of 21 questions have been removed from the 2016 edition, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 5 / 16 / 0. This represents three passages with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 1 / 2 / 0. Let’s further break down how each of these difficulty categories has changed.

Easy Reading Comprehension

Additions:
13 new questions

Subtractions:
5 question removed
11 upgraded to Medium

Net change: -3 questions

Medium Reading Comprehension

Additions:
3 new questions
11 upgraded from Easy
10 downgraded from Hard

Subtractions:
16 questions removed

Net change: +8 questions

Hard Reading Comprehension

Additions:
5 new questions

Subtractions:
10 downgraded to Medium

Net change: -5 questions

Reading Comprehension – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 21 new (in 2017) and the 21 removed (from 2016) Reading Comprehension questions. We have grouped these questions based on the question type categorization that GMAT Genius uses for Reading Comprehension.

Concept 2017 2016 Change
Primary Purpose 3 3
Author’s Tone 0 0
Organization 0 0
Function 1 3 (2)
Specific Reference 5 8 (3)
Inference 9 7 +2
Critical Reasoning 3 0 +3

Although we cannot draw definite conclusions from this data about question composition on the GMAT, what stands out most is the decrease in the Specific Reference category and the increase in the Critical Reasoning category.

Removed Questions

Here is the list of the verbal questions in the 2016 edition of the GMAT Official Guide that have been removed . We’ll soon publish a list of the new verbal questions in the 2017 GMAT Official Guides.

Sentence Correction – 21 questions removed:

5, 6, 15, 16, 20, 24, 26, 34, 44, 45, 65, 76, 82, 83, 88, 89, 92, 93, 108, 109, 122

Critical Reasoning – 19 questions removed:

6, 13, 19, 40, 44, 45, 46, 47, 50, 51, 52, 56, 61, 62, 80, 95, 96, 98, 99

Reading Comprehension – 21 questions removed:

26 to 30, 48 to 54, 78 to 86

Summary

In the 2017 GMAT Official Guide, the GMAC has replaced a total of 61 Verbal questions, representing just over 15% of the questions (excluding the Diagnostic Exam section). The changes in this edition are far less significant than the changes we saw between the 2015 to the 2016 editions of this book. Next up from GMAT Genius — look for detailed reviews and analysis of the 2017 GMAT Official Guides.

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