Jun 01 2016

Preview of 2017 GMAT Quantitative Official Guide

GMAT Genius has been working closely with the publisher of the Official Guides for GMAT Review over the past few weeks, in advance of the June 7 release of the 2017 editions, to help improve the online version of the Official Guides. In doing so, we have thoroughly analyzed the 2017 versions of the GMAT Official Guides, and want to give you an overview of what to expect. In this post, we will focus specifically on how the 2017 GMAT Quantitative Official Guide differs from the 2016 edition in terms of question difficulty and math concepts.

Problem Solving – Difficulty

Both the 2017 and 2016 editions of the GMAT Quantitative Official Guide contain 176 Problem Solving questions. The allocation of question difficulty, as assigned by the GMAC, has slightly shifted away from Medium. Part of this change resulted from the GMAC downgrading two questions from Medium difficulty (in the 2016 edition) to Easy (in the 2017 edition).

Difficulty 2017 2016 Change
Easy 85 82 +3
Medium 52 57 (5)
Hard 39 37 +2
Total 176 176

A total of 26 new Problem Solving questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2017 GMAT Quantitative Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 17 / 5 / 4. Of the four new Hard questions, we actually consider one Easy and one Medium. These new questions are in lieu of 26 questions from the 2016 edition that have been removed, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 16 / 8 / 2. Let’s further break down how each of these difficulty categories has changed.

Easy Problem Solving

17 new questions

Subtractions:
16 questions removed

Net change: +3 questions

Medium Problem Solving

5 new questions

Subtractions:
8 questions removed

Net change: -5 questions

Hard Problem Solving

4 new questions

Subtractions:
2 questions removed

Net change: +2 questions

Problem Solving – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 26 new (in 2017) and the 26 removed (from 2016) Problem Solving questions. GMAT Genius classifies questions based on their primary and secondary concepts. In order to observe trends, we have condensed our categorization as follows:

Type Concept 2017 2016 Change
Arithmetic Basic 5 1 +4
Arithmetic Divisibility & Factors 1 2 (1)
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 1 3 (2)
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 3 2 +1
Arithmetic Percents 3 4 (1)
Algebra Linear Equations 0 3 (3)
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 1 0 +1
Algebra Variables in Answers 1 1
Geometry All Geometry 3 3
Statistics Averages 2 1 +1
Statistics Other Statistics 2 1 +1
Word Problems Combinatorics 1 0 +1
Word Problems Groups/Sets 0 1 (1)
Word Problems Rate & Work 1 2 (1)

Although we cannot draw definite conclusions from this data about question composition on the GMAT, what stands out is the decrease in algebraic linear equations and the increase in basic arithmetic.

Data Sufficiency – Difficulty

Both the 2017 and 2016 editions of the GMAT Quantitative Official Guide contain 124 Data Sufficiency questions. The allocation of question difficulty, as assigned by the GMAC, has noticeably shifted away from Hard. This is a bit misleading, however, because we would rate all five of the new Hard questions as Hard, whereas we would rate only three of the 15 removed Hard questions as actually Hard.

Difficulty 2017 2016 Change
Easy 26 22 +4
Medium 31 25 +6
Hard 67 77 (10)
Total 124 124

A total of 19 new Data Sufficiency questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2017 GMAT Quantitative Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 7 / 7 / 5. 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 / 1 / 15. Since no questions have been assigned a different difficulty, these new and removed questions alone account for the differences in the number of questions per difficulty level.

Data Sufficiency – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 19 new (in 2017) and the 19 removed (from 2016) Data Sufficiency questions. GMAT Genius classifies questions based on their primary and secondary concepts. In order to observe trends, we have condensed our categorization as follows:

Type Concept 2017 2016 Change
Arithmetic Divisibility/Factors/Mult. 2 1 +1
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 1 1
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 1 1
Arithmetic Pos/Neg & Odd/Even 1 1
Arithmetic Primes 1 1
Algebra Inequalities 2 2
Algebra Linear Equations 0 1 (1)
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 2 1 +1
Geometry All Geometry 3 3
Statistics All Statistics 1 2 (1)
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 1 0 +1
Word Problems Groups/Sets 1 2 (1)
Word Problems Revenue/Profit 1 1
Word Problems Rate & Work 1 1

No specific trends stand out from this data about question composition.

Removed Questions

Here is the list of the questions that have been removed from the 2016 edition of the GMAT Quantitative Official Guide. We’ll publish a list of the new questions in the 2017 GMAT Quantitative Official Guide after it publicly releases.

Problem Solving – 26 questions removed:

14, 23, 27, 30, 32, 36, 37, 41, 43, 44, 46, 53, 54, 56, 57, 66, 91, 92, 103, 112, 123, 130, 137, 138, 168, 170

Data Sufficiency – 19 questions removed:

14, 19, 22, 33, 51, 54, 59, 61, 67, 80, 83, 87, 90, 97, 100, 101, 103, 107, 114

Summary

In the 2017 GMAT Quantitative Official Guide, the GMAC has replaced a total of 45 questions, representing 15% of the questions. The changes in this edition are far less significant than the changes we saw between the 2015 to the 2016 editions of this book. GMAT Genius will offer much more detailed analysis and critique of the 2017 GMAT Official Guides in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!