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Jun 03 2016

Preview of 2017 GMAT Verbal Official Guide

2017 GMAT Verbal 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 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 Verbal Official Guide differs from the 2016 edition in terms of question difficulty and math concepts.

Sentence Correction – Difficulty

Both the 2017 and 2016 editions of the GMAT Verbal Official Guide contain 113 Sentence Correction questions. The allocation of GMAC question difficulty remains unchanged.

Difficulty 2017 2016 Change
Easy 31 31
Medium 51 51
Hard 31 31
Total 113 113

A total of 17 new Sentence Correction questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2017 GMAT Verbal Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 6 / 7 / 4. This is in lieu of 17 questions from the 2016 edition that have been removed, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 5 / 6 / 6. The GMAC has also upgraded the difficulty of three questions (#31, #81, and #82 in the 2016 edition).

Among the six Hard questions removed, we consider four Very Hard (a difficulty rating that we assign to less than 10% of the questions). These are questions #87, #90, #107, and #113 (in the 2016 edition). Unfortunately none of the newly-added questions qualify as Very Hard. Let’s further break down how each of the GMAC difficulty categories has changed.

Easy Sentence Correction

Additions:
6 new questions

Subtractions:
5 questions removed
1 upgraded to Medium

Net change:

Medium Sentence Correction

Additions:
7 new questions
1 upgraded from Easy

Subtractions:
6 questions removed
2 upgraded to Hard

Net change:

Hard Sentence Correction

Additions:
4 new questions
2 upgraded from Medium

Subtractions:
6 questions removed

Net change:

Sentence Correction – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 17 new (in 2017) and the 17 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 0 1 (1)
Verb Tense 3 1 +2
Pronoun Ambiguity 1 3 (2)
Pronoun Agreement 3 3
Parallel Construction 2 6 (4)
Misplaced Modifiers 3 0 +3
Idioms 3 1 +2
Comparison & Quantity 1 1
Expression & Meaning 1 1

Although we cannot draw definite conclusions from this data about question composition on the GMAT, we clearly see a decrease in parallelism-related questions. This isn’t overly surprising, however, because Parallel Construction was and remains the biggest grammar category.

Critical Reasoning – Difficulty

Both the 2017 and 2016 editions of the GMAT Verbal Official Guide contain 83 Critical Reasoning questions. The allocation of question difficulty, as assigned by the GMAC, remains unchanged.

Difficulty 2017 2016 Change
Easy 34 34
Medium 26 26
Hard 23 23
Total 83 83

A total of 13 new Critical Reasoning questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2017 GMAT Verbal Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 6 / 3 / 4. This is in lieu of 13 questions from the 2016 edition that have been removed, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 7 / 3 / 3. In our assessment, the overall difficulty of the newly-added questions is harder than that of the removed questions. The GMAC has also downgraded the difficulty of two questions (#35 and #61in the 2016 edition). Let’s further break down how each of these difficulty categories has changed.

Easy Critical Reasoning

Additions:
6 new questions
1 downgraded from Medium

Subtractions:
7 question removed

Net change:

Medium Critical Reasoning

Additions:
3 new questions
1 downgraded from Hard

Subtractions:
3 questions removed
1 downgraded to Easy

Net change:

Hard Critical Reasoning

Additions:
4 new questions

Subtractions:
3 questions removed
1 downgraded to Easy

Net change:

Critical Reasoning – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 13 new (in 2017) and the 13 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 2 4 (2)
Strengthen 3 4 (1)
Assumption 1 2 (1)
Reasoning 1 0 +1
Conclusion 1 1
Explain 1 0 +1
Evaluate 1 2 (1)
Boldface 1 0 +1
Complete the Passage 2 0 +2

Although we cannot draw definite conclusions from this data about question composition on the GMAT, what stands out most is the increase in the Complete the Passage category.

Reading Comprehension – Difficulty

Both the 2017 and 2016 editions of the GMAT Verbal Official Guide contain 105 Reading Comprehension questions. The allocation of question difficulty, as assigned by the GMAC, has noticeably shifted towards Hard. This is a bit misleading, however, because the GMAC has upgraded one passage with eight questions from Medium to Hard.

Difficulty 2017 2016 Change
Easy 28 26 +2
Medium 37 47 (10)
Hard 40 32 +8
Total 105 105

A total of 15 new Reading Comprehension questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2017 GMAT Verbal Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 6 / 9 / 0. These 15 questions are in two new passages, one rated Easy difficulty and one rated Medium. A total of 15 questions from the 2016 edition have been removed, all with Medium difficulty rating. This represents three passages. Let’s further break down how each of these difficulty categories has changed.

Easy Reading Comprehension

Additions:
6 new questions

Subtractions:
4 upgraded to Medium

Net change: +2 questions

Medium Reading Comprehension

Additions:
9 new questions
4 upgraded from Easy

Subtractions:
15 questions removed
8 upgraded to Hard

Net change: -10 questions

Hard Reading Comprehension

Additions:
8 upgraded from Medium

Subtractions:
none

Net change: +8 questions

Reading Comprehension – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 15 new (in 2017) and the 15 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 1 2 (1)
Author’s Tone 1 1
Organization 0 0
Function 1 2 (1)
Specific Reference 4 6 (2)
Inference 7 4 +3
Critical Reasoning 1 0 +1

Although we cannot draw definite conclusions from this data about question composition on the GMAT, what stands out most is the increase in the Inference category.

Removed Questions

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

Sentence Correction – 17 questions removed:

4, 10, 17, 22, 29, 36, 41, 54, 58, 75, 78, 87, 90, 102, 107, 110, 113

Critical Reasoning – 13 questions removed:

4, 5, 8, 12, 26, 31, 32, 45, 49, 51, 65, 76, 77

Reading Comprehension – 15 questions removed:

36 to 38, 43 to 48, 49 to 54

Summary

In the 2017 GMAT Verbal 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!