## GMAT Focus Edition – All The Details

Major announcement from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) today! In late 2023, a completely revamped GMAT, called GMAT Focus Edition, will be released to replace the current GMAT exam. The current GMAT exam will be retired in early 2024. We updated this article on March 15 to incorporate detailed information that we learned over the past week about the new exam.

## Content and Section Changes

The current GMAT has four test sections: a 62 minute Quantitative section, a 65 minute Verbal section, a 30 minute Integrated Reasoning section, and a 30 minute Analytical Writing essay.

The new GMAT Focus Edition will have three sections, each of which will be 45 minutes long: Quantitative, Verbal, and Data Insights.

• Quantitative will contain 21 multiple choice Problem Solving questions only.
• Verbal will contain 23 Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension questions. Sentence Correction will be eliminated with the GMAT Focus Edition.
• Data Insights will contain 20 questions – the four current Integrated Reasoning question types plus Data Sufficiency, which is moving from Quant to the Data Insights section.
• There will not be an essay in the GMAT Focus Edition.

The GMAT Focused Edition will have “reduced content.” In addition to the elimination of Sentence Correction and the AWA essay, Geometry questions will be eliminated from Quant, as is the case with the current Executive Assessment exam that the GMAC also administers.

## GMAT Focus Edition Scoring

In the current GMAT, the Quant and Verbal sections receive scores from 6 to 51 in one point increments. Only these two sections contribute to the overall GMAT score, which ranges from 200 to 800 in 10-point increments. The Integrated Reasoning section generates a separate score from 1 to 8.

In the GMAT Focus Edition, each of the three sections receive scores from 60 to 90 in one point increments. Each section, including Data Insights, contributes to the overall GMAT score. The overall GMAT score ranges from 205 to 805 in 10-point increments. Why the extra 5 points? We presume to allow schools to easily identify whether a certain score is from the current GMAT or the GMAT Focus Edition.

## GMAT Focus Edition Test Taker Policies

Current test takers choose from three test section orders: Quant/Verbal/IR/AWA, Verbal/Quant/IR/AWA, and AWA/IR/Quant/Verbal. With the new GMAT Focus Edition, test takers will be able to choose any order for the test sections. This creates six possible options: Quant/Verbal/Data, Quant/Data/Verbal, Verbal/Quant/Data, Verbal/Data/Quant, Data/Quant/Verbal, and Data/Verbal Quant.

With the current GMAT, test takers must answer questions in the order received and cannot return to prior questions. With the GMAT Focus Edition, you will be able to bookmark and review as many questions as you want. You can review questions that you didn’t bookmark. Furthermore, you can change up to three answers per section. Any question review or answer changes must be done within the 45-minute section time limits. The GMAT Focus Edition will continue to be a question adaptive exam, like the current GMAT. But the scoring algorithm will presumably contain some modifications to reflect that users can change up to three answers.

## GMAT Focus Edition Score Reports

Scoring reporting will also change to match up with how the Online GMAT currently works. With current test-center exams, one must select up to five graduate programs before knowing the exam results in order to take advantage of free score sending. Furthermore, all test center exam results that are not cancelled appear on the score report.

With the GMAT Focus Edition, you can choose to send five score reports after you receive your scores. In addition, each score report will contain the results only for that specific exam. Schools will not see lower scores unless you choose to send them. This change eliminates the need to cancel GMAT scores that you are not happy with.

Finally, the GMAT Focus Edition will have an improved Official Score Report with “detailed performance insights”. We don’t yet know what this entails, but surmise that test takers will automatically get something equivalent to the Enhanced Score Report that is currently available at an additional cost only for test-center exams.

## Why is the GMAT Getting Revamped?

GMAT testing volume declined from 242,714 worldwide exams administered in 2018 to 124,112 in 2022, a nearly 50% decline. GRE testing volume has declined by an even slightly higher percentage. These significant drops are largely driven by test-optional policies and test waivers that MBA and other graduate programs put into place when the pandemic closed test centers in March 2020. Furthermore, over the past several years, MBA candidates who submit scores have increasingly taken the GRE instead of the GMAT.

We don’t know the GMAC’s motivation for introducing the new GMAT Focus Edition. But we think that the GMAC hopes to prevent continued declines in testing volume. By introducing a shorter exam that is more test-taker friendly, the GMAT presumably strives to convince more MBA aspirants to take the GMAT instead of the GRE. The GMAC is positioning the GMAT Focus Edition as one that “hones in on the higher-order critical reasoning and data literacy skills that are more relevant and applicable in the business environment of tomorrow.” We believe that, with this positioning, the GMAC hopes to convince business schools with test optional policies to reintroduce testing requirements.

## Conversation with MPA CEO Charlie Rivkin

I had the opportunity today to participate in a Zoom call with the Chairman and CEO of the Motion Pictures Association, Charlie Rivkin. Among his many prior roles, Rivkin served as the U.S. Ambassador to France and the CEO of the Jim Henson Company. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School. We had a lively discussion about trends in the entertainment industry and the value of an MBA.

## Entertainment Industry Trends

Many people associate the movie industry with movie stars. But Rivkin points out that the industry is filled with over 2.5 million “below the line” blue color workers. Movie-making therefore provides a significant economic boost to local economies. Similarly, piracy hurts many people, not just wealthy stars. Trying to combat piracy is like “whack-a-mole”; when one technology that enables piracy is shut down, another pops up.

Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets, was the most creative and inspirational person that Rivkin knew. He fondly remembered that Henson would bounce ideas off a worker in the company boiler room. When Rivkin asked Henson about this, Henson stressed that you can learn from anyone. Collaboration is important in the MPA. Rivkin has to get the six member companies (Disney, Paramount, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros., and Netflix) to work together on common goals, even though they are business competitors. Of particular importance now is the trend to streaming and other alternate delivery mechanisms.

## Rivkin’s Opinion of an MBA

I asked Rivkin how important an MBA will be for young professionals who wish to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. He said that he considers an MBA essential. An MBA gives you a chance to think about where the world is heading and how you can contribute. Rivkin also believes that you will learn valuable skills that you won’t be able to learn on the job. Even though an MBA is not a traditional path for a career in the entertainment industry, Rivkin highly recommends getting an MBA.

## Conversation with Goldman Sachs’ CEO Solomon

I had the opportunity today to participate in a Zoom call with Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO David M. Solomon, moderated by CNBC anchor Sara Eisen. Since becoming CEO in October 2018, Solomon has navigated the 152-year-old investment bank through economic change and the pandemic. We had a great discussion about the economic environment, a post-pandemic world, and the value of an MBA.

Solomon is optimistic about the medium-term prospects of returning to normalcy. He said that we have faced other challenges before. His worst memories are of seeing the devastation in Downtown Manhattan on 9/11. Despite the horrors of this pandemic, we need to move forward. He thinks that more economic stimulus is needed, but it should be more targeted and thoughtful than the \$1.9 trillion package under discussion in Congress. Solomon thinks that future generations will pay the consequences of such a heavy debt load.

Solomon emphasized that a company needs to be led with purpose. Employees want a clear purpose and want to contribute to that purpose. Social impact is important. Solomon believes that companies should contribute broadly to the societies in which they operate. He is especially proud of an initiative that he spearheaded and announced in January 2020 – Goldman Sachs will not take a company public unless it has at least one woman or non-white member on its Board of Directors (two starting this year).

## Solomon’s Opinion of an MBA

At my request, moderator Sara Eisen asked Solomon about the value of an MBA. Solomon said that one of his biggest personal regrets is that he didn’t go to business school. All of his peers found value in the personal growth they experienced during their MBAs. Solomon said that he highly recommends getting an MBA if you are fortunate enough to have that opportunity. You will be working for many years, so taking a couple years to build a personal network and develop life experiences is invaluable in his opinion (and ours too!).

## The Online GMAT: A Painful Experience

I took the online GMAT today, in order to better understand how this new test format works. Unfortunately, I found the process to be a very frustrating experience. If you aren’t already familiar with the mechanics of the online GMAT, you should read my prior blog post on that topic before continuing.

## Online GMAT Check-In

Last week, after registering for the exam, I went through the system test to ensure system compatibility. Although the system check hung a couple times, I ultimately got the system check to work and was therefore confident that my computer setup was fine. I spent some time yesterday cleaning up my home office, removing barred items such as papers / pens, and disconnecting my second monitor. So I was ready to go this morning.

I started the check-in process 15 minutes before my scheduled test time, completing the check-in procedure in 12 minutes. Everything proceeded smoothly, replicating what I experienced during the system check. On the last check-in screen, the OnVue browser informed me that a proctor will start the exam soon, within 10 minutes for most test takers.

## Where’s the Proctor?

After waiting 15 minutes, I started waiving and speaking into my webcam, hoping to get someone’s attention. After 20 minutes, still nothing. And after 25 minutes, still nothing. At this point, I informed my webcam that I need to contact someone for help and so would use my cell phone.

The Pearson system does not provide any way to get in touch with someone for help. The chat dialog was not yet present, nor was there any phone number or other contact information. I looked up the number for GMAC Customer Service. I tried calling twice, but both times just received a busy signal; the phone lines were probably overwhelmed.

So I decided to close the OnVue browser open on my computer and try again. I went back to my MBA.com account to restart the test, and fortunately I was able to do so. I had to go through the entire check-in procedure from scratch before again reaching the “proctor will be with you within 10 minutes” screen.

After 10 minutes of patiently waiting, there was no proctor. After 15 minutes, still no proctor. Once again, I started waiving and speaking into my webcam, hoping to get someone’s attention. After 20 minutes, just as I was about to close the OnVue browser again, a proctor finally announced her presence by placing a chat box on my screen.

## Proctoring Experience

The proctor asked me to show (in my webcam) both the front and back of my eyeglasses and both the front and back of my wrists. Surprisingly, the proctor did not ask me to use my webcam to give her a 360-degree view of my room, as I was expecting. My online test then officially started.

During the exam itself, I could see that the system was recording me. But after a couple minutes, I was so focused on the exam questions that the monitoring was out-of-mind. Towards the middle of the Quant section, the proctor popped up the chat dialog to warn me that she heard me saying part of a question out loud. I think that I had faintly whispered a Data Sufficiency fact to myself, something along the lines of “x is an integer.” Apparently this was enough to receive a warning from the proctor. From that point onward, I had to ensure that I was completely silent; doing so made it harder to concentrate on the test questions.

## Online Whiteboard

In the online GMAT, the Quantitative section comes first. I was most curious to evaluate the functionality of the online whiteboard. Since I conduct online tutoring with GMAT Genius clients, I am accustomed to using an online whiteboard. But I found the Pearson whiteboard challenging to use.

The text tool was clunky at best. It kept defaulting to 18 point Helvetica text, which I found quite large. Whenever I reduced the text size to a more manageable 12 or 14 point, it defaulted back to 18 point with the next text entry. I could not set the size of a text box, and at times the text box automatically word-wrapped, to my chagrin. Since the whiteboard lacks math notation, I had to use my own shorthand for math notation, such as r(3) for square root of 3 and x^2 for x squared.

If I made the whiteboard too big, the whiteboard covered up the Answer Confirm dialog box that appears after submitting an answer to each question. So I had to reduce the size of the whiteboard, limiting how much I could type in. The whiteboard had a tendency to keep zooming in on its own, further limiting the viewable whiteboard area. To counteract this, I often had to use the zoom out tool to see what I had placed on the whiteboard.

I was lucky in that I didn’t face many complex geometry questions. I tried to recreate one complex geometry diagram in order to work through the relationships, but it was very challenging to do so with the online whiteboard. The whiteboard does have a rectangle, a circle, and a free form shape tool. But these were useless with the more complex diagram that I had to recreate.

## Tested Content

I cannot share actual test content, but I can share some broad observations. In terms of the content tested, there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. I was surprised that (as I recall) my first 5 to 6 Quant questions were all Data Sufficiency. I was quite relieved to finally see a Problem Solving question. Although there were a few challenging Quant questions, I was surprised that several Quant questions seemed very straightforward and easy. I hope that this doesn’t foreshadow a Quant score below my regular Quant 51 score.

I also found the Verbal and IR sections to be more straightforward than my prior GMAT attempts. One very complex Reading Comprehension passage (science, of course) and a couple tricky Critical Reasoning questions arose. But overall I was surprised that the test content wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting. I was concerned that perhaps I missed a few questions and scored lower than typical, but ultimately I received a 770 score (IR 8, Quant 50, Verbal 46). I do think that Quant was lower than the 51 that I usually get because of the challenges in using the online whiteboard and my frustration level after the miserable check-in experience.

## Other Issues

Two other issues are worth noting. The lack of a break between Quant and Verbal was challenging. About halfway through the Verbal section, I felt the need to use the restroom. This urge distracted me a bit during the second half of Verbal. So I was very relieved when I finally got a five minute break before Integrated Reasoning. This urge was probably exacerbated by my very lengthy (over one hour!) check-in and waiting time. If my exam had properly started within 10 minutes of checking-in the first time, this would have been less of an issue.

Second, it was very anti-climatic after finishing the exam. The OnVue browser said that I will receive my results via email within two weeks, not the seven business days that the GMAC has advertised. Then my OnVue browser closed, officially ending the exam. It really would have been nice to have the instant gratification (or pain, as the case may be) of seeing the unofficial results immediately.

## On the Plus Side

The online GMAT experience wasn’t all bad. It was far more comfortable to take the exam on my computer at my own desk. I didn’t have to drive to a test center and hassle with the test center check-in procedures. It would also have been more stressful to take the test at a workstation on an unfamiliar computer at the test center. It was much less distracting to not have others in the same room as me. At a test center, there are typically 10+ other test takers who are taking various exams, and the proctor comes in and out of the testing room to assist everyone. Finally, although I would dress comfortably for a test center appointment, I could be even more comfortable at home – no shoes required!

## Summary

Overall, the online GMAT was a very frustrating experience for me. I certainly hope that my situation was an aberration. No one should have to endure over one hour waiting time from starting check-in procedures to starting the exam, with 45 minutes spent staring at my computer screen, hoping that a proctor will show up. The OnVue browser states that a proctor will start the exam within 10 minutes. So it is simply unacceptable that I had to wait 25 minutes before giving up and starting over, only to wait an additional 20 minutes for a proctor. At minimum, the OnVue browser should provide a method to contact someone for help. Ideally there should also be a real-time countdown timer that states “a proctor will be with you in X minutes.” Perhaps these “opening day” kinks will be fixed over time.

Putting aside what I hope is an aberration, the online whiteboard was very clunky and challenging to use. I think that I would have been able to complete the Quant section about 10 minutes earlier if I had the regular written whiteboard instead of the online whiteboard. This may be worse for most test takers, because I am accustomed to using a (more robust) online whiteboard. To minimize further pain, I did not use the whiteboard whatsoever during Verbal and made only minimal usage during IR. I am very surprised that Pearson couldn’t have designed a more robust and user-friendly online whiteboard.

Without the problematic check-in experience that I faced and with a more functional online whiteboard (or better yet – a physical whiteboard), I may actually prefer the online GMAT, despite the other drawbacks. But I would not want to go through today’s painful online GMAT experience again any time soon.

## Interim Online GMAT Now Available

The online GMAT is now available.

The GMAC released information today about the “interim” online GMAT. Appointments are available every 15 minutes, 24/7, from April 20 to June 15. Depending on how the coronavirus pandemic evolves, the GMAC may extend availability beyond June 15. The online GMAT is meant to be an interim solution while Pearson VUE centers are closed due to the pandemic. This exam is available to all test takers, but is specifically intended for candidates who are currently striving to meet current Round 3 and 4 application deadlines.

The online GMAT registration fee is \$200, \$75 less than the regular GMAT fee. The fee to reschedule your online GMAT is \$25 and to cancel is \$100. You can reschedule or cancel your appointment 24 hours or more before your scheduled exam.

## Technology Requirements

You can take the online GMAT on both Windows and Mac personal computers and laptops. You must have a built-in or plug-in webcam and microphone. The online proctor will use these to monitor you during the exam. You can only have one monitor attached to your computer. Headphones and headsets are prohibited.

We highly recommend that you run a system test prior to your exam to ensure system compatibility, as detailed on the GMAC’s Prepare Your Environment webpage. This process takes 15-20 minutes and entails agreeing to GMAC / Pearson policies, ensuring that you have the necessary computer equipment, and taking and submitting photos of yourself, your ID, and your environment.

## Online GMAT Structure and Mechanics

The online GMAT is similar to the regular in-person GMAT, but with some very important differences. First, there is no Analytical Writing (AWA) section in the online GMAT. Second, the Select Section Order feature is not available. The order will be fixed as Quantitative first, Verbal second, and Integrated Reasoning third. Quant remains as 31 questions in 62 minutes, Verbal is 36 questions in 65 minutes, and IR is 12 questions in 30 minutes. The scoring algorithm and scoring scales will be identical to the regular GMAT.

Your workspace must be clutter-free. You cannot have any books, papers, notepads, watches, electronic devices, or writing instruments within arm’s reach. You also cannot have any food or drink with you, not even water. The proctor will conduct a room scan with your webcam. If your workspace does not pass the room scan, you will not be permitted to take the test.

You can take the online GMAT only once. The online GMAT attempt does not count towards the GMAT limits of five times within a rolling 12-month period or eight times lifetime. But if you have already exceeded these limits, you cannot take the online GMAT.

## Pros and Cons of Online GMAT

One advantage of the online GMAT is that you take the exam from the comfort of your own home or office, on your own computer. This may help alleviate the stress associated with going to a physical test center. A second advantage is that you can select up to five schools to receive your score report either before or after your exam at no additional charge. A third advantage is the lower test fee.

There are several disadvantages to taking the online GMAT, relative to the regular GMAT:

• You are allowed only one 5-minute break, before Integrated Reasoning. In other words, you must do the Quant and Verbal sections back-to-back with no break in between the sections.
• You are not allowed to use a physical whiteboard or paper / pencil. Instead, you must use an online whiteboard built into the special OnVUE browser that delivers the exam. Users who are not accustomed to online whiteboards may find this unwieldy and challenging to use.
• There is no Score Preview feature. Scores will be sent to you via email within seven business days of your exam date.
• Furthermore, score cancellation options are not available. No matter how you perform, the score becomes part of your permanent GMAT record for the next five years. So be sure that you are ready to perform well before you register.
• Enhanced Score Reports will not be available. So you will not have the opportunity to analyze your test day performance as you can with an ESR for the regular GMAT.
• Disability accommodations (e.g. extra time) are not currently available, so those test takers who qualify are out-of-luck for now. The GMAC hopes to make this available in the “coming weeks”.

## Summary

Although the online GMAT is far from perfect, it is a viable solution for those who have been unable to take the regular GMAT due to test center closures but who need a score due to impending application deadlines. The lack of a break between Quant and Verbal and the restriction of an online whiteboard are serious limitations. But we understand that the GMAC needs to take precautions to ensure test security. If you decide to take the online GMAT, we wish you tremendous success and hope to hear positive results.

The big uncertainty for those who are not applying now is how business schools will treat online GMAT scores in the future. If you are not applying in the current admissions cycle, it may be better to wait to take the regular GMAT at a test center. Unfortunately we cannot say with certainty when those appointments will be available.

## Preview of 2020 GMAT Official Guides

GMAT Genius is pleased to present an exclusive preview of the 2020 GMAT Official Guides, which release on May 7. In the 2020 Official Guides, there is a net addition of 130 Quant and Verbal questions, primarily Data Sufficiency (75) and Critical Reasoning (40) and primarily in the Main Official Guide.

## Questions Added to the 2020 GMAT Official Guides

A total of 214 questions that were not contained in the 2019 Official Guides have been added to the 2020 GMAT Official Guides. Unlike additions to prior Official Guide editions, the “new” questions in the 2020 Official Guides are primarily questions that appeared in older Official Guides. According to GMAC’s Director of Test Prep Products, “For selecting questions to put in these series, we looked less at whether something was ‘new’ or ‘old’ and more on what it could add to the OG.”

The following table summarizes the questions added to the 2020 GMAT Official Guides, by difficulty level. There are no new questions at the Hard-difficulty. As you will see, most of the added questions are on the cusp of Easy and Medium. Let’s give an example to better explain this. The 26 added Problem Solving questions in the GMAT Quant Official Guide are #77-102. In the 2019 Quant Official Guide, #76 (in 2020) was rated Easy and #103 (in 2020) was rated Medium. So these 26 added questions are some mix of Easy and Medium, but we won’t be able to identify the exact split until we receive the 2020 GMAT Official Guides.

Official Guide Question Type Easy Easy / Medium Medium Total
Main Problem Solving 5 5
Main Data Sufficiency 48 11 59
Main Critical Reasoning 16 1 13 30
Main Sentence Correction 2 11 13
Quant Problem Solving 26 26
Quant Data Sufficiency 19 19
Verbal Critical Reasoning 4 11 15
Verbal Sentence Correction 13 4 17
Total Total 20 141 53 214

## Ordered by Difficulty?

That most of the added questions are on the cusp of Easy and Medium difficulty leads to an interesting implication. The covers of the Official Guides state that questions are “organized in order of difficulty from easiest to hardest.” Using Problem Solving in the Quant Official Guide as an example again, the 26 added questions appear as a block from #77 to #102. It is exceedingly unlikely that all 26 of the questions added in 2020 are harder than #76 yet easier than #103.

We discussed this issue with the GMAC. According to GMAC’s Director of Test Prep Products, “We categorize and order questions by difficulty levels (easy-medium-hard), but the order within these difficulty levels is less precise. While there has always been some amount of imprecision in the order, it’s perhaps more pronounced with the inclusion of questions from both older Official Guides and new ones, because the data that we have on the questions may not be entirely comparable across all questions.”

So there you have it, straight from the GMAC. There is understandably some subjectivity in assessing difficulty and therefore in deciding the order in which to place questions. The big takeaway, however, is that we should interpret the “in order of difficulty” claim loosely rather than strictly.

## Removed Questions from the 2019 Official Guides

A total of 84 questions from the 2019 Official Guides have been removed and will not appear in the 2020 Official Guides. The table below shows the distribution of these 84 questions.

Official Guide Question Type Easy Medium Hard Total
Main Problem Solving 5 5
Main Data Sufficiency 3 3
Main Critical Reasoning 1 4 5
Main Sentence Correction 4 4
Quant Problem Solving 17 9 26
Quant Data Sufficiency
Verbal Reading Comp. 6 12 18
Verbal Critical Reasoning
Verbal Sentence Correction 4 8 5 17
Total Total 27 40 17 84

We are disappointed to see that 17 Hard-difficulty questions are getting removed (all from the Verbal OG), but that there is not a single added Hard-difficulty question in the 2020 GMAT Official Guides to compensate for this loss. We are at least glad to see that the Critical Reasoning question that was duplicated in both the 2019 Main and Verbal Official Guides is one of the removed questions.

The following are the 2019 Official Guide question numbers that will not appear in the 2020 Official Guides.

Main Official Guide

• Problem Solving: 13, 19, 25, 32, 33
• Data Sufficiency: 309, 317, 328
• Critical Reasoning: 558, 600, 602, 606, 613
• Sentence Correction: 717, 718, 721, 722

Quantitative Official Guide

• Problem Solving: 14, 17, 25, 34, 46, 47, 50, 52, 54, 55, 59, 64, 66, 69, 70, 72, 73, 96, 104, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 129, 130
• Data Sufficiency: none

Verbal Official Guide

• Reading Comprehension: 37-42, 59-63, 64-70
• Critical Reasoning: none
• Sentence Correction: 201, 203, 209, 215, 224, 229, 230, 231, 235, 236, 238, 239, 243, 246, 247, 248, 252

## Summary

The Official Guides are an essential source of GMAT practice. GMAT Genius highly recommends that every GMAT test taker prepare using the Official Guides. Overall it’s great that the 2020 GMAT Official Guides provide GMAT aspirants with 130 additional Quant and Verbal practice questions (primarily Data Sufficiency and Critical Reasoning) versus the 2019 OGs. Although most of these will be questions from older Official Guides, this shouldn’t be a concern for most GMAT students, who are unlikely to have multiple editions.

For those with high scoring objectives, however, it’s disappointing to see a net loss of 17 Hard-difficulty questions in the 2020 GMAT Official Guides. Furthermore, almost all the added questions are either Easy-difficulty or on the easier side of Medium-difficulty. So these new Official Guides provide minimal added benefit to advanced students, who will be just as fine using the 2018 or 2019 editions.

## Stanford GSB Dean Levin Discusses Future of the GSB

I had the pleasure of meeting Stanford GSB Dean Jon Levin yesterday in La Jolla over lunch. We previously met last March. This time, we had a splendid discussion about some of the trends that he considers vital to the future of business education and at the GSB in particular. These involved two primary themes: technology and the “challenge of opportunity”.

## Impact of Technology

The expansion of technology continues to create greater opportunities in business, but also creates some challenges. One of the biggest challenges according to Dean Levin is that of privacy. Business leaders need to think through privacy issues inherent in their product and service offerings in order to protect their customers and employees and to maintain trust with these stakeholders. This has led to changes in the types of skills that future business will need. Dean Levin referred to this as the “ascendency of the MBA skill set.”

What skills will take on greater importance for business leaders? Dean Levin believes that collaboration and teamwork, leadership, and analytical skills will be essential to manage projects that will inevitably be of greater scope and complexity. Furthermore, business leaders will need to be versed in data and information management. Ethics will also play a role, as leaders need to think about how to deploy technology in a responsible manner. The GSB is adapting to these challenges through curriculum changes. Data Science is now a required course for all first-year students. Courses such as Startup Garage have incorporated an ethics component. Electives are being added in Artificial Intelligence, such as the AI and Humanity course taught by Professor Jen Aaker. Finally, a Stanford-wide human-centered AI initiative is expected to launch in March.

## Challenge of Opportunity

Dean Levin believes that liberty and opportunity are two great features of capitalist economies. But this leads to the “challenge of opportunity” – are we creating enough opportunity in society? This is an important question in training the next generation of business leaders. As such, the GSB emphasizes “purposeful leadership” as a theme. Future business leaders need to understand their role in creating equal opportunities in society. This entails teaching the importance of values and responsibility. The GSB is incorporating this topic in its curriculum through class discussion as appropriate. The GSB is doing its own part to broaden access to a Stanford MBA by offering more fellowships so that financial constraints don’t prevent worthy candidates from attending the GSB.

## Globalization

Finally, we talked about globalization as a further challenge that business leaders need to manage. The current first-year class at the GSB hails from 60 different countries, allowing for greater discussion of global issues during class. As more opportunities for healthy debate arise, Dean Levin believes that it is important for students to engage in a respectful manner: stay calm, listen openly, and clearly articulate their thoughts and vision.

## Stanford GSB Dean Levin Shares His Insights

I had the opportunity to meet the new Dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Jon Levin, yesterday morning over breakfast. Dean Levin shared a lot of insight about admission trends at the GSB, factors that make Stanford a leader in business education, changes underway at the GSB, and his vision for the future of the GSB.

The class size at the Stanford GSB has grown at an average of 1-2% per year. With 418 students matriculating in Fall 2017, the GSB has reached maximum capacity, despite the growth afforded the GSB with its relocation in 2011 to the new Knight Management Center. Stanford’s incoming class last Fall included 41% international students, representing 61 countries, and 40% female students. Dean Levin hopes that the GSB can increase the female percentage closer to 45% (consistent with some Chinese MBA programs) under Kirsten Moss, the new Admissions Director at Stanford.

The full-time MBA applicant pool for U.S. programs overall has declined by 30% over the past five years. Only Harvard and Stanford have been immune to this trend and have seen a growth in applications. Last year the GSB accepted just 5.9% of its applicants, its lowest acceptance rate yet. Over 85% of those accepted ended up matriculating. The biggest source of competition for accepted students is not other MBA programs, but rather job opportunities that these applicants have. Dean Levin recognizes that Stanford must demonstrate the ROI from its MBA program in order to maintain such a high yield rate.

This past year represented the first admissions cycle under Admissions Director Moss. Dean Levin expects that Moss will reevaluate the admission process before the new admissions year. One change that Stanford has already implemented is supplementing the traditional alumni interview with more structured staff interviews.

## Financial Aid Policies

Stanford has recently been in the news for its financial aid policies. Dean Levin readily admits that the GSB previously lacked sufficient protection over sensitive data, a deficiency that has since been rectified. Dean Levin also agrees that the GSB needs to be more transparent about how financial aid decisions are made. Yet the issue has been presented a bit inaccurately by some media outlets. At most other MBA programs, a substantial portion of financial aid grants are discretionary and are specifically structured to draw candidates that the program deems attractive. In contrast, the GSB determines the total amount of financial aid for each candidate strictly based on a needs-based formula. What has been discretionary at the GSB is the split between loans and scholarships, not the total amount of aid given. Going forward, Stanford will be more explicit about how these types of decisions are made.

## What Sets the GSB Apart

What sets the GSB apart from its peers? Stanford offers a more immersive learning experience than other MBA programs, and Dean Levin expects this trend to accelerate over the coming years. Almost 50% of GSB classes are experiential based. Many classes have co-teachers, a traditional professor paired with an expert in industry. One example of Stanford’s commitment to experiential learning is its innovative two-quarter Startup Garage course, during which students design and can actually launch startup companies. Last year, over 70 second-year GSB students participated, creating several viable new businesses.

New classes are often driven by student requests and the latest faculty research. Two such examples are upcoming classes on Blockchain and on Artificial Intelligence. Stanford also offers many short two-week courses that allow students to dive into specific topics that wouldn’t present sufficient content for a full quarter. Furthermore, this format allows Stanford to attract highly-qualified lecturers from industry who could not dedicate a full quarter to teaching.

Over 20% of GSB students take advantage of the opportunity to pursue a joint or dual degrees at Stanford. The most popular joint degree has been with the School of Education. Other students pursue joint degrees in Law, Medicine, or Environmental Sciences. Dean Levin anticipates a greater interest in the future for joint degrees in Public Policy, as Stanford improves its offerings in this area, and in Engineering, due to the valuable skills that this combination would provide.

Dean Levin is part of a new leadership team at Stanford University overall. Stanford has a new President, a new Provost, and four new Deans at its various programs. I had the opportunity to meet Stanford University’s new President, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, a week and a half earlier. President Tessier-Lavigne, Dean Levin, and the other leaders at Stanford are currently involved with a long-term planning process to help shape the future of Stanford. Based on what I’ve heard from President Tessier-Lavigne and Dean Levin, I am confident that the future of Stanford and the GSB rests in excellent hands.

## 2018 GMAT Official Guide Bundle – Detailed Analysis

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

## Overview of 2018 GMAT Official Guide Bundle

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 three books in this bundle have no overlap in practice questions.

Our objective below is to provide a combined analysis of each question type (e.g. combine data for all Problem Solving questions across all books). You will find a list of new questions and detailed question categorization in our prior posts on the individual books:
The 2018 Official Guide for GMAT Review
The 2018 Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review
The 2018 Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review

The 2018 GMAT Official Guide Bundle contains 220 new questions out of the 1,566 total questions (including Integrated Reasoning). Excluding the 100 questions in the Diagnostic Exam section of the main book, the new questions represent 15% new content. These are new questions that we have not encountered before; they are not questions recycled from older GMAC resources.

## Problem Solving

The 2018 GMAT Official Guide Bundle contains a total of 430 Problem Solving questions. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 185 43% +18
Medium 102 24% (5)
Hard 143 33% (13)

There are 61 new Problem Solving questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 37 / 12 / 12. This is in lieu of 61 questions from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 19 / 17 / 25.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Our assessment of Problem Solving skews noticeably less difficult / more towards the center and is only 72.1% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, demonstrating tremendous subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Super Easy 44 10% +2
Easy 125 29% +2
Medium 166 39% (6)
Hard 68 16% (1)
Very Hard 27 6% +3

Although math questions often entail multiple math concepts, GMAT Genius classifies questions based on our assessment of the primary math concept. We break down the 430 Problem Solving questions as follows:

Type Concept Number Percent Change
Arithmetic Basic 26 6% +5
Arithmetic Absolute Value 7 1.6%
Arithmetic Divisibility/Factors/Mult. 24 5.6% (1)
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 26 6% (5)
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 50 11.6% (1)
Arithmetic Percents 32 7.4% (3)
Arithmetic Pos/Neg & Odd/Even 2 0.5% (2)
Arithmetic Primes 4 0.9%
Algebra Inequalities 9 2.1% +1
Algebra Linear Equations 23 5.3% +1
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 13 3%
Algebra Variables in Answers 13 3% +2
Geometry Circles 8 1.9% (1)
Geometry Coordinate 12 2.8% (1)
Geometry Rectangles 12 2.8%
Geometry Triangles 12 2.8% +2
Geometry Other 11 2.6%
Statistics Averages 32 7.4%
Statistics Other 10 2.3% +1
Word Problems Combinatorics 11 2.6%
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 22 5.1% (1)
Word Problems Groups/Sets 10 2.3% +1
Word Problems Probability 9 2.1% (1)
Word Problems Revenue/Profit/Interest 14 3.3% +2
Word Problems Rate & Work 20 4.7% (1)

## Data Sufficiency

The 2018 GMAT Official Guide Bundle contains a total of 322 Data Sufficiency questions. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 85 26% +9
Medium 90 28% +8
Hard 147 46% (17)

There are 45 new Data Sufficiency questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 13 / 16 / 16. This is in lieu of 45 questions from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 4 / 8 / 33.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Our assessment skews significantly easier and is only 61.0% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Super Easy 21 7% +3
Easy 83 26% +5
Medium 144 45% (2)
Hard 62 19% (4)
Very Hard 12 4% (2)

Although many math questions entail multiple math concepts, GMAT Genius classifies questions based on our assessment of the primary math concept. We break down the 322 Data Sufficiency questions as follows:

Type Concept Number Percent Change
Arithmetic Basic 20 6.2% +5
Arithmetic Absolute Value 1 0.3%
Arithmetic Divisibility/Factors/Mult. 17 5.3% +3
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 26 8.1% (1)
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 19 5.9% (2)
Arithmetic Percents 21 6.5% (1)
Arithmetic Pos/Neg & Odd/Even 13 4% (1)
Arithmetic Primes 4 1.2% +1
Algebra Inequalities 26 8.1% +6
Algebra Linear Equations 14 4.3% +1
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 18 5.6% (6)
Geometry Circles 11 3.4% +1
Geometry Coordinate 11 3.4%
Geometry Rectangles 7 2.2%
Geometry Triangles 13 4%
Geometry Other 7 2.2% (1)
Statistics Averages 20 6.2%
Statistics Other 15 4.7% (1)
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 11 3.4% (1)
Word Problems Groups/Sets 15 4.7% +1
Word Problems Probability 4 1.2% (1)
Word Problems Revenue/Profit/Interest 8 2.5% (2)
Word Problems Rate & Work 11 3.4% (2)

## Sentence Correction

The 2018 GMAT Official Guide Bundle contains a total of 158 Sentence Correction questions. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 71 26% +5
Medium 75 28% (26)
Hard 125 46% +21

There are 38 new Sentence Correction questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 12 / 4 / 22. This is in lieu of 38 questions from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 7 / 13 / 18. The GMAC has assigned a different difficulty rating to a total of 17 Sentence Correction questions, upgrading these 17 from Medium to Hard difficulty.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Our assessment skews noticeably easier and is only 59.9% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, clearly demonstrating the subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Super Easy 7 3% (1)
Easy 77 28% +3
Medium 110 41% (3)
Hard 65 24% +3
Very Hard 12 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 271 Sentence Correction questions as follows:

Concept Number Percent Change
Verb Agreement 26 9.6% +1
Verb Tense 35 12.9% (1)
Pronoun Ambiguity 21 7.7% +2
Pronoun Agreement 15 5.5%
Parallel Construction 78 28.8% (6)
Misplaced Modifiers 33 12.2% +1
Idioms 19 7% +2
Comparison & Quantity 18 6.6% (1)
Expression & Meaning 26 9.6% +2

## Critical Reasoning

The 2018 GMAT Official Guide Bundle contains a total of 224 Critical Reasoning questions. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 72 32% (3)
Medium 71 32%
Hard 81 36% +3

There are 31 new Critical Reasoning questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 7 / 7 / 17. This is in lieu of 31 questions from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 10 / 8 / 13. The GMAC has assigned a different difficulty rating to one Critical Reasoning question.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Our assessment skews slightly more towards the center, yet is only 72.3% 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 0%
Easy 61 27% (8)
Medium 89 40% +1
Hard 52 23% +5
Very Hard 21 9% +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 224 Critical Reasoning questions as follows:

Concept Number Percent Change
Weaken 49 21.9% +3
Strengthen 43 19.2% (3)
Assumption 22 9.8% +2
Reasoning 7 3.1% (1)
Conclusion 16 7.1%
Explain 23 10.3% (1)
Evaluate 22 9.8%
Boldface 13 5.8%
Complete the Passage 29 12.9%

The 2018 GMAT Official Guide Bundle contains a total of 261 Reading Comprehension questions across 52 passages. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 89 34% +10
Medium 101 39% (9)
Hard 71 27% (1)

There are 37 new Reading Comprehension questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 13 / 18 / 6. This is in lieu of 37 questions from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 3 / 23 / 11. The GMAC has assigned a different difficulty rating to a total of 4 Reading Comprehension questions.

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 very slightly harder, but is only 58.8% 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 13 5% +1
Easy 65 25% +3
Medium 103 39% (3)
Hard 62 24%
Very Hard 18 7% (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 261 Reading Comprehension questions as follows:

Concept Number Percent Change
Primary Purpose 36 13.8% (2)
Author’s Tone 16 6.1%
Organization 8 3.1% +1
Function 35 13.4% +2
Specific Reference 62 23.8% (1)
Inference 87 33.3% (2)
Critical Reasoning 17 6.5% +2

## Integrated Reasoning

The main Official Guide (part of this bundle) includes online access to 58 Integrated Reasoning practice questions. The IR set includes 8 new questions that we have not seen before, plus all 50 questions from the prior 2017 edition. The 58 questions consist of the following four types:
Multi-Source Reasoning – 21 (3 new)
Table Analysis – 7 (1 new)
Graphics Interpretation – 12 (2 new)
Two-Part Analysis – 18 (2 new)

The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows:
Multi-Source Reasoning – 6 / 7 / 8
Table Analysis – 3 / 1 / 3
Graphics Interpretation – 4 / 3 / 5
Two-Part Analysis – 5 / 7 / 6
Total – 18 / 18 / 22

Out of the 50 questions that carry over from the 2017 edition, the GMAC has reclassified the difficulty of 33 questions. For IR, GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into the same three categories. Except for Two-Part Analysis, our assessment skews significantly easier, and contains notable differences from the GMAC. Our difficulty assessment is only 8.1% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, clearly showing that there is tremendous subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown of Easy / Medium / Hard:
Multi-Source Reasoning – 9 / 11 / 1
Table Analysis – 3 / 4 / 0
Graphics Interpretation – 3 / 7 / 2
Two-Part Analysis – 2 / 10 / 6
Total – 17 / 32 / 9

## Online Interface

Each Official Guide book includes an access code (see inside front covers) that provides 12-month usage of an online version of the book. 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 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 40-page Math Review section provides a very high-level overview of the math concepts tested on the GMAT. This math review will be highly inadequate except perhaps for the most advanced math students. Similarly, 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 math and verbal concepts.

Although all questions include answer explanations, many GMAT test takers are far from satisfied with these explanations. Math explanations can be brief and hard-to-understand for non-advanced students, and are sometimes convoluted or inefficient. 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 Official Guide Bundle has three primary weaknesses, in our opinion:

1. An insufficient amount of difficult practice questions, particularly based on GMAT Genius’ assessment of difficulty. We are especially dismayed to see the net loss of 30 Hard-difficulty Quant questions (13 Problem Solving and 17 Data Sufficiency) based on GMAC’s difficulty assessment compared to the 2017 edition.
2. Math answer explanations that are too often either brief or convoluted and Sentence Correction explanations that are too cryptic.
3. Contrary to what the back covers of the books claim, questions are not fully presented in order of progressive difficulty for Reading Comprehension in the main OG, for Data Sufficiency in the Quant OG, and for Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction in the Verbal OG.

Despite these flaws, the 2018 GMAT Official Guide Bundle is an essential source of GMAT practice. We believe that every GMAT aspirant must use all three Official Guide books (this or the prior edition). If you already have the 2017 editions of the Official Guides, however, the replacement of 106 math questions and 106 verbal questions is not sufficient to make this edition worth purchasing.

## 2018 GMAT Verbal Official Guide – Detailed Analysis / Question Categorization

GMAT 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

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

The 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.