Vinay Narang

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Preview of 2020 GMAT Official Guides

2020 GMAT Official GuidesGMAT 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 Reading Comp. 16 16
Main Critical Reasoning 16 1 13 30
Main Sentence Correction 2 11 13
Quant Problem Solving 26 26
Quant Data Sufficiency 19 19
Verbal Reading Comp. 14 14
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 Reading Comp. 6 6
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
  • Reading Comprehension: 478-483
  • 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 Cricial 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

Stanford GSB Dean Jon LevinI 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

Stanford GSB Dean Jon LevinI 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.

Admissions Trends

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.

Stanford President Marc Tessier-LavigneOver 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.

New Leadership

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

2018 GMAT Official Guide BundleGMAT 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 Quadratics 18 4.2% +2
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 Quadratics 10 3.1% +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%

Reading Comprehension

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

2018 GMAT Official Guide Bundle OnlineEach 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

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.

2018 GMAT Quant Official Guide – Detailed Analysis / Question Categorization

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

Overview of 2018 GMAT Quant 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 Quant Official Guide has no overlap with questions in the main Official Guide.

The 2018 GMAT Quant Official Guide contains 45 new questions out of the 300 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.
 

Problem Solving

The 2018 GMAT Quant Official Guide contains 176 Problem Solving questions. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 89 51% +4
Medium 43 24% (9)
Hard 44 25% +5

The Problem Solving section contains 26 new questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 15 / 5 / 6. This is in lieu of 26 questions from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 11 / 14 / 1. Unlike in prior years, the GMAC has not reclassified the difficulty of any question.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Our assessment skews slightly more towards the center, but contains notable differences from the GMAC’s assessment. Our difficulty assessment is only 76.1% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, demonstrating tremendous subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Super Easy 21 12% (1)
Easy 55 31%
Medium 62 35% (1)
Hard 30 17% +1
Very Hard 8 5% +1

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 176 Problem Solving questions as follows:

Type Concept Number Percent Change
Arithmetic Basic 16 9.1% +2
Arithmetic Absolute Value 3 1.7%
Arithmetic Divisibility/Factors/Mult. 7 4% (3)
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 8 4.5% (1)
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 22 12.5% +1
Arithmetic Percents 12 6.8% (3)
Arithmetic Pos/Neg & Odd/Even 1 0.6% (2)
Algebra Inequalities 4 2.3% +1
Algebra Linear Equations 9 5.1%
Algebra Quadratics 10 5.7% +2
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 6 3.4%
Algebra Variables in Answers 5 2.8% +1
Geometry Circles 4 2.3%
Geometry Coordinate 5 2.8%
Geometry Rectangles 5 2.8%
Geometry Triangles 4 2.3%
Geometry Other 4 2.3%
Statistics Averages 14 8% +1
Statistics Other 3 1.7%
Word Problems Combinatorics 4 2.3%
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 12 6.8%
Word Problems Groups/Sets 3 1.7% +1
Word Problems Probability 2 1.1%
Word Problems Revenue/Profit/Interest 5 2.8% +1
Word Problems Rate & Work 8 4.5% (1)

Here’s a list of the 26 new Problem Solving questions:
13, 22, 29, 31, 52, 55, 65, 70, 71, 73, 74, 75, 78, 85, 89, 92, 99, 102, 104, 117, 135, 141, 144, 156, 165, 168

Here’s a list of the 176 Problem Solving questions categorized by primary math concept:

Type Concept Question #s
Arithmetic Basic 2, 5, 21, 44, 45, 67, 75, 77, 85, 88, 89, 92, 94, 100, 162, 170
Arithmetic Absolute Value 95, 105, 150
Arithmetic Divisibility/Factors/Mult. 52, 86, 103, 114, 122, 171, 173
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 34, 36, 38, 48, 90, 112, 143, 160
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 8, 20, 24, 35, 40, 43, 46, 49, 54, 55, 60, 64, 73, 74, 78, 83, 84, 91, 108, 136, 144, 176
Arithmetic Percents 7, 17, 28, 30, 47, 59, 99, 111, 117, 118, 132, 168
Arithmetic Pos/Neg & Odd/Even 14
Algebra Inequalities 4, 29, 101, 163
Algebra Linear Equations 3, 9, 13, 15, 18, 42, 50, 71, 98
Algebra Quadratics 1, 19, 22, 33, 63, 66, 110, 121, 128, 156
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 12, 25, 31, 32, 41, 133
Algebra Variables in Answers 16, 39, 102, 120, 125
Geometry Circles 37, 134, 151, 169
Geometry Coordinate 26, 87, 96, 109, 115
Geometry Rectangles 11, 27, 104, 129, 175
Geometry Triangles 62, 68, 140, 164
Geometry Other 23, 139, 146, 149
Statistics Averages 10, 58, 61, 82, 93, 107, 119, 126, 131, 135, 147, 148, 153, 161
Statistics Other 72, 79, 81
Word Problems Combinatorics 152, 154, 155, 157
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 53, 56, 69, 76, 80, 116, 127, 137, 138, 145, 159, 166
Word Problems Groups/Sets 106, 141, 142
Word Problems Probability 158, 167
Word Problems Revenue/Profit/Interest 6, 65, 124, 165, 172
Word Problems Rate & Work 51, 57, 70, 97, 113, 123, 130, 174

Data Sufficiency

The 2018 GMAT Quant Official Guide contains 124 Data Sufficiency questions. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 27 22% +1
Medium 33 27% +2
Hard 64 52% (3)

In the Data Sufficiency 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 177-203
Medium 204-235, 239
Hard 236-238, 240-300

The Data Sufficiency section contains 19 new questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 2 / 6 / 11. This is in lieu of 19 questions from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 1 / 4 / 14. The GMAC has not reclassified the difficulty of any question.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Our assessment skews significantly easier, and contains notable differences from the GMAC’s assessment. Our difficulty assessment is only 68.5% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, demonstrating tremendous subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Super Easy 12 10% +1
Easy 25 20% (3)
Medium 54 44%
Hard 27 22% +2
Very Hard 6 5%

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 124 Data Sufficiency questions as follows:

Type Concept Number Percent Change
Arithmetic Basic 3 2.4% (2)
Arithmetic Absolute Value 1 0.8%
Arithmetic Divisibility/Factors/Mult. 8 6.5% +2
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 12 9.7% (1)
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 8 6.5%
Arithmetic Percents 6 4.8%
Arithmetic Pos/Neg & Odd/Even 5 4%
Arithmetic Primes 3 2.4% +1
Algebra Inequalities 12 9.7% +2
Algebra Linear Equations 3 2.4%
Algebra Quadratics 7 5.6% +2
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 9 7.3% (5)
Geometry Circles 6 4.8% +1
Geometry Coordinate 4 3.2%
Geometry Rectangles 3 2.4%
Geometry Triangles 3 2.4%
Geometry Other 2 1.6%
Statistics Averages 6 4.8%
Statistics Other 5 4%
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 7 5.6%
Word Problems Groups/Sets 4 3.2% +1
Word Problems Probability 1 0.8% (1)
Word Problems Revenue/Profit/Interest 2 1.6%
Word Problems Rate & Work 4 3.2%

Here’s a list of the 19 new Data Sufficiency questions:
178, 193, 215, 216, 224, 226, 231, 239, 244, 246, 247, 257, 270, 281, 283, 285, 291, 295, 296

Here’s a list of the 124 Data Sufficiency questions categorized by primary math concept:

Type Concept Question #s
Arithmetic Basic 177, 180, 234
Arithmetic Absolute Value 214
Arithmetic Divisibility/Factors/Mult. 221, 224, 238, 247, 257, 272, 296, 297
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 184, 210, 226, 240, 251, 254, 267, 268, 271, 282, 285, 300
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 182, 190, 201, 204, 233, 243, 255, 295
Arithmetic Percents 193, 199, 208, 222, 253, 266
Arithmetic Pos/Neg & Odd/Even 189, 196, 198, 213, 237
Arithmetic Primes 219, 270, 281
Algebra Inequalities 181, 188, 192, 200, 206, 215, 227, 231, 249, 252, 263, 276
Algebra Linear Equations 195, 218, 250
Algebra Quadratics 232, 239, 259, 265, 273, 279, 283
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 178, 202, 203, 217, 223, 230, 242, 269, 284
Geometry Circles 209, 216, 236, 256, 258, 278
Geometry Coordinate 191, 260, 290, 299
Geometry Rectangles 179, 185, 248
Geometry Triangles 261, 275, 291
Geometry Other 205, 207
Statistics Averages 194, 211, 228, 241, 244, 245
Statistics Other 225, 229, 235, 262, 294
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 197, 220, 264, 277, 280, 286, 287
Word Problems Groups/Sets 246, 274, 288, 293
Word Problems Probability 292
Word Problems Revenue/Profit/Interest 183, 186
Word Problems Rate & Work 187, 212, 289, 298

Online Interface

2018 GMAT Quant Official Guide Online InterfaceThe 2018 GMAT Quant 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 book contains a 40-page Math Review section that 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. We recommend that you use additional study materials to learn the math concepts.

Although all questions include answer explanations, many GMAT test takers are far from satisfied with these explanations. The explanations can be brief and hard-to-understand for non-advanced students. Furthermore, certain explanations are convoluted and overlook more efficient approaches.

Conclusions

The 2018 GMAT Quant 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. Math answer explanations that are too often either brief or convoluted.
  3. In the Data Sufficiency section, 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 Quant 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.

2018 GMAT Official Guide – Detailed Analysis / Question Categorization

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

Overview of 2018 GMAT 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. This book has no overlap in practice questions with the Quant and Verbal Official Guides.

The 2018 GMAT Official Guide contains 130 new questions out of the 957 total questions (including Integrated Reasoning). Excluding the 100 questions in the Diagnostic Exam section of the book, the new questions represent just over 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 contains 254 Problem Solving questions, including the 24 Problem Solving questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the book. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 96 38% +14
Medium 59 23% +4
Hard 99 39% (18)

The Problem Solving section contains 35 new questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 22 / 7 / 6. This is in lieu of 35 questions from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 8 / 3 / 24. Unlike in prior years, the GMAC has not reclassified the difficulty of any question.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Our assessment of this section skews significantly easier, and contains notable differences from the GMAC’s assessment. Our difficulty assessment is only 69.9% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, demonstrating tremendous subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Super Easy 23 9% +3
Easy 70 28% +2
Medium 104 41% (5)
Hard 38 15% (2)
Very Hard 19 7% +2

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 254 Problem Solving questions as follows:

Type Concept Number Percent Change
Arithmetic Basic 10 3.9% +3
Arithmetic Absolute Value 4 1.6%
Arithmetic Divisibility/Factors/Mult. 17 6.7% +2
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 18 7.1% (4)
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 28 11% (2)
Arithmetic Percents 20 7.9%
Arithmetic Pos/Neg & Odd/Even 1 0.4%
Arithmetic Primes 4 1.6%
Algebra Inequalities 5 2%
Algebra Linear Equations 14 5.5% +1
Algebra Quadratics 8 3.1%
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 7 2.8%
Algebra Variables in Answers 8 3.1% +1
Geometry Circles 4 1.6% (1)
Geometry Coordinate 7 2.8% (1)
Geometry Rectangles 7 2.8%
Geometry Triangles 8 3.1% +2
Geometry Other 7 2.8%
Statistics Averages 18 7.1% (1)
Statistics Other 7 2.8% +1
Word Problems Combinatorics 7 2.8%
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 10 3.9% (1)
Word Problems Groups/Sets 7 2.8%
Word Problems Probability 7 2.8% (1)
Word Problems Revenue/Profit/Interest 9 3.5% +1
Word Problems Rate & Work 12 4.7%

Here’s a list of the 35 new Problem Solving questions:
3, 5, 6, 16, 22, 23, 24, 26, 33, 34, 40, 42, 50, 53, 55, 60, 68, 69, 72, 79, 81, 85, 90, 96, 98, 104, 122, 125, 139, 140, 151, 173, 201, 224, 229

Here’s a list of the 230 Problem Solving questions, excluding those in the Diagnostic Exam, categorized by primary math concept:

Type Concept Question #s
Arithmetic Basic 2, 19, 22, 37, 46, 79, 157, 173, 219
Arithmetic Absolute Value 25, 27, 65, 193
Arithmetic Divisibility/Factors/Mult. 33, 44, 54, 73, 81, 98, 121, 126, 136, 141, 154, 175, 176, 178, 195
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 66, 68, 71, 74, 90, 92, 112, 147, 161, 180, 200, 209, 213, 216, 223, 230
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 3, 4, 5, 28, 30, 36, 45, 59, 63, 72, 75, 82, 91, 97, 103, 124, 131, 133, 135, 139, 160, 163, 189, 192, 203, 220, 222
Arithmetic Percents 1, 6, 10, 15, 55, 70, 80, 86, 87, 89, 94, 106, 108, 119, 122, 125, 153, 169, 172, 207
Arithmetic Pos/Neg & Odd/Even 62
Arithmetic Primes 181, 205
Algebra Inequalities 49, 78, 117, 185, 228
Algebra Linear Equations 7, 12, 31, 42, 53, 67, 83, 85, 109, 111, 128, 134, 179, 184
Algebra Quadratics 51, 93, 110, 127, 155, 168, 188, 226
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 13, 20, 35, 100, 150, 186
Algebra Variables in Answers 9, 16, 48, 57, 61, 144, 167, 190
Geometry Circles 95, 123, 146, 177
Geometry Coordinate 50, 56, 77, 101, 107, 183, 218
Geometry Rectangles 17, 18, 39, 58, 99, 156, 202
Geometry Triangles 26, 29, 43, 145, 174, 224
Geometry Other 32, 34, 114, 159
Statistics Averages 14, 21, 40, 41, 96, 116, 137, 138, 149, 158, 164, 171, 194, 211, 217, 227
Statistics Other 52, 84, 115, 151, 166, 197, 204
Word Problems Combinatorics 140, 148, 182, 187, 201, 214
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 47, 88, 104, 165, 196, 198, 206, 212, 225
Word Problems Groups/Sets 118, 120, 152, 208, 229
Word Problems Probability 11, 142, 162, 170, 221
Word Problems Revenue/Profit/Interest 24, 38, 60, 130, 143, 191, 210, 215
Word Problems Rate & Work 8, 23, 64, 69, 76, 102, 105, 113, 129, 132, 199

Data Sufficiency

The 2018 GMAT Official Guide contains 198 Data Sufficiency questions, including the 24 Data Sufficiency questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the book. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 58 29% +8
Medium 57 29% +6
Hard 83 42% (14)

The Data Sufficiency section contains 26 new questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 11 / 10 / 5. This is in lieu of 26 questions from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 3 / 4 / 19. The GMAC has not reclassified the difficulty of any question.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Our assessment skews significantly easier, and contains notable differences from the GMAC’s assessment. Our difficulty assessment is only 56.0% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, demonstrating tremendous subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Super Easy 9 5% +2
Easy 58 29% +8
Medium 90 45% (2)
Hard 35 18% (6)
Very Hard 6 3% (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 198 Data Sufficiency questions as follows:

Type Concept Number Percent Change
Arithmetic Basic 17 8.6% +7
Arithmetic Divisibility/Factors/Mult. 9 4.5% +1
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 14 7.1%
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 11 5.6% (2)
Arithmetic Percents 15 7.6% (1)
Arithmetic Pos/Neg & Odd/Even 8 4% (1)
Arithmetic Primes 1 0.5%
Algebra Inequalities 14 7.1% +4
Algebra Linear Equations 11 5.6% +1
Algebra Quadratics 3 1.5% (1)
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 9 4.5% (1)
Geometry Circles 5 2.5%
Geometry Coordinate 7 3.5%
Geometry Rectangles 4 2%
Geometry Triangles 10 5.1%
Geometry Other 5 2.5% (1)
Statistics Averages 14 7.1%
Statistics Other 10 5.1% (1)
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 4 2% (1)
Word Problems Groups/Sets 11 5.6%
Word Problems Probability 3 1.5%
Word Problems Revenue/Profit/Interest 6 3% (2)
Word Problems Rate & Work 7 3.5% (2)

Here’s a list of the 26 new Data Sufficiency questions:
233, 258, 260, 262, 266, 267, 273, 274, 276, 277, 278, 282, 284, 287, 288, 292, 293, 300, 306, 313, 326, 334, 339, 376, 382, 391

Here’s a list of the 174 Data Sufficiency questions, excluding those in the Diagnostic Exam, categorized by primary math concept:

Type Concept Question #s
Arithmetic Basic 258, 262, 270, 273, 283, 284, 288, 292, 309, 326, 329, 333, 334, 349, 372, 388, 403
Arithmetic Divisibility/Factors/Mult. 285, 293, 328, 337, 356, 390
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 240, 243, 249, 281, 289, 330, 342, 350, 365, 370, 399
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 233, 256, 275, 312, 325, 335, 354, 368, 387, 402, 404
Arithmetic Percents 239, 253, 259, 269, 286, 313, 318, 319, 321, 324, 332, 340, 362, 397
Arithmetic Pos/Neg & Odd/Even 255, 271, 277, 278, 308, 314, 344
Arithmetic Primes 357
Algebra Inequalities 246, 274, 291, 306, 315, 320, 338, 355, 359, 361, 376, 391, 401
Algebra Linear Equations 234, 247, 252, 280, 290, 310, 339, 351, 352
Algebra Quadratics 279, 323, 366
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 232, 245, 303, 307, 322, 327, 345, 360
Geometry Circles 263, 287, 369, 379
Geometry Coordinate 235, 264, 331, 347, 382, 383
Geometry Rectangles 301, 311, 367
Geometry Triangles 231, 237, 260, 265, 346, 353, 384, 386, 398
Geometry Other 261, 304, 343, 371, 400
Statistics Averages 282, 295, 300, 348, 358, 363, 373, 375, 378, 381, 392, 396
Statistics Other 242, 244, 298, 317, 336, 385, 394, 395
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 241, 257, 364, 377
Word Problems Groups/Sets 248, 254, 266, 267, 276, 294, 305, 316, 389
Word Problems Probability 236, 297, 302
Word Problems Revenue/Profit/Interest 250, 268, 272, 296, 393
Word Problems Rate & Work 238, 251, 299, 341, 374, 380

Sentence Correction

The 2018 GMAT Official Guide contains 158 Sentence Correction questions, including the 18 Sentence Correction questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the book. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 36 23% +1
Medium 49 31% (1)
Hard 73 46%

The Sentence Correction section contains 21 new questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 4 / 4 / 13. This is in lieu of 21 questions from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 3 / 5 / 13. The GMAC has not reclassified the difficulty of any question.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Our assessment skews noticeably easier, and contains notable differences from the GMAC. Our difficulty assessment is only 56.8% 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 3 2%
Easy 43 27% (1)
Medium 67 42% (3)
Hard 38 24% +4
Very Hard 7 4%

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 158 Sentence Correction questions as follows:

Concept Number Percent Change
Verb Agreement 19 12% +1
Verb Tense 22 13.9%
Pronoun Ambiguity 12 7.6% +2
Pronoun Agreement 4 2.5%
Parallel Construction 50 31.6% (2)
Misplaced Modifiers 16 10.1% (1)
Idioms 8 5.1% +1
Comparison & Quantity 10 6.3% (1)
Expression & Meaning 17 10.8%

Here’s a list of the 21 new Sentence Correction questions:
674, 680, 684, 685, 699, 702, 717, 735, 743, 745, 750, 751, 763, 770, 777, 780, 781, 782, 784, 796, 799

Here’s a list of the 140 Sentence Correction questions, excluding those in the Diagnostic Exam, categorized by primary grammar concept:

Concept Question #s
Verb Agreement 670, 677, 685, 693, 707, 711, 721, 752, 753, 759, 771, 789, 792, 793, 799, 801, 807
Verb Tense 668, 686, 694, 701, 702, 708, 712, 722, 724, 731, 735, 740, 749, 754, 756, 764, 773, 781, 803, 804
Pronoun Ambiguity 671, 719, 743, 774, 775, 777, 778, 779
Pronoun Agreement 688, 738, 762, 765
Parallel Construction 669, 679, 680, 682, 687, 689, 692, 697, 699, 703, 710, 713, 714, 715, 725, 727, 728, 730, 732, 734, 736, 737, 741, 742, 744, 751, 755, 757, 760, 761, 763, 766, 767, 776, 780, 782, 783, 784, 794, 800, 802, 806
Misplaced Modifiers 683, 705, 706, 709, 716, 718, 723, 729, 739, 746, 748, 770, 790, 797, 798
Idioms 672, 695, 698, 717, 788, 795, 796
Comparison & Quantity 676, 678, 691, 704, 745, 758, 769, 772, 791, 805
Expression & Meaning 673, 674, 675, 681, 684, 690, 696, 700, 720, 726, 733, 747, 750, 768, 785, 786, 787

Critical Reasoning

The 2018 GMAT Official Guide contains 141 Critical Reasoning questions, including the 17 Critical Reasoning questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the book. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 41 29%
Medium 44 31% (1)
Hard 56 40% +1

The Critical Reasoning section contains 19 new questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 6 / 2 / 11. This is in lieu of 19 questions from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 6 / 3 / 10. The GMAC has not reclassified the difficulty of any question.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Our assessment skews slightly easier, but contains notable differences from the GMAC. Our difficulty assessment is 74.1% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, clearly indicating subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Super Easy 0 0%
Easy 43 30% (2)
Medium 49 35% (1)
Hard 36 26% +3
Very Hard 13 9%

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 141 Critical Reasoning questions as follows:

Concept Number Percent Change
Weaken 29 20.6% +2
Strengthen 27 19.1% (2)
Assumption 15 10.6% +1
Reasoning 4 2.8% (1)
Conclusion 9 6.4%
Explain 18 12.8% +1
Evaluate 15 10.6% (1)
Boldface 9 6.4%
Complete the Passage 15 10.6%

Here’s a list of the 19 new Critical Reasoning questions:
546, 550, 554, 556, 561, 575, 589, 599, 626, 627, 631, 634, 635, 640, 643, 651, 656, 660, 661

Here’s a list of the 124 Critical Reasoning questions, excluding those in the Diagnostic Exam, categorized by CR question type:

Concept Question #s
Weaken 546, 549, 574, 575, 583, 588, 600, 606, 615, 617, 619, 620, 622, 625, 627, 629, 642, 646, 654, 658, 664, 666, 667
Strengthen 545, 547, 548, 552, 562, 566, 569, 570, 572, 576, 589, 592, 594, 595, 597, 598, 602, 604, 610, 611, 624, 631, 641, 648, 649
Assumption 555, 580, 584, 590, 607, 608, 614, 628, 635, 637, 645, 650, 655, 657
Reasoning 560, 567, 578, 633
Conclusion 544, 581, 591, 618, 634, 653, 662
Explain 551, 553, 556, 557, 558, 568, 586, 596, 613, 616, 621, 630, 640, 656, 660, 665
Evaluate 554, 559, 571, 573, 579, 585, 632, 636, 638, 643, 644, 663
Boldface 561, 565, 599, 623, 639, 647, 651, 652, 659
Complete the Passage 550, 563, 564, 577, 582, 587, 593, 601, 603, 605, 609, 612, 626, 661

Reading Comprehension

The 2018 GMAT Official Guide contains 156 Reading Comprehension questions across 33 passages, including the 17 Reading Comprehension questions in 3 passages in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the book. The GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories as follows:

Difficulty Number Percent Change
Easy 55 35% +4
Medium 74 47% +1
Hard 27 17% (5)

In the Reading Comprehension 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, Medium, and Hard difficulty questions are interspersed. The following table shows the question numbers for each difficulty level:

Difficulty Question #s
Easy 405-438, 442-455
Medium 439-441, 456-516, 537-540
Hard 517-536, 541-543

The Reading Comprehension section contains 21 new questions in 6 passages, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 7 / 14 / 0. This is in lieu of 21 questions in 4 passages from the 2017 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 3 / 13 / 5. The GMAC has not reclassified the difficulty of any question.

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 slightly harder, but contains notable differences from the GMAC. Our difficulty assessment is only 57.6% 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 7 4% +1
Easy 33 21%
Medium 65 42% (2)
Hard 41 26% +1
Very Hard 10 6%

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 156 Reading Comprehension questions as follows:

Concept Number Percent Change
Primary Purpose 22 14.1% (2)
Author’s Tone 10 6.4%
Organization 5 3.2% +1
Function 20 12.8% +2
Specific Reference 38 24.4%
Inference 47 30.1% (3)
Critical Reasoning 14 9% +2

Here’s a list of the 21 new Reading Comprehension questions: 412 to 418, 439 to 441, 467 to 470, 514 to 516, 537 to 540

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.

Integrated Reasoning

The 2018 GMAT Official Guide 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

2018 GMAT Official Guide Online InterfaceThe 2018 GMAT 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 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 book contains a 40-page Math Review section that 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 2018 GMAT 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. We are especially dismayed to see the net loss of 32 Hard-difficulty Quant questions (18 Problem Solving and 14 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. In the Reading Comprehension section, 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 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 2018 GMAT Official Guide Bundle. If you already have the 2017 edition of this book, however, the replacement of 61 math questions and 61 verbal questions is not sufficient to make this edition worth purchasing.

Select Section Order on the GMAT

Select Section Order on the GMATThe GMAC announced today a new Select Section Order feature for the GMAT. Beginning July 11, 2017, test takers worldwide can select the order of the sections on their GMAT administrations. The GMAC claims that this will not affect the statistical validity of GMAT scores, but we believe that many GMAT takers will benefit substantially because of this change.

We often find that students score 20 to 30 points higher when they skip the AWA and IR sections on practice exams. We expect many students to achieve similar results by relegating IR and AWA to the end. Score reports will not indicate which section order you selected.

How Select Section Order Works

You will see the Select Section Order screen during your exam at the Pearson VUE test center on the computer immediately prior to the start of your exam, after choosing the schools for score reports and the navigation tutorial. You have two minutes to make a selection. If you do not pick an option in this timeframe, the original order will be chosen be default. You will have the opportunity to select from one of three possible section orders:

  1. AWA, IR, Quant, Verbal (original order)
  2. Verbal, Quant, IR, AWA
  3. Quant, Verbal, IR, AWA

No matter which order you select, you still get two 8-minute breaks. Each break will be between two of the three parts of the exam: Quant, Verbal, and AWA/IR (combined). Breaks remain optional, but we highly recommend that you take the breaks. Just be sure that you are checked-in and back in your seat before a break ends, or the test will resume without you and you lose valuable time.

What Order to Choose

We highly recommend selecting option 2 (Verbal, Quant, IR, AWA) or option 3 (Quant, Verbal, IR, AWA). Since it is by far the easiest section of the GMAT, save AWA for last, at which point mental fatigue is likely to set in.

Start with either Quant or Verbal, depending on which section mental fatigue is most likely to be a factor for you. Start with the section on which you are most likely to make careless errors. This will typically, but not necessarily, be the section you are weaker on. By tackling this section first while you are still fresh, the number of careless mistakes is likely to decline.

Some test takers claim that the original order will work best, because they need a warm-up period. We believe, however, that one hour spent on AWA and Integrated Reasoning hardly qualifies as a “warm-up” period. Why expend valuable energy and focus for one hour on the two sections of the exam that do not count towards your overall 200 to 800 score? If you really want a “warm up” period, before entering the test center, practice with a very small handful of Official Guide questions that you have previously done. Just be sure not to bring any practice materials into the test center.

Updated Test Materials

The official GMATPrep diagnostic test software and the Exam Pack 1 and 2 add-ons will be updated by July 31 to reflect the Select Section Order feature. When the software is updated, you can receive a free upgrade of GMATPrep and the Exam Packs.

The GMAC is working on shifting GMATPrep to a web-based interface from its current software-download format. We’re not sure whether this much-needed update will occur by the July 31 date given by the GMAC.

Other GMAT Changes

Effective July 11, the GMAC will also eliminate the profile update screens during the GMAT. These are largely unnecessary, since you can update your profile anytime at MBA.com. Removing these screens from the test experience will reduce the overall time you must spend at the test center.

Why Was Select Section Order Implemented

Ashok Sarathy

Ashok Sarathy, GMAC’s VP of Product Management

The GMAC ran a pilot program for Select Section Order in February-March 2016. The pilot program allowed the GMAC to collect valuable data from real test takers, including several GMAT Genius clients, in order to evaluate this feature. The GMAC concluded that GMAT takers appreciated the flexibility in choosing section order and that select section order did not affect the statistical validity of GMAT scores.

“The idea of being allowed to choose the section order had been commonly requested by test takers,” noted Ashok Sarathy, the Vice President of Product Management for the GMAC. “We conducted a pilot in 2016 to test this feature and received overwhelmingly positive feedback, with 85 percent of participants surveyed expressing that this new feature boosted their confidence prior to even taking the exam. Our pilot findings also concluded that taking the exam in different section orders continues to maintain the quality and integrity of the GMAT scores.”

Over the past several years, the GMAC has implemented several changes to enhance test takers’ GMAT experience. This is partly driven by increased competition from the GRE. GMAT changes over the past three years include:

  • allowing GMAT takers to cancel scores online within three days after the GMAT and to reinstate cancelled scores for five years (March 2016)
  • removing cancelled scores from school score reports and shortening the GMAT retake window to 16 days (July 2015)
  • introducing the GMAT Enhanced Score Report to provide test takers a more detailed analysis of their overall GMAT performance (January 2015)
  • showing test takers their unofficial GMAT scores before having to decide whether to report or cancel their scores (July 2014)

You can read more about the new Select Section Order feature of the GMAT on the official MBA.com website.

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.

Preview of 2017 GMAT Official Guide Math

2017 GMAT Official GuideIn this third post of this series of exclusive previews of the 2017 GMAT Official Guides, we now turn to the math section of the main Official Guide. We will focus on how the 2017 GMAT Official Guide differs from the 2016 edition in terms of math question difficulty and math concepts.

Problem Solving – Difficulty

Both the 2017 and 2016 editions of the GMAT Official Guide contain 254 Problem Solving questions, including the identical 24 Problem Solving questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the guides. But the allocation of question difficulty, as assigned by the GMAC, has noticeably shifted towards Easy difficulty. Part of this change resulted from the GMAC downgrading 8 questions from Medium difficulty (in 2016) to Easy (in 2017).

Difficulty 2017 2016 Change
Easy 82 63 +19
Medium 55 60 (5)
Hard 117 131 (14)
Total 254 254

A total of 36 new Problem Solving questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2017 GMAT Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 18 / 8 / 10. This is in lieu of 36 questions from the 2016 edition that have been removed, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 7 / 5 / 24. We are disappointed to see that Hard difficulty has a net loss of 14 questions, although we would rate most of the 24 removed Hard questions as actually Medium difficulty. Let’s further break down how each of these difficulty categories has changed.

Easy Problem Solving

Additions:
18 new questions
8 downgraded from Medium

Subtractions:
7 questions removed

Net change: +19 questions

Medium Problem Solving

Additions:
8 new questions

Subtractions:
5 questions removed
8 downgraded to Easy

Net change: -5 questions

Hard Problem Solving

Additions:
10 new questions

Subtractions:
24 questions removed

Net change: -14 questions

Problem Solving – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 36 new (in 2017) and the 36 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 2 0 +2
Arithmetic Divisibility/Factors/Mult. 1 2 (1)
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 1 1
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 3 6 (3)
Arithmetic Percents 5 6 (1)
Algebra Inequalities 2 0 +2
Algebra Linear Equations 2 3 (1)
Algebra Quadratics 2 2
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 2 2
Algebra Variables in Answers 3 1 +2
Geometry Circles 1 1
Geometry Coordinate 0 1 (1)
Statistics Averages 2 3 (1)
Statistics Other 3 1 +2
Word Problems Combinatorics 1 0 +1
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 1 1
Word Problems Groups/Sets 1 2 (1)
Word Problems Probability 2 2
Word Problems Rate & Work 2 2

Although we cannot draw definite conclusions from this data about question composition on the GMAT, what stands out most is the decrease in fractions & ratios questions.

Data Sufficiency – Difficulty

Both the 2017 and 2016 editions of the GMAT Official Guide contain 198 Data Sufficiency questions, including the identical 24 Data Sufficiency questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the guides. As with Problem Solving, the allocation of question difficulty has noticeably shifted away from Hard. No questions have been reclassified in terms of difficulty.

Difficulty 2017 2016 Change
Easy 50 46 +4
Medium 51 41 +10
Hard 97 111 (14)
Total 198 198

A total of 26 new Data Sufficiency questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2017 GMAT Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 9 / 12 / 5. This is in lieu of 26 questions from the 2016 edition that have been removed, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 5 / 2 / 19. We are disappointed to see that Hard difficulty has a net loss of 14 questions, although we would rate most of the 19 removed Hard questions as actually Medium difficulty. Let’s further break down how each of these difficulty categories has changed.

Easy Data Sufficiency

Additions:
9 new questions

Subtractions:
5 questions removed

Net change: +4 questions

Medium Data Sufficiency

Additions:
12 new questions

Subtractions:
2 questions removed

Net change: +10 questions

Hard Data Sufficiency

Additions:
5 new questions

Subtractions:
19 questions removed

Net change: -14 questions

Data Sufficiency – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 26 new (in 2017) and the 26 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 Basic 5 2 +3
Arithmetic Divisibility/Factors/Mult. 1 0 +1
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 3 2 +1
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 1 1
Arithmetic Percents 3 2 +1
Arithmetic Pos/Neg & Odd/Even 1 4 (3)
Arithmetic Primes 1 0 +1
Algebra Linear Equations 1 0 +1
Algebra Quadratics 1 3 (2)
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 1 2 (1)
Geometry Circles 0 2 (2)
Geometry Triangles 3 1 +2
Geometry Other 1 0 +1
Statistics All 1 0 +1
Word Problems Groups/Sets 2 3 (1)
Word Problems Probability 1 1
Word Problems Revenue/Profit/Interest 0 3 (3)

Although we again cannot draw definite conclusions from this data about question composition on the GMAT, what stands out most is the decrease in odd/even and revenue/profit concepts .

Removed Questions

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

Problem Solving – 36 questions removed:

26, 34, 37, 40, 41, 47, 54, 65, 72, 79, 80, 103, 110, 111, 150, 157, 161, 169, 176, 179, 180, 184, 186, 187, 194, 197, 198, 199, 200, 202, 203, 207, 208, 209, 227, 228

Data Sufficiency – 26 questions removed:

1, 3, 9, 17, 33, 44, 65, 74, 78, 81, 109, 113, 131, 139, 140, 141, 150, 151, 154, 158, 159, 165, 166, 170, 173, 174

Summary

In the 2017 GMAT Official Guide, the GMAC has replaced a total of 62 Quant 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. Nonetheless, what stands out is the net loss of 28 Hard Quant questions, as rated by the GMAC. GMAT Genius will continue to offer detailed analysis of the 2017 GMAT Official Guides in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!