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!

Preview of 2017 GMAT Verbal Official Guide

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

Sentence Correction – Difficulty

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

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

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

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

Easy Sentence Correction

Additions:
6 new questions

Subtractions:
5 questions removed
1 upgraded to Medium

Net change:

Medium Sentence Correction

Additions:
7 new questions
1 upgraded from Easy

Subtractions:
6 questions removed
2 upgraded to Hard

Net change:

Hard Sentence Correction

Additions:
4 new questions
2 upgraded from Medium

Subtractions:
6 questions removed

Net change:

Sentence Correction – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 17 new (in 2017) and the 17 removed (from 2016) Sentence Correction questions. We have categorized these questions based on the primary grammar concepts that are tested on Sentence Correction.

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

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

Critical Reasoning – Difficulty

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

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

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

Easy Critical Reasoning

Additions:
6 new questions
1 downgraded from Medium

Subtractions:
7 question removed

Net change:

Medium Critical Reasoning

Additions:
3 new questions
1 downgraded from Hard

Subtractions:
3 questions removed
1 downgraded to Easy

Net change:

Hard Critical Reasoning

Additions:
4 new questions

Subtractions:
3 questions removed
1 downgraded to Easy

Net change:

Critical Reasoning – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 13 new (in 2017) and the 13 removed (from 2016) Critical Reasoning questions. We have grouped these questions based on the question type categorization that GMAT Genius uses for Critical Reasoning.

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

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

Reading Comprehension – Difficulty

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

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

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

Easy Reading Comprehension

Additions:
6 new questions

Subtractions:
4 upgraded to Medium

Net change: +2 questions

Medium Reading Comprehension

Additions:
9 new questions
4 upgraded from Easy

Subtractions:
15 questions removed
8 upgraded to Hard

Net change: -10 questions

Hard Reading Comprehension

Additions:
8 upgraded from Medium

Subtractions:
none

Net change: +8 questions

Reading Comprehension – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 15 new (in 2017) and the 15 removed (from 2016) Reading Comprehension questions. We have grouped these questions based on the question type categorization that GMAT Genius uses for Reading Comprehension.

Concept 2017 2016 Change
Primary Purpose 1 2 (1)
Author’s Tone 1 1
Organization 0 0
Function 1 2 (1)
Specific Reference 4 6 (2)
Inference 7 4 +3
Critical Reasoning 1 0 +1

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

Removed Questions

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

Sentence Correction – 17 questions removed:

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

Critical Reasoning – 13 questions removed:

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

Reading Comprehension – 15 questions removed:

36 to 38, 43 to 48, 49 to 54

Summary

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

Preview of 2017 GMAT Quantitative Official Guide

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

Problem Solving – Difficulty

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

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

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

Easy Problem Solving

Additions:
17 new questions
2 downgraded from Medium

Subtractions:
16 questions removed

Net change: +3 questions

Medium Problem Solving

Additions:
5 new questions

Subtractions:
8 questions removed
2 downgraded to Easy

Net change: -5 questions

Hard Problem Solving

Additions:
4 new questions

Subtractions:
2 questions removed

Net change: +2 questions

Problem Solving – Concepts

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

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

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

Data Sufficiency – Difficulty

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

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

A total of 19 new Data Sufficiency questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2017 GMAT Quantitative Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 7 / 7 / 5. This is in lieu of 19 questions from the 2016 edition that have been removed, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 3 / 1 / 15. Since no questions have been assigned a different difficulty, these new and removed questions alone account for the differences in the number of questions per difficulty level.

Data Sufficiency – Concepts

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

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

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

Removed Questions

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

Problem Solving – 26 questions removed:

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

Data Sufficiency – 19 questions removed:

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

Summary

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

GMAT Score Cancellation and Reinstatement Periods

GMAT Score Cancellation and ReinstatementThe Graduate Management Admission Council recently announced longer GMAT score cancellation and score reinstatement time periods. These changes are beneficial to GMAT test takers, and expand upon the enhanced score cancellation features that the GMAC introduced in July 2015.

GMAT Score Cancellation Options

You can continue to cancel your scores immediately upon completion of the GMAT. After you see your scores, you have two minutes in which to either cancel or report your test scores. This option remains free, and removes any indication of a test attempt from your score reports.

A new option allows you to cancel your GMAT scores within 72 hours of your test administration, for a $25 fee. You take advantage of this option online, by logging in to your MBA.com account. As with the immediate cancellation option, your score reports will have no record of the GMAT administration.

Enhanced Score Reinstatement Period

You previously had 60 days to reinstate cancelled scores, for a $100 fee. You can now reinstate cancelled scores up to 4 years 11 months after your exam date. Furthermore, the GMAC has lowered the score reinstatement fee to $50 and will now automatically send score reports to the schools that you selected during your exam. You also take advantage of this option online at your MBA.com account.

GMAT Genius’ Interpretation

As the GMAT faces greater competition from the GRE, the GMAC has been striving to introduce greater flexibility and control to GMAT takers. Rather than deciding immediately, you can now more carefully consider over the subsequent three days whether to cancel your GMAT scores. You can also seek the advice of others, such as your GMAT tutor, before deciding whether to cancel. The longer timeframe should reduce the pressure you face over this decision after completing a grueling exam.

The enhanced score reinstatement period also provides greater flexibility, now at a much more reasonable cost. You can cancel your GMAT scores knowing that you are able to reinstate the scores at any time during their 5-year validity. As a result, we expect that many more MBA aspirants will cancel their scores when they don’t meet their score objectives, and then ultimately reinstate their highest scores after further GMAT attempts. You can read more about the changes on mba.com.

Select Section Order Pilot Program

GMAC's Select Section Order Golden TicketThe GMAC’s select section order pilot begins today! This special program, by invitation only, allows a very select few repeat GMAT takers to choose the order of their exam sections. This pilot program will provide the GMAC with data to assess whether to roll the select section order option out to all test takers. Program participants must take the GMAT from February 23 to March 16.

Participants will receive valid GMAT scores, and score reports will not indicate that they participated in this special select section order program. This is akin to receiving a golden ticket from the GMAC. You get to tackle the mentally draining Quant and Verbal sections before working on the AWA and IR sections that do not count towards the main 200 to 800 score. As a result, we estimate an overall score improvement of 30 to 40 points, consistent with what we observe when students take a practice exam without doing the AWA and IR sections.

How Select Section Order Works

If you are participant in the pilot program, you register for the GMAT using a special link that is sent to you. You will have the opportunity to select from one of four possible section orders that differ from the normal order of AWA, IR, Quant, Verbal:

  1. Quant, Verbal, IR, AWA
  2. Quant, Verbal, AWA, IR
  3. Verbal, Quant, IR, AWA
  4. AWA, IR, Verbal, Quant

What Order to Choose

We highly recommend taking selecting option 1 (Quant, Verbal, IR, AWA) or option 3 (Verbal, Quant, 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. 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.

Should You Participate in the Program

Absolutely! Some other test preparation companies have proposed two nonsensical reasons to avoid participating in the select section order program.

  1. Since existing practice exams do not have the select section order option, you cannot practice with a different order. Our response: so what? We are confident that you are adaptable enough to take the test sections in a more advantageous order than with what you can practice.
  2. You should allow for a warm-up period. Our response: one hour spent on AWA and Integrated Reasoning hardly qualifies as a “warm-up” period. Rather, the vast majority of GMAT aspirants will expend valuable energy and focus on the two sections of the exam that do not count towards your primary overall 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. Be sure not to bring any practice materials into the test center.

Other than not receiving an invitation, there are only two valid reasons not to participate: 1) you do not plan to retake the GMAT or 2) you will not be adequately prepared to retake the GMAT in the program’s timeframe. After all, why pass up the opportunity to boost your GMAT score?

Some of GMAT Genius’ clients have been invited to participate in the select section order pilot. We’ll share the results after the pilot program concludes. In the mean time, here are the official GMAC FAQs on the program.

2015 GMAT Percentile Rankings

GMAT Percentile RankingsEvery year, the Graduate Management Admission Council updates the percentile rankings associated with different GMAT scores. Although your actual scores don’t change, the percentiles on your score reports are updated to reflect the latest three-years of data from live GMAT administrations. The GMAC recently released its latest percentile rankings, reflecting data from July 2012 through June 2015.

Percentile rankings indicate the percent of test-takers who score below a given score. In the tables below, we show data for the three-years ending June 2015 and the prior data for the three-years ending June 2014. For your convenience, we have highlighted the specific changes. Read more about the meaning of percentile rankings on our About the GMAT page. You can access the latest full percentile ranking tables at MBA.com.

Overview of Changes in Percentile Rankings

As expected, there are no drastic changes to the percentile rankings, only minor shifts. The AWA percentile rankings are completely unchanged. There are just minor shifts in the Integrated Reasoning and Verbal percentile rankings.

The most noticeable change is the slightly higher mean average overall GMAT score accompanied by a slight shift downward in percentile rankings corresponding to a given score. This is driven by similar changes in the Quantitative percentile rankings. As test-takers from math-proficient countries such as China and India continue to make up a larger proportion of the test-taking population, it becomes harder to achieve a high-ranking in the Quantitative section. To illustrate, consider that a Quant score of 50 (out of 51 for all practical purposes) translates only into an 87% ranking.

Data from 2015 GMAT Percentile Rankings

Scores Halfway Mean Median 70th %ile 90th %ile
AWA 3.0 = 6% 4.34 = 30% 4.5 = 44% 5.0 = 60% 6.0 = 92%
IR 5 = 53% 4.32 = 43% 5 = 53% 6 = 67% 8 = 92%
Verbal 30 = 58% 27.1 = 46% 28 = 50% 34 = 71% 40 = 91%
Quantitative 30 = 22% 38.3 = 39% 42 = 50% 47 = 67% 50 = 87%
Overall 500 = 30% 550.1 = 44% 570 = 50% 630 = 70% 700 = 89%

Note: Percentiles for mean scores are estimates.

Data from 2014 GMAT Percentile Rankings

Scores Halfway Mean Median 70th %ile 90th %ile
AWA 3.0 = 6% 4.34 = 30% 4.5 = 44% 5.0 = 60% 6.0 = 92%
IR 5 = 52% 4.33 = 42% 5 = 52% 6 = 67% 8 = 92%
Verbal 30 = 58% 27.0 = 46% 28 = 51% 34 = 71% 40 = 91%
Quantitative 30 = 22% 38.0 = 41% 42 = 51% 47 = 68% 50 = 88%
Overall 500 = 31% 547.4 = 44% 570 = 51% 630 = 71% 700 = 89%

Note: Percentiles for mean scores are estimates.

GMAT Policy Changes – Cancelled Scores

Cancelled ScoresThe Graduate Management Admission Council announced two significant changes to GMAT policies. Both of these changes, which take effect July 19, are beneficial to GMAT test takers.

Attempts with Cancelled Scores Not Shown

After completing the GMAT, a test taker is shown her scores and has two minutes in which to decide whether to keep or cancel those scores. If she chooses to cancel the scores, her score report currently indicates a cancelled GMAT attempt with a “C” notation. Effective July 19, score reports will no longer show test attempts in which users cancelled their scores. The GMAC will retroactively apply this change to all previously cancelled scores. This policy change does not affect score cancellations generated by the GMAC, such as those due to technical issues or policy violations.

Reduced GMAT Waiting Period

Currently you can take the GMAT a subsequent time only after a 31-day gap. This waiting period will be reduced to 16 days effective July 19. As before, you are limited to a maximum of five GMAT attempts in any 12-month period. Frankly, we cannot imagine why anyone would want to take the GMAT more often than that.

Why Were These Changes Made?

The GMAC said that it received feedback from test takers that business schools may negatively perceive cancelled scores, and that test takers therefore wanted this change. Since candidates may cancel their GMAT scores for a variety of reasons, removal of score cancellations will prevent schools from misinterpreting score cancellations. Although most business schools would probably overlook one cancelled score, several cancelled attempts may raise questions for an admissions officer.

These changes are also in the GMAC’s interest. Without any indication of score cancellation, test takers will be more willing to take the test more often, generating more fees for the GMAC. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the GMAC will now also allow test takers to retake the GMAT sooner.

GMAT Genius’ Interpretation

Both of these changes are beneficial to GMAT takers. You can now retake the GMAT with significantly less risk. For example, consider a test taker who scored 680 on the GMAT the first time and wants to try for a 700+ score. She can now retake the GMAT knowing that she can cancel any score that doesn’t exceed her prior 680, and business schools will be none the wiser. She may now even be motivated to try a few times for a 700+ score.

As another example, consider a test taker who falls sick just before his exam. A test taker who reschedules his exam within seven days of the scheduled date loses the entire test fee. Previously, someone who fell sick would either waste the $250 fee by rescheduling or risk the dreaded “C” on his score report. Our test taker can now take the test while sick as a practice run, knowing that he can cancel his score without the cancellation showing on his report. Furthermore, he can retake the GMAT sooner, while he has greater retention from his studies in advance of the first test date.

We recommend that GMAT aspirants retake the GMAT only if they have good reason to believe that they can score higher. The GMAC has just reduced your risk in doing so. You can read more about the changes on mba.com.

Review of 2016 GMAT Official Guide

2016 GMAT Official GuideGMAT Genius worked closely with the publishers of the 2016 GMAT Official Guide, upon their request, in the weeks leading up to the release of the book to help improve the online versions of the Official Guides. This gave us an opportunity to thoroughly analyze the 2016 GMAT Official Guide, and we want to share our insights with you. Feel free to read our detailed analysis or to skip down to our conclusions.

Overview of the 2016 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 of practice questions with the Quant and Verbal Official Guides.

Unlike the 2015 edition, which contained no new questions, the 2016 GMAT Official Guide contains 201 new questions out of the 907 total questions. Excluding the 100 questions in the Diagnostic Exam section of the book, the new questions represent 25% new content as promised by the GMAC. These are brand new questions that we have not encountered before; they are not questions recycled from older GMAC resources.

Problem Solving

The 2016 GMAT Official Guide contains 254 Problem Solving questions, including the 24 Problem Solving questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the book. Here’s how the GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories, along with the changes by category from the 2015 edition:

Difficulty Number Change
Easy 63 +18
Medium 60 (41)
Hard 131 +23

The Problem Solving section contains 57 new questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 21 / 24 / 12. This is in lieu of 57 questions from the 2015 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 12 / 20 / 25. A total of 45 questions have been assigned a different difficulty than they were in the 2015 edition. Specifically, 9 Medium questions have been downgraded to Easy and 36 Medium questions have been upgraded to Hard.

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 55.5% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, demonstrating tremendous subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Change
Super Easy 11 (4)
Easy 71 (3)
Medium 116
Hard 41 +6
Very Hard 15 +1

Although many math questions entail multiple math concepts, GMAT Genius classifies questions based on our assessment of the primary math concept. What stands out most is the increase in statistical average questions. Here’s how we classify the 254 Problem Solving questions by concept, along with the changes from the 2015 edition:

Type Concept Number Change
Arithmetic Basic 6 (1)
Arithmetic Absolute Value 3 (1)
Arithmetic Divisibility 6 (2)
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 22 +1
Arithmetic Factors & Multiples 10 +1
Arithmetic Fractions 20
Arithmetic Percents 21 +2
Arithmetic Pos/Neg & Odd/Even 2
Arithmetic Primes 4 (1)
Arithmetic Ratios 13 (3)
Algebra Formulas 6 +2
Algebra Inequalities 3 (3)
Algebra Linear Equations 8 (1)
Algebra Quadratics 8
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 8 (3)
Algebra Variables in Answers 5 +1
Geometry 3D 6
Geometry Circles 5 +1
Geometry Coordinate 8
Geometry Rectangles 7 +1
Geometry Triangles 7 +1
Geometry Other 1 (2)
Statistics Averages 18 +4
Statistics Other 4
Word Problems Combinatorics 6 +1
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 11 +2
Word Problems Groups / Sets 8
Word Problems Interest 4 +1
Word Problems Mixture 0 (1)
Word Problems Probability 8
Word Problems Revenue & Profit 4 +1
Word Problems Rate & Work 12 (1)

Here’s a list of the 57 new Problem Solving questions: 1, 2, 3, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 21, 25, 27, 30, 31, 33, 38, 39, 43, 44, 45, 55, 56, 57, 59, 60, 61, 63, 66 to 70, 73, 76, 82, 83, 85 to 89, 91, 97, 99, 107, 108, 111, 114, 117, 122, 125, 134, 136, 137, 139, 142, 153

Data Sufficiency

The 2016 GMAT Official Guide contains 198 Data Sufficiency questions, including the 24 Data Sufficiency questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the book. Here’s how the GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories, along with the changes by category from the 2015 edition:

Difficulty Number Change
Easy 46 +14
Medium 41 (30)
Hard 111 +16

The Data Sufficiency section contains 44 new questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 17 / 12 / 15. This is in lieu of 44 questions from the 2015 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 10 / 11 / 23. A total of 31 questions have been assigned a different difficulty than they were in the 2015 edition. Specifically, 7 Medium questions have been downgraded to Easy and 24 Medium questions have been upgraded to Hard.

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 56.4% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, demonstrating tremendous subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Change
Super Easy 8
Easy 49 +2
Medium 95 (8)
Hard 40 +7
Very Hard 6 (1)

Although many math questions entail multiple math concepts, GMAT Genius classifies questions based on our assessment of the primary math concept. What stands out most is the decrease in simultaneous equation questions. Here’s how we classify the 198 Data Sufficiency questions by concept, along with the changes from the 2015 edition:

Type Concept Number Change
Arithmetic Basic 10 (3)
Arithmetic Absolute Value 0 (1)
Arithmetic Divisibility 5
Arithmetic Exponents & Roots 12 +2
Arithmetic Factors & Multiples 3
Arithmetic Fractions & Ratios 11 (2)
Arithmetic Odd/Even 6 (1)
Arithmetic Percents 15 +4
Arithmetic Positive/Negative 6 +1
Algebra Inequalities 11 +1
Algebra Linear Equations 9 +1
Algebra Quadratics 6
Algebra Simultaneous Equations 10 (7)
Geometry Circles 7
Geometry Coordinate 7 +2
Geometry Rectangles 4 +2
Geometry Triangles 8 (2)
Geometry Other 5 +1
Statistics Averages 14 (1)
Statistics Other 10 +2
Word Problems Functions & Sequences 5
Word Problems Groups / Sets 12 +1
Word Problems Interest 4
Word Problems Probability 3
Word Problems Revenue & Profit 7 +1
Word Problems Rate & Work 8 (1)

Here’s a list of the 44 new Data Sufficiency questions: 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18 to 21, 23, 26, 27, 29, 34, 37 to 41, 46, 48, 49, 51, 54, 55, 60, 64, 67, 73, 77, 80, 83, 84, 86, 92, 94, 115, 121, 134 to 137, 150

Sentence Correction

The 2016 GMAT Official Guide contains 158 Sentence Correction questions, including the 18 Sentence Correction questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the book. Here’s how the GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories, along with the changes by category from the 2015 edition:

Difficulty Number Change
Easy 35 +3
Medium 45 (25)
Hard 78 +22

The Sentence Correction section contains 35 new questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 10 / 8 / 17. This is in lieu of 35 questions from the 2015 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 2 / 16 / 17. A total of 33 questions have been assigned a different difficulty than they were in the 2015 edition, including 23 Medium questions (in the 2015 edition) that have been upgraded to Hard.

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 56.7% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, clearly showing that there is subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Change
Super Easy 1 +1
Easy 49 +3
Medium 62 (2)
Hard 39 (3)
Very Hard 7 +1

Although Sentence Correction questions typically entail multiple grammar concepts, GMAT Genius classifies questions based on our assessment of the primary tested concept. Parallel construction clearly stands out as the most prominent category. Here’s how we classify the 158 Sentence Correction questions by concept, along with the changes from the 2015 edition:

Concept Number Change
Verb Agreement 18 +2
Verb Tense 21
Pronoun Ambiguity 11 (1)
Pronoun Agreement 2 (1)
Parallel Construction 48 (2)
Misplaced Modifiers 14 +2
Idioms 8 (3)
Comparison & Quantity 15
Expression & Meaning 21 +3

Here’s a list of the 35 new Sentence Correction questions: 2, 4, 7, 10, 13, 18, 21, 23, 27, 28, 31, 35, 37, 42, 46, 52, 63, 66, 73, 80, 86, 90, 97, 101, 111, 116, 120, 124, 126, 128, 132, 133, 136, 137, 138

Critical Reasoning

The 2016 GMAT Official Guide contains 141 Critical Reasoning questions, including the 17 Critical Reasoning questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the book. Here’s how the GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories, along with the changes by category from the 2015 edition:

Difficulty Number Change
Easy 40 (1)
Medium 45 (6)
Hard 56 +7

The Critical Reasoning section contains 34 new questions, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 7 / 16 / 11. This is in lieu of 34 questions from the 2015 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 7 / 14 / 13. A total of 12 questions have been assigned a different difficulty than they were in the 2015 edition, including 10 Medium questions (in the 2015 edition) that have been upgraded to Hard.

GMAT Genius classifies question difficulty into five categories. Our assessment skews slightly easier, but contains notable differences from the GMAC. Our difficulty assessment is 72.8% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, clearly indicating subjectivity involved in assessing question difficulty. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Change
Super Easy 0
Easy 45 +5
Medium 51 (3)
Hard 33 (5)
Very Hard 12 +3

We have grouped the questions based on the question type categorization that GMAT Genius uses for Critical Reasoning. Weaken and Strengthen questions continue to dominate, but Assumption has noticeably increased. Here’s how we classify the 141 Critical Reasoning questions by concept, along with the changes from the 2015 edition:

Concept Number Change
Weaken 25 (2)
Strengthen 25
Assumption 16 +4
Reasoning 8
Conclusion 7 (3)
Explain 18 +1
Evaluate 17 (1)
Boldface 9
Complete the Passage 16 +1

Here’s a list of the 34 new Critical Reasoning questions: 1 to 4, 8, 21, 30, 37, 39, 41, 43, 48, 49, 53, 55, 57, 58, 60, 63, 65, 67, 70, 76, 77, 79, 81, 84, 94, 97, 100, 106, 109, 121, 124

Reading Comprehension

The 2016 GMAT Official Guide contains 156 Reading Comprehension questions across 29 passages, including the 17 Reading Comprehension questions in 3 passages in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the book. Here’s how the GMAC classifies question difficulty into three categories, along with the changes by category from the 2015 edition:

Difficulty Number Change
Easy 54 +24
Medium 65 (15)
Hard 37 (9)

The Reading Comprehension section contains 31 new questions in 6 passages, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 9 / 6 / 16. This is in lieu of 31 questions in 6 passages from the 2015 edition that have been removed, with difficulty of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 3 / 8 / 20. In this edition, the GMAC has downgraded the difficulty level of 23 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 slightly harder, but contains notable differences from the GMAC. Our difficulty assessment is only 48.9% correlated with the GMAC’s assessment, in large part due to different difficulty assessment methodologies. Here’s our breakdown:

Difficulty Number Change
Super Easy 5 (2)
Easy 28 +4
Medium 73 (2)
Hard 42
Very Hard 8

We have grouped the questions based on the question type categorization that GMAT Genius uses for Reading Comprehension. Specific Reference and Inference questions continue to dominate, but Specific Reference declined noticeably. Here’s how we classify the 156 Reading Comprehension questions by concept, along with the changes from the 2015 edition:

Concept Number Change
Primary Purpose 24 +1
Author’s Tone 10 +2
Organization 4 +1
Function 20 +4
Specific Reference 60 (8)
Inference 30
Critical Reasoning 8

Here’s a list of the 31 new Reading Comprehension questions: 8 to 10, 42 to 47, 96 to 101, 107 to 112, 130 to 139

Integrated Reasoning

The 2016 GMAT Official Guide provides an 11-page overview of the Integrated Reasoning section, along with online access to 50 Integrated Reasoning practice questions. The IR set includes 12 new questions that we have not seen before, replacing 12 questions that were in the 2015 edition. The 50 questions consist of the following four types:

Question Type Number New Qs
Graphics Interpretation 10 4
Multi-Source Reasoning 18 4
Table Analysis 6 1
Two-Part Analysis 16 3

Here’s a list of the 12 new Integrated Reasoning questions: 12 to 15, 22, 29, 32, 33, 34, 44, 49, 50

Other Notes

The 2016 GMAT Official Guide 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.

The book includes an access code that provides 12-month usage of an online version of this Official Guide. Since the GMAT is a computer-based test, we believe that it is advisable to work though the questions online. We recommend that you use Exam Mode rather than Practice Mode, since we recommend that students practice using timed question sets.

The online practice interface has improved from last year’s version. The publishers implemented some of our recommendations, but they did not incorporate many of our functionality improvement suggestions. One major flaw that we discussed with the book publishers, but that has not been fixed, is the inaccurate timing for “Previous Sessions.” Timing statistics are accurate when you initially review a question set, but the timing per question data is inaccurate when you later access the same question set.

If you already have the 2015 edition of this book, it is debatable whether the addition of 101 new math questions and 100 new verbal questions makes this book worth purchasing. Our opinion is that advanced students will not find enough additional challenging practice to justify the purchase, but other students could purchase the book for additional practice given the relatively low cost.

Conclusions

The 2016 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
2) Math answer explanations that are too often either brief or convoluted and Sentence Correction explanations that are too cryptic
3) Inaccurate timing data for Previous Sessions and inadequate functionality in the online practice interface

Despite its flaws, the 2016 GMAT Official Guide is an essential source of GMAT practice. We are pleased to see 25% brand new questions in the 2016 edition. We believe that every GMAT aspirant must use this book (or the prior edition). For these reasons, we give this book a 5-star rating. For the best value, we recommend purchasing this book as part of the 2016 GMAT Official Guide Bundle.

You can read this review on Amazon. If you find our review and analysis helpful, please let other Amazon customers know by clicking the Yes button at the bottom of our review.

Analysis of 2016 GMAT Official Guide Verbal

2016 GMAT Official GuideI worked closely with the publisher of the Official Guide for GMAT Review in the weeks leading up to the June 8 release of the 2016 editions, to help improve the online version of the Official Guides. In the fourth post of this series of analysis of the 2016 GMAT Official Guides, we now turn to the verbal section of the main Official Guide. We will focus on how the 2016 GMAT Official Guide differs from the 2015 edition in terms of verbal question difficulty and verbal concepts.

Sentence Correction – Difficulty

Both the 2015 and 2016 editions of the GMAT Official Guide contain 140 Sentence Correction questions, excluding the identical 18 Sentence Correction questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the guides. But the allocation of question difficulty, as assigned by the GMAC, has noticeably shifted away from Medium. A big portion of these change resulted from the GMAC upgrading 23 questions from Medium difficulty (in the 2015 edition) to Hard (in the 2016 edition).

Difficulty 2016 2015 Change
Easy 29 26 +3
Medium 39 64 (25)
Hard 72 50 +22
Total 140 140

A total of 35 brand new questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2016 GMAT Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 10 / 8 / 17. This is in lieu of 35 questions from the 2015 edition that have been removed, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 2 / 16 / 17. Let’s further break down how each of these difficulty categories has changed.

Easy Sentence Correction

Additions:
10 new questions
2 downgraded from Medium

Subtractions:
2 questions removed
7 upgraded to Medium

Net change: +3 questions

Medium Sentence Correction

Additions:
8 new questions
7 upgraded from Easy
1 downgraded from Hard

Subtractions:
16 questions removed
2 downgraded to Easy
23 upgraded to Hard

Net change: -25 questions

Hard Sentence Correction

Additions:
17 new questions
23 upgraded from Medium

Subtractions:
17 questions removed
1 downgraded to Medium

Net change: +22 questions

Sentence Correction – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 35 new (in 2016) and the 35 removed (from 2015) Sentence Correction questions. We have categorized these questions based on the primary grammar concepts that are tested on Sentence Correction.

Concept 2016 2015 Change
Verb Agreement 4 2 2
Verb Tense 3 3
Pronoun Ambiguity 1 2 (1)
Pronoun Agreement 0 1 (1)
Parallel Construction 10 12 (2)
Misplaced Modifiers 4 2 2
Idioms 2 5 (3)
Comparison & Quantity 5 5
Expression & Meaning 6 3 3

Although we cannot draw definite conclusions from this data about question composition on the GMAT, what stands out is the decrease in idioms-related questions and the increase in expression / meaning.

Critical Reasoning – Difficulty

Both the 2015 and 2016 editions of the GMAT Official Guide contain 124 Critical Reasoning questions, excluding the identical 17 Critical Reasoning questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the guides. The allocation of question difficulty has slightly shifted towards Hard. This change has primarily resulted from the GMAC upgrading 10 Medium questions (in the 2015 edition) to Hard (in the 2016 edition).

Difficulty 2016 2015 Change
Easy 35 36 (1)
Medium 41 47 (6)
Hard 48 41 +7
Total 124 124

A total of 34 brand new questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2016 GMAT Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 7 / 16 / 11. This is in lieu of 34 questions from the 2015 edition that have been removed, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 7 / 14 / 13. Let’s further break down how each of these difficulty categories has changed.

Easy Critical Reasoning

Additions:
7 new questions

Subtractions:
7 question removed
1 upgraded to Medium

Net change: -1 questions

Medium Critical Reasoning

Additions:
16 new questions
1 upgraded from Easy
1 downgraded from Hard

Subtractions:
14 questions removed
10 upgraded to Hard

Net change: -6 questions

Hard Critical Reasoning

Additions:
11 new questions
10 upgraded from Medium

Subtractions:
13 questions removed
1 downgraded to Medium

Net change: +7 questions

Critical Reasoning – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 34 new (in 2016) and the 34 removed (from 2015) Critical Reasoning questions. We have grouped these questions based on the question type categorization that GMAT Genius uses for Critical Reasoning.

Concept 2016 2015 Change
Weaken 11 13 (2)
Strengthen 9 9
Assumption 7 3 4
Reasoning 0 0
Conclusion 2 5 (3)
Explain 2 1 1
Evaluate 1 2 (1)
Boldface 1 1
Complete the Passage 1 0 1

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

Reading Comprehension – Difficulty

Both the 2015 and 2016 editions of the GMAT Official Guide contain 139 Reading Comprehension questions, excluding the identical 17 Reading Comprehension questions in the Diagnostic Exam portion of the guides. The allocation of question difficulty has noticeably shifted towards Easy, although the 2015 edition was admittedly underweighted in Easy questions. The GMAT downgraded 18 questions from Medium (in 2015) to Easy (in 2016), and 5 questions from Hard (in 2015) to Medium (in 2016). These downgrades account for most of the changes in question difficulty.

Difficulty 2016 2015 Change
Easy 47 23 +24
Medium 59 74 (15)
Hard 33 42 (9)
Total 139 139

A total of 31 brand new questions, which we have never seen before, appear in the 2016 GMAT Official Guide, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 9 / 6 / 16. These 31 questions are in 6 new passages with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 2 / 1 / 3.

A total of 31 questions have been removed from the 2015 edition, with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 3 / 8 / 20. This represents 6 passages with difficulty ratings of Easy / Medium / Hard as follows: 1 / 2 / 3. Let’s further break down how each of these difficulty categories has changed.

Easy Reading Comprehension

Additions:
9 new questions
18 downgraded from Medium

Subtractions:
3 question removed

Net change: +24 questions

Medium Reading Comprehension

Additions:
6 new questions
5 downgraded from Hard

Subtractions:
8 questions removed
18 downgraded to Easy

Net change: -15 questions

Hard Reading Comprehension

Additions:
16 new questions

Subtractions:
20 questions removed
5 downgraded to Medium

Net change: -9 questions

Reading Comprehension – Concepts

Let’s now consider changes in the concepts of the 31 new (in 2016) and the 31 removed (from 2015) Reading Comprehension questions. We have grouped these questions based on the question type categorization that GMAT Genius uses for Reading Comprehension.

Concept 2016 2015 Change
Primary Purpose 4 3 1
Author’s Tone 3 1 2
Organization 1 0 1
Function 6 2 4
Specific Reference 9 17 (8)
Inference 6 6
Critical Reasoning 2 2

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

Removed Questions

Here is the list of the verbal questions in the 2015 edition of the GMAT Official Guide that have been removed . We’ll soon publish a list of the new verbal questions in the 2016 GMAT Official Guides.

Sentence Correction – 35 questions removed:

11, 18, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 37, 44, 45, 66, 77, 80, 82, 83, 85, 88, 89, 98, 108, 110, 113, 117, 119, 121, 122, 123, 125, 127, 129, 130, 131, 134, 135, 137

Critical Reasoning – 34 questions removed:

4, 16, 21, 23, 25, 26, 32, 49, 53, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62, 64, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79, 80, 87, 96, 103, 105, 108, 110, 112, 117, 118, 119, 120, 122, 123

Reading Comprehension – 31 questions removed:

8 to 10, 42 to 44, 93 to 98, 104 to 139

Key Takeaways

We cannot draw firm conclusions about the GMAC’s intent in making changes to the verbal question composition in the 2016 GMAT Official Guide. That said, we can observe certain trends and speculate on what those changes may imply.

By downgrading 23 Reading Comprehension questions without upgrading any questions, the GMAC seems to imply a greater rigor within Reading Comprehension. On the other hand, by upgrading 23 Sentence Correction questions and 10 Critical Reasoning questions from Medium to Hard, the GMAC implies slightly less rigor in these areas than perhaps it did previously.

A shift from idioms-related questions towards expression & meaning in Sentence Correction is consistent with the GMAC’s greater emphasis on understanding sentence structure rather than just learning grammatical rules. A shift from Conclusion to Assumption questions in Critical Reasoning and a shift from Specific Reference to Function questions in Reading Comprehension provide further evidence that the GMAC seems to be placing greater emphasis on analytical reasoning skills to solve CR and RC questions.

Next up from GMAT Genius — look for detailed reviews of the 2016 GMAT Official Guides. Please leave a comment or get in touch if you have any questions.