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.