Analysis Of The New Official Guide For GMAT Books

by on September 7th, 2009

We all use the Official Guide books to study, so it’s big news that, this year, GMAC published (or is about to publish) new versions of all three books. For those just starting out, GMAC is the company that owns the GMAT and the Official Guide books that are filled with real (but retired) GMAT questions.

In March, we got The Official Guide for GMAT Review 12th Edition (though only about 1/3 of the questions were new). A couple of weeks ago, The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review, 2nd Edition was released, and tomorrow, the 2nd Edition of The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review will debut.

The GMAC folks have been kind enough to give us advance copies of these books, and we’ve recently published a thorough review of all three (including the Quant Review book that won’t be published until tomorrow!). There aren’t any major changes in these books, as the GMAT itself hasn’t had any major changes, but there are some interesting things to note.

Official Guide 12th Edition (OG12)

Of the 907 questions in OG12, 607 are repeats; that is, they appeared in the 11th edition of the Guide. 300 of the questions are new, though some of the “new” quant problems have appeared in GMAT Focus™. The biggest influx of new questions came in the Data Sufficiency section. There are 19 more DS questions overall (and 19 fewer PS questions); in addition, 47%, of 94, of the DS questions are new. The turnover is lower in the other sections, ranging from 22% to 36%.

On the old questions, most explanations are identical to the 11th edition, although some explanations have been edited (and improved, in our opinion). The Diagnostic Exam, Math Review, and Test-Taking Strategies sections did not change.

You can read the full analysis of OG12 here. This link is to the main page for the OG12 analysis; there are additional links on that page for each of the five question types presented in the book.

Official Guide Verbal Review 2nd Edition (VR2)

Of the 300 questions in VR2, 81 were not in VR1. Some of the “new” questions, however, have appeared on GMATPrep® exams in the past. There are no major differences, but there are a few minor trends worth noting.

  • The four Reading Comprehension passages that were removed were all long (about 350 words on average) and the five new passages are all short (about 220 words on average)
  • On Critical Reasoning, the number of Strengthen the Conclusion questions rose from 15 to 26, a substantial increase
  • On Sentence Correction, the number of questions focused primarily on idioms decreased (thankfully!), while the number of questions focused primarily on modifiers increased

As I mentioned earlier, these are micro-trends – and we don’t actually know the significance of the changes. They do not necessarily mean that the test itself has just changed or is about to change in accordance with these trends. For instance, the newly published books could just be reflecting minor trend changes that occurred years ago; it’s been a long time since the earlier versions of these books were published.

You can read the full analysis of VR2 here. This link is to the main page for the VR2 analysis; there are additional links on that page for each of the three question types presented in the book.

Official Guide Quant Review, 2nd Edition (QR2)

Of the 300 questions in QR2, 74 were not in QR1 (though one of those appears to be a somewhat significant re-write of an old problem as opposed to a truly new problem). There are three additional problems that have extremely minor changes from problems in QR1 (just a couple of words changed). We interpret this as editing of the old question, as opposed to a new question, but the GMAC folks apparently interpreted at least one of these as a “new” problem, because the GMAC press release says the book has 75 new questions. We’ll just have to agree to disagree. :)

In addition, some of the “new” questions have already appeared on GMATPrep® exams in the past. As with the VR2, there are no major differences, but there are a few minor trends worth noting.

In terms of overall question count, there are 12 more Word Translations questions and 11 more Geometry questions in QR2 (compared to QR1). There are 7 fewer Algebra questions, 6 fewer Fractions/Decimals/Percents questions, and 4 fewer Number Properties questions. As noted above, these changes don’t necessarily indicate a recent or significant change on the GMAT.

You can read the full analysis of QR2 here. This link is to the main page for the QR2 analysis; there are additional links on that page for each of the two question types presented in the book.

Happy studying!

1 comment

  • Thanks for taking an extra effort to let us know more about the newer version of GMAC books.

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