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My Review of the GMAT Official Guide 2018

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My Review of the GMAT Official Guide 2018 [#permalink]

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I am a Harvard grad, 99% GMAT scorer and professional GMAT tutor since 2002, and am fairly obsessed with this test. I also take the GMAT frequently to stay up-to-date, including a personal best of 770. The Official Guide for GMAT Review 2018 receives my strong recommendation because it provides a great source of 900 real GMAT questions at a decent price (it normally retails for about $30). You can buy another 600 questions if you purchase the Official Guide Bundle, which includes the Verbal Review Guide (300 questions) and the Quant review guide (300 questions). The bundle retails for around $49.

One aspect of this book that you must understand is that it is not meant to teach you GMAT test-taking strategy. For that, look elsewhere (see product links below). However, it includes some of the very best practice materials available, straight from the test-maker, and although the answer explanations are often convoluted, they are still useful in understanding how the GMAC thinks.

Why are the 2018 Official Guides the very best place to start your GMAT preparation, other than the free GMATPrep software? Because the questions in these books are super-realistic. They are just like the questions on the real GMAT, because these books are written by the test-maker and use actual, retired GMAT questions. Don't waste your time and money practicing on questions made by any other companies--these are merely inferior imitations of the real thing. If you must use other materials for test strategy, then that's fine, and in most cases necessary, but try your best to stick to official questions whenever possible.

Pro tip: You can take each of the 6 GMAT Prep CATs more than once, because the GMAT is an adaptive test (it adjusts the difficulty level of later questions based on your previous responses). There are about 4 to 16 times as many questions in the GMAC's question pool as there are in any given test, which means that every test you take will be different. Tests 1 and 2 draw from a (gigantic!) pool of about 1,500 questions, and tests 3, 4, 5, and 6 draw from a more modest pool of about 400 questions each. To re-take your GMAT Prep tests, click "reset" in the lower-left hand corner of the GMAT Prep software window, but make sure to take screenshots of your previous test sessions beforehand--frequent screenshots are a good idea anyway because the software is prone to crashing and losing your data. For your screenshots, use either the "Print Screen" (Windows Key + PrtScn) button on a PC or (Shift + Command + 3) on a Mac. For more information, check out this blog.

It's important to remember that although this physical GMAT book is extremely helpful, the GMAT is still a computer-based test, which means that you should still spend at least 50% of your preparation time reading a screen instead of reading a piece of paper. For this reason, consider buying the Kindle versions of the guides, as well as making full use of the computer-based practice options (Exam Packs, Question Packs, Mobile App, etc.) available from the GMAC (see detailed product links below). Or, if you prefer to buy the physical books, then you can also use the access codes located in the sealed pouches in the back covers of the books to access a free web-based version of the books, where you can try most of the questions in the books in an online format, and organize quizzes by question type / difficulty level (easy, medium, hard). You will also have to create a Wiley account, which is mostly painless. I strongly suggest that you save your login information on your browser so that you won’t have to enter your username / password every time you access the Wiley site.
——

“OVER 130 NEVER-BEFORE SEEN QUESTIONS”


Approximately 15% of the questions in this 2018 edition of the OG are new to the Official Guide. However, it is worth noting that “never before seen” is not entirely true, since all of these questions are retired questions from past GMAT computer exams (it says so right there on the cover). A more accurate description would be “never before seen on paper,” but that probably wouldn’t sell as many books.

For those of you who already have copies of the 2017 OGs, here are links to full tables/lists of the new questions in the 2018 versions, including questions that were removed or moved.

Main OG - New Questions
Verbal Guide - New Questions
Quant Guide - New Questions

For ease of use, I will also be listing the new questions below, in text form.

Main OG (130 new questions)

Integrated Reasoning (8 new questions): coming soon

Problem Solving (35 new 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.

Data Sufficiency (26 new 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

GMAT Club Directory of New Quant Questions in the 2018 Edition

Sentence Correction (21 new questions): 674, 680, 684, 685, 699, 702, 717, 735, 743, 745, 750, 751, 763, 770, 777, 780, 781, 782, 784, 796, 799.

Critical Reasoning (19 new questions): 546, 550, 554, 556, 561, 575, 589, 599, 626, 627, 631, 634, 635, 640, 643, 651, 656, 660, 661.

Reading Comprehension (21 new questions): 412-414, 415-418, 439-441, 467-470, 514-516, 537-540.

GMAT Club Directory of New Verbal Questions in the 2018 Edition

Verbal Review Guide (45 new questions): 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 54, 55, 56, 57, 83, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 112, 141, 144, 154, 161, 162, 166, 173, 175, 179, 182, 187, 198, 202, 204, 207, 209, 211, 212, 220, 267, 268, 270, 274, 284, 285, 286, 292, 293.

Quant Review Guide (45 new 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, 178, 193, 215, 216, 224, 226, 231, 239, 244, 246, 247, 257, 270, 281, 283, 285, 291, 295, 296.

NOTE: For free "forum-style" explanations and classifications of every question in the 2017 Official Guide, check out the GMAT Club Guide to the GMAT Official Guide 2017.

Are the questions from the 2018 versions any better than the questions they are replacing from the 2017 edition? No, not really. All of the questions in the books are old questions from past GMAT exams (“retired questions”), so there is no guarantee that these 220+ “new” questions are either any newer or any more helpful than are the questions they supplant from the 2017 Editions of the OGs. Moreover, early adopters of the 2018 editions will find that certain questions are so new that it’s hard to access high-quality online explanations until GMAT tutors like me (GMATClub username: mcelroytutoring) start posting them, which could take weeks or even months.

While I will concede that the questions in this book are roughly ordered from easy to hard, there are some curious places where low-numbered questions are quite difficult for most of my students, and vice-versa. Thus, I think that we can’t necessarily take GMAC at their word here, especially since there has already been evidence in past official guides of the GMAC moving the exact same questions to radically different locations in the books. If the questions are truly ordered from easy to hard, for example, then why would a question numbered in the 30s suddenly show up numbered in the 90s in the next year’s edition?
— —

A WARNING ABOUT THE DIFFICULTY LEVEL OF THE QUESTIONS IN THE OFFICIAL

GUIDES:


It is important to note that the difficulty level of questions in these books is sufficient for most test takers, but is admittedly a bit lacking on the high end. High scores take note: If you are aiming for a GMAT score of 700-plus, then you should spend more time practicing on questions from the GMATPrep software (Exams 1-2) and Exam Packs 1 and 2 (Exams 3-6), which offer more difficult questions that will bear a closer resemblance to the questions you will see on your actual test day.

Remember: the GMAT is an adaptive exam. If you answer a lot of questions right, then the test keeps getting harder (as your score rises), and if you answer a lot of questions wrong, then the test keeps getting easier (as your score lowers). And the questions on the test are “front-loaded” so that the first 1/3 of questions have a much larger impact on your score than do the final 1/3 of questions. (There is a SEVERE penalty for not finishing the sections, however, so make sure that you give yourself time answer all the questions before time expires, even if they are just random guesses. At all costs, make sure to answer every question before time expires.) For more about the GMAT algorithm, please read this post by me: Leveraging the GMAT Scoring Algorithm to Your Advantage

If you do run out of official GMAT Prep computer tests (the first two are free, and you can buy four more from GMAC), then I can recommend the Manhattan GMAT CATs (computer adaptive tests). You used to be able to just buy one book from the series, which would give you access to all 6 CATs, but that is no longer an option--you must now buy the CATs separately here.

For free video explanations to all the math questions in these books, google "GMAT Quantum," or if you prefer to read your explanations, then just try google searching the first few lines of your question's text. I would also strongly recommend that you check out informative websites such as GMAT Club, Beat the GMAT, and Atlantic GMAT, and that you consider retaining the services of a qualified private tutor such as myself.
— —

HOW TO STUDY FOR THE GMAT:


My core philosophy: use official GMAT questions only! It’s OK if you end up memorizing all the solutions and answers—that’s part of the point, as is repetition of certain questions until you fully understand them. There are thousands of real GMAT questions available from the GMAC, so it’s unlikely that you will ever run out. Imitation questions are not quite the same, so why settle for anything less than the real deal?

For purposes of brevity, I am only including a one-month study plan, but the truth is that most students need at least 3-6 months to study for the GMAT. To turn this 1-month study plan into a 3-month or 6-month study plan, simply break the study plan into smaller increments.

Ideally, your studying should be done at regular intervals throughout the day, instead of one large chunk, to maximize retention. Take frequent breaks, but also try to get used to working for 4 hours straight at least once a week, to simulate test conditions.

If you don’t have time to take a full section, then don’t use the GMAT Prep Exams, because you will need to finish the entire test in order to review the questions afterward. Even if you only want to try a Quant section, for example, you will have to click through the rest of the test, or wait for time to expire, which is annoying. Better to use the Question Packs, the OGs or the Mobile App for smaller increments of time. Also, if you’re a Mac user like me, then you should know that the “Escape” button does not work on the GMAT Prep software. Instead, try (Command + Tab) to switch to other open applications.

Don’t forget to utilize GMAT club for explanations to any questions whose explanations in the books don’t make sense. Just google search the first few lines of your question’s text.
— —

MY RECOMMENDED GMAT STUDY PLAN:


"Section" = a timed, scored section from the GMATPrep Software (Exams 1 through 6). Helps you practice test-taking techniques, and leveraging the GMAT algorithm.
"Practice" = unscored (no composite score, only correct/incorrect) and the time limit is less strict. Take as long as you need for understanding.

Remember that you don’t necessarily need to pay for Exam Packs 1 and 2, because there are approximately 1,500 potential questions in (free) Exams 1 and 2, so you can just keep resetting the tests and using them again. The IR sections will be exactly the same (not adaptive!), but the quant and verbal sections will be different every time.

Another option is to install the GMAT Prep software on 2 different computers. 2 different computers = 2 different versions of the test = nearly twice as many questions to practice.

Here is a sample weekly schedule that I would recommend IF YOU ARE TRYING TO PREPARE IN ONLY ONE MONTH (see modifications for 2-6 month study plans below).

Day 1: COMPUTER DAY


1) 75 minute Quant Section - GMATPrep
2) 75 minute Verbal Section - GMATPrep
3) Review Incorrectly Answered Quant Questions + Math Concepts and Strategies
4) Review Incorrectly Answered Verbal Questions + Verbal Concepts and Strategies
5) 30 minute IR Section or Practice - GMAT Prep / IR tool from Wiley
6) 30 minutes Essay Practice

Day 2: BOOK (OG) / WILEY DAY


1) 37 Quant Questions in OG / Wiley
2) 41 Verbal Questions in OG / Wiley
3) Review Incorrectly Answered Quants
4) Review Incorrectly Answered Verbals
5) 12 IR Questions - Any Source

Day 3: COMPUTER DAY


1) 37 Quant Questions in GMATPrep (Question Packs)
2) 41 Verbal Questions in GMATPrep (Question Packs)
3) Review Incorrectly Answered Quants + Math Concepts and Strategies
4) Review Incorrectly Answered Verbals + Verbal Concepts and Strategies

Day 4: BOOK (OG) / WILEY DAY


1) 37 Quant Questions in OG / Wiley
2) 41 Verbal Questions in OG / Wiley
3) Review Incorrectly Answered Quants + Math Concepts and Strategies
4) Review Incorrectly Answered Verbals + Verbal Concepts and Strategies
5) 12 IR Questions - Any Source

Day 5: COMPUTER DAY


1) 75 minute Quant Section - GMATPrep
2) 75 minute Verbal Section - GMATPrep
3) Review Incorrectly Answered Quants + Math Concepts and Strategies
4) Review Incorrectly Answered Verbals + Verbal Concepts and Strategies
5) 30 minute IR Section or Practice - GMAT Prep / IR tool from Wiley
6) 30 minutes Essay Practice

Day 6: BOOK (OG) / WILEY DAY


1) 37 Quant Questions in OG / Wiley
2) 41 Verbal Questions in OG / Wiley
3) Review Incorrectly Answered Quants + Math Concepts and Strategies
4) Review Incorrectly Answered Verbals + Verbal Concepts and Strategies
5) 12 IR Questions - Any Source

Day 7: Take a rest! You’re only human.

Repeat for three more weeks, and you’ve completed approximately 2,160 real GMAT questions out of the approximately 4,000 official GMAT questions available.

Here are my modifications for 2-6 month study plans:

2-month study plan: complete 3 assignments (numbered above) per day.
3-month study plan: complete 2 assignments per day.
4-month study plan: complete 1-2 assignments per day.
6-month study plan: complete 1 assignment per day.

The founder of the GMAT Club forum has also written an excellent GMAT Study Plan on GMAT club.
— —

AN IMPORTANT NOTE ON HOW TO REVIEW INCORRECTLY ANSWERED GMAT

QUESTIONS:


Yes, the correct answers (along with mildly helpful explanations) are all right there in the books. But at all costs, don’t check the correct answer right away, because in many ways it ruins the utility of that question.

When it comes time to re-try the questions that you answered incorrectly, I recommend that you either buy a 2nd copy of the books to keep blank, or that you simply re-try the questions on your computer screen…BEFORE checking the answer. It's what I call a "blind review": going over all the questions you got wrong without first checking the correct answer/explanation, or seeing any of your previous work.

Yes, I know…when you get something wrong that you thought you got right, your first instinct is to immediately check the correct answer choice. However, try your best to avoid this temptation.

In my opinion, blind review is one of the key facets of effective test prep. Thus, when using the physical book, you should only mark your answers in the book as correct or incorrect. Most importantly, don't write down or look at the correct answers before you get a chance to review / re-try them at least once.

Obviously, this type of study is much easier with a partner: if you’re working by yourself out of the physical books or the Kindle editions, then there is no way to check your answers without actually looking at the correct letter answers. So, if you’re studying solo, then I recommend that you write your answers—only your answers, not your work— on a separate sheet of paper. Do at least 40 questions at a time, to get a feel for what a GMAT Quant or Verbal section feels like. When you correct them, don’t indicate the correct answers in the book yet—simply mark incorrect answers as incorrect. And try to correct your questions all at once instead of one at a time, so that when you review the actual question afterward, you are less likely to remember the correct answer.

In contrast, if you go over questions by checking the correct answers right away, then you can create false confidence by fooling yourself into thinking that you understand the questions fully, when in fact you are still prone to those types of mistakes. The best way to know for sure is to try the questions again, from scratch, *without* the aid of the answer key, your previous answer, or the answer explanations. Only then should you confirm the correct answer and read the explanation provided.
— —

For those of you who are just getting started, here is the overall structure of the GMAT:

1) Analysis of an Argument Essay (AWA or Analytical Writing Assessment): 30 minutes, 1 question.
2) Integrated Reasoning (Multi-Source Reasoning, Table Analysis, Graphics Interpretation, Two Part Analysis): 30 minutes, 12 questions. Please note: unlike the Verbal and Quantitative sections, the IR section is not adaptive. For this reason, every time you try a GMATPrep Exam you will see the same 12 IR questions.
3) Optional 8-minute break
4) Quantitative Section (Problem Solving, Data Sufficiency): 75 minutes, 37 questions (2 minutes per question)
5) Optional 8-minute break
6) Verbal Section (Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction): 75 minutes, 41 questions (1.8 minutes per question)

The GMAC has also recently announced that it will be implementing a new program, starting July 11, 2017, where GMAT test-takers will be able to select (out of 3 possible options) the order of their test sections! This promises to be a huge advantage, because the Verbal and Quant sections, which are not only the two toughest sections of the GMAT, but also the ones that matter most to B-schools and the only two sections that contribute to one’s 200-800 composite score, have always been located at the end of the 4-hour test, when it’s harder to maintain focus. You will have the option to choose 1) Quant, 2) Verbal, 3) IR and 4) AWA or 1) Verbal, 2) Quant, 3) IR and 4) AWA, in addition to the traditional option of 1) AWA 2) IR 3) Quant 4) Verbal. Personally, I prefer Verbal/Quant/IR/AWA.

Keep in mind that on the GMAT you cannot go back or skip any questions, and that the first 12-15 questions of the Verbal and Quantitative sections have the most impact on your score due to the adaptive scoring algorithm--especially on Quant, where points are heavily "front loaded". A correct answer will yield a slightly harder question in most cases, and vice versa, and the GMAT will gradually determine your score as you go. The largest adjustments are made at the beginning of the test, which is why the first 1/3 of questions are so essential. Also, 25.6% of the questions on the actual GMAT are experimental—you don’t know which ones they are, and they don’t count toward your score. 9 out the 37 quant questions are experimental, 11 out of the 41 Verbal questions and 3 out of the 12 IR questions are experimental "pretest" questions.

MY RECOMMENDED GMAT RESOURCES:


Practice:

1) Free GMATPrep Software - 2 diagnostic CATs (Exams 1 and 2: 180 questions total) and 90 practice questions out of 1,500 possible questions
2) GMAT Official Guide 2018 Bundle - 1 diagnostic test and over 1,500 practice questions and answer explanations - about $45
or, buy the guides separately for the Kindle versions (Verbal guide not yet available):
a. The Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017 with Online Question Bank and Exclusive Video
b. The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review 2017 with Online Question Bank and Exclusive Video
c. The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review 2017 with Online Question Bank and Exclusive Video
3) GMATPrep Exam Pack 1 - 2 diagnostic CATs (Exams 3 and 4: 180 questions total) out of 400 possible questions - $50
4) GMAT Prep Exam Pack 2 - 2 more diagnostic CATs (Exams 5 and 6: 180 questions total) out of 400 possible questions - $50
Please note: you can save $10 by buying #3 and #4 together as an Exam Pack Bundle from the GMAT website for $90.
5) GMATPrep Question Pack 1 - 404 questions with answer explanations and ability to sort questions by type and difficulty - $30
6) The Official Guide for GMAT® Review 2016 Mobile App -$5 for 50 questions and $30 upgrade for an additional 800 questions
7) GMAT Focus Quizzes - 24 questions per quiz (math only) - $30 per quiz and 4 total GMAT Focus Online Quantitative Diagnostic Tool: Single Use
8) IR Prep Tool - 48 Integrated Reasoning Questions GMAT - $20
9) GMAT Write - 4 Auto-Graded Essays for $30
10) GMAT Enhanced Score Report - Technically this is not a practice tool, but it provides an in-depth look at your score, including overall rankings, rankings by question type, time management information and a summary of your strengths and weaknesses, which can be helpful if you plan to take the test more than once. - $25

Strategy:

1) GMAT Club Forum (you are here) - Free explanations to nearly every official GMAT question, as well as questions written by other companies (I do not recommend practicing on non-official questions).
2) GMAT Quantum - Free video explanations to nearly every official GMAT quantitative question.
3) GMATPrepNow - Free video lessons and explanations to GMAT verbal and quant questions.
4) Manhattan Prep GMAT Series: $144 for the Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set or about $20 per book GMAT Sentence Correction (Manhattan Prep GMAT Strategy Guides).
5) Ace the GMAT: Master the GMAT in 40 Days by Brandon Royal
6) LSAT Preptests for Extra Critical Reasoning and Critical Reading Practice: $20 for 10 tests 10 More, Actual Official LSAT PrepTests: (PrepTests 19 through 28) (Lsat Series)
7) Magoosh Free Online Materials
8) Powerscore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible: $21
9) Powerscore GMAT Reading Comprehension Bible: $35
10) The Complete GMAT Sentence Correction Guide: $27

Princeton Review and Kap. are OK for strategy too. I prefer Princeton Review’s GMAT guide (full disclosure: P.R. is my former employer) to Kap.’s (in my humble opinion, a mediocre, corporate behemoth who somehow always manages to rank #1 on Amazon with lots of suspect 5-star reviews), but any effort to write an "all in one" guide to a test as complex as the GMAT is destined to be at least a partial failure. The Kap. and Princeton guides can be helpful if you are a below-average scorer trying to obtain an above-average score without too much effort, but the perfectionists among us will be frustrated by their lack of depth and unrealistic practice questions.

Finally, you can check out my GMAT Action Plan to read my personal, frequently updated recommendations for GMAT Prep.

Please leave any questions or comments by clicking the orange "Post Reply" button above, and I will try to respond as quickly as possible--I enjoy analyzing the intricacies of this challenging test.

_________________

Harvard grad and 770 GMAT scorer, offering high-quality private GMAT tutoring, both in-person and via Skype, since 2002.

McElroy Tutoring


Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 30 Aug 2017, 19:41, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: My Review of the GMAT Official Guide 2018 [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jul 2017, 11:08
Is the Wiley interface for OG2018 different, in any favorable way, from the interface for the 2017 guide? I followed up with a Wiley rep and, to my surprise, he said there is some variation of UI/front end between versions. I am particularly interested in being able to suspend multiple sessions and return to them in an easier way vs. ending and re-filtering by section and difficulty.

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Status: Professional GMAT Tutor
Affiliations: AB, cum laude, Harvard University (Class of '02)
Joined: 10 Jul 2015
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Kudos [?]: 477 [0], given: 53

Location: United States (CA)
Age: 37
GMAT 1: 770 Q47 V48
GMAT 2: 730 Q44 V47
GMAT 3: 750 Q50 V42
GRE 1: 337 Q168 V169
WE: Education (Education)
Re: My Review of the GMAT Official Guide 2018 [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jul 2017, 18:11
Top Contributor
greenexpo wrote:
Is the Wiley interface for OG2018 different, in any favorable way, from the interface for the 2017 guide? I followed up with a Wiley rep and, to my surprise, he said there is some variation of UI/front end between versions. I am particularly interested in being able to suspend multiple sessions and return to them in an easier way vs. ending and re-filtering by section and difficulty.


Yes, the 2018 version of the Wiley Question Bank has been improved since 2017: https://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-official-guide-2018-coming-june-12th-with-new-online-platform-240355.html#p1853235
_________________

Harvard grad and 770 GMAT scorer, offering high-quality private GMAT tutoring, both in-person and via Skype, since 2002.

McElroy Tutoring

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Re: My Review of the GMAT Official Guide 2018 [#permalink]

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New post 07 Aug 2017, 15:00
I'm new to studying for the GMAT and have only used OG2017. Except for the new "never-before-seen" questions in OG2018, will many of the questions be repeats from the 2017 book? If so, is it still worth it to purchase OG2018?

I would mainly like to practice new verbal questions and am considering Verbal Review 2018, but I guess the same question as above applies.

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Re: My Review of the GMAT Official Guide 2018   [#permalink] 07 Aug 2017, 15:00
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