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My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017

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Status: Professional GMAT Tutor
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My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 20 Feb 2018, 20:28
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Also see: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2018

I am a Harvard grad, 99% GMAT scorer and professional GMAT tutor with 16 years of experience, and am fairly obsessed with this test. I also take the GMAT at least once every 5 years to stay up-to-date. The Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017 receives my strong recommendation because it provides a great source of real GMAT questions at a decent price (it normally retails for about $30).

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 2017 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.
— —

THE GREAT DEBATE: THE PRINT BOOKS + (INCLUDED) ACCESS TO THE FREE ONLINE

QUESTION BANK FROM WILEY vs. THE KINDLE VERSIONS OF THE BOOKS



“In this corner…”

First of all, remember that you should be spending lots of time exploring the GMAT Prep software (both the Exam Packs and the Question Packs) during your studies, in addition to the questions in these books / the Wiley question bank, especially if you are going for a score of 700 or above.

Purchasing the print version of the books as a discount bundle seems like the obvious answer for many old-school GMAT tutors such as myself, since it also offers the option to use the online Wiley question bank, which includes nearly every question in the Official Guides in a computer-based format. Why not have the best of both worlds (print and digital) instead of digital only?

The Kindle version of the books—accessible not just for Kindle owners but on nearly any device with a screen—are exact copies of the physical books, in digital, searchable form. It’s very easy to navigate among the different chapters of the books, for example, and to review individual questions. It’s also helpful for Skype GMAT tutoring with a tutor like me, despite some formatting issues with equations, and it allows you to hold the entire Official Guide bundle in the palm of your hand.

The Wiley question bank (accessible through the codes located in the back covers of the books) includes 6 months access to a question bank where you can try random questions from the Official Guides through the Wiley website. You can sort your questions by difficulty level / question type, and answer explanations are provided. You can also choose different modes of study, including “practice mode” and “exam mode,” and you can also name your sessions for later review. When it works (at the moment the question bank is down for maintenance, and any interface dependent on an internet browser is found to malfunction sometimes), it works quite well.

The question bank is far from perfect, however, and the Kindle version clearly has its advantages, so this is not an obvious choice.

In some regards, the Kindle version is superior, because the Wiley interface is not nearly as easy-to-use. Also, if you don't have internet access, then the question bank is inaccessible, in contrast to the Kindle version, which is basically a static, searchable PDF that lives on your device instead of in the cloud.

There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to both, but I think the print + Wiley combo is the way to go for most old-schoolers like me, who grew up in the era of paper tests and taking lots of notes. Keep in mind that if you don't have internet access for a while, you can still access the roughly 1,500 questions on Exams 1 and 2 of the free GMATPrep software.

I do have a Kindle, and I even use the Kindle versions of the books on my computer during my Skype sessions with private students, but I still enjoy the tangible feeling of having the physical books. That being said, the GMAT is still a computer-based test, so I would advise you to spend at least 50% of your preparation time reading a screen instead of a book.

It all depends on how you plan to use the books, their current costs, and your personal moral code. Here are some key factors:

1) Wiley requires internet access, Kindle does not (other than the initial download, of course).
2) Wiley allows you to select the difficulty level (E/M/H) of the questions, Kindle does not (remember, it’s just a PDF-style replica of the print books, which are only roughly ordered in terms of difficulty).
3) Kindle is quick and convenient, Wiley is not (you have to log into the question bank through your browser instead of a desktop application, you cannot access specific questions on demand, it has a clunky user interface, etc.)
4) Wiley requires an actual computer, and the Kindle does not (it will work through the Kindle app on your cell phone or mobile device).
5) Like the GMATPrep Software (Exam Packs and Question Packs), Wiley resembles the actual GMAT exam more closely than does the Kindle version.
6) Kindle is (probably) better for the environment. But remember that all those glowing screens use a lot of energy too.
7) If you buy the Kindle version, then you will spend 100% of your time looking at a screen. If you buy the print + Wiley combo you will only be looking at a screen for about 50% of the time (GMATPrep software + Wiley question bank). In my opinion, 50/50 is better because we are human beings and thus subject to screen fatigue. Studying with paper versions of the books can be less stressful and is more convenient for taking notes, studying outside, etc.
8) Not a big deal, but the books are offered as a discount bundle on Amazon and the Kindle versions are not.
9) Perhaps most importantly, the Wiley bank is included, for free, with your purchase of the physical books. If you plan to do most of your work on the computer, then you could think of the physical books as a bonus to the online question bank, instead of the other way around.

Some GMAT tutors are of the opinion that you should be working off a screen nearly all of the time that you prepare for the GMAT. If you agree with this assessment, then the Kindle version is probably the best option for you, since it’s a lot better organized than is the Wiley question bank. However, I am of the opinion that working out of a book 50% of the time is fine, and in fact better for many, so I’m more inclined to recommend the print + Wiley combo for it’s “best of both worlds” (print and computer) quality. I also think that the random nature of the Wiley question bank (you cannot access specific questions by number, no answer key, etc.), one of its major weaknesses, is also one of its strengths, since this random question format is closer to the format of the GMAT itself, and the format of the GMAT Prep software (which contains far harder questions than nearly any question in the Official Guides!).

However, don’t expect the Wiley question banks to be a digital replica of the physical books. If you require that, then you’ll need to purchase the Kindle version. To state the obvious, the best thing to have is both. But if I had to choose one, I would probably go with the print books and Wiley question bank.

One very annoying aspect of the 2016 version of the Wiley site was that it automatically logged you out due to inactivity after a very short amount of time. Thankfully, the 2017 version of the Wiley website has fixed this bug.

Instead of giving you a paper and pencil, the GMAC also requires you to use a water-based maker and a laminated sheet like this one: Manhattan GMAT Test Simulation Booklet w/ Marker I don't recommend always using the laminated sheet when you study, because it's messy and harder to keep track of your notes that way. But it makes sense to at least use it a few times, just to get the feel of it before test day.
——

“OVER 130 NEVER-BEFORE SEEN QUESTIONS”


Approximately 15% of the questions in this 2017 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 2016 Bundle, here is a full list of the new questions in the 2017 version of the GMAT Official Guides:

MAIN OG / WHITE BOOK (131 new questions):


Integrated Reasoning (8 new questions): 9, 10, 11, 21, 28, 35, 41 & 43

Problem Solving (36 new questions): 2, 5, 7, 13, 19, 23, 32, 44, 45, 47, 50, 53, 62, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 88, 89, 91, 96, 100, 109, 116, 120, 123, 127, 128, 132, 140, 152, 192, 194, 201 & 209.

Data Sufficiency (26 new questions): 231, 237, 243, 252, 254, 255, 258, 259, 262, 274, 275, 278, 283, 288, 291, 294, 304, 305, 310, 315, 316, 325, 327, 332, 347 & 359.

Sentence Correction (21 new questions): 668, 669, 683, 684, 685, 688, 696, 697, 703, 704, 705, 724, 725, 738, 739, 740, 747, 762, 771, 799, & 803.

Critical Reasoning (19 new questions): 546, 549, 562, 571, 582, 587, 592, 599, 607, 610, 612, 616, 617, 618, 619, 627, 629, 661, 666

Reading Comprehension (21 new questions): 415-423, 427-430, 460-462, 529-533


QUANT REVIEW GUIDE / BLUE BOOK (47 new questions):


Problem Solving (26 new questions): 1, 10, 11, 16, 19, 24, 38, 53, 59, 63, 68, 71, 76, 77, 79, 83, 85, 87, 89, 114, 136, 137, 139, 145, 158, 164

Data Sufficiency (19 new questions): 184, 185, 186, 189, 194, 199, 202, 208, 211, 218, 219, 222, 225, 230, 236, 262, 295, 297, 300


VERBAL REVIEW GUIDE / PINK BOOK (45 new questions)


Sentence Correction (17 new questions): 189, 190, 200, 210, 211, 216, 241, 243, 245, 250, 254, 258, 260, 279, 281, 296, 299

Critical Reasoning (13 new questions): 106, 110, 117, 124, 133, 139, 146, 153, 158, 166, 172, 180, 188

Reading Comprehension (15 new questions): 11-16, 46-54

NOTE: For free "forum-style" explanations and SUPER-USEFUL 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 2017 versions any better than the questions they are replacing from the 2016 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 2016 Editions of the OGs. Moreover, early adopters of the 2017 editions will find that certain questions are so new that it’s hard to access 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)

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. 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, approximately 10 to 25% of the questions on the actual GMAT (and 4 of the 12 IR questions) are experimental—you don’t know which ones they are, and they don’t count toward your score.

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 2017 Official Guide 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
If you need the Kindle versions right away, then I would suggest that you purchase the 2016 versions of the books, which are not much different.
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) 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).
4) Ace the GMAT: Master the GMAT in 40 Days by Brandon Royal
5) 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)
6) Magoosh Free Online Materials
7) Powerscore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible: $21
8) Powerscore GMAT Reading Comprehension Bible: $35
9) The Complete GMAT Sentence Correction Guide: $27

Princeton Review and Kaplan are OK for strategy too. I prefer Princeton Review’s GMAT guide (full disclosure: P.R. is my former employer) to Kaplan’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 Kaplan 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.

UPDATE 8/26/16:

All of the typos/errors from the previous 2017 editions have now been fixed, both in the print versions and the Wiley Question Bank. Both the 2017 Quantitative and main OG have recently been released as Kindle versions, but the Verbal Review Guide has not.

_________________
Harvard grad and 99% GMAT scorer, offering expert, private GMAT tutoring and coaching worldwide since 2002.

One of the only known humans to have taken the GMAT 5 times and scored in the 700s every time (700, 710, 730, 750, 770), including verified section scores of Q50 / V47, as well as personal bests of 8/8 IR (2 times), 6/6 AWA (4 times), 50/51Q and 48/51V (1 question wrong).

You can download my official test-taker score report (all scores within the last 5 years) directly from the Pearson Vue website: https://tinyurl.com/y7knw7bt Date of Birth: 09 December 1979.

GMAT Action Plan and Free E-Book - McElroy Tutoring

Contact: mcelroy@post.harvard.edu (I do not respond to PMs on GMAT Club.)

...or find me on Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/GMATpreparation

Originally posted by mcelroytutoring on 07 Jun 2016, 16:01.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 20 Feb 2018, 20:28, edited 84 times in total.
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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jun 2016, 21:33
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That's by far the most comprehensive and exhaustive review of the OG17 I've read so far.

Surpassing your review for OG16 :-)

Very helpful, Brian. Kudos!
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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jun 2016, 03:01
Great post Mcelroy that was helpful.
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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jun 2016, 05:45
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Hi mcelroytutoring,

Further to my query in this thread :- my-review-of-the-2016-gmat-official-guide-bundle-215887.html?fl=similar May I seek your views / guidance on a couple of issues I have

1)Do you suggest that after learning necessary concepts , formulas and strategies from from a guide such as MGMAT Quant series , practice for this section is based on official sources such as OG, Quant OG, Question Pack 1 (I have left out the full length CATs as I am keen on knowing about targeted practice for Quant). I am specifically asking about the quant section practice as I have read many in this forum and elsewhere saying that for a high quant score the Official problems are not sufficient and often recommend doing more practice from sources such as the JEFF SACKMANN's Challenge sets (800 problems) and/or the GMATClub tests. I do have access to both and I do them periodically but just keen on knowing if restricting to Official sources would hinder progress for quant?
.
2) I have access to all MGMAT CATs and GMATPREP CATs(all 6 ). I had taken 2 MGMAT CATs 1 as a diagnostic and the other after first phase of preparation (scores of both appears as gmat1 and gmat 2 scores on my profile). I have registered to take GMAT on 19August2016. Will it be ok to take only the 6 official GMATprep CATs with tests 1 and 2 repeated due to large pool of questions or should i also include MGMAT CATs 3 to 6 along with these? I am a tad tentative on both these fronts because of having read in most internet forums on to score a 700+ apart from other soft skills, from a practice perspective the official sources are not sufficient!
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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jun 2016, 17:31
Senthil7 wrote:
Hi mcelroytutoring,

Further to my query in this thread :- my-review-of-the-2016-gmat-official-guide-bundle-215887.html?fl=similar May I seek your views / guidance on a couple of issues I have

1)Do you suggest that after learning necessary concepts , formulas and strategies from from a guide such as MGMAT Quant series , practice for this section is based on official sources such as OG, Quant OG, Question Pack 1 (I have left out the full length CATs as I am keen on knowing about targeted practice for Quant). I am specifically asking about the quant section practice as I have read many in this forum and elsewhere saying that for a high quant score the Official problems are not sufficient and often recommend doing more practice from sources such as the JEFF SACKMANN's Challenge sets (800 problems) and/or the GMATClub tests. I do have access to both and I do them periodically but just keen on knowing if restricting to Official sources would hinder progress for quant?
.
2) I have access to all MGMAT CATs and GMATPREP CATs(all 6 ). I had taken 2 MGMAT CATs 1 as a diagnostic and the other after first phase of preparation (scores of both appears as gmat1 and gmat 2 scores on my profile). I have registered to take GMAT on 19August2016. Will it be ok to take only the 6 official GMATprep CATs with tests 1 and 2 repeated due to large pool of questions or should i also include MGMAT CATs 3 to 6 along with these? I am a tad tentative on both these fronts because of having read in most internet forums on to score a 700+ apart from other soft skills, from a practice perspective the official sources are not sufficient!


Hi again Senthil7, sorry for taking a while to respond.

The official GMAC materials are sufficient for a 700+ score, in my opinion. However, the OGs by themselves are not. You must also make extensive use of the Exam Packs, Question Packs, Mobile App, Focus Quizzes and even perhaps the paper-based PDFs (fair warning: there could be as much as 40% overlap with the other materials).

It is true that someone going for a perfect 800 should probably try super-hard questions that are harder than those on the GMAT, but for 700+ I would stick to real GMAT questions only.
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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Aug 2016, 23:39
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Hi mcelroytutoring

Thank you for this comprehensive review,

I have 1 month left for my GMAT and I was thinking to ditch all prep companies questions for now and follow your 1 month Plan.
I have reviewed all basic and advanced concepts from Manhattan and Magoosh videos and i took 3 Manhattan CAT so far and I am scoring in 650 range but I feel that most quant Qs are confusing and different from OG, that is why I want to follow your plan.
I need to score in 700-720 range, so my question is; do you think that relying on OG 2016 3 books and 2 free GMATprep exam are sufficient to get the score I need? I will be reviewing all weaknesses on the road as I solve from OG and GMATprep from the books I got.
My last MCAT score was 640 (Q43, V34)

Thanks
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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Aug 2016, 08:21
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Abdelrahman01 wrote:
Hi mcelroytutoring

Thank you for this comprehensive review,

I have 1 month left for my GMAT and I was thinking to ditch all prep companies questions for now and follow your 1 month Plan.
I have reviewed all basic and advanced concepts from Manhattan and Magoosh videos and i took 3 Manhattan CAT so far and I am scoring in 650 range but I feel that most quant Qs are confusing and different from OG, that is why I want to follow your plan.
I need to score in 700-720 range, so my question is; do you think that relying on OG 2016 3 books and 2 free GMATprep exam are sufficient to get the score I need? I will be reviewing all weaknesses on the road as I solve from OG and GMATprep from the books I got.
My last MCAT score was 640 (Q43, V34)

Thanks


Happy to help!

Yes, I do think that the OG 2016 Bundle and the 2 free GMAT Prep Exams (Default Exam Pack) are sufficient for a full preparation, but I would also try to get my hands on Question Pack 1 and Exam Packs 1 and 2 if you can. Having 4 more official CATs is very helpful, and well worth the $90, and the Question Packs are nice for targeting specific questions. Don't forget to make use of the free online Wiley Question Bank that comes with the OGs as well.
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You can download my official test-taker score report (all scores within the last 5 years) directly from the Pearson Vue website: https://tinyurl.com/y7knw7bt Date of Birth: 09 December 1979.

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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Sep 2016, 08:21
mcelroytutoring, Nice to see that you have segregated the new questions of 2017 bundle but have you also posted the new questions with answer explanations anywhere? I have the 2016 bundle and am looking for the delta questions present in 2017.
Thanks!
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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Sep 2016, 08:38
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arijitdatta wrote:
mcelroytutoring, Nice to see that you have segregated the new questions of 2017 bundle but have you also posted the new questions with answer explanations anywhere? I have the 2016 bundle and am looking for the delta questions present in 2017.
Thanks!


Happy to help! Unfortunately, I've been busy tutoring my private students and haven't gotten around to that yet, but I'm sure that somebody else on GMAT Club has. dabral is always a great resource, and he has free video explanations to the new 2017 questions posted on his GMAT Quantum website. Other than that, I'll keep a lookout for you.
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You can download my official test-taker score report (all scores within the last 5 years) directly from the Pearson Vue website: https://tinyurl.com/y7knw7bt Date of Birth: 09 December 1979.

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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Sep 2016, 00:29
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Hi arijitdatta,

You can find the video explanations to all of the new quant questions in 2017 at this link: http://www.gmatquantum.com/official-gmat-guide-2017/ . Brian posted the list of new questions above:

"Problem Solving (36 new questions): 2, 5, 7, 13, 19, 23, 32, 44, 45, 47, 50, 53, 62, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 88, 89, 91, 96, 100, 109, 116, 120, 123, 127, 128, 132, 140, 152, 192, 194, 201 & 209.

Data Sufficiency (26 new questions): 231, 237, 243, 252, 254, 255, 258, 259, 262, 274, 275, 278, 283, 288, 291, 294, 304, 305, 310, 315, 316, 325, 327, 332, 347 & 359."

You can also access the explanations to the questions in the 2017 GMAT Quantitative Review: http://www.gmatquantum.com/gmat-quantit ... view-2017/

The following is the list of new problems in the 2017 Quant Review guide:
Problem Solving: 1, 10, 11, 16, 19, 24, 38, 53, 59, 63, 68, 71, 76, 77, 79, 83, 85, 87, 89, 114, 136, 137, 139, 145, 158, 164.

Data Sufficiency: 184, 185, 186, 189, 194, 199, 202, 208, 211, 218, 219, 222, 225, 230, 236, 262, 295, 297, 300.

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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Oct 2016, 11:23
Hi mcelroytutoring

Thank you for writing such a helpful post. Its like one in all and best one I have come across so far. :). Just wanted to ask though I have exhausted all of my resources {I had OG 2014 , question pack 404 (yet to finish) , Jamboree material (GMAT Coaching) and I have done questions from gmat club as well} still I need more practice specially for verbal . I wanted to exclusively buy verbal 2017 OG. Do you recommend it ?. Or the OG questions I have done from gmat club in addition with the one I have that much is suffice , I should just buy exam pack 1 and 2 ? . Please advise. Will really appreciate it.

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New post 27 Feb 2017, 05:10
Hi, I already have teh main OG 2015. However Iwant to buy either of Verbal/Quantitive Guides OR the Exam Packs 1/2. My score in recent CATs are around 620 with 3 months to go. Which one would you recommend for 720+?
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New post 27 Feb 2017, 15:32
Hi Semusal,

Raising a 600 to 720+ will take some serious work - and you'll have to make some significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections. In addition, many Test Takers who use a 'book heavy' study approach end up getting 'stuck' at a particular score level, so you'll likely end up needing to invest in some non-book resources. This is meant to say that those additional resources, on their own, will likely not be enough to get you to a 720+.

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New post 18 Apr 2017, 05:06
Thanks for sharing the plan. Is it possible to achieve 700+ by using only GMAC and OG materials?
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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post 10 May 2017, 04:50
Has any one ever used the book below?

4) Ace the GMAT: Master the GMAT in 40 Days by Brandon Royal

If so, could you please comment on whether it's useful for "seasoned"/not really beginner test takers?
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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post 15 May 2017, 20:11
mcelroytutoring
I've been referring to your post for some time now and now feel very confident with the upcoming exam date.
Any suggestions around how to spend the final week leading up to the exam?
Thank you!
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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jun 2017, 13:33
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi Semusal,

Raising a 600 to 720+ will take some serious work - and you'll have to make some significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections. In addition, many Test Takers who use a 'book heavy' study approach end up getting 'stuck' at a particular score level, so you'll likely end up needing to invest in some non-book resources. This is meant to say that those additional resources, on their own, will likely not be enough to get you to a 720+.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich



so, you are saying that the easiest way to achieve 720+ in gmat is to study questions that are likely to appear in the real test from CATs, or form other similar resources?
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New post 22 Jul 2017, 16:56
Brian, or anyone,

I wanted to confirm something: I cannot save/suspend sessions in Practice mode in Wiley with the option to come back and continue (under timed conditions and without answers revealed). The only options I have when doing a practice set are 1) End Exam and 2) Pause Exam -- neither of which is convenient. The FAQ says, "You’ll also have the option to quit and see your score or to suspend the session and continue it later. If you suspend your session, you’ll return to login and you’ll have the option to resume the suspended session by clicking “Continue” or abort the last attempt that you had been working on by clicking “Start over." I do not see this option.'

Update: 2017 version is flawed. It appears that 2018 online version has an updated UI etc.
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Re: My Review of the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2017   [#permalink] 22 Jul 2017, 16:56
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