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Quant section queries: OG vs GMATprep vs Manhattan

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Quant section queries: OG vs GMATprep vs Manhattan [#permalink]

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New post 13 Dec 2017, 12:47
Big fan of gmatclub, love the great advice and whole host of strategies and tactics on these pages.

I am actually a recently graduated student looking to apply for an MSc Finance at a top british university (oxford, LSE, warwick, etc) and, given that my undergraduate degree was not highly quantitative, have been advised to take the gmat and so prove my quantitative ability (need Q49, 85%). I have been preparing for close to 3 months, intending to sit it just after christmas and have been taken 3 manhattan tests and 1 gmatprep test.

the manhattan tests, particularly the quant section, were remarkably tough in comparison to the more official OG and gmatprep practice questions (never got above Q46). ive noticed many share this particular view. if true, what is the best way to use the manhattan CATs?

as for the gmatprep test, i achieved 710 (Q48, V40). The quant section was slightly easier, although i got 7 of the first 30 incorrect and 6 of the final 7 (lack of time). dont know how i scored in the 92nd percentile, given that my quant and verbal scores were in the 78th and 90th percentiles respectively.
these forums seem to be quite divided on the predictive ability of the gmatprep tests, particularly earlier posts from around 4-5 years ago where many saw them as too easy in comparison to the actual gmat itself. any advice on this much appreciated.

i practice questions mostly from the online versions of the OG (2017) and find, even the 300+ 'difficult' questions, to generally be a touch easier in comparison to the gmatprep and manhattan quant questions. anybody else feel this way?

in general, on the gmat, is it more damaging (statistically speaking) to answer 3+ questions incorrectly in the first 10 or to answer multiple wrong in a row later on?

any all help much appreciated.
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Quant section queries: OG vs GMATprep vs Manhattan [#permalink]

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New post 14 Dec 2017, 17:17
takasar12 wrote:
Big fan of gmatclub, love the great advice and whole host of strategies and tactics on these pages.

I am actually a recently graduated student looking to apply for an MSc Finance at a top british university (oxford, LSE, warwick, etc) and, given that my undergraduate degree was not highly quantitative, have been advised to take the gmat and so prove my quantitative ability (need Q49, 85%). I have been preparing for close to 3 months, intending to sit it just after christmas and have been taken 3 manhattan tests and 1 gmatprep test.

the manhattan tests, particularly the quant section, were remarkably tough in comparison to the more official OG and gmatprep practice questions (never got above Q46). ive noticed many share this particular view. if true, what is the best way to use the manhattan CATs?

as for the gmatprep test, i achieved 710 (Q48, V40). The quant section was slightly easier, although i got 7 of the first 30 incorrect and 6 of the final 7 (lack of time). dont know how i scored in the 92nd percentile, given that my quant and verbal scores were in the 78th and 90th percentiles respectively.
these forums seem to be quite divided on the predictive ability of the gmatprep tests, particularly earlier posts from around 4-5 years ago where many saw them as too easy in comparison to the actual gmat itself. any advice on this much appreciated.

i practice questions mostly from the online versions of the OG (2017) and find, even the 300+ 'difficult' questions, to generally be a touch easier in comparison to the gmatprep and manhattan quant questions. anybody else feel this way?

in general, on the gmat, is it more damaging (statistically speaking) to answer 3+ questions incorrectly in the first 10 or to answer multiple wrong in a row later on?

any all help much appreciated.

Dear takasar12,

I'm happy to help. :-)

First of all, as for the MGMAT questions, think about it this way. As a teacher, if I teach someone about the GMAT, and he takes the GMAT and tells me that the GMAT was hard, then in some sense I failed him--I should have prepared him more. By contrast, if I teach someone about the GMAT, and she takes the GMAT and tells me that the GMAT seemed easy, then that's a big success--no student would complain if I made getting a high score seem easy!! Therefore, test prep companies try to mirror test difficulty, but there's always a tendency lean in the direction of slightly harder than the test. I know that I do this when I write questions, and I imagine the brilliant folks at MGMAT do much the same.

In general, you will not get much benefit from questions that are too easy, questions on which you are getting virtually every one correct. That may feel good, but it doesn't help. Also, if you are getting almost every question wrong, you are in over your head--those question are too difficulty. The sweet spot are the questions on which you have about a 50/50 success rate: these are most like the difficulty of the questions that the CAT will give you on test day.

Remember that, unlike GMAT Prep, the OG (even the online version) is not computer adaptive. The questions in the GMAT OG are designed mostly to serve the middle of the Bell Curve, so the harder questions there are not as hard as the hardest questions a top performer might see from the computer. You are a high performer in math, so you will see many more hard questions in GMAT Prep or on the real GMAT then you will find in the OG.

As for guessing and skipping, see these two blogs:
Guessing Strategies for the GMAT
When to Guess on the GMAT?

In general, the CAT algorithm is mind-boggling complex. It's almost impossible to answer questions such as "three in a row wrong" for the beginning vs. middle vs. end of the section. I would say: don't focus on that. Don't plan to get three in a row wrong. Focus on that is a total waste of time. Instead, focus on learning the math as deeply as possible.

Along those lines, see this post:
How to do GMAT Math Faster

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
_________________

Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

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Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

Intern
Intern
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Joined: 06 Dec 2017
Posts: 25
Re: Quant section queries: OG vs GMATprep vs Manhattan [#permalink]

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New post 14 Dec 2017, 18:13
mikemcgarry wrote:
takasar12 wrote:
Big fan of gmatclub, love the great advice and whole host of strategies and tactics on these pages.

I am actually a recently graduated student looking to apply for an MSc Finance at a top british university (oxford, LSE, warwick, etc) and, given that my undergraduate degree was not highly quantitative, have been advised to take the gmat and so prove my quantitative ability (need Q49, 85%). I have been preparing for close to 3 months, intending to sit it just after christmas and have been taken 3 manhattan tests and 1 gmatprep test.

the manhattan tests, particularly the quant section, were remarkably tough in comparison to the more official OG and gmatprep practice questions (never got above Q46). ive noticed many share this particular view. if true, what is the best way to use the manhattan CATs?

as for the gmatprep test, i achieved 710 (Q48, V40). The quant section was slightly easier, although i got 7 of the first 30 incorrect and 6 of the final 7 (lack of time). dont know how i scored in the 92nd percentile, given that my quant and verbal scores were in the 78th and 90th percentiles respectively.
these forums seem to be quite divided on the predictive ability of the gmatprep tests, particularly earlier posts from around 4-5 years ago where many saw them as too easy in comparison to the actual gmat itself. any advice on this much appreciated.

i practice questions mostly from the online versions of the OG (2017) and find, even the 300+ 'difficult' questions, to generally be a touch easier in comparison to the gmatprep and manhattan quant questions. anybody else feel this way?

in general, on the gmat, is it more damaging (statistically speaking) to answer 3+ questions incorrectly in the first 10 or to answer multiple wrong in a row later on?

any all help much appreciated.

Dear takasar12,

I'm happy to help. :-)

First of all, as for the MGMAT questions, think about it this way. As a teacher, if I teach someone about the GMAT, and he takes the GMAT and tells me that the GMAT was hard, then in some sense I failed him--I should have prepared him more. By contrast, if I teach someone about the GMAT, and she takes the GMAT and tells me that the GMAT seemed easy, then that's a big success--no student would complain if I made getting a high score seem easy!! Therefore, test prep companies try to mirror test difficulty, but there's always a tendency lean in the direction of slightly harder than the test. I know that I do this when I write questions, and I imagine the brilliant folks at MGMAT do much the same.

In general, you will not get much benefit from questions that are too easy, questions on which you are getting virtually every one correct. That may feel good, but it doesn't help. Also, if you are getting almost every question wrong, you are in over your head--those question are too difficulty. The sweet spot are the questions on which you have about a 50/50 success rate: these are most like the difficulty of the questions that the CAT will give you on test day.

Remember that, unlike GMAT Prep, the OG (even the online version) is not computer adaptive. The questions in the GMAT OG are designed mostly to serve the middle of the Bell Curve, so the harder questions there are not as hard as the hardest questions a top performer might see from the computer. You are a high performer in math, so you will see many more hard questions in GMAT Prep or on the real GMAT then you will find in the OG.

As for guessing and skipping, see these two blogs:
Guessing Strategies for the GMAT
When to Guess on the GMAT?

In general, the CAT algorithm is mind-boggling complex. It's almost impossible to answer questions such as "three in a row wrong" for the beginning vs. middle vs. end of the section. I would say: don't focus on that. Don't plan to get three in a row wrong. Focus on that is a total waste of time. Instead, focus on learning the math as deeply as possible.

Along those lines, see this post:
How to do GMAT Math Faster

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)

Thanks for the time and advice Mike, much appreciated. Got the message, i'll be sure to act on it.
With regards to the GMATPrep tests, i have noticed that a lot of questions from the exam appear in forums dating back to 2005. Clearly they have been retired but, in general, are they easier than what commonly appears in the actual GMAT tests today? Has the test gotten more difficult over the years or am i being needlessly obsessive?
Expert Post
Magoosh GMAT Instructor
User avatar
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Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4675
Re: Quant section queries: OG vs GMATprep vs Manhattan [#permalink]

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New post 15 Dec 2017, 13:22
takasar12 wrote:
Thanks for the time and advice Mike, much appreciated. Got the message, i'll be sure to act on it.
With regards to the GMATPrep tests, i have noticed that a lot of questions from the exam appear in forums dating back to 2005. Clearly they have been retired but, in general, are they easier than what commonly appears in the actual GMAT tests today? Has the test gotten more difficult over the years or am i being needlessly obsessive?

Dear takasar12,

I'm happy to respond. :-)

My friend, I believe one of two things, or perhaps both, might be going on here.

Scenario #1: GMAC, the folks who give the GMAT, have a truly enormous bank of high-quality questions and this bank spans the entire spectrum of the Bell Curve, from the absolute easiest to the absolute hardest. Eventually, those questions get retired. At this point, GMAC selects some retired question for the OG, but think about it. The purpose of the OG is to satisfy the needs of a general readership, the folks in the hump in the middle of the Bell Curve. Only a small percentage of the population would see either the easiest questions or the hardest questions, so those are not selected for the OG. Thus, the hardest questions on the GMAT would not show up in the OG, and a mathematically talented student taking the GMAT would see harder questions than those in the OG.
BTW, at some point, GMAC may decide to publish something such as an "Advanced Quant" guide, which would include some of those harder questions, but in the meanwhile, MGMAT and Magoosh can give you all the advanced math practice you need.

Scenario #1 would explain the difference with no change in the GMAT itself.

Scenario #2: It's also at least conceivable that the GMAT has been changing over time. Think about it. Say thirty years ago, it was mostly Americans that took the GMAT, my fellow Americans with their stereotypical strengths and weaknesses. Stereotypically, Americans of course are native English speakers, which confers a certain advantage on Verbal, and on average, Americans are not the sharpest at math. At this point, a large number of students from other countries take the GMAT, and not surprisingly, the two biggest contributor countries are the two large companies on Earth, China and India. Thus, compared to the past more Chinese-national and Indian-national students sit for the GMAT. Very stereotypically, students from China & India, on average, tend to be much stronger than Americans in terms of mathematical ability but tend to struggle on the Verbal side. Thus, if large numbers of these students are entering the test pool, over time, in order to maintain the same percentile values each year, the math would have to get a little harder and the verbal would have to get a little easier. Unlike scenario #1, this 100% speculation on my part. I can't tell you that it definitely is true, nor can I say what the time would be.
I don't know what the typical "life cycle" of an official GMAT question is--let's say, by the time it is released, it has served 10-15 years on the test. I have no idea whether that number is true. Then, a question released in 2005 was added to the pool, say, in the early 1990s, when the proportions of Chinese & Indian students taking the test were considerably smaller. If we account for the time lag between a question entering the GMAT pool and the same question being retired, then it may well be that the questions released 10-ish years ago were designed for the world 20-30 years ago--a very different world!
Again, all this is 100% speculation.

I hope this is helpful.
Mike :-)
_________________

Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

Image

Image

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

Intern
Intern
avatar
B
Joined: 06 Dec 2017
Posts: 25
Re: Quant section queries: OG vs GMATprep vs Manhattan [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 15 Dec 2017, 14:03
mikemcgarry wrote:
takasar12 wrote:
Thanks for the time and advice Mike, much appreciated. Got the message, i'll be sure to act on it.
With regards to the GMATPrep tests, i have noticed that a lot of questions from the exam appear in forums dating back to 2005. Clearly they have been retired but, in general, are they easier than what commonly appears in the actual GMAT tests today? Has the test gotten more difficult over the years or am i being needlessly obsessive?

Dear takasar12,

I'm happy to respond. :-)

My friend, I believe one of two things, or perhaps both, might be going on here.

Scenario #1: GMAC, the folks who give the GMAT, have a truly enormous bank of high-quality questions and this bank spans the entire spectrum of the Bell Curve, from the absolute easiest to the absolute hardest. Eventually, those questions get retired. At this point, GMAC selects some retired question for the OG, but think about it. The purpose of the OG is to satisfy the needs of a general readership, the folks in the hump in the middle of the Bell Curve. Only a small percentage of the population would see either the easiest questions or the hardest questions, so those are not selected for the OG. Thus, the hardest questions on the GMAT would not show up in the OG, and a mathematically talented student taking the GMAT would see harder questions than those in the OG.
BTW, at some point, GMAC may decide to publish something such as an "Advanced Quant" guide, which would include some of those harder questions, but in the meanwhile, MGMAT and Magoosh can give you all the advanced math practice you need.

Scenario #1 would explain the difference with no change in the GMAT itself.

Scenario #2: It's also at least conceivable that the GMAT has been changing over time. Think about it. Say thirty years ago, it was mostly Americans that took the GMAT, my fellow Americans with their stereotypical strengths and weaknesses. Stereotypically, Americans of course are native English speakers, which confers a certain advantage on Verbal, and on average, Americans are not the sharpest at math. At this point, a large number of students from other countries take the GMAT, and not surprisingly, the two biggest contributor countries are the two large companies on Earth, China and India. Thus, compared to the past more Chinese-national and Indian-national students sit for the GMAT. Very stereotypically, students from China & India, on average, tend to be much stronger than Americans in terms of mathematical ability but tend to struggle on the Verbal side. Thus, if large numbers of these students are entering the test pool, over time, in order to maintain the same percentile values each year, the math would have to get a little harder and the verbal would have to get a little easier. Unlike scenario #1, this 100% speculation on my part. I can't tell you that it definitely is true, nor can I say what the time would be.
I don't know what the typical "life cycle" of an official GMAT question is--let's say, by the time it is released, it has served 10-15 years on the test. I have no idea whether that number is true. Then, a question released in 2005 was added to the pool, say, in the early 1990s, when the proportions of Chinese & Indian students taking the test were considerably smaller. If we account for the time lag between a question entering the GMAT pool and the same question being retired, then it may well be that the questions released 10-ish years ago were designed for the world 20-30 years ago--a very different world!
Again, all this is 100% speculation.

I hope this is helpful.
Mike :-)

Makes plenty of sense Mike, was kind of speculating along similar lines. Thanks again. I'll go prowl the forums and try and find the general consensus.
Re: Quant section queries: OG vs GMATprep vs Manhattan   [#permalink] 15 Dec 2017, 14:03
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Quant section queries: OG vs GMATprep vs Manhattan

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