For those that dont think the GMAT has gotten considerably tougher over the last few years, I beg to differ.
Would love to get other thoughts........
If you look at old GMAT tests from 5-10 years ago, the problems are, as a whole, easier to compute in a quicker timeframe, than the problems offered today. I think most test takers would tell you that 85% of the problems in the Official Guide (which come from old GMAT tests) simply pale in comparison to the vast majority of questions offered on the real CAT test today. Plus, tougher topics such as probability and combinations were never even tested on the exam until a few years ago.
Similarly, 7-8 years ago a mid-600 score would have earned you a score in the 93+ percentile. Today, it barely gets you an 80th percentile.
Finally, the test is (obviously) on computer now - there's no skipping hard questions and returning to them.....no circling "key" words in reading comp passages or critical reasoning, etc.
Personally, I think the test is quite tricky today. I really believe that the available materials (save the 100 hardest questions in the OG, and a select # of Kaplan
problems) do not provide sound preparation. Now I'm stuck trying to get my hands on material that will actually prep me for what I can expect, as opposed to simple one-step problems that used to be common on older versions, but which simply dont cut the mustard anymore.
Just my two cents....
I don't believe that. The scores (700, 750, 650, etc.) are SCALED, which means that there are adjusted to from the actual results to a standard scale that can be comparable from test to test. In the old days, there are a custom mapping for each test of number correct to scaled score which then mapped to a percentile. Now, since the questions are not the same, there is some secret algorithm that maps the results to a scaled score, but they are scaled nonetheless.
Someone made a comment that he didn't think there were more people in the 90+ percentile than before. Think about it. The 90 percentile is the 90 percentile. That means that 90% of the people who took that test scored below you.
I agree that the test questions are harder, especially for the top 15% or so student. This is because the test is shorter and becuase it is adaptive. I miss the old days when I could breeze through the easy quesions in a few minutes, then take my time for the hard ones and even go back and check them. Whenever I take a practice exam, I get 37 "very difficult" question thrown at me.
I think that those people who make the effort to prepare should want a hard test to differentiate themselves from those who do not.
You are right that there are few resources with difficult problems. I have always supplemented my study with "puzzle" books that have lots of neat problems in them to keep me on my toes. Don't buy the ones on sale now -- they are more geared to "tricks" than good math problems. Go to a college library and you will find a bunch of good problem books (many published by Dover) that are collecting dust on the shelves.
posts one very challenging problem every week on their web site. the GMATClub published a new book of moderately difficult problems in 5 categories. The KAPLAN gmat 800
book has a few good problems also. There is an Indian site "ascent education" that has a collection of fairly good quant problems. For probability, buy a Schaum outlilne and do all of the problems in chapter 1 and 2 and you will have it down cold.
I tell my student that if they are really prepared, they will REJOICE everytime they get a hard question because every hard question is an opportunity to leave the mere mortals in the dust.
Former Senior Instructor, Manhattan GMAT and VeritasPrep
Vice President, Midtown NYC Investment Bank, Structured Finance IT
MFE, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, Class of 2005
MBA, Anderson School of Management, UCLA, Class of 1993