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# Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions

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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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03 Jul 2016, 03:43
Thanks for an informed reply! Actually would it make sense to review questions on this forum by filtering only the QP1,EP1 and 2? I know I won't get the test experience but that should be fine.

Also, since I find GMAT Club Quant Tests to be quite decent and I have purchased e-GMAT verbal course which comes with Scholaranium, would it still be necessary to go for QP1,EP1 and 2?

Would appreciate your response!
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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03 Jul 2016, 04:08
3
A few words about GMAT questions

1. In my opinion the major problem with test questions that prep companies offer is that these questions sometimes are ill-suited and ambigious. I have seen many times in this site how people discuss that this or that question is poor since two answers are possible and both answers do not look very convincing. So in this case i recemmend to practice official GMAT questions if possible.

2. Prep companies material. In my opinion prep companies like to taylor questions to their test theory i.e they try to show how easy it is to apply their material to solve test questions. But the problem is that these questions are not randomly selected. They are specially choosen to show the validity of test material. But i ask to solve random question i am not sure that this will be successful.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 14 Jun 2017, 21:52
Yes, you could definitely just use GMAT club and filter for only the official questions, but the interface and timing is not the same as the real test. It's not a huge sacrifice, but worth noting.

Also--this probably goes without saying--but whether you use the GMATPrep software (preferred for realism, but \$\$) or GMAT Club (free with kudos), make sure you actually try the questions before looking at the answers.

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Originally posted by mcelroytutoring on 03 Jul 2016, 10:54.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 14 Jun 2017, 21:52, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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03 Jul 2016, 12:03
2

I am not an expert or tutor but since I am also embarking my journey towards a successful GMAT my opinion is :

I think the paper tests , OG, OG Verbal , QP1 are all sufficient for verbal practice at least. For non-natives such as me, verbal practice is of paramount importance.
.
But for correcting foundational weaknesses and learning the concepts I recommend MGMAT for SC and RC while for CR the Powerscore CR bible is indispensable.
.
Even the MGMAT CATs have some absolute Gems in their Quant online home works if you are a student of their interactive program just like me. Hinging on the advise of Mcelroy & Dabral, when i actually plunged into the Official Sources i discovered that GMAT's problems also ,just like MGMAT CAT or Homework problems, relied on various levels of abstractions. Most of us do not read the quantitative section carefully as for instance misreading "Hundreths" for "Hundreds" can cost one dearly in a fraction/decimal problem.
.
The level of abstraction found in GMAT's official questions that are part of all the official sources (barring their CATs in GMATPrep) appear easy to most people because they would have already practiced enough quant problems from MGMAT / GMATClub tests which add even more layers of abstractions to their own problem sets.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 30 Dec 2017, 23:47
2
Senthil7 wrote:

I am not an expert or tutor but since I am also embarking my journey towards a successful GMAT my opinion is :

I think the paper tests , OG, OG Verbal , QP1 are all sufficient for verbal practice at least. For non-natives such as me, verbal practice is of paramount importance.
.
But for correcting foundational weaknesses and learning the concepts I recommend MGMAT for SC and RC while for CR the Powerscore CR bible is indispensable.
.
Even the MGMAT CATs have some absolute Gems in their Quant online home works if you are a student of their interactive program just like me. Hinging on the advise of Mcelroy & Dabral, when i actually plunged into the Official Sources i discovered that GMAT's problems also ,just like MGMAT CAT or Homework problems, relied on various levels of abstractions. Most of us do not read the quantitative section carefully as for instance misreading "Hundreths" for "Hundreds" can cost one dearly in a fraction/decimal problem.
.
The level of abstraction found in GMAT's official questions that are part of all the official sources (barring their CATs in GMATPrep) appear easy to most people because they would have already practiced enough quant problems from MGMAT / GMATClub tests which add even more layers of abstractions to their own problem sets.

Very observant Senthil7. Verbal imitation questions are even worse than quant imitation questions, so official GMAC materials are especially important for non-native speakers of English.

With regards to Quant, it's easier to make imitation questions because it involves just switching out the numbers, and/or (as you said regarding the MGMAT and GMAT Club tests) adding another level of detail/abstraction...but it's possible to practice with GMAT questions that are too hard as well as with questions that are too easy. I've seen some GMAT questions from Kaplan, for example, that are so confusingly presented/worded that they are downright incomprehensible, and thus not helpful in any way. It's almost as if they want to frustrate you to the level of signing up for their program.

Think of the preparing for the GMAT as preparing for a marathon. You don't train for a marathon by running 50 miles--you gradually build your way up to the difficulty level of the actual race. Starting with something that is too difficult can be frustrating, and thus hinder your progress on an emotional level.

_________________
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 03 Jul 2016, 16:49.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 30 Dec 2017, 23:47, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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04 Jul 2016, 11:40
mcelroytutoring wrote:
Senthil7 wrote:

I am not an expert or tutor but since I am also embarking my journey towards a successful GMAT my opinion is :

I think the paper tests , OG, OG Verbal , QP1 are all sufficient for verbal practice at least. For non-natives such as me, verbal practice is of paramount importance.
.
But for correcting foundational weaknesses and learning the concepts I recommend MGMAT for SC and RC while for CR the Powerscore CR bible is indispensable.
.
Even the MGMAT CATs have some absolute Gems in their Quant online home works if you are a student of their interactive program just like me. Hinging on the advise of Mcelroy & Dabral, when i actually plunged into the Official Sources i discovered that GMAT's problems also ,just like MGMAT CAT or Homework problems, relied on various levels of abstractions. Most of us do not read the quantitative section carefully as for instance misreading "Hundreths" for "Hundreds" can cost one dearly in a fraction/decimal problem.
.
The level of abstraction found in GMAT's official questions that are part of all the official sources (barring their CATs in GMATPrep) appear easy to most people because they would have already practiced enough quant problems from MGMAT / GMATClub tests which add even more layers of abstractions to their own problem sets.

Very observant Senthil7. Verbal imitation questions are even worse than quant imitation questions, so official GMAC materials are especially important for non-native speakers of English.

With regards to Quant, it's easier to make imitation questions because it involves just switching out the numbers, and/or (as you said regarding the MGMAT and GMAT Club tests) adding another level of detail/abstraction...but it's possible to practice with GMAT questions that are too hard as well as with questions that are too easy. I've seen some IR questions from Kaplan, for example, that are so confusingly presented/worded that they are downright incomprehensible, and thus not helpful in any way. It's almost as if they want to frustrate you to the level of signing up for their program.

Think of the preparing for the GMAT as preparing for a marathon. You don't train for a marathon by running 50 miles--you gradually build your way up to the difficulty level of the actual race. Starting with something that is too difficult can be frustrating, and thus hinder your progress.

Thanks Mcelroy!

I gave the Veritas Prep free test today and got a 590(Q43,V29). I am very surprised to see the accuracy levels in verbal since I got 29 correct and 12 incorrect and in quant I got 23 correct and 14 incorrect. I also found the difficulty level to be easy in both quant and verbal. I think I have a serious concern with 29 correct qs. and the overall verbal score to be just V29.

On the other hand, I took a Kaplan free test two weeks back and got a 580(Q43, V26).In this one, in quant I got 17 correct and 20 incorrect and in verbal,I got 23 correct and 18 incorrect.

I think all the prep companies have a varying algorithm to calculate the sectional scores although the overall scores may still be some what ok. Any perspectives? DmitryFarber dabral and mcelroytutoring
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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04 Jul 2016, 12:22
1
DmitryFarber wrote:
I mostly agree with the above, and I often find myself responding to poorly-written third-party Verbal problems that get posted here.

However, I do have some reservations about relying solely on GMATPrep for practice tests. Clearly, these are the most accurate and GMAT-like CATs you can get: they basically are the GMAT! However, they are the worst in the industry in terms of providing feedback and analysis that will help you to improve your score. The GMAC has no interest in helping to improve your score, which is why you won't see topic breakdowns, explanations, or timing analysis (unless you count the maddening "average time per question" that any decent GMAT-taker should be able to calculate for themself). Even when I am working with a student who has already taken the real GMAT and has ordered an Enhanced Score Report, I am forced to look at their MGMAT tests to get a detailed idea of their strengths and weaknesses. Are they running too long on some questions? Timing out? Struggling with divisibility? For these questions, pretty much any prep company you can find will provide better answers than GMAC.

I agree with the evaluation - you only get half the value since explanations have a learning opportunity as well, and it is missed in many of the official products. The two biggest problems with the Official Questions including those released in the EP's and QP's, is that outdated, not reflecting the latest trends observed on the GMAT and they are not hard, many questions being on the easier/medium side.

I feel taking the Official Path/Route is insufficient for anyone looking to score over 650. The Official guide (which will be the main source of your question practice) is full of medium/easy questions and you are under-challenging yourself if you are looking to be competitive with your GMAT score.

Instead of worry about which questions/materials you practice with, I would suggest worrying about what you are using to learn/refresh math and verbal skills and what approaches you develop for the questions. I have prepared for the GMAT and completely skipped the Official Guide (I agree, it was a mistake) but proves that you can prep without the official questions and as long as you have a good base and good approaches to questions, you can get a great score.

P.S. I feel I need to defend GMAC a bit - compared to 5 years ago, they are much friendlier. QP's and EP's are indicators of that. While their goal is definitely not give you a higher score and inflate their test (which would be actually against their goals), their goal is to measure your score as perfectly as possible. I think they are also under pressure from schools and GRE to provide more options for prep from the official sources.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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04 Jul 2016, 12:23

Have you tried GMATprep Question pack1 yet? Some of the RC Passages in this are damn convoluted than whatever I have seen so far on my 3 mock MGMAT CATs! The official RCs have always been very tough true to the name reading "Comprehension"! It is not tough in its vocabulary but the passages move to and fro among 3 or more subjects and then conclude with its main point. It takes some serious note making skills as well suggested by the MGMAT RC Guide. I will be spending this week learning those strategies and putting them to practice on some tough RC passages from GMATPrep and OG.

When is your test date? Mine is 10September2016 at morning 9.00 AM!
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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04 Jul 2016, 12:33
bb wrote:
DmitryFarber wrote:
I mostly agree with the above, and I often find myself responding to poorly-written third-party Verbal problems that get posted here.

However, I do have some reservations about relying solely on GMATPrep for practice tests. Clearly, these are the most accurate and GMAT-like CATs you can get: they basically are the GMAT! However, they are the worst in the industry in terms of providing feedback and analysis that will help you to improve your score. The GMAC has no interest in helping to improve your score, which is why you won't see topic breakdowns, explanations, or timing analysis (unless you count the maddening "average time per question" that any decent GMAT-taker should be able to calculate for themself). Even when I am working with a student who has already taken the real GMAT and has ordered an Enhanced Score Report, I am forced to look at their MGMAT tests to get a detailed idea of their strengths and weaknesses. Are they running too long on some questions? Timing out? Struggling with divisibility? For these questions, pretty much any prep company you can find will provide better answers than GMAC.

I agree with the evaluation - you only get half the value since explanations have a learning opportunity as well, and it is missed in many of the official products. The two biggest problems with the Official Questions including those released in the EP's and QP's, is that outdated, not reflecting the latest trends observed on the GMAT and they are not hard, many questions being on the easier/medium side.

I feel taking the Official Path/Route is insufficient for anyone looking to score over 650. The Official guide (which will be the main source of your question practice) is full of medium/easy questions and you are under-challenging yourself if you are looking to be competitive with your GMAT score.

Instead of worry about which questions/materials you practice with, I would suggest worrying about what you are using to learn/refresh math and verbal skills and what approaches you develop for the questions. I have prepared for the GMAT and completely skipped the Official Guide (I agree, it was a mistake) but proves that you can prep without the official questions and as long as you have a good base and good approaches to questions, you can get a great score.

P.S. I feel I need to defend GMAC a bit - compared to 5 years ago, they are much friendlier. QP's and EP's are indicators of that. While their goal is definitely not give you a higher score and inflate their test (which would be actually against their goals), their goal is to measure your score as perfectly as possible. I think they are also under pressure from schools and GRE to provide more options for prep from the official sources.

.
Hi bb ,

That point of yours on official Sources I would like to know what are the best sources then to practice on? Most questions are not even GMAT Like elsewhere. I realized this when i purchased GMATFOCUS of 3 tests and took 1 of them. The questions were adaptive, many tough ones but the toughness did not involve in adopting several calculations or steps rather they were more of wordplay and very manipulative. The MGMAT CAT questions too are very old ones most of them atleast6-7 years old. So do you say that the 6 GMATPrep exams i bought are not sufficient practice for measuring my progress?
.
I am worried after reading your post just to make sure i am not treading the wrong path -
1. For Quant to master the basic type questions i use the OG.
2. Intermediary and tough ones - few of the OGs and QP1
3. For broader coverage i use MGMAT Advanced Quant in tandem with GMATCLUB Tests.
.
This, for Quant is working well for me as i managed to improve my quant score from 39 on my first MGMAT CAT to 49 in the recent MGMATCAT i took in spite of making a ridiculous oversight error on 2 questions (probably could have touched 50).
.
However what is the right practice source for Verbal? During the course of my preparation I am finding the OG + OG verbal content to be tougher than other Test Prep sources to which I have access to. Please opine.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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05 Jul 2016, 10:55
2
Senthil7 wrote:
bb wrote:
DmitryFarber wrote:
I mostly agree with the above, and I often find myself responding to poorly-written third-party Verbal problems that get posted here.

However, I do have some reservations about relying solely on GMATPrep for practice tests. Clearly, these are the most accurate and GMAT-like CATs you can get: they basically are the GMAT! However, they are the worst in the industry in terms of providing feedback and analysis that will help you to improve your score. The GMAC has no interest in helping to improve your score, which is why you won't see topic breakdowns, explanations, or timing analysis (unless you count the maddening "average time per question" that any decent GMAT-taker should be able to calculate for themself). Even when I am working with a student who has already taken the real GMAT and has ordered an Enhanced Score Report, I am forced to look at their MGMAT tests to get a detailed idea of their strengths and weaknesses. Are they running too long on some questions? Timing out? Struggling with divisibility? For these questions, pretty much any prep company you can find will provide better answers than GMAC.

I agree with the evaluation - you only get half the value since explanations have a learning opportunity as well, and it is missed in many of the official products. The two biggest problems with the Official Questions including those released in the EP's and QP's, is that outdated, not reflecting the latest trends observed on the GMAT and they are not hard, many questions being on the easier/medium side.

I feel taking the Official Path/Route is insufficient for anyone looking to score over 650. The Official guide (which will be the main source of your question practice) is full of medium/easy questions and you are under-challenging yourself if you are looking to be competitive with your GMAT score.

Instead of worry about which questions/materials you practice with, I would suggest worrying about what you are using to learn/refresh math and verbal skills and what approaches you develop for the questions. I have prepared for the GMAT and completely skipped the Official Guide (I agree, it was a mistake) but proves that you can prep without the official questions and as long as you have a good base and good approaches to questions, you can get a great score.

P.S. I feel I need to defend GMAC a bit - compared to 5 years ago, they are much friendlier. QP's and EP's are indicators of that. While their goal is definitely not give you a higher score and inflate their test (which would be actually against their goals), their goal is to measure your score as perfectly as possible. I think they are also under pressure from schools and GRE to provide more options for prep from the official sources.

.
Hi bb ,

That point of yours on official Sources I would like to know what are the best sources then to practice on? Most questions are not even GMAT Like elsewhere. I realized this when i purchased GMATFOCUS of 3 tests and took 1 of them. The questions were adaptive, many tough ones but the toughness did not involve in adopting several calculations or steps rather they were more of wordplay and very manipulative. The MGMAT CAT questions too are very old ones most of them atleast6-7 years old. So do you say that the 6 GMATPrep exams i bought are not sufficient practice for measuring my progress?
.
I am worried after reading your post just to make sure i am not treading the wrong path -
1. For Quant to master the basic type questions i use the OG.
2. Intermediary and tough ones - few of the OGs and QP1
3. For broader coverage i use MGMAT Advanced Quant in tandem with GMATCLUB Tests.
.
This, for Quant is working well for me as i managed to improve my quant score from 39 on my first MGMAT CAT to 49 in the recent MGMATCAT i took in spite of making a ridiculous oversight error on 2 questions (probably could have touched 50).
.
However what is the right practice source for Verbal? During the course of my preparation I am finding the OG + OG verbal content to be tougher than other Test Prep sources to which I have access to. Please opine.

I think it is less so critical which quant questions you attempt. I don't know what materials/questions you have used but it is pretty hard to have a non-GMAT like question in quant, which GMAT Focus is quant only. Yes, there are parameters of certain concepts that are unique/diff for the GMAT such as non-negative roots for a square root and a few others but that much different from your high school math book. Verbal has more intricacies and I agree that only the official questions are the best product out there and you have to train your ear. I am not talking here about poor questions that have mistakes, errors, or can be solved 5 diff ways to get 5 diff results. I am talking about MGMAT, Kaplan, Veritas Prep, and such other high quality unofficial questions.

I like to compare GMAT to a boxing match. Do you think a good boxer is only going to box specific and pristine opponents that fit only a certain official boxing style or do you think a good boxer can win even without wearing gloves and fighting for their life in a back alley? If yo know the underlying math principles and grammar rules - you can deal with both official and unofficial questions. But questions are less important than your skills and your knowledge of the principles. Practicing a ton and never actually going to fight is better than going to fight all the time without any practice.

Good Luck!
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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05 Jul 2016, 11:09
1
Well, the advocates of official source do so because they are of the opinion that many unofficial sources complicate practice sets of their own just to give you an impression you need access to their proprietary material and techniques to crack such questions. This would eventually lead someone just embarking on GMAT journey to think that those questions are representative of what we would see on GMAT.
.
So finally , unofficial sources from reputed test prep companies are essential to build topic-wise / sectional strengths while official sources are intended for practice after building strong fundamentals from the former! Thanks a lot.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 30 Dec 2017, 23:47
3
Senthil7 wrote:
Thanks Mcelroy!

I gave the Veritas Prep free test today and got a 590(Q43,V29). I am very surprised to see the accuracy levels in verbal since I got 29 correct and 12 incorrect and in quant I got 23 correct and 14 incorrect. I also found the difficulty level to be easy in both quant and verbal. I think I have a serious concern with 29 correct qs. and the overall verbal score to be just V29.

On the other hand, I took a Kaplan free test two weeks back and got a 580(Q43, V26).In this one, in quant I got 17 correct and 20 incorrect and in verbal,I got 23 correct and 18 incorrect.

I think all the prep companies have a varying algorithm to calculate the sectional scores although the overall scores may still be some what ok. Any perspectives? DmitryFarber dabral and mcelroytutoring

Two important factors to keep in mind:

1) On the GMAT, where in the test you answered questions right and wrong matters almost as much, if not more, than how many you got right total.
2) Test-prep companies have an inherent bias toward deflating diagnostic test scores, both in order to lower expectations and to inflate GMAT score improvements.

Regarding #2, let me give you an example. I used to teach/tutor for the Princeton Review, and whenever I taught classes, I noticed that the initial diagnostic test was far harder than the final diagnostic test at the end of class. The effect? It underestimates your initial score and thus makes your overall GMAT score improvement seem more impressive.

Let's say that you are really a 550 GMAT scorer. You take the Princeton practice test, and score a 450. You think, "Gosh, that's low--I better buy the Princeton Review course/tutoring, etc."

You then prepare with Princeton. It improves your score about 50 points. You take the real GMAT and get a 600. Hey, the Princeton Review team improved my score 150 points! Except they didn't--they just artificially deflated your initial diagnostic score.

I will agree that I'd rather have a test-prep company lower my expectations than raise them...but the question is how much of this is intentional and pre-planned?

I have to respectfully disagree with bb that the Kaplan tests are high-quality. In fact, they are pretty bad, in my opinion. Manhattan GMAT and Veritas and the GMAT Club tests are definitely better, but still not as helpful or as accurate as the real thing.

I do have to wonder why certain companies are left off the lists of recommended materials here, and other, lesser ones are included. I love GMAT Club and think it's a very democratic place, so I choose to believe that there is no recommendation bias due to embedded corporate interests, but I do have to wonder sometimes. Without a doubt, it is true that everyone has their own motivations for posting here, so keep that in mind.

I will be the first to admit that this applies to me, too. I'm not only posting here out of the goodness of my heart, either--I'm a private GMAT tutor and I find Skype students through GMAT Club, so for me it's a mutually beneficial relationship. Ultimately, self-promotion is OK when done correctly and informatively, but always consider the messenger, and whether the messenger is trying to sell you something.

If you're reviewing concepts in a Manhattan or Veritas or Powerscore book, and they give you an example question or two, then yes, go ahead and try them...the point is not to avoid synthetic questions entirely, just to stick to real questions if you can. But taking full practice tests full of synthetic questions is to be avoided if possible--the score prediction and algorithm can't be trusted, and neither can the questions themselves.

_________________
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

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Originally posted by mcelroytutoring on 05 Jul 2016, 16:27.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 30 Dec 2017, 23:47, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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05 Jul 2016, 20:02
1
bb wrote:
DmitryFarber wrote:
I mostly agree with the above, and I often find myself responding to poorly-written third-party Verbal problems that get posted here.

However, I do have some reservations about relying solely on GMATPrep for practice tests. Clearly, these are the most accurate and GMAT-like CATs you can get: they basically are the GMAT! However, they are the worst in the industry in terms of providing feedback and analysis that will help you to improve your score. The GMAC has no interest in helping to improve your score, which is why you won't see topic breakdowns, explanations, or timing analysis (unless you count the maddening "average time per question" that any decent GMAT-taker should be able to calculate for themself). Even when I am working with a student who has already taken the real GMAT and has ordered an Enhanced Score Report, I am forced to look at their MGMAT tests to get a detailed idea of their strengths and weaknesses. Are they running too long on some questions? Timing out? Struggling with divisibility? For these questions, pretty much any prep company you can find will provide better answers than GMAC.

I agree with the evaluation - you only get half the value since explanations have a learning opportunity as well, and it is missed in many of the official products. The two biggest problems with the Official Questions including those released in the EP's and QP's, is that outdated, not reflecting the latest trends observed on the GMAT and they are not hard, many questions being on the easier/medium side.

I feel taking the Official Path/Route is insufficient for anyone looking to score over 650. The Official guide (which will be the main source of your question practice) is full of medium/easy questions and you are under-challenging yourself if you are looking to be competitive with your GMAT score.

Instead of worry about which questions/materials you practice with, I would suggest worrying about what you are using to learn/refresh math and verbal skills and what approaches you develop for the questions. I have prepared for the GMAT and completely skipped the Official Guide (I agree, it was a mistake) but proves that you can prep without the official questions and as long as you have a good base and good approaches to questions, you can get a great score.

P.S. I feel I need to defend GMAC a bit - compared to 5 years ago, they are much friendlier. QP's and EP's are indicators of that. While their goal is definitely not give you a higher score and inflate their test (which would be actually against their goals), their goal is to measure your score as perfectly as possible. I think they are also under pressure from schools and GRE to provide more options for prep from the official sources.

I too am disappointed about the GMAC's failure to include explanations for answers in their practice tests, although on the flip side, this GMAC flaw forces my students to come up with explanations on their own which I can then assess. In a way, coming up with your own explanations is the best way to really learn the GMAT, since it allows you to really get into the minds of the test makers. The minds of the test makers, not the minds of the test prep companies.

I actually find the Official Guide and Verbal Review sufficient Verbal learning materials; there are lots of things you can learn from these questions, and if you really focus on learning the most from each and every question, once you go through these 2 books, you should be really good at Verbal. People say practice makes perfect, but in my opinion, smart practice makes perfect. Quality over quantity every time.

For Quant, because the variety of materials to learn is so vast, sources beyond the GMAC books are often needed. If you can't solve a problem, you can't "explain" anything, so an explanation would be necessary. If the explanations for the practice tests were available, I could ask my students to look up the solution to each question they could not answer and then ask them why they did not think of this approach; sometimes I would like also to be able to compare my approach to the "official" approach and let my student pick their favorite, forcing them to think deeply and really understand the essence of the problem.

I also kind of agree that learning the skills is more important than worrying about what materials to practice with. Learning the skills properly will allow you to tackle questions from any source. Now, the answers and explanations in non-official sources may be wrong, but this doesn't mean the answers don't give you an opportunity to practice what you've learned.

With that said, however, non-official sources may confuse students that don't have a good base and follow flawed approaches, and these students unfortunately make up the vast majority of test takers. So, using the Official Guide is not technically necessary, but for the sake of the population of test takers at large, I would still say that the Official Guide is a must.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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06 Jul 2016, 11:05
bb wrote:
DmitryFarber wrote:
I mostly agree with the above, and I often find myself responding to poorly-written third-party Verbal problems that get posted here.

However, I do have some reservations about relying solely on GMATPrep for practice tests. Clearly, these are the most accurate and GMAT-like CATs you can get: they basically are the GMAT! However, they are the worst in the industry in terms of providing feedback and analysis that will help you to improve your score. The GMAC has no interest in helping to improve your score, which is why you won't see topic breakdowns, explanations, or timing analysis (unless you count the maddening "average time per question" that any decent GMAT-taker should be able to calculate for themself). Even when I am working with a student who has already taken the real GMAT and has ordered an Enhanced Score Report, I am forced to look at their MGMAT tests to get a detailed idea of their strengths and weaknesses. Are they running too long on some questions? Timing out? Struggling with divisibility? For these questions, pretty much any prep company you can find will provide better answers than GMAC.

I agree with the evaluation - you only get half the value since explanations have a learning opportunity as well, and it is missed in many of the official products. The two biggest problems with the Official Questions including those released in the EP's and QP's, is that outdated, not reflecting the latest trends observed on the GMAT and they are not hard, many questions being on the easier/medium side.

I feel taking the Official Path/Route is insufficient for anyone looking to score over 650. The Official guide (which will be the main source of your question practice) is full of medium/easy questions and you are under-challenging yourself if you are looking to be competitive with your GMAT score.

Instead of worry about which questions/materials you practice with, I would suggest worrying about what you are using to learn/refresh math and verbal skills and what approaches you develop for the questions. I have prepared for the GMAT and completely skipped the Official Guide (I agree, it was a mistake) but proves that you can prep without the official questions and as long as you have a good base and good approaches to questions, you can get a great score.

P.S. I feel I need to defend GMAC a bit - compared to 5 years ago, they are much friendlier. QP's and EP's are indicators of that. While their goal is definitely not give you a higher score and inflate their test (which would be actually against their goals), their goal is to measure your score as perfectly as possible. I think they are also under pressure from schools and GRE to provide more options for prep from the official sources.

Thanks a lot bb for your valuable insights. It definitely clarifies a lot of things about the importance of the mix of official material and the test prep material.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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06 Jul 2016, 11:07
mcelroytutoring wrote:
Senthil7 wrote:
Thanks Mcelroy!

I gave the Veritas Prep free test today and got a 590(Q43,V29). I am very surprised to see the accuracy levels in verbal since I got 29 correct and 12 incorrect and in quant I got 23 correct and 14 incorrect. I also found the difficulty level to be easy in both quant and verbal. I think I have a serious concern with 29 correct qs. and the overall verbal score to be just V29.

On the other hand, I took a Kaplan free test two weeks back and got a 580(Q43, V26).In this one, in quant I got 17 correct and 20 incorrect and in verbal,I got 23 correct and 18 incorrect.

I think all the prep companies have a varying algorithm to calculate the sectional scores although the overall scores may still be some what ok. Any perspectives? DmitryFarber dabral and mcelroytutoring

Two important factors to keep in mind:

1) On the GMAT, where in the test you answered questions right and wrong matters almost as much, if not more, than how many you got right total.
2) Test-prep companies have an inherent bias toward deflating diagnostic test scores, both in order to lower expectations and to inflate GMAT score improvements.

Regarding #2, let me give you an example. I used to teach/tutor for the Princeton Review, and whenever I taught classes, I noticed that the initial diagnostic test was far harder than the final diagnostic test at the end of class. The effect? It underestimates your initial score and thus makes your overall GMAT score improvement seem more impressive.

Let's say that you are really a 550 GMAT scorer. You take the Princeton practice test, and score a 450. You think, "Gosh, that's low--I better buy the Princeton Review course/tutoring, etc."

You then prepare with Princeton. It improves your score about 50 points. You take the real GMAT and get a 600. Hey, the Princeton Review team improved my score 150 points! Except they didn't--they just artificially deflated your initial diagnostic score.

I will agree that I'd rather have a test-prep company lower my expectations than raise them...but the question is how much of this is intentional and pre-planned?

I have to respectfully disagree with bb that the Kaplan tests are high-quality. In fact, they are pretty bad, in my opinion. Manhattan GMAT and Veritas and the GMAT Club tests are definitely better, but still not as helpful or as accurate as the real thing.

I do have to wonder why certain companies are left off the lists of recommended materials here, and other, lesser ones are included. I love GMAT Club and think it's a very democratic place, so I choose to believe that there is no recommendation bias due to embedded corporate interests, but I do have to wonder sometimes. Without a doubt, it is true that everyone has their own motivations for posting here, so keep that in mind.

I will be the first to admit that this applies to me, too. I'm not only posting here out of the goodness of my heart, either--I'm a private GMAT tutor and I find Skype students through GMAT Club, so for me it's a mutually beneficial relationship. Ultimately, self-promotion is OK when done correctly and informatively, but always consider the messenger, and whether the messenger is trying to sell you something.

If you're reviewing concepts in a Manhattan or Veritas or Powerscore book, and they give you an example question or two, then yes, go ahead and try them...the point is not to avoid synthetic questions entirely, just to stick to real questions if you can. But taking full practice tests full of synthetic questions is to be avoided if possible--the score prediction and algorithm can't be trusted, and neither can the questions themselves.

Thanks a lot mcelroytutoring for the elaborate review. It definitely should help.

Hi Senthil7, I haven't tried the QP1 or EP1/2. I plan to do that in the later part of my preparation from this forum. I may buy either EP1/2 since it's a known fact that these exams are the closest to the real thing. Also, I plan to take the exam in August end.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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21 Jul 2016, 15:52
I would like to point out a reason why you should be careful no matter what materials you use and that regardless of source, there will be mistakes. In this case, The Official Guide 2017 - it is rifled with mistakes. GMAC just released a statement errata - they are replacing all of the books at no cost or issuing refunds.

Think, trust your instincts, and don't blindly follow.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 18 Jun 2017, 19:39
bb wrote:
I would like to point out a reason why you should be careful no matter what materials you use and that regardless of source, there will be mistakes. In this case, The Official Guide 2017 - it is rifled with mistakes. GMAC just released a statement errata - they are replacing all of the books at no cost or issuing refunds.

Think, trust your instincts, and don't blindly follow.

Wow, 50 errors, and the replacement of an entire chapter! Yes, I suppose that should qualify as being riddled with mistakes. Most of the errors/typos are in the answer explanations rather than in the questions themselves, but it's still surprising, given the GMAC's reputation for accuracy. What's odd about some of the errors is that they were the correct versions in the 2016 edition...almost as if someone intentionally sabotaged them.

Still, real questions are (nearly) always better. For now, the safe play is to go back to the 2016 editions of the OGs, which are mistake-free as far as I know. Or, if you have the 2017 edition of the OG already, then just print out the errata list from GMAC and use it to revise the 2017 editions, and print out a new copy of the 4th chapter using the linked PDF.

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Originally posted by mcelroytutoring on 21 Jul 2016, 16:14.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 18 Jun 2017, 19:39, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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21 Jul 2016, 16:34
mcelroytutoring wrote:
bb wrote:
I would like to point out a reason why you should be careful no matter what materials you use and that regardless of source, there will be mistakes. In this case, The Official Guide 2017 - it is rifled with mistakes. GMAC just released a statement errata - they are replacing all of the books at no cost or issuing refunds.

Think, trust your instincts, and don't blindly follow.

Wow, 50 errors, and the replacement of an entire chapter! Yes, I suppose that should qualify as being riddled with mistakes. Most of the errors/typos are in the answer explanations rather than the questions themselves, but it's still surprising, given the GMAC's reputation for accuracy. What's odd about some of the errors is that they were the correct versions in the 2016 edition...almost as if someone intentionally sabotaged them.

Still, real questions are always better. For now, the safe play is to go back to the 2016 editions of the OGs, which are mistake-free as far as I know. Or, if you have the 2017 edition of the OG already, then just print out the errata list from GMAC and use it to revise the 2017 editions, and print out a new copy of the 4th chapter using the linked PDF.

Always? Why? are they better if I am scoring 750 and if I am scoring 500? How is that possible? I would stay away from such generalized statements because the thing about Always statements - they are always wrong.

If you are speaking of only Princeton Review questions/materials, then yes, those are pretty much the bottom of barrel, and I can understand how that would turn one off.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 30 Dec 2017, 23:48
bb wrote:
Always? Why? are they better if I am scoring 750 and if I am scoring 500? How is that possible? I would stay away from such generalized statements because the thing about Always statements - they are always wrong.

OK, I will give you that. Official materials are nearly always better, because of realism, especially on the GMAT verbal, where imitation questions are often noticeably lacking.

Because of copyright issues, questions from other GMAT companies are merely imitations of the real thing. If I'm training to be a pilot, then yes, using a flight simulator can be very helpful, practical, confidence-building, etc....but there is nothing quite like flying a real plane.

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Originally posted by mcelroytutoring on 21 Jul 2016, 16:42.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 30 Dec 2017, 23:48, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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21 Jul 2016, 21:32
The increasing order of difficulty is incorrect and i think every1 on this forum must closely assess that statement by gmac. I am able to answer certain end of chapter DS without working out the problem using pen and paper. Some of the problems listed earlier in the order are as tough as mgmat problems! It may be wise to check out wiley to understand what gmat considers tough/medium/hard

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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions   [#permalink] 21 Jul 2016, 21:32

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