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I would also like to add that there is no such thing as "running out" of real GMAT questions:

1) There are around 4,000 real GMAT questions available, 1,500 of them for free.

2) Even after you've reached that threshold, it is unlikely that you have gained everything possible from those questions.

Let me give you an example. My most diligent students will sometimes complete all 4,000 official GMAC GMAT questions. Of those 4,000, let's say that they got 400 wrong (90% correct).

I then instruct my students to try those questions again, from scratch, now that they have had a chance to forget the answers...and my students only get them right around 60% of the time.

What does that mean? It means that there are still 160 useful questions left.

Hence, you shouldn't be obsessed with always seeing "new" questions. "Old" questions sometimes hold equal value when it comes to learning. Most GMAT studiers are obsessed with newness, and not willing to spend enough time on good, old-fashioned repetition.

It is similar to vocabulary learning. You can see a word, learn it...and then forget it again. The second time you learn it, you are less likely to forget, and so on. Learning is not so much a process of understanding once and moving on for good, but a process of constantly learning, forgetting, and re-learning.

Originally posted by mcelroytutoring on 23 Jun 2016, 20:44.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 25 Sep 2019, 19:55, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions [#permalink]
I purchased the GMAT FOCUS and took a test today even though was worn out a bit. Though the range showed up for me as 45-49 I felt that 4-5 questions were worded in a very tricky way - qualified to be called 700+ questions in our forum terms! I agree with Mcelroy on this that the official sources are not as easy as people assume them to be! Being a user of GMATCLUB tests I found them to be absolutely worthy imitations with the sole intent of preparing a person for the grueling Quant Section!
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GMATFOCUS - 3 tests were worth buying superb problems with decent explanations!
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I regret having bought the entire Jeff Sackmann Sets of 1800 question as after completed 50% of those, now when i shifted to the OG 2016 i discovered most of the question in those JF sets were exact questions with values switched / words changed!
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Just wonder how to create practice sets of 37 questions in Wiley website without overlap pf problems - is there such an option in the first place? Can you someone help?
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Originally posted by dabral on 27 Jun 2016, 10:40.
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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.
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I think that most of us GMAT instructors / tutors are in general agreement on this issue, with some minor differences based on our perspectives.

Those of us who teach large GMAT classes are in need of as much diagnostic information as we can find about our students. Those of us who are private tutors can find ways of accessing that information (time spent per question, question categorization, etc.) through more informal means, but yes, I do wish that there were more detailed, question-level feedback available from GMAC (and yes, even the Enhanced Score Report isn't quite as "enhanced" as it should be).

It is definitely true that asking GMAC for advice on the GMAT is like asking the IRS for tax advice: the GMAC is not going to be overly forthcoming. Every time you have to re-take the test, the GMAC makes more money.

I also agree that the Manhattan CATs are superior to the GMAT Prep tests in terms of feedback (as well as the format for reviewing questions), but that doesn't change their main weakness: they provide feedback regarding non-official GMAT questions. If we could have Manhattan's feedback engine combined with real questions from the GMAT Prep tests, then that would be ideal.

Then again, although this information is helpful, there is nothing more helpful then sitting down one-on-one with a student and discussing each question from start to finish. Knowing that a student got a divisibility question wrong (and that it took 2 minutes, 34 seconds) might give me a starting point, but it's nothing that I couldn't figure out by just taking a look at the question and talking it over with them, drawing out the question, etc. In other words, the general classification of the question is often much different from the precise reason why the student got it wrong. If I were teaching a GMAT class, however, then it would be hard for me to sit down individually with each student in order to learn this information, and the diagnostic information would thus become more useful.

Those who are self-studying can definitely benefit somewhat from this type of enhanced feedback, but I do think it's a tad overrated for the reasons mentioned above. Using real questions, however, is definitely not overrated.

Originally posted by mcelroytutoring on 27 Jun 2016, 22:33.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 25 Sep 2019, 19:55, edited 5 times in total.
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Quote:
Just wonder how to create practice sets of 37 questions in Wiley website without overlap of problems - is there such an option in the first place? Can you someone help?
Senthil7 The updated Wiley Question Bank will now save your last 10 sessions and prevent any question overlap with those 10 sessions.

However, don't be afraid of question overlap! It's not a big deal. Repetition is a big part of learning, so force yourself to write out every step of the solution anyway. You might remember the correct answer, but do you remember how to get there?

For Quant, for example, can you spot the trap answers? And for Verbal, can you also explain why all the incorrect answers are incorrect?

Originally posted by mcelroytutoring on 27 Jun 2016, 22:55.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 25 Sep 2019, 19:56, edited 10 times in total.
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Actually, without a program that tracks pacing, that information is usually impossible to obtain. Most students don't know how much time they spent per problem, and I wouldn't want to encourage them to try tracking time usage on a per-problem basis during the exam unless they had a really serious timing problem. It's incredibly important for students to see how much time they're spending per problem, how that expenditure relates to accuracy, and what effect any timing troubles are having on their score. Other than the obvious long drop at the end, there's no way to get any of this from a GMAC exam. Sure, it would be great to have that analysis with real questions, but I don't think that's on the horizon. Until that day, it's wise to use a mix of third-party and official exams.

Beyond that, sure, students should focus primarily on official questions. I'd argue that non-official math questions can be a great additional source of skill drill if there are areas where the OG hasn't provided enough material. Non-official verbal problems are more problematic. Since there's not the same universally agreed-upon rule set as in math, it's easy for third-party problems to stray from what would be correct on the test.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions [#permalink]
DmitryFarber wrote:
Actually, without a program that tracks pacing, that information is usually impossible to obtain. Most students don't know how much time they spent per problem, and I wouldn't want to encourage them to try tracking time usage on a per-problem basis during the exam unless they had a really serious timing problem. It's incredibly important for students to see how much time they're spending per problem, how that expenditure relates to accuracy, and what effect any timing troubles are having on their score. Other than the obvious long drop at the end, there's no way to get any of this from a GMAC exam. Sure, it would be great to have that analysis with real questions, but I don't think that's on the horizon. Until that day, it's wise to use a mix of third-party and official exams.

Beyond that, sure, students should focus primarily on official questions. I'd argue that non-official math questions can be a great additional source of skill drill if there are areas where the OG hasn't provided enough material. Non-official verbal problems are more problematic. Since there's not the same universally agreed-upon rule set as in math, it's easy for third-party problems to stray from what would be correct on the test.


While I am of the opinion that time tracking is overrated since most test takers have a pretty good feel which questions they spent too much time on because they struggled to find the correct answer choice, I agree with everything else you said in this post.

GMAT verbal questions are incredibly hard to imitate because there are so many different ways of creating wrong answer choices. GMAT math questions are easier to come close to since every math question has only one obvious, correct answer; everything else is completely wrong. I like Manhattan GMAT math questions because they challenge students to think deeply about certain topics which will help them understand the concepts and apply them more efficiently.
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I wish students had a strong sense of their own pacing, but I find that that is very rarely the case. I've reviewed the test data of thousands of students, and I find that a) most students are underscoring because of pacing, sometimes by tragic amounts and b) most students with pacing problems underestimate the extent of those problems. Sure, we remember the crazy challenge problem that took us 6 minutes to get wrong. But do we recognize how many "routine" problems took us 2:30 or more? Do we know what fraction of long problems we actually got right? Do we have a sense of our ability to get easier problems right quickly in order to make up for those overages? When we see a long string of missed problems, do we know how many of those we actually worked in full? The last question might be answered by a look at our scratch paper (and so a tutor would need to ask for that). The rest are usually no, no, and no.

Timing is the absolute #1 challenge for many people on this test. Aside from "don't ignore verbal just because your percentile is high," it's the issue I have to discuss most consistently with students, especially those who aren't hitting the score they want. It's a problem that everyone has to solve in one way or another, and using CATs that actually give feedback in this area is a big part of that.
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DmitryFarber wrote:
I wish students had a strong sense of their own pacing, but I find that that is very rarely the case. I've reviewed the test data of thousands of students, and I find that a) most students are underscoring because of pacing, sometimes by tragic amounts and b) most students with pacing problems underestimate the extent of those problems. Sure, we remember the crazy challenge problem that took us 6 minutes to get wrong. But do we recognize how many "routine" problems took us 2:30 or more? Do we know what fraction of long problems we actually got right? Do we have a sense of our ability to get easier problems right quickly in order to make up for those overages? When we see a long string of missed problems, do we know how many of those we actually worked in full? The last question might be answered by a look at our scratch paper (and so a tutor would need to ask for that). The rest are usually no, no, and no.

Timing is the absolute #1 challenge for many people on this test. Aside from "don't ignore verbal just because your percentile is high," it's the issue I have to discuss most consistently with students, especially those who aren't hitting the score they want. It's a problem that everyone has to solve in one way or another, and using CATs that actually give feedback in this area is a big part of that.


I see. It's harder to keep track of your students' progress when they are in a class. Without individual attention to each student, it's understandable why teachers need these summary tools. In the context of self-study, however, I would argue that these questions are either answerable without relying on an outside tool or not very important. My friends who I have helped with the GMAT are able to identify difficult questions right at the gate. For this test, a Verbal question is difficult because either the argument is hard to understand or the answer choices are not very clear, and a Quant question is difficult because the solution is not immediately obvious. These questions are subject to an educated guess, but the rest, which is the majority, are easy to handle. For questions that are considered "routine", test takers should solve them at the pace that they feel comfortable with to get questions right. Adding time pressure is not going to make them correctly answer more questions.

The GMAT used to be a paper test, and as such did not have these electronic tools available to GMAT students. I don't think the people that took the test at the time complained very much about not having these tools.
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Are the paper tests good source for practice - not for adaptive purposes but just question practice? Is it useful specifically for the verbal part or has the style of questions changed significantly as I understand the test prep company that GMAC used since the inception of their CAT is different
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If you want more pacing information on the GMAT Prep tests, here are a couple of quick and easy workarounds:

1) Simply write down the time remaining in each section when you start each question.

2) Train yourself to take a screenshot of the question (which will include the timer information in the upper right-hand corner) at the beginning of each question. For your screenshots, use either the "Print Screen" (Windows Key + PrtScn) button on a PC or (Shift + Command + 3) on a Mac.

For more detailed information: https://gmatclub.com/forum/how-to-use-ke ... 22081.html

Problem solved! Both of these solutions take about 2-3 seconds at most. I prefer method #2 because it provides a copy of the question as well, for later review. Don't forget to take a screenshot of the review screen as well, because once you reset your tests, you will not be able to review them.

As far as question classification and "skill drill" (that has a nice ring to it, DmitryFarber ), you can also search for the text of your question and find forum-style explanations here on GMAT Club, where the questions are (usually) tagged and categorized, and you can find similarly categorized questions from both official (preferred) and non-official sources.

Originally posted by mcelroytutoring on 28 Jun 2016, 08:53.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 25 Sep 2019, 19:56, edited 12 times in total.
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Are the paper tests good source for practice - not for adaptive purposes but just question practice? Is it useful specifically for the verbal part or has the style of questions changed significantly as I understand the test prep company that GMAC used since the inception of their CAT is different

Senthil7 In my opinion, the paper tests are on the lowest rung of the GMAC official materials ladder. However, this still puts them above all other synthetic sources of questions.

The GMAT is now a computer-based test, and has been for a long time, so in most cases it's unnecessary to pay $30 for 330 practice questions from the 1995 version of the test, when the 2017 Official Guide Costs about the same and has 900 questions on paper--three times as many questions per dollar. Plus, the test was easier back then, and the pacing was different.

On the real GMAT, you can't skip around like you can on a paper test, so you can't trust the timing or your scores.

There is also significant overlap between these questions and the questions from other GMAC products--some estimate that as many as 40% of the questions on the paper-based tests can be found elsewhere.

That being said, if you've run out of all the other official materials, then it's worth giving these questions a shot. As you said, just use them as individual practice questions, not full practice tests, in the same way that you use the OGs.

Originally posted by mcelroytutoring on 28 Jun 2016, 09:52.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 25 Sep 2019, 19:56, edited 5 times in total.
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I also disagree with the advice "save your official GMAT questions for later in the process."

If you start your GMAT preparation with synthetic questions written by test-prep companies, then you are more likely to build bad habits that are based on the flaws of the questions you are using, which will be harder to fix later on in the process when you switch to the real GMAT questions contained in the OGs, GMATPrep tests (Exam Packs), Question Packs, Mobile App, Focus Quizzes and maybe even the Paper Tests (see discussion about the limited utility of the paper tests with Senthil7 above).

If you must use synthetic materials, then my suggestion is to "bookend" your preparation with real materials. In other words, start with real GMAT questions to get a good feel for the test. Then, switch to proprietary, non-official materials--which are often simplified for the sake of teaching a particular lesson or concept--for learning and strategy purposes. Then, switch back to real GMAT questions as the test approaches, to remind yourself what the actual GMAT is like, and to reacquaint yourself with the precise level of complexity that only real GMAC questions can provide.

Think of using non-official questions as riding a bike with training wheels. They are helpful for getting comfortable with the test, but they can only get you so far. Some synthetic questions/tests are better than others, for sure, and I consider the Manhattan and the GMAT Club CATs to be the best of the bunch, but they are still not as good as the real thing.

Originally posted by mcelroytutoring on 28 Jun 2016, 11:02.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 25 Sep 2019, 19:58, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Why You Should Use Only Real GMAT Questions [#permalink]
Can some one please explain at what stage of the preparation should one start doing the GMAC Qs. Pack(404)? And is it true that it does not contain solutions to the questions?

Can we find detailed solutions to GMAC Qs. Pack anywhere? I am planning to buy these but a little unsure since the solutions are not provided anywhere.

Also, which one is preferred between Exam Pack and Question Pack?

Thanks in advance! :)
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rmadmit wrote:
Can some one please explain at what stage of the preparation should one start doing the GMAC Qs. Pack(404)? And is it true that it does not contain solutions to the questions?

Can we find detailed solutions to GMAC Qs. Pack anywhere? I am planning to buy these but a little unsure since the solutions are not provided anywhere.

Also, which one is preferred between Exam Pack and Question Pack?

Thanks in advance! :)

Hi rmadmit,

I would buy Question Pack 1 right away and use it as a helpful resource for those times when you only have about 30-60 minutes to study. It's very convenient, and rather affordable compared to the Exam Packs! The questions come with explanations from GMAC, and you can of course google the text of the questions to find forum-style explanations here on GMAT Club.

In my opinion, while full, timed practice tests are helpful when spaced out correctly (they help build endurance and familiarity with the ebbs and flows of the GMAT test-taking experience), they are often over-utilized. It's perfectly fine to work on individual sections, individual questions, concept review or even untimed drills instead, in small sets of around 10-20 questions at a time. Learning is best done is small chunks.

It's the Exam Packs (1 and 2) that don't come with official answer explanations, but again, you can access GMAT Club explanations to those, and/or you could consider purchasing the video explanations (Quant only) from GMAT Quantum, which are excellent, to the point, and reasonably priced.

Originally posted by mcelroytutoring on 02 Jul 2016, 08:46.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 25 Sep 2019, 19:58, edited 13 times in total.
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Originally posted by dabral on 02 Jul 2016, 09:42.
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