3 EXPERT TIPS FOR USING THE GMAT OFFICIAL GUIDE 2021 2022
The Official GMAT guide or the GMAT OG (as it is popularly called) is undoubtedly one of your most dependable sources of preparation for GMAT. The latest edition of the GMAT Official Guide is the 2020 edition - the GMAT OG 2020.
Even if you are referring to the GMAT Official Guide 2019 or 2018 or an earlier edition (OG 2019, OG 2018, OG 2017, OG 2016 etc.), the book still offers a lot of value. There have been improvements, though, with each subsequent edition; so if you have still not purchased the book, it is advisable to go for the book titled Official Guide for GMAT Review 2020. If you want a comparison of the different editions of the OG over the last 8 years, do go through our blogpost titled Latest GMAT Official Guide (OG) 2022 - Should you buy?
But when you start referring to this GMAT book, do you simply just solve all the questions given from start to finish, or can you do much more with it?
In this article, I'll share with you 3 expert Tips - three things that you can keep in mind so as to extract the most out of this extremely dependable preparatory guide for GMAT.
The Official GMAT Guide contains approximately 900 to 1000 practice questions depending on which edition you have (plus there are about 100 GMAT Diagnostic questions)
These are real, retired GMAT questions, which means they have a lot of value in them.
This is what students have encountered once upon a time. Since GMAT scores are valid for 5 years, the GMAT exam doesn’t keep changing from year to year. We therefore find that past published GMAT questions provide invaluable insights into possible future GMAT questions.
So when you refer to the Official guide there are some things you can keep in mind so as to extract the most out of the book.
1. TAKE SMALL QUESTION SETS AT A TIME
Tip Synopsis: At a time, choose just 5 to 10 questions. By doing this, you are able to give quality time analyzing your outcome as you go along. If you attempt too many questions at one time, you will get drained out after a while and may not do justice to the questions attempted towards the end of the session
Tip no. 1 while referring to the official GMAT guide is to practice in small blocks.
Now when you start with the book, you might be tempted to do too many questions in a row - maybe 25 questions, 30 questions, or even 40 to 50 questions at a stretch.
While this might seem harmless, you have to understand that at the end of this entire process, which is likely to take you over an hour or so, you will not recall what ran through your mind when you marked answers to earlier questions.
Moreover, you might very well get exhausted at the end of the whole process and might not even analyze your performance the way you ought to be doing.
Therefore, instead of picking too many questions at a time, what you should be doing is practicing in small blocks of maybe 5 questions or 10 questions. I'd recommend 5 questions at a time, especially for the Verbal section of GMAT.
Practicing 5 questions at a time is likely to take you 10 minutes, 12 minutes, or 15 minutes, depending on your pace, and the difficulty level of the question. At the end of this process, you can look back at all those questions, all the 5 questions - right ones and wrong ones. Many GMAT aspirants have a tendency to look only at incorrect outcomes and end up ignoring questions that turned out to be right. But you have to analyze all questions. Even right ones. Because there could be a better way of solving those questions that you answered correctly. Or it just might have been a fluke and you did waver between 2 close options and it is important that you clarify why the wrong option was wrong and how you could have eliminated it confidently. But all this analysis is possible only if you are doing your practice in small, manageable blocks. The moment you stretch it too much you lose control over any kind of quality introspection you could have done while practicing.
2. USE TIMING IN ONLINE VERSION OF THE OFFICIAL GMAT GUIDE
Tip synopsis: The 2-minute warning prompt acts as a good reference point to help you intuitively get a sense of 2 minutes passing by. The saved timing gives insights into the time taken on questions. Pay attention to those questions that take beyond 1.5 minutes on Easy, 2 minutes on Medium, and 2.5 - 3 minutes on Hard GMAT questions
Tip no. 2 while referring to the Official GMAT Guide is to use the Online version of the OG. The book comes with an access code that gives you online access to the entire book. Now one of the advantages that the online version has is that it records the time that you are taking per question. So when you solve these 5 or 10 questions online in small blocks - and you can create whatever sets you want online - once you solve these small blocks online, you also get to see how long it took you per question. Now out here you can set some internal standards for yourself.
- if a question is classified by GMAT as Easy, you can set a target of 01:30 minutes,
- if a question is classified by the official GMAT guide as being of Moderate difficulty level, then you can set a target of maybe 2 minutes,
- whereas if a question is classified as a Hard GMAT question, you can set a target of maybe 2.5 to 3 minutes.
Now once you have finished each exercise, you can review the time that it’s taking you per question. And the moment you see that you are exceeding your own target, you need to find out is there a way of cutting down the time it’s taking you on that question, even if it’s turning out to be right. Remember, merely being happy that you got the answer right is not enough if it is draining out your time unnecessarily. So, using the online version will give you this advantage of time analysis and eventually help you improve your time management skills while tackling real GMAT questions.
3. LEAVE SOME OFFICIAL GMAT GUIDE QUESTIONS FOR THE LAST 3-4 WEEKS
Tip synopsis: The best practice you can do in the last few weeks before the GMAT is REAL GMAT practice. And the best source for this is the OG.
And Tip No. 3 is to not get done with the entire Official GMAT Guide with some time to go for your GMAT. Which means you cannot finish the entire OG and still have 3 to 4 weeks for your GMAT. Now, if this happens, you will realize that you do not have reliable quality practice material available in that crucial period where you want to practise something very dependable. And chances are that you just might end up referring to material that is either not relevant to GMAT or comes from an unreliable source. Now this is a very dangerous thing to do in the crucial last 3 to 4-week period. So, what you can do instead is: you can keep approximately the top 25% to 30% of OG questions for later (meaning the questions that come at the end of each section. GMAT questions in the Official Guide are arranged in ascending order of question difficulty. So, the last 25% are also the hardest 25%). Now these are also going to be the Hard questions, which means that in the countdown to your GMAT, after all the prep that you have done, you are also attempting hard GMAT questions. The advantages of this are:
- It's giving you good last mile practice,
- it's allowing you to test whether you have understood your concepts well,
- it's allowing you to check what is it that is still troubling you
So, while you are attempting your mock GMATs side by side, you are also covering the top 25-30% of the OG questions, thereby ensuring that you have the best quality of practice taking place in the last 3-4 week period before your GMAT.
So next time you pick the GMAT Official Guide to practise (or better still use the Online version of the GMAT official guide as suggested in Tip 2), make sure that you incorporate these small but important steps into your GMAT preparation. Cracking GMAT is not about doing big things; it is all about doing these small things that make a big difference if done regularly over a few months!