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GMAT Official Guide – How to make the most out of OG for GMAT Prep?

GMAT Official Guide – How to make the most out of OG for GMAT Prep?
A 25 min read

The Official Guide (OG) is one of the most important resources available to those preparing for the GMAT. So much so that if you tell us that you have been studying for the test, we can say with confidence that you know what the OG is. 

This article is important for any of you who are about to begin your GMAT preparation. It is also important for those of you who are farther along in the preparation journey but have lingering questions in your mind, such as: 

  1. Is studying the OG good enough to crack the GMAT? 
  2. Does the OG cover all the concepts tested on the GMAT? 
  3. How should I use the OG questions in my preparation? Are there any best practices? GMAT Official Guide - How to make the most out of OG for GMAT Prep

 You will find answers to all these questions here.  

 Broadly speaking, here is what this article will cover:

1. Know your Official Guide – an introduction 

The Official Guide (or OG, as it is famously known) is a resource created for GMAT aspirants by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the creators of the GMAT.  The Official Guide is the primary source of actual GMAT questions. The questions one sees in the OG are retired official GMAT questions, i.e., questions that have appeared on the GMAT before but are not currently in circulation.

In addition to having questions, the Official Guide also breaks down the entire syllabus for the exam – everything that is tested on the GMAT is listed and briefly described. The guide also provides useful test-taking strategies for aspirants to ace the test. 

Fun fact: The GMAC typically releases a new version of the Official Guide every year. OG 2022 is the current version.

We wrote an article comparing OG 2022 with its predecessor, OG 2021. You can find it here

    

2. What the Official Guide actually is – a comprehensive look 

Now, let’s understand what exactly the Official Guide is at a deeper level. 

2.1 The Official Guide: A collection of excellent questions 

First and foremost, the Official Guide is a question bank. Indeed, it is the largest collection of high-quality Quant and Verbal questions that you will probably come across in your GMAT preparation journey. 

For instance, the latest version of the Official Guide, OG 2022, contains roughly 1000 questions cutting across every topic that the GMAT tests (in Quant and Verbal).

Fun Fact: While the older versions of the Official Guide merely presented questions of varying difficulty levels without disclosing what those levels were, the questions in OG 2022 are organized in increasing order of difficulty (Easy -> Medium -> Hard) to make it easier for test-takers to select questions to solve as per their preparation needs. 

You can also observe, based on the above table, that there is a near equal split of questions across the three difficulty levels overall. One-third of all questions are easy, one-third are medium, and another one-third are hard questions.  

In other words, the OG provides a good number of high-quality questions at all difficulty levels.

Why do we say that these questions are “high-quality”? 

This is because official questions are GMAT questions at the end of the day. It doesn’t get any closer to the actual test than this! 

Another important aspect to keep in mind is that every question has a solution provided. In fact, roughly 90% of the approximately 1100 pages of OG 2022 are devoted to either the questions or the associated solutions. 

The solutions are reasonable – they are not comprehensive, but they can yield insights into both the logic at play in the questions and why a certain answer choice is correct/incorrect. 

Overall, the Official Guide provides an exhaustive set of excellent questions to GMAT test-takers

2.2 GMAT Official Guide: A concise overview of the GMAT syllabus 

Since it is an “Official” resource for all things GMAT, the OG discusses everything that is tested on the exam. In other words, there is no concept you can expect on the GMAT, that has not been highlighted in the Official Guide. 

The OG does not just provide an indexed list of the GMAT syllabus. It also provides a brief description of everything that is tested, and it even outlines test-taking strategies to help test-takers. 

Let us understand how this happens. 

2.2.1 Listing of Syllabus 

Every concept of every topic that is tested on the GMAT is indexed and listed. Here is an example of the indexed list of topics from Quant.

Source: OG 2022

2.2.2 Description of Concepts

The latest Official Guide (OG 2022) has two dedicated review sections – one for Quant and one for Verbal. These review sections do the following:

  1. Provide brief descriptions of the foundational concepts being tested
  2. Provide 25 practice questions in Verbal and Quant each

Note: These 50 questions (25 each in Quant and Verbal) are not part of the core 995 questions of the Official Guide. These are presented separately.

Here is the split of these 50 questions across difficulty levels and sections.

Source: https://e-gmat.com/blogs/gmat-official-guide-review/

Fun Fact: The Verbal Review section and the fifty questions are new additions in OG 2022. Older OGs do not have these! The Quant Review is an older feature, but it earlier had only brief descriptions of all the concepts tested and relevant formulas to remember.

The important point is that these review sections give a concise description of every concept tested on the GMAT.

For example – Number Line (Quant – Arithmetic); Subject-Verb Agreement (Verbal – Sentence Correction).

2.2.3 Test-Taking Strategies

In addition to the above, the OG also provides some general test-taking strategies for every subsection.

For example – Here is a snapshot of a test-taking strategy from the Critical Reasoning subsection (part of GMAT Verbal).

Source: OG 2022

In conclusion, we can say that the OG is a resource that provides a concise overview of everything tested on the GMAT.

2.3 What the Official Guide is not

Knowing what the Official Guide is not is as important as knowing what it is. Misconceptions in this regard have caused many a student to use OG questions sub-optimally. This usually leads to their GMAT preparation going haywire.

To understand what GMAT OG is not, let’s look at the following lines quoted verbatim from OG 2022.

“The GMAT™ Official Guide series is the largest official source of actual GMAT™ questions. Use the questions in this study guide to practice different types of GMAT™ questions”

Section 2.2, GMAT OG 2022
(How to use the GMAT™ Official Guide)

Observe that the operative word here is “practice”. “Practice”, not “learn”.

What one must understand is that GMAT OG is an excellent tool for practice. But it is not currently designed to be a great tool for learning.

Why do we say this?

Let’s understand why using a specific example: Assumption questions in Critical Reasoning.

As we know, the GMAT is a test of application. One needs to know the concepts, of course, but beyond concepts, one needs to apply certain skills in a logical manner (i.e., follow a method/process) to solve the questions.

Assumption Questions – Conceptual Skills NeededAssumption Questions – Application Skills needed/Process steps
What is an argument?Ability to visualize statements
What is a conclusion?Ability to identify the conclusion
What is a premise?Ability to understand the logic at play
What is an assumption?Ability to analyse the argument logic (at e-GMAT, we do this via our Prethinking process!)
What are the fundamental features of an assumption?Ability to analyse answer choices
What is Negation test? How does it work?Ability to apply Negation test

If you want to develop a more nuanced understanding of the various question types in GMAT Critical Reasoning, this article can help.

What you must take away from the table above is that to be able to solve CR Assumption questions well, you need to have a firm grip on both the concepts and the application skills listed.

Now, it is important to understand that we all have different starting abilities in these skills. Some of us may already have a good level of ability in the above skills. This may be because of the nature of our work experience, because of innate talent, or because of preparation work done for GMAT/other exams previously.

On the other hand, some of us may have low starting abilities to begin with.

To evaluate if the Official Guide is a good learning tool, we also need to understand what it provides.

What does the GMAT Official Guide provide for Assumptions?

Concepts: If we look at OG 2022, there is a brief description about assumptions and the important concepts related to Assumptions in the Verbal Review section.

Here is a sample.

Source: OG 2022

Questions: Among the 25 practice questions in the Verbal Review section, there are no Assumption questions. The core set of CR questions (totalling 166 out of 995) has close to 20 Assumption questions, including easy, medium, and hard level questions.

Now, if you are someone who already has a good level of ability in all the above skills needed to ace CR Assumptions, then, you probably only need some practice. These questions can help you practice and refine your ability to crack Assumption questions. Great!

But what if you are someone who is lacking in conceptual knowledge and/or application skills?

Then, you only have close to 20 Assumption questions to learn as well as to practice. Therein lies the problem!

What we see above with Assumptions can be extrapolated to CR (or any subsection), or even the overall test for that matter. The same principle applies!

If you use up the available OG questions for learning, you may end up without enough questions for practice.

There, of course, exists that small micro-minority of folks who are already at such a high level (typically 80th percentile plus!) that just practicing OG questions is good enough to ace the GMAT. But for many of us, learning (of the concepts and of the application) is an important stage. And again, there are so many of us who have a fair grip on concepts and application, but the application ability is not yet at that high level where simply practicing a few official questions is enough.

For a lot of us, certain abilities have to be learnt and built from the ground-up. We may have to start at the very basic conceptual foundations, then start learning application/process by solving simple questions, and gradually work our way to complex questions.

And this learning can only happen by solving questions. The GMAT is not a theoretical test. Solving questions and learning through them is the only way.

In our experience, usually, it takes a typical diligent student 20-30 questions (of increasing complexity) to learn any question type (say, assumptions). Learning a subsection (say, CR) would typically require such a student to solve 20-30 questions each in every question type (say Evaluate, Strengthen, Boldface, etc.). This, done well, translates to at least 50th to 60th percentile in the subsection.

Thus, for a student with low starting abilities (less than 60th percentile!), the Official Guide alone is insufficient for GMAT preparation.

And the primary reason for this is what we have just discussed – there are just not enough questions to cover both learning requirements and practice requirements. If one utilizes OG questions to try and learn the basic concepts and application, this will come at a cost – a lack of sufficient questions for practice at a later point in time.

As highlighted earlier, the OG is meant to be a resource for practice. It provides a compilation of excellent questions for test-takers to practice and refine their abilities.

But it is not a learning tool.

If you are someone who is currently not at a fairly good level of ability (i.e., not 60th percentile or above), then you need to spend the time and effort to learn the concepts and application first. To do this well, you need to use a resource that has enough questions dedicated to the learning of concepts and application in a systematic manner (e-GMAT or otherwise!). Blindly practicing OG questions will not be very fruitful.

Of course, number of questions is not the only reason to not stick exclusively to OG, if you are not at a good level of ability yet.

Think about a student with low starting abilities. Such a student needs not just a good number of questions but also detailed, high-quality solutions that address not just the basic points, but even the nuances. As we have highlighted earlier, the solutions in OG are reasonable. However, they are brief and do not get into all the nuances. They are often hard to grasp for a student with a low starting ability, in the initial stages of their preparation journey.

The need for detailed, high-quality solutions is also the main reason the GMAT Official Guide may not be sufficient for students with a fair level of ability (60th to 79th percentile). Even at this level of ability, the improvement to 80th percentile+ comes from reviewing and learning from every question you solve, using an Error Log. To do this well, yet again, you need really good solutions that enable this level of learning.  

So, to sum up, the need for comprehensive solutions is another reason why the OG may be insufficient for most students.

A student with medium ability (60th to 79th percentile) needs high-quality, detailed solutions to do a better review of questions while creating an error log, which is what typically leads to further improvement.

The implication of everything we have discussed here is simple – while, for a tiny minority of people, the OG may be a sufficient resource for GMAT preparation, this is not the reality for many.

We often see students who used only OG during their initial preparation, only to realize that for them specifically, only solving the OG questions was not the right way to go. Here is the story of one of our students who went through this ordeal and was able to claw his way back to GMAT success.

The moral of the story: Do not fall into the trap of assuming that the OG is sufficient. It may or may not be. You need to figure out where you stand currently to make that evaluation.

Sidenote: If you want an accurate assessment of where you stand, you can consider taking a SIGma-X mock. This mock can give you your current sub-sectional abilities. It can help you make this judgment.

3. Where does the Official Guide fit in your GMAT Preparation journey?

One of the key takeaways from what we have discussed so far is that for most of us, the Official Guide, although an excellent resource, may not be sufficient for preparation.

So, the next question that comes to mind with respect to the OG is – where in our preparation journey should the Official Guide be used?

The key to answering this question lies in understanding the ideal learning architecture for a typical GMAT aspirant. An ideal preparation journey is a well-planned one – it moves along the path set by a good learning architecture.

At e-GMAT, we like to call this ideal learning architecture “The Three Stages of Learning”.

GMAT Official Guide and GMAT Preparation journey

Let’s understand what these stages are through a simple example.

Note: This section of the article will give you good insights into how to structure your preparation!

Scenario: Let us say that Jim is a student whose starting ability in SC is 35th percentile. Jim wants to get a V40, which requires a 90th percentile overall Verbal ability. Let’s assume that Jim is gunning for a 90th percentile ability in SC.   

Stage 1 – Learning

Jim is at 35th percentile SC ability. At this stage, Jim’s focus should be on the following:

  1. Learning the concepts in SC
  2. Learning the application skills/methods or processes to solve SC

Here, as we saw with the CR example earlier, Jim should solve at least 20-30 questions in every topic in SC to effectively learn SC. Done well, this stage will bring Jim to at least the 50th to 60th percentile in terms of ability.

What do we mean by “done well”?

Jim should be solving the questions by applying the needed skills/following the process, not by guesswork or intuition (say!). The objective here is to learn the concepts and the application properly, not to simply solve questions and get answers correct.

As discussed earlier, we do not recommend using the GMAT Official Guide at this stage of preparation.

Done well, stage 1 will bring a person to at least the 50th to 60th percentile in terms of ability.

Stage 2 – Cementing

This is a very important stage in the preparation journey. Jim may have hit the 60th percentile thanks to Stage 1, but he still needs to come close to his target ability of 90th percentile.

The purpose of this stage is two-fold:

  1. To cement the application skills/processes in the brain so that these don’t slip away when one starts working on the next subsection (say, CR).
  2. To build ability to at least within striking distance of one’s target ability.

In stage 1, the focus is on learning the concepts and the application, so one solves questions without time constraints.

In Stage 2, a student solves a battery of quizzes – both medium level and hard level, with the same timing constraints one would have on the actual test. This is where one builds the ability to solve even the toughest of questions under test-timing conditions. These quizzes are essentially subsection-level mini-mocks.

By the time one is done with this stage, one should be comfortable in solving questions of any level of difficulty in that subsection, under test-timing conditions.

Also, at this stage, the Error Log is a must. It is by analysing how we solved a question that we learn from the question and identify gaps to fix. Working on these insights is what propels us towards our target ability. We will discuss the Error Log in more detail in a bit.

Typically, a student solves around 60-70 questions (say, 30 medium-Level questions and 30-40 hard-level questions) in this stage. More questions can be solved at this stage as needed to build ability to the required level. (For example, Jim should try to hit 85th percentile at least in Stage 2!).

The Official Guide can be used for this stage of learning.

Stage 3 – Test Readiness

As the name suggests, this stage is all about getting test-ready. This stage has the following objectives:

  1. To get comfortable with handling questions from multiple subsections at the same time
  2. To build stamina for the exam
  3. To assess one’s ability
  4. To fine-tune one’s approach through targeted practice and Error Log

In Stage 2, Jim has already reached 85th percentile ability (or above!). But remember – this was when Jim was solving only SC.

In reality, on the test, SC, CR, and RC can show up on the screen in any order. The brain has to build the ability to switch between various mental processes and effectively handle multiple subsections at the same time.

To get comfortable with this, at this stage, Jim should take mixed sub-sectional quizzes. The objective is to maintain the same level of ability he has when working on a subsection solo.

These mixed quizzes also serve the purpose of building stamina gradually, to get one ready for mocks (and the actual test!).

For example: Imagine a verbal quiz with 7 SC questions, 7 CR questions, and 3 RC passages (12 RC questions, say), cutting across medium and hard-level questions. Such a quiz, which has around 26 questions, provides a good gradual ramp-up to the full-length test (36 questions in the Verbal section on the GMAT!). Stamina building is an under-rated but important component of GMAT prep.

The next step here, after the mixed quizzes, is to take mocks. The mocks are mainly intended as an assessment of where one is at the moment. If Jim is consistently hitting or doing better than his target score, it is time to book a date for the test.

At this stage, fine-tuning one’s approach to attain mastery over a subsection, through targeted refinement work is important. Every quiz one takes, be it a mixed quiz, or a mock needs to be analyzed thoroughly. The Error Log is your best friend here (more on this later!).

For example, if Jim identifies “Modifiers” within SC to be an area of concern, he would

  1. Revise the concepts of Modifiers
  2. Redo the questions he solved earlier in this topic to get comfortable with the concepts and the application/processes
  3. Redo questions he got incorrect in Stages 2 and 3 to build more comfort under time constraints
  4. Create small quizzes of OG questions (or other questions) in this topic to practice and improve on this topic

Such precision targeting is done at this stage to drive last-mile improvements, ensuring that one is really test-ready!

In our view, the GMAT Official Guide should be used at this stage of learning.

Here is a cheat-sheet: a summary of everything we discussed here.

How to use GMAT OG for GMAT Prep

4. How to use the Official Guide in Stage 2

So, now we know that the Official Guide can be used for Stage 2. In this section, we will give you some pointers on how to go about this.

Stage 2 – Cementing

Remember what we said about Stage 2.

By the time one is done with this stage, one should be comfortable solving questions of any level of difficulty in that subsection, under test-timing conditions.

So, a solid cementing plan will include a battery of quizzes to make sure that you are able to solve questions of all levels of difficulty under time constraints.

Here is a good way to use the Official Guide for the purpose of Cementing:

4.1 Cementing Plan using the Official Guide

Wondering about how these quizzes should be timed?

We have got you covered!

Timing GuideTime per QuestionTime (for a 15 Question Quiz)
SC1.5 min23 min
CR2 min30 min
RC2 min30 min
Quant topics2 min30 min

Now, let’s discuss some finer aspects of the above plan, so that the philosophy behind it is clear.

If you are someone who is already at a decent level of ability (at least 60th percentile, say, thanks to Stage 1), you may not really need to do an easy quiz (Easy Quiz 1).

Ideally, if your GMAT is going well, you should not even see easy questions. Real ability building happens with medium and hard-level questions. That said, there is no harm in taking a quiz of easy questions to get into the feel of test-taking (and to ensure that the ability is there!). If you struggle with easy questions, you have to go back to Stage 1 and re-learn.

To make the transition to a higher difficulty level smoother, you can use transition quizzes (shown in the plan).

Now, the transition from medium to hard is where the real challenge may lie for a lot of us. Conceptual knowledge and a good level of application ability will get one across the medium hump. But hard questions are a different ball game altogether. They require a high level of ability with application skills/processes.

Because this transition to hard levels is typically tougher, we have added a “repeat” step here. Once the transition quiz is taken, unless you get 85%+ in the quiz, we recommend that you analyze your mistakes, learn from them, and repeat the quiz. When repeating the quiz, choose an answer because you can solve it, not because you remember it. This step will help you bridge the gap to hard-level questions.

When repeating a quiz, choose an answer because you can solve it, not because you remember it.

One quiz is never a proof of anything – one good performance in a quiz or test could be a fluke.

Unless you can repeat the same level of high performance more than once, you have not really mastered it.

Which is why you need at least 2 quizzes – both at the medium and hard levels. Doing well in the first quiz is a demonstration of your ability. Doing well again is validation of your ability.

60%+ in hard quizzes is the minimum threshold to say that one has cleared cementing. In reality, based on your target score, you may need a higher accuracy.

The score you should aim to achieve in hard quizzes is dependent on your target score. For instance, for an 85th percentile ability, one needs at least 70% accuracy in hard quizzes. For a 90th percentile ability, one needs at least 75% accuracy in hard quizzes.

Never rush from one quiz to the next. After every quiz, you need to review the questions, and build your error log.

The Error Log is the most important improvement tool at your disposal to improve ability, especially in Stages 2 and 3.

A note on the Error Log

An error log is a log of your errors (Obviously). It is essentially a documentation of your self-reflection on how you solved a question.

You should make an error log entry if:

  1. You made an error
  2. You got the right answer, but you took a lot of time
  3. You got the right answer, but you got lucky somehow.
    1. For example, you skimmed through some answer choices and eliminated them based on gut-feeling rather than logic.
    2. You got the right answer, but you skipped steps in the process, or you did not do some step properly. For instance, you did not pay attention to a small subtlety in the meaning of a sentence, but it did not harm you in this question (something similar may harm you in another question, if you ignore this).

You have to go through the solutions of the questions you solved in a quiz to figure out the above points, reflect, and course-correct as needed. Don’t be in a hurry to solve quizzes and be done with cementing. Real improvement takes effort.

A good error log will highlight all the gaps in your ability:

  1. Conceptual gaps (for example, not clear about how to do variance test for CR Evaluate questions; not clear on area of a rhombus (Quant – Geometry))
  2. Behavioural issues/process gaps. For example –
    1. Tendency to read long, complex sentences in one shot, leading to a struggle with visualizing the sentences and grasping the real intended meaning.
    2. Tendency to rush through complex looking answer choices
    3. Etc.

An error log, done well, enables you to apply corrective actions right then and there, and improve by leaps and bounds.

Now, you should have clarity on how to use GMAT Official Guide (OG) questions in Stage 2 (Cementing).

4.2 Cementing Plan – for e-GMAT students

Now, if you are e-GMATer, you do not have to use up the OG questions for the purpose of Stage 2. You can keep these handy as additional buffer questions for driving improvements in Stage 3.

You have specialized cementing quizzes that exist for the sole purpose of helping you clear Stage 2.

SubsectionNo. of Medium Cementing Quizzes availableNo. of Hard Cementing Quizzes available
Verbal – Sentence Correction116
Verbal – Critical Reasoning55
Verbal – Reading Comprehension106
Quant – Number Properties78
Quant – Word Problems66
Quant – Advanced Topics66
Quant – Algebra76
Quant – Geometry66

These Cementing quizzes have been curated very carefully. Here are some important points you should know about these quizzes:

The questions in these quizzes are carefully selected so as to ensure coverage from all the topics.

Why this matters: If a quiz had too many questions of a certain type, then that quiz’s results would be biased (what if you are very strong or very weak in that particular question type?).

The questions have been statistically tested and validated with data points from thousands of students.

This ensures that if you have cleared medium cementing, we can be reasonably sure that you have actually built the ability to solve medium-level questions under test-timing. The same is true with hard-level questions. In other words, the results of these quizzes are reliable indicators of ability.

These quizzes are paired with useful analytics through xPERT AI.

xPERT AI curates analysis based on your performance in these quizzes. The AI looks at multiple factors and identifies aspects in your attempt such as luck factor (Your score is inflated because you got lucky!), timing influence (impact of time pressure on your quiz!), and rush through factor (you got questions wrong because you rushed through them!).

It also populates a list of questions from every quiz that you must review to improve.

Sounds interesting? You can find out all about xPERT AI and how it has helped our students here.

These quizzes are accompanied by detailed solutions.

As we have seen earlier, detailed, high-quality solutions can really help in one’s learning by discussing the tiny nuances that may get missed in brief solutions. Also remember – Building an error log and improving through it is much easier if the solutions are detailed and thorough.

One of the best aspects of these quizzes is that they are accompanied by comprehensive solutions (some video, some text!), which get into the finer aspects of the questions!

Last, but not the least, there is always expert support available for any doubts you may have in any of the questions.

In case you have a doubt that the solution is not able to answer, you will find it useful to go through the forum for that question. Every question has a dedicated forum where students share their doubts, and dedicated Subject-Matter Experts (SMEs) address those doubts.

In a large number of cases, you may see that the doubt you have has already been asked and answered before. In case it is not, you can post a query. You will get your query addressed typically within 18-24 hours.

By going through the forum, you will also pick up some other nuances and learnings from doubts posted by other students.

Make sure you utilize the forum. It will help you improve as you are doing cementing.

So, if you are an e-GMAT student, what is the exact plan for cementing?

Simple. Use the cementing quizzes for Medium and Hard. Cementing quizzes on the e-GMAT platform are 10 question quizzes (not 15 question quizzes), so take at least 3 medium quizzes, and at least 3 hard quizzes.

Important Points:

  • The objective is to score above the cut-offs consistently (for Hard, you may need a higher cut-off score basis your target score, as discussed).
  • Consistently: at least 2 consecutive results.
  • If you are faltering/not hitting the metrics at either Medium or Hard:
    • If you are close (a matter of 1-2 questions here and there), reviewing the questions well (error logging) and retrying cementing quizzes to fix the gaps should do the trick. You can take more cementing quizzes as needed.
    • If you are struggling, you may have to go back to the course and work on specific points. Consider reaching out to the Strategy team (support@e-gmat.com). The team can help you with an improvement plan to help you get over the hump!
  • Maintaining an Error Log is super important as already discussed.
Cementing Plan – e-GMAT students
Sl. No.Quiz NameMetrics to hit
1Easy Quiz (Optional) – 15 Easy Questions. Use “Custom Quiz Feature”. Optional85%=
2Easy-Medium Transition Quiz – Use “Custom Quiz” Feature. Optional80%+
3Medium Cementing Quiz 1 – 10 Questions. Use Cementing quiz feature70%+
4Medium Cementing Quiz 2 – 10 Questions. Use Cementing quiz feature70%+
5Medium Cementing Quiz 3 – 10 Questions. Use Cementing quiz feature70%+
6Medium-Hard Transition Quiz – Use “Custom Quiz Feature”. Optional60%+
7Repeat – Medium-Hard Transition Quiz – Use “Custom Quiz Feature”. If needed70%+
8Hard Cementing Quiz 1 – 10 Questions. Use Cementing quiz feature60%+
9Hard Cementing Quiz 2 – 10 Questions. Use Cementing quiz feature60%+
10Hard Cementing Quiz 3 – 10 Questions. Use Cementing quiz feature60%+

5. How to use the Official Guide in Stage 3

Alright! Now we know how to use the Official Guide for Stage 2 if needed. In this section, we will discuss how Stage 3 (Test Readiness) can be done using the OG questions.

Stage 3 – Test Readiness

Stage 3 is the business end of your preparation. It all has to come together here.

Irrespective of whether you are an e-GMAT student or preparing through OG, the method here remains the same.

First, do Test Readiness (TR) quizzes. The objective of these is to build comfort with handling multiple subsections at the same time (like in the actual test!). Another objective is to gradually build stamina by ramping up the number of questions in the quiz in a phased manner.

In these quizzes, you should aim to maintain the percentile ability achieved in Stage 2. This would mean that your brain is able to handle multiple subsections and exhibit the same (or higher) level of mastery as is the case when handling only one subsection. It is after TR quizzes that one starts doing mocks.

Success in Test Readiness means that the brain is able to handle multiple subsections and exhibit the same (or higher) level of mastery as is the case when handling only one subsection.

Mocks are a tool meant mainly for assessing one’s ability at a point in time. Once you start getting your target score or above consistently (at least 2 consecutive mocks – remember, one mock is just one data point; success on one mock can be a fluke!), it is time to book a date for the exam.

Note: Do not take mocks on continuous days. Take a mock, spend time reviewing it, identifying and fixing gaps through targeted practice (discussed below). Only then take the next mock. Typically, a mock is taken every 3-4 days.

Another important activity in this stage is targeted practice/refinement. The Error Log is extremely vital to do this right.

After every quiz (or mock), through the process of review and reflection and documentation (in the Error Log), you can identify areas to fix. Then, before moving to the next quiz (or mock), you can target these areas with specific practice/refinement work and fix the gaps.

Then, when you move to the next quiz (or mock), you are already definitely better than last time. This is an iterative improvement process that will give you that final push through incremental improvements.

How does one do targeted practice/refinement?

Say, for example, that you figured out that Boldface questions in CR are a gap to fix. You are not confident here. You are taking too long/getting answers wrong, or generally not feeling comfortable.

Here is how you fix this:

Targeted Practice/Refinement Plan

  1. Topic identified: Boldface (CR)
  2. Fixing concept gaps, ensuring concept comfort and confidence:
    1. If your error log analysis shows possible conceptual gaps, this step is compulsory. Even otherwise, this step is useful.
    2. Do a strong revision of the concepts related to this topic.
    3. If you are an e-GMATer, also make sure that you redo any “Concept Practice Quizzes” associated with this topic. These are meant to assess your understanding of the concepts.
  3. Fixing application gaps, ensuring application comfort and confidence:
    1. If your error log analysis shows possible application gaps, this step is compulsory. Even otherwise, this step is important. Don’t skip this.
    2. Redo every question in this topic that you solved during Stage 1. These questions were meant for learning. Do these without any time constraints. Your focus here is on fixing any application gaps. For example, if you have a specific tendency to rush through answer choices in boldface questions (where choices are often tricky!), fix that behaviour when you are solving questions here.
    3. If you are an e-GMATer, make sure you redo the application files and the practice quizzes at the end of the module (topic).
    4. Use the error log after every set of 5 questions here. Learn as you solve!
  4.  Improve ability under test conditions using previously incorrect questions:
    1. Now that you have fixed these gaps and can solve questions without time constraints, it is time to build comfort under time constraints.
    2. Re-solve every question you got incorrect in Stage 2 and Stage 3 in this topic, under test-timing conditions
    3. Incorrect questions are great for this step – because these are questions that you went wrong in. If you can solve a bunch of such questions under time pressure well, the ability is there!
    4. e-GMATers can use the Custom Quizzing engine to create these quizzes.
  5. Demonstrate and validate built ability using fresh questions
    1. Create small quizzes (3-5 questions) from OG/e-GMAT in this topic.
    2. Typically, your performance in this topic will see an improvement.
  6. Move on to the next topic or quiz/mock.

5.1 Test Readiness Quizzes using the Official Guide

If you are using only the Official Guide, here is our suggestion on how to do Test Readiness (TR) quizzes.

Verbal Test Readiness (VTR)

Notice how we are gradually increasing the count of the number of questions. The idea here is to ramp up stamina before mocks (the actual GMAT has 36 Verbal questions).

Quant Test Readiness (QTR)
Quiz NameQuestion Type SplitSuggested DistributionTotal No. of questionsTime per question
QTR 1(12, 10)12 PS questions (2 Med, 10 Hard)
10 DS Questions (2 Med, 8 Hard)
222 min
QTR 2(14,11)14 PS questions (3 Med, 11 Hard)
11 DS Questions (3 Med, 8 Hard)
252 min
QTR 3(16, 14)16 PS questions (4 Med, 12 Hard)
14 DS Questions (4 Med, 10 Hard)
302 min

Notice how here too, we are gradually increasing the count of the number of questions. The actual GMAT has 31 Quant questions.

Also, for Quant, you should try your best to attain a solid balance between all the subsectional topics too.

For example, here is a good distribution for these quizzes topic-wise:

TopicsQTR 1QTR 2QTR 3
Values, Orders and Factors567
Algebra, Equalities and Inequalities556
Rates, Ratios and Percents567
Statistics, Sets, Counting, Probability, Estimation, Series234
Geometry556
Total222530

Remember, the core objective of Test Readiness is to get used to handling multiple subsections together. Hence, this is just a suggested distribution. Based on the OG questions you actually have remaining in every subsection and at medium and hard levels (after Stage 2), you may have to tweak this distribution slightly here and there – That is fine. Just remember the core objectives and try to ensure that those are being met.

5.2 Test Readiness Quizzes if you are an e-GMAT student

If you are an e-GMAT student, you have both OG as well as e-GMAT questions available at this stage. So, the Test Readiness plan is a little more elaborate. The Test Readiness plans in both Verbal and Quant involve additional quiz schemes such as

  1. SC + RC
  2. CR + RC
  3. All Arithmetic together
  4. All Algebra and Geometry together

These can be utilized as required based on how the student performs.

If you are an e-GMATer, just reach out to the Strategy team (support@e-gmat.com) once you are done with Stage 2. The team will help with all things Test-Readiness.

6. Conclusion

In this article, we have seen that the Official guide is an excellent source of questions. It has approx. 1000 questions of excellent quality for your practice. For any of you who have already built a solid foundation in terms of concepts and application skills, it is an invaluable tool that you will need for practice.

But it is not a tool meant for learning. If you are someone who does not have this solid foundation of concepts and application, the OG may not be sufficient for your GMAT preparation.

To make the most out of the Official Guide, build a solid foundation, learn the concepts and their application, and then practice using the questions from the OG to fine-tune your preparation.

Hope this article helped you!

Harsha

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