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5.0 out of 5 stars GMATPill's Review of Official Guide 13th Edition and New Integrated Reasoning, April 14, 2012
This review is from: The Official Guide for GMAT Review (Paperback)
The Official Guide book for the GMAT exam is the essential standard book you need for the GMAT exam. At over 800 pages (839 pages!) it's plenty to work with - plenty of opportunities to catch your mistakes in practice so you don't make the same ones on the actual exam.

In the past 3 years, everyone's been using OG12 (12th edition) to study for their GMATs. Certainly, every few years there's a few updates. This 13th edition update is bigger for a variety reasons.

There's a new section called integrated reasoning (on-screen calculator, 12 questions with multiple subquestions, 30 min, NO partial credit), and a small slight change in mix of questions for SC and for CR.

There is no where else to get practice questions for Integrated Reasoning (at least for the first few months) without getting them from the Official Guide or the GMATPrep 2.0 software. (You can get the IR separately, see link below)

The questions are as official as they can be.

83% of the OG13 questions are the same as the OG12 questions. They basically removed 17% of the old questions and replaced them with new questions - so you're not getting *more* questions - you're simply getting questions that are most reflective of the latest version of the exam.

There are 907 questions - 158 of them are NEW, which is 17% of the questions. There is an additional 50 Integrated Reasoning questions but these questions are not in the book. You have to access them with a username/password and Access Code on a companion website to the book -

[can't provide URL due to filtering but gwhizmobile is the domain name and GMAC is the directory]

Now, onto the sections:

Integrated Reasoning -

THIS SECTION IS NOT IN THE BOOK - it's an online component with 50 questions, which you can access with an account. The book has 11 pages dedicated to introducing you to the Integrated Reasoning section - it introduces the 4 types of questions which takes up the bulk of it in the book. But the practice questions are online. Here are the question types:

1) Multi-source Reasoning
2) Table Analysis
3) Graphics Interpretation
4) Two Part Analysis

Once on the online site, you'll signup with your access code. All future logins will use your email address. The IR section DOES allow you to use an on-screen calculator - so get used to using it! - while the other normal sections do not.

Integrated Reasoning Questions - wow, some of them get really tricky because for each question, there are usually 3 sub-questions (sometimes more) and you're going to want to get ALL of them correct to get credit for that question. I went through a bunch and here are my observations:

1) Some really tricky questions with booby traps - complex wording you have to read through and understand

2) Dives into many details. Contrary to RC which is about getting the big picture main idea then occasionally diving into details, IR is about DETAILS.

3) Topics are much more modern business - finally. The IR questions finally stray away from historical humanities and focus on things like internet businesses, print-to-online media, IPO, consulting tables and charts. So, if you were complaining about the GMAT not being relevant to business before - you can't complain anymore. Even if the topics here are more relevant, they can STILL be tricky. I repeat, tricky!

4) Multiple steps to get to the right answer: You're going to need to jot down some notes on a piece of paper showing your calculation results. Once written down, you can compare the figures and figure out the right answer.

5) On-screen calculator - Yes, this section permits use of a calculator but it is an on-screen calculator. I did in fact find myself playing around using the MR, MS and M+ buttons - I had never really learned how to use them in school but yes, they can be helpful for the questions involving multiple calculations - which I did see in many of the IR questions.

6) Graphic charts are very similar to what you'll see in business consulting. Bar charts, pie charts, and even XYZ Bubble charts. I'm hoping to see a waterfall chart one day...

7) Colors! Unlike the old exam which is completely black and white, the IR section includes some COLORS in its graphs and charts. So yes, more in tune with the modern world - you might see a scatterplot of points in red / blue / black or green colors!

If you are only interested in the IR section you can purchase it here for $10 (cheaper than ~$25 for the book):

[ can't provide URL but it's in the MBA dot com store with product ID 5032 ]



Sentence Correction (158)- Similar to the way it was before, SC is basically a sentence with an underlined portion. Your job is to figure out if that underlined portion of the sentence is the optimal way of writing - or whether one of the remaining 4 answer choices offers a better, more clearer way of communicating that same idea. GMAC folks have been slowly pushing in more questions that are related to meaning and fewer questions related to idioms.

Critical Reasoning (141) - This section is more or less the same with the exception of a greater emphasis on questions that ask you to fill in the blank and complete the logical argument.

Reading Comprehension (156) - as with almost all tests, there's a reading component. This is a classic component of many standardized tests. Boring passages, boring questions. The challenge here is getting yourself excited about these boring passages so you can actually answer them and make sense of the author's argument!


Problem Solving (254) - There's roughly 45 new questions in this version here. For the most part, the difficulty varies. I'd say the number of easy questions here are quite a bit. Because of the computer adaptive nature of the test, if you aim for the upper 600s and lower 700s, most likely you won't be asked some of the super easy questions here.

Data Sufficiency (198) - So there's 36 new added questions in this section. The wording here seems a bit more tricky and difficult. Of course the essential thought process approach we teach to attack this infamous section of the GMAT is the same so as long as you come in with the correct attack strategy, you'll be fine.

Key Takeaways

1) The Official Guide provides the highest quality of questions to use for your preparation needs. After all, they do include actual exam questions used in the past - usually referred to as "retired questions" - so definitely good to practice with these kinds of questions.

2) Is OG13 worth it? If you want some extra practice and also get online access to the integrated reasoning question bank - it's worth it for the price. Every serious MBA student should at least take a peek before the exam.

3) Having said that, keep in mind OG is for practice purposes. It does not teach you how to think. And certainly don't expect their explanations to guide you to the path of enlightenment. There's a reason why everybody buys the OG but still not everyone gets a top score. Certainly the book is necessary - but by no means an automatic ticket to the top MBA club.

Let's apply a fun logic / critical reasoning game here.
Statement: Buying OG13 will get me a 700+ score.

There is a flaw in this statement! Getting access to official exam questions does not imply that you can answer that type of question when presented in another form. Nor does buying the book indicate that you can answer it under time-pressured environments. OG provides practice questions - not exam strategy, which is its only weakness. I'd say exam strategy is well over 50% of the exam.

That said, OG is the standard. There really is no reason to rate this book 3 star or 4 star - it's the standard for this exam so it gets a 5 star. GMAC is not here to train how your brain thinks - it's here to give you sample questions from past exams. And that's exactly what it does.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 17, 2012 7:14:13 AM PDT
M. Tao says:
Thanks a million!! I lost the card and forgot the login address for online integrated reading...I googled everywhere until I read your post. Thank you!
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