Review: GMAT Official Guide 2016 Edition



The last GMAT Official Guide (2015) was the same as the previous version (13th Edition, 2012) but boasted a brilliant green cover. OK – to be fair, the 2015 edition did have an online question bank. But the bank mirrored those same rehashed questions and had so many functionality issues that it was really hard to see it as anything but a product in development.

Enter GMAT Official Guide 2016: Kaboom!

I was doubtful of this “new” content, thinking that GMAC might have recycled some questions from older products, but after spending a long night categorizing everything in the book, I can confirm that the new content is for the most part untainted. No change, though, to the diagnostic test at the beginning of the book, the integrated reasoning, and the little bit of math and verbal teaching material. Following suit with those in every other edition, the explanations in the GMAT Official Guide 2016 need improvement.

This GMAT Official Guide has the same three steps forward, two steps back as many other GMAC products but is certainly a “strong buy” for any would-be GMAT masters near the beginning of their GMAT walkabout. Read on for an analysis of the new content and the online question bank along with some recommendations on other important GMAT resources.


The new Official Guide 2016 problem solving seems to align more with the quant that I’ve seen on recent GMATs that I’ve taken. For instance, on a couple of recent tests I’ve seen a tricky code question similar to problem solving question #117 from OG 2016. Unfortunately, there are no new questions past PS #153. The guide is in order of difficulty, so we can conclude we haven’t been treated to any new really tough stuff. My guess is that the tough questions are a challenge to write, so GMAC has a vice grip on them. Pure speculation. The update is still a positive one in that the mid-level questions have been bulked up. And really, the GMAT is won and lost in the mid-level questions. The data sufficiency update is somewhat more evenly distributed but still skimpy on the top end.


I’m happy to report that most of the new Reading Comprehension is difficult. That’s great because many people find that the reading comprehension on the actual exam is more challenging than most of the RC from the Official Guides. This divergence is most felt by students scoring in the higher end of verbal. The not so great news is that there are only six new passages. In addition to official GMAT resources I would still recommend using the LSAT to boost your GMAT verbal.

The Critical Reasoning has gotten a meaty update with some slippery additions. Some of the prompts have been slightly re-worded. You’ll be asked, for instance, to provide a secondary explanation for a set of facts rather than weaken an argument. Those two actions are somewhat equal but most people feel more comfortable with the simple, straight ahead language of “weaken/strengthen”. One oddity – 29 of the 34 additions are assumption-based questions. That means that approximately half of the assumption questions have changed. Why so many assumption questions have been replaced is a mystery (only 5 content-based questions have been added). The sentence correction updates seem evenly distributed in terms of difficulty and content. The same major rules are present – parallelism remains the dominant error type.

GMAT Guide