WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM THE 2019 OFFICIAL GUIDE?

Every year, usually in early summer, the GMAC—the company responsible for creating and administering the GMAT—releases the next year’s installment of the Official Guide. Almost anyone who’s had any experience with the GMAT probably knows this.

The Official Guide’s release is always somewhat noteworthy because it’s so, well, official. The marketplace is saturated with all kinds of GMAT preparation products, but none of them come with the same authority as the Official Guide and it’s prep materials.

Some GMAT students look forward to the release of the next OG with great anticipation, and plan their test prep around it. Other GMAT students wonder whether it’s worth the wait and the expense—does the new edition really offer anything that the previous edition didn’t? This can be a tough question to answer, especially before the new OG is released, when you still don’t know for certain what will be in it.

To that end, we took a look at the 2019 Official Guide. The 2019 OG is expected to be released in the summer of this year, and while it’s impossible to know what the exact contents will be, its recent evolution offers a few clues about what to expect from the next installment.

 

THE BASICS

As ever, we expect the 2019 OG to come complete with a huge supply of GMAT questions, including a diagnostic test and multiple practice tests. The 2018 OG boasted 900 questions, and it’s hard to see the 2019 version taking any significant steps down from that big number. And unless the GMAC has decided to forgo their indomitable market advantage and license their materials to other prep companies, the 2019 version will once again be the only product on the market offering actual, official GMAT questions (albeit from past exams). This alone gives it unparalleled value to GMAT preppers.

While the format of the actual GMAT exam does sometimes change over time, there haven’t been too many significant changes in recent years, and we don’t have any expectations for a major overhaul in 2019. However, if there are any significant changes to the exam, you can count on the 2019 OG to be your best source for what those changes will be.

We also expect the practice questions to continue to come with answers and solutions. This component of the practice materials is also relatively similar over time, in terms of the language and the problem-solving strategies used to help illustrate key concepts. We expect the instructional component of the 2019 OG to be clear and useful as ever.

However, we also expect the instructional materials to have some of the same limitations as previous versions of the OG. That is, the practice problems will probably only ever feature one solution/strategy—this makes it a useful but not totally comprehensive resource for students who really wish to personalize their GMAT prep to their learning style.

MORE OF A GOOD THING

Many students wonder whether it’s worth paying a bit extra for the newest version of the OG every year—especially if the test hasn’t significantly changed, and if older versions of the OG typically sell at some kind of discount. One thing that does change every year is that the new OG always offers new, real GMAT questions, on top of questions from GMAT exams and versions of the OG that have been printed in the past. 2018 was a fairly typical year in this regard, with roughly 15% of its practice materials totally new. We expect about the same turnover in the 2019 OG.  

 

THE EXTRAS

The 2018 OG took a major leap forward in the extra electronic resources it offers. Students who bought the 2018 OG were able to synchronize their book practice with various electronic resources, including all the printed practice materials from the OG (in addition to extra practice questions and solutions), as well as electronic practice tests (to better simulate the Computer Adaptive Test structure of the actual GMAT) and other helpful study resources like online question banks for organizing your study plan and tailoring it to your specific needs. The 2019 OG will almost certainly continue to offer these additional electronic resources, and will likely marginally improve on whatever bugs, kinks, and nuances users found in the 2018 version.

Also, the 2019 OG will most likely also feature supplemental printed materials that offer further practice and instruction. The 2018 OG offered separate supplemental books for both the Verbal and the Quantitative section, as well as a package that bundled these together with the OG itself. We expect the 2019 OG to also offer a bundled package (and slight discount) that includes supplemental practice materials.

 

WHAT ELSE CAN WE EXPECT?

Affordability! One of the (pleasantly) surprising thing about the OG is that, for a product that has such a powerful advantage in the marketplace (meaning it is the only prep material that features real GMAT questions), it is always competitively priced.

Another thing to expect from the 2019 OG is popularity. The advantage of working with real GMAT questions always makes the OG the most authoritative GMAT prep resource, and people choose it accordingly. It is the test prep resource of choice for many third-party tutoring operations that have no affiliation to the actual GMAT. It’s also—and perhaps this its best advertisement—the most commonly cited resource (that we know of) for top-scoring GMAT students. The GMAC boasts that 80% of students who score >700 use the OG in their prep.

However, one final thing you should note is that while a majority of top-scoring students are known to include the OG, it’s clear that few of them use ONLY the OG. Many students use the valuable practice and diagnostic resources of the OG to help them identify their best and most personalized study plan, which they then supplement with other materials (in addition to the OG). The way we see it, the OG works for GMAT prep similarly to how Wikipedia works for research—it’s the best place to start, but not always the best place to finish.