Exam Pack 2 Review

Exam Pack 2

Here in the GMAT-sphere we’ve had a slew of changes and a plethora of new materials released over the past several years – some duds such as the 2015 Official Guide but some gems such as exam pack 1 which now has a sequel appropriately named: Exam Pack 2. Unlike the new stars wars movie (and OG 2015) exam pack 2 is fresh, packed to the gills with official GMAT material organized into two computer adaptive tests powered by the official GMAT algorithm so that the scoring and question selection are identical to what you will experience on test day. Great news everybody! We’re not quite to LSAT level with their 80 official released tests but we’ve gone from 2 tests to 6 tests in the past three years. That’s something to feel good about in a little train that could kind of way.

Here’s a little FAQ to help you get the most out of Exam Pack 2

When should I use exam pack 2?

Save this puppy for the last 2-3 weeks of studying. This is primo stuff.

Can I retake the exams in Exam Pack 2?

Sure. It’s not Mission Impossible – they don’t explode after use. But, the question banks are small. So it is likely that on a retake you’ll see a ton of repeats. That said, if you’ve significantly changed your skill level between the administrations you may not see all that many repeats and a re-take might be completely worthwhile. Also, if a significant amount of time has passed you may have forgotten most of the questions so again a retake could be worth it.

Is Exam Pack 2 as difficult as the real GMAT?

These tests are the same as the real GMAT. The questions are from an official test. The scoring algorithm is the same. The difference, and what might make them easier, is that you are taking these tests in the comfort of your home. Really try to simulate a test environment. Turn off your phone. Don’t use the pause button. Respect the breaks. Create a test ritual.

Is there any difference between Exam Pack 2 and the free GMAT prep tests?

The questions from Exam Pack 2 are likely newer but still the two tests should track rather closely.

Should I do the IR?

Certainly take 1 or 2 full length tests with the IR and essay but my feeling is that you don’t need to do the IR for every test.

Does it matter whether I take the exams in the morning, in the afternoon, or at night?

Ideally, approach these exam pack CATs at the same time that you will be taking your real GMAT. Certainly do not waste any official CATs by blasting them when you are exhausted or unfocused.

Should I use a GMAT simulation pad?

Definitely. Most people don’t have an issue using the pad but it is good to practice how you will play. If you want the best of the best pads (in our most biased opinion) here’s the link: Atlantic GMAT Simulation Pad

How does Exam Pack 2 stack up against third party tests?

At this point I would avoid third party tests unless you have gone through all of the official stuff a couple of times and have nothing left to practice on. For most people, third party tests are unnecessary and not the best option for GMAT practice.

Now that there are 6 official tests is GMAT focus still worth buying?

GMAT focus is still helpful because it gives you several mini-CATs. These are great for the last week of GMAT studying when you might not want to burn the energy on a full test.

GMAT Verbal Review 2016

GMAT Verbal Review 2016

More tough questions would have been helpful but the GMAT Verbal Review 2016 is a welcome update to the aging Verbal Review 2nd edition. This isn’t the book for testing how bad-ass your GMAT verbal skills have become but can certainly aid you in your GMAT journey as a tried and true skill builder. There are plenty of useful questions even for those already scoring well in the verbal and aiming for 700+ GMAT scores.

Reading Comprehension

More reading comprehension passages are certainly welcome. A bunch of these additions are on the very easy side so won’t be helpful for any of you verbal high achievers. But for those just starting out or really struggling on the reading these will certainly be useful. If you are struggling with your reading go ahead and get in the habit of reading a challenging article every day. It’s important to develop your active reading. Here is an article on using the Economist for GMAT Reading Comprehension. A quick aside: for some extra tough verbal practice you can always look to LSAT or GRE reading comprehension. Both are a bit denser than GMAT RC and are certainly at the same level of quality.

Critical Reasoning

The GMAT Verbal Review 2016 critical reasoning aligns more with the Official Guide 2015/2016. There have been a bunch of new additions in the “fill in the blank” category which now accounts for a full 20% of the section compared to 8% in the Verbal Review 2nd edition. Only one new assumption question has been added. Nothing to complain about in terms of the difficulty of the new questions: we’ve gotten a good proportion of medium to tough questions in this update including a boldfaced/role question that resembles a miniature reading comprehension passage. If only the RC and SC updates had been this good! If you are looking to take the critical reasoning to the next level you might tackle some LSAT logical reasoning. Here’s an article on using LSAT for GMAT critical reasoning practice.

Sentence Correction

Tough sentence correction is hard to come by and remains so even with this 2016 update. Most of the new Sentence Correction questions live in the easy/medium territory. Those scoring 40+ on verbal will see some whacky sentence structures on the real GMAT, structures that are rare in the Official Guides. Not that you need to base your prep around these one or two outlier SC questions but it’s nice to be prepared for them. Oh well. The content seems balanced with parallelism questions remaining the most numerous. 


The GMAT Verbal Review 2016 is an improvement over it’s predecessor with a notable rebalancing of content in the critical reasoning section. Lightyears ahead? Nope. Worth having? That depends. If you are at the beginning of your GMAT preparation and haven’t bought the Verbal Review 2nd edition then I would skip the old guy and by the 2016 edition. If you already have the Verbal Review 2nd Edition then you’ve probably got your bases covered and could skip the Verbal Review 2016. In that case the money would be better spent on the GMAT Question Pack, the GMAT Paper Tests, or some LSAT material.

GMAT Verbal Review 2016 New Question Breakdown

Reading Comprehension – 26 new questions / 24.7%

Page 22/23 (short)

Questions 1-4

Page 26/27 (medium)

Questions 11-17

Page 30/31 (short)

Questions 23-26

Page 38/39 (long)

Questions 39-42

Page 58/59 (medium)

Questions 99-105

Critical Reasoning – 25 new questions / 30.1%

3, 7, 16, 21, 25, 28, 33, 35, 38, 43, 46, 50, 52, 53, 55, 60, 62, 64, 67, 68, 71, 72, 75, 78, 83

Sentence Correction – 25 new questions / 22.1%

2, 3, 8, 11, 14, 19, 23, 26, 30, 33, 37, 38, 42, 43, 47, 48, 50, 55, 63, 65, 73, 80, 92, 99, 103


GMAT Quant Review 2016

GMAT Quant Review 2016

The GMAT Quant Review 2016 improves an already solid skill builder. I can attest that our GMAT rulers at the Graduate Management Admission Council have blessed us with a decent update and a worthwhile purchase for anyone needing extra official GMAT Quant practice. It is certainly on the purchase list for a majority of new GMAT tutoring students. That said, if you already own the 2nd edition, likely that the 2016 edition won’t add much value.

Problem Solving

GMAC has filled the problem solving section with 61 new questions – a 30% boost. The Quant Review 2nd Edition had a few tough questions – those remain and are joined by another couple dozen reasonably tough puzzles. Most of what has been deleted was on the easy/medium side. Still, don’t expect to see questions as tough as the toughest from the OG 2016, GMAT Focus, GMAT Prep Tests, Question Pack 1, or the GMAT Exam Pack. There are one or two that compete with the elites, including one that I recognized from a GMAT that I took a few years ago but on the whole these questions from the Quant Review shine a bit less bright than the stars of other GMAT resources. Are there some puzzles to sink your teeth into? Certainly. Is it necessary to work only on the toughest of the tough? Not really. The GMAT Quant Review 2016 will get you in gear for the crucial mid-range of the test. 

Data Sufficiency

The DS update is anemic – most of the newbies are on the easier side of the spectrum. It would be great to have more of the tougher stuff but across all of the 2016 updates we see a pattern of stinginess with the upper crust of questions. Is this DS from Quant Review 2016 a waste of time? No. There are still plenty of solid learning questions. You need practice for the beginning of your GMAT preparation. This is it!

A Quant Review Conclusion

This GMAT Quant Review 2016 is a step in the right direction and provides reliable practice for the beginning of your GMAT preparation. It’s also a great skill builder for doing reps on specific topics. Be aware though that the questions are generally on the easier side so you will certainly need other resources (OG 2016, Question Pack 1, GMAT Prep Tests 1 & 2, Exam Pack) if you want a better simulation of top shelf GMAT Quant questions. 

New Questions in GMAT Quant Review 2016

Problem Solving (61/175)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 33, 34, 40, 41, 47, 48, 63, 68, 70, 71, 79, 80, 82, 86, 87, 88, 91, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 111, 116, 119, 125, 126, 127, 134, 142, 143, 144, 145, 150, 152, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 165

Data Sufficiency (41/124)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 19, 11, 12, 15, 16, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 56, 63, 64, 71, 110, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124

GMAT Enhanced Score Report Review

GMAT Enhanced Score Report

I’ve discussed GMAT performances with more people than I can remember. I’m often analyzing the mysterious reasons for a “GMAT failure to launch”. Why were the practice tests 700+ but the real score a 590? Without much data and only a subjective account from a student there is a ton of voodoo involved in the process. I think that I’m pretty good at untangling the knot, shedding some light in the dark corner, but most of my conclusions are just educated guesses. If I only had access to some of the data from the exam… (Drum roll, trumpet blast, open curtain) Enter the GMAT enhanced score report!!! Lots of hurrah from GMAC when this was released. Between you and me: it was a dud. However, GMAC has enhanced the Enhanced Score Report so that now, although still missing some basic information, it is actually useful. Let’s have a look at the pretty tables and graphs that you get for your 25 clams.

GMAT Enhanced Score Report Quant:

A percentile score for Data Sufficiency, Problem Solving, Algebra/Geometry, and Arithmetic.

Why only those categories? I have no idea. PS vs. DS is somewhat helpful. In general if you’re extremely titled in favor of DS then you’re lacking in your follow through. Meaning, you’re making arithmetic/algebra mistakes. You understand the big picture but are having trouble in the execution. This happens most often people who are strong at verbal but a little shaky on quant. Superb PS but down in the dumps DS? It’s not unlikely that you need to spend more time on planning.

Then again, maybe you were more familiar with the content that was presented in the Data Sufficiency so did better on those questions (or vice versa). GMAC might retort by saying “but we included a breakdown of Algebra/Geometry vs. Arithmetic”. Yeah. Well, it would be fantastic see a few more content categories. My guess is that GMAC doesn’t want to give away how questions are categorized.

Average time spent per question on the Quant section.

You can see the DS vs. PS balance. This could be interesting but I don’t find it particularly helpful in terms of guiding your studying (unless there is some massive imbalance). You can also see Algebra/Geometry vs. Arithmetic timing. I’m scratching my head on this one. It would be great to see how much time was spent on individual questions. That would let you know if you were dwelling a bit too much. Maybe GMAC heard my complaints and introduced:

Average time spent per question broken down by quarter

OK: not perfect. But pretty damn good. Now you can see whether you had a slow or fast start, got bogged down in the middle, or rushed at the end.

% time spend on questions you got correct vs incorrect by quarter

Could it be more granular? Yeah. But again, this is a win. The wrong v. right as a percent of time spent lets you know whether you were blowing oodles of time on questions that you were going to get wrong anyways. If you’re tilted towards spending more time on questions you get incorrect consider more guessing/moving on. It’s better to fail quickly.

GMAT Enhanced Score Report Verbal:

The verbal side has everything the quant has plus a couple of bonuses.

A percentile score for Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension.

Knowing your percentile on RC vs. CR. vs. SC is more meaningful than knowing PS vs. DS. At least you can pinpoint content-wise where you bombed.

Average time spent per question on the Verbal section.

This “enhanced” verbal report is also better than the “enhanced” quant report in that you get to see on which question type (RC, SC, CR) you blew your time.

GMAT Enhanced Score Report by a nose…

There are some GMAC products that provide great value: Question Pack 1, the GMAT Prep Software, and arguably the Official Guide 2016 are no brainer must haves. The new Enhanced Score report sneaks into the buy zone by a nose.

Is there a scenario in which it is absolutely worth buying this thing?

If you are 100% perplexed about your GMAT score (your score dropped like a stone from your practice tests and you have no clue why) you might squeeze some insight out the GMAT Enhanced Score Report. I also find it helpful for incoming GMAT tutoring students as it gives me another data point to plan the preparation. Comment with any questions. Good luck with your GMAT studying!

GMAT Practice Test Suggestions

GMAT Practice Test Suggestions

The scarcity of GMAT practice tests makes it so that as a would be GMAT wizard you have to ration your tests. Here today we’ll discuss how best to use GMAT practice tests in your GMAT preparation and best practices for taking a GMAT practice test.

GMAT Practice Test = Diagnostic

There are two main reasons to take a GMAT practice test. The first is to get a baseline score before starting your GMAT preparation. This is super important. Not only will you get an idea of what the GMAT is like but you will have some understanding of how much studying you will need to do in order to reach your goal. Do this before having a consultation with a GMAT tutor.

Instructions for your first GMAT practice test:

  • Prepare.

– Clear your schedule for 3.5 hours.

-Turn off your cell phone, ipad, or any type of alert.

-Get 8 sheets of paper or your erasable notepad ready along with several writing instruments.

  • You will be taking the Integrated Reasoning, the Quant, and the Verbal. You can skip the essay.
  • Be strict with the timing. Don’t touch that pause button!

You do not need to review this test. In fact, I would avoid reviewing because you will be re-taking this exact test a month or so down the road and it would be better to be less familiar with the questions. If you have a tutor you can send her/him the screenshots so they can analyze the results. If you scored dismally: don’t worry. Lots of people bomb the diagnostic and bounce back with great official scores. No matter how poorly you did and how much you want to prove to yourself that you can do better, do not be tempted to take a second diagnostic:)

GMAT Practice Test for Practice!

The second reason to take a GMAT practice test is to hone your test taking skills in a realistic setting. The two vital skills for success on the GMAT are sticking to a timing strategy and getting comfortable guessing and moving on when you don’t have a plan. It is super tempting to take another GMAT practice tests near the beginning of your preparation. As you learn new things you will want to see the progress that you’ve made. The GMAT practice tests will be calling out to you “take me, I’ll show you your score!” Resist. Taking an extra practice test or two or three in the first month or so of studying is a massive waste of resources. This is the time to build up your skills. Yes – you can work on your test taking skills but do so with mini-quizzes from Question Pack 1 (here are some suggestions for using the Question Pack). You only have six official GMAT practice tests. Let’s use them wisely. So when should you take a GMAT practice tests? Good question. This varies with the student but I would start getting into exam mode about five weeks before your exam date.

GMAT Practice Test for practice

  • Same preparation as above but I’ll add: get a good night’s sleep the night before and do the test before any other energy sucking activity.
  • In addition to being strict with section timing also be strict with the 8 minute breaks.
  • Use an erasable GMAT practice pad. Have two pens.

Students often ask whether it is necessary to do the IR and the Essay. I would do one full exam to get a sense for what the big race is like. Do that with your second to last exam. For the other tests only do Quant and Verbal. The logic here is that doing an entire test is extremely fatiguing. Add in review and we’re talking a lot of work. Spare yourself from doing the IR and the essay every time. In general you don’t run marathons to train for a marathon.

Instruction for reviewing a GMAT Practice Test

  • Take screenshots of everything that you want to review. Yes – it is true that the results are saved in the GMAT prep software but I have had many students lose their results only to have to call GMAC customer service for an SOS. Also – it is nice to have all of your error log in one folder.
  • Review the same day as the exam (if possible). It is best practice to review the questions while they are fresh. This way you still remember how you approached the question on the exam and can correct the faulty logic. This is also very helpful with RC so you don’t have to do a full re-read for all of the passages. Don’t forget to review correct answers as well!
  • These questions are GOLD – keep reviewing/re-doing questions from your error log until you are 100% on them. There may be some questions that stay in the error log for your entire preparation.

Here is a FAQ on the GMAT Exam Pack and a link to the GMAT Prep software with two free practice tests. I tried to be as detailed as I thought would be helpful but feel free to comment with any questions. Happy studies!




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