The Official Guide for the GMAT Review 2022: Should You Buy It?

cover of the GMAT Official Guide 2022

What is the Official Guide for GMAT Review?

The Official Guide for GMAT Review is a GMAT book, or rather a three-book set: a main GMAT Official Guide book, and two smaller books, one focusing on Quantitative and the other focusing on Verbal. These books are available for purchase in the MBA.com store. And yes, Magoosh does recommend buying the main GMAT OG, and possibly the Verbal and Quant books too.

We recommend these books because the practice material is of the highest possible quality. Each official guide book for the GMAT are published by Wiley, a major academic publisher. The content itself is designed by the same team that makes the actual GMAT exam.

As you may know, GMAC, the folks who create the GMAT, recently released three volumes of The Official Guide for the GMAT 2022. I review these new editions of the Official Guide for the GMAT in this book review.

Keep in mind that, while the eBooks are currently available, the 2022 hard copies of the books don’t come out until June— and in the meantime, the online eBook versions can be difficult to navigate.

The Official Guide for the GMAT Review 2020: Should you buy it?

The Official Guide for the GMAT 2022

The three new volumes are as follows:

  1. The Official Guide for the GMAT 2022 (eBook; hard copy will be available in June 2021).
  2. The Official Guide for the GMAT Verbal Review 2022
  3. The Official Guide for the GMAT Quantitative Review 2022

There is NO strong advantage to getting the 2022 edition instead of the 2021 edition. There are only a few small changes to this book from the previous edition:

  • The Math Review, section #3, is longer and includes 25 additional practice questions integrated into the text;
  • There is a new “Verbal Review” section, #6. It includes 25 additional practice questions integrated into the text;
  • There are six additional explanation pages in the Problem Solving chapter (#4) (but no actual new questions)

So is it worth spending the money to get the updated Math and Verbal review sections? For most people, probably not–but if you’re unsure, you can check out the Quant section on Amazon using the preview feature to see the first 50 or so pages.

The only major reason to get the 2022 update to the OG is if your current OG is from 2019 or earlier–and even then, it might not be necessary (see below). The OG was hugely revised for 2020, with about 25% new content per section, and it was also the first revision to work on a mobile app.

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Another New Official Guide?

As readers of this blog may know, I have the utmost respect for the GMAT exam as one of the finest standardized tests. Consequently, I have the highest respect for the content creators and psychometricians at GMAC who design this test. I have met some of these people, and they are impressive.

Having said that, GMAC is a company, and, like any company, it leverages what it can to generate profits. In the “old days” (up until several years ago), they would publish a new OG every 3-4 years, and often they would have a particularly good reason to do so. For example, they published the OG13 when they were introducing the Integrated Reasoning section in 2012: that was a 100% legitimate reason to update the OG. 

For the past several years, they have published a new OG every year, and they are rushing each new edition out at a pace far faster than that of other standardized test OGs. This new-OG-every-year rhythm is driven more by profit-seeking than by any legitimate pedagogical concern.  It’s basically a ploy to separate the vulnerably anxious test-taking population from as much of its money as possible.  

In other words? Caveat emptor.

Accessing the Online Version of the GMAT Official Guide 2022

Actually downloading the OG in eBook form can be tricky, but if you don’t want to wait for the hard copy to drop in June, it’s currently your only option (other than getting the 2021 version of the book).

When you purchase the eBook from either Wiley or MBA.com, you’ll get an email with a link to download the book. You’ll need to create an account with a third-party reader, Vital Source, to read this book, which involves downloading and then uploading it. You can then either read the book in your internet browser or via the Vital Source bookshop app.

Accessing the Online Question Bank for the GMAT Official Guide 2022

I will again point out that the 2022 OG, like previous editions, offer all the GMAT questions from the book online, if you want to practice them on a computer rather than on a hard copy. Furthermore, that online question bank is where they keep the practice Integrated Reasoning questions. The current guide offers instructions at the end for “Online Question Bank Information,” which will help you access these questions with an online code. Keep in mind that the OG question bank appears on the Wiley site, NOT on the MBA.com site.

As I also mentioned, the newer editions offers a mobile version of the app. Frustratingly, however, instructions on how to access the books’ questions via app are hidden at the back of the book. And by “vague,” I mean non-existent.

Finally, after poking around a good deal on my Google and on my own phone’s app store, I realized that the app was not hosted on the official GMAT website at all. Instead, you’re supposed to use the Wiley Efficient Learning App via Google Play or iTunes. This makes sense in retrospect, since the book tells you to go to wiley.gmat.com for the web-based practice questions, and that URL actually forwards you to the GMAT section of the Wiley Efficient Learning website. But directions for the mobile app certainly could have been clearer to say the least.

Should I buy the new Official Guide?

Criticisms aside, should you, the student studying for the GMAT, buy these new books?

If you are just starting your studies for the GMAT and haven’t bought any official materials yet, then yes, you should buy some version of the GMAT OG, and you might as well buy the newest one available.

If you already have an earlier edition, such as the OG 2019, the OG 2018, or even the OG13 or OG2015, and are already working through it, then I would not advise you to buy another version. If you master everything in any of those volumes, that’s enough for a high 700s score. After all, although the GMAT test was changed to a shorter format in 2018, the GMAT questions themselves haven’t changed since the introduction of IR in 2012.

The new OGs may be marginally more GMAT-like, but I am NOT going to say that they’re so much better than previous editions that you should run out to buy a new one. Undoubtedly, the marketers at GMAC would love it if a large number of students thought that way, but, with all due respect to the people at GMAC, I want to discourage this line of thinking.

One other reason to buy the 2022 guide is you have already finished working through an older edition and need more GMAT practice questions.

Similarly, if you exhausted an earlier edition studying for a first take of the GMAT, and now you need to study for a retake, then the new questions in one of the other earlier editions would help you.

Okay, I need a new book. Should I get the 2022 or the 2021 guide?

As I’ve discussed, the changes between editions are usually just minor tweaks, and that’s definitely the case here. That said, if prices are approximately the same at your chosen vendor, you should probably get the 2022 edition, since there is some new material in the Math and Verbal review sections. Yes, the 2022 OG is technically the “best” edition of the book, but not by a wide margin, so we’d encourage students to consider buying the 2021 if they can save some money on the difference.

What about the Verbal Review and Quant Review?

These updates are really similar to the OG 2022 update in general. In the Quant book, the Math Review section has 50 additional pages. In the Verbal book, there’s a new 62-page section, “Verbal Review.” These sections do have practice problems to integrate your learning as you go, but these are the same new sections and questions as in the updated OG review sections.

And before you shell out the money: if you only have about a month to study for the GMAT, you probably wouldn’t have time to do any questions other than those from the OG. Even in some of our three-month study schedules, folks barely have enough time to learn and review the content they need to master — they don’t have time for these extra questions.

If you are a practice-question maven who has already raced through the OG and need more official questions, or if you exhausted the OG on your first take and now you want to practice for a retake, then these books are an excellent source of official practice questions.

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If you already have the earlier editions, by all means, use those first. Only buy these new books if you don’t already own the earlier editions.

What’s Special about the GMAT OGs?

So why buy any GMAT Official Guide? Well, for one, as I mentioned, these books have absolutely 100% the most authentic practice questions you can find anywhere. All of the Official Guide practice sets are created by the same folks who make the real exam, and are even taken from actual past tests. Past tests are the only source for the Verbal, Quant, and IR questions, though. You won’t see any of those questions on a current exam. And in terms of the AWA, the OG’s descriptions of test structure and logistics are more accurate and complete than anything you could find elsewhere.

This three-volume set does have some minor shortcomings. For example, the tutorial and advice portions of the book are pretty dry. So you’ll want to supplement your GMAT Official Guide with tutorials and answer explanations from a reputable third party such as Magoosh.

OG 2022 Book Review: Summary

Understandably, most students studying for the GMAT want to do everything in their power to prepare. By all means, use the best resources, follow proven study schedules, and pursue the habits of excellence (without which the resources and study schedules are considerably less valuable!). All that is very important.

Nevertheless, don’t feel compelled to leap for your credit card every single time GMAC publishes a new edition of something. The OG 2022 books are collections of absolutely excellent GMAT practice questions, but so are the previous editions (2021 and 2020). If you are starting from scratch, you might as well start with the newest. If you already have an earlier GMAT OG, trust the one you have.

If you have any experience with using any of these new books, we would love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Bonus: Magoosh has developed GMAT Companion Workbook  and a GMAT Official Question support forum to help you use the Official Guide more effectively. Check it out!

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