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Wanted: Better GMAT OG Explanations!

Posted on August 30, 2013
gmat og explanations

Background:

 

Anyone who has been studying for the GMAT for a few weeks – especially those who have started solving the Official Guide provided by GMAC, know this too well – OG explanations suck!

 

Is this post going to give you better OG explanations? Er…….No. For that you will have to come to our classroom to discuss with your faculty and participate on the CrackVerbal discussion forums. What I want to tell you is WHY the answer explanations suck.

 
 

What happens?

 
The lack of sound explanations is a bigger problem in the Sentence Correction(SC) section. The 2 words that any GMAT test-taker starts to loathe by the time he is done practicing from the OG are – Wordy and Awkward.
 
Though you may see a bigger problem with parallelism or tenses, the explanation offered is that the construction was awkward. Let us see how the dictionary defines these words:
Awkward- Adjective-

1.Causing Difficulty; hard to do or deal with: “one of the most awkward jobs is painting a ceiling”; “some awkward questions”.
 
2.Deliberately unreasonable or uncooperative: “you’re being damned awkward!”.

 
“Causing difficulty”? Aren’t all options supposed to do that on the GMAT? 🙁
 

wordy

 

Adjective
 
1.Using or expressed in too many words.
 
2.Consisting of words.

 

“Too many words” – how many is too many? Isn’t this personality a very subjective thing? 🙁

 
 

Why it happens?

 
The key to solving this mystery lies in understanding the process of question creation at GMAC – the body that conducts the GMAT. The actual question creation is given to a company called ACT.
 
So the team of psychometricians at ACT are focused on creating questions that can be calibrated to assess the performance of the student and that are as precise as possible in terms of the concepts tested, words used in the questions etc.
 
Do they then stop and say? Hey! You know guys, we might also be retiring these questions in the future, in which case we also need to write explanations. Hell no! 🙂
 
The GMAC guys get all these questions they don’t want to use on the test anymore (most common reason – they are either too “old” or they have been leaked) and they simply decide to publish these in the OG (or give it as part of the GMATPrep software). This should explain why they have new questions with every new edition. But they don’t have the explanations to go with it.
 
So who comes up with these stupid explanations? What were these guys smoking when they gave the explanation to that tough Sentence Correction question using “rhetorical construction”?
The answer is that these are OUTSOURCED!
 
There I said it! 🙂
 
Irrespective of who developed the questions – ETS (pre-2006) or ACT (from 2006 till now) – the problem is that the guys who created the questions are not the guys who created the answers. Also while creating the answer it is very tough to have a strict quality control over what qualifies as a good explanation.
 
Unlike the questions, which are put through the rigor of a lot of statistical analysis, the answer explanations are written to satisfy the deadlines from the marketing team to publish the book.
 
 

How to fix this?

 
The good news is that we have the entire set of OG explanations with video explanations on our YouTube channel Do check it out !
 

 
This should be a great source for you whenever you are solving questions.
 
Another way you can do this is by writing the explanation yourself. Not the entire explanation but just a few words on why you eliminate an answer choice. At CrackVerbal we teach students to think in a surgical manner while solving questions.
 
So there should be no room for “awkward and wordy” when YOU solve the questions. Come up with a solid grammatical reason for eliminating each answer option. Do this every time.
 
So what do you think about this? Have you faced issues with the OG explanations? What do you think can be done to improve the quality?
 
Let me know in the comments section below. 🙂
 
 
Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.
 
Head over to our E-book library for more useful information on how to achieve an awesome GMAT score!
 
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