GMAT OG Verbal Review, 2nd Ed: Reading Comp
Like the other verbal question types, Reading Comprehension hardly changed from the 1st edition to the 2nd edition.
The biggest change is in passage length. There is a decided shift toward shorter passages.
As for question types, specific questions have shifted slightly toward the inference subtype and away from the detail-lookup subtype. Also, the lone Roman numeral question was eliminated. Both of these minor trends were observed in the changeover from the 11th to the 12th OG.
The 1st edition of the Verbal Review had 105 Reading Comprehension questions in 17 passages. In the changeover to the 2nd edition, 32 problems and 4 passages were removed, leaving 73 repeated problems and 13 repeated passages. Next, 31 problems and 5 passages were added, bringing the total to 104 questions and 18 passages in the 2nd edition—almost exactly the same as before.
Distribution of Questions and Passages
General vs. Specific Questions
As with the 11th-12th changeover, the General/Specific split has not changed very much from the 1st to the 2nd. Within the Specific category, there is a slight shift away from Detail questions (lookups) toward Inference questions, which require not only a lookup but also some degree of interpretation or further thinking.
Four long passages (averaging 349 words each) were removed. At the same time, 5 short passages (averaging 220 words each) were added. Since there were no other changes, the result is that the balance has swung toward shorter passages. In the 1st edition, 65% of the passages were long; in the 2nd edition, this percentage has dropped to only 39%.
The distribution of passage topics hardly changed; there is one more physical science passage in the new edition, but otherwise, the numbers are constant. Even at a more specific level, topics remained largely the same. For instance, a physical science passage on astronomy was eliminated, but another astronomy passage was added.
According to the GMAT, higher-numbered problems are more difficult. On Reading Comprehension, this pattern is probably approximate, since problems must stay with their passage. However, we can assume that later passages and questions were generally measured to be more difficult than earlier passages and questions.
In the transition from the 1st to the 2nd edition, passages were removed and added throughout the numbering. There was little overall shift in difficulty, although the last two passages were removed and no higher-numbered passages were added.
Removed (out of 105):
- # 13
- # 22-28
- # 55
- # 56-63
- # 91-97
- # 98-105
The two isolated questions that were removed were the lone “Roman numeral” question (such questions were also removed in the 11th-12th changeover) and another problem that asked “which of the following would the author most likely regard as INCORRECT?” Both of these sorts of questions put a heavy search demand on students: you had to search all over the passage in order to determine the answer. Note, however, that the 2nd edition still has many problems that require a good deal of searching (e.g., EXCEPT questions).
Added (out of 104)
- # 1-6
- # 18-23
- # 45-49
- # 64-70
- # 91-97
There is a moderate correlation (R = 0.49) between passage length and position in the numbering. Longer passages tend to be higher-numbered. We observed a similar trend in the 12th edition.
Moreover, the passages are relatively evenly distributed by topic. Biology passages tend to be slightly lower-numbered, while the other topics are slightly higher-numbered.
These graphs look essentially the same for the 1st edition.