Official vs Unofficial GRE Practice Questions

GRE questions - official versus unofficial

By Brent Hanneson - May 13, 2022

On the various GRE forums, you’ll find posts advising students to practice with official GRE questions only. 

I thought I’d weigh in on this. 

First off, I totally agree with that advice when it comes to GRE Verbal questions. Unofficial verbal questions often suffer from ambiguous information, out-of-scope concepts, and answer choices where two options seem correct. 

The official GRE test-makers, on the other hand, ensure their Verbal questions don’t suffer the same fate by spending between a ton of time and money on each question. This R&D includes adding newly-created questions to the GRE exam as experimental questions, analyzing the collected data, adjusting the wording to rectify any perceived issues, placing the revised question back into the exam as an experimental question, etc.  

So, by the time official verbal questions make it to the “real deal” test bank, they’re as good as they can be. That said, on the GRE forums, you’ll still find fierce debates concerning the correct answer to some official verbal questions. In these cases, it’s useful to know what the test-makers say is the correct answer, since they’re the same people who created the questions you’ll encounter on test day. 

For the above reasons, it’s best to stick with official verbal questions. That’s why over 95% of the verbal practice question in this course are official questions. The remaining (unofficial) questions are video questions, and copyright laws prevent us from making video questions with official questions.  

Quantitative questions are different 

Sure some unofficial quant questions have ambiguous wording, and some test concepts that aren’t tested on the GRE (e.g., sine, cosine and tangent). The good thing is that those substandard questions are easy to identify. As such, the only unofficial quant questions I add to the site are ones that could actually appear on test day.

But why not just practice with official quant questions only?    

Here’s the deal: the test-makers are masters at creating dozens and dozens of incredibly unique and diverse questions that test a single concept (more on this here). 

The official questions tell us how each concept has been tested in the past, but that certainly doesn’t mean those are the only variations you’ll see on test day. In fact, on test day, you’ll certainly encounter quant questions that are unlike any official questions you’ve seen. 

This is where unofficial quant questions are useful. Experts with a solid understanding of GRE quant can create new/unique questions that predict ways the test-maker might test certain concepts. So, solving unofficial questions gives us some insight into how each concept may be tested in the future.  

So, make sure your preparation includes both official and unofficial quant questions.

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