Archive for the ‘Lesson Excerpt’ Category

[This is an excerpt from our full course. Previous Lesson - Blind Review Part 6]

Analysis for circled questions with change

Changed answer
These questions were circled.  But, you decided to chose a new answer.

If your changed answer is right, then great. Reinforce your reasoning that got you here. You just taught yourself and really understand this question now. At first, under time pressure, you went with your intuition and chose incorrectly. But, during Blind Review, you were able to see the error in your intuition and you’ve chosen the right answer. You’ve guided your intuition towards the right direction. Because you corrected for this mistake on your own, you have internalized this lesson better than if an instructor told you why you were wrong. Good job! You’ve made progress. Next time, you’ll be able to tackle a similar question faster and with more accuracy. This is the result that we’re looking for!

If your changed answer is wrong, and your original (pre-Blind Review) answer was right, then you must immediately shatter the reasoning you used during Blind Review. Your original spark of intuition was right, though you didn’t really know why. After all, you did manage to convince yourself that your intuition was wrong and you changed the answer. Oops. Now is your chance to examine that intuition. See if you can figure out why your intuition was right in the first place.

Action:

1. Watch the video explanation for this question
2. Talk to other students about it
3. Talk to your instructor about it
4. Cut this question out and keep it. Review it every so often.

If your changed answer is wrong, and your original (pre-Blind Review) answer was also wrong, well, here you need help right away. You really don’t understand this question. Questions like these are candidates for skipping during a timed run. But, during review, you should try to understand them.

Action:

1. Watch the video explanation for this question
2. Talk to other students about it
3. Talk to your instructor about it
4. Cut this question out and keep it. Review it every so often.

Continue Reading - Blind Review Part 8

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[This is an excerpt from our full course. Previous Lesson - Blind Review Part 5]

Analysis for circled questions with no change

Didn’t change answer
These questions were circled.  But, you decided to stand by your original answer choice.

If you got the question right, then great. You’re golden. You’ve made sure that it wasn’t because of chance that you got this question right. On top of that, you’ve reinforced your correct reasoning for choosing your answer and for eliminating the wrong ones. That’s reasoning that you will confidently carry forth into other LSAT questions.

If you got the question wrong, then you’re learning. What you’ve figured out is that it wasn’t just a matter of being pressured by time.  Even during Blind Review, with all the time in the world, you still got it wrong. You really don’t understand this question. Questions like these are candidates for skipping during a timed run. But, during review, you should try to understand them.

Action: You will immediately shatter whatever reasoning you used to justify your choice, then

1. Watch the video explanation for this question
2. Talk to other students about it
3. Talk to your instructor about it.
4. Cut this question out and keep it.  Review it every so often.

Continue Reading - Blind Review Part 7

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[This is an excerpt from our full course. Previous Lesson - Blind Review Part 4]

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee, I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says ‘Fool me once LSAT, shame on... shame on you... ...you fool me, you can’t get fooled again.' ”

-George W. Bush

Analysis for non-circled questions

Non-circled questions
These questions were not circled.  That means you were 100% sure that you got them right.

If you got the question right, then great.  You’re golden.  Nothing more to do here.
If you got the question wrong, then that’s bad.  How could you have gotten it wrong? You were 100% certain!

Socrates can explain. Socrates, often thought of as the father of Western philosophy, famously, or maybe apocryphally, once said "I know that I know nothing."  For that (and probably a lot of other things he’s said), he was regarded as the wisest man in Athens.
The applicability of that saying for us is that there is a huge difference between knowing what you don’t know and not knowing what you don’t know.  Either way, you don’t know it.  The question is just do you realize that you don’t know it or don’t you realize?  That pretty much sums up your relationship with the LSAT.  You don’t know very much.  The question is just whether you realize it or not.

Another way to think about it is that there's a difference between confusion and pre-confusion.  Confusion is not that dangerous.  In fact, when you're confused about a question, that’s good!  You already know that you're confused and therefore, you already know that there's something to learn.  That's like swimming in a shark infested sea - you know you need to bring a spear, shark repellent, and a deep sense of regret for making such a stupid decision.  But, you will be extremely careful!  You know you’re in danger.  Those are the circled questions.

What's more dangerous is pre-confusion.  That’s where you don't even know that you're confused. That's when you're actually in the shark infested open ocean and you think you're in a kiddie pool. That’s where you think you nailed a question, but that question actually robbed you blind. That's a kind of danger for which you don’t even have a radar for.

We call this a Confidence Error.  Because you were confident though you had no reason to be.

Action:
Typically, you commit Confidence Errors when the LSAT has fooled you.  They laid out an attractive trap answer and a subtle right answer and you took the bait!  This is where you have to examine and uncover the trap.  How did they construct it?  What was so appealing about the wrong answer?  How can I avoid this trap in the future?  Try to answer these questions on your own.  Sometimes, the reason is as simple as a mis-reading.  I promise you, everything on the LSAT is repetitive, including their traps.  You will see the same trap again.

If you have trouble understanding the trap, then you should:

1. Watch the video explanation for this question
2. Talk to other students about it
3. Talk to your instructor about it

Confidence Errors will occur a lot in the beginning of your studies and will dramatically diminish as you get better and become more sensitive to LSAT traps.

Continue Reading - Blind Review Part 6

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[This is an excerpt from our full course. Previous Lesson - Blind Review Part 3]

Check your answers

Now that your answers mean something, we can check them. This step is easy. You look at the answer sheet and you mark up your problem set or LSAT prep test. Remember to keep track of both sets of answers. You'll want to see how well you did the first time around under time pressure and how well you did without time pressure on Blind Review.

The pre-Blind Review answers you chose are the ones that indicate your performance under timed pressure. The Blind Review answers indicate your room for improvement.

I highly recommend using the 7Sage LSAT Grader to score and track your LSAT PrepTests.  It lets you enter your actual AND blind review answers.  Then it does all the work of tracking and analyzing your blind review for you!

Continue Reading - Blind Review Part 5

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[This is an excerpt from our full course. Previous Lesson - Blind Review Part 2]

Reviewing your thought process

At the end of the previous step, you should have a bunch of circled questions, a bunch of not circled questions, and maybe a couple that you didn't get to answer.  Now, let's figure out just what to do with each of these types of questions.

First, do not look at the answer key. Then, ignore the questions you didn't circle.

Second, focus on just the ones that you didn’t have time to get to. They are blank. Now, take as much time as you need to answer those questions. Make sure that you are at 100% certainty for these questions. This is important for the analysis later.

Third, focus on just the ones you circled. Now, take as much time as you need - typically 5-10 minutes per question - to review those questions.

What does "review” mean?  It means to carefully go over your reasoning, since it’s still fresh in your mind.  Make sure you talk out the rationale that makes that answer right and the rationale that makes each of the other four answers wrong.  You want to make sure you are practicing and getting better at travelling down both paths to the correct answer choice.

Articulate your reasoning to someone - other students, your instructor.  Anyone!  Just force yourself to speak it out.  If you’re two months into your LSAT prep, that means you can teach someone just starting everything you know.  Do it!  It’ll reinforce your own understanding.  If you're studying alone, remember talking to yourself doesn't make you crazy.  If you’re insecure about your sanity, seek professional medical help.

Often, you don’t know what your reasoning is until you say it out loud. You just have a vague idea in your head. Sometimes, when you say it out loud, you’ll realize that your idea is actually nonsense. So talk to someone about why you choose that answer choice and why you eliminated the rest.

Action: As you review, you must either:
1. Stand by your original answer or
2. Pick a new answer.

If you pick a new answer, keep track of the change and the original.  This is important later on for analysis.
This step of the Blind Review does two things:

1. It takes the timing out of the equation. We want to know whether our errors are attributable to time or to lack of understanding.  This way, since you get unlimited time, you get to see the difference. Can you get the question right without the time constraint?
2. It forces you to engage with each answer choice.  It forces you to crystallize, to solidify, to really having a concrete reason for each answer choice.  When you're doing this you are no longer just wishy-washy half guessing flying by the spark of intuition.  Now you have the time to articulate a reason for your choices.  That's a sharp distinction between what most LSAT students do, which is just placing bets.

Yes, this method takes a lot of time.  It’s supposed to.  Learning is a slow process.  But, at the end of it, is a better LSAT score.

Continue Reading - Blind Review Part 4

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[This is an excerpt from our full course. Previous Lesson - Blind Review Part 1]

The Blind Review is a habit

The Blind Review teaches you to sharpen your intuition so that they become more reliable.  The previous lesson mentioned that the Blind Review is how you practice the LSAT.  I want to emphasize this word "practice". The emphasis is on action.  This is active which means it's something you do.  With enough doing it becomes a habit and that's good.

100% Certainty

This first step is to setup for the other steps.  Not all answer choices are equal.  Some answers you are certain about, some you merely took a stab at and gave it your best guess - maybe you got it right, maybe you got it wrong.  We want to distinguish between the two types of answer choices. In other words, we want to watch out for luck.  We want to be careful that we don’t credit ourselves for questions that we got right because of a lucky guess.  So, as you're flying through the timed sections, you should circle the questions that you're not 100% certain about the answer you chose.  Later, we will talk about how this also allows us to track the accuracy of our confidence in our choices.

Are you 100% certain about the answer you chose?

If you are, do not circle the question.
If you are not, circle the question.

What does it mean to be "100%" certain?

1. You are certain that the answer you chose is correct and
2. You are certain that the other four answers are incorrect.

In addition to the two conditions listed above, if you are just starting to prep for LSAT, you may want to consider this factor as well: If the stimulus contains an argument, you should also be certain what the conclusion of the argument is and how strong the conclusion is supported by the premises. Anything less than that, and you must circle the question. It means there’s a chance that you got this question right because of luck and not because you understand what’s going on.  If that's the case, that means there's something to be discovered and learned from that question.  So, you have to circle the question.

We insist that you are certain about the right answer and the wrong answers because on the LSAT you are offered two paths to get a question correct.  The first path, the obvious one, is that you recognize the right answer as the right answer.  The second path is that you soundly eliminate the other four incorrect answers.  These two paths are independently sufficient for you to get the question right.  In other words, you don’t need to travel down both to get credited.  But, during practice, you definitely want to practice both routes of getting to the right answer.

During the actual test, you’ll take a right answer however you can get it.  Who cares if you guessed?  If your eyes somehow see a blue aura emanating from correct answers, perfect.  Shamelessly embrace your freakish nature.  For those of us normal people, what happens is under time pressure, we eliminate 3 wrong answer choices confidently and we vacillate between the two remaining ones and we go with our gut and choose one, without really knowing why we chose it.  We make a judgment about the certainty of our choice weighed against the additional time it would take to improve that certainty and most of the time, we simply accept a lower degree of certainty and move on to the next question.  That’s a perfect strategy for taking the test.  That's what you ought to be doing under timed pressure.  The only problem is that it's not reliable.  If you get lucky this time, you may not get lucky next time.  But, what is reliable is the consistent application of a theory of the LSAT to actual LSAT questions that yields the right answer choices.  During review, your goal isn't just to be credited.  Your goal is to get better at applying that consistent theory so that next time, you will be able to implement it faster and get more questions right.

Action: circle every question that falls short of 100% certainty. If you don't get this step right, you cannot proceed to the rest of the Blind Review steps.

At the end of this process, you should have a bunch of circled questions, a bunch of not circled questions, and maybe a couple that you didn't get to answer because time ran out.  Next, let's figure out just what to do with each of these types of questions.

Continue Reading - Blind Review Part 3

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[This is an excerpt from our full course.]

The Blind Review

The Blind Review Method as introduced in this series of lessons are meant to be used for the problem sets in our course and timed LSAT Prep Tests.

Most students review LSAT questions the wrong way. I’m going to show you a proven approach that will increase your LSAT score.

If you’re already studying the LSAT, this is most likely not what you've been taught to do.  If we’re the first ones to teach you the LSAT, great.  Either way, this ought to be how you practice the LSAT.

How do people normally study and what’s wrong with it?

Take your average LSAT student.  Say he finished LSAT PrepTest 53 (December 2007), fully timed, using the proctor apps for iPhone/iPad or Android (or the online LSAT proctor).  The clock is running and he chooses his answer quickly, sometimes tentatively.  The time is called and he puts down his pencil.  He breathes a sigh of relief and what does he do next?  He immediately checks his answers: "Sweet, got this one right - I'm awesome.  Oh no, this one's wrong - I’m dumb. Oh yay, I got this one right - I'm awesome again."

I know that's what most LSAT students do.  Why’s that bad?  Isn’t checking the answers obviously what you should do after you take a timed prep test?

Well, no.  In fact, checking your answers right after a timed prep test is the worst disservice you can do for yourself.  You've essentially just wasted the time you spent taking the prep test.  Okay, I exaggerate, but not by much.  Think about what you’re actually doing when you check the answers right away.  Do you just want vindication that you're smart?  The psychology of doing that is like placing a bet and you can't wait to find out if you've won or lost.  I’m betting A, I'm betting C, and so on.  The answers are right there and it's like you're at the roulette table at Vegas and you're praying "I hope it lands on red 18 (or whatever answer choice you selected)!”

But, that's kind of insane isn't it?  You're not placing bets.  The LSAT is not a casino.  There are reasons that distinguish right answers from wrong ones.  Random chance is never a factor.  You, in fact, are the only factor.  You're studying for this test.  You're trying to improve the way you think.  You're trying to get better, intellectually.  And that’s completely the wrong way to go about it.

Again, to emphasize one last time, if you're immediately checking your answers, you're doing it wrong. You’re just checking whether you filled in the right circle. You’re NOT checking whether you had good reasoning.

Blind Review, the right way to study for the LSAT

So, how to do it right?  We call it the Blind Review method. In the next couple of lessons you'll see how to use the Blind Review method to correctly practice the LSAT. You can contrast that with the method you already use or you thought was the right way and decide which one is better.

Continue Reading - Blind Review Part 2

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LSAT panic

You’ve experienced panic during an LSAT. Your brain freezes, you can’t think, and you get questions wrong.

You’re actually experiencing the fight or flight response. This is a mini-meditation exercise to teach you how to kick your body out of that, and get back to answering questions. But first, a bit about the fight or flight response.

The Fight or Flight Response

So, as humans, we’re all equipped with a sophisticated system to deal with sudden threats. Suppose a bear appeared in front of you when you went out to lunch. Here is what you would do, without thinking:

1. Freeze. It’s actually the freeze-fight or flight response. Predators are attracted to motion, freezing hides you. This also prepared you for your next action. Your brain assesses whether to attack the threat, or flee.

2. You hold your breath. This helps you freeze, and gives you a burst of strength when you exhale. You’ll recognize this added force if you’ve ever done heavy weightlifting.

3. You shut down non-essential body functions. Digestion is all well and good, but it won’t help you fight a bear. That gets shut down, along with several other non-crucial body functions, such as higher order logical thought.

Oops. Unfortunately, a tough LSAT question triggers this same stress response, and exactly the same effects occur. If you ‘panic’ during the LSAT you’re experiencing an evolutionary reaction utterly unsuited to your current situation. You can’t punch logic games, or run away.

Fortunately, there is a way out. Breathing is quite something. It’s the one autonomous bodily system (happens without thinking) that we can also control. And it’s a crucial part of the fight or flight response.

The Mini-Meditation Exercise

Taking deep, conscious breaths acts as a manual override switch to the fight or flight response. ‘It’s ok brain, not a bear. At ease.’ You literally can’t be stressed if you take a series of deep breaths. So here’s the protocol:

1. Close your eyes
2. Take 5-10 deep breaths, slowly, in and out, until you feel relaxed.
3. Breathe through your stomach. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system and heightens the effect.
4. Focus on the breath entering and leaving your nostrils. A common meditation technique, among other things, this removes the stressful incident from our thoughts.

This whole process takes 10-15 seconds. The increased mental awareness of returning to a normal, logical mind state more than makes up for the few seconds spent.

If you liked this article, you'll probably also like our tips for combating LSAT anxiety.

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2013-03-13 Update:
If you are enrolled in a full course you can use the Study Schedule Generator to make a study schedule customized to your needs.

Students often ask for LSAT study schedules, so we decided to release ours for free. It's based on problem sets and lessons from our online LSAT course.

This schedule is designed to be used 10 weeks before test day. This is the same schedule that our 7Sage Live! in person LSAT course uses. If you're studying with a bit more time or a bit less, don't worry. Just modify this schedule to go a bit faster or slower, and it will work just fine. There's considerable freedom with the 10 week schedule.  It's a guideline.  Many students skip around, focusing on just what they need to.  Others do everything in it and then some.  We want there to be flexibility with how you use this schedule so the curriculum is tailored to your needs specifically.  To that end, our private tutors are here to help you make those decisions.  Email J.Y. at jy@7sage.com to inquire more about private tutoring.

Start now with our 10 weeks day-by-day LSAT study schedule below!

Week 1

Monday, 9/24:
-Online Lectures at Home
-Watch all lessons in the Class "Introduction to Arguments." (1 hour 27 minutes)
-Watch all lessons in the Class "Main Point & Main Conclusion Questions." (1 hour 03 minutes)
-Watch all lessons in the Class "Grammar & Argument Part Questions." (1 hour 50 minutes)

-Online Lectures at Home
-Watch video explanations for questions from PrepTest 66 if you still don't understand after Blind ReviewTuesday, 9/25: 6pm-9pm
-Live! Class Meeting
-Complete Main Point & Main Conclusion Questions Problem Set 1 and check the answers.
-Complete Main Point & Main Conclusion Questions Problem Set 2 and check the answers.
-Complete Argument Part Questions Problem Set 1 and check the answers.

Wednesday, 9/26:
-Online Lectures at Home
-Watch all lessons in the Class "Most Strongly Supported Questions." (1 hour 11 minutes)
-Watch all lessons in the Class "Introduction to Logic." (3 hour 40 minutes)

Thursday, 9/27: 6pm-9pm
-Live! Class Meeting

-Complete Most Strongly Supported Questions Problem Set 1 and check the answers.
-Complete Most Strongly Supported Questions Problem Set 2 and check the answers.
-Complete Most Strongly Supported Questions Problem Set 3 and check the answers.

Friday, 9/28:
-Online Lectures at Home
-Watch all lessons in the Class "Assumptions & Weakening Questions." (2 hour 19 minutes)
-Watch all lessons in the Class "Strengthening Questions." (1 hour 15 minutes)

Saturday, 9/29: 10am-4pm
-Live! Class Meeting

-Complete Weaken Questions Problem Set 1 and check the answers.
-Complete Weaken Questions Problem Set 2 and check the answers.
-Complete Weaken Questions Problem Set 3 and check the answers.
-Complete Strengthen Questions Problem Set 1 and check the answers.
-Complete Strengthen Questions Problem Set 2 and check the answers.

Sunday, 9/30: Rest!  Continue reading

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1. Chin up. You've been studying for a long time. You're ready for this. As a bonus, you still have three weeks to improve even more.

2. Take 1 to 2 LSATs a week. These LSATs ought to be very recent ones (50's and higher). Take them under simulated testing conditions with our LSAT Proctor and Timer.

3. Use the Fool Proof Method for Logic Games and the Blind Review Method for Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension to review your simulated LSATs.

4. Sleep, a lot. Otherwise, you forget everything you learned.


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