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Road to 170+: Be Aggressive! (Long Strategy Post on how to maximize your potential in LR)

Michael.CincoMichael.Cinco Member Sage
edited February 2020 in General 2116 karma

A few weeks back I was in a blind review with the man himself, Mr. JY Ping and JY said something which I thought was rather profound. He mentioned that being aggressive on the LSAT is a self-correcting trait, meaning how aggressive you are in answer questions will often times have a direct impact on your LSAT Score. This makes sense because if say you are doing an Argument Part question and you clearly identified the part in question to be the intermediate conclusion, the aggressive response to that question is to immediately look for the answer choice which says intermediate conclusion and move on. A more conservative test taker may take extra time to consider the other answer choices and thus may still get the correct answer choice but may spend an extra 30-60 seconds on the question vs. the aggressive approach. JY mentioned that the conservative approach is harder to correct because you are likely not even to think about the argument part question because you got it correct but that extra 30-60 seconds you spent on it may have had a detrimental impact on your performance on another question. Those who get the highest scores on the LSAT tend to be those who manage their time the best and I would wager that the majority of LSAT takers fall on the conservative side of the scale under normal conditions. I think at this point it may be wise to actually define what being an aggressive LR test taker means. In my mind, being aggressive in answering choices means having the confidence and knowledge to spot the correct answer choice without the need to verify that the other answer choices are wrong. For some questions this is easy to do, for other questions it becomes much tougher and the potential gains from being an aggressive test taker increases. That begs the question, how do we actually become more aggressive during the test? I’ll discuss a number of ideas around that with the rest of this post.

10 in 10, 12 in 12, 15 in 15, 25 in 25
One way to force yourself to be more aggressive is to set time limits for yourself on how quickly you want to go through the LR section. Some set a 10 in 10, 12 in 12, or 15 in 15 target where the aim is to try to answer 10 questions in 10 minutes and so forth. This is a mechanical way of forcing yourself to be aggressive and it works! If you combine it with a good skipping strategy this will enable you to reap points quickly and save it for the more difficult question. My recommendation is that you begin to play around with this idea during PT’s, if you are not already doing so try to hit 10 in 10, 12 in 12 or 15 in 15. You may find that your score initially suffers from doing so but as you get more comfortable with this notion you should see some stabilization and then an increase. You will be uncomfortable pushing your pace at first, but eventually you will find your own equilibrium. What you want to do is to find the optimal level of aggression that is tied to your individual skill set and knowledge. I do not recommend even trying to push the pace until you are at a level of your LSAT journey that you are very comfortable with answering most question types. That being said, it’s all well and good to set goals for yourself to be faster and more aggressive, but what do we actually do to achieve that quickness? I’ve got some ideas.

1. Prephrase/CLIR

Powerscore refers to Prephrases, Loopholes calls it the “CLIR”. In reality these are just fancy names for educated guesses on what the right answer choice could be, based on a close reading of the stimulus. If you have a prephase/CLIR scan through the answer choices quickly to see if it is there, if it is pick it and move on.

2. Glance over the answer choices initially.

After reading the stimulus and formulating your prephrase. You should glance over the answer choices to see if your prephrase is there, or if an answer jumps out at you. Avoid digging deep into any one answer choice until you’ve looked at all of them and quickly assessed which are winners and losers.

3. Ignore confusing answer choices, at least initially

If you run into an answer choice that confuses you, skip over it. Try to see if another answer choice jumps out you rather than trying to dig deeper into trying to decipher what the answer choice means. If you spot another answer choice that jumps out at you as correct, go with that answer choice and move on. Do not spend any intellectual effort until you have to.

4. Aggressively skip:

It should go without saying that being aggressive with the answer choices goes hand in hand with having an aggressive question skipping strategy. You can’t be aggressive if you don’t understand the stimulus so make sure you are diligent in following your exit strategies. Read more on exit strategies here:

5. Know what you are looking for.

This should go without saying but you should be at a point where as soon as you’ve read the question stem you should know what the right answer choice should look like. For example if the question stem asks you to find what COULD BE TRUE EXCEPT. Then immediately you know you are looking for something that MUST BE FALSE. Most people in this situation default to a POE and in some cases that is the only viable strategy but that does not mean you should default to it. Always know what you are looking for!

Note that being aggressive on the LR section is something I would reserve for the high-level test takers who have reached a plateau and want to break through it. If you are just getting started on your LSAT journey, focus on the fundamentals. If you are already reaching your target score, do not change anything. This is primarily for folks who are trying to break into the 170’s and 175’s.

Take Away:

The reason we are doing this strategy is because we want to optimize the time it takes us to answer the easier questions on the LSAT. The quicker we do that, the more time we have to throw at the more difficult questions. The downside is that because we are being aggressive in our choices, sometimes it may cost us a point. This becomes a tough optimization activity. This is why I suggest you only do this if you are a high-level LSAT taker and have plateaued, because the potential benefits may only be 1-2 extra points on each LR section but if you are trying to get to 170 or 175, those are exactly the kind of gains you are seeking! You also have to give this methodology a chance, it will force you out of your comfort zone, most people are inherently risk adverse but in life those that risk the most often gain the most. You also have to modulate how aggressive you are relative to your skill level, there is an optimal point for everyone. I recommend you keep pushing yourself until reach a happy medium. Try it out and see if it works for you!


  • thinkorswimthinkorswim Alum Member
    433 karma

    Thank you. I always enjoy reading your write-ups on breaking plateaus =)

  • EveryCookCanGovernEveryCookCanGovern Alum Member
    401 karma

    Definitely an essential tactic for high scores on LR. I would also qualify for those starting to take LR more aggressively, be wary of thinking more aggressive means 'I gotta read faster.' This is where you will definitely lose points on easy questions. Rather the three pillars are as outlined above: Skipping, prephrasing, and snap selecting the correct answer choice once you are confident you've spotted it.

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