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Finishing a section right on time v. early and doing a 2nd round...

whatsmynamewhatsmyname Alum Member
edited February 2021 in Sage Advice 606 karma

So a lot of people seem to get through their questions quickly and then go back to check/confirm/unflag numerous answers later.

my question is: why not make sure you got them right the first time before moving on? (without getting too fixated on any particulsr question)

I imagine if you have time to go back and check more than 3 flagged or skipped answers in total, you're moving too fast, skimming answer choices etc.

for arguments sake, I finish sections on time and go -2 (good day/section) to -4 (bad day/ section)

Admin note: edited title for clarity
Great discussion here! We edited the title for clarity to get this thread more exposure.

Comments

  • Auntie2020Auntie2020 Alum Member
    552 karma

    I absolutely agree! I think it depends on what strategy works best for people, and a balance between accuracy and time.

    Some people are not good at finishing on time or have a tendency to linger on a question for a long time, trying to be accurate before moving on and at the expense of future questions.

  • Chris NguyenChris Nguyen Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    edited January 2021 4270 karma

    Hi there!

    I'd like to link this beautifully written comment by @"Cant Get Right" that focuses on time management strategies on the LSAT that I don't think I could've said better. You can find it here:

    https://7sage.com/discussion/#/discussion/comment/169240

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    27159 karma

    Thanks for the link @Christopherr .

    In addressing this specific topic, I’d highlight two things and add one from my response in the linked thread.

    The highlights:

    1. Read carefully and slowly. Rushing and skimming is not the way. Extreme caution and skepticism should be exercised in evaluating any strategy that suggests otherwise. The number one objective and priority on my most extreme exercise for intro-ing students to the multi-round strategy is: “Don't rush. Read carefully, even slowly. We are trying to manage time, not race against it. Speed comes from acting confidently and decisively, not quickly.”

    2. Don’t spend time on a question when you don’t know specifically what you’re doing with that time. Much of the time when I’m addressing timing errors, it’s where a student is trying to just get it right the first time but has absolutely no idea how to actually achieve that objective. They’ll spend a full minute spinning their wheels and end up making the same decision for the same reasons that they would have made sixty seconds ago. That’s a minute gone with nothing to show for it.

    That said, the multi-round strategy is perfectly consistent with the go-ahead strategy in situations where the path forward has been identified. That time is well spent, with a few exceptions where the work is known but projected to produce a particularly bad time/value exchange. (There’s one question about pet stores and birds and gerbils that stands out as a clear example of this if that rings any bells for people.)

    Addition:

    Most questions in LR and RC have discretionary work—for example, finishing touches that take your answer from high confidence to confirmed. This is great when we can do this work, but the time/value ratio is often quite bad.

    Example: Should you take 0:45 to confirm an answer you’re 90% confident about?

    Well, let’s analyze this situation. At 90% confidence, we should plan to answer this question correctly 9 times out of 10 without taking the time for confirmation. Put another way, we average 0.9 points each time we confront this situation. So that 0:45 to confirm is actually only returning 0.1 point, on average. That’s not a good exchange. You have to get better value, on average, for an investment of 0:45.

    That said, there is value there. That work isn’t useless, it’s just low return. To improve and perform consistently at the highest levels, time will need to be invested into certain low return situations. The benefit of the multi-round approach is that these investments can be made with greater discretion and effectiveness because the tester is deciding with a full survey of the section. This extra information allows for more informed decisions, and a more informed decision is always better than a lesser informed decision. Advanced testers can have great success with the go-ahead approach to time management. It is a legitimate and viable strategy. But I would argue that even testers that thrive with a go-ahead approach must necessarily perform better over time by increasing the information on which their decisions are based.

  • swanganieswanganie Yearly Member
    edited January 2021 294 karma

    @"Cant Get Right" appreciate your answer, it's so detailed.

    I've seen some 7Sage posts, particularly for LR section timing, that recommend going as quickly as possible to leave 10-12min to go back to the challenging last few questions or the starred ones. That kind of pace baffles me; it legit seems unattainable without reading way too fast for comfort. I've tried slowing it down too but I think it makes me nervous looking at the clock as slow reader.

    Anyways, I'm just responding not really to add anything to the discussion, just airing my concerns as someone stuck doing decently on BR but struggling to figure out timing strategies that work for me. I can see the value prop on both sides of the timing debate.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    27159 karma

    @swanganie said:
    I've seen some 7Sage posts, particularly for LR section timing, that recommend going as quickly as possible to leave 10-12min to go back to the challenging last few questions or the starred ones. That kind of pace baffles me; it legit seems unattainable without reading way too fast for comfort. I've tried slowing it down too but I think it makes me nervous looking at the clock as slow reader.

    Of course it makes you nervous, but is that necessarily a problem? Just be nervous. Going for it on fourth and long may be a football team's best chance to win a game. A high risk surgery may be a patient's best chance to live. Turning down a settlement offer and taking a dispute to court may be a client's best option. Choose your metaphor. Your score doesn't take into account how comfortable or uncomfortable your pacing makes you feel, only with how effective it is. Effective time management can be extremely uncomfortable sometimes. Discomfort does not mean wrong.

    And I'm a slow reader too, actually. For reference, my average passage read time in RC is 4:00. That leaves me 0:42, on average, for each question. That number still makes me nervous! Uncomfortable as it is though, I consistently stay inside of -3 and spiked a perfect -0 on test day. The trick is that you have to be aggressive and decisive once you've made the investment in your read. If you invest time to properly read of a passage or stimulus and then can't pull the trigger on an answer because you aren't 1000% sure, the problem isn't the pacing of the reading, it's timidity in answer selection. You've got to be bold, be aggressive, take a bit of calculated risk, and be willing to make some mistakes.

    Just a quick disclaimer: All of this is predicated on strong fundamentals. You can't strategize your way past limits on your fundamentals. Time management strategy is how you close the gap between your timed score and blind review score. It won't improve your BR or help raise your theoretical maximum. That is another topic. Even so, getting as close as possible to your theoretical best outcome should be the test strategy goal at all levels.

    I had a student once who was only finishing three passages in RC. She was getting almost every question right that she attempted, but losing a whole passage was devastating her score. I watched footage of her RC and saw that she would always choose a placeholder answer on her first pass before considering the question and answers more carefully. I quickly noticed that she was almost always sticking with her placeholder. In fact, she only changed it twice on the whole section. Once she moved from the wrong answer to the right one, but on the other she moved from the right answer to a wrong one! So she netted exactly 0 points from all the work she did after choosing that initial placeholder. I watched the section again, this time only to add up how much time was spent in that space: ten minutes.

    She'd spent ten minutes with absolutely nothing to show for it, not one single point. Needless to say, she was shocked at how much time she was wasting. She instantly corrected the problem by committing to her placeholders and moving on. It made her uncomfortable, but it was indisputably the correct adjustment and we never needed to work on RC again. Most timing issues are more complex, especially in LR. I like this story because the problem is so typical but also crystal clear.

    TL;DR

    I promise you: If your fundamentals are sound and you're struggling with time, the problem is not speed. The problem is that you're wasting time. I finish my first round in LR with an average of 10 minutes left. I do not do it through speed; I do it through efficiency. I always know where I stand, I always know how the calculus comes out, and I always exercise discipline in making the correct decision rather than the comfortable one. Crafting this ability took a lot of practice, analysis, adjustment, refinement, and reconceptualization about what testing well even meant. But this is the work that broke my plateau, and assuming solid fundamentals, I bet it's the work that will break yours too.

  • whatsmynamewhatsmyname Alum Member
    edited January 2021 606 karma

    10 minutes left is a little insane to be honest. You're averaging a minute on all questions. How do you even properly process the meaning of the text and the argument that quickly AND also read the answer choices and process them properly?

    When you see an answer you're confident in (say it's B ), do you still check out the other answer choices (C, D, E), or do you just move on? B)

    Also @"Cant Get Right" , can you checkout my question on contra-posing MOST? Thanks!

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    27159 karma

    I went way deeper into this than I intended, haha. This is not for every score range or every level of development. It may not necessarily be for someone with a sub-170 target score at all, though I’d still push it for anyone wanting to push into the 160’s. I don't want to come across as totally dogmatic though. There are general principles of time management that are effectively universal among top performers. I'm getting away from the general here and talking my specifics for the sake of demonstration, but there are lots of other ways to approach this that are totally legitimate and much less abstract and esoteric. But I like the abstractions and this is just how I think about it, so that's what you're stuck with until someone else wants to jump in and say it better.

    @whatsmyname said:
    10 minutes left is a little insane to be honest. You're averaging a minute on all questions. How do you even properly process the meaning of the text and the argument that quickly AND also read the answer choices and process them properly?

    It sounded insane to me at one time too. Spending an average 1:00 doesn’t mean spending a 1:00 though. On my first round, I commonly spend 1:30 to 1:45 on several. But I also have a lot at 0:25 to 0:40 to balance the average out. That probably sounds even crazier, but many questions just don't take any longer to complete than they take to read, and 0:25 is a comfortable read time for many questions. For how that’s possible, I’ll refer you back to another part of my comment from the thread linked above:

    The goal of time management is not to compress a blind review into 35 minutes. This is one of the biggest misconceptions I see, and it was something I was hung up on for a long time. You simply don't have time for such comprehensive articulation of every explanation. Sometimes, you'll have to be content with simply knowing that you could explain something but without actually doing it. I'm always asking myself if I can explain my reasoning for whatever it is I'm doing. If I can explain my reasoning, I don't. It's only when I can't that I find it's a valuable expenditure of time. Otherwise, I'm just going through the motions reciting an explanation, already knowing how the story ends. In that scenario there is nearly no chance of that time resulting in a different answer, so that time is providing very little return on investment. We don't have enough time to invest on such low returns. If you miss a question in this scenario, that's an error typically best dealt with in BR or post-BR analysis.

    This is closely related to fundamentals, of course. To position yourself for this kind of approach, you have to first establish solid fundamentals.

    So I think the crux of the answer to your question relates to the meaning of proper processing. Proper processing rarely means articulating a full-on JY explanation video in your mind. Those aren't strategic videos, they are fundamentals videos. They address what you should explain in BR, and what you should understand under time. But understanding doesn't require articulation for most things in life. If you had to articulate to understand, you just couldn't function. The LSAT is an intellectual bicycle. Imagine riding a bike and all of the micro-adjustments that are constantly made to maintain balance. If you had to explain all of those physical movements to yourself before making them, you'd never get the training wheels off. Training wheels are fine in training, but the whole point is to learn to not need them.

    @whatsmyname said:
    When you see an answer you're confident in (say it's B ), do you still check out the other answer choices (C, D, E), or do you just move on? B)

    I'll usually read the remaining AC's to see if there's a challenger, but there are many situations when I'll just move on.

    The first consideration is my level of confidence. If I'm 95% confident, that may be very different than if I'm 80% confident. At 95%, I'll probably just move on: My data reveals that I just don't miss these. At 80%, there's okay value in spending another 0:10 to read the remaining AC's. My expectation here is for that 0:10 to bring that 80% confidence up to 95%. That's a 15% improvement for 0:10. That's actually not great, but it's cheap enough to go ahead. If I thought it was going to cost 0:30, that tips the scale and I'd move on.

    As an example of how something like this breaks down in analysis, let's say I'm 90% confident on a question and I project another 0:30, if all goes well, to process the remaining answers. Let's look at all the different ways this could play out:

    The first scenario is that I already have the right answer, and investing more time cannot improve my outcome. I expect this to be the case 90% of the time (thus the 90% confidence). In fact, I could only hurt my outcome here by continuing. Let's estimate that continuing would result in switching to a wrong answer 1 time out of the 90.

    The second scenario, expected the remaining 10 times out of 100, is that I have the wrong answer. This is where it gets interesting. Investing more time can improve my outcome here, but that doesn't mean that it necessarily will. A lot can happen:

    Contingency 1: I'll read straight through the correct answer without it catching my eye. That's unusual for me, but I'm not above it. So of the 10 times out of 100 I don't already have the right answer, maybe this will happen twice.

    Contingency 2: I'll read the correct answer and a big red flag go up. I'll immediately recognize my initial error and quickly correct it with high confidence. This is great when it happens, but it doesn't as often as I might like. After all, I was 90% confident that an incorrect answer was correct. That reflects a very serious misunderstanding. This'll happen slightly more often than contingency 1 for me, so maybe I expect this 3 times out of 10.

    Contingency 3: In the remaining 5 out of 10 scenarios, I will realize something is amiss and not have a clear idea of what it is exactly. Here, my initial 0:30 projection will be wrong and more time will be necessary. Let's say I end up with the right answer 3 times and the wrong answer 2 times.

    So those are the contingencies that go into the calculus in making my decision. I don't go through all this consciously, of course, but I intuitively know the terrain from experience and study.

    So in 100 attempts:

    93 times, I will not improve my outcome:
    89 times I did not change my answer when I was right.
    4 times I did not correct my answer when I was wrong.

    1 time, I will hurt my outcome:
    1 time I changed my answer when I was right.

    6 times I will improve my outcome:
    3 times at a low timing cost
    3 times at a heavy timing cost.

    When am I happy with my decision to continue here? Not the 89 times I was right from the beginning, and certainly not the 1 time I was right and then switched my answer. I'm not happy when I miss it anyway and could have done so at a lower cost. Even the 3% of the time I improve at heavy cost, I'll often do better overall just to take the error and put the time to better use elsewhere. The only outcome I'm really happy about is the 3% of the time I improve at low cost.

    No thanks. The correct decision here is to just move on. If there’s time at the end and higher priorities have been addressed, I can come back. If there isn’t time, fine. I only see a 6% opportunity to improve anyway, so I haven’t lost much value by not making it back.

    This situation is cherry picked to be extreme, and most decisions are more marginal. It demonstrates the issue well though, and I do run into these. There's a fairly broad band of marginality where neither decision is strictly right or wrong. But even in these cases, it's important to make whatever decision you make for right reasons. That's where consistency comes from. My data suggests I do best when I opt for the more aggressive move in most of these marginal situations, so that's what I do.

  • whatsmynamewhatsmyname Alum Member
    edited January 2021 606 karma

    I appreciate your comprehensive input in this discussion so much that you have no idea. I'm putting these things into practice and it seems I'm already getting through my sections faster and not doing badly either!

    Cheers!

  • swanganieswanganie Yearly Member
    294 karma

    Just want to echo @whatsmyname's thanks for @"Cant Get Right"'s awesome responses. Great discussion that's given me a lot to think about.
    In the past week, I've been challenging myself to go a little faster on LR, trust my gut/fundamentals more, and be more open to skipping questions. Although I can't say I've seen changes in accuracy under time, it hasn't gone done and I'm definitely getting through sections faster (4-5min to spare!).
    Wish me luck!

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    27159 karma

    @whatsmyname said:
    I appreciate your comprehensive input in this discussion so much that you have no idea. I'm putting these things into practice and it seems I'm already getting through my sections faster and not doing badly either!

    Cheers!

    @swanganie said:
    Just want to echo @whatsmyname's thanks for @"Cant Get Right"'s awesome responses. Great discussion that's given me a lot to think about.
    In the past week, I've been challenging myself to go a little faster on LR, trust my gut/fundamentals more, and be more open to skipping questions. Although I can't say I've seen changes in accuracy under time, it hasn't gone done and I'm definitely getting through sections faster (4-5min to spare!).

    Glad I've been able to give y'all something to think about and that you're seeing new paths forward. With good strategy, you should be able to get max value out of your fundamentals. So keep working on both areas. Strategy can never take you beyond your fundamentals, but it's an often overlooked aspect of the test which is critical to consistent high performance. Anyone seriously aiming for the top score brackets must account for it. Just like with fundamentals, it requires study, practice, review, and refinement. It doesn't have to be the strategy I use, but it does have to be well thought out, deliberate, and rooted in solid theory.

    @swanganie said:
    Wish me luck!

    Test well and luck won't be a factor!

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