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High scorers: What is your LR timing and certainty strategy? How to go from -3 to -0?

Excellent.FondueExcellent.Fondue Alum Member
edited January 2021 in Logical Reasoning 273 karma

I've been averaging -3 per LR section, though sometimes I do as well as -1 and other times I hit -5.

I find that I've been getting a lot faster. I'm able to finish the first 10 questions in about 8.5 minutes and I can comfortably finish the first 15 questions in 15 minutes. I'm now able to save about 5 minutes at the end of the section to review my flagged questions. I find that this isn't enough time to thoroughly review my flagged questions, and I often end up getting the flagged questions wrong.

I also find that I'm more often getting the 4-star (according to 7Sage) questions wrong than the 5-star ones, although I do miss some "curve-breaker" questions. When I do get a question wrong, it is almost always due to one of three general reasons: (1) a careless mistake that I can easily correct in Blind Review; (2) I picked the second most attractive AC; (3) I just have no idea where to even start with the question, or what the argument is saying. (3) is quite rare.

For those of you who are able to get -1 to -0 consistently:

What is your timing strategy? 25 in 25, or something even more aggressive? How much time do you save to review your flagged questions? How many questions do you skip in the first round?

Do you read all the answer choices? I find that, for many of the early questions (Q1-Q10), I can just hunt for the correct answer choice and then move on. This saves me quite a lot of time overall, because reading the other 4 answer choices to confirm that they are indeed incorrect can take me anywhere from 10 seconds to 30 seconds per question.

Most of the time I don't make any mistakes in these early questions, but from time to time I'll get 1-2 questions wrong in Q1-Q10 mostly due to carelessness. In your opinion, is it ever worth examining the other answer choices in the early questions? Should I at least skim each of the other answer choices, even if I don't linger on them? What level of certainty do you aim for before moving on from a question? At what point in the section do you start paying more attention to each of the answer choices, giving each one a closer look?

What is your advice for getting from where I am now to -0 to -1 consistently? How do I get more consistent? Are there any strategies you would recommend? Should I push my speed even more for the early questions?

J.Y. often says that no one can realistically aim for -0 in a LR section consistently, because it's just really hard to do and heavily dependent on luck. Has this been true in your experience?

Thank you all!

Comments

  • Bagelinthemorning-2-1-1Bagelinthemorning-2-1-1 Monthly Member
    476 karma

    Following

  • lsat2016lsat2016 Member
    edited January 2021 484 karma

    Fwiw, I went -0 in both LR sections on an official lsat administration.

    I'm a slow reader who had a lot of trouble with timing. I still run out of time on RC.

    The thing that helped me most to really really understand stim before moving to answer choices. And then pre-phrasing always. It doesn't have to be a perfect pre-phrase of possible answer either, just a strawman.

    On this official test day, I finished with a few minutes to spare both LRs and felt confident, using this approach.

  • earthraquelearthraquel Alum Member
    21 karma

    Also following, in same boat as OP

  • canihazJDcanihazJD Alum Member Sage
    edited January 2021 7970 karma

    In addition to what @lsat2016 said about understanding... you also have to apply that mastery to the easy questions. That may mean not even looking at all the ACs on some, being confident in your selection, aggressively eliminating AC's two words in, and banking time to distribute according to your own priorities in your subsequent rounds. There are parts where you take your time and ensure comprehension and there are parts when it is pure violence of action. I think banking between 10-15 minutes in round 1 is a realistic goal for anyone.

  • Excellent.FondueExcellent.Fondue Alum Member
    273 karma

    @lsat2016 Congratulations on a fantastic performance!

    I agree with you about really understanding the stimulus. What level of understanding would you strive for before moving on to the answer choices? Would you just get a sense of the structure of the argument?

    Can you say more about pre-phrasing? I've read about it before, I know what it is, and I notice myself doing it on some questions. However, I am not entirely sure I can tell you what it is really supposed to do. Many questions are hard or almost impossible to pre-phrase. In addition, there are times when pre-phrasing actually leads one to pick an attractive but incorrect answer choice. Why do you pre-phrase and what are the benefits for you?

  • Excellent.FondueExcellent.Fondue Alum Member
    273 karma

    @canihazJD When you say "pure violence of action" do you mean something like going hunting for the correct answer choice, on the easier questions, without taking too long with the incorrect ones? Would you say that it is good to actually just not read some answer choices entirely?

    And you mean having 10-15 minutes saved up after you finish the first round, right?

  • canihazJDcanihazJD Alum Member Sage
    edited January 2021 7970 karma

    @"Learned Astronomer" said:
    When you say "pure violence of action"

    I mean be aggressive. An answer is either 100% right or 100% wrong. As soon as you see something that makes it wrong GTFO. As soon... not a second more.

    Would you say that it is good to actually just not read some answer choices entirely?

    For some people. I believe that should be a target, but it is not a good idea if you are not at an adequate level of mastery. Reading everything at first allows you to learn what right/wrong ACs look like and recognize patterns. Depends on the question too... like at a fairly early level for something like a MP question it should be reasonably easy to pick out the answer through a quick scan... pick and move. Especially for that question type, if you didn't know that answer, why are you even moving on past the stimulus?

    And you mean having 10-15 minutes saved up after you finish the first round, right?

    yes.

  • lsat2016lsat2016 Member
    edited January 2021 484 karma

    @"Learned Astronomer" said:
    @lsat2016 Congratulations on a fantastic performance!

    I agree with you about really understanding the stimulus. What level of understanding would you strive for before moving on to the answer choices? Would you just get a sense of the structure of the argument?

    that's a good question. in fact, it's a crucial one considering everyone and every prep material says understand the stim or structure first, and like every test taker does understand the stim somewhat before going to choices in general. i thought i understood the stim for a long part of my prep, until i kept missing a few in any lr section timed.

    the way i got better was:

    • understanding the stim so well that you're predicting answer choices. like you could write a few answer choices as a test maker if you had a few minutes to spare, without even looking at answer choices.

    • reading, re-reading, and then re-reading the stim a few times later after the test to really know which phrase or even word the strengthen/weaken question turns on. that is, making it almost scientific exactly which word is directly responsible for making it the right or wrong answer. in str/wkn q there is always 1 word that annhilates an AC or makes it a superstar. on its coattails there would a 2nd word somewhere buried that may support whatever result that 1st word is aiming for. (it's because lsat makers are foolproof in devising their questions and have backups mostly).

    • sometimes i would think about a particular question or two for weeks, not just hours or days, because i couldn't truly convince myself (even though all prep material or discussion boards would provide their reasons, but i'd debate with myself, or others, on counter-arguments for those reasons. there are lots of explanations in prep materials that are lazy in that they are written by someone just trying to explain away the credited choice without putting it through the rigor of counter questioning). i got a lot of pushback and got called names for it at times.

    Can you say more about pre-phrasing? I've read about it before, I know what it is, and I notice myself doing it on some questions. However, I am not entirely sure I can tell you what it is really supposed to do. Many questions are hard or almost impossible to pre-phrase. In addition, there are times when pre-phrasing actually leads one to pick an attractive but incorrect answer choice. Why do you pre-phrase and what are the benefits for you?

    you can always prephase. that goes back to my 1st point above for the earlier question. let me know if that clarifies. you should be able to almost predict/create some lsat-like ACs without actually seeing them.

  • WouldRatherBeEatingWouldRatherBeEating Alum Member
    456 karma

    I score anywhere from -3 to -0 on an LR section, typically -1. I find that ranking my flagged LRs is helpful, especially with maintaining my timing. Most of the time, I have very few "true flags" in LR. But sometimes when a question seems easy OR if there's something about it that I'm hung up on even though I know I should move on, I write down the question number. Basically, I split half a sheet of paper into 3-4 columns. The first column is questions that I almost certainly got correct. I don't flag these on the digital format and they're my lowest priority. I find writing these down helps me better prioritize my time and not waste it on questions I've already answered (almost always correctly). The middle column is my highest priority to go back to review as these are my medium ranked questions, i.e. questions that I believe I can solve but I need more time to map out or think through. The far right column is almost never ever used and it's for when I just have no clue. I don't consider these a priority as my initial reaction is that I won't be able to solve and a guess is as good as I'll get.

    I also rank within my columns themselves. I.e. the closer to the left a question is, the greater my confidence and the closer to the right (or moving into the next column) the less confident I am. This is a very personal strategy but I find it helps me manage my time and helps me better identify when my confidence lines up with me actually getting the answer correct, if that makes sense.

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