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A few small tips for your final LSAT prep.

mikemike Free Trial Member
edited October 2015 in Sage Advice 540 karma
Hi everyone --

I know that many of you are getting ready to take the exam, and so with J.Y.’s blessing I thought it might be helpful for me to post a few quick last minute tips here on the 7Sage site (I’ve also posted this on reddit and my tls thread). These tips are not specific to the trainer (though those of you familiar with the trainer will be familiar with these suggestions). I know that at this point, most of you are focused on taking and reviewing PT’s -- what I’m about to mention are all simple suggestions/exercises that you should be able to integrate into that PT work fairly easily. Not all suggestions are meant for all students, so please, of course, pick and choose whichever you think might be useful for your situation -- if any of this accidentally contradicts 7Sage advice, please assume that they are right and I am wrong :) --

For LR

During this final period it can be very helpful to firm up and habitualize your question-specific strategies and thought processes. To that end...

Without looking back over your work, create a notecard for each type of Logical Reasoning question. On one side of this notecard, write out the most important things to know/keep in mind for that q type, and on the other side, write out the basic strategies you generally try to employ. Once you’ve done the best you can from memory, return to your notes and lessons and such and make sure to fill in the q types, key priorities and such that you missed initially. Review these cards before PT’s, then, in your PT review afterwards, use these cards to assess your methods, figure out where you need to modify strategies or put in a reminder for yourself, and so on. These actions can help you notice, and address, those areas of prep where perhaps your learning has yet to fully convert into skills and habits.

LG

The more automatic you feel about your notations/diagramming strategies, the less nervous you will feel about what might appear on the games section, the better you will be able to set up your diagrams, and the faster and more accurate you’ll be at doing the work necessary to solve questions.

So, to that end, without look back over your work/learning products, try to create a list of all the different types of rules that can appear in Logic Games, and try to organize all of these rules in some way (for example, trainer students know I organize rules in terms of ordering, grouping, and so on). Note how you plan to diagram each of these rules. Then go through games you’ve played in the past, just looking at the scenarios and rules, and fill in your notes with all the various other types of game rules you missed initially. Create notecards of any rules for which you don’t feel automatic about your notations, and study those carefully. Review all your diagramming strategies before taking PT’s, then, in your review, review carefully whether you were able to use diagramming methods effectively for every rule. Take note of, and carefully review, those situations when you were not.

RC

It’s very important to understand what pressure does to your brain (and, consequently, to your reading process): it literally changes the way that you think and the way you read. If, in all your practice, you are far more relaxed (and perhaps forgiving of yourself) than you will be during the real exam, it is possible that you are going to find it very difficult to apply all that you’ve gained during your practice on the real thing -- it’s very possible you will end up reading the passage very differently from how you intended to, and end up rushing too much and overlooking important concepts, or being too careful and wasting too much time, and so on.

So at this point you want to do whatever is necessary to train your brain to read the passage exactly as you want it to. Make your decisions about which reading strategies you want to apply, make sure you are practicing applying them under enough pressure, and get enough practice in so that you can feel a “set rhythm” for how you read LSAT RC passages. It gives you a great advantage to go into the test with a consistent, habitual, and effective method specifically tailed for reading LSAT RC passages, one which is practiced enough so that you apply it without having to think about it.

Timing Strategies/Mindset

Finally, you want to use for final prep to set your timing strategies, determine what you are going to do should tough timing decisions arise, and practice applying those timing strategies/making those timing decisions.

Nearly everyone who takes the exam wastes a lot of unnecessary time and energy thinking about section timing, rather than the question in front of them. It puts you in a much better position if you’ve anticipated potential issues, have the right mindset about them, have practiced dealing with them, and so on.

So, getting your timing strategies set should be one of the main goals of your final PT work. You want to think about your ideal timing, and how you’d like to balance your time through a section and so on, but you also want to make sure to practice and think about timing challenges -- how long to give yourself when stuck on a certain type of question, or how to balance your time between two RC passages when it seems like you don’t have enough to finish both, and so on. One way to experience/practice these challenges, especially if you are in a very high score range, is to artificially limit the time you have per section (say, to 30 mins, etc.) for a couple of your PT’s and test out your survival strategies.

Final Random Timing Tip

In my experience, one of the most common ways in test takers end up wasting time is by over-investing it in the hardest problems -- you want to avoid this as much as possible.

To illustrate, imagine that you are in the 160-165 range and your goal is to get that 165. Depending on the scale for that test, you know that you can miss about 20 q’s or so and still get the score you want. And if you were to take all the q’s from any one particular LSAT practice exam and order them in terms of difficulty, you’d perhaps find that about 70 of them are ones that you feel fairly confident you can get right without too much difficulty, 20 of them are ones that are challenging for you, and, depending on the day, your mindset, etc., you might get right or wrong, and finally perhaps 10 are so hard that you think it’d be very unlikely you can get the right answer in a reasonable amount of time no matter what.
The best way for you to use your time is to --
1) get through the easier 70 as fast as you comfortably can without making errors.
2) recognize when a problem is of extreme difficulty and don’t allow yourself to spend too, too long on those hardest 10.
3) give yourself as much time as possible for those 20 in the make/break down that will determine where you will score within your range.

Keep that in mind, and make sure you don’t allow yourself to over-invest too much time or energy in those hardest problems -- the harder ones aren’t worth any more points.

Again, not every suggestion is for every student, but if you read this whole thing I hope you found at least some of it useful -- I wish you all the best on test day -- Mike

Comments

  • mpits001mpits001 Alum Member
    938 karma
    Thank you for the last bit of info, Mike! I recently purchased your book, and it's helped me immensely with RC and LR. Thank you for taking the time to give us last minute reminders! :)
  • brna0714brna0714 Alum Inactive ⭐
    1489 karma
    Thanks for the post, @mike! Very helpful.
  • Jonathan WangJonathan Wang Yearly Sage
    6828 karma
    @mike Mike Kim hits it out of the park, as usual.
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    image

    In all seriousness, thank you for this. I'm taking in October and I think this is what I need to do to uncover weaknesses/things I need to review for the next phase of my prep (having gone through the Trainer fully twice after going through it rather casually the first time, and then adding 7sage in this Spring), as well as returning to this in August/September. A great way to test myself—"So what do I know, for certain, really"?

    Printing and sticking on the wall. Thank you so much, @mike ! You and @"J.Y. Ping" have made an inestimable difference in the lives of thousands of students who can't afford $1,500 for a course (and really, 7sage + Trainer is better than any course). The Trainer was the first step I took towards realizing my calling—that it could and ought to become a reality.
  • mikemike Free Trial Member
    540 karma
    Oh gosh - I really appreciate it -- thanks for the thanks and glad to be of use -- to show you all my appreciation, I’ve love to give you a simple, lovely, likely angering, riddle:

    A family is moving in next door to you, and you know that this family has a total of two children. You see one of the children as the family is moving in, and it is a girl. Knowing nothing else about the family, what are the odds that the other child is a girl too?

    This is not a play on words or anything like that -- pure math. And of course, because it’s a riddle, you probably already know that the right answer isn’t the one you expect. Good luck!
  • Quick SilverQuick Silver Alum Inactive Sage
    1049 karma
    Excellent Points @Mike - I think a lot of people overlook the timing points you made about getting the comfortable Qs out of the way - thanks for emphasizing!

    I myself have gotten a but comfortable with time so I wanna start reminding myself of time guidelines/pacing on my last PTs
  • pseudonymouspseudonymous Alum Member Inactive ⭐
    edited May 2015 521 karma
    @Mike Hahahahaha that riddle is infuriating, in the way things one can't easily intuit usually are... break our brains right before the LSAT, Mike, why don't you. :-P
  • jdawg113jdawg113 Alum Inactive ⭐
    2654 karma
    lame riddle... mainly bc I don't agree with the reasoning behind these types of riddles :P
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @Mike said:
    Knowing nothing else about the family, what are the odds that the other child is a girl too?
    Imma stick my neck out on this one: Having another child of a given sex doesn't determine the likelihood of the other being any particular gender (the logical fallacy similar to "I warmed the slots up so I'm gonna win big this time" i.e. Henry VIII !), so it's slightly more likely to be a boy because of this thing I just learned when I Googled "are more girls born than boys": this thing right here.

    I am simply angered but in the most lovely way.
  • jdawg113jdawg113 Alum Inactive ⭐
    2654 karma
    @nicole.hopkins said:
    so it's slightly more likely to be a boy
    I mean technically this is true... though not the actual/technical answer
  • J.Y. PingJ.Y. Ping Administrator Instructor
    13767 karma
    I'm thinking it has something to do with before you knew the sex of either v. after you know the sex of one. Before you knew the sex of either, with some assumptions, the odds are 25% girl girl world, 25% girl boy world, 25% boy girl world, 25% boy boy world. After you know the sex of one is girl, the boy boy world is eliminated as a possible world. So we're at 33% odds for each of the other worlds.
  • jdawg113jdawg113 Alum Inactive ⭐
    2654 karma
    well hopefully people try to figure it out before reading all the comments lol
  • mikemike Free Trial Member
    edited May 2015 540 karma
    I must admit I get just the slightest bit of joy from angering people w/riddles -- I think it’s a perversion that’s developed from spending my work life constantly having to be worried about being clear and understandable.

    If any of you want a clue about how to figure this out, this riddle uses essentially the same mathematical principles as the better known Monte Hall problem.
  • blah170blahblah170blah Alum Inactive ⭐
    3545 karma
    OH GOD NOT THE MONTE HALL PROBLEM
  • visualcreedvisualcreed Member Inactive ⭐
    edited May 2015 326 karma
    Thats a great riddle. I think JY's answer is probably my first guess but if I think about it I think it's still 50%. I think it since theres so little detail the question is still what are the odds a child is born a girl which only gives two possibilities boy or girl.

    On the other hand we really only have 3 worlds since we are assuming we have some kind of order like first or second child. Meaning if we take order out of it we know that the only worlds possible are BB GB or reverse and GG.

    And then if we think of the Monte Hall problem where we're given better odds free because of the knowledge that came with opening a certain door we could be given the odds that we know BB isn't possible. But then we're assuming we're rooting for a girl and not a boy.

    So in conclusion, I have no idea what I'm talking about and Mike has shown me I don't know math like how the LSAT has shown me I don't know how to read.

    But yes, add my thanks to the list. I started my LSAT studying with the trainer while on vacation in Japan and I thought it was so good I got my friend to buy it even though he doesn't even know if he's going to take the LSAT. I do wish there were an e-book format though, would have been a whole lot easier to load onto my iPad than lugging a heavy book around.
  • jdawg113jdawg113 Alum Inactive ⭐
    2654 karma
    @visualcreed said:
    like how the LSAT has shown me I don't know how to read
    lol my fav part of your post :P
  • NYC12345NYC12345 Alum Inactive Sage
    1654 karma
    Do the majority of you usually answer all of the easy LR questions in a section before moving on to the harder questions? I always figured that it's very time consuming to keep jumping around looking for the easy questions. Any efficient methods would be greatly appreciated.
  • blah170blahblah170blah Alum Inactive ⭐
    3545 karma
    @alexandergreene93 I start my LR sections on question number 11/12 and finish 11-25 before moving onto 1-11. I know some might say this is time consuming and unnecessary given the fact that some of the hardest questions appear earlier on in this section. However, I've found the psychological benefits from doing this to be extremely helpful. Since I anticipate that the back end of the test is going to be harder, when I get stuck on a question, I'm much more methodical in my approach as opposed to panicking. If I feel like I'm still not getting the argument, I'll just move on to the next question. Sometimes, all you need to get a question right is a fresh pair of your eyes (obviously your own :-p).
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @blah170blah said:
    I start my LR sections on question number 11/12 and finish 11-25 before moving onto 1-11. I know some might say this is time consuming and unnecessary given the fact that some of the hardest questions appear earlier on in this section. However, I've found the psychological benefits from doing this to be extremely helpful. Since I anticipate that the back end of the test is going to be harder, when I get stuck on a question, I'm much more methodical in my approach as opposed to panicking.
    This is fascinating. I will try this method on Saturday for PT65. Literally has never crossed my mind, but I often have a pressure crush in Q's 20+ and freak myself out in this range because of the tick-tock. And I'm so happy with those sweet Q's 1-10 (usually).
  • lsatcommittedlsatcommitted Alum Member
    166 karma
    @blah170blah
    ive always wondered about this. how are your results from this approach?
  • DumbHollywoodActorDumbHollywoodActor Alum Inactive ⭐
    7468 karma
    @blah170blah That’s genius! Stealing!
  • jdawg113jdawg113 Alum Inactive ⭐
    2654 karma
    just throwing it out there... for those taking June, Im not sure how appropriate changing your approach to a section at this point is. I mean it wouldnt hurt throwing it into a timed section or something but I wouldnt plan on using it on test day (unless it happens to fell amazing and you score perfectly... then test it more and get it down lol)
  • blah170blahblah170blah Alum Inactive ⭐
    edited June 2015 3545 karma
    @lsatcommitted I've had wonderful results with this method. If I'm fully warmed up, I won't miss more than -2 per logical reasoning section.

    This method has reduced my tendency to panic mid section. No matter how many times I told myself that sometimes the LSAT will throw curveballs in the earlier questions, I still couldn't help but get the "10 in 10" mantra out of my head. This would mean that I'd start second guessing myself on the earlier questions, spend way too long on questions I know I don't need to, and then miss questions on the latter half because I either couldn't get to them or I was in such panic mode I might as well have been blindly guessing.

    I echo what @jdawg113 says about not changing up methods so close to the test. I've been practicing this for about a month now so it is my instinct to turn immediately to the second half of the section and begin at around question 11 (or wherever falls a few before question 15).
  • pseudonymouspseudonymous Alum Member Inactive ⭐
    521 karma
    Heh wouldn't it be so helpful if LSAC put difficulty ratings beside each question stem? even though difficulty is subjective, but still. I also daydream about LSAC messing up and accidentally giving us like twenty five Main Point / Main Conclusion questions (... in a non-experimental section)

    Anyway. Such great points. I've become better at taking things in stride -- recently, questions early on have been real jerkhats, and I've learned to just circle "answer choice (F) Yo' mama so fat..." and move on from those little monsters. No, just kidding. obviously LSAT has done wonderful things for my maturity.
  • pritisharmapritisharma Alum Member
    477 karma
    Would love to hear from anyone that tried @blah170blah method of skipping 1-10 in LR . Did it work ? Are you still using it ? I am debating if I should give this a shot.
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @pritisharma said:
    skipping 1-10 in LR
    I'll speak for myself.

    This went absolutely horribly for me when I tried it about 6-7 months ago (about 10 months into prep at that point) and I do not recommend it at all.

    What you want to do instead is pick allllll the low hanging fruit in the first 10+ questions and build up your momentum. So just go for it and ride the wave of victory.
  • Sheri123Sheri123 Alum Member
    1196 karma
    I'm with you pritisharma would love to hear how this worked out for those that tried it. DumbHollywoodActor & nicole.hopkins did you guys try this out?
  • DumbHollywoodActorDumbHollywoodActor Alum Inactive ⭐
    7468 karma
    @pritisharma and @Sheri123 I tried it a few times. I didn’t love it. I got a few knucklehead questions wrong that I would have never gotten wrong had I tried the other way. Moreover, it’s not as effective on the more modern tests since they throw in difficult questions in the beginning now. I think the more effective approach is skipping questions when I can’t make heads or tails of the stimulus. It’s difficult sometimes to let it go, but my best scores have come from when I’ve seen all the questions and skipped like 4-5 questions and then come back.
  • Sheri123Sheri123 Alum Member
    1196 karma
    DumbHollywoodActor, nicole.hopkins, Pacifico, and any others that would like to chime in, when you skip questions do you put your best guess down on the answer sheet just in case you don't have a chance to come back to it, or do you just leave it blank & hope for the best? Thanks in advance.
  • DumbHollywoodActorDumbHollywoodActor Alum Inactive ⭐
    7468 karma
    @Sheri123 I always try my best guess. Never leave an answer blank. You’re just begging for a bubbling error otherwise.
  • Sheri123Sheri123 Alum Member
    1196 karma
    Thanks so much DumbHollywoodActor!
  • pritisharmapritisharma Alum Member
    edited December 2015 477 karma
    Thanks @DumbHollywoodActor and @nicole.hopkins I think I will stick with the given order too while practicing to skip the hard ones.
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    Always fill it in. I put a tiny dot on my answer sheet next to any that I need to come back to. That way I can easily find them once I finish and go back to try those again. I shoot for 10 in 10 and 15 in 15 and if it doesn't happen, so be it, I don't let panic set in and I just keep pushing. I've hit 20 in 20 before and still almost run out of time, and I've hit 15 in 20 and finished 5 minutes early, so you never know what's around the corner. Just stay calm and don't throw in good money after bad.
  • Sheri123Sheri123 Alum Member
    1196 karma
    Thanks Pacifico!
  • twssmithtwssmith Alum
    5120 karma
    bump - All the best for the February Takers:)
  • jilliebean98jilliebean98 Monthly Member
    3 karma

    how many practice tests a week should I be taking? also should I be doing these on top of the cirriculum I am confused by the way this is set up

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