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Stimulus or Question Type First?

WhatslsatWhatslsat Monthly Member
in Logical Reasoning 398 karma

hi all! Happy Friday!!

Ellen Cassidy (EC) from Loophole is a strong proponent of the former but some disagree.

I have been studying for about 11 months and during the first few months, I liked reading question types first but decided to try stim-first approach after reading Loophole which I found to be helpful. At 10th month I got a much better handle on LR, scoring -3 to -5 untimed and I'm kind of tempted to switch back to see if it improves my timing.
EC argues that if you read questions first it will distract you when reading the stimulus.

Has anyone experienced anything similar??
Thanks for sharing!


  • mangosmoothiemangosmoothie Alum Member
    30 karma

    I have also tried both! A tutor once told me that most top scorers read the stimulus first, idk what credibility that has but I found that regardless I did better when reading stimulus first. At the end of the day you are reading for the gap in the reasoning and evaluating the stimulus the same way regardless of what question type it is.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    26345 karma

    I read the question stem first, but I really don't think it's something to advocate very strongly for either way. Some people have different preferences, and I honestly don't buy arguments on either side that claim one is actually any better than the other. There's only reasons for preference.

    For me, I prefer question stem first for a few reasons. For me, it's a better transition task from one question to the next. Going from the AC selection process straight into the next stimulus is positioning two very different but very intensive analytical tasks right next to each other. I find that reading the question stem first helps me break and reset more cleanly to the new question. And while it doesn't change the way I read the stimulus or work with the material, it can give me an extra step when I do happen to see what the writers are doing. I'm never going to go into it looking for it--I think that's an unhelpful distraction--but I'm not going to play ignorant if I happen to see it.

  • HopefullyHLSHopefullyHLS Monthly Member
    445 karma

    I always read the question stem first. I believe it really does me a favor in terms of time management. For example, if I see a question of the type „identify the conclusion“, „identify the role of sentence XY“, „parallel reasoning/flaw“ etc., I try to identify the structure of the argument and hunt for the right answer choice, and de-prioritize reading for precise meaning.

    I still get these questions right, and the time saved can be utilized for harder questions which require more in-depth analysis.

  • claremontclaremont Alum Member
    373 karma

    Ah, the eternal stim v stem debate.

    I agree with @"Cant Get Right" that it's personal preference and we shouldn't be going around strongly advocating one strategy over the other as better.

    Having said that...

    You should read the stim first (it's better).

  • WhatslsatWhatslsat Monthly Member
    edited June 20 398 karma

    @"Cant Get Right"

    Thank you all!! After reading your posts I've decided to try reading STEM first approach for the next couple of weeks. I looked at few questions and I agree with @"Cant Get Right" that it does help with cleaning the slate (transitioning into new question) and time management. And I found that the tendency to get distracted is much reduced once you get comfortable with LR and I learned that I don't have to read stimulus any different than I would if I read STIM first.
    This was so helpful, I'm glad I asked.

    Good luck on your studies!!! :)))

  • madisont144madisont144 Monthly Member
    80 karma

    I read the question stem first always because it dictates how I will read the stimulus. Ex: if it is a find the conclusion, I won't waste my time reading the stimulus critically. Whereas if it is an ID the flaw question, I am critical of the reasoning on my first read. I think reading the stem first allows you to know exactly how you should think about the stimulus and prevents you from wasting time by thinking about it in a way that you don't need to. Mike Kim's The LSAT Trainer explains this really well. In my opinion, it saves a lot of time.

  • hwaiting24hwaiting24 Monthly Member
    6 karma

    I usually read the stimulus first, but am trying to make it a habit to read the stem first because I've noticed that sometimes, I've gotten stuck on an annoying, abstract, hard-to-understand stimulus only to realize that it was a "find the conclusion" question and that I just wasted time rereading the stimulus and trying to understand it when I didn't need to.

  • CSieck3507CSieck3507 Monthly Member
    1295 karma

    Think of it this way: If you go to the grocery store with a list of items you need, what are the chances you forget something? Very low. What if you just go to the store without a list? Chances are you will forget something. So when you read the stim, and then go to the QS, chances are you forget something in the stim that could be critical to you answering the question which then makes you waste time. If you know you need to weaken, you know there is something in that argument that needs to be weakened. Now, that DOES NOT MEAN that you take apart the stim as much as possible to understand it. You need to truly read it and understand its key elements. Where students go wrong with the QS first approach is that they read the stem first and then they dont do a full analysis they kind of half ass it because they think they know what they are looking for. They then get into the AC's and get screwed because they didnt fully understand what they read. That is my biggest argument against QS first. But, if you can truly engage with the stim and the argument structure without skipping steps, QS first all the way.

  • WhatslsatWhatslsat Monthly Member
    398 karma


    Thank you for this, this really makes sense. I did try couple of sections and I think I like QS better. As you say, when I first started out I read QS first and half-assed the STIM and didn;t really engage with the argument. Now that I've adopted a habit of really engaging with the STIM it's less of a problem with QS first approach and I benefit much more from it.

    Thanks Csieck!

    This has been my experience in the last few sections, thanks for the recommendation! :)


    Thanks for your input! I hope you find what works better for you, I think it will come in due time. :))

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