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looking for advice (top scorers please help!)- stuck in score range for 6 months.

nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
in General 100 karma
Hi all,

I'm desperate for frank advice from someone who knows this test and has been through the grind.

I've been studying full-time for the LSAT for roughly 8 months. I started at a 140 diagnostic.

In September 2015 (after 3 months of studying), I scored a 159 and figured if I could just keep doing practice tests and BRing, I would bump up my score by at least 2 points within a few months so I could take the test in December 2015.

I kept taking tests and kept reviewing (completing 10 full-length tests) until November when I realized I still wasn't breaking past a 159 (my last 3 PTS at the time were a 158,155, and 158).

I figured I needed to take a different approach and perhaps re-visit the fundamentals, so I enrolled in the 7sage Ultimate+ curriculum hoping I could bump up my score by just 2-3 points (I only need a 160 and/or above to be competitive for my target lawschools).

I started the curriculum mid December 2015 and finished it this week.

A couple of days ago, I took my first PT and scored a 159 (2 raw points short of a 160). I was disappointed to say the least, but I thought maybe I scored a little less because of anxiety, having not taken a PT for 2 months.

I thoroughly BRd the test, my BR score was a 178.

I took another test today, but unfortunately I scored even lower, a 157.

I'm at the point where I feel feel like I may be cursed. I've been in the same score range for what feels like eternity (6 months full-time feels like forever. I usually spend 8+ hours a day, everyday studying).

My average scores are -7/-8 on each LR section, -8 on LG, and -8 on RC which can sometimes go lower :(

I can continue to drill PTs but I don't know how effective that will be, considering that I've been doing the same thing for at least 4 months previously.

Any advice on what I should do? I'm slowly going crazy.

Thank you in advance!

Comments

  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    @nibs7985 said:
    I usually spend 8+ hours a day, everyday studying
    Way too much. This is how you burn out.

    @nibs7985 said:
    -8 on LG
    IMO you should not be PT'ing if this is your average. You're just wasting PTs if you're doing that.

    Start with this: http://7sage.com/discussion/#/discussion/2737/logic-games-attack-strategy

    Get your LG on point and you'll be in the mid 160s without doing much else. Then you can tackle the LR/RC issues. Hit me up if you have any questions.
  • DumbHollywoodActorDumbHollywoodActor Alum Inactive ⭐
    7468 karma
    When you BR, are you BRing ONLY your circled questions or are you BRing every question?
  • Ron SwansonRon Swanson Alum Member Inactive ⭐
    edited February 2016 1650 karma
    Sounds like you may be psyching yourself out during these PTs. For LR, how do you normally feel during sections? Are you scrambling to finish in the last few seconds/flat out guessing on some questions? If you have a good grip on the fundamentals, poor time management may be hurting your performance more than you realize
  • allison.gill.sanfordallison.gill.sanford Legacy Inactive Sage
    1128 karma
    You have massive gains to make in LG. That alone could bump you up beyond your goal range. Have you drilled all games from 1-35 until under JYs time?? There is no reason you should accept scoring -8 on games consistently.
  • Nicole HopkinsNicole Hopkins Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4344 karma
    @Pacifico and @allison.gill.sanford dropping LG truth bombs!
  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
    @Pacifico said:
    IMO you should not be PT'ing if this is your average. You're just wasting PTs if you're doing that.

    Start with this: http://7sage.com/discussion/#/discussion/2737/logic-games-attack-strategy

    Get your LG on point and you'll be in the mid 160s without doing much else. Then you can tackle the LR/RC issues. Hit me up if you have any questions.
    Hey Pacifico, yeah, I had a feeling that was the case but I don't really know what to do.
    I've used your attack strategy and did literally all the games from PT 1-60 without doing the full-length preptests. I feel like it has helped alot. I can do games rather easily once I've seen them. However, on fresh PTs, that just goes out the window.

    For example, when I see a new game on a PT, I find that I will end up forgetting something important such as on my last PT, I weirdly forgot that on IN/OUT games the out category filled means that everything else goes IN even though I easily remember this outside of the test situation (I guess its nerves?) This resulted in me brute-forcing through the answer choices sucking up precious time.

    Missing things like this make it so that I finish 3 games in 30 minutes, and then I just have 5 minutes left to understand the one very weird/difficult game in the set which I end up bombing because I can't seem to get a grasp of it in time leading me to -7/8 usually.

  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
    @DumbHollywoodActor I usually BR every question on a freshly printed section.
  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
    @"Ron Swanson"
    @"Ron Swanson" said:
    Sounds like you may be psyching yourself out during these PTs.
    Hey Ron, I may be a little, but I think that overall, time is my biggest hindrance (as I'd imagine it's everyone's though?) For LR, I am always struggling to finish each LR section in time. I usually will only attempt 22-23 questions per set because I can't seem to get to all of them in time. When I do speed up, I end up not really understanding the stimuli for other questions and my performance just gets worse.
    @"Ron Swanson" said:
    If you have a good grip on the fundamentals, poor time management may be hurting your performance more than you realize
    I think my fundamentals are ok (but I may be wrong?) because I am BRing nearly perfect, -4ish for the entire test. Do you have any suggestions on how I can improve time while keeping accuracy?
  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
    @allison.gill.sanford
    @allison.gill.sanford said:
    Have you drilled all games from 1-35 until under JYs time?? There is no reason you should accept scoring -8 on games consistently.
    Hey Allison, yes I have. I usually hit JY's time exactly or just under. On some of the harder games, admittedly I don't, but then I redo those games 5+ times and then return to them later. I drilled games alone through this process and Pacifico's attack strategy for almost 2 months.

    Now that I think of it, it seems that I might be getting psyched out subconsciously under timed pressure which leads me to making silly mistakes (such as misreading a rule, misreading the initial setup etc) that results in me taking up too much time on the first 3 games that I am not able to get to the last one in time.

    That, or I am just not proficient enough at games as I think I am, in which case I should re-do all games sections from PT 1-60 before attempting any new PT. Thoughts?

    @allison.gill.sanford
    @Pacifico
  • DumbHollywoodActorDumbHollywoodActor Alum Inactive ⭐
    7468 karma
    @nibs7985 said:
    I usually BR every question on a freshly printed section.
    Then you’re not really doing effective Blind review. It also tells me you’re not really practicing your confidence. BR score should take into consideration confidence errors. But because you’re doing all of the questions, you’re robbing yourself of that knowledge. You should watch Nicole Hopkins and Quick Silver’s webinar on proper blind review: https://7sage.com/webinar

    I’d also infer that you’re not thinking strategically about questions. Are there LR questions that you’re getting right within 30-50 seconds? If not, I’d definitely, look at @c.janson35 ’s webinar on timing and levels of certainty.

    I’d also agree with everything everyone above said about LG. I’d also add, “Do you take a pause or a moment before going into the questions to think about how each of the rules works together?” Like Corey Janson says, more often than not, you have to slow yourself down to speed yourself up.

    Best of luck
  • Elle2015Elle2015 Alum Member
    198 karma
    If you're studying 8+ hours a day, when are you taking your PTs? At the beginning of that study session or towards the end? If it's towards the end, fatigue could be an issue. Regardless, I think you may be doing too much as well as putting too much pressure on yourself.

    If you're at 157-159 and the low 160s are your goal, you can afford to calm down a bit. You're going to get there. When you PT, you may need to work on your confidence/mindset because it seems like you make a lot of mistakes due to panicking. With LG, perhaps focus on being calm, reading carefully, and not letting any particular section or question throw you. If you encounter problems, you have to be able to put them behind you and move on to the other questions with a calm mindset.

    Also, since what you're doing isn't working for you, try something different like taking time off. Maybe come back after a week long break and then study a maximum of 3-5 hours a day instead of 8.

  • runiggyrunruniggyrun Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    2481 karma
    With the games, I think there comes a moment when things just click. After reaching that moment, you should never go back to missing 8 questions per section - maybe a couple, if you misread something, or if it's a particularly gnarly session and you run out of time, but you should be able to go through the easier games fast enough that you have 10+ minutes for the hardest game(s), which means you can brute force at least 4-5 questions and only leave a couple on the table.
    That's the good news. The bad news is that the "clicking" point comes at very different times for different people. Some get it after a month, some need a lot longer than that. I'm one of the latter.
    It took me more than 4 months of doing 3-4 games sections/day to reach the point where it clicked (my worst section ever was a -10, average of ~ -4, but with wild variation between sections). I estimate I've proofed ~55 sections, so 220 games before it all came together (all games from 1-45, all superpreps which are quite tough, some of the games in the 50's and a couple from the 70's because those were the PT's I took).
    I do the sections a couple of times fresh, just after taking the corresponding PT, watching the videos if needed, then again next day, then again in a few more days, then in a couple of weeks, then a month later. And another month later, and another (I'm sure different strategies work for different people, but this worked for me). After the 4+ months, all of the sudden I was able to do the sections ~5-10 minutes faster than I had ever done them before and I could "see" clearly where the pieces were meant to go, and which rules were crucial for answering most of the questions. Now, bear in mind these were not fresh sections, but I think if you do it 5 times and you go, let's say, 35min, 33 min, 33min, 33min, 24 min (the last three were spaced a month from each other), it's pretty clear that something good happened between the last two.
    Coincidentally, I've not missed any game questions in my last 5-6 PT's, and a few of them were rated medium and hard, so I think the improvement is real and hopefully here to stay.

    TL;DR - keep proofing the games, it might take longer than 3 months, but at some point it will click and those are going to be some sweet points in the bag.
    And don't burn yourself out with 8+ hours a day.
  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
    @DumbHollywoodActor

    Thanks for the advice. You're right. I haven't been developing my confidence in my ability to get certain questions right, and second-guessing may be eating up my time. I'm going to start working on this for sure.
    @DumbHollywoodActor said:
    I’d also infer that you’re not thinking strategically about questions. Are there LR questions that you’re getting right within 30-50 seconds?
    Yeah, i think not thinking strategically about questions maybe something I have to work on (hoping a webinar can help clear this up as well). I can get certain SA questions correct within 1 minute, but I don't usually get LR questions in 30-50 seconds unless its at the very start of the section.
    @DumbHollywoodActor said:
    “Do you take a pause or a moment before going into the questions to think about how each of the rules works together?” Like Corey Janson says, more often than not, you have to slow yourself down to speed yourself up.
    Yes, I've been doing this, but perhaps not effectively seeing that I am still taking relatively long on games for timed PTs that I haven't seen before. Maybe I'll return to LG from the first PTs and be extra cognizant of this.

    anyway, thanks for the input & webinar page link, I'm going to check them out now.
  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
    @Elle2015 said:
    If you're studying 8+ hours a day, when are you taking your PTs? At the beginning of that study session or towards the end? If it's towards the end, fatigue could be an issue. Regardless, I think you may be doing too much as well as putting too much pressure on yourself.
    Hey Elle, I've only recently returned to PTs after doing the curriculum for 2 months. Prior to this, I took 10 PTs over the course of 4 months while mixing in drilling. The last 2 PTs I've taken have been in the morning, and I've been following a pretty disciplined routine of taking it at the same time, eating the same foods, working out etc. so I don't believe fatigue is at issue.

    I also don't believe I'm burning out yet. However, there is pressure (but it's really odd, because I don't believe its an overblown pressure or anything, just pressure coming from the fact that I've been stuck at the same score for quite a long time).
    @Elle2015 said:
    When you PT, you may need to work on your confidence/mindset because it seems like you make a lot of mistakes due to panicking. With LG, perhaps focus on being calm, reading carefully, and not letting any particular section or question throw you. If you encounter problems, you have to be able to put them behind you and move on to the other questions with a calm mindset.
    I think you may be right. To some extent, panic is a factor especially with weird LG games.

    I'm going to work on this.

    Thanks for the advice.
  • DumbHollywoodActorDumbHollywoodActor Alum Inactive ⭐
    7468 karma
    @nibs7985 said:
    but I don't usually get LR questions in 30-50 seconds unless its at the very start of the section.
    This right here needs to be your first priority when it comes to LR. While it’s nice for the ego to know that you can answer the REALLY REALLY hard questions with unlimited time, it’s not immediately helpful for your LSAT score.

    But being able to recognize the cookie cutter nature of problems, so that you can get rid of your POE approach and go hunting for the correct answer will allow you to answer questions in well under a minute and that is just money in the bank for those harder questions at the end. (by the way, I am mercilessly plagiarizing @c.janson35 , so definitely take a look at all his webinars).

    I’m also going to throw in that you probably need to skip more questions like it’s your job. Think of it like this: Your goal is to spend the least amount of time on the questions you will inevitably get wrong.

    I’d also recommend recording yourself so you can exactly how you spend your time. If you get a question right, but it takes you 4 minutes, then you have to see that as a serious loss, even though you got it right.
  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
    @runiggyrun Wow. Thank you for the advice and inspiration. Hearing that you've gone through a similar experience and got out of it is really encouraging. I think I'm going to go back and foolproof all the game sections I've taken (1-60) before returning to full PTs. Hopefully the "click" will happen.
  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
    @DumbHollywoodActor said:
    being able to recognize the cookie cutter nature of problems, so that you can get rid of your POE approach and go hunting for the correct answer will allow you to answer questions in well under a minute and that is just money in the bank for those harder questions at the end. (by the way, I am mercilessly plagiarizing @c.janson35 , so definitely take a look at all his webinars).
    I agree, this would be ideal. I'm going to check out his webinars now, thanks!
    @DumbHollywoodActor said:
    I’m also going to throw in that you probably need to skip more questions like it’s your job. Think of it like this: Your goal is to spend the least amount of time on the questions you will inevitably get wrong.
    yes, you're right. I've been trying to work on this but haven't found a way to make it work yet. When I do skip questions, I usually am not able to return to them at all and am left grappling with even harder questions near the end of the section which I don't skip because I feel like I've skipped so many questions already. In hindsight, I can now see this as the wrong approach, I should be skipping those difficult questions too and then returning to the questions near the start of the section that I skipped initially and work my way through to the end again).
    @DumbHollywoodActor said:
    I’d also recommend recording yourself so you can exactly how you spend your time. If you get a question right, but it takes you 4 minutes, then you have to see that as a serious loss, even though you got it right.
    I thought about this before but I now realize how crucial it is. I'm going to do this for sure (just gotta go out and buy a stand for my cellphone). It is quite likely the case that I am spending far too long on certain questions but just haven't realized it. Recording should help.

    Thanks for the awesome suggestions!
  • mimimimimimimimi Member
    368 karma
    I was in the 160 range and stopped studying for 9 months. When I restarted I scored 165 very easily. Maybe you just need a break. Also, I used to set my target scores. At some point I was so obsessed over it that I got super nervous about PT - didn't want to take it, put it off, etc... That's not good. That's burnout.

    When I restarted LSAT again, I quickly broke into 170s. But I underestimated the newer tests which gave me a lot of trouble in my last stages of studying so my score was never steady (in the 168-173 range)... If I could do this again, I would spend less time on earlier tests and redo 70's three times. The 70's are just so different! Also, to me the difference between 170+ and 175+ is how much time you have left for each section, how easily you can get the earlier ones correct and save time for the killer questions.
  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
    @mimimimi

    Hey mimimimi, thanks for sharing your experience.

    Hearing it, I'm definitely going to plan ahead and do some of the 170s much earlier than test day when I get back into PT phase.

    I'll likely also experiment and take it a tad bit easier on my prep schedule to see if it might help.

    I figure the more I can change things up at this point, the better.
  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
    @mimimimi said:
    At some point I was so obsessed over it that I got super nervous about PT - didn't want to take it, put it off, etc
    Hah, that sounds like me this week. I'll take that as a sign to try and ease up a little.

    Thanks again.
  • allison.gill.sanfordallison.gill.sanford Legacy Inactive Sage
    1128 karma
    @nibs7985 I'm still on this LG train! Something is going on for you. I think if you're spending 30 minutes on the first three games and ending up with 5 mins for the last, but you have already done the bundle, then you have all the essential skills to solve the games under time. That is a discipline issue with your time in section. You probably need to push yourself to do easier games very quickly. You can't spend 10 minutes on what should be a 5 or a 7 minute game. Eventually, you need to habituate that, even with fresh games.
    Also, I do believe developing the habits to do well on a full, fresh LG section rather than drilling old games is a slightly different skill. You have to self-diagnose here what is happening, where you are wasting time, etc.
    One note on drilling games - if you have seen it before, you should be aiming for well under JY's target time. So if you are just hitting it on most games, or barely under, and you have seen these games several times before, you might want to push your pace on those and get them down to less time. That could be helpful practice for you to learn how to make yourself move more quickly through new games.
  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
    @allison.gill.sanford

    Allison,

    A final thought here is I am wondering if it would be best for me to return to PTs 1-35 and fool-proof em or would it be a better use of my time to continue to take full-length PTs from 36-60? (only because I have done the games in these PTs but have otherwise not seen any of the other sections).

    I figure by doing full-length PTs from 36-60 I am still gaining practice on LG sections that I have seen before (whereby I can try focusing on timing and staying calm a little more), but the other benefit I see is that I can practice LR at the same time, implementing strategies like skipping which I haven't otherwise done.

    Am I spreading myself too thin? Or is drilling LG alone quite likely the most effective use of my time at this point? (I'm hoping to write the LSAT in June).

    Thanks again for the guidance.

    Awesome webinars btw!
  • allison.gill.sanfordallison.gill.sanford Legacy Inactive Sage
    1128 karma

    @nibs7985

    I would say if you are just at JY's target times when you drill 1-35, you haven't truly foolproofed them yet. You need to be under his times - and sometimes well under - if you have seen those games quite a bit. So it depends - are you kicking ass at these games and then just not doing well when you see fresh materials? Why are you scoring -8 on games? You will have to determine why that is happening.

    Definitely start skipping on LR. I don't think it will be a negative thing to take two weeks off and just focus on figuring out your LG problems, but if you feel apprehensive about leaving LR behind, you could try to keep it in your rotation by drilling old material. I am personally not a fan of blowing through PTs when you're scoring -8 on LG.
    My main piece of advice is to try to figure out the issue with LG and focus there for a while. Once you're down to -2 average, go back to PTing.

    Glad you have found the webinars helpful!!
  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
    @allison.gill.sanford
    @allison.gill.sanford said:
    So it depends - are you kicking ass at these games and then just not doing well when you see fresh materials? Why are you scoring -8 on games? You will have to determine why that is happening.
    Scoring well under J.Y's time is definitely not the norm for me. Thinking about it, I probably would benefit from going back and really ensuring I am well under his time for PTs 1-35.

    Perhaps through the process something will "click" for me.
    @allison.gill.sanford said:
    My main piece of advice is to try to figure out the issue with LG and focus there for a while. Once you're down to -2 average, go back to PTing.
    Thanks so much for clearing things up Allison!! I'll buckle down with LG and see how far I can go.
  • Ron SwansonRon Swanson Alum Member Inactive ⭐
    1650 karma
    @nibs7985

    For LR timing, it's not necessarily "speeding up", but maximizing how you use your time. By that I mean, spend time to read the stimulus so you have an understanding of it before moving into the answer choices. If you have a murky idea of what a stimulus is saying, heading to the answers will results in that endless cycle of reading and re-reading. Major time sink, that's how the test makers get you to spin your wheels.

    Also, as you're running through the questions, if you hit a stimulus that you can't get a good read on...SKIP IT. Skip the question and come back if you have time. You want to make sure you're getting all of the questions right that you can..rather than getting #22-#26 wrong because you burned 3 minutes each on #20 and #21, you skip 20 and 21, and are able to get the last 4 right because you're not in "high-pressure-holy-shit-time's-running-out" mode. Does that make sense?

    As you improve (especially in your BR), the amount of questions that you get wrong via confidence error will slowly diminish. This enables you to begin getting through sections and only having trouble on ones that you are aware are giving you a hard time. It's a lot easier to beat an enemy that you can identify than one you can't even see.

    Keep at 'em!
  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
    @"Ron Swanson" said:
    Also, as you're running through the questions, if you hit a stimulus that you can't get a good read on...SKIP IT.
    I really think I haven't been doing this enough. I skip some, then for some reason, I try and grapple with others I can't understand and that is most likely what makes me not end up being able to get to all of the questions.
    @"Ron Swanson" said:
    Skip the question and come back if you have time. You want to make sure you're getting all of the questions right that you can..rather than getting #22-#26 wrong because you burned 3 minutes each on #20 and #21, you skip 20 and 21, and are able to get the last 4 right because you're not in "high-pressure-holy-shit-time's-running-out" mode. Does that make sense?

    Makes total sense, I think that's precisely what's been happening.
    @"Ron Swanson" said:
    This enables you to begin getting through sections and only having trouble on ones that you are aware are giving you a hard time. It's a lot easier to beat an enemy that you can identify than one you can't even see.

    Great way to put it! It's only now that I realize such a disservice I've been doing to myself by BRing everything and not building my ability to be certain about what I know and what I don't. I'll start practicing using this approach.

    Thanks for your help!
  • nibs7985nibs7985 Legacy Member
    100 karma
  • allison.gill.sanfordallison.gill.sanford Legacy Inactive Sage
    1128 karma
    @nibs7985 glad to help! Best of luck as you push forward!
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