General assistance needed (progress/diagnostics)

chrijani7chrijani7 Alum Member
edited May 2014 in General 827 karma
I apologize in advance for the long discussion post. I am sure there are others in my shoes, so I'd like to ask the community for some assistance on my progress thus far and some guidance going forward. My story is that I began studying last summer before my last year of university, but have yet to write an LSAT (Did not sign up for Oct 2013 as planned). I studied hard last summer, but once school began in September I fell off the wagon and dramatically reduced my studying. I have began to study hard again for the June 2014 test and have noticed my progress over the last 2 weeks has slightly improved. I don't know how to properly diagnose myself to determine the best way to improve.

My biggest weakness is LR, I can typically complete a section in 35 minutes (though some sections I cannot) and achieve anywhere between a -6/7 - /12/13. Two things I have noticed looking back at my test and blind reviewing them. First, there does not seem to be ONE particular question type that chokes me up, rather all the question types seem to be in the mix of my wrong answer. So, how do I actually determine which areas I need improvement on most, since it seems to really only be the most difficult questions for all types that choke me up. Second, when I go to check my answers against the correct answer, I have a hard time firmly reviewing because once I see the answer it seems so obvious (i.e: I either make a really dumb mistake a lot, or I fell for the trap).

My second weakest area is RC, I cannot complete a section in the 35 minutes and any hard passages take me over 10 minutes and include me getting completely demolished on the questions. I have noticed a slight increase in my ability to read for reasoning structure, but I cannot figure out a way to increase my ability to answer questions while at the same time learning to reduce my time. I understand that drill drill drill is what needs to happen for this kind of improvement, so my question is how did you drill RC and what exactly did you do that made you see the improvements you desired?

Lastly, my LG is actually pretty good. I can score anywhere between -3/4- -0. BUT the biggest thing for me in this section is my timing. Games that should take me 5 mins end up taking me 8/9 mins. So, any of the more challenging games just completely throw my timing off, allowing me to only finish 3 games in 35 minutes. My question here is how can I improve my time without hurting my accuracy. Any time that I have tried to improve my time I notice I make sloppy mistakes and rush rather than actually trying to think things through (which inevitably takes more time).

Again sorry for the long post, but I am really desperate to properly diagnose my progress. As of right now I don't know what to do. Obviously drilling and practicing is necessary to improve, but I am curious to know what others think and suggest. Also, given my progress so far what should I expect for test date realistically. My last actual fully timed PT was 153, and I have scored around 163/164 but went over the time limit.

Thanks to all who assist me and provide input! I look forward to hearing all of the responses.

Comments

  • beemomo8beemomo8 Alum Member
    82 karma
    Hey, I was in a similar situation; struggling with time, getting at least 6 wrong per section on questions that was hard or because of a careless mistake. I was on a verge to call it a quit but proceeded with drilling and memorizing questions. But even with all of my ardent efforts to raise the score, I was left with a score that really did not reflect my effort: 157.

    But I realized one thing as I went through all the PTs and that was I could not read fast enough to make inferences or recognize patterns and hence make really silly mistakes. So I started to read, I mean read like there was no tomorrow. I read NYT, WSJ and just about every articles that was challenging to read. Also I have trained myself to read with my eyes; I have been reading out loud in my head and that actually is not an efficient way to read since registering letters with eyes are the quickest way to absorb information ( there are video tutorials on how to read with eyes on youtube if you are interested ). Other important things I did were solving puzzles games like sudoku that enabled my brain to bring out inferences quicker, relearning complex ways sentences can be constructed and also reading articles on topics I found boring and hard-economic and physics. I did this for three months.

    So LSAT penalizes you if you do not have a really solid grasp on English because in order to make the test difficult, they like to manipulate the language in a manner that people might not notice. Also having a basic knowledge of science, history and economy will make your LSAT journey easier because when you encounter topics in a question you do not know well, the question will slow you down ( I HIGHLY recommend reading SCIENTIFIC AMERICA for understanding any scientific topics).

    After doing these, I re-visited 7sage and began following the lesson and now I am able to read and answer with great accuracy and speed while anticipating the right answers. I have not taken an actual LSAT yet, but from doing sections I now get about 0 to 4 questions wrong for LR and RC and I do not need to time myself because now I naturally solve them quickly.

    So this has been my approach and there really isn't a quick fix to raise one's score for this test. I hope this was helpful.
  • mhhanesmhhanes Alum Member
    8 karma
    I share your pain big time - I sat for the Oct 2011 LSAT (basically cold...) and scored a 143. After 3 months of intense studying, I did my first timed practice test yesterday and ALSO made a 143 (146 after blind review). After seeing this (& shedding a few tears (?)) I decided not look at the correct answer choices and review the test with a fresh brain. I, too, noticed I made TONS of careless errors because I got panicky with the timing. 'Calming down' is so much easier said than done. I have passed the USPTO Patent Bar exam so one would think my mind is capable of grasping the LSAT but unfortunately, they could not be more different.

    I truly think all the posts & JY's advice on this site are invaluable. Unfortunately, I can't give you any tremendous tips as I too am looking for them. I guess just practice, practice, & more practice is the only thing that will help. There is that little issue of time though! I am sitting for the June 2014 LSAT as well, and have been wait listed at the school of my choice (based on my old but reportable score of 143). Good luck to us all!
  • LSATislandLSATisland Inactive Sage
    edited May 2014 1878 karma
    Any advice I can offer will only be secondary to the benefits of practice and investing large amounts of time into LSAT prep. Repetition is a huge element in LSAT progress.

    That being said:

    LR: You say that you are struggling with difficult questions but in each question type. The only solution would be improving in all LR types. There's a pro and con to your situation. On the one hand, it means no specific question type is too challenging for you. On the other hand, rectifying the problem will need to encompass all question types.

    You refer to the difficult questions as "choking up". It is frustrating coming across seemingly impossible questions during a timed test. But develop a pattern of dealing with it. It might be useful to skip the hard questions and return to them after. That way, it will be less pressurized since you will be working with the additional time saved from the easier questions, and you won't have to think about the huge amount left in the section. Try not to panic. The questions should be challenging, but they should not "choke you up".

    Spend a lot of time analyzing the questions after. Understand why the correct choice is right, and why the wrong answer choices are incorrect. I know you might be doing this already, but the time invested "marinating" your mind in the questions allows the concepts to sink in. Included in this is doing whole, new LR sections without a clock - thinking a lot as you do each question. Eventually, you want to reach a level of familiarity and intuition where you can knock off incorrect answer choices without much thought, enabling you to utilize the extra time for the challenging questions.

    RC: Drilling is important for RC, especially since RC is sometimes not focused on as much as the others (LR is two sections per test, and LG are supposed to be done more than once). Take a day off to do RC sections only. Even if they might be tests that you have done before (try to use ones from a while ago, which are vague memories).

    LG: Seems like you're doing well. Just continue to do more LG and the LG you've done again and again. The timing issue should be fixed through that.

    I hope this helps. I'd be happy to help more, you can PM me.
  • chrijani7chrijani7 Alum Member
    827 karma
    First off, I'd like to apologize for taking forever to reply to your generous comments and also thank all of you for the replies. I really do appreciate it. I took an "in-class" course over the weekend and prior to the weekend the site would not let me access the forums. Although I was able to read comments, it would not let me reply.

    @beemomo8, I will take a look at Scientific America and try reading the NYT or other academic sources, as of right now when I try to read anything outside the LSAT I just get drained and don't really pay much attention but I will try to take it seriously and see if it does possibly help me, since I have read/heard that many times to read things like the economist but never really considered trying it seriously.

    @mhhanes, YES! CALMING DOWN IS CRUCIAL, but it really is so much easier said than done. Yesterday during the course I took we did a practice test and really I wasted so much time freaking out about time. When the proctor said there was 5 mins I would consider the section over and panic, when realistically I should at LEAST be able to answer three questions solid and thats giving myself quite a bit of leeway!

    @LSATISLAND I appreciate the comment! If I could, I'd like to dig a bit deeper on how to drill/practice RC. Yesterday I scored a 160 on PT59, I don't know if I just got lucky or if it was easier than others I had taken or a combination of both. But regardless, I went -5 on games, -4/-7 on the 2 LR's, and then a -12 ON RC!. While I am satisfied to see that I have at least progressed a bit I seem to have the MOST trouble with INFERENCE questions on either LR or RC. But I don't know what to do about it, the questions int he RC section just blow my mind half the time. I can typically get the main point or authors attitude and usually what the use of a word meant but any kind of inference just crushes me Do you have any suggestions to improve this? I know just keep practicing but I can typically see why the correct answer is right but I rarely am able to determine why the others are indefinitely wrong.
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