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Ellen Cassidy's The Loophole Strategies

lsatdiva333lsatdiva333 Member
edited November 2020 in Logical Reasoning 227 karma

For those of you who've read Ellen Cassidy's The Loophole -- I know that she strongly recommends reading the stimulus and designing the CLIR before reading the question stem, but I personally find that it's a better strategy to read the stem first, as I tend to overanalyze/overlook parts of the stimulus. Also for questions like main point or argument part, I feel like it's a waste of time to be analytical about the argument (not necessarily during blind review but at least under timed conditions) when all you need to do is identify the conclusion/role of a sentence in the stimulus.

Do you guys find value sticking to her advice of reading the stimulus first, or is it okay to use her CLIR method yet read the stem first?

Which to read first?
  1. Which to read first?118 votes
    1. Stimulus
    2. Question Stem
    3. Doesn't matter - up to preference


  • Law and YodaLaw and Yoda Alum Member
    edited November 2020 4306 karma

    I liked her advice throughout the book except for this part, however, it really comes down to personal preference at the end of the day. I think it’s great practice to read the stimulus and ask yourself what can they ask me out of this information given, but on an actual live take, I’m all for the question stem first. I’ll read the question stem first then CLIR.

  • Bushy_BrowBushy_Brow Yearly Member
    61 karma

    I do both. For most questions I start with the stimulus, but I read the question stem first when the ACs seem particularly long. This is because I skip and save PF/PS questions for the end.

  • soupdishsoupdish Member
    69 karma

    the whole point of reading the stimulus first and coming up with a CLIR/Loophole (before reading the question stem) is so that you get faster at analyzing arguments in the future, no matter what kind of question stem comes to you - SA/NA/conclusion/Argument part/etc.

    The same applies for argument part/conclusion questions. The more you CLIR by reading stimulus first, the better and faster you'll get it.

  • MrsRobinson1MrsRobinson1 Alum Member
    106 karma

    I have stopped reading the QS and start reading the stimulus first now. I then come up with a prediction (loophole) and usually my prediction is in the answer choices. This is changing LR for me and is improving my score. I was at a plateau prior to doing this.

  • lsatdiva333lsatdiva333 Member
    227 karma

    @MrsRobinson1 do you read the stim first during timed conditions as well??

  • lsatdiva333lsatdiva333 Member
    227 karma

    @sassyloni That does make sense! But what if the main point/argument part question does not require you to understand the loophole/inference in the stimulus, but before you read the stem you're spending time trying to figure it out but can't? Then wouldn't this, during timed conditions, burn valuable time? Hope this question makes sense haha

  • canihazJDcanihazJD Alum Member Sage
    8313 karma

    There are good reasons for either approach. I think it comes down to what works best for you. I used to get super stressed about it as I found myself naturally moving from AC selection straight into the next stimulus, which would then cause me to stop myself and switch to the stem, costing me time. Now I just go with whatever I intuitively start with - economy of effort and all. This works for me because I know the advantages/disadvantages of each approach and can respond accordingly.

  • Brahim MBrahim M Core Member
    66 karma

    Ahhh you've come across the debate that every LSAT taker has in their heads. My advice is try both and see what you like better. I too read Loophole and liked the way Ellen lays everything out from strategy to CLIR, and so on. CLIR helped me tremendously understand (conceptually) what is happening in each stimulus. Try both and see what works best. I personally stayed away from powerful provable language and focused on its conceptual and functional qualities. That last part may be difficult to understand but let me know if i can explain that better.

  • 1952 karma

    ahh this debate continues on! i think there are fair reasons for both sides, and i'd personally pick the one that works better for you.
    for example, i have a skipping strategy and i have a few pre-determined questions that i skip during my first round. in my case, reading the question stem makes more sense.

  • Thy RainThy Rain Core Member
    99 karma

    Honestly, it is all on personal preference! There is not right answer to this. People have gotten 170+ doing both methods. Whatever works for you, stick to it!

  • lsatdiva333lsatdiva333 Member
    227 karma

    @"LOWERCASE EVERYTHING" What's your skipping strategy?

  • JessicaLeighJessicaLeigh Core Member
    78 karma

    I just purchased Ellen’s book, however The LSAT Trainer recommends reading the question stem first. I have also found this to be much easier because I feel like I have a guide before reading the stimulus on what I’m looking for and how to perceive the information in the stimulus opposed to going in blindly and then reading the question stem.

  • Auntie2020Auntie2020 Member
    552 karma

    For me reading the stimulus first works best!

    But like what everyone else says - do whatever works for you!

  • SoCal1996SoCal1996 Member
    21 karma

    LR questions stems are super repetitive, so as I became more familiar with the lsat i got faster at identifying the stems. So leading up to, and on the actual real lsat, I simply glanced at the question stem for 5 seconds. That was enough time to realize what type of LR Q I was answering and how to read the stimulus.

    I read the stimulus very differently depending on the question. Like you said, if i just have to find the conclusion I'm not going to read it the same as I would for a PSA question.

    To get faster at identifying LR stems, make a quizlet or flashcards. I did this everyday for like 20 minutes for weeks. It's worth it. In my opinion this is the best strategy.

  • edited November 2020 1952 karma

    @lsatdiva333 said:
    @"LOWERCASE EVERYTHING" What's your skipping strategy?

    in my first round, i have pre-determined questions to skip, like parallel reasoning, flawed parallel reasoning, and anything else that demands any diagramming at all. this is so that i can keep up with the "flow" without stopping and taking time to work on my scratch papers. even if they don't require diagramming, those parallel questions are super long, and they don't require the same kind of analysis like in other questions, so i don't want to spend my brain cells on them during my first go.

    during this first round, i also categorize questions in the order of priority to come back to. these are more nuanced than written below, but here is the basic idea:

    1. (pretty quick) pre-determined questions i skipped. i usually leave these blank so it's easier to spot them on the interface
    2. (low priority) i flag questions that i'm pretty confident on but will only return to when i have time
    3. (high priority) on my scratch paper, i write down questions that i want to look at again (but these are questions that i think i'll get them right if i look at it again), on the left side.
    4. (medium priority) on my scratch paper, i write down questions that i want to look at again (but these are more harder questions that i think i'll probably get them right if i look at it again), on the right side.

    in my second round, i come back to those pre-determined skipped questions, and work on them.
    in my third round, i work on #3 questions.
    in my fourth round, i work on #4 questions.
    in my fifth round, i start working on #2 questions. i usually run out of time during this round.

    why i do this:
    1. sometimes, for whatever reason, your stimulus/ac won't just click the first time you see them. upon returning to them with a new fresh pair of eyes, i can tackle them better.
    2. i prioritize questions to return to, because you only have limited time and i want to work on the questions that'll be more worth spending time on (i.e. greater chance i'll get them right + most economical use of my time). think opportunity cost.
    3. i have pre-determined questions, because i want to keep my "flow" and don't want diagramming or parallel questions to distract me.

    i've talked to and received tutoring from people who have used similar strategies, but their strategies were all slightly different (as is mine). do what works best for you.
    hope this helps!

  • lsatdiva333lsatdiva333 Member
    edited November 2020 227 karma

    @"LOWERCASE EVERYTHING" Thanks! So essentially the only questions that you leave entirely blank are the ones from the #1 category? For the other categories you still bubble in an answer even though you're not 100% sure if you're right, correct?

    How much time do you usually have remaining after your first round (when you've skipped all the predetermined questions and finished flagging the other questions)? Do you have benchmarks for keeping track of time (for example, want to finish the first 10 questions in the first 10 minutes), or do you not fixate too much on this because you'll be jumping around the section anyway?)

  • 1952 karma

    @lsatdiva333 initially, i started with a goal: finishing my first round within 15 min remaining of time. but i've found that the better strategy was to practice accurately gauging my confidence levels for each question (i.e. how confident i am after answering a question). this served as a good indicator of when to move on, and i became more efficient with my skipping strategy.

    usually, i'd have 17 min after my first round and ~15 mins left after my second (after doing all those skipped questions). this gives me a good amount of time to work on questions in my "high priority" category. there are also times when i'd need to bump a question in this category to a different category, after a second review.

    i also want to add: when you become comfortable with the knowledge tested on the lsat, i think the rest of the battle becomes a battle of becoming "efficient," and skipping strategies help with that. i can confidently say that this is what helped me break the 170's on timed tests, even though my br scores have not gotten much up.

    hope this helps. good luck!

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