Raphael: I'll tell students that I work with that there really are two ways you can get a question wrong on the LSAT: literally getting it wrong, or getting it right but not fast enough.
J.Y.: Hello, and welcome to the 7Sage podcast. I'm J.Y. Ping, and on today's episode, we present a webinar about how to get faster on the LSAT. 7Sage tutor Raphael begins with general advice, then he and 7Sage tutor Scott take questions from the audience. Here's the webinar.
Scott: All right. Welcome, everybody. Real quick, I'm just going to make some introductions and then I'm going to turn it over to Raphael and he can get started. But hi, my name is Scott Milam and I'm one of the managers of the 7Sage tutoring program.
Today I'm joined by Raphael. Raphael is actually one of my fellow managers and he's also probably our most prolific tutor. Today he's joining us to talk about his topic entitled "The Need for Speed." In other words, how to improve your timing and speed on the LSAT. So without further ado, Raphael, take it away.
Raphael: Hey, so good to see everyone here. Thank you for the introduction, Scott. I'm Raphael. I'm working with 7Sage since the program launched back in August. And we're going to talk today about something that I think is really important, but also can be pretty interesting: some of the strategy dimensions behind timing on the LSAT, you know, the ways that you can work on being faster, some specific tips for getting faster, but also just a general framework to adopt. It can be useful for just shaping how you think about timing on the LSAT.
So, Scott, I think what I'll do is I'll introduce the broad framework in mind for this, and then you and I can chat a little bit back and forth about that, if that sounds good to you.
Scott: Yeah, that always sounds good to me.
Raphael: So for starters, I think it's really useful to just think about for a second what the LSAT's assessing. Obviously, you know, in the LSAT, there's a question of, do you get the question right or question wrong, and could you do that with unlimited time?
So for those of you who are not familiar with it, this is why 7Sage really pushes the blind review method to disaggregate your ability to know something timed versus something untimed. If there's a question that you could get right with unlimited time, your fundamentals are maybe strong, but if you missed it timed, maybe that's a timing thing, whereas if you missed it with unlimited time, the fundamentals were the issue, which gets at really the heart of the LSAT.
You're being asked broadly to do two things, to know the content and to also be able to get it right on time, which is why sometimes I'll tell students that I work with that there really are two ways you can get a question wrong on the LSAT: literally getting it wrong, or getting it right but not fast enough.
I would say getting a question right that takes you five minutes for question 1 on LR is functionally getting it wrong because the opportunity cost, the time you spend on that, is going to trade off with your ability to give other questions a fair shake.
Scott: I was going to throw out a question. It's one that I end up getting a lot whenever I talk with clients or in consult. So you mentioned blind review and it's one of the things I get asked about most often. What's your take on that? How long should people spend blind reviewing a particular PT before they're ready to hit the button that lets them get their score?
Raphael: It depends on where you are with the test. If you're someone who is just starting out and you're in the, let's say, 150s range, I think blind review should take you probably as long as it took you to take the real test, the reason being, there are going to be a lot of questions that you weren't sure about and had to move on kind of quickly from, questions you didn't even get to, and some questions that you just want to stare at for a while.
Yeah, I think blind review should take you at least as long as the practice test itself. When you get up, let's look at the other end of the spectrum. If you're scoring high 170s, I think blind review can be less than an hour in that case, because, you know, if you're a high 170 scorer, there maybe are going to be one to two questions per section that you're genuinely unsure about, that you want to just stare at for 10, 15 minutes.
And in that case, it makes a little bit less sense to spend as much time, it's less necessary. I do think that one of the rules for blind review, no matter what level you are, any mistakes in Logic Games, I think, should be viewed as sort of unacceptable because you have unlimited time just to brute force every game. I think that no one of any skill level should miss questions in blind review on Logic Games. Does that answer your question, Scott, about the amount of time? It's a spectrum, I think.
Scott: Yeah, yeah. So oftentimes we have people coming to us who, you know, are hesitant to do blind review because they have this idea that blind review means spending, you know, like 12, 13 hours. I had one person at one point say trying to blind review the same test. And something I always like to emphasize is, look, the goal is to figure out how you would have done on the test if you didn't have the really rigid time constraint that the LSAT gives you. And it's not to, like, laboriously research every single question, it's mainly just to ease off the constraint of time.
You give a very similar answer, perhaps not surprisingly, that I generally don't recommend that anyone spend any longer than the time they spend on the PT originally, going back and blind reviewing before they hit the button. I do encourage you to do it. It's probably the single most important diagnostic data point that we could possibly get to determine why are you struggling with a particular problem, but don't be intimidated by a blind review just because, you know, you have this conception that, oh, well, I have to spend like an entire day working on it. That's not the case.
Raphael: Exactly, and it is a spectrum. I do think that, you know, as long as your practice tests are a little bit longer, it's sort of the most that anyone of any score level would spend. And the other end of the spectrum is less than an hour blind reviewing it. Blind review is an integral part of that, but it's part of a broader understanding that, of course, the test is assessing your fundamentals and also assessing your timing.
And, you know, higher blind review score indicates that your fundamentals are strong and, you know, if your blind review score and your timing score are sort of around the same, that suggests maybe the area for improvement is bumping your fundamentals up. So that's really the core distinction there.
Generally speaking, when we talk about improving on timing, we're going to be talking less so about the blind review fundamentals dimension to this, and more talking about, how do you actually just get through questions more quickly? The biggest insight I can give you in terms of getting faster is that it's easier to get faster on the easy questions than the hard ones. Even if you're, you know, a high 170 scorer, there are going to be questions that require you to spend five minutes, sometimes six minutes.
If I were to sit down for a practice test today, I would probably, even as a high scorer, I'd have a couple of questions that I would need to spend, you know, four or five minutes on, the curve breaker question. But how do you make time for that? The answer is that you're really fast on the short questions.
Questions 1 through 5 of LR, you're spending, you know, you have some 20-second questions, some 30-second questions, the first Logic Game, you can maybe get through it in four minutes, five minutes, because, if you think of it this way, if you spend a minute on the first five LR questions versus just spending 45 seconds, that those 15 seconds that you've saved on each one, those could all be plugged in to the curve breaker question, where then that minute plus just becomes invaluable for you.
So there's an analogy that J.Y. gives, I think, in the core curriculum where he talks about hunting for coconuts. If you have 35 minutes to pick up 25 coconuts, you're not going to just reach for the ones way up in the tree that you know you may or may not get. You're going to get the ones at the base of the tree first, and then the luxury ones way up in the tree you maybe won't spend as much time for.
I guess sort of an addendum to that analogy, if there are coconuts at the base of the tree, the really low-hanging fruit, would you spend a bunch of time looking at it, you know, seeing, hmm, how much milk is there going to be in this one? Let me shake it to make sure it's really a coconut.
It's like, no, you grab it. You grab it as quick as you can, because if you want any prayer of getting the ones high in the tree, you've really got to just scramble to get the ones at the base, and that the time you spend there is more time reaching up higher in the tree, as opposed to saying, I'm going to be much faster climbing the upper echelons of that tree.
So that's really, I think, the core of timing insight that I'm going to share today in more detail, but just if you had to come away with one principle, it's that the secret for speed is being faster on the easy ones, not being faster on the hard ones.
Scott: Yeah, and I really want to stress the point that you just made because I think it's one that is absolutely key to the strategy on the LSAT. I like the coconut analogy. The one I often use when I'm working with students is a budget analogy. Essentially, every question on the LSAT is worth the exact same amount, but they cost different amounts of time. And that's your key resource that you have the opportunity to spend this time.
So you want to buy all of these short, easy questions first, if you at all possibly can, and you want to buy them for as cheaply as you possibly can get away with, and then you only want to spend the large amounts of time on the ones that you have to, and even then, only once you've bought up all the cheap ones that you can.
Again, there's no special prize for getting all the five-star questions on LR right. Each of those five stars are worth exactly as much as a one-star question, so make sure that you've given yourself time to answer those one-star questions and to answer them as cheaply, in other words, as you possibly can. And that's really probably the core strategy for the LSAT. So if you get nothing else from this to guide your study, please make sure you understand that point.
Raphael: Yeah, and I want to actually share my screen to show analytics from a practice test that I took when I was studying for the test. Just to show what I mean about sort of how almost bimodal the timing can be, with some questions being really, really short and some being actually quite long. So let me share this. We'll go over to LR actually on this practice test.
You'll notice that first five or so questions, a lot of these are pretty short. There's one that's a little longer, a minute 30, but you know, I have a 49-second question, a 22-second question, 42. And I'm undershooting the target time, usually by around 50% or so. So, you know, 22 versus 47, 42 versus a minute 15. I'm really making up a lot of time here on the first 10. And then this continues 6 through 10, 28 seconds, 39.
I'm very fast, these first 10 questions. And you'll notice that is just going to result in me finishing the first 10 questions in not a lot of time. I'm really banking time on these one stars, these two-star questions, and I continue going at a pretty fast clip here. So my first round on this one, question 10, you notice I spent about a minute.
My first round on 11, I don't know, something was wrong with my clicking here, I guess. I don't think I spent three seconds, but we'll just call it a minute seven, keeping a pretty fast clip. And then I'm spending a little bit more time, but still nothing over two minutes, until I reach question 17, where, this question, when all was said and done, I spent five minutes on.
Mind you, I didn't spend five minutes up front. I spent two minutes, two 30 before I picked something, came back to it for another two minutes later. But when all was said and done, I spent five minutes on this question. It was a four-star that I found pretty hard. Ditto with some of these later ones. You know, I have a three-minute question here, a two-minute, two 30 here, but I was able to make big investments, like five minutes, for example, is a huge amount of time to spend on a question, and you can tell I sort of needed it.
It looks like I had the wrong answer up until around the four-minute mark. So the extra, the marginal benefit of that minute that I shaved off of 15 seconds here, 15 here, wherever, was literally the difference between a wrong answer and a right answer for what, for me, was the curve breaker question of the section, and you just notice the huge difference.
Scott: Yeah, and so I just want to point out there for those of you following along at home. So in order to have that much time to go really over target on some of those hard questions, you have to go under target on some others. So in other words, if you're looking at your analytics and you're noticing that, theoretically, if you went through the entire LR and you were target time on every single question, then you would finish with zero time left.
So if you're going to give yourself time for you to really address those four- and five-star questions, you're going to have to win that time by answering some of the earlier easier questions faster than the actual target time. And that's something you should be looking at as you're reviewing your analytics.
If you're in the first five questions you're always just right at target time, well, that's fine, but you're not giving yourself much time to get those four- and five-star questions. And even someone as gifted as Raphael, who has not only taken this test a number of times but regularly tutors people and is an expert on these sorts of questions, he still needs a lot of time on some of these, you know, particularly difficult questions.
You know, so, I mean, a lot of times when I'm tutoring clients, you ultimately have to really convince them of is, look, if you're going to have any chance of getting a high 170 score, you're going to have to go very, very fast on some of those particularly easy ones, because otherwise you're just never going to give yourself time to address those harder ones.
Me and Raphael could not answer every five-star question on an LR section in a minute and a half. Like, we get the high scores that we get because we've fought through those easy questions, done them incredibly quickly so that we can spend the time to really answer the hard questions sufficiently.
Raphael: I think that's exactly right, that it really is somewhat zero-sum. The extra minute that it took me to get this question right from wrong had to come out of something here. Something had to give, and you can just, I'll briefly show RC sort of the same thing, a ton of questions that here we have a 16-second, a 13-second, and then we have a longer one, a two minute and 11 one that I didn't get right until probably the last 20 seconds.
The time I pulled from here was invaluable. And you can sort of see the same thing. A lot of really short ones, and then a few quite long ones. We have a 3:15 that clearly I needed that extra time to get that right. And you can see the concrete effect of that. I would have missed these questions if not for spending that additional time.
I want to talk about two things here, apropos of that. I want to talk about building a timing strategy, which will, sort of the broad set of strategic principles that will help you work on your timing, and then actually some more granular tips for improving your speed on the LSAT. Anything you want to hop in with, Scott, before I get into that?
Scott: I was just going to say, I think the, I noticed, by the way, quite a few people asking questions in the chat. I love to see that. I know that we are trying to carve out 20, maybe even 30 minutes to answer those questions. So do remember them here in a minute. We'll have a chance for you to raise your hand and we'll take whatever questions you want to send our way here in a minute.
Raphael: I often tell my students to work on what's called, what I call a timing strategy, which is really the key framework for all of this. The big picture view of what I mean by timing strategy is just, what is your approach for finishing a given section on the LSAT?
A lot of people sort of do this in an ad hoc way. They'll go through it, they'll spend as much time as they need to get a question, they'll move on to the next. And then, oh, I only have three minutes left. I have five questions. I guess I won't get to the last few. Or, oh, I guess I finished on time. I think it needs to be much more game planned and much more systematic than that.
I tell my students sometimes, imagine you're a pitcher on the New York Yankees. Would you sort of one game throw overhand, another game throw a sidearm? Another game throw with your right hand? You try to have the same approach every time. That's better because it helps your conditioning, you can practice with the exact same delivery every single time, and it just increases your comfort level when you can practice like game day.
I can't tell you how comforting it was for me when I sat down for the real test to know, okay, I've taken dozens of LR sections with this exact strategy. I'm going to do the exact same thing today, and I think the outcome will be roughly the same. It's good to have an approach that you have for every section.
What does that approach look like? It should, of course, be individualized. It should work for you. My approach differs from Scott's, and our approach might differ from yours. Everyone's approach is different, but what matters is that it's an approach that you can sort of replicate, a strategy for getting through the section.
So what are some of the things that you should identify for the strategy? I think the first thing is you should have a sense of how much time you want to finish with. What is your target time for finishing the section on your first pass-through? Obviously, not all sections are created equal, but there will be a reasonable range of difficulties for a section.
And you should know, generally speaking, I will finish LR with five minutes to seven minutes left, or I will finish LR with one minute to three minutes left, et cetera, et cetera. And this is something you can be deliberate about. It's not like it just automatically happens that you end with a fixed amount of time. Rather, it's about your conscious choice to spend time up front versus being willing to punch questions to a second round.
And that ultimately comes from an insight about, you know, the way that you learn, the way that you approach the test. For me, I found that when I stared at a question for more than two minutes or more than like a minute 30 really, my eyes would sort of just glaze over. I was just not going to make headway, that I'd rather just flag it and come back to it.
So I sort of had a hard rule. If I was just staring at a question, I'm going to flag it and move on, which resulted in me just having a ton of time left over because of this sort of very conservative stop-loss that I applied for any question, where I would just move on, and I found it useful to do two, three rounds on a question sometimes.
Scott: So here's a question. Roughly, how many questions would you flag over, say, an LR section?
Raphael: Yeah, and that's actually the second thing that I think is worth you figuring out for your timing strategy, how many questions you want to flag. There's no right answer. Me, personally, I would flag a ton. I would end up flagging around six to eight and finish with between, you know, 16 to 18 minutes left.
And then I would just do two, three rounds on those questions, maybe even more, which was certainly more of an extreme, flagging a ton of questions, ending with a ton of, literally 50% of the time left over and taking it again. But that's my approach. It doesn't have to be your approach, and each person's different.
Someone else I've talked to who's a very high scorer, his approach was I'm going to flag one question and end with a minute left and just look at that one. My answer is going to be my final answer for the rest. It's a spectrum.
Scott: And I'll say for me, I typically flag five, six, or seven questions over, say, an entire LR. And a lot of those, I would flag, I mean, almost immediately. I would see that they were parallel or except questions. I saw a big wall of text over on the, in the answer choices, and I just knew instinctively, not that I knew it was necessarily going to be hard, sometimes those are really easy questions, but I knew they were time-consuming questions.
And so I knew I just wanted to push those to the end of the exam. And I made sure that I left enough time for myself. Typically wanted to have about five minutes if I'm going to flag six or seven questions, to really be able to go back and address those.
Raphael: That's exactly right. And my approach was, I guess, similar to yours, then, Scott, that my strategy sort of like clockwork, I would always flag that same number and end with about the same amount of time. I would hit those flag questions, and then I would sort of "redo" the section, flipping through each question, just reading the answer I picked to make sure I didn't misread something, didn't miss something obvious.
So, you know, there are two things that we've talked about that your timing strategy should speak to: how much time you're going to finish with and how many questions you'll flag. A third one is just defining for yourself, what is your threshold for moving on? Like I said for me, if I was staring for more than like a minute 32 minutes, I'm not counting reading time, because if you have more text, that just takes you more time to read, but I mean staring, thinking about, okay, wait a second, A versus B, wait, what is the assumption of this argument, et cetera, you need a threshold for when to just call it quits.
If you're someone who likes to just stare up front and do it, that's totally fine. For you, you'll give yourself more time. If you're like me and your eyes glaze over, you'd much prefer a fresh perspective coming back to it, then that's also respectable, but you should figure that out for yourself.
And the fourth and final thing your timing strategy really ought to speak to is timing goals for relevant subsections of a given section. So LR, how much time are you going to spend on the first five questions, which are routinely going to be one stars, pretty easy. What about the first 10, which are one and two stars? What about the passage read-through on RC? Each passage is about the same number of words, give or take, you know, a couple dozen words.
How much time are you going to give yourself to read the passage? What about the first Logic Game on LG, which is almost always going to be a very basic grouping sequence? Obviously, you can't map out everything, like passage three, arts passage, I will spend seven minutes. But you can tell yourself, I think, when I read through the passage, not the questions, but just reading through it, here's my target read-through time. Here's my target for the first five LR questions, et cetera, et cetera, which just can help keep you on track.
And I'd encourage you to take note of these four things and to actually write it out, how much time you're going to finish with, how many questions you want to flag, your threshold for moving on, the time you'll spend on relevant subsections. And then the key thing is to practice it, to actually do LSAT sections using this timing strategy. And then that just becomes a flexible, malleable thing that you can modify over time.
But ultimately, that document is your game plan for every section, and you practice with it. That way when you take the LSAT, it's not, oh, I wonder what's going to happen today. It's, okay, I've a strategy I've done the last 30 times. This is time 31. Cool. I've done this before, same as any other practice, which psychologically is just you can't understate how useful that is beyond just the LSAT benefits.
Scott: So I know that probably the most common question that people are wondering right now when they're hearing you talk about, what do you mean you finished with more than 10 minutes, you know, before you do your round two or things like this. I'm barely finishing or, you know, maybe I'm not finishing, you know, maybe I'm leaving questions at the end of this. How do you get faster on this? What are the actual techniques or drills, or how do you go from, man, I'm finishing this with three questions that I haven't even looked at, to I can finish with plenty of time to spare to go for round two?
Raphael: Yeah. So I think a lot of it, frankly, is going to be the stuff I just went through about the timing strategy. You will be faster if you force your, if you sort of change your mindset and focus on being fast on the earlier questions and come in with a game plan. But if we want to get down to brass tacks and some specific tips for getting faster, I think a few things.
For both LR and RC, one really important thing, in my opinion, is to sort of be very conscious that whether or not you're predicting the answer or doing wrong answer elimination, that I would very consciously tell myself, okay, I have two approaches I can take, two arrows in my quiver, so to speak.
I can predict the right answer and sort of skim the choices, hunting for that right answer. That's going to be always my first resort. Am I going to predict it? And then I can do a very perfunctory read of the other choices once I found what I was looking for. Or am I going to instead take the opposite approach and sort of just run through every choice, knocking out the bad ones?
I was very deliberate about that, and what I was doing, hunting for the right answer, well, I mean, when I say skim, I mean really skimming, I would have an idea of what I wanted. I would skim through the choices and if I saw it, I would then zero in on that choice, and that would be the first one that I'd read thoroughly.
I think it's a waste of time to read choice A through E super thoroughly processing every word. You're not being asked a quiz question about the details of choice D. You're looking for the right answer, and if the right answer is in choice B, and that's pretty apparent to you once you've read it thoroughly, I really do think you can be more perfunctory on the other choices.
Again, this depends on your, where you are in the test. Question 1, for example, if B seems right, it's probably right. Question 17, yeah, I'd encourage you to be more thorough and look at the other choices, but it is a spectrum. And I think that when you have a sense of the right answer, zeroing in on it and doing more of a perfunctory read of the other choices is much preferred than a super deep, you know, going linearly in order, A, okay, it's processed, B, it's processed, because that just takes more time.
But then, on the other hand, sometimes you can't predict the right answer. Sometimes you just, either the nature of the question makes it impossible to predict, like Most Strongly Supported question, where there's no theoretical upper bound of the number of statements that could be supported, or it's just one where it's hard, you couldn't predict it.
So in that case, having a strategy for process of elimination, what I realized was there are a number of very common attributes of wrong answers on the LSAT that I would skim, looking for those common attributes. And then that would be very helpful for me for being able to quickly do a pass-through and knock out two, three choices.
Scott: So, yeah, I was going to just say, wait, so elaborate on that. Those are the things that people want to know.
Raphael: Yes, okay. I think the first one is just bringing in totally irrelevant outside information. So this is always, obviously not always a problem, like, for example, in Strengthen questions, they can bring in outside information that strengthens it. But if it's something that just seems wholly irrelevant, that's often a bad sign, obviously.
So, you know, if there's a, for example, an MSS question, Most Strongly Supported, that's talking about dogs, and they draw an inference about cats. When you read the word "cat," you should think, well, what? Where do cats come from? The reaction for that should be, huh, that's funny, I don't remember that. That seems irrelevant.
Now, mind you, they can be subtle about this. Maybe it's about dogs, and they use a different term like "canine" to make you think it's outside information when it's actually just sort of the same thing, or maybe it is outside information and they frame it very subtly. Like they talk about dogs and then the MSS choice is about Dalmatians.
The point is they can be tricky with this, but that is a recurring problem you'll see on the LSAT, them bringing in irrelevant outside information that you just have no basis for knowing anything about. So when you skim through a choice, on your first pass-through, if you see a bunch of random stuff you don't remember, that's usually a sign that, okay, I'm going to put a soft X near that and that's probably wrong.
The second one is messing around a bit with the strength or the weakness of the choice, you know, the scope of it. This, I think, is probably the most useful thing to look for. It is very, very rare for there to be a Necessary Assumption or a Most Strongly Supported answer choice that has "all," "every," "never," "none."
Why? Because those are kind of hard to prove are necessary. You know, if my argument is Scott is a good teacher, and I say to you, necessary assumption, Scott never misses class, that doesn't seem terribly necessary. Maybe Scott was feeling sick one day or maybe Scott, there's a really good movie he wanted to see, so he skipped class that day for it. But point is it's harder to prove necessity what's like super, super strong.
And the flip side is true for questions such as Strengthen, Weaken, Resolve Reconcile Explain, Sufficient Assumption. Do you want something that says "maybe," "could," "might," "possibly"? I mean, no, that just leaves too much uncertainty. If I say strengthen the argument that Scott's a good teacher, and you say he might come to class sometimes, that's just too weak, versus he always is present in class, has never had a sick day in 20 years. You know, that's very different.
So being aware of, are these, is this question looking for a very strong answer or maybe a bit more of a soft one, is something that you can use in your pre-screen. When you're looking through the choices, you see it's Necessary Assumption and you see "all," "every," that's a sign that you might want to look elsewhere.
Scott: I'll also go ahead and throw out there that, so those strategies are more valuable the earlier in the LR section that you're working. As you go later on the exam, it's a lot more likely that they're going to throw really tricky questions where maybe the scope of those questions actually does work.
But the earlier you are in the exam, the more you should be suspicious of words like "all" and "every" or "none" or "never," because those are almost always signifiers of suspiciously bad questions.
Raphael: Yeah. And the thing is also, like Scott said, it's better early in the section also just because that's when you're trying to really build speed. You don't really need these shortcuts for the five-star curve breaker. I'm fine with you spending a bunch of time on that. It's really about, you know, question 1. If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it's probably a duck. If it seems on your first read-through this is going to be clearly, you know, the right answer, they're not going to be fooling you on question 1. It's not likely.
And yeah, Scott's right. There are exceptions to any rule. Don't just blindly pick this, but it's a useful heuristic to use, especially for the shorter ones. So I guess just the operational is that what I would suggest you do is my process always for LR and RC. I'd read the question stem first, because I think you'll read, at least in the case of LR, you'll read the stimulus differently depending on what question type it is.
Like, if it's a Main Conclusion question, I don't particularly care if you're thinking a ton about the assumptions of the argument, how to strengthen it, how to weaken it, as you're reading. I'd tell you to skim first and look for conclusion indicators, but read the stem first, and then read the stimulus with an eye towards what the question stem is looking for, and then make a subconscious choice.
Am I going to try to predict the answer, or am I going to do process of elimination? If the answer is you're going to predict it, you should tell yourself, basically, this is what I think the answer is going to look like and skim the answers with an eye towards what you think that's going to look like.
Don't do a deep dive. You have A, does it say that? B, does it say that? Do a first pass-through looking for it. And it's sort of the same actually for process of elimination. If you can't predict it, you do a pass-through looking for bad things like modifiers that you don't like, like, oh, this says "all" or "every" for Necessary Assumption. Don't like that. Or for them bringing in outside information that seems irrelevant.
So I would sort of think of this like a pond, a 100-foot pond. Yeah, you could dive all the way to the bottom looking for fish, but that takes a while. Why would you not just put your net 10 feet in first? And then if you don't get anything, 15 feet in, et cetera. It makes sense to start a little more surface level because that's less time intensive, and you might catch a fish without diving all the way down.
The skim is the same way. You read through it first and get a sense really of, you know, am I getting the relevant information on my first skim? And then you go deeper if necessary, justified by the exigency of that particular question.
Scott: I'll also throw out there that everything that you're describing is something that doesn't just come naturally. It's something that you actually have to practice and even drill. I would encourage you, if you're wanting to improve your timing, you drill the different parts of sections as well, because you need to learn to treat them differently. The first, you know, 5, 10, 15 LR questions, okay, well, those you're really drilling for speed.
They're not going to be that hard. I mean, you might, as you get into around question 10 or a little past it, you might occasionally see a four- or five-star question somewhere in there, and you need to be good at recognizing it, flagging it, you know, and letting that sit to the end of the exam.
But for the most part, what you're trying to do there is to drill, to not just get all the questions right, but to get them right as quickly as humanly possible. And that's a different skill than going through four- and five-star questions in around questions 20 through 25 and really struggling with hard questions.
And just like you would for any sport, like golf is a good analogy for this. You know, you're going to hit a drive differently than you're going to hit out of the bunker, and you need to practice, if you're going to be a good golfer, you need to practice both shots separately, and you need to do them over and over and over again.
So if you're struggling with time, set aside some time where you just drill questions 1 through 5 on the LR and make it a timing drill. Go as quickly as you possibly can through those easy questions. Similarly, do the same thing through questions 1 through 15, where again, you're trying to get those first 15 done in roughly 15 or fewer minutes as you go.
And as you get practiced at going through them quickly and efficiently, that's going to free up time later in the exam that you can really use to tackle those four- and five-star questions that really demand more time and attention.
Raphael: A hundred percent agree to all that. I like the golf analogy too, even though I don't know much about golf, but it certainly seems like it makes, it flies here.
Scott: All right. Well, Raphael, is there anything else that you want to tackle here before we turn these people loose on questions?
Raphael: Yeah, let's turn them loose.
Scott: All right, so here's how this is going to work. If you have a question for either me or Raphael or both, because we probably will both chime in, go ahead and raise your hand using the interface that you have at the bottom of this window, or if you're on your phone, it might be in a separate window.
I will try to answer you more or less in the order that you raise your hand, and when we either run out of time or run out of questions, well then, that'll be our signal to go ahead and close up for the night. So yeah, if you have any questions about this or really any part of the LSAT, please go ahead and raise your hand and go ahead and ask.
All right, so we'll start here with Jennifer. Okay, Jennifer, you should be able to unmute yourself now.
New Speaker: I just wanted to know how many practice tests do you recommend taking in order, like, to build up the speed before exam day?
Raphael: Yeah, I can take that one. So thanks for joining, Jennifer. I think, honestly, the more, the better. I would be conscious of not overloading yourself in a given week. I think it's hard to justify taking more than two practice tests in a given week. But I do think that, ideally, just take as many as you can.
I feel like for me, I only started really hitting my stride with timing after maybe 20 or so practice tests, but I was doing two a week or so. So it was over a reasonably intense period of study, but it's different for each person. But I would say two a week to one to two a week is a good number and exposure to as much material as possible.
But if you don't have time for full practice tests, taking individual timed sections can approximate a lot of that. And once you've finished core curriculum, worked on the fundamentals, I think your routine really should be predominantly timed sections, blind review, practice test, blind review, rinse, repeat.
New Speaker: Okay, thanks.
Raphael: Yeah, of course.
Scott: Right, and I'll actually add onto that, that something to bear in mind as you take PTs is to remember that taking more PTs doesn't necessarily make you better at the LSAT. In fact, actually taking PTs, it's kind of like the thermostat in your room or a thermometer in a room. It doesn't actually determine the temperature. All it does is tell you what it is.
It's the reviewing and the blind reviewing and the diagnosis that you get from that PT that lets you get better. So there's no sense in taking more PTs than you can blind review, then you can error check afterward and that you can kind of create drills based on to make sure that you're improving the skills that you need. A really common mistake is for people just to take PT after PT, hoping that will somehow improve their score. And it really just doesn't work that way.
Alright, I'm gonna turn it over now to Martha.
New Speaker: Thank you. I'm still recent with 7Sage. I love what you guys advise, but I'm stuck in one of the advices and I want to know how to get unstuck. If I understood correctly for Logic Games, oh, can I ask about Logic Games?
Raphael: Of course, yeah.
New Speaker: Thank you. You have like a set target time and sometimes I'm able to hit it, but I think it's because I've been doing the same problem so many times, and I do go back to where, like, today, like you recommended and then I'm starting something. So I'm trying not to move on past five problems so that I can master the sequencing types. And I want to know when is it okay for me to move on if I'm not hitting the targeting time? And I'm off maybe like by, I would say, anywhere from 20 to 40 seconds of the targeting time.
Raphael: Yeah, that's a great question. I do think that Logic Games is maybe less formulaic with respect to a timing strategy, just because, you know, games, you can get a section that has a really hard game 4, a really hard game 3, but I do think that there are some general principles to keep in mind.
The first is that, yeah, I think you should be striving for that target time. And if you're not getting that, I would do the game again. That's what we call, you know, the foolproofing method. You should do the game initially. Here's how I did the foolproofing. Do the game initially, watch J.Y.'s video for it, then do it again right after the video, and if I still didn't get it, I would do it again.
But then once I sort of had gotten it perfectly and under time, that same day, I'd put it away for the day and then I would do it again the next day. Once I got it timed underneath the target time, I then put it away for a week and then I'd do it a week later.
I think the key thing there is just to continue doing more games. Logic Games is the only section, in my opinion, with a close to strictly linear relationship between amount of time put in and amount of games practiced and your score. I confidently believe that most people on this test could get a minus zero on Logic Games with enough time and enough practice.
So it really is just doing more games, because the inferences are recursive. There are only so many ways they can set up a five-piece sequencing game, only so many ways to set up your garden variety in that game. Miscellaneous games are a bit of a different story, but even those, you can learn a lot of the tricks. So I would say just do more games, is my biggest advice for you.
Scott: Yeah, and I would add onto that, one place where your timing advice really does apply to Logic Games, because that was the area I struggled in when I was studying for the test, is you have to go faster on those earlier, easier games to make enough time for you to be successful on the end games.
I've had many clients in the past who, they missed three questions on game 4, and so they drilled game 4 over and over and over again, and as soon as I look at their analytics, I say, oh, you only had four minutes to do game 4. The reason you missed half the questions on game 4 is not that game 4 was too hard for you, it's that you didn't have enough time for it. The mistake you made wasn't on that fourth game, it was on the first game where you were two minutes over target.
The same kind of general rules about being under target time early in the test so that you can go over target time at the end of the test is still apply to Logic Games, though, obviously, that section is very different from Logical Reasoning.
New Speaker: Thank you so much.
Raphael: Thanks for joining.
Scott: All right, so, Mandeep?
New Speaker: Thank you. Hey, Scott. Thank you. I read all your posts that you guys post on 7Sage. It's really helpful. And I think Scott also replied to some of mine. So thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Scott: Our pleasure.
New Speaker: So my question was like in regards to Raphael stating reading speed for LR. I mean, I've tried fast. If I go any faster than that, I start to get questions wrong, but the fastest, I probably, most of them, there is going to be one that I always get like, you know, sometimes I can get 45 seconds, but usually I average around one minute to like 20 seconds with usually -4 on the LR, and I've been struggling with that for pretty much four or five months now.
Raphael: Yeah. I'm curious what you think, Scott, but I actually think that a place to not try to bank time is reading the question stimulus. I think it's actually good to be pretty slow on that and to be very deliberate. Obviously, there are exceptions, like I would speed through Main Conclusion stimuli just in the interest of, okay, I'm going to look for "thus," "therefore," "in conclusion," et cetera, but it's about knowing when to go fast.
I would actually pretty slow reading the question stem, and then I'd be a bit faster on the choices. I would do, like I said, skim the first pass with choices to see, does the answer jump out to me? And if I saw the right answer choice C, I'd zero in on it. And then I'd really just do a perfunctory skim of D and E to make sure I didn't miss anything. But it's about knowing when to speed up.
The question stimulus is not the time to speed up, I think, but the choices, when you're looking through them at first, and then once you think you've found the right answer, that's the time to really, I think, speed up.
Scott: Yeah, and I'll just add onto that, that, of course, there's a great big "it depends" because, honestly, if you're spending a minute and a half just to read the question stem, okay, we need to speed up your reading of the question stem because you're not going to be able to finish it with enough time.
But more often than not, I see people rushing the question stem, or rushing the stimulus, rather, and then spending too much time on the answer choices when really they should do the opposite. A lot of the answer choices you can very quickly skim through and recognize, when you get practiced at it, oh, I've seen this trap before, I know what's happening here, and your ability to do that is highly dependent on how carefully and how well you read the actual stimulus. So if you have to choose where you're going to try to cut time, cut time on the answer choices, not on the actual stimulus.
New Speaker: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Raphael: Of course, thanks for coming.
New Speaker: Hi there. You guys hear me?
New Speaker: Awesome. My question is, I've been working on solidifying basically my base knowledge of LR, so by doing this, I basically do it untimed for anything that's like a three-star and up. So all the problems that I know that are like a one, two, and like borderline threes, I take timed, and I usually do well on them, but then as soon as I start getting into the heavy threes, fours, and fives, I definitely take way too long, so I guess the question.
So, because I'm just finishing the curriculum now, I figure the best technique, I guess, is to do them untimed first, and then really get down to theory, then blind review, and then run through it that way. My question is, at which point, like I'm two months in now, I want to plan to write the LSAT in June, June 11, which point should I drop my solidifying of technical and be like, all right, now it's really, really time to start working on timed no matter what?
Raphael: Yeah, I think, honestly, as soon as possible. I think that the nice thing about blind review is that you get to do that untimed practice, no matter what. Even if you were a 180 scorer, like Scott here, and you were still blind reviewing and you are still doing the untimed work after the fact, I think, Justin, it's a question of sequencing, right?
If you start with untimed and then do timed later on, that sort of corrupts a little bit the time to take, because you've already exposed herself to it untimed. But if you start with the timed one, you do your fair shake at that question, you know, 7Sage says you get four minutes on it, you do four minutes on that question, and then afterwards you spend 20 minutes untimed. That way you can, that gives you a lot of information.
Did you get it right both times? Okay, you got the question and your timing was good. Did you get it right on blind review but not on timing, timed? Okay, that means your fundamentals are good and you got to get faster. Did you miss it with both? Okay, well, maybe you just don't get the question.
I would sort of immediately always be doing it timed. I don't think there's ever a reason to be doing questions extensively untimed, except maybe the core curriculum, the introductory questions that J.Y. gives you for every question type. Everything else, I would do timed.
New Speaker: So bite the bullet then? It's just a little disheartening when you go into blind review, you get them all right, but then you see that every question on the timed one is all red, you're just like, oh.
Scott: And I'm going to go ahead and second that for anyone else who's wondering on that. That was definitely my experience as well. And one of the reasons I really encourage people to always take these questions timed is because there are strategies that if you, theoretically, if you had unlimited time on RC, for instance, there are strategies of like laboriously going through the passage and looking for little hints and things like that, that work fantastically well, give you a really high accuracy if you don't have to worry about timing, but which are terrible strategies when you're actually working timed.
And if you have months where you're working untimed, often you can teach yourself actually some really counterproductive strategies that then you'll have to spend months unlearning when you actually go onto the timed sections.
New Speaker: Good point, good point.
Raphael: Yeah. Yeah, of course. Just to second that, I would say the same thing in spades also for Logic Games, right? You could adopt a very algorithmic approach of solving it, like creating a whole new board for every choice, splitting your board to solve every possibility up front. You can take three hours and just, you know, have every single board mapped out ex ante, but not a good approach on the real test, of course.
New Speaker: Yeah, for Logic Games, I do definitely stick to timings for games, but the Logic Reasoning, some questions, once we get into hard difficulties, like I said in the chat, sometimes I question if I have dyslexia that's undiagnosed. I'm like, I don't even know what I'm reading right now, is this English? Like, I don't know. I guess it's just start to bite the bullet, and just work on, like you said, better habits under timed, and it'll hopefully come.
Scott: Yeah, you know, again, it's almost a trite phrase, but practice really does make perfect. There's a reason that we advise people to take six months or more to study for this thing. So don't feel too overly disappointed if you're not getting there right away.
This is a process that takes time, and often the kind of frustration that we feel toward ourselves at, you know, well, why am I not making progress faster? And that often can be the most counterproductive thing. Be okay with wherever you are currently with the LSAT and focus more on what's the next step to get myself better rather than constantly criticizing your current performance.
New Speaker: Yeah, actually, there's that one post that you guys put up of the cognitive behavioral therapy when you start becoming negative and thinking that way, and I found that actually helped a lot to take a break, go do some CBT, concentrate on other things.
Scott: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, this is a marathon, not a sprint. So, you know, keep that in mind as you study, and take good care of yourself. Thanks very much, Justin.
New Speaker: Thanks so much.
Raphael: Thanks for joining us.
Scott: All right. I think it's Joss?
New Speaker: Hi, thank you so much for doing this. So my question is, for some reason, even as I'm working through my process of how to approach RC, I'm not exactly sure how to even hit the 35-minute mark and reach all four passages. Like I find myself still finishing passage 3, but like not even getting to passage 4 in 35 minutes. So I'd really appreciate any tips you have for me. Thank you.
Raphael: Yeah, I think that the thing there is just, that's really a sign that the timing is what needs to be improved. I guess the questions I would ask, you know, if I was working with you, I'd want to find out, how are you doing on blind review?
Are you, the questions that you're spending so much time on earlier, are you getting those right timed, or are you only getting them right blind review? That passage you're not getting to, you know, what are you doing there on blind review? But it just fundamentally gets at this question of you're spending too much time in the material prior to that passage.
And I think that just more makes it especially important that you get faster either on your read-through, or you get faster on the questions, or most likely both to ensure that you've time, because if you're not getting to a passage, that's a sign that, you know, you're about seven, eight minutes short, and that you need to find ways to slice that time out of somewhere else on the test.
Maybe you shave a minute total off your reading time. Maybe it's 30 seconds off the questions in passage 1, a minute 30 off the questions in passage 2, et cetera, et cetera. And that's how you find that time. But I'd really just be, you know, ruthlessly analytical with looking at where that time is being spent. It's costing you and making it so you're seven, eight minutes short.
Scott: Yeah, and by the way, just to second that, the most important question that you have to answer when you're dealing with a timing problem is, where is my time going? And that's actually one of the things I love about the 7Sage analytics is it'll actually answer that question for you if you look at it. But figure out where your time is going and figure out where you want to spend it instead, and make a plan to make that happen.
I will say on RC, though, the most common problem I see, and I'm always speaking in generalities because, of course, I haven't worked with you, I haven't seen how you go through it, but most of the time, people spend too much time on the passages, looking for every, or trying to remember every fine detail without realizing that, honestly, most of that is wasted time.
I mean, really, you should be on your first read of the passage, doing a skim where you're just trying to get a general sense of the structure and the lowest resolution of the passage, and then giving yourself enough time that as you go through the questions, you can figure out, okay, what are the details that are going to be important to answering each of these questions?
A lot of people waste so much time trying to get all the detail on their first pass, only to realize that 90% of the stuff that they spent time on in trying to figure out and keep in their head really, ultimately, wasn't useful when you got to the questions.
New Speaker: Thank you so much.
Scott: All right, Stacy.
New Speaker: Good evening, everyone. Thank you so much for posting this Zoom session. So I noticed, I don't know if you can maybe analyze exactly what my situation is, but by the time I get to the second half of the test, I already experience burnout, and I have noticed when I'm looking at my report, I see my score in the second half is much lower as opposed to the first half. So what could be the issue I'm doing there?
Raphael: Yeah, the remedy I'm going to propose, you're going to hate. It's going to be painful, you're going to hate this, but it's going to be, it's going to make such a difference. Start taking tests that are five sections long, take six-section tests. You should ask yourself, what section do you dread the most? Construct a Frankenstein test, retake three of those sections back to back to back. Really put yourself through the ringer.
It's like if you're training to run a mile and the mile is hard, teach yourself to run a mile and a half. That'll make the mile feel like a piece of cake. So I'm not sure of the specific issue. I mean, it could be myriad things, you know, too little sleep, too much of an emphasis on doing this untimed, just insufficient exposure.
Maybe you're not taking it at the optimal time of day. Maybe you should eat a bigger lunch. There are a lot of things that I would need to know about your lifestyle that would shape maybe why that's tiring. But I think the remedy beyond addressing those things will just literally be, you know, take longer tests. That'll make the three-section or four-section current LSAT feel like a breeze.
Scott: Yeah, you know, again, your attention is something that you can train. But exactly like Raphael's saying, you know, if you're training to run the mile, planning to run for longer than that is key to that. I used to give four-, five-, even six-section, I used to call them Frankentests, to clients who really struggled with exhaustion in the second half of the test.
And it was amazing what a big change even just doing that for a few weeks really had on them taking, you know, a three- or four-section test, because suddenly four sections seemed like nothing, because they were so used to doing something that was so much harder and so much more exhausting.
So that's not much fun. And by the way, you should definitely use old sections, old PTs, and maybe even things that you've taken before for those additional kind of training sessions. Don't waste brand-new practice tests on that, but it really, really will help you, as painful as it will be to do it.
New Speaker: Thank you so much.
Scott: All right, Alex, we have time, I think, for one more, and then we're going to close up for the night. Alex, what's your question?
New Speaker: Thanks for taking the question. So I'm reaching the point in the curriculum where I'm, I guess, finishing up the core curriculum, going to start focusing on practice tests, but I've been juggling the LSAT prep while working full-time. And looking ahead, just wondering, I'll probably only have time to, say, fit in a full-length practice test on maybe like a Saturday morning, then get the blind review and review done.
I know one of you had mentioned earlier that just like individual sections is a good way to practice timing, but do you think you could elaborate on that? Just because I don't have that, or it's kind of tough to find the time during the week with juggling, like, with work.
Raphael: You're in a situation that I'd say the lion's share of people fall in, so don't feel like you're at a material disadvantage. Yeah, I think it's a totally fine approach to your, during the week you take, do drills, do timed sections. On weekends, you take your practice test, and then you repeat.
Someone I was studying alongside when I was studying for this, my best friend, he was working full-time as a paralegal. He, during the week, would have an hour maximum to study on a weeknight. He would do a timed section, do the blind review for that, and that would be his night. And then on Saturday he would take a practice test. It was very much like that. And I think that's a totally viable approach.
I would say to each just be very intentional, carve out time during the week when you can, even just an hour, just 45 minutes is just, that adds up if you can just make that time every week. And it does require sacrifices. It's not easy studying alongside full-time work, but I do think that's just going to be really important. I personally was still a student while studying, so it's a little bit easier, but Scott, I know, was in this camp, so he could elaborate a bit.
Scott: Yeah, yeah. Here's the thing I would say is that you can absolutely master the LSAT while working full-time. Just make sure you give yourself more time to study for the test, in other words, a longer duration. You know, if you only have two hours a day to study or an hour a day, 30 minutes a day, you can still master the LSAT in that time. It's probably just going to take you more months than someone who has six hours a day. That's okay. You know, make sure you allow yourself that time. It will absolutely be worth it when you get to the point of admissions.
New Speaker: Awesome, thank you so much.
Scott: All right, well, that's going to be our last question for tonight. I do, just before you guys all close out, I just want to remind everybody that, hey, Raphael is someone that you can hire to help you with the LSAT, and we have a whole bunch more just like him.
So if you are interested in hearing more personal advice, if you'd like to work with someone like Raphael or myself or any of our team one-on-one, look at the link that I'm putting in the chat. You can look at our packages and you can pick one that you think will be beneficial to you.
Additionally, if you're unsure about it, you just don't know whether tutoring is the right solution for you, we also, in the second link that I just posted, we also have free consult. If you want to sit down and talk with me or one of our other managers and really kind of hear about our program, how it works, how it might help you with your score, and that, by the way, would include us looking through your analytics and kind of talking through, you know, here's the specific things that I think a tutor would work on you with, feel free to click that link that'll let you actually schedule a time anytime in the next couple of weeks with one of our managers.
So please, if you'd like more individualized advice, anytime we're talking in these big webinars, of course, we're talking for an audience of 50 to 100, and we're having to really make general statements about what will help you on the LSAT.
But we really can do a lot of work with you. I mean, we can drill into one person's analytics, into one person's struggles and exactly how you go through RC, LR, or Logic Games. So please, we would be happy to meet with you and happy to tell you why our program would really help you.
All right, with that, it was lovely to talk to you. It was lovely to hear your questions. We will do this again in about a month. So be tuned on the discussion forums for that. It was lovely to meet all of you, and again, please feel free to reach out if you guys have any questions. Take care and have a great night.
J.Y.: Hey, it's J.Y. again. Thanks for listening, and I hope you got some good advice that you can implement in your own studies. If you are thinking about working with a tutor, get in touch. We'll do a free consultation. You can reach us on 7Sage.com.
That's it for this episode. Take care of yourself, and see you next time.
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