Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:18 pm
Note: I posted this article first in LSAT Prep. I haven't been around much since taking the LSAT and didn't know this category existed--figured I might as well repost here
I used this board a lot when I was studying for the LSAT, and I definitely would not have done very well without all the advice and tips from folks on here (thanks to everyone who patiently addressed all the individual questions I posted). I was fortunate to get a 177 on my first attempt. I do not claim that the advice below is original, but I have tried to collect the strategies that helped me the most as a way to give back for all the help I received I think that this approach may be particularly helpful to the following folks:
Below are the materials that I would recommend using:
- People who score 160+ with limited prep and are trying to get 175+
- People who are very busy with work/school/life and have limited study time
- People who have a limited budget to spend on prep
The total cost here, assuming that you have access to free printing on a campus, at a workplace, or elsewhere is $250.I also recommend taking advantage of the following free resources:
General advice for taking practice tests:
- Go to a location other than your home that is fairly similar to (or a bit more hectic than) a test center. I alternated between the reading room at the local public library and the tables at a busy urban train station.
- Set a countdown timer with a low beep for each section (if you have a smartphone, you probably have one built in). Put this timer out of view (just upside down on your desk is fine). You won't be able to see the proctor's timer during the real thing.
- For your reference during the test, use the same large-faced watch that you will use during the real thing. Set it to 11:25 before each section. Use your watch as a guide the way you will during the real thing, but time is up when your out-of-sight timer beeps.
- Always use a bubble sheet.
- Mark any question where you don't feel 90+% confident. These marks will be useful in reviewing later--and in helping you to learn when your uncertainty suggests you are wrong and when it doesn't.
.General advice for reviewing PTs:
Here is the basic study plan that I would recommend. I think that you could follow this plan in as little as 2-3 months, but starting earlier is obviously better:
- Carefully review each question that you got wrong or that you got right but marked as uncertain. Many people like to write out why each wrong answer was wrong and why the right answer was right. I was a bit too lazy to do this consistently, but I do think that it would be very helpful. Someone on here gave the great advice that the ability to see why wrong answers are wrong is just as helpful as the ability to see why the right answer is right. If you can effectively eliminate 4 wrong answers, you're all set.
- If you're not completely sure that you understand why the right answer is right and the other 4 are wrong, look for posted explanations on TLS, on the Atlas forum, or on the Wiki. You can always post the question here or on Atlas, and folks are generally very kind in explaining.
- Use a simple spreadsheet to track how you many you miss on each section on each test. Also keep track of your raw and scaled scores. There are some much more complex tracking spreadsheets that have been shared on here. I personally did not use one, but I imagine they might be very helpful to certain people.
- Keep track of every single question where you were incorrect or uncertain. I just kept all my PTs together and highlighted in yellow each question that was wrong. You could also clip the questions. Do whatever seems easiest to you to keep track, but you will definitely want to revisit these questions in the future.
- Begin by reading the LG Bible cover to cover, doing all the practice problems. I do not personally think that doing a PT before you begin the LG Bible is particularly helpful. If you want to get a baseline score, go for it. As far as I'm concerned, though, you just risk beginning to get into bad habits with the logic games (and getting frustrated with a low score since you won't know the basic strategies for the games). If there are any questions that you don't understand, come on here to find explanations. Go though each and every game until you can do it in under 8.5 minutes. You may find it helpful to make a photocopy of the games before you begin so you can redo them as many times as needed.
I personally think the LG Bible is great for all game types other than Pure Sequencing/Relative Ordering and In-and-Out games. For those two game types, I prefer the Atlas strategies. One of their teachers has been kind enough to post their approach in the past. For copyright reasons, I don't want to repost his links, but I'm sure you can find them if you search the forums. Their pure sequencing strategy involves a tree format that I think is much easier than the PS Bible's complex series of arrows and lines. Their in-and-out strategy involves two columns with all the variables that I find much simpler than the PS method.
- Read through the written portion of SuperPrep. The first 100 pages (as I recall) offer a great analysis of question types and how to approach each section. There are also some practice questions. I really like this resource since it is written by the testmakers and is concise but effective. The reading is dense, but it's worth it, in my opinion.
- After you have finished the LG bible and the SuperPrep reading material, take a practice test under strictly timed conditions. If you live in a city where Kaplan offers free proctored tests, I'd recommend taking the test there (just being in a room with other test-takers and a proctor with a precise timer is very different from sitting in your living room with your cat on your lap and the chips and salsa nearby). After you review this test, you will know what your strengths and weaknesses are. If you ran out of time on sections (other than LG), that's not a huge problem at this point. This score is just a baseline of sorts.
- Do each PT from SuperPrep under untimed conditions. The goal here is to come to understand each question and answer. This book offers the wonderful resource of explanations written by LSAC. I would read every word of these explanations--whether you get the questions right or wrong. They really helped me to appreciate what sorts of reasoning the testmakers have in mind. Go back and revisit questions as many times as needed until you have them mastered.
- Depending upon how much time you have to study, your next goal is to master doing hard questions effectively. Ideally, you would have a month to dedicate to this phase of your studying. I would next go through the "Difficult Questions" LR set from CambridgeLSAT (again, this advice is primarily for folks who are doing well on most LR questions and want to get into the mid-to-high 170s) and the Logic Games from PTs 1-39. You may want to incorporate into this stage some RC sections too. I did not, and I somewhat regretted that. There are RC sections by type on CambridgeLSAT, so you may wish to download some sections that tend to be challenging for you.
- There are 400 questions in the LR "Difficult Questions" set. If you have a busy schedule, you can just do these questions a few at a time when you have down time. I took them with me wherever I went and did them whenever I was sitting on a bus, waiting for a friend, on a boring conference call, or on my lunch break from work. Time doesn't matter for these questions (within reason). All that matters is that you are able to figure out these hardest questions correctly. As with the PTs, mark and set aside any questions that you got wrong.
- Many people will tell you that the LGs from PTs 1-39 are difficult and funky. They are. Once you can master them, you will not be thrown by any LG that you encounter, even if they do not fit in the PowerScore mold. If you are able to do so, I would do all of these LG sections under timed conditions. Set aside 35 minutes whenever you can to do these sections. I did them primarily on the train to and from work each day (so it took me about 3 weeks to get through all of them). As with the PTs, mark and set aside any games you got wrong or could not complete during the allotted time.
- You are now ready to tackle full tests under timed conditions. You want to dedicate at least the final month of your prep to this objective.
- There are many people on here who will tell you that you should do every single preptest (1-59). For those who are already doing well and have busy schedules, I recommend at least doing PTs 39-59. I decided to set aside 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM each weekday for studying during the final week. During 4-5 weeks, do 4-5 preptests each week.
- Whether you do 4-section or 5-section preptests is up to you. If you do 5-section, add as the extra section a section from PTs 1-39. Generally add whatever type of section is most difficult for you to get the extra practice. If endurance is an issue for you, definitely do 5-section (or even 6). If you don't feel endurance is a concern and you are very busy, you may prefer to stick with 4-section. If you do 4-section, don't take any breaks between the sections (you'll build up endurance--and each PT will only take 2 hrs, 20 minutes).
- Review each PT right after you finish it as described above.
- 1-2 weeks before the test, go back and review every question you have marked as problematic since you started studying. Redo these questions until you are getting them right.
- During the final week, do a couple new PTs. If you're going to be stressed out by the scores, don't score them. (Correct the answer sheet, but don't calculate the score.)
- Do a few familiar practice questions on your way to the test.
- Relax, do your best, have a drink!
I hope this advice is helpful. Pick what might be useful, and throw out the rest. Good luck!