Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

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Blueprint Ben
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Blueprint Ben » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:05 pm

nlee10 wrote:If you have the disposable $$, then Blueprint is a good choice. I think with their study methods could get you past the 160 mark with the caveat of you really have to do all the homework/review/attend class/PT's/everything they throw at you. My classmates were working full-time and on many occasions it was hard for them to complete all the work.

-former BP student

Thanks for weighing in, nlee! You took Feb, right? How did it go? Feel free to PM.

As for the bolded: Very important caveat. The methods are just tools. They won't, independently, make you better. Everything depends on how much work you're willing to put in.

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nlee10
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby nlee10 » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:13 pm

BP Ben wrote:Thanks for weighing in, nlee! You took Feb, right? How did it go? Feel free to PM.
As for the bolded: Very important caveat. The methods are just tools. They won't, independently, make you better. Everything depends on how much work you're willing to put in.

Yessir.
I scored a low 160's which is way better than my OG diagnostic but quite a bit under my latest PT avg (high 160's). My guess is that I probably messed up the RC by a lot and maybe a tiny bit in each of the other sections. I believe I scored like a 149 on the BP exam #1 (self-studied for like 2 months prior) and was scoring in the high 150's/low 160's by the last proctored test. I self-studied another two months after the course where that got me to my latest scoring avg.

Blueprint Ben
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Blueprint Ben » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:21 pm

nlee10 wrote:Yessir.
I scored a low 160's which is way better than my OG diagnostic but quite a bit under my latest PT avg (high 160's). My guess is that I probably messed up the RC by a lot and maybe a tiny bit in each of the other sections. I believe I scored like a 149 on the BP exam #1 (self-studied for like 2 months prior) and was scoring in the high 150's/low 160's by the last proctored test. I self-studied another two months after the course where that got me to my latest scoring avg.

Congrats on the jump! You must have worked really hard for that. Are you positioning for a retake? It sucks that Feb is undisclosed, but I'm sure you can still isolate your weaknesses effectively enough. With that high 160s PT average, I bet you have another ~10 points left in you if you push for it.

Let me know if you want to talk strategy. Best of luck!

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Shakawkaw
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Shakawkaw » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:24 pm

nlee10 wrote:
BP Ben wrote:Thanks for weighing in, nlee! You took Feb, right? How did it go? Feel free to PM.
As for the bolded: Very important caveat. The methods are just tools. They won't, independently, make you better. Everything depends on how much work you're willing to put in.

Yessir.
I scored a low 160's which is way better than my OG diagnostic but quite a bit under my latest PT avg (high 160's). My guess is that I probably messed up the RC by a lot and maybe a tiny bit in each of the other sections. I believe I scored like a 149 on the BP exam #1 (self-studied for like 2 months prior) and was scoring in the high 150's/low 160's by the last proctored test. I self-studied another two months after the course where that got me to my latest scoring avg.


u will alwaiz b an OG in my i'z, nlee.

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nlee10
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby nlee10 » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:26 pm

BP Ben wrote:Congrats on the jump! You must have worked really hard for that. Are you positioning for a retake? It sucks that Feb is undisclosed, but I'm sure you can still isolate your weaknesses effectively enough. With that high 160s PT average, I bet you have another ~10 points left in you if you push for it.
Let me know if you want to talk strategy. Best of luck!

Yeap. Will be retaking in June. There were other factors on test day (i.e feeling sick that entire week, poor diet) that may or may not have affected me but probably excuses lol.
My focus this time around will be on RC. I've always been pretty weak at it and had a bad mindset towards it where I would already allocate X amount of questions wrong instead of trying to get every question right. Got a brand new subscription of The Economist and RC Cambridge Packet so I'm ready to go lol.

Shakawkaw wrote:u will alwaiz b an OG in my i'z, nlee.

:wink:

Blueprint Ben
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Blueprint Ben » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:53 pm

nlee10 wrote:Yeap. Will be retaking in June. There were other factors on test day (i.e feeling sick that entire week, poor diet) that may or may not have affected me but probably excuses lol.
My focus this time around will be on RC. I've always been pretty weak at it and had a bad mindset towards it where I would already allocate X amount of questions wrong instead of trying to get every question right. Got a brand new subscription of The Economist and RC Cambridge Packet so I'm ready to go lol.

Looks like you have it under control. Did you drill the RC packet already before your first take? If not, how were you prepping?

I had a low diag too, and RC was my main weakness (like -12 to -15 range with serious timing problems). Just going through and drilling every passage at least twice untimed but quickly, plus the RC in PTs 52-73 twice and 39-51 as timed sections, got me to a -3 on test day. I think with RC more than any other section, just straight high-volume drilling is the most potent prep strategy.

The Economist is a great magazine, and it's worth reading in your spare time to keep the muscles moving, but I'd caution you not to consider it part of your prep. If you run out of real RC passages and you're still not hitting your target, you're much better off just starting over, reprinting the packet, and doing them all again from the beginning. Better use of time, IMO, than reading anything other than actual LSAT passages during prep time.

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nlee10
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby nlee10 » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:58 pm

BP Ben wrote:Looks like you have it under control. Did you drill the RC packet already before your first take? If not, how were you prepping?
I had a low diag too, and RC was my main weakness (like -12 to -15 range with serious timing problems). Just going through and drilling every passage at least twice untimed but quickly, plus the RC in PTs 52-73 twice and 39-51 as timed sections, got me to a -3 on test day. I think with RC more than any other section, just straight high-volume drilling is the most potent prep strategy.
The Economist is a great magazine, and it's worth reading in your spare time to keep the muscles moving, but I'd caution you not to consider it part of your prep. If you run out of real RC passages and you're still not hitting your target, you're much better off just starting over, reprinting the packet, and doing them over again from the beginning. Better use of time, IMO, than reading anything other than actual LSAT passages during prep time.

I actually only got through barely a quarter of the packet since I got lazy with it so I still have plenty of fresh RC material. Thanks for the suggestion though! -3 on RC would def be a goal for me in June haha.

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JackelJ
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby JackelJ » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:28 am

Ben,
Any tips for someone coming off of a 6 week study break? I haven't taken the test yet, but was studying for about 7 months prior to this break. I'm looking to be ready to kill it in June after already postponing twice, but am not really sure where to start since I've used a lot of the material and am not starting from scratch. My last PT in January was 170 (-0 LG, -6RC, can't remember what LR was, probably -5). I have about 12 fresh PTs, the cambridge bundle (mostly unused), and all the BP course material (all used).
Do you think I would still benefit from spending most of my time drilling for now with maybe some timed sections thrown in? Or should I be retaking PTs?

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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Blueprint Ben » Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:03 pm

JackelJ wrote:Ben,
Any tips for someone coming off of a 6 week study break? I haven't taken the test yet, but was studying for about 7 months prior to this break. I'm looking to be ready to kill it in June after already postponing twice, but am not really sure where to start since I've used a lot of the material and am not starting from scratch. My last PT in January was 170 (-0 LG, -6RC, can't remember what LR was, probably -5). I have about 12 fresh PTs, the cambridge bundle (mostly unused), and all the BP course material (all used).
Do you think I would still benefit from spending most of my time drilling for now with maybe some timed sections thrown in? Or should I be retaking PTs?

Hey Jackel!

Which PTs have you taken, and which ones do you have left? Of the ones you've taken, is there a contingent of tests (likely from the beginning of your first 7 months) which you totally bombed, but probably don't remember much of the content?

I think we have about 3 months until the June test, so I'd say the first month and a half should be primarily spent drilling the entirety of the Cambridge packets. Presumably you're finished reading prep books, so you should be straight drilling 5-6 days/week. In the beginning, take 1 PT/week, 2 tops, starting with the ones you plan to retake from the beginning of your prep. Then, when you've run out of good (read: previously bombed) retake prospects, work backwards and schedule your 12 fresh PTs from the week before test day to the present.

If you want to take individual timed sections during the week, I'd suggest pulling them from PTs 39-51. Even if you've taken those already, there's enough material there for you to cherry pick the sections you did the worst on your first time through. If you're targeting RC, the 40s sections are totally killer in my professional opinion. In the 40s, there was a trend of easy, 22 question (like 25 minute) LG sections, and crazy hard 28 question RC sections to balance them out. Even though there's no comparative passage, these sections are worth doing at least twice.

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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby JackelJ » Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:05 pm

BP Ben wrote:
JackelJ wrote:Ben,
Any tips for someone coming off of a 6 week study break? I haven't taken the test yet, but was studying for about 7 months prior to this break. I'm looking to be ready to kill it in June after already postponing twice, but am not really sure where to start since I've used a lot of the material and am not starting from scratch. My last PT in January was 170 (-0 LG, -6RC, can't remember what LR was, probably -5). I have about 12 fresh PTs, the cambridge bundle (mostly unused), and all the BP course material (all used).
Do you think I would still benefit from spending most of my time drilling for now with maybe some timed sections thrown in? Or should I be retaking PTs?

Hey Jackel!

Which PTs have you taken, and which ones do you have left? Of the ones you've taken, is there a contingent of tests (likely from the beginning of your first 7 months) which you totally bombed, but probably don't remember much of the content?

I think we have about 3 months until the June test, so I'd say the first month and a half should be primarily spent drilling the entirety of the Cambridge packets. Presumably you're finished reading prep books, so you should be straight drilling 5-6 days/week. In the beginning, take 1 PT/week, 2 tops, starting with the ones you plan to retake from the beginning of your prep. Then, when you've run out of good (read: previously bombed) retake prospects, work backwards and schedule your 12 fresh PTs from the week before test day to the present.

If you want to take individual timed sections during the week, I'd suggest pulling them from PTs 39-51. Even if you've taken those already, there's enough material there for you to cherry pick the sections you did the worst on your first time through. If you're targeting RC, the 40s sections are totally killer in my professional opinion. In the 40s, there was a trend of easy, 22 question (like 25 minute) LG sections, and crazy hard 28 question RC sections to balance them out. Even though there's no comparative passage, these sections are worth doing at least twice.

Thanks for the input! Yes, I am done reading through prep books (unless theres a good RC one which I have not found) so I'll start carrying drilling packets around everywhere. How many RC passages do you think is good to drill in one sitting? Assuming doing a bunch of them at a time is more beneficial that doing one or 2 a day.

For the PTs, I have
Fresh: 64, 65, 66, 67, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, Superprep C (miscounted, actually have 11)
Bombed/Didn't BR and can redo: 48, 49, 51, 60, 61, 62, 63, 68
Have seen (and remember) most questions from BP course: 39-47, 50, 52, 53, 54, 56, 57, 58, 59

Blueprint Ben
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Blueprint Ben » Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:55 pm

JackelJ wrote:Thanks for the input! Yes, I am done reading through prep books (unless theres a good RC one which I have not found) so I'll start carrying drilling packets around everywhere. How many RC passages do you think is good to drill in one sitting? Assuming doing a bunch of them at a time is more beneficial that doing one or 2 a day.

For the PTs, I have
Fresh: 64, 65, 66, 67, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, Superprep C (miscounted, actually have 11)
Bombed/Didn't BR and can redo: 48, 49, 51, 60, 61, 62, 63, 68
Have seen (and remember) most questions from BP course: 39-47, 50, 52, 53, 54, 56, 57, 58, 59


Ok cool, yeah I think you should start with the retake PTs while you're drilling at max intensity, then once you get through about 60-70% of each of the packets, start hitting your fresh PTs. BR everything, obviously, but don't reduce your drilling intensity too much. I recommend moving straight through levels 1->4 in the packets and drilling a critical mass of questions from each section every day.

As for RC passages, just drilling 1 or 2 a day won't do you very much good. At the height of my prep, I maxed out at 16 passages/day, with the typical number being 8-12. (This was alongside drilling for the other 2 sections as well.) I always drilled RC passages in multiples of 4. Not because I was timing sets strictly or anything, but just because it felt right. You don't have to do the multiples of 4 thing, but I think if you're actually going to commit time to drilling RC, you shouldn't drill fewer than 4 passages in a sitting.

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JackelJ
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby JackelJ » Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:02 pm

BP Ben wrote:Ok cool, yeah I think you should start with the retake PTs while you're drilling at max intensity, then once you get through about 60-70% of each of the packets, start hitting your fresh PTs. BR everything, obviously, but don't reduce your drilling intensity too much. I recommend moving straight through levels 1->4 in the packets and drilling a critical mass of questions from each section every day.

As for RC passages, just drilling 1 or 2 a day won't do you very much good. At the height of my prep, I maxed out at 16 passages/day, with the typical number being 8-12. (This was alongside drilling for the other 2 sections as well.) I always drilled RC passages in multiples of 4. Not because I was timing sets strictly or anything, but just because it felt right. You don't have to do the multiples of 4 thing, but I think if you're actually going to commit time to drilling RC, you shouldn't drill fewer than 4 passages in a sitting.

Thanks so much!

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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Blueprint Ben » Sun Mar 15, 2015 9:40 pm

LSAT Words of Wisdom: Keeping tabs, taking stock.

Write things down. Make spreadsheets. Keep logs and records. Not just records of the things you're doing to prepare for the LSAT, but also all of the things you're thinking and feeling along the way. Construct a narrative of your development in detail--your struggles, your successes, your breakdowns and your breakthroughs. It's important to keep track, not only of your scores and quantitative trends, but of the way you're responding to the work you do and the results you experience. LSAT prep can take a significant psychological and emotional toll on us, and we benefit from being able to trace, harness, and predict our reactions to the pressures of this intense cognitive training. The more often you make time for reflection and recalibration, the more effective you will become at forging your path to progress.

A note on time keeping: I recommend keeping a detailed record of the amount of time you spend on every aspect of your prep each day. But don't measure it with a watch. Instead, assign time values to specific quantities of drills, etc., and record the time as a measure of questions completed, rather than minutes passed. For example, in my system, I'd assign a 35 minute "value" to a set of 25 level 3 LR questions, even if I was drilling them untimed. So if it took me 45 minutes in reality, say, because I lost focus or I went too slowly, I would have forfeited 10 minutes of my precious study time. The system served two related purposes: 1) It was a productivity fail safe. I couldn't just sit and look at the page with lazy, unfocused eyes, all the while earning productivity points. I had to be 100% focused, or I wouldn't be able to get 'credit' for my study time. 2) It gave me an incentive to work as quickly as I possibly could. I did most of my drilling untimed. That was important to me, since I wanted to avoid cutting corners in my process, and I wanted to fully internalize patterns without rushing. But I also wanted to train myself to be as efficient as possible. This system helped me strike that balance--between thoroughness and efficiency. When I started the first question of my LR set, the stopwatch was off, but the pressure was on. If I lost focus, looked at my phone, checked TLS, I wouldn't be able to record that lost time as part of my prep. I couldn't say I studied for 2 hours if I only drilled 4 games, 2 passages, and 20 LR. I earned time as a function of work, not the other way around. So I had every incentive to work as quickly as possible, so that my time had real, recordable value. In that way, I trained for efficiency of process, while still reaping the benefits of untimed drilling.

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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Blueprint Ben » Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:14 pm

LSAT Words of Wisdom: Stim vs. Stem

Ah, the Great Debate of LR, the Stim Camp vs. the Stem Camp. The Stim Camp believes that we should read LR questions from top to bottom, starting with the stimulus to the question stem and then to the answer choices. (Because, like, that's how they were written, and, like, why would LSAC ever try to lead us astray?) The Stem Camp believes that the first thing you should do when you look at an LR question is find out what type of question it is, by reading the stem.

The Stim Camp is wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. I know this may sound dogmatic, and I know there are plenty of top scorers out there who read LR questions from top to bottom, but that doesn't mean they're right. And no, it isn't just a "matter of preference." Reading the question stem first is objectively the better strategy. Nobody benefits from diving in stim first. It's just bad form.

If you always start with the stimulus, you will have no choice but to approach every question the same way. You will read the words without knowing anything about your task. You won't have anything to guide your read or help focus your attention. You won't know whether you're being asked to critique an argument, or whether you're even reading an argument at all. You're just blind. Before you can do anything with the information given, you have to know your task. If you go stim first, you have to treat everything in the stimulus with equal care and consideration. When you finally do get to the task, you'll have to hold all of that information in your head and parse it out post hoc, if you want to avoid going back and reading the entire stimulus over again.

That's insanely inefficient at best, and at worst, it's straight up dangerous. If you're trying to work quickly (which of course you are, it's the LSAT), you're putting yourself at risk of misappropriating the significance of each of the pieces of information or even misremembering or forgetting parts of the stimulus entirely. The risk is the worst with long stims, which usually contain a crapload of crap, and maybe one or two sentences that actually get you to the correct answer.

The only way to know which part of the stimulus is the critical piece is to read the question stem first. If it's a Role or a Main Conclusion question, for example, you'll just glance at the stim, find the relevant portion in 20-30 seconds, match it with the correct answer and get on with your life. If it's a flaw question (or any question in the assumption family), you'll know to look for an argument, zero in on the premise/conclusion relationship, find the flaw or assumption, and bank the point. If it's a parallel question, you know that you have to get a strong grasp of the argument in abstract terms and ignore the content altogether, maybe even assigning variables to certain phrases in your head or on paper. If you read the stimulus first, you have NO IDEA how to approach the question, and you'll likely have to reread the stimulus once you know your task. If you rush through without rereading the stimulus with the proper focus in mind, you run the risk of prioritizing the wrong information. Things might stick out to you on your initial (blind) read as being important-sounding, while in reality having nothing to do with your task.

On a test that is as time pressured and pointedly tricky as the LSAT, you can't afford to reread anything, and you certainly can't afford to rely on your intuition to set your priorities for you. The most important transformation that you can make on your way to a 99th %ile score is to think less, about the right things. That's right, think less. Don't think faster. Just think carefully about the things that matter. The stem-first method enables you to laser focus on the things that get you to the correct answer, without having to wade through the bullsh*t. So don't fall victim to the LSAT's deception. Just look at the question stem. Find what you need from the stim, bank points, score 180, profit.

Broncos15
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Broncos15 » Mon Mar 23, 2015 10:18 am

Hey I had a question in reference to drilling specific question types in light of what you mentioned earlier about the LSAC ban on PDF's

I understand what you meant that it shouldn't change the way we study since we can still scan PT's from the booklets.....but that only helps for full 4 section PT's.

What would be the best approach to drill individual question types from here on out? I know some companies offer drilling packets online targeted for specific areas such as Assumption Questions or Parallel Reasoning Questions in LR and do the same thing in games by breaking them down into different types since some may struggle with Sequencing/Linear Games and others may struggle with Grouping Games

Blueprint Ben
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Blueprint Ben » Mon Mar 23, 2015 10:31 am

Broncos15 wrote:Hey I had a question in reference to drilling specific question types in light of what you mentioned earlier about the LSAC ban on PDF's

I understand what you meant that it shouldn't change the way we study since we can still scan PT's from the booklets.....but that only helps for full 4 section PT's.

What would be the best approach to drill individual question types from here on out? I know some companies offer drilling packets online targeted for specific areas such as Assumption Questions or Parallel Reasoning Questions in LR and do the same thing in games by breaking them down into different types since some may struggle with Sequencing/Linear Games and others may struggle with Grouping Games


Yup, sorry if that was unclear, I didn't mean for my comment to apply only to the 4 section PTs you can buy directly from LSAC. The companies that currently sell PDF versions of drilling packets (e.g., Cambridge) will, I hope, begin to sell them in hard copy rather than discontinuing the product altogether. I don't know this for sure, since I have no affiliation with Cambridge, but I assume that's the route they'll take if they can no longer sell PDFs.

We at Blueprint, for example, already include books of drills similar to the Cambridge packets in hard copy for all of our students who take a live class. So this crazy PDF prohibition deal doesn't have to change the way we study. (As everybody who's anybody knows, if you aren't drilling questions by type, you aren't studying for the LSAT.) It just means we'll have to make do with hard copies, scan them before we use them, and print out multiples as needed.

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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Blueprint Ben » Tue Mar 24, 2015 5:06 pm

LSAT Words of Wisdom: Location, Location, Location

Making a study schedule is one thing, but sticking to that schedule is a different beast altogether. The eternal struggle: It's 6am and the alarm goes off. Do I roll out of bed and into my running shoes to sluggishly shuffle out of my tired trance and into the LSAT state of mind--or do I roll onto my stomach, pull my pillow over my head, and tune out reality for another hour or two?

Sometimes (usually?) it's tough to find the motivation to continue the grind. We all have lives, and we can't just abandon everything to study for the LSAT. Many of us have full time jobs, classes, families to care for, biceps to build, or video game levels to conquer, but instead, we have to set aside hours out of our busy days to arrange teenage primadons and primadonnas into bus seats and read riveting essays about drilling muds and dental caries.

Most of the time, understandably, we'd rather not.

I think sometimes the hardest step we have to take is the one across the threshold of our front door on the way to the library/diner/coffee shop/hotel lobby/bathroom stall where we like to get our drill on. But if we have a place or places that are sacrosanct--which we associate only with studying and nothing else--it can be much easier to stick to our schedules.

I know some people are comfortable studying in their rooms, and they can be very productive there. I was never one of those people. If I tried to study in the same place where I sleep, pleasure read, troll the internet, watch cat videos, and post on TLS, I would always find myself spending much more time on the latter activities and much less time on the former. I think designating certain locations only for LSAT, and not allowing yourself to do anything else in those locations, can be very good for productivity. When I was studying, I had a spot on the third floor of the local college library, in the corner by the window where nobody ever sat, which was my LSAT sanctuary. I scheduled 3 hours every weekday from 6-9PM, and I treated it like a religious ritual. I would bring only my study materials and black ticons with me, put my cell phone on airplane mode as soon as I got on the elevator, and think about nothing but LSAT until my alarm buzzed in my pocket at 9PM.

I don't think I would have been able to do that in any of my other work spaces, such as my office or my living room. But the simple fact that I designated the third floor corner window seat of the library as an LSAT-only zone, and I never did anything else while I was in that seat, allowed me to form the habit of studying for hours with no distractions. This routine was essential to my productivity, and I credit it largely to location, location, location. If you pick a place that hasn't already been tainted with the stench of procrastination (I know, I know -- by now they're few and far between), and make a point to be in that physical space for your entire scheduled study time, you'll have much more productive prep sessions.

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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby chaitealatte » Wed Mar 25, 2015 5:44 pm

Hi! i apologize if this question has been answered already. I’m currently studying for the June LSAT, (retake after a bad case of nerves during Feb) and I’ve been scoring really consistently in the 170-172 range for the last month. Do you have any advice on how to refine my study strategy to get the last 5-8 points? I’d definitely be happy with a 170 but I’d love to shoot for the higher end of the scale, if possible. Currently, I’ve been keeping track of the questions I’ve missed and writing down why the right answer is correct for each one, which has definitely helped, but any more specific strategies or advice you have would be great. Thanks so much for the help!

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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Blueprint Ben » Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:17 am

chaitealatte wrote:Hi! i apologize if this question has been answered already. I’m currently studying for the June LSAT, (retake after a bad case of nerves during Feb) and I’ve been scoring really consistently in the 170-172 range for the last month. Do you have any advice on how to refine my study strategy to get the last 5-8 points? I’d definitely be happy with a 170 but I’d love to shoot for the higher end of the scale, if possible. Currently, I’ve been keeping track of the questions I’ve missed and writing down why the right answer is correct for each one, which has definitely helped, but any more specific strategies or advice you have would be great. Thanks so much for the help!

Hey there. Those last few points to break into the upper 170s are by far the hardest points to earn, but it definitely can be done. To tailor my advice to your situation, I'm going to need a bit more information.

How long have you been studying?
What was your cold diagnostic, if you took one?
Did you have a specific weakness from the beginning?
Did you have a specific weakness just prior to the February test?
What were your typical section breakdowns on your PTs prior to February?
How many full, timed PTs have you taken, and which ones were they? Which ones, if any, have you not yet taken?
How much drilling have you done for each section so far?
What prep materials have you used?

I'm confident that you can squeeze out those last 5-8 points if you prep the right way, but it won't be easy. I don't think you can ever count on a 180 (in the very upper echelon, a lot will hinge on dumb luck), but I do believe that there is a level of preparedness that will guarantee an upper 170s score. Let's get you there!

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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby betterLawyerUP » Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:54 pm

Just want to echo appreciation for Ben helping us out, if you have time could you look at T29, S4, Q12. I posted this in another thread but I am still kind of clueless.

In essence, drivers with points and convicted offense should be sentenced to jail or reeducation. Reeducation should only be offered if the driver is likely to be made more responsible. It is always almost impossible to make these drivers more responsible.

Answer A should be wrong because it is only could be true. Always almost does not deprive the option of reeducation, so you cannot label all the drivers as done in answer A for a MBT. What if the driver being mentioned can be made responsible, thus they should not be sent to jail, thus A doesn't really apply. I was under the impression MSS are basically Must be trues because LSAT does not leave any room for debate.

Blueprint Ben
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Blueprint Ben » Fri Mar 27, 2015 1:51 pm

betterLawyerUP wrote:Just want to echo appreciation for Ben helping us out, if you have time could you look at T29, S4, Q12. I posted this in another thread but I am still kind of clueless.

In essence, drivers with points and convicted offense should be sentenced to jail or reeducation. Reeducation should only be offered if the driver is likely to be made more responsible. It is always almost impossible to make these drivers more responsible.

Answer A should be wrong because it is only could be true. Always almost does not deprive the option of reeducation, so you cannot label all the drivers as done in answer A for a MBT. What if the driver being mentioned can be made responsible, thus they should not be sent to jail, thus A doesn't really apply. I was under the impression MSS are basically Must be trues because LSAT does not leave any room for debate.


Hey there! Happy to help.

So no, you really need to get this idea out of your head ASAP. MSS questions are absolutely not the same as MBT questions, and a CBT statement can be the correct answer of a MSS question, provided that it is supported by the stimulus. Anyone who tells you that MBT and MSS are the same should be locked away forever in a sound proof room. Seriously. They are different, and you should treat them differently. The correct answer to a MBT question is a direct logical implication of the stimulus. The correct answer to a MSS question is merely supported by the reasoning in the stimulus, but it does not have to be true.

You're right that the LSAT does not leave any room for debate. However, MSS questions do not need to be the same as MBT questions for this to be the case. In a MSS question, you will have one answer that is strongly supported by the stimulus, and four answers that are not supported by the stimulus at all (although, in difficult questions, they may appear to be--they are not).

Answer choice A is strongly supported by the stimulus. If it's "always almost impossible" to make drivers with lots of demerits more responsible, and drivers should receive re-education only if they're "likely" to be made more responsible, then those drivers probably shouldn't receive re-education. The first sentence says drivers should either receive re-education or be sentenced to jail, since we don't want crimes to go unpunished. This is the point the stimulus is driving at (forgive the pun). If the rest of the stimulus rules out one of two alternatives (driver re-education), and something undesirable (crime unpunished) would result if neither option is taken, then this supports the conclusion that we should take the other option (jail time). Note that this isn't a logical necessity. It's merely supported. There could be other ways of keeping crime from going unpunished without jail time or driver re-education. But sending the drivers to jail, as stated in answer choice A, is the most strongly supported outcome w/r/t the information in the stimulus.

B through E are not supported by the stimulus at all.
B) is out because we don't know anything about the chances of driver re-education relative to other ways of making bad drivers more responsible. We just know that the chances, in absolute terms, are slim.
C) is wrong because the "harshness" of the punishment is irrelevant. The stimulus is merely concerned with keeping crimes from going unpunished.
D) is kaput because the stimulus tells us nothing about drivers with no serious offenses. Driver re-education might be good for your average law abiding soccer mom.
E) is garbage, similarly to D, because we know nothing about drivers with many demerits but no convictions. The stimulus only tells us about drivers with many demerits "who have additionally been convicted" of serious driving offenses.

Please let me know if you have any questions about MSS questions generally--I'd be happy to help correct any misconceptions. I struggled a lot with MSS questions in the beginning of my prep, because I failed to properly understand the task. My mistake was that I assumed that "supported" was a kind of loosely permissive word, but in the context of the LSAT, it actually isn't. If you spend enough time with wrong answer choices in MSS questions, you'll gradually be able to get a concrete sense of what that word "supported" really means. Ask yourself why those statements are not supported; scour the stimulus until you're completely confident with your reasoning. Always rely on your process of elimination, especially for questions where the logic of the stimulus alone won't carry you to the correct answer. It's almost always easier to see why an answer is not supported than why it is supported. This is true for all of the quiet killer question types, which seem to allow for a dangerous amount of room for debate--most notably strengthen, weaken, and MSS.

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betterLawyerUP
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby betterLawyerUP » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:18 pm

Thanks Ben I appreciate it. Ive been studying MSS questions and I definitely have a better understanding of them. I am actually doing fairly well it seems you can let your mind breathe a bit and allow a natural stream of consciousness to take over, as oppose to MBT where I am strictly connecting the stim to absolute inferrable (forgive the error in syntax) statements.

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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Blueprint Ben » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:46 pm

betterLawyerUP wrote:Thanks Ben I appreciate it. Ive been studying MSS questions and I definitely have a better understanding of them. I am actually doing fairly well it seems you can let your mind breathe a bit and allow a natural stream of consciousness to take over, as oppose to MBT where I am strictly connecting the stim to absolute inferrable (forgive the error in syntax) statements.

No problem! I think that's an acceptable way of thinking about it--although frankly I'm afraid of the phrases "let your mind breathe" and "natural stream of consciousness." Definitely don't adopt the mindset that there's any room for wishy washiness or grey area in MSS questions. There isn't. But the logical "lock" you're going to find is not in the stimulus, but rather, in the answer choices. Rely on your process of elimination, and you can't be led astray. Wrong answers will all be clearly, concretely unsupported. So look for that. Best of luck!

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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby chaitealatte » Sun Mar 29, 2015 9:30 pm

BP Ben wrote:
chaitealatte wrote:Hi! i apologize if this question has been answered already. I’m currently studying for the June LSAT, (retake after a bad case of nerves during Feb) and I’ve been scoring really consistently in the 170-172 range for the last month. Do you have any advice on how to refine my study strategy to get the last 5-8 points? I’d definitely be happy with a 170 but I’d love to shoot for the higher end of the scale, if possible. Currently, I’ve been keeping track of the questions I’ve missed and writing down why the right answer is correct for each one, which has definitely helped, but any more specific strategies or advice you have would be great. Thanks so much for the help!

Hey there. Those last few points to break into the upper 170s are by far the hardest points to earn, but it definitely can be done. To tailor my advice to your situation, I'm going to need a bit more information.

How long have you been studying?
What was your cold diagnostic, if you took one?
Did you have a specific weakness from the beginning?
Did you have a specific weakness just prior to the February test?
What were your typical section breakdowns on your PTs prior to February?
How many full, timed PTs have you taken, and which ones were they? Which ones, if any, have you not yet taken?
How much drilling have you done for each section so far?
What prep materials have you used?

I'm confident that you can squeeze out those last 5-8 points if you prep the right way, but it won't be easy. I don't think you can ever count on a 180 (in the very upper echelon, a lot will hinge on dumb luck), but I do believe that there is a level of preparedness that will guarantee an upper 170s score. Let's get you there!


Thanks so much for getting back to me! In response to your questions--
1. Started studying seriously around November, took the test in Feb, took Feb and half of March off to recharge, started studying again a few weeks ago mostly drilling individual sections and doing 1-2 full-length PTs on the weekends.
2. My cold diagnostic from November was a 159.
3/4. I struggled with games and LR early in the study process-- I improved a lot on games but LR tends to be the section I consistently do worst in, missing generally 2-5 questions per LR section. I got really frustrated with missing the few questions per section just prior to the Feb test and feel like I burned out trying to cram in as many as possible, which is why I really wanted to take a good month off to recharge.
5. Typical breakdowns: LG: -0 to -2; LR: -2 to -5; RC: -1 to -3.
6. I've taken around 17 full timed PTs with the extra section (50-66) and I'm saving the last few (newest) PTs for the weeks before the June test. I'm also really good about timing individual sections during drilling.
7. I have a solid number of past PTs (everything except the 40s) and in the run-up to Feb, I mostly worked through all of them section by section (though I saved the most recent tests for full-length PTs). I've begun to re-drill sections from earlier tests but it's frustrating because a lot of times with LR, I can remember the answer or at least the process I went through to eliminate a difficult choice, so I'm not sure how much going over tests is helping.
8. I've used Powerscore for LG and the Trainer for RC and LR, plus all the past PTs I mentioned above.

Thanks again for the help! I really appreciate you taking the time out to give specific answers!

Blueprint Ben
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Blueprint Ben » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:37 pm

chaitealatte wrote:Thanks so much for getting back to me! In response to your questions--
1. Started studying seriously around November, took the test in Feb, took Feb and half of March off to recharge, started studying again a few weeks ago mostly drilling individual sections and doing 1-2 full-length PTs on the weekends.
2. My cold diagnostic from November was a 159.
3/4. I struggled with games and LR early in the study process-- I improved a lot on games but LR tends to be the section I consistently do worst in, missing generally 2-5 questions per LR section. I got really frustrated with missing the few questions per section just prior to the Feb test and feel like I burned out trying to cram in as many as possible, which is why I really wanted to take a good month off to recharge.
5. Typical breakdowns: LG: -0 to -2; LR: -2 to -5; RC: -1 to -3.
6. I've taken around 17 full timed PTs with the extra section (50-66) and I'm saving the last few (newest) PTs for the weeks before the June test. I'm also really good about timing individual sections during drilling.
7. I have a solid number of past PTs (everything except the 40s) and in the run-up to Feb, I mostly worked through all of them section by section (though I saved the most recent tests for full-length PTs). I've begun to re-drill sections from earlier tests but it's frustrating because a lot of times with LR, I can remember the answer or at least the process I went through to eliminate a difficult choice, so I'm not sure how much going over tests is helping.
8. I've used Powerscore for LG and the Trainer for RC and LR, plus all the past PTs I mentioned above.

Thanks again for the help! I really appreciate you taking the time out to give specific answers!


My pleasure! So it looks like those last few points that will bring you into the upper 170s should come from your LR sections. If you're strong enough to be consistently in the -0 to -2 range combined for LR, you will be ready to score at the level you're aiming for. It can be done! But the first thing you have to do is adjust your drilling process.

Based on your post above, it doesn't seem like you have been drilling LR by type. Am I right about that? You mentioned that you're going back over sections, but that's mixed review; it isn't proper drilling. If you're timing yourself on full sections instead of drilling untimed by question type, I think you are really doing yourself a disservice.

As a general rule, you get better at the LSAT through pattern recognition (slow drilling by question type at high volumes) and mental discipline/endurance training (drilling for long periods of time without losing focus, taking full length or longer timed PTs). The primary purpose of drilling by type is to make your problem solving process consistent and automatic across the board. If you're always doing mixed review under timed conditions, it's much harder (if not impossible) to get to that point where you feel completely comfortable with your process. Switching back and forth between question types and trying to race the clock are not great conditions to practice efficient problem solving. You're more likely to cut corners and less likely to internalize the patterns that will help you get to the right answer more easily and consistently.

I recommend that you get your hands on a whole bunch of LR questions from early (pre-40) PTs, separated into all of the existing question types. If there are any types in particular that tend to give you trouble, go back to your prep materials and read the corresponding chapters. Then, drill high volumes of questions from each type--around 50 to 100 each sitting. Don't set a timer, but focus instead on perfecting your process. Read all answer choices carefully. Don't skip any steps. Work on going -0 always, then work on gradually accelerating the pace without any missteps. At your scoring level, you'll probably find that after a hundred or so questions from each type, you will be moving through them pretty fast, with perfect or near perfect accuracy.

Only when you feel like you're hitting your stride in LR, go back to taking full PTs or timed LR sections and see what happens. I'm willing to bet that you pick up at least a few points in both sections, you won't struggle at all with timing (because timing is a function of efficiency of process more than speed), and you will feel much more confident with LR generally.

Feel free to come back here anytime with questions, and I'll be very happy to offer guidance along the way. The jump you're trying to make isn't easy, but the right amount of work can definitely get you there.

Happy studying!


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