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

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

Postby Broncos15 » Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:39 pm

Please tell me the 30 minute LSAT section is an April fools joke.

Cruel joke partly because of how believable it is ( June is when changes in the exam are made, ie comparative Reading Comp, LG spread out over two pages, etc)

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:41 am

Broncos15 wrote:Please tell me the 30 minute LSAT section is an April fools joke.

Cruel joke partly because of how believable it is ( June is when changes in the exam are made, ie comparative Reading Comp, LG spread out over two pages, etc)

Nope, it's real. Shouldn't make much of a difference though. You've been studying with 30 minute sections anyway, right? Now, with the customary articficial time handicap, you should be timing your PTs with 25 minute sections.

Good luck, and Godspeed!

(Also, happy belated April 1st.)

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:44 am

Credit to the beloved BP Rob for breaking the news:
Adjust accordingly.

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

Postby Broncos15 » Mon Apr 06, 2015 11:45 am

Hey,

How far in advance is it bad idea to start working on Logic Games?

I am currently a Senior undergrad and focusing at the moment GPA first, LSAT second ( mostly because I have no outside pressure as to when I go to law school, so I won't be needing to juggle both UG and LSAT at the same time, since those two quantative factors, while not everything, are very important. )

Since Logic Games are, "relatively fun" compared to say a dense RC......how far out from the LSAT can i start taking Logic Game sections?

I want to be at the point on test day where LG is almost like free points for me and can be used as a cushion in the other sections.....I am likely taking the LSAT sometime in 2016 for Fall 2017 admissions.

I know a friend who studied for the LSAT ever since she got out of high school......so I guess the TLDR version is how early can I start using Logic games ( i have access to PT's 1-74) before it becomes disadvantageous when i graduate and start to focus and add in the other parts of my LSAT prep



If this helps at all in your advice : currently very good at LG -2/-3 regularly with the occasional -1 or perfect

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Mon Apr 06, 2015 6:28 pm

Broncos15 wrote:Hey,

How far in advance is it bad idea to start working on Logic Games?

I am currently a Senior undergrad and focusing at the moment GPA first, LSAT second ( mostly because I have no outside pressure as to when I go to law school, so I won't be needing to juggle both UG and LSAT at the same time, since those two quantative factors, while not everything, are very important. )

Since Logic Games are, "relatively fun" compared to say a dense RC......how far out from the LSAT can i start taking Logic Game sections?

I want to be at the point on test day where LG is almost like free points for me and can be used as a cushion in the other sections.....I am likely taking the LSAT sometime in 2016 for Fall 2017 admissions.

I know a friend who studied for the LSAT ever since she got out of high school......so I guess the TLDR version is how early can I start using Logic games ( i have access to PT's 1-74) before it becomes disadvantageous when i graduate and start to focus and add in the other parts of my LSAT prep



If this helps at all in your advice : currently very good at LG -2/-3 regularly with the occasional -1 or perfect


Hey there,

I think you're making a great choice to wait on the LSAT and just focus on your GPA while you're in school. But to answer your question, there's literally no way that you could start studying too soon. As long as LSAT prep doesn't get in the way of your other academic obligations, it's not possible for any prep time to be disadvantageous. More time spent with the test is always better.

I say that for a bunch of reasons: First of all, contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as running out of materials. I personally spent almost a year and a half studying for the LSAT, and in that time, I did many of the same drills and PTs over and over again ad nauseam. It wasn't a disadvantage; it was the most important aspect of my prep. Repetition. There's no such thing as too much exposure to the test. The more often you solve the same old logic game, the better, faster, more confident you'll be at solving that type of game when it shows up on your test.
Also, your brain often benefits from a little time off to soak things in. If you spread out your studying over a longer period, you can fit in more of these mental health breaks. You want game types, inferences, diagramming strategies, etc to be pretty much ingrained in the core of your being by the time you sit for the test. The longer you've been studying, the more it will just feel like the thing you do. Nothing new. You're a veteran. No surprises. A game is a game is a game.

I think your goal is a good one. Games are not only "fun," but totally mechanical and relatively easy to master. There's no good reason why you shouldn't be able to finish every games section ever imagined with a guaranteed -0 and time to sharpen your pencils and take a nice, relaxing pee. The sooner you start drilling games, the more likely it is that you'll be able to reach that level before test day.

Your current level (-2/-3) is solid, but that doesn't mean you won't benefit from drilling early and often. Even if you were going -0 on the regular, you would still benefit from doing lots of games. There's a difference between the -0 who races to cross the finish line all out of breath and dripping with sweat, and the -0 who waltzes across at a cool 28:00 looking like Beyonce when she #wokeuplikethis. Obviously, you should aspire to be Beyonce.

We should all aspire to be Beyonce.

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

Postby darthrevan92 » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:06 pm

Hey Ben

I've been studying almost a year for the LSAT and I have completed Blueprint the Online Course around December 2014 LSAT administration. I'm currently aiming to get into the high 170s on the official LSAT and I have been PTing around the low to mid 160. My strategy going into the June 2015 exam has been to redo the course in its entirety. Are there any other strategies you would recommend so that I can push my score into the 170s? Should I also aim to finish all the supplemental problem sets. I have used most of the exams available on Mybluprint account besides a handful of recent examinations. I'm able to finish LR and RC on time but I still struggle to finish all four logic games (i usually only finish 3) and I sometimes miss deductions. I do recall on your previous posts that it took a little more than a year so I was wondering if you could provide some insight on my particular situation.

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

Postby Deleterious » Fri Apr 10, 2015 4:18 am

When is The Blueprint for LSAT Reading Comprehension going to be released?

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:15 am

darthrevan92 wrote:Hey Ben

I've been studying almost a year for the LSAT and I have completed Blueprint the Online Course around December 2014 LSAT administration. I'm currently aiming to get into the high 170s on the official LSAT and I have been PTing around the low to mid 160. My strategy going into the June 2015 exam has been to redo the course in its entirety. Are there any other strategies you would recommend so that I can push my score into the 170s? Should I also aim to finish all the supplemental problem sets. I have used most of the exams available on Mybluprint account besides a handful of recent examinations. I'm able to finish LR and RC on time but I still struggle to finish all four logic games (i usually only finish 3) and I sometimes miss deductions. I do recall on your previous posts that it took a little more than a year so I was wondering if you could provide some insight on my particular situation.

Hey,

In short: Yes. You need to finish all of the supplemental problem sets. Here's why:

The jump you're trying to make--from the low-mid 160s into the 170s--is really difficult to do. Redoing the course will not be sufficient, although it does help lay a solid foundation in terms of strategy, mindset, and method. But at a certain scoring level (I'd say around mid-160s), learning things about the test provides rapidly diminishing returns. The only thing that will actually help you break through that 170 ceiling is high-volume question type drilling and regular PTing/in-depth review. What you need is endurance and mental discipline training, pattern recognition, and above all, a pseudo-hypnotic level of exposure to the test.

You don't break into the 170s with shortcuts and strategies alone. You break into the 170s with brute force and intense conditioning. You take the methods you learned in the course and you practice them until they become absolutely knee-jerk, mindless, automatic reactions to literally any challenge you could possibly encounter on the LSAT. When a 160s scorer takes the LSAT, it's an exhilarating, stressful, pressure-cooker, Everest-climbing experience. When a 170s scorer takes the LSAT, it's as boring and mindless as mowing the lawn on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Make that your goal.

Also, I should mention, you're really really lucky. You're in an incredibly good place. Why? Because logic games are your weakness. LG is by far the easiest section to master. You may not feel that way right now, but when you drill enough so that you finally do crack it open, you'll come to count every game as guaranteed points. There's a reason why nearly all top scorers know when they go -0 in LG, but they can almost never count on -0 in RC, no matter how good it feels in the moment. LG is mechanical. There's really no room for error or misinterpretation. If you actually understand the game, set it up correctly, and see the same old inferences that are repeated over and over and over, you should be able to go -0 always, with time to spare. If you develop (/learn) a flexible and efficient diagramming language, and you drill every logic game ever released multiple times over, you'll reach mastery eventually. I promise. Don't ever accept LG as your weakness. If your goal is to score in the 170s, don't take the LSAT until you can count on a -0 in LG.

Also, you're lucky to have access to the Blueprint LG materials. LG is Blueprint's strongest section, in my totally unbiased opinion. (Really, I would have told you the same thing when I was a self-studier with no allegiance whatsoever.) I used the BP logic games book, and in combination with a TON of drilling (yes, every game ever released multiple times over), I went from an LG disaster to an LG master.

Emphasis on the drilling though. Drilling is everything. My LSAT advice boils down to the following: Be flexible, find the methods that work best for you, and drill until you need a new contact lens prescription. Then keep drilling.

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:21 am

Deleterious wrote:When is The Blueprint for LSAT Reading Comprehension going to be released?

Hey Deleterious,

I was wondering the same thing. I asked about this during a training in January, and the higher-ups said a reading comp book is "in the works."

Let me ask around and get back to you if I can find any more specific information.

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

Postby kelssimone » Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:21 pm

Hey Ben,

Its former BP and retake Student Kelsea. I have a quick question about the online course. If I am paying for the course in installments do I get the books and access when the balance is paid off? Also do I get access to the class right when I pay or do I have to wait until July? Thanks!

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:49 am

Deleterious wrote:When is The Blueprint for LSAT Reading Comprehension going to be released?

Hey! Just heard back. The RC book is on its way. We’re in the final stages of copy-editing and laying it out, but there’s no exact release date yet. Should be relatively soon, by the sound of it.

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:52 am

kelssimone wrote:Hey Ben,

Its former BP and retake Student Kelsea. I have a quick question about the online course. If I am paying for the course in installments do I get the books and access when the balance is paid off? Also do I get access to the class right when I pay or do I have to wait until July? Thanks!

Hi Kelsea,

Your online account will activate and your books will ship as soon as you enroll, regardless of the payment method you choose.

Enjoy!

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

Postby appind » Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:13 pm

For the str/wkn questions, can correlation or necessary condition act as a strengthener of causation or suff condition respectively?

conclusion: working out makes one healthy.
choice-A: People in Sweden work out and tend to be healthy

choice A imo would strengthen the argument's conclusion about causation and would be a credited answer to the strengthen question.

argument: people who are muscular are good swimmers. Steve is muscular
choice-b: Steve is a good swimmer

here choice-b is the necessary condition in the (muscular->good swimmer) condition relationship. so (b) strengthens the conclusion by affirming the necessary condition, which must be true if the sufficient condition were to be true.

it seems to me that evidence of correlation in an answer choice can strengthen an argument that has causation as it conclusion. Similarly, an evidence of necessary condition can strengthen an argument that concludes that a sufficient condition is present.

will an answer choice that str/wkn the conclusion only be the credited answer for a question that asks to str/wkn the argument?
as far as i know there is no real LSAT question where this difference is tested, i.e. no question exists where there is an answer choice besides the credited answer which str/wkn the conclusion of a str/wkn question.

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:01 pm

appind wrote:For the str/wkn questions, can correlation or necessary condition act as a strengthener of causation or suff condition respectively?

conclusion: working out makes one healthy.
choice-A: People in Sweden work out and tend to be healthy

choice A imo would strengthen the argument's conclusion about causation and would be a credited answer to the strengthen question.

argument: people who are muscular are good swimmers. Steve is muscular
choice-b: Steve is a good swimmer

here choice-b is the necessary condition in the (muscular->good swimmer) condition relationship. so (b) strengthens the conclusion by affirming the necessary condition, which must be true if the sufficient condition were to be true.

it seems to me that evidence of correlation in an answer choice can strengthen an argument that has causation as it conclusion. Similarly, an evidence of necessary condition can strengthen an argument that concludes that a sufficient condition is present.

will an answer choice that str/wkn the conclusion only be the credited answer for a question that asks to str/wkn the argument?
as far as i know there is no real LSAT question where this difference is tested, i.e. no question exists where there is an answer choice besides the credited answer which str/wkn the conclusion of a str/wkn question.

Hi there! This last question brings up a very important point. I think people have trouble with strengthen/weaken questions in part because they're unsure about the task. It might seem like there should be some amount of grey area to compare answer choices that way--like, does A strengthen the argument more than B? But it will absolutely never happen that you're comparing two strengtheners or weakeners, and the correct answer comes down to a matter of degree. Despite the fact that the stem asks which choice "most" strengthens/weakens the argument, that is just not how the LSAT works. Exactly one answer choice will strengthen/weaken the argument (either a lot or a little), and exactly four will NOT strengthen/weaken it at all. So your main job is really to figure out why four of the answer choices have no effect, or the opposite effect, on the argument in relation to the task.

appind wrote:For the str/wkn questions, can correlation or necessary condition act as a strengthener of causation or suff condition respectively?


A correlation can definitely strengthen a causal argument. I'd say that's usually how causal arguments are strengthened. The Sweden example checks out.

For the second part, it's not correct to say that the necessary condition is serving to strengthen the sufficient condition, but it does strengthen the conditional argument in this case. The example you gave illustrates that correctly, since the conclusion is not that steve is muscular (that's the sufficient condition), but rather that "people who are muscular are good swimmers." So the necessary condition in the answer choice (steve is a good swimmer), in combination with the premise that steve is muscular, strengthens the conditional relationship, which is the conclusion of the argument.

*However: Keep in mind that it's NOT the case that a necessary condition obtaining would increase the likelihood that a sufficient condition obtains. That's not what your example illustrates. It just shows that if you have a conditional statement and a sufficient condition in the stimulus, then a necessary condition in an answer choice could strengthen the conditional statement.

If you have a particular question in mind where a necessary condition is treated a strengthener, post it here and we can go over it together.

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

Postby Deleterious » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:04 am

BP Ben wrote:
Deleterious wrote:When is The Blueprint for LSAT Reading Comprehension going to be released?

Hey! Just heard back. The RC book is on its way. We’re in the final stages of copy-editing and laying it out, but there’s no exact release date yet. Should be relatively soon, by the sound of it.


Thanks. Please keep us updated. I've heard BP has a good approach for RC.

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:05 pm

Deleterious wrote:
BP Ben wrote:
Deleterious wrote:When is The Blueprint for LSAT Reading Comprehension going to be released?

Hey! Just heard back. The RC book is on its way. We’re in the final stages of copy-editing and laying it out, but there’s no exact release date yet. Should be relatively soon, by the sound of it.


Thanks. Please keep us updated. I've heard BP has a good approach for RC.

No problem! I definitely will let you know as soon as I hear anything about an expected release date.

I think BP's approach to RC is excellent. I self-studied for the LSAT, and RC was my main weakness. Even after drilling like a maniac for over a year, I still went -3 on test day, which is more than I missed on all the other sections combined. Honestly, I wish I had been exposed to BP's RC method before I took the test. It's a bit complex, but it doesn't seem at all canned or unresponsive to the realities of the test, like certain other RC methods that are floating around in the test prep community. (So hurry up and release the RC book, BP, so that self-studiers can benefit too!)

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:28 pm

I just wanted to give a shout out to the legendary Mike Spivey, who recently posted this on his blog: http://spiveyconsulting.com/blog/lsat-t ... out-rates/

The gist of the post is that the extraordinarily high drop out rate for Navy Seal trainees (about 80%) happens almost exclusively during rest periods. Nearly nobody drops out in the middle of the hardcore training sessions, when the going actually gets tough. They drop out in the downtime when they, presumably, get in their heads about how hard the next challenge is going to be.

I think there are a LOT of really good reasons to postpone your LSAT test date. If you want a 170+, but the data just isn't backing you up, and you've been scoring in the mid 160s, don't pray for a miracle. Sit out, study harder, and go get 'em next time, tiger.

But I bet there are also a bunch of people out there who drop out in the final few days, when they're not really prepping hard anymore, but just getting mentally prepared for the challenge ahead of them. They get cold feet, based on nothing substantive, but the anxiety causes them to back out at the last minute on the presumption that they could be better prepared than they are.

Of course you could be better prepared. There is literally no way a person could over-prepare for the LSAT. There is no limit to the amount of work you could do in the pursuit of a perfect score. And that fact alone can be terrifying enough to crush our spirits. Take it from me: I was really close to backing out on the Friday before my retake. I was scared that I would under-perform, like I did the last time. I was so anxious that I had an actual fever, I was shaking all over, and I vomited twice. I thought for sure that I would fall short of my goal, and I didn't trust in my training. I thought I could have done more, and I was right. I could have done more. You can always do more. But you have to be confident when you've reached the point where you've probably done enough.

Here's what happened: I sat for the test, in spite of my anxiety, and I didn't under-perform. In between my first and second take, I took 18 PTs (all retakes--I had taken and reviewed them before), and my average score across that period was a 177. On test day for my retake I scored right on target: 177. It didn't matter that I had crippling anxiety the day before. It didn't matter than I could have done more to prepare. All that mattered was my skill level.

So let that be your guide for whether to take or to postpone: A real, honest, quantitative assessment of your skill level. Not an anxious, fleeting fear of under-performance. If you trust that your skill level is there, don't drop out. Just take the test. It's nowhere near as terrible as your Friday-before-D-Day mind makes it out to be.

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flash21
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Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby flash21 » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:54 pm

what is the best way to review reading comprehension? I read Mike kim's post on his website, but would like your opinion. Got -11 or something like that on my december write so obviously RC was a disaster..

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:51 pm

flash21 wrote:what is the best way to review reading comprehension? I read Mike kim's post on his website, but would like your opinion. Got -11 or something like that on my december write so obviously RC was a disaster..

I'm with you, Flash. RC is the actual worst. When I think about RC, drilling RC, reviewing RC, it makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and hide under my desk until the world is free of RC.

But yes, review. It's not so easy to review RC effectively. Let me start by saying that I read Mike Kim's guide on reviewing RC when I was studying, and I endorse every word of it. He's a sage, and everything he produces is pure gold. His main observation is that students miss the mark on review when they just aim to understand why the right answer is right and the wrong answers are wrong. You have to go further than that; you need to focus on correcting the faulty process that led you to misunderstand parts of the passage and answer certain questions incorrectly. The ultimate goal of review should be to identify and adjust the actions you take in real time under testing conditions. As usual, Mike is absolutely spot on.

Now for my part. Here's a technique that I tried out later in my prep, and I think it made a real difference in helping me do that kind of process-oriented review:

Sit down with a single passage, and drill it with the clock running. Aim to finish it in 7-8 minutes, as if you were taking a real section. Without looking at the answer sheet, go back over the questions and decide which ones you're totally confident about, which one's you're not so sure about, and which ones you almost definitely got wrong. Then, using the questions as your guide, try to identify the gaps in your understanding of the passage. Before you go back and read over it again, write down what you think the main points are. Try to remember as much as you can about structure and detail without looking back. Make special note of the things you don't remember so clearly, gaps in your knowledge, things you recall but aren't sure if they're correct or complete.

Once you've exhausted everything you know (and know you don't know) about the passage, read it over again. Slowly. Like, really slowly. Slowly enough that you don't miss a single word of it. As you're going through, write down all of the new information that you didn't remember before, and all of the information that conflicts with your initial impression of the passage. Try to organize the details you missed in relation to the main points: "I thought Professor W was arguing Y, but now that I read detail P, it appears that she's actually arguing Z." Think about those details you missed, or forgot about, and try to verbalize why you failed to assign them the proper amount of significance on the first read. Do your best to generalize those problems as errors of process. Make a specific plan of attack for the next passage, which will enable you to allocate your time and attention better, and to focus on the details of the passage that really matter in the big picture.

Then, when you're satisfied with your game plan, take another passage from the pile, and do it all over again. Repeat until you make a breakthrough. Drill until you can't see straight, go to sleep, wake up, and drill some more. The best (and possibly the only) way to get better at RC, in my experience, is repetition. Exposure. Repetition. Review. Repetition. If you've drilled every passage ever released, don't let that stop you. Drill them again. And again. (You get the picture.) It doesn't matter if you remember some of the details. Drilling is about perfecting your process. After a certain amount of exposure, I think your skills will improve to the point where it becomes second nature for you. That's the goal of all LSAT prep. Not just understanding, but automation. To become an LSAT drone.

OK I've rambled on for long enough. I hope this helps you! Best of luck, and happy drilling.

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

Postby chaitealatte » Sun Apr 26, 2015 6:30 pm

Hi Ben! I've got a question about reusing materials-- I studied for Feb, had a near-panic attack, cancelled my score, and I'm now prepping for June. I'm still PTing a few points below where I'd like to be, and I want to make sure I'm optimizing the study materials I have on hand-- I did most of the 50s and 60s as full-length PTs before the Feb test and have been using older tests to study currently. What's the best way to reuse tests? I feel like I've done really well on the very few tests I've redone but only because I'm familiar with them and have reviewed them pretty thorougly in the past. Any suggestions or advice would be really appreciated-- thanks so much!

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

Postby appind » Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:16 pm

BP Ben wrote:
appind wrote:For the str/wkn questions, can correlation or necessary condition act as a strengthener of causation or suff condition respectively?

conclusion: working out makes one healthy.
choice-A: People in Sweden work out and tend to be healthy

choice A imo would strengthen the argument's conclusion about causation and would be a credited answer to the strengthen question.

argument: people who are muscular are good swimmers. Steve is muscular
choice-b: Steve is a good swimmer

here choice-b is the necessary condition in the (muscular->good swimmer) condition relationship. so (b) strengthens the conclusion by affirming the necessary condition, which must be true if the sufficient condition were to be true.

it seems to me that evidence of correlation in an answer choice can strengthen an argument that has causation as it conclusion. Similarly, an evidence of necessary condition can strengthen an argument that concludes that a sufficient condition is present.

will an answer choice that str/wkn the conclusion only be the credited answer for a question that asks to str/wkn the argument?
as far as i know there is no real LSAT question where this difference is tested, i.e. no question exists where there is an answer choice besides the credited answer which str/wkn the conclusion of a str/wkn question.

Hi there! This last question brings up a very important point. I think people have trouble with strengthen/weaken questions in part because they're unsure about the task. It might seem like there should be some amount of grey area to compare answer choices that way--like, does A strengthen the argument more than B? But it will absolutely never happen that you're comparing two strengtheners or weakeners, and the correct answer comes down to a matter of degree. Despite the fact that the stem asks which choice "most" strengthens/weakens the argument, that is just not how the LSAT works. Exactly one answer choice will strengthen/weaken the argument (either a lot or a little), and exactly four will NOT strengthen/weaken it at all. So your main job is really to figure out why four of the answer choices have no effect, or the opposite effect, on the argument in relation to the task.

appind wrote:For the str/wkn questions, can correlation or necessary condition act as a strengthener of causation or suff condition respectively?


A correlation can definitely strengthen a causal argument. I'd say that's usually how causal arguments are strengthened. The Sweden example checks out.

For the second part, it's not correct to say that the necessary condition is serving to strengthen the sufficient condition, but it does strengthen the conditional argument in this case. The example you gave illustrates that correctly, since the conclusion is not that steve is muscular (that's the sufficient condition), but rather that "people who are muscular are good swimmers." So the necessary condition in the answer choice (steve is a good swimmer), in combination with the premise that steve is muscular, strengthens the conditional relationship, which is the conclusion of the argument.

*However: Keep in mind that it's NOT the case that a necessary condition obtaining would increase the likelihood that a sufficient condition obtains. That's not what your example illustrates. It just shows that if you have a conditional statement and a sufficient condition in the stimulus, then a necessary condition in an answer choice could strengthen the conditional statement.

If you have a particular question in mind where a necessary condition is treated a strengthener, post it here and we can go over it together.


yes, i have yet to find a question where there are two answer choices that str or two that wkn for any str/wkn question on the lsat.

for the second part, my example argument actually was inteneded with "steve is muscular" as the conclusion and it's an obviously flawed argument. i get why if the conditional relationship between muscular->swimmer is seen as a conclusion then the choice-b will str it by str the conditional relationship. but if "steve is muscular" is the conclusion, then obtaining the necessary condition is considered not to str the conclusion that "steve is muscular" as you stated in the asterisked note. any reason why? it seems intuitive to think that if the necessary condition is obtained then one would have increased the likelihood of obtaining the suff condition, as the reciprocal view of obtaining the lack of necessary condition simply kills the sufficient condition. so at first glance it appears that one would have increased the likelihood of obtaining sufficient condition (antecedent) by affirming the necessary (consequent), albeit by an infinitesimal amount and infinitesimal is all one needs to str an argument. correlation is mostly a necessary condition for the sufficient condition of causation. yet, correlation str causation but necessary doesn't str sufficient. was curious why.

ps: posted on your rc in the jun thread

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:01 pm

appind wrote:yes, i have yet to find a question where there are two answer choices that str or two that wkn for any str/wkn question on the lsat.

for the second part, my example argument actually was inteneded with "steve is muscular" as the conclusion and it's an obviously flawed argument. i get why if the conditional relationship between muscular->swimmer is seen as a conclusion then the choice-b will str it by str the conditional relationship. but if "steve is muscular" is the conclusion, then obtaining the necessary condition is considered not to str the conclusion that "steve is muscular" as you stated in the asterisked note. any reason why? it seems intuitive to think that if the necessary condition is obtained then one would have increased the likelihood of obtaining the suff condition, as the reciprocal view of obtaining the lack of necessary condition simply kills the sufficient condition. so at first glance it appears that one would have increased the likelihood of obtaining sufficient condition (antecedent) by affirming the necessary (consequent), albeit by an infinitesimal amount and infinitesimal is all one needs to str an argument. correlation is mostly a necessary condition for the sufficient condition of causation. yet, correlation str causation but necessary doesn't str sufficient. was curious why.

ps: posted on your rc in the jun thread


Well actually no. Not even by an "infinitesimal" amount. That's just not how conditional logic works. A necessary condition obtaining does not have any impact whatsoever on the sufficient condition obtaining. None.

Consider the following conditional:

If Barack Obama was born on Mars, then all cats are felines.

This is a totally valid statement. The fact that all cats are felines has absolutely no impact on the likelihood that Barack Obama was born on Mars. As long as the necessary condition obtains, you can put any nonsense you want in the sufficient condition, and it will still be a valid conditional.

Here's why: Since Barack Obama was not born on Mars (assuming his birth certificate is legit), the sufficient condition never triggers. And since all cats are felines, forever and always, the necessary condition is never negated. So neither the conditional nor the contrapositive ever runs its course. Hence: we have a valid, true conditional statement. Meaningless, yes, but totally kosher in logic land.

If you're trying to 'strengthen' a sufficient condition by saying that a necessary condition obtains, you're affirming the consequent--otherwise known as the fallacy of the converse. That's a cardinal sin in conditional logic, so you need to be very sure that you understand why that kind of inference doesn't hold water.

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Tue Apr 28, 2015 2:43 pm

chaitealatte wrote:Hi Ben! I've got a question about reusing materials-- I studied for Feb, had a near-panic attack, cancelled my score, and I'm now prepping for June. I'm still PTing a few points below where I'd like to be, and I want to make sure I'm optimizing the study materials I have on hand-- I did most of the 50s and 60s as full-length PTs before the Feb test and have been using older tests to study currently. What's the best way to reuse tests? I feel like I've done really well on the very few tests I've redone but only because I'm familiar with them and have reviewed them pretty thorougly in the past. Any suggestions or advice would be really appreciated-- thanks so much!

Hey!

This is a very simple question to answer: The best way to reuse tests is to reuse them without any hesitation whatsoever.

I strongly recommend retaking tests you've seen before. It is always a good idea, and it will never ever hurt you. Whatever false confidence-type problem the "inflated" scores might cause due to familiarity will be VASTLY outweighed by the benefits of--well--familiarity. The more times you take the same test and solve the same questions over and over again, the better you'll be at recognizing and responding to the patterns of the LSAT in general. It will actually improve your skill level--and not just by a little bit. By a lot. I'd even argue that taking a test the second time helps you more than taking it for the first time. Those crazy high scores you get when you retake tests are not just smoke and mirrors. In LSAT prep, pattern recognition is everything. Even if you assume that you went -0 on that RC section just because you've seen it before, think about what that outcome really signifies for you: It means that you were so quick and confident at picking out the important parts of the passage from your hazy, limited memory that you were able to get every single question right, under time. There's only a finite number of structures that passages and questions can take. The better you are at picking out the important things confidently within those base structures, the better you are at RC, period. The same logic holds true for the other sections too. The more often you do the same old games and the same old LR sections, the faster and more confident you will be at solving fresh questions that you've never seen before.

Of course, don't think that you're guaranteed a 180 because you're scoring 180s on all of your retakes. But do know, absolutely, that when you start getting crazy high scores on your retakes, you are actually improving your skill level substantially. That's why I believe that there is no such thing as running out of materials. In some ways, tests increase in value when you've taken them before. More familiarity and more exposure to the test is always always always better.

My anecdotal evidence: I had completely run out of materials when I was studying for the September LSAT. I did all of the drills from 1-38 and took all of the PTs (or individual sections) from 39-72. My average PT score before September was a 171, and I scored a 166. Between September and December, I retook all tests from 52-73 and drilled from 1-38 over again. I was very familiar with the material, as I had reviewed it extensively already. Average PT score on retakes: 177. Actual score on test day: 177. Even if we assume I had a really good day and over-performed on the real thing (which is possible, but I do have a history of testing anxiety), it's still clear that my skill level improved immensely just by redoing tests and drills that I had seen before. I had no fresh material, but I still jumped 11 points.

Moral of the story: Reuse, retake, recycle. It's as good for you as it is for the environment.

Best of luck!

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

Postby appind » Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:59 pm

BP Ben wrote:Well actually no. Not even by an "infinitesimal" amount. That's just not how conditional logic works. A necessary condition obtaining does not have any impact whatsoever on the sufficient condition obtaining. None.

Consider the following conditional:

If Barack Obama was born on Mars, then all cats are felines.

This is a totally valid statement. The fact that all cats are felines has absolutely no impact on the likelihood that Barack Obama was born on Mars. As long as the necessary condition obtains, you can put any nonsense you want in the sufficient condition, and it will still be a valid conditional.

Here's why: Since Barack Obama was not born on Mars (assuming his birth certificate is legit), the sufficient condition never triggers. And since all cats are felines, forever and always, the necessary condition is never negated. So neither the conditional nor the contrapositive ever runs its course. Hence: we have a valid, true conditional statement. Meaningless, yes, but totally kosher in logic land.

If you're trying to 'strengthen' a sufficient condition by saying that a necessary condition obtains, you're affirming the consequent--otherwise known as the fallacy of the converse. That's a cardinal sin in conditional logic, so you need to be very sure that you understand why that kind of inference doesn't hold water.


thanks for your post. i get that affirming the consequent doesn't affirm the antecdent, it's a well known fallacy. and conditionally speaking, it's plain to see how necessary condition obtaining can't deductively affirm the sufficient condition obtaining. my question was more related to intuitive aspect in that how does it square with the fact that correlation, which is only a necessary condition of a causative relationship, strengthens. correlation obtaining doesn't affirm causation either.
intuitively, if one is given the conditional "if it's night, then it's cold" and "it is cold" (necessary cond NC obtains) then it just feels that at the very least NC obtaining removes from consideration the scenario that "it's not cold" which would have led to deduction that "it's not night." so NC obtaining makes one feel that a conclusion of "it's night" would get strengthened a tiny bit by precluding the scenarios of NC not obtaining. why does this mirage occur?

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Wed Apr 29, 2015 11:20 am

appind wrote:thanks for your post. i get that affirming the consequent doesn't affirm the antecdent, it's a well known fallacy. and conditionally speaking, it's plain to see how necessary condition obtaining can't deductively affirm the sufficient condition obtaining. my question was more related to intuitive aspect in that how does it square with the fact that correlation, which is only a necessary condition of a causative relationship, strengthens. correlation obtaining doesn't affirm causation either.
intuitively, if one is given the conditional "if it's night, then it's cold" and "it is cold" (necessary cond NC obtains) then it just feels that at the very least NC obtaining removes from consideration the scenario that "it's not cold" which would have led to deduction that "it's not night." so NC obtaining makes one feel that a conclusion of "it's night" would get strengthened a tiny bit by precluding the scenarios of NC not obtaining. why does this mirage occur?


Ah, cool OK. I see the problem now -- sorry I didn't address this in my last post: The confusion lies in the fact that causal relationships and conditional relationships are totally different things, and you have to treat them differently.

Check the bolded and enlarged. It's true, in some sense, that correlation is a "necessary condition" for causation. If you have a causal relationship, there must be a correlation. (Which is, itself, a conditional statement.) And, as a matter of fact, we know that a specific correlation can totally strengthen a specific causal statement. So, voilà, through this brave feat of semantics, we've bridged the divide between conditional and causal relationships! Right?

*Wrong.*

Let's use your example, with a slight twist. Imagine that you've decided to spend a year studying penguin mating rituals in Antarctica. You there? Good. Now, say the conditional statement: "If it's night, then it's cold."

That's a totally valid and true conditional statement, but it has no causal implications at all. In Antarctica, it's literally always cold. If you're blindfolded and you pull your hand out of your glove to see if you get frostbite, that information will tell you exactly nothing about the time of day. Nor does the correlation between night and cold, in this specific case, help at all to strengthen the causal claim about night and cold. Because there is no causal relationship. Cold correlates with everything.

Now imagine you're in San Francisco. Here, it's possible to say that night causes cold. It's in the 70s in the mid afternoon, then the sun sets, and the temperature drops 20 degrees. You put on some socks and a sweatshirt, and shiver your way to the bar. But even in San Francisco, we have to separate our conditional statements from our causal statements:

You can say, "If it's night, then it's cold." But it's sometimes cold during the day too. So, in conditional logic land, the fact that it's cold--absent any other information--doesn't tell us that it's night time. But then you can make the (totally separate) causal statement at the same time: "Night causes cold." In order to strengthen this causal statement, you would need both variables to be present. If it's night AND it's cold, then that can be said to strengthen the claim, "Night causes cold."

*Note that in this final example, it's not correct to say that a necessary condition is "strengthening" a sufficient condition. That conflates the two totally separate statements (conditional and causal) that we're making, and it ignores the fact that you need BOTH variables from the conditional statement to be present before you can use the correlation to strengthen the causal statement.

I hope that helps to clear things up! Please feel free to drop by again if you come across an LSAT question that deals with this issue, and we can go over it together.

-----
Final example:

If you drill hard enough, you will get 170+.
That is both a conditional and a causal statement.


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