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

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

Postby appind » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:55 pm

BP Ben wrote:
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.


i should have probably been clearer in my post and thanks for your response. i mean, i get that my example is not a causal relationship and conditionality and causality are two entirely different things, so in my mind i am not actually conflating one with the other. they're different. my question is not whether logic books say correlation strengthens causation, but it is why logic books say so. in other words, what's is it about the relationship between two things, causation between A/B and correlation between A/B, that makes it so special that we take correlation to act as strengthener for causation, even though there is a well-known logical fallacy that correlation obtaining doesn't mean causation. i understand this relationship between causation and correlation is sort of unique in this respect, but what makes it unique is i guess what i am getting at. sorry if the issue is still not all that clear, but please let me know if so, and i'll elaborate.

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:50 am

appind wrote:i should have probably been clearer in my post and thanks for your response. i mean, i get that my example is not a causal relationship and conditionality and causality are two entirely different things, so in my mind i am not actually conflating one with the other. they're different. my question is not whether logic books say correlation strengthens causation, but it is why logic books say so. in other words, what's is it about the relationship between two things, causation between A/B and correlation between A/B, that makes it so special that we take correlation to act as strengthener for causation, even though there is a well-known logical fallacy that correlation obtaining doesn't mean causation. i understand this relationship between causation and correlation is sort of unique in this respect, but what makes it unique is i guess what i am getting at. sorry if the issue is still not all that clear, but please let me know if so, and i'll elaborate.

Ah, now reading back over your posts I see that you were really just asking why correlation strengthens causation on the LSAT, even though correlation can never imply causation. It's a very, very puzzling question, and you're totally right to be outraged by it. It seems illogical, right? You're definitely onto something.

The answer is not what you're suggesting: that correlation strengthens causation on the LSAT just because correlation is a necessary condition for causation. And therefore, by extension, necessary conditions obtaining generally make it more likely that sufficient conditions obtain.

The difference lies in the nature of a causal claim. Causal claims are special because, if you think about it, there's really no way to definitively prove a causal relationship using logic alone. The only way to provide support for a causal claim is to stack correlations on correlations on correlations. That's really the best we can do.

Imagine Thomas Edison in his laboratory, inventing the miracle of electric light, diligently recording his observations in a notebook: "Every time I send this electric current through this wire, it heats up and produces light. How fascinating!" He tests this over and over again under controlled conditions until he feels totally confident making the claim that electricity causes heat which causes light. But in actuality, he hasn't proven a causal relationship at all. Each of those observable phenomena, happening in rapid succession, could possibly have an alternate cause--like, say, a bored and mischievous deity who produces electricity, heat, and light separately on a loop just to make Tommy feel like an incomparable genius.

Likely? No. Logically possible? Sure!

So even though correlation doesn't imply causation, it's really the best we can do. We can rule out alternate causes. We can show that when the alleged cause is not present, the alleged effect is also not present. But all we're really doing is using an observable correlation to strengthen the (functionally unprovable) claim that the one thing causes the other. It's a problem of epistemology more than anything else. I mean, if correlation doesn't imply causation, then what does? It's a difficult question to answer.

It's different for straight conditional relationships. Conditionals are just correlations, in a sense. If one thing always happens when another thing happens, then you can prove that a conditional relationship exists. And we know that in conditional logic, a necessary condition never implies (or even "strengthens") a sufficient condition. But causal claims are a totally different beast. We can't definitively prove causality, so correlation is all we have to go on. That's why the more ways you can show that two things happen in succession, the more "support" you offer for the claim that the first thing causes the second thing. Sadly, that's pretty much the best we can do with our limited observable knowledge about the universe and its constituent parts.

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

Postby flash21 » Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:01 pm

hey ben, got -11 on RC in december.

In drilling now, is it stupid for me to drill individual passages (I have cambridge packages for RC all individual passages from all of the rc categories (humanities, social science, law, natural sci) pt 1-39 , opposed to simply doing RC full sections and reviewing them?

My plan was to drill all of the cambridge RC and then move onto the full sections of RC to drill. should I continue to do that?

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:06 pm

flash21 wrote:hey ben, got -11 on RC in december.

In drilling now, is it stupid for me to drill individual passages (I have cambridge packages for RC all individual passages from all of the rc categories (humanities, social science, law, natural sci) pt 1-39 , opposed to simply doing RC full sections and reviewing them?

My plan was to drill all of the cambridge RC and then move onto the full sections of RC to drill. should I continue to do that?

Hi again Flash,

No, I don't think that's stupid at all. That's what I did, and I think it's a great plan. But obviously this isn't a one-or-the-other type of deal. So yes, you should definitely drill all of 1-38 as individual passages. But you should also be doing full timed sections. Both exercises have their distinct benefits. Individual passage drilling enables you to practice streamlining your process without having to cut corners for the sake of timing. Section drilling then puts your newly streamlined processes to the test and lets you adjust your time allocations to fit as snugly* into 35 minutes as possible.

*(Yes, snugly. Even if you think you can, never aim to finish a section with more than a minute to spare. 34:59 is the ideal time to put your pencil down on all sections, regardless of difficulty. Timing is everything. And it's not always about speeding up. Sometimes, especially in RC, it can be about slowing down in the right places.)

So yes, do drill all of 1-38 at least once as individual passages. I assume you'll be taking PTs regularly, but you should also sit down every few days with a watch and a stack of RC sections from, say, 39-51 to supplement the RC you do in your full PTs and give you extra practice with timing.

Best of luck with your prep. I know firsthand how much it sucks to suck at RC. But you can definitely improve a ton if you drill hard enough and review the right way.

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

Postby flash21 » Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:44 pm

Thanks Ben! Yeah I'll do what you've suggested and every few days get a full RC section going on. Knowing how bad I bombed reading comp has given me a desire to improve on it that I didn't have otherwise, so its somewhat of a blessing in disguise.

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

Postby appind » Fri May 01, 2015 1:10 am

BP Ben wrote:
appind wrote:i should have probably been clearer in my post and thanks for your response. i mean, i get that my example is not a causal relationship and conditionality and causality are two entirely different things, so in my mind i am not actually conflating one with the other. they're different. my question is not whether logic books say correlation strengthens causation, but it is why logic books say so. in other words, what's is it about the relationship between two things, causation between A/B and correlation between A/B, that makes it so special that we take correlation to act as strengthener for causation, even though there is a well-known logical fallacy that correlation obtaining doesn't mean causation. i understand this relationship between causation and correlation is sort of unique in this respect, but what makes it unique is i guess what i am getting at. sorry if the issue is still not all that clear, but please let me know if so, and i'll elaborate.

Ah, now reading back over your posts I see that you were really just asking why correlation strengthens causation on the LSAT, even though correlation can never imply causation. It's a very, very puzzling question, and you're totally right to be outraged by it. It seems illogical, right? You're definitely onto something.

The answer is not what you're suggesting: that correlation strengthens causation on the LSAT just because correlation is a necessary condition for causation. And therefore, by extension, necessary conditions obtaining generally make it more likely that sufficient conditions obtain.

The difference lies in the nature of a causal claim. Causal claims are special because, if you think about it, there's really no way to definitively prove a causal relationship using logic alone. The only way to provide support for a causal claim is to stack correlations on correlations on correlations. That's really the best we can do.

Imagine Thomas Edison in his laboratory, inventing the miracle of electric light, diligently recording his observations in a notebook: "Every time I send this electric current through this wire, it heats up and produces light. How fascinating!" He tests this over and over again under controlled conditions until he feels totally confident making the claim that electricity causes heat which causes light. But in actuality, he hasn't proven a causal relationship at all. Each of those observable phenomena, happening in rapid succession, could possibly have an alternate cause--like, say, a bored and mischievous deity who produces electricity, heat, and light separately on a loop just to make Tommy feel like an incomparable genius.

Likely? No. Logically possible? Sure!

So even though correlation doesn't imply causation, it's really the best we can do. We can rule out alternate causes. We can show that when the alleged cause is not present, the alleged effect is also not present. But all we're really doing is using an observable correlation to strengthen the (functionally unprovable) claim that the one thing causes the other. It's a problem of epistemology more than anything else. I mean, if correlation doesn't imply causation, then what does? It's a difficult question to answer.

It's different for straight conditional relationships. Conditionals are just correlations, in a sense. If one thing always happens when another thing happens, then you can prove that a conditional relationship exists. And we know that in conditional logic, a necessary condition never implies (or even "strengthens") a sufficient condition. But causal claims are a totally different beast. We can't definitively prove causality, so correlation is all we have to go on. That's why the more ways you can show that two things happen in succession, the more "support" you offer for the claim that the first thing causes the second thing. Sadly, that's pretty much the best we can do with our limited observable knowledge about the universe and its constituent parts.


thanks for your post, it's interesting. yeah, causation is very difficult to prove logically and all literature in logic that touches on the topic of causation mentions this fact. also, i figure that for a causative relationship there is only one correlative relationship between the cause C and effect E. so, a correlation is something unique to a causal relationship unlike the conditional relationships between antecedent and consequent, and thus has more weight in being accepted as a strengthener.

i read the useful post in the june thread by you about how you tackle RC by taking a lot of time, like up to 5 mins, to read the passage . i responded to it in the june thread with a question about your approach couple of days ago, so interested to hear your take on it when you do.

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Fri May 01, 2015 12:07 pm

appind wrote:thanks for your post, it's interesting. yeah, causation is very difficult to prove logically and all literature in logic that touches on the topic of causation mentions this fact. also, i figure that for a causative relationship there is only one correlative relationship between the cause C and effect E. so, a correlation is something unique to a causal relationship unlike the conditional relationships between antecedent and consequent, and thus has more weight in being accepted as a strengthener.

i read the useful post in the june thread by you about how you tackle RC by taking a lot of time, like up to 5 mins, to read the passage . i responded to it in the june thread with a question about your approach couple of days ago, so interested to hear your take on it when you do.

Happy to help! Sorry it took me so many attempts to actually address the issue you were asking about.

I do remember that RC timing post in the June thread, but I can't seem to find your response now. Can you repost in this thread? I'll discuss my unconventional (but for me, effective) time distribution strategy here.

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Fri May 01, 2015 12:14 pm

flash21 wrote:Thanks Ben! Yeah I'll do what you've suggested and every few days get a full RC section going on. Knowing how bad I bombed reading comp has given me a desire to improve on it that I didn't have otherwise, so its somewhat of a blessing in disguise.

This is a great attitude to have. I felt the same way about my first take. When I got my score, I was sad for about 30 seconds, and then I got that crazy-eyed pissed-off I-can-conquer-anything look on my face that didn't go away until my final retake/redemption. Let it light a fire in you. Embrace it. I think if my first take had been 3 points higher, my second take would have been 5 points lower. Sometimes it pays to do poorly.

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

Postby flash21 » Fri May 01, 2015 2:55 pm

Yeah Ben I know what you mean! you should check out this TED talk (I love this one) , it actually discusses this idea of "a near win" which helps us refocus and achieve our goals or surpass them - sounds like what happened to you

https://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_lewis_e ... anguage=en

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

Postby appind » Fri May 01, 2015 11:09 pm

quoted here from June thread, thanks.
appind wrote:
BP Ben wrote:BP Ben wrote:
My perspective on this: I don't think it's necessarily true. Different people have different reading styles. Some people might be able to go -0 with a crazy fast initial read (2-2:30), but for others it would be a total disaster. After a lot of experimentation, I realized that I scored much higher in RC if I spent a really long time (4-5:00) on the initial read, and rocketed through the questions (without truncating process of elimination, of course). I found that if I effectively memorized the passage, I would be able to solve the questions accurately and quickly without having to look back very much at all. That was the ideal pace for me. I've met a non-negligible number of high scorers who used a similar approach.

RC timing is a delicate dance. IMO, no methods for RC are truly one-size-fits-all. So my best advice would be to experiment with timing strategies and mindset, and find the right fit for your reading style. And obviously drill like a maniac.

did you spend about 5:00 min always to read for all types of passages incl the new RC and how many did you miss? i don't suggest that no one does the initial read slow and scores perfect. it seems the post is not in conflict with your observation and says that there will be people who do so but was unsure how consistently they didn't run out of time. were there any instances with this time division when you had about 3 mins left for the last passage's 7-8 questions and you ran out of time?

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

Postby JackelJ » Sun May 03, 2015 12:25 pm

Hey Ben, I took a PT yesterday and the only LR/RC questions that I got wrong and also missed on BR were the ones where I couldn't really understand the subject material and had a hard time figuring out how the AC's worked with the stimulus/passage. These are also the only kinds of questions I miss while drilling, and I don't struggle with any main type of question (like flaw or weaken, NA, etc). Do you have any suggestions as to what I can do while studying to help my chances of getting these last few questions right, or approaches you recommend when you can't fully comprehend the stimulus/passage?

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Mon May 04, 2015 1:26 pm

appind wrote:quoted here from June thread, thanks.
appind wrote:did you spend about 5:00 min always to read for all types of passages incl the new RC and how many did you miss? i don't suggest that no one does the initial read slow and scores perfect. it seems the post is not in conflict with your observation and says that there will be people who do so but was unsure how consistently they didn't run out of time. were there any instances with this time division when you had about 3 mins left for the last passage's 7-8 questions and you ran out of time?


Hey appind,

Towards the end of my prep, I didn't always keep a close watch on the watch when I was doing an RC section, but I think that demonstrates my mentality: I made a point of never rushing. I trusted that if I spent enough time with the passage to actually understand every nuance, the questions would be very easy and take a negligible amount of time.

The best estimate I could make for my average time allocation would be between 4 and 5 minutes on the passage, and 3-4 minutes on the questions. I found that to be plenty of time for the questions, but only because I rarely spent more than a few seconds glancing back. I am a slow reader with a good memory, so I adjusted according to my own strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has their own unique reading style.

When I started studying, I struggled to align with the typical 2-3 minute speed read of the passage and heavy skimming/looking back while answering the questions, and it was a total disaster for me. I would go -10 to -12 on average, and I almost never finished sections on time. Most of that time was lost chasing ghosts, pulling my hair out, and waffling between answer choices because I didn't understand the passage well enough to be confident about them.

The first time I said "screw it" and took the time I needed on the passages, I went -2. I was very happy to go -3 on test day (60% of my misses overall) even after 15 months of studying, so I won't pretend that I ever really mastered RC. It was still pretty hard for me. But slowing down on the passages was the way I minimized the damage.

To answer your questions:
- Yes, I practiced this same mentality with the more recent RC sections. My average score in RC across my last 18 PTs (all post-June '07) was -2, so I don't think the new RC sections require a different approach. It tends to be true that the comparative reading passages have fewer, or easier, questions than the traditional passages, so I would spend even more time upfront with those.
- No, I almost never ran out of time on a full section after I started investing more time upfront on the passages. I didn't feel rushed, but my process was more efficient, so I was able to finish earlier. It's not unlike spending time making deductions or solving scenarios on logic games. The time you invest upfront always pays off handsomely when you're answering the questions. If you tried to brute force every game, there's no way you'd finish the section on time.

Spending more time with the passage enabled me to answer more questions correctly, confidently, and quickly. But it took a lot of practice to strike the right balance for me. If you're losing a lot of points on RC, I'd suggest experimenting with timing strategies as you drill. Nobody can tell you exactly how to strike that balance--it depends on the precise way that you process information.

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

Postby appind » Tue May 05, 2015 12:29 pm

BP Ben wrote:
appind wrote:quoted here from June thread, thanks.
appind wrote:did you spend about 5:00 min always to read for all types of passages incl the new RC and how many did you miss? i don't suggest that no one does the initial read slow and scores perfect. it seems the post is not in conflict with your observation and says that there will be people who do so but was unsure how consistently they didn't run out of time. were there any instances with this time division when you had about 3 mins left for the last passage's 7-8 questions and you ran out of time?


Hey appind,

Towards the end of my prep, I didn't always keep a close watch on the watch when I was doing an RC section, but I think that demonstrates my mentality: I made a point of never rushing. I trusted that if I spent enough time with the passage to actually understand every nuance, the questions would be very easy and take a negligible amount of time.

The best estimate I could make for my average time allocation would be between 4 and 5 minutes on the passage, and 3-4 minutes on the questions. I found that to be plenty of time for the questions, but only because I rarely spent more than a few seconds glancing back. I am a slow reader with a good memory, so I adjusted according to my own strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has their own unique reading style.

When I started studying, I struggled to align with the typical 2-3 minute speed read of the passage and heavy skimming/looking back while answering the questions, and it was a total disaster for me. I would go -10 to -12 on average, and I almost never finished sections on time. Most of that time was lost chasing ghosts, pulling my hair out, and waffling between answer choices because I didn't understand the passage well enough to be confident about them.

The first time I said "screw it" and took the time I needed on the passages, I went -2. I was very happy to go -3 on test day (60% of my misses overall) even after 15 months of studying, so I won't pretend that I ever really mastered RC. It was still pretty hard for me. But slowing down on the passages was the way I minimized the damage.

To answer your questions:
- Yes, I practiced this same mentality with the more recent RC sections. My average score in RC across my last 18 PTs (all post-June '07) was -2, so I don't think the new RC sections require a different approach. It tends to be true that the comparative reading passages have fewer, or easier, questions than the traditional passages, so I would spend even more time upfront with those.
- No, I almost never ran out of time on a full section after I started investing more time upfront on the passages. I didn't feel rushed, but my process was more efficient, so I was able to finish earlier. It's not unlike spending time making deductions or solving scenarios on logic games. The time you invest upfront always pays off handsomely when you're answering the questions. If you tried to brute force every game, there's no way you'd finish the section on time.

Spending more time with the passage enabled me to answer more questions correctly, confidently, and quickly. But it took a lot of practice to strike the right balance for me. If you're losing a lot of points on RC, I'd suggest experimenting with timing strategies as you drill. Nobody can tell you exactly how to strike that balance--it depends on the precise way that you process information.


+1

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

Postby appind » Tue May 05, 2015 12:33 pm

a question,
what do you think of why 56.LR1.Q8.A doesn't weaken but 56.LR1.Q3.B weakens

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Tue May 05, 2015 1:45 pm

JackelJ wrote:Hey Ben, I took a PT yesterday and the only LR/RC questions that I got wrong and also missed on BR were the ones where I couldn't really understand the subject material and had a hard time figuring out how the AC's worked with the stimulus/passage. These are also the only kinds of questions I miss while drilling, and I don't struggle with any main type of question (like flaw or weaken, NA, etc). Do you have any suggestions as to what I can do while studying to help my chances of getting these last few questions right, or approaches you recommend when you can't fully comprehend the stimulus/passage?

Hey Jackel,

This is a really tough question. I've been mulling it over for the last couple of days, and I'm not sure what to say that will help you. Of course, it goes without saying that if you don't understand the content of the stimulus at all, you probably won't be able to get the question right no matter what you do. But if there's a minor part of the stimulus that you can't really wrap your head around, and it doesn't prevent you from understanding the relationship between the conclusion and the support (depending on the Q type), then you might be able to just ignore the part you missed and focus on the parts that count.

The LSAT does tend to word questions using needlessly convoluted language just to throw you off, but I think the more exposure you have to that kind of language, the easier it will be to 'translate' on the fly. So maybe one solution would be to drill a whole bunch of high difficulty flaw questions, which tend to have a lot of convoluted abstract language in the answer choices. But that type of language might not be representative of the kinds of comprehension problems you're having now. If you can share a particular LR question or section of a passage that you struggled to understand, then maybe we can find similar types of questions to drill.

But again, I don't think there's a surefire way to dodge comprehension problems and still get questions right. Though, of course, that all depends on which parts of the questions/passages you're missing.

e: One more thing -- when you get a question wrong because of a specific comprehension problem, are you usually able to understand the piece you missed after the fact? Do you correct these errors in blind review? If so, then you might consider spending more time on the questions/passages where you're struggling to understand the subject matter. Don't be afraid to reread a tough sentence if you think you have to. If it really is important, then you'll probably end up saving yourself time when you get to the questions/answer choices.

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

Postby Shakawkaw » Tue May 05, 2015 4:03 pm

BP Ben wrote:But slowing down on the passages was the way I minimized the damage.

The time you invest upfront always pays off handsomely when you're answering the questions. If you tried to brute force every game, there's no way you'd finish the section on time.

Spending more time with the passage enabled me to answer more questions correctly, confidently, and quickly. But it took a lot of practice to strike the right balance for me. If you're losing a lot of points on RC, I'd suggest experimenting with timing strategies as you drill. Nobody can tell you exactly how to strike that balance--it depends on the precise way that you process information.


Ben, solid post. To shorten the wall of text, I just quoted the relevant parts to my follow up question:

You say you slowed down and spent more time up front. I found myself benefiting from that approach as well. However, I'm curious with your particular methods - how did you engage with the material as you slowed down? Did you annotate? If so, what was your focus with each passage type? Or, did you just keep it all in your head?

Tyia!

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

Postby appind » Wed May 06, 2015 12:04 am

the rc post above is a remarkable success story.

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Wed May 06, 2015 12:34 pm

Shakawkaw wrote:
BP Ben wrote:But slowing down on the passages was the way I minimized the damage.

The time you invest upfront always pays off handsomely when you're answering the questions. If you tried to brute force every game, there's no way you'd finish the section on time.

Spending more time with the passage enabled me to answer more questions correctly, confidently, and quickly. But it took a lot of practice to strike the right balance for me. If you're losing a lot of points on RC, I'd suggest experimenting with timing strategies as you drill. Nobody can tell you exactly how to strike that balance--it depends on the precise way that you process information.


Ben, solid post. To shorten the wall of text, I just quoted the relevant parts to my follow up question:

You say you slowed down and spent more time up front. I found myself benefiting from that approach as well. However, I'm curious with your particular methods - how did you engage with the material as you slowed down? Did you annotate? If so, what was your focus with each passage type? Or, did you just keep it all in your head?

Tyia!


Sup Shak!

Yes, I annotated like crazy. Underlined, boxed, starred, etc.--basically treated the passage like a coloring book. I've always been a heavy annotator. That's just the way I learned to cope with my attention issues. The act of marking what I read heavily as I go along helps me to slow down, stay focused, and retain more information. If I showed you my books and assigned readings from college, you wouldn't even be able to tell what they were about. It would take me over an hour to read a 20 page article, but I could pretty much recite the thing from memory in class discussions. Needless to say, adjusting to an LSAT-appropriate reading style was a ... challenging transition for me.

That said, I didn't really have a consistent method for annotating RC passages. I just drew from my old routine. I underlined things that seemed moderately important (i.e., basically everything), boxed proper names and terms that seemed very important, and starred/bracketed sections that seemed very, very important. With enough repetition, this gradually came to resemble something slightly more scientific.

Maybe a rigid, formal annotation method would have helped me organize my thoughts a little better, but I don't think it's necessary to have that kind of system. Just experiment with your drills and figure out the style of annotation that lets you digest the passage most effectively and efficiently.

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

Postby JackelJ » Thu May 07, 2015 3:56 pm

BP Ben wrote:e: One more thing -- when you get a question wrong because of a specific comprehension problem, are you usually able to understand the piece you missed after the fact? Do you correct these errors in blind review? If so, then you might consider spending more time on the questions/passages where you're struggling to understand the subject matter. Don't be afraid to reread a tough sentence if you think you have to. If it really is important, then you'll probably end up saving yourself time when you get to the questions/answer choices.


The majority of questions I originally got wrong, I am able to correct during blind review. So I'll see how spending more time upfront and rereading works for me.

I just went back to try and find some questions/passages to use as examples of something I did not comprehend while taking a PT. However as I was rereading questions/passages that I thought fit into this category, I couldn't find anything that I didn't understand after one read through. So, I'm thinking that my comprehension issues are occurring due to fatigue during PTs or just being tired in general while drilling late at night. Which, I guess has an upside because a month should be long enough to overcome this (as opposed to flat out not understanding), right?

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Sun May 10, 2015 9:32 pm

JackelJ wrote:
BP Ben wrote:e: One more thing -- when you get a question wrong because of a specific comprehension problem, are you usually able to understand the piece you missed after the fact? Do you correct these errors in blind review? If so, then you might consider spending more time on the questions/passages where you're struggling to understand the subject matter. Don't be afraid to reread a tough sentence if you think you have to. If it really is important, then you'll probably end up saving yourself time when you get to the questions/answer choices.


The majority of questions I originally got wrong, I am able to correct during blind review. So I'll see how spending more time upfront and rereading works for me.

I just went back to try and find some questions/passages to use as examples of something I did not comprehend while taking a PT. However as I was rereading questions/passages that I thought fit into this category, I couldn't find anything that I didn't understand after one read through. So, I'm thinking that my comprehension issues are occurring due to fatigue during PTs or just being tired in general while drilling late at night. Which, I guess has an upside because a month should be long enough to overcome this (as opposed to flat out not understanding), right?


Yup, if you think it's mainly a fatigue problem, then it's certainly possible to overcome it with the right kind of prep schedule this month. Have you been doing any endurance training with your PTs--like 6+ sections? I think that could be a very useful exercise for you. I definitely remember the feeling of losing focus and needing a few reads-over to get a handle on some of the especially dense language on the test. It got much easier after I started pushing to that next level of mental endurance that came with doing extra long PTs.

Also, doing most of your drilling at night (you work FT, right?) is probably an added handicap. If you do have the ability to switch your study sessions to earlier in the day, I think it will help a lot. It's a good idea to try and schedule your peak study time at the time of day when the test is administered (in this case, early afternoon).

Since you're getting the questions right on blind review, I'd say focus on stamina more than anything else at this point.

Best of luck!

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

Postby Broncos15 » Sat May 16, 2015 12:14 am

Hello,

I read an article mentioning the possibility of a digital/computerized LSAT.....what do you think the chances of that happening in the next 5-10 years or so?

Given the large role of the LSAT in admissions - compared to other tests in other fields where in some grad programs for example the GRE is just a box you check off on the application checklist- i think there could potentially be some negative implications of a digital LSAT.

While undoubtedly, it would be much cheaper and logistically easier to use, i feel the cons outweigh the pros ( at least as a test taker)

I bring this up because the LSAT is designed to test candidates for specific skills needed for law school success ( part of why it is a big part of the admissions decisions)- In other grad programs Standardized test validity as not as big because the GRE is used for all fields as wide ranging from English to Engineering ( even Business schools have begun to accept GRE's)- so Admissions officers are aware the GRE and the mutipurpose use of it

-The first concern would be validity concerns- Since studies/experiments do not always translate into real life situations ( LSAC would be conducting some before implementing this drastic of a change)...how long would it take initially for the reasoning abilities of a 170 scorer on a paper exam to reflect as a 170 on a computerized exam since with anything human involved there is always a potential for error

Since some ( arguably the vast majority) of students like to annotate and highlight ( even if it is just a few notes) in Reading Comp and may "need" to do that to score well would be at a disadvantage compared to someone who did not need to highlight or make notes on a paper based LSAT------ ( i use the word validity concerns as the one of the purposes of the LSAT is to measure skills needed for law school , and is a stronger predictor than the GPA for 1l performance ....and as a result it would be foolish to suggest test taker A has does not have the skills to succeed in law school compared to test taker B if A 'needed" to annotate in the text and B didn't - since when purchasing textbooks and studying during law school students have a choice of which format to use .....the paper exam better reflects this freedom in choice- those that want to make notes on the exam can, and those who do not need to can choose not to annotate



Timing Issues- the LSAT is much more dependent on time than other standardized exams, and the test takers do acknowledge this in making accommodation request harder to obtain. And there is a bit of data to suggest people read a bit slower on computers than on paper in Reading Comp for instance compared to the GRE, there are much more questions on RC ( 28) in a larger amount of reading, with reading the answer choices takes up a chunk of time too.
Logic Games would also present a problem- even if lets say they provided scratch paper, 35 mins would present a challenge because of the spatial distance between computer screen and paper( looking up and down between the two) compared to the current paper format


LSAT Format less conducive to computers-- as mentioned before the larger amounts of Reading in RC ( in both passages and answer choices ) compared to the GRE would make it a bit less conducive as there is much more reading going on with the additional challenge of stricter time constraints......in LR you could not circle the conclusion or underline key words

I also feel the LSAT is less conducive because of the nature of the questions and answer choices in each of the sections compared to the GRE, Process of Elimination ( POE) is used more frequently by many test takers on the LSAT since the answer choices are less cut and dry than a Vocab word on the GRE.....on the LSAT many test takers look at all answer choices even after they pick the their answer (even if briefly).....Mentally blocking out ( since you can't physically cross out an answer choice) an entire sentence/a few lines of text in an LSAT answer is much harder than mentally blocking out a single word ( GRE vocab)


Lastly and perhaps more importantly How would admissions decisions and law school medians be affected by this change- i could see a challenge as an admissions officer trying to interpret and compare the exam scores in the pile of applications between students who took the paper LSAT and digital ( as scores are valid for 5 years) LSAT .......I also feel LSAT medians within schools would drop a few points under a digital LSAT because of the difficulties I mentioned ( unless LSAC made the test easier to compensate for these issues)

Sorry for the lengthy post , but its an interesting topic since the LSAT is the last of the major graduate exams to be in a paper format

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

Postby Blueprint Ben » Mon May 18, 2015 9:35 pm

Hey Broncos,

Your post is really interesting, and it brings up a lot of important points about what the change to a computerized LSAT would mean for test takers and admissions officers. Unfortunately, I have no insight whatsoever to offer on the matter. In the two recent LSATs I sat for, both featured a survey question on the answer sheet about our proficiency with computers and touch screens, which suggests that LSAC is gathering data and testing the waters for such a move. I have no idea about the likelihood of this happening in the next 5-10 years. I trust that LSAC wouldn't just spring the change on test takers without a warning. I have a feeling they would release a sample test for free before they made the transition, so that test takers could get used to the new format. But again, I have no insider knowledge about what goes on in the smokey back rooms of LSAC HQ. So that expectation is based on nothing.

I definitely agree that it would be a significant change. Even if the test were the exact same format, and they just handed out scratch paper for diagramming LG/taking notes in LR and RC, it would make a huge difference if you spent all your time studying on printouts. Underlining, bracketing, writing things out are all totally essential to get down in order to master the LSAT in its current form. If that all changed, it would be a huge disadvantage to test takers who have to take the real thing on a computer or tablet. But since nobody has any idea what form the new test would take in the event of a move from paper to screens, we really can't know how hard it will be to compare older LSAT scores with newer LSAT scores. It might be nice of them to allow test takers the choice to take either a paper or digital version, at least for the 5 years where admissions offices would be deciding between applicants with paper and digital LSAT scores. But I have no idea how that would work logistically.

It will be interesting to see if anything comes of this. I highly doubt LSAC would change the format with no advance warning to test takers. So don't worry about being handed a surprise tablet on test day and told that you now have to do LG in your head.

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

Postby scalawag » Fri May 29, 2015 1:32 am

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

Postby scalawag » Fri May 29, 2015 1:59 am

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

Postby scalawag » Fri May 29, 2015 2:03 am

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