Mike's Trainer Thread

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suralin
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby suralin » Tue May 28, 2013 2:31 am

I've been enjoying the book so far (reading the excerpts you have on your website). I'll definitely pick this up when it comes time for me to start prepping.

A few places where there seem to be typos though: top of pg. 17, "We do this when we focus on what we
need to know rather than what [we] need to think about."; bottom of pg. 17, "The account paid him about ten [percent] interest per year..."; and top of pg. 18, "The way in which we build our skills is analogous to the way that we buil[d] up our wealth...."

Otherwise, everything looks great! Thanks for all the hard work!

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby rftdd888 » Tue May 28, 2013 2:34 am

Mike-

I appreciate what you're doing here. I can see that you worked very hard to create a great book and you're working probably just as hard describing it here in an honest way -- most importantly.

Just purchased my copy, and I've every bit of confidence that it's going to meet expectations!

Thanks much, great work on the book and here answering our questions. I'll be sure to post a review for the rest of the community after I go through the book in few weeks.

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby sublime » Tue May 28, 2013 3:40 am

..

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue May 28, 2013 4:43 am

Suralin wrote:I've been enjoying the book so far (reading the excerpts you have on your website). I'll definitely pick this up when it comes time for me to start prepping.

A few places where there seem to be typos though: top of pg. 17, "We do this when we focus on what we
need to know rather than what [we] need to think about."; bottom of pg. 17, "The account paid him about ten [percent] interest per year..."; and top of pg. 18, "The way in which we build our skills is analogous to the way that we buil[d] up our wealth...."

Otherwise, everything looks great! Thanks for all the hard work!


That is most definitely the nicest way that anyone has told me about typos -- thank you -- have to admit there are a few others (in isolated batches), a consequence of (stupidly) continuing to rewrite after I had spent thousands on an editor/proofreader -- never again --

Anyway, I'm actually doing one final proofread now, and, thanks to the magic of POD publishing, in just a couple of weeks new versions of the book should be clean, clean, clean -- Appreciate you looking beyond the typos and enjoying the book otherwise -- MK

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue May 28, 2013 4:46 am

rriles wrote:Mike-

I appreciate what you're doing here. I can see that you worked very hard to create a great book and you're working probably just as hard describing it here in an honest way -- most importantly.

Just purchased my copy, and I've every bit of confidence that it's going to meet expectations!

Thanks much, great work on the book and here answering our questions. I'll be sure to post a review for the rest of the community after I go through the book in few weeks.


Thanks so much for taking a chance on it -- I hope you end up feeling you got your $'s worth and far more -- please get in touch if you need anything.

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue May 28, 2013 5:19 am

sublime wrote:Hey Mike, I am on Lesson 7 and am liking the book so far, I just had a quick question.

In the flaws section, I am having difficulty with appeal to authority arguments, as I think some of them are sound in the real world, if not the LSAT world.

For example, "Creationism is true because I met a scientist that said it was" is a fallacious argument, however something like "Creationism is not supported by any reputable or well respected scientist, therefore creationism is not likely to be true and not a legitimate scientific theory." (on pg 75, another similar example is #7 on pg 89). In my mind that is at least pretty close to a sound appeal to authority. Of course I have my biases, and that may be affecting this. I could also argue that having at least one well respected, reputable scientist respect a theory is necessary for an idea to be considered a legitimate scientific theory. Furthermore, if the passage would have said that, it becomes a sound argument, correct? If so, how do you draw the line on things that you can assume and things that must be stated?

Also, have there ever been any sound appeals to authority on an LSAT, or can I just assume they are flawed for that reason?

Thanks for all your work, and sorry for rambling.


Hi Sublime --

I think some formal logic folks might argue that you are thinking of soundness when you should be thinking of validity --

The way I think about how you are thinking (and you can feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) is in terms of what is reasonable vs what serves as absolute proof.

Is it reasonable to say that if no scientists support a theory, it's probably not true or legitimate? Sure, in real life, I'd buy that 9 times out of 10.

Is the fact that no scientists support a theory proof that the theory is unlikely to be true (that is, has a less than 50% chance of being true) or legitimate? No. An opinion can be used to validate a conclusion about an opinion, but not a conclusion about what is true.

Let's think about it in other terms -- let's imagine that some genius student on TLS figured out a brilliant new way to diagram logic games --

However, because this new strategy is so different from the norm (and let's also imagine this genius person has an attitude problem and doesn't represent his ideas well), none of the tls experts would support it -- would that mean that the new system MUST have a greater than 50% chance of being bad, or that it must not be legit? No. All those "experts" (like myself) could be stuck in the mud and wrong, or maybe the experts just haven't given it enough due thought.

Does that make sense? Please let me know if it doesn't, or if you were concerned about some other issue.

When you evaluate the reasoning in arguments, think of your decision-making as being on a scale -- at one end is you making decisions based on what is "reasonable" (likely how you evaluate arguments in real life) and on other end is you judging arguments in terms of absolute proof -- for all q's that require you to be critical of an argument, you want to make it a habit to push yourself toward the "absolute proof" part of the judgment scale (and it helps to know that you are not being asked to judge whether or not arguments are valid -- you are being asked to judge why an argument is not valid).

It's very late at night, and I hope that all makes sense -- as always, please write here, or pm, if you have any follow up or other questions -- I'll edit this this in the morning if I read it and realize I wrote gibberish -- Mike

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby sublime » Tue May 28, 2013 11:24 pm

..

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed May 29, 2013 1:03 pm

sublime wrote:No that was great, thank you. I think a lot of the problem is that for my first take I used a very intuitive, and real world approach to LR, which resulted in large swings on PTs and on the eventual test (-1/-5 iirc) and was probably a bad habit to get into. And you are right that I was looking for reasonable arguments as opposed to completely valid/"must be true" arguments. So between your response, and the rest of that set of lessons (particularly the correlation and causation discussion) helped clear it up for me.

Thanks again, I am enjoying the book so far. If interested, here is some more detailed feedback:

I like your writing style. Not too many tangents but just enough "extra stuff" to keep it interesting. I particularly liked the elephant rider metaphor and the Seinfeld reference (it really is a test about nothing). And they are inserted pretty flawlessly. Always relevant and it's nice for not everything to be straight information. I also liked many of your broad, big picture course and learning strategies and think you do a good job communicating those educational theories.

The flaw lessons were helpful, especially in working on breaking me of my intuitive way of looking at arguments, and breaking down various flaws fairly simply. I am now on Lesson 11 and I will give you more feedback as I get further into the book, if you are interested, that is.

I can already say that offering a unique perspective compared to some of the other offerings on the market in each of the sections, was certainly worth the $50. Thanks again.


Thanks so much for the update --

I would certainly love to keep hearing your feedback, and, more importantly, I'm sure other TLSers would as well --

You've got a few more lessons of big picture stuff, and then the book will start to get more specific -- look forward to hearing your thoughts along the way, and, as always, let me know if you need anything -- Mike

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby the_pakalypse » Sat Jun 01, 2013 3:49 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:First, there is some fairly extensive discussion of LG timing in the final LG lesson, Lesson 39 (as well as some other timing advice scattered throughout). Have you checked it out? It may help you answer some of your questions. I recommend simpler timing strategies than I what recommended when I was at Manhattan, and in 39 I also discuss some tips for using your practice tests to finalize and internalize these strategies -- again, you may have already looked at this lesson, but if you haven't, I hope it provides some of what you are looking for.


Thanks Mike for the detailed answer to my question. Let me just say I am extremely glad I purchased this book for June, even though I was hesitant to purchase it initially since I've been scoring pretty well. That said, the LG advice (which I can tell is probably there from your extensive tutoring experience) is great. Something as simple as "you don't need to be perfect to get a perfect LG score" really just got to me. I realized I've been approaching my LG incorrectly because I keep comparing myself to perfect LG solutions and getting frustrated that I'm not replicating it completely in real time... now I realize I don't necessarily need to get everything 100 percent to achieve that -0. Just always be good and sometimes be great! Excellent stuff... ch 28 in the book for anyone wondering.

My one question is a bit more technical in nature. I've noticed that in the Manhattan books, as well as the Trainer, you have recommended eliminating answers for "could be true" questions. I can see the rationale for quickly searching for must be true/false questions -- but does it really make a significant difference for could be true questions? Here is my breakdown for could be true questions:

With conditional stem, I usually go as far I as I can with the stem. Then, I go through answer choices seeing if anything can work.

Without conditional stem, I usually look for floaters and try and test them out to see if it can work. If not, then go through the other choices.

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sat Jun 01, 2013 9:26 pm

the_pakalypse wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:First, there is some fairly extensive discussion of LG timing in the final LG lesson, Lesson 39 (as well as some other timing advice scattered throughout). Have you checked it out? It may help you answer some of your questions. I recommend simpler timing strategies than I what recommended when I was at Manhattan, and in 39 I also discuss some tips for using your practice tests to finalize and internalize these strategies -- again, you may have already looked at this lesson, but if you haven't, I hope it provides some of what you are looking for.


Thanks Mike for the detailed answer to my question. Let me just say I am extremely glad I purchased this book for June, even though I was hesitant to purchase it initially since I've been scoring pretty well. That said, the LG advice (which I can tell is probably there from your extensive tutoring experience) is great. Something as simple as "you don't need to be perfect to get a perfect LG score" really just got to me. I realized I've been approaching my LG incorrectly because I keep comparing myself to perfect LG solutions and getting frustrated that I'm not replicating it completely in real time... now I realize I don't necessarily need to get everything 100 percent to achieve that -0. Just always be good and sometimes be great! Excellent stuff... ch 28 in the book for anyone wondering.

My one question is a bit more technical in nature. I've noticed that in the Manhattan books, as well as the Trainer, you have recommended eliminating answers for "could be true" questions. I can see the rationale for quickly searching for must be true/false questions -- but does it really make a significant difference for could be true questions? Here is my breakdown for could be true questions:

With conditional stem, I usually go as far I as I can with the stem. Then, I go through answer choices seeing if anything can work.

Without conditional stem, I usually look for floaters and try and test them out to see if it can work. If not, then go through the other choices.



I am so so so happy to hear that you've found the book helpful -- in particular that lesson -- thank you for sharing that -- you are absolutely right that I never would have written a chapter like 28 before my experiences working with students-- I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have occurred to me --

Here's my answer to your question about could-be-true questions -- it's something I've thought about a lot, and I'm going to warn you ahead of time that this might be a bit long and boring --

The short of it: I do suggest eliminating wrong choices for most/all could be true/could be false questions, BUT, if you are solving a could be true/cbf question during the pressure of the exam, and you arrive at an answer that you are certain could be true/cbf, and you feel like pulling the trigger, feel free to ignore my advice -- who the hell cares what some teacher says --

But anyway, here is my reasoning:

Keep in mind that question strategies go hand-in-hand with diagramming strategies, which go hand-in-hand with how learning systems think of and organize the games section. These question strategies are a match for the Trainer diagramming strategies—they may not be as good a match if you employ other types of diagramming strategies, in particular those that emphasize more upfront work, and more hypothetical work.

The primary consideration during the logic games section is not what must be vs what must not be—it's what must be vs what is unknown. A lot of people, when they are beginning their LSAT studies, think their job is to "solve" games. However, this is a very dangerous false assumption, because our job is to clearly differentiate what can be known vs what cannot, and when we think our job is to "solve" a game, we are tempted to act like, and want to, know more than we actually do -- that clouds our judgement in a negative way.

In terms of differentiating known vs unknown -- we can do this in a couple different ways -- we can do this by tracking both what we know and what we don't know, or we can do this just by tracking what we know (I guess we can also do this by just tracking what we don't know, but I've never met someone who thinks like that).

In my opinion, and from what I've seen from working with an aggregate of high-scoring students, it is markedly easier to just focus on what you know, rather than trying to retain and control both what must be, and what could be. This idea is fundamental to all of the Trainer diagramming strategies and question solving strategies.

What that means is that you habitually use what you know (and not what is uncertain) for answering all mbt/cbt/cbf/mbf questions (which are the vast majority of LG questions overall) -- you look for the right answer when you asked about something that must be, and you eliminate wrong answers when there are four wrong choices that either mbt or mbf. If you can habitualize thinking of all questions just in terms of what must be true, I believe the LG section becomes much easier. And it really helps to always be consistent in this regard -- if you jump into thinking about what could be true as the primary strategy for certain questions, it's harder to habitualize the "gauge only based on what I know must be" mentality.

Okay, that's enough of the frou frou theory stuff -- here's a practical reason -- I believe this strategy leads to better overall accuracy --

Imagine you've set up your game pretty well, and/or worked off the conditional well, but you've missed one or two inferences (which of course will happen to all of us) --

It's a could be true question --

And you try solving it by seeing what could be true --

What will happen is that the missed inference will make an answer that must be false seem like it could be true. If you are looking for an answer that could be true, and you don't see a reason why it can't, maybe you pull the trigger (incorrectly). Or, slightly less dangerous, but still very wasteful -- this experience of having a lot of answers that initially seem like they could be true, until you test them out and find out they can't, makes you develop a habit of creating hypos for far more answer choices than you ought to.

Imagine the same question, but instead of searching for the could be true answer, you look to eliminate mbf answers, and you end up eliminating three. What does that mean?

You've got two choices left, and in your head you know there is more information you are meant to figure out -- you know you are not done thinking through the situation. Down to a two (or three), at that point you use hypos and such as need to be see what could work, and what must not be able to work.

Again, this doesn't magically allow you to solve a question you couldn't otherwise, but I believe it does it make it less likely you will make a mistake, and it makes it less likely you'll do more work than you need to.

One other point I'd like to make -- some time ago, I had heard some the same stuff about floaters that I imagine you did (per your statement), so I did some statistical analysis, and from what I saw (it wasn't a large sample, and i went in with some strong opinions, so perhaps my analysis was flawed and i am wrong), they aren't any more likely to be featured in right answers for cbt type questions than non-floaters are. It makes sense when you think about it from the test writers perspective -- they design these questions to test your ability to make inferences -- and even though for a cbt most of the inferences relate to the wrong answers, basically, knowing that an element with no rules attached to it (the floater) can go somewhere is a pretty weak inference leading to a right answer-- most questions (especially the tough ones) are going to require more than that from you.

Even longer than I feared -- hope that didn't bore the hell out of your or confuse the hell out of you -- again, really happy that the book has been useful -- thanks so much for letting me know -- if you have any follow up about cbt's or anything else please feel free to write here or pm --

MK

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby rftdd888 » Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:34 am

going through the book! had one question, and i am sorry in advance if it's been asked and i missed it: do you feel strongly about going through the book in order properly or if i want to get your take on LG is it advantageous to go right to your LG chapters? for example

thanks again!

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sun Jun 02, 2013 3:10 pm

rriles wrote:going through the book! had one question, and i am sorry in advance if it's been asked and i missed it: do you feel strongly about going through the book in order properly or if i want to get your take on LG is it advantageous to go right to your LG chapters? for example

thanks again!


Hey rriles -- sorry in advance if you've mentioned this before -- but are you taking in June or Oct? Obviously, if you are taking in June, you should feel free to jump around to whatever you think is useful, but I'm going to assume you are taking in Oct --

If you have experience with the LSAT, I'm sure you will be just fine jumping around --

However, of course I want you to read the whole thing in order! I would also love for you to use one of the study schedules, and do all the hw assignments and such in the same way as prescribed -- by the way, my doctor would also like me to stop drinking 5 coffees a day and to get some exercise, but that's not happening, at least not today -- in particular, if you are relatively new to the LSAT, I think doing it all in order will definitely help you get more out of the book --

But again, I'm sure you'll also be fine doing the lg first -- one quick note -- if you are going the LG first route -- make sure to also include a) the discussion of conditional logic from the sufficient assumptions lesson and b) lesson 31, which is about general LSAT vocab --

HTH -- If you want more specific advice based on your situation, feel free to pm and I'll be happy to give you some more ideas --

Here's another riddle (and this one is a bit more related to LSAT reasoning) -- this is probably the second best riddle I know of --

You die and end up in a room. There are just two ways out of the room -- one door leads to heaven (or your equivalent) and one door leads to hell.

There are two people in the room with you. One always lies, and one always tells the truth. You don't know which is which.

They both know which door leads where. You can ask them one question -- the same exact question -- to figure out which door leads to heaven, and which door leads to hell.

What....is.....your.....question?

MK

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby Clyde Frog » Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:50 am

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
rriles wrote:going through the book! had one question, and i am sorry in advance if it's been asked and i missed it: do you feel strongly about going through the book in order properly or if i want to get your take on LG is it advantageous to go right to your LG chapters? for example

thanks again!


Hey rriles -- sorry in advance if you've mentioned this before -- but are you taking in June or Oct? Obviously, if you are taking in June, you should feel free to jump around to whatever you think is useful, but I'm going to assume you are taking in Oct --

If you have experience with the LSAT, I'm sure you will be just fine jumping around --

However, of course I want you to read the whole thing in order! I would also love for you to use one of the study schedules, and do all the hw assignments and such in the same way as prescribed -- by the way, my doctor would also like me to stop drinking 5 coffees a day and to get some exercise, but that's not happening, at least not today -- in particular, if you are relatively new to the LSAT, I think doing it all in order will definitely help you get more out of the book --

But again, I'm sure you'll also be fine doing the lg first -- one quick note -- if you are going the LG first route -- make sure to also include a) the discussion of conditional logic from the sufficient assumptions lesson and b) lesson 31, which is about general LSAT vocab --

HTH -- If you want more specific advice based on your situation, feel free to pm and I'll be happy to give you some more ideas --

Here's another riddle (and this one is a bit more related to LSAT reasoning) -- this is probably the second best riddle I know of --

You die and end up in a room. There are just two ways out of the room -- one door leads to heaven (or your equivalent) and one door leads to hell.

There are two people in the room with you. One always lies, and one always tells the truth. You don't know which is which.

They both know which door leads where. You can ask them one question -- the same exact question -- to figure out which door leads to heaven, and which door leads to hell.

What....is.....your.....question?

MK



I've been thinking about this for a while and I think my logic is airtight. You ask both of them what the other one would indicate as heaven, and from their answer you would choose the opposite door. The one that tells the truth will know that the other one always lies and thus will point you towards the door to hell, while the one that always lies will lie about the door to heaven and point you towards the door to hell also. 8)

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby EEguy5 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:24 am

Clyde Frog wrote:
I've been thinking about this for a while and I think my logic is airtight. You ask both of them what the other one would indicate as heaven, and from their answer you would choose the opposite door. The one that tells the truth will know that the other one always lies and thus will point you towards the door to hell, while the one that always lies will lie about the door to heaven and point you towards the door to hell also. 8)


I think you fell into the trap. While your answer may be a credited response in general (Im not sure how technical the riddle gets), as students of the LSAT we should recognize that this answer makes an important assumption. We dont know that each of the people KNOW what the other one always does.

I would ask each of them something along the lines of "If always telling the truth forced you to heaven, and always lying forced you to go to hell, which door would you be forced to open?" They would both answer with the door to heaven.

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby Clyde Frog » Mon Jun 03, 2013 11:54 am

EEguy5 wrote:
Clyde Frog wrote:
I've been thinking about this for a while and I think my logic is airtight. You ask both of them what the other one would indicate as heaven, and from their answer you would choose the opposite door. The one that tells the truth will know that the other one always lies and thus will point you towards the door to hell, while the one that always lies will lie about the door to heaven and point you towards the door to hell also. 8)


I think you fell into the trap. While your answer may be a credited response in general (Im not sure how technical the riddle gets), as students of the LSAT we should recognize that this answer makes an important assumption. We dont know that each of the people KNOW what the other one always does.

I would ask each of them something along the lines of "If always telling the truth forced you to heaven, and always lying forced you to go to hell, which door would you be forced to open?" They would both answer with the door to heaven.


It's not the lsat though. You could argue anything about this question. In regards to your response I could add something like, "what if the guy that always lies doesn't realize that he always tells lies due to a psychological condition, and thinks that he tells the truth." He would ultimately choose hell.

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:24 pm

I think both of you may be a bit too smart for your own good --

clyde frog -- that IS the credited response -- brilliant job figuring it out -- I've probably told that riddle, in person, to literally of hundreds of people (i often told and discussed riddles in my in-person LSAT classes), and only two or three people have ever gotten it (maybe it's because i tell it wrong!) -- nice work --

eeguy5 -- you are right that i did NOT stipulate that they know about the others' capacities -- I believe that in the original there is some language about them both being all-knowing --

I will definitely be more careful about my future riddle-writing on this forum --

MK

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby goCats3 » Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:54 pm

Hey Mike,

I was hoping to get your opinion on what I think may be a ceiling that I've hit on LR.

I've already detailed it here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=210561
but in summary, I can't seem to go less than -5 on LR even though I've done pretty much all LR questions released. Most of the trouble I'm having is on strengthen/weaken questions where I don't see how the correct answer can connect back to the gap in the argument and am fooled into thinking an incorrect one does.

Any insight would be appreciated. If this is something specifically addressed in your book, I'd understand if you prefer to stay silent and point me to Amazon but thought it wouldn't hurt to ask!


Thanks!

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Jun 04, 2013 2:41 pm

goCats3 wrote:Hey Mike,

I was hoping to get your opinion on what I think may be a ceiling that I've hit on LR.

I've already detailed it here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=210561
but in summary, I can't seem to go less than -5 on LR even though I've done pretty much all LR questions released. Most of the trouble I'm having is on strengthen/weaken questions where I don't see how the correct answer can connect back to the gap in the argument and am fooled into thinking an incorrect one does.

Any insight would be appreciated. If this is something specifically addressed in your book, I'd understand if you prefer to stay silent and point me to Amazon but thought it wouldn't hurt to ask!


Thanks!



Hey -- happy to answer your question, but I am going to have to bill you for my time -- I'll send you an invoice through pm --

No, seriously -- happy to offer any help I can for free -- if you think the book will be useful to you, then you can buy it (though if you've read MLSAT twice, maybe you've had enough of me and should go another route) --

Here are my thoughts -- not sure exactly what will pertain to you specifically, so I hope you find at least some of them helpful --

At this point, it sounds like you've gotten a lot of understanding and strategies, and it's about execution -- make sure to spend a lot of time breaking down your misses (to be discussed further shortly), and that you see your misses, and the questions that gave you trouble, not as things that bother you, but rather as the keys to your success (I know that's obviously easier said than done, but it does help to try your best to think of them that way) --

-- When you review your work, make sure you are reviewing in terms of what you should do, not just what you should understand -- replay your process and review where things started to go wrong (for a strengthen, it could be in finding the conclusion, identifying the support, seeing the gap correctly, eliminating wrong choices, or confirming the right choice) -- keep in mind that the "symptoms" typically appear far after the fault -- that is, you may think your problems are with eliminating wrong choices, but you might be having a tough time with that because you aren't great at the steps that come before, like finding fault with the argument. If you review every question you have trouble with in terms of your step-by-step processes, I think you will be able to see some areas in which you can improve.

-- One way to help break down issues is in terms of three general categories: I read it wrong (didn't identify or understand conclusion correctly, didn't identify or understanding reasoning correctly, missed key modifiers in wrong answers etc), I thought it wrong (had the right conclusion and support, but didn't see the reasoning flaw, or had the right reasoning flaw, but missed how the right answer actually strengthened or weakened it), or I solved it wrong (moved on too fast before I really knew what was wrong with the argument, went after the right answer too quickly before eliminating wrongs, etc).

Most students naturally focus on the reasoning issues, but especially if you have been studying this long, I'm guessing your sense of LSAT reasoning is pretty strong. Most students underestimate issues of reading and solving correctly -- again, not sure about your specific situation, but I'd encourage you to make sure you cover those bases --

Lastly, just from the little bit I gleamed, I have a sense that you are thinking about the right answer too early, or thinking about the right answer too much as you eliminate wrongs -- it's much much easier to break it into two steps so that

a) you actively look for reasons why answers are wrong and then
b) actively look for reasons why an answer is right

If you combine b) with a), wrong choices will invariably become more attractive.

HTH -- good luck, and if I didn't quite nail your question or if you need any other help, please reach out --

Mike

goCats3
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby goCats3 » Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:27 pm

Thanks for the advice Mike! I hope you accept credit cards with that invoice.... haha

It's funny you gave me that advice because just 2-3 days ago, I did exactly what you suggested. I broke all my LR questions from the last week or so that I got wrong down to a few categories.

1. I simply did not understand the stimulus (18 times)
2. I misread the stimulus -- and as a result didn't understand the argument (26 times)
3. I didn't understand the gap (26 times)
4. Missed a term/word shift (9 times)
5. Missed a modifier difference (9 times)
And a few other reasons, but those were the biggest ones.

Obviously looking at those numbers, my main concern should be the first 3. I'm currently trying to figure out a strategy on how to understand the stimulus when the clock is ticking and I simply don't understand what in the world the argument is trying to get at. Thoughts? For 1 and 3, I'm simply trying to slow and think things through.

I think what you said about both trying to pick the right answer and eliminate the wrong answers at the same time applies to me. When I don't really understand what the gap is, I dive into the answers hoping to get some direction. This leads to all the choices looking good :(

Ironically, I took a PT after posting earlier and went -5 total matching my best. But even better, 4 were wrong because I simply misread a word and only one question I didn't understand at all (as opposed to not understanding all 5).

Further thoughts after my breakdown analysis?

Thanks again!

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sublime
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby sublime » Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:06 am

..

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The LSAT Trainer
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:46 pm

sublime wrote:Just checking in. Still chugging along, still enjoying it. On page 417, about to do "the mastery challenge" and should be finished in a couple days. :)

ETA: That mastery challenge did not go so well. I think I am going to tackle that one a bit later into my studies :oops: lol


That mastery challenge is certainly no walk in the park --

It does, I think, represent the variety of extreme challenges that can appear in the section well -- and, when you come back to it later in your studies, it'll be a great gauge for whether are ready for some of the more extreme or unusual games that can appear --

I hate to admit it, but do know the lesson is supposed to make you struggle a bit -- I wanted it to be a kick-in-the-pants before the next stage of prep --

Glad you are still chugging along -- as always, thanks for the update and let me know if you need anything -- MK

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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:10 pm

goCats3 wrote:Thanks for the advice Mike! I hope you accept credit cards with that invoice.... haha

It's funny you gave me that advice because just 2-3 days ago, I did exactly what you suggested. I broke all my LR questions from the last week or so that I got wrong down to a few categories.

1. I simply did not understand the stimulus (18 times)
2. I misread the stimulus -- and as a result didn't understand the argument (26 times)
3. I didn't understand the gap (26 times)
4. Missed a term/word shift (9 times)
5. Missed a modifier difference (9 times)
And a few other reasons, but those were the biggest ones.

Obviously looking at those numbers, my main concern should be the first 3. I'm currently trying to figure out a strategy on how to understand the stimulus when the clock is ticking and I simply don't understand what in the world the argument is trying to get at. Thoughts? For 1 and 3, I'm simply trying to slow and think things through.

I think what you said about both trying to pick the right answer and eliminate the wrong answers at the same time applies to me. When I don't really understand what the gap is, I dive into the answers hoping to get some direction. This leads to all the choices looking good :(

Ironically, I took a PT after posting earlier and went -5 total matching my best. But even better, 4 were wrong because I simply misread a word and only one question I didn't understand at all (as opposed to not understanding all 5).

Further thoughts after my breakdown analysis?

Thanks again!


I love that you did all that analysis -- I think we are alike, you and I --

Based on what you wrote, my hypothesis is that most of your issues come from your initial read of the stimulus, and, specifically, your ability to prioritize --

In the same way that you are mixing together elimination and selection processes during the answer choices, it sounds to me like you might be mixing up processes during your read --

Some suggestions -- think of your read as having two distinct parts -- the understanding of the stimulus (which typically has to do with identifying an argument) and then the evaluation of that stimulus (why the reasons don't justify the conclusion) -- again, I encourage you to consciously separate this out into two separate and distinct steps --

For the understanding part, feel free to reread the stimulus as many times as you need to, but ideally, the level of understanding you would get to is this -- if I were to stop you right at the end of that part of the process, you should be able to tell me the author's point, and main reasoning, without looking back at the page -- do your best to focus on the conclusion and support that clearly (and separately from rest of stimulus) before you go into the thinking part.

Once you have the core, think about why the support does not justify the conclusion. For strengthen/weaken -- focus first on what is wrong with the argument, NOT how you would strengthen or weaken it. A clear focus on the problems in the argument, rather than on possible answers, will make it easier for you to evaluate all of the answer choices.

In terms of all of the above, the way that I suggest you work on it is to review questions you've done in the past -- for each q, write down (or mentally note) what you think the specific argument was, and, separately, what is wrong with the argument -- practice doing this before thinking about the answer choices. Then carefully evaluate all of the answers relative to what you wrote/considered, and make sure you understand exactly why wrong answers are wrong relative to both the substance of the core, and the reasoning flaw in it.

Finally, you asked advice about what to do when you are lost in an argument -- let me again split this into two -- lost reading it vs lost evaluating it.

Once you get practiced at reading the LSAT the right way -- prioritizing the right info -- the reading part should be fairly automatic -- with practice, most people should be able to get to a point where they can pick out the conclusion and support 100% accurately every time -- if you don't feel that you are there yet, make sure you keep practicing looking for the core --

The not being able to figure out how exactly the author thinks this support justifies the conclusion/figuring out what's wrong -- that's tougher, and that's something we can't expect ourselves to do perfectly every time. You should prepare as much as you possibly can, but correctly and critically evaluating reasoning is really hard --

So, the divide is -- expect yourself to understand what the author's point and reasoning is every single time, but expect that sometimes you won't be able to evaluate that argument correctly.

When you find yourself not being able to trust the evaluation, that's when this differentiation becomes so critical -- you want to lean back on your read/understanding of what the author's point and reasoning is --

Because, the truth is, you can see why most wrong answers are wrong even if you don't get the reasoning, simply because these wrong answers clearly have no impact, or no discernable impact, on the relationship between support and conclusion.

Being able to split out the identification from the evaluation gives you this wonderful backup plan --

Typically, on a super-tough q where I don't quite get the concepts in an argument, what will happen is that I will just keep the author's conclusion really close in my mind, along with the support, and use that to eliminate three choices or so. Down to a couple, then I'll think about how they relate to the argument, and, at that point, I can generally reverse engineer what the reasoning issue I missed in the first place.

As ways, this response was a bit longer than I had planned, but I hope it all made sense and I hope it's helpful -- as always, if I missed the mark in terms of addressing your concerns, or if you have follow ups, don't hesitate to reach out -- MK

goCats3
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby goCats3 » Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:51 am

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
I love that you did all that analysis -- I think we are alike, you and I --

Based on what you wrote, my hypothesis is that most of your issues come from your initial read of the stimulus, and, specifically, your ability to prioritize --

In the same way that you are mixing together elimination and selection processes during the answer choices, it sounds to me like you might be mixing up processes during your read --

Some suggestions -- think of your read as having two distinct parts -- the understanding of the stimulus (which typically has to do with identifying an argument) and then the evaluation of that stimulus (why the reasons don't justify the conclusion) -- again, I encourage you to consciously separate this out into two separate and distinct steps --

For the understanding part, feel free to reread the stimulus as many times as you need to, but ideally, the level of understanding you would get to is this -- if I were to stop you right at the end of that part of the process, you should be able to tell me the author's point, and main reasoning, without looking back at the page -- do your best to focus on the conclusion and support that clearly (and separately from rest of stimulus) before you go into the thinking part.

Once you have the core, think about why the support does not justify the conclusion. For strengthen/weaken -- focus first on what is wrong with the argument, NOT how you would strengthen or weaken it. A clear focus on the problems in the argument, rather than on possible answers, will make it easier for you to evaluate all of the answer choices.

In terms of all of the above, the way that I suggest you work on it is to review questions you've done in the past -- for each q, write down (or mentally note) what you think the specific argument was, and, separately, what is wrong with the argument -- practice doing this before thinking about the answer choices. Then carefully evaluate all of the answers relative to what you wrote/considered, and make sure you understand exactly why wrong answers are wrong relative to both the substance of the core, and the reasoning flaw in it.

Finally, you asked advice about what to do when you are lost in an argument -- let me again split this into two -- lost reading it vs lost evaluating it.

Once you get practiced at reading the LSAT the right way -- prioritizing the right info -- the reading part should be fairly automatic -- with practice, most people should be able to get to a point where they can pick out the conclusion and support 100% accurately every time -- if you don't feel that you are there yet, make sure you keep practicing looking for the core --

The not being able to figure out how exactly the author thinks this support justifies the conclusion/figuring out what's wrong -- that's tougher, and that's something we can't expect ourselves to do perfectly every time. You should prepare as much as you possibly can, but correctly and critically evaluating reasoning is really hard --

So, the divide is -- expect yourself to understand what the author's point and reasoning is every single time, but expect that sometimes you won't be able to evaluate that argument correctly.

When you find yourself not being able to trust the evaluation, that's when this differentiation becomes so critical -- you want to lean back on your read/understanding of what the author's point and reasoning is --

Because, the truth is, you can see why most wrong answers are wrong even if you don't get the reasoning, simply because these wrong answers clearly have no impact, or no discernable impact, on the relationship between support and conclusion.

Being able to split out the identification from the evaluation gives you this wonderful backup plan --

Typically, on a super-tough q where I don't quite get the concepts in an argument, what will happen is that I will just keep the author's conclusion really close in my mind, along with the support, and use that to eliminate three choices or so. Down to a couple, then I'll think about how they relate to the argument, and, at that point, I can generally reverse engineer what the reasoning issue I missed in the first place.

As ways, this response was a bit longer than I had planned, but I hope it all made sense and I hope it's helpful -- as always, if I missed the mark in terms of addressing your concerns, or if you have follow ups, don't hesitate to reach out -- MK


Well if we're alike, let's hope I gain some of your LSAT knowledge for the test!

Thanks for the tip, I think you're right that I read a problem and try to do too much at once. I'll try to tweak my methods a little bit and apply what you suggested. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for your help Mike!

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Dr. Dre
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby Dr. Dre » Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:54 am

That whole "find the core" concept in the MLSAT LR has definitely improved my LR skills.

However, I still have areas I could improve. I am tempted to buy the LSAT Trainer, but I need a final "push."

Someone, anyone, please give me that push to purchase the LSAT Trainer (so I could be 180 on LR).

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rftdd888
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby rftdd888 » Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:29 pm

Dr. Dre wrote:That whole "find the core" concept in the MLSAT LR has definitely improved my LR skills.

However, I still have areas I could improve. I am tempted to buy the LSAT Trainer, but I need a final "push."

Someone, anyone, please give me that push to purchase the LSAT Trainer (so I could be 180 on LR).


give it a try imo. i have the book, am about 1/3 through right now. it's very very good. you can see how he tried to create a fundamentally different way of studying for the test, and i've totally bought in so far. the thing about this book is DEPTH - there is a ton of information here. it's one book but it's really two or three books for our purposes, you know. he covers what seems like everything. it is a really thick book chocked full with insight.

i'm really enjoying the book a lot, trust me i think it's a lot better so far than my exp in PS etc. and $50 is chump change for LSAT prep.


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