Mike's Trainer Thread

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The LSAT Trainer
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:14 pm

Stannis the Mannis wrote:Hi Mike,

Just wanted to say that your book was a huge help in preparing for the LSAT. Your commentary gave me a few laughs along the way too, which was appreciated.


that's awesome to hear -- thank you so much for taking the time to reach out and let me know -- mk

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:18 pm

hunt godlink wrote:Mike,

I did see that your recently released your new book. Congratulations! I am currently using the older version to prepare for the June and October LSATs and am finding it very helpful. Objectively speaking, is it worth it for me to buy the new book? Why/why not? Thanks.


Hi there --

If you already have a copy of the book, there is no need to buy the new version.

The most significant difference is that the new version has gone through another round of professional edits, so it should read a bit smoother. But that's it. There are no substantive changes.

There are some new-ish free resources on the trainer site, but all of them work just fine w/the version of the book you already have.

Glad you are finding the trainer helpful and best of luck -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:20 pm

Spence334 wrote:Hey Mike,

I wanted to get a copy of your book-- but there's an error on Amazon.ca saying "customers have told us there may be something wrong with our inventory of the item, the way we are shipping it, or the way it's described here." Any ideas on what the issue is and when it would be resolved? I'd like to a get a copy asap so I can start studying!


Ah, I didn't realize that -- I'm guessing they are still shipping out the older versions of the book -- thank you for letting me know and I'll try to get that resolved as soon as I can -- in the meantime, if you can buy it from a third party (through amazon.ca) I think that might be a good idea for now --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Spence334 » Thu Apr 30, 2015 6:37 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Spence334 wrote:Hey Mike,

I wanted to get a copy of your book-- but there's an error on Amazon.ca saying "customers have told us there may be something wrong with our inventory of the item, the way we are shipping it, or the way it's described here." Any ideas on what the issue is and when it would be resolved? I'd like to a get a copy asap so I can start studying!


Ah, I didn't realize that -- I'm guessing they are still shipping out the older versions of the book -- thank you for letting me know and I'll try to get that resolved as soon as I can -- in the meantime, if you can buy it from a third party (through amazon.ca) I think that might be a good idea for now --

MK


I'll hold off buying it for now then seeing as the only version available are used and are marked up by quite a lot. Let me know when it's resolved!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Apr 30, 2015 6:51 pm

Spence334 wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Spence334 wrote:Hey Mike,

I wanted to get a copy of your book-- but there's an error on Amazon.ca saying "customers have told us there may be something wrong with our inventory of the item, the way we are shipping it, or the way it's described here." Any ideas on what the issue is and when it would be resolved? I'd like to a get a copy asap so I can start studying!


Ah, I didn't realize that -- I'm guessing they are still shipping out the older versions of the book -- thank you for letting me know and I'll try to get that resolved as soon as I can -- in the meantime, if you can buy it from a third party (through amazon.ca) I think that might be a good idea for now --

MK


I'll hold off buying it for now then seeing as the only version available are used and are marked up by quite a lot. Let me know when it's resolved!


I definitely will -- sorry again about that and i'll get it fixed as soon as possible -- if anyone else out there knows of a fast/cheap way to purchase the trainer in canada, please chime in! -- mk

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri May 01, 2015 12:08 am

Spence334 wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Spence334 wrote:Hey Mike,

I wanted to get a copy of your book-- but there's an error on Amazon.ca saying "customers have told us there may be something wrong with our inventory of the item, the way we are shipping it, or the way it's described here." Any ideas on what the issue is and when it would be resolved? I'd like to a get a copy asap so I can start studying!


Ah, I didn't realize that -- I'm guessing they are still shipping out the older versions of the book -- thank you for letting me know and I'll try to get that resolved as soon as I can -- in the meantime, if you can buy it from a third party (through amazon.ca) I think that might be a good idea for now --

MK


I'll hold off buying it for now then seeing as the only version available are used and are marked up by quite a lot. Let me know when it's resolved!


Looks like Amazon Canada now has it available for sale, but for some reason it might be the old version (the description is for the old version, not the new one) - again, the difference between the two are just some typos that were fixed -- but up to you whether you want to wait to purchase what may be the older version -- sorry about this! I'm doing my best to resolve it as soon as possible --

-- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Spence334 » Fri May 01, 2015 10:29 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Spence334 wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Spence334 wrote:Hey Mike,

I wanted to get a copy of your book-- but there's an error on Amazon.ca saying "customers have told us there may be something wrong with our inventory of the item, the way we are shipping it, or the way it's described here." Any ideas on what the issue is and when it would be resolved? I'd like to a get a copy asap so I can start studying!


Ah, I didn't realize that -- I'm guessing they are still shipping out the older versions of the book -- thank you for letting me know and I'll try to get that resolved as soon as I can -- in the meantime, if you can buy it from a third party (through amazon.ca) I think that might be a good idea for now --

MK


I'll hold off buying it for now then seeing as the only version available are used and are marked up by quite a lot. Let me know when it's resolved!


Looks like Amazon Canada now has it available for sale, but for some reason it might be the old version (the description is for the old version, not the new one) - again, the difference between the two are just some typos that were fixed -- but up to you whether you want to wait to purchase what may be the older version -- sorry about this! I'm doing my best to resolve it as soon as possible --

-- Mike


Thanks Mike. I appreciate you having solved this as fast as you did! :)

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby JervillianSwike » Sun May 03, 2015 1:59 am

Hi Mike,

I've been preparing for the LSAT over past 6 months. I have a 4.0 GPA and my goal is to attend a top 6 school, so I've been aiming for a 172+. My range over the past month has been 168-176, but I'd say that I've plateaued at around 171-172 in terms of average performance. I don't do poorly in any one particular section, so it's more of a slow bleed of points throughout the test. I feel like I have a good fundamental understanding of the logic games and reading comprehension and that my mistakes on those sections are simply due to carelessness. However, I'm consistently in a rush to finish the logical reasoning sections. I have trouble finding flaws in a large proportion of the stimuli, so I rely greatly on task-specific searches through the answers.

I guess my questions are:

1) What were some cautions/checks that you have to avoid carelessness? In your book, you say that you had a number of checks built in to your logic games process. What exactly are they?

2) I know that my logical reasoning process is not 100% fundamentally sound in that I have difficulty finding a lot of the flaws in the stimuli, but do you think that that flaw is something that will prevent me from consistently getting the toughest questions right? If I were able to somehow improve my flaw-seeing abilities, would that enable me to eliminate incorrect answers more quickly?

3) At what point do you consider postponement? The June test is a little over a month away and I don't want to face a retake with no fresh preptests available.

Thank you very much for taking the time to look through this!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri May 08, 2015 6:03 pm

JervillianSwike wrote:Hi Mike,

I've been preparing for the LSAT over past 6 months. I have a 4.0 GPA and my goal is to attend a top 6 school, so I've been aiming for a 172+. My range over the past month has been 168-176, but I'd say that I've plateaued at around 171-172 in terms of average performance. I don't do poorly in any one particular section, so it's more of a slow bleed of points throughout the test. I feel like I have a good fundamental understanding of the logic games and reading comprehension and that my mistakes on those sections are simply due to carelessness. However, I'm consistently in a rush to finish the logical reasoning sections. I have trouble finding flaws in a large proportion of the stimuli, so I rely greatly on task-specific searches through the answers.

I guess my questions are:

1) What were some cautions/checks that you have to avoid carelessness? In your book, you say that you had a number of checks built in to your logic games process. What exactly are they?

2) I know that my logical reasoning process is not 100% fundamentally sound in that I have difficulty finding a lot of the flaws in the stimuli, but do you think that that flaw is something that will prevent me from consistently getting the toughest questions right? If I were able to somehow improve my flaw-seeing abilities, would that enable me to eliminate incorrect answers more quickly?

3) At what point do you consider postponement? The June test is a little over a month away and I don't want to face a retake with no fresh preptests available.

Thank you very much for taking the time to look through this!



Hi JS --

First off, congrats on the 4.0 GPA -- that is amazingly impressive --

Here are some thoughts that you might find helpful -- as always please utilize whatever you think applies to you and discard the rest.

Your goal score requires a great amount of consistency, and to achieve that consistency I think it can be helpful to forget about the concept of a "careless error." The entire exam is designed for you to make careless error after careless error, and a great way to combat that is to overcompensate and care a whole lot about each and every tiny mistake you make.

Pretty much every error that gives us that "oh gosh, I can't believe I missed that" sort of feeling can be defined as a reading issue (misunderstood meaning or failed to prioritize/focus in on the right info), or an issue of mental discipline (didn't match task/go through your steps as we ought to have). If you think this is relevant to you, see if thinking about your errors on these terms is helpful.

Q1) Here are some ways to double-check/verify your work on the various sections -- some of these are quite subjective but I figure they might still be useful for you --

LG -
1) expect to have a certain level of "visualization" for each game. If you can't mentally picture the game's design, you are likely going to have a tough time working through the q's.
2) double-check your understanding and notation of each rule by, at the end of your setup, saying to yourself what each rule means, and then checking your understanding against the rules as they are actually written.
3) use the rules q (first q of the set) as a triple check of your understanding of the rules -- the expectation should be that going down the list of rules should eliminate 4 and leave 1 answer -- if it doesn't, it might be an unusual question, but it could also be an indication that your understanding of one or more of the rules isn't complete or correct.
4) personally, i find that conditional cbt/mbt/mbf q's have generally been a very solid indicator of whether I'm really in the right groove w/a game or not -- if I am, I expect that for these q's the conditional info will typically lead me on a fairly "obvious" chain of inferences--boom, boom, boom, boom--and this chain will invariably give me the answer I need. If I have trouble making inferences, knowing what types of inferences to make, or using inferences to arrive at an answer, that's a fairly strong sign I'm missing something about the game that will also impact me on other q's.
5) And finally, for LG q's, I typically recommend arriving at the right answer by either confirming the right answer or eliminating the wrong, but when you are uncertain you should certainly take the time (if you have it) to confirm each answer both ways -- that is, for a mbt, the default I recommend is to search for the right answer, but maybe you also verify by making sure all wrong answers, or at least some of them, could be false, etc.

For LR -
1) it's extremely helpful to have a very clear sense of exactly what you are looking for in the right answer for each type of question, and it can also be extremely helpful to be mindful of the common tendencies for the right answers to these q's, in particular the versions of these q's that are twisted/more difficult/less common. For example, it's helpful to know exactly what it means for an answer choice to be a required assumption, and it's helpful to know that the common way in which the test writer will hide the right answer to this question is to provide one that is unexpected, or unimportant, but nonetheless required (for example, an answer that gets rid of an alternative option or consideration that you didn't feel was very important in the first place).
2) For argument-based q's, the ability to correct id the point-support relationship, and the ability to zero in on that and understand it correctly, is probably the greatest tool you have against making careless mental errors.
3) And, should they occur, having a habit of always arriving at LR answers two ways -- by finding specific reasons why wrong answers are and by verifying that the right answer matches the task presented and the information in the stimulus -- can help you sniff out when you've made a mistake. Without such a habit, it's much easier to fall for a trap answer, or overlook a well-hidden right answer.

For RC -
1) if you've recognized the reasoning structure correctly, this should have a tangible impact on the way that you solve a majority of the problems that you see. Having your understanding help you again and again is probably the surest indication that you read correctly the first time.
2) just as with lr, arriving at the right answer two ways -- by finding reasons why wrong answers are wrong and the right answer is right -- decreases the risk that you will miss a problem because of a tempting wrong answer or an easily overlooked right answer.
3) finally, I know this is obvious advice, but you always want to make sure to verify your final answer against the text and the question stem. The most tempting wrong answers to the hardest questions are often ones that stray just a little bit from the text, or just a little bit from the task presented, and having a habit of being really exact in verifying against these two things, and developing a sense as to when an answer doesn't seem to fit quite as well as you'd like, can help you gain just a bit more accuracy.

Q2) Flaws --

If you've read the trainer I'm sure you know I stress the ability to find flaws as the most important reasoning skill required by the exam -- so, most definitely, I think that if you strengthen your ability to recognize flaws correctly, you'll increase your comfort level across the board.

My guess is that you are performing a lot of the thought processes that I associate w/finding the flaw, but you aren't thinking about them on those terms, or you are doing a lot of "reverse-engineering" work where, after you find an answer that seems relevant to the argument, you then see what reasoning issue it could have related to.

Regardless, getting better and better at seeing the reasoning issue is helpful for pretty much everyone -- one exercise I suggest is to periodically go through old sections you've used for drilling, previous pt's, etc., find all the argument-based q's that require you to be critical, and, without solving the problems fully, for each stimulus, just work on finding the conclusion, finding the support, and thinking, in a general way, about why the support doesn't guarantee the conclusion. If you are using problems you've seen before, and if you happen to have marked the correct answer, you can, after noticing the flaw, confirm your understanding by making sure the right answer relates to the reasoning issue that you saw.

Q3) If I were you, I would not consider postponement. If you want to keep a few tests fresh just in case, that's fine (I'm certain you don't need all of them to get ready for June anyway), but I think you are exactly where you want to be, and, if you prepare effectively this final month, it's entirely possible that you can go into the exam expecting far better than 172.

Now is the time for you to eliminate weaknesses, gain stamina and consistency, and firm up your test-day habits (especially your timing strategies) so that you can be totally focused on the problems themselves on test day. I think your goals are completely within reach, and you can do this!

Again, very impressed w/the 4.0 -- I honestly cannot remember, from elementary school on, ever getting straight A's even one semester -- hope at least some of the above was helpful, and if you need anything else at all, please let me know --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby richarddotman » Tue May 12, 2015 7:23 pm

Hi Mike!

I have been using your book for a few months now and it has been really helpful so thank you! I came across something that is admittedly not very significant but I wanted to get your opinion on it.

On page 332 of The LSAT Trainer, do you think it could be reasonably argued that while the author's opinion in this passage isn't clear, his/her statement in the first sentence that "steady-state economics has [b]seriously challenged[b] neoclassical economics" is a hint at what the author thinks of the issue?

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri May 15, 2015 2:27 pm

richarddotman wrote:Hi Mike!

I have been using your book for a few months now and it has been really helpful so thank you! I came across something that is admittedly not very significant but I wanted to get your opinion on it.

On page 332 of The LSAT Trainer, do you think it could be reasonably argued that while the author's opinion in this passage isn't clear, his/her statement in the first sentence that "steady-state economics has [b]seriously challenged[b] neoclassical economics" is a hint at what the author thinks of the issue?


Hi there -- glad you've been finding the book useful and thanks for the note --

I think that if that sentence was worded slightly differently, it could indeed be a stronger hint of opinion, but as it is written my sense is that it is an objective statement that indicates steady-state's increase in power/importance or whatever, but not the author's opinion on the matter.

After that sentence, the passage could go on to describe why the author agrees more w/steady-state, or alternatively why neoclassical is better, or it can go on w/o a declarative author opinion --

So, while that line certainly sets up the two-sided debate for us, and gives us a sense as to what type of opinions might be coming, I don't think we can use it as a hint of the author's opinion --

Hope that helps and wish you the best -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby richarddotman » Sat May 16, 2015 4:23 pm

Thanks, MIke!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby appind » Sat May 16, 2015 8:02 pm

Hi mike

does the premise indicator 'because' suggest a sufficient-necessary relationship?

e.g. for an argument "B because A", the premise is A, implicit assumption is "if A, then B", and conclusion is B. does it mean the relationship between a premise-conclusion pair is always a sufficient-necessary conditional relationship?

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby pixiegal » Sun May 17, 2015 4:58 pm

Hi Mike,

I bought the LSAT Trainer 2013 version a while back but decide to postpone by LSAT.

I'm planning to take LSAT this Oct 2015, but I see that there is a 2015 version out. Are there big difference? I'm worried if I can still use the 2013 edition.

Thanks!

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.

Postby flowering » Mon May 18, 2015 2:33 pm

.
Last edited by flowering on Fri Jan 08, 2016 3:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon May 18, 2015 3:03 pm

richarddotman wrote:Thanks, MIke!


sure thing - thanks for the thanks! -- let me know if you need anything else -- mk

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon May 18, 2015 3:04 pm

appind wrote:Hi mike

does the premise indicator 'because' suggest a sufficient-necessary relationship?

e.g. for an argument "B because A", the premise is A, implicit assumption is "if A, then B", and conclusion is B. does it mean the relationship between a premise-conclusion pair is always a sufficient-necessary conditional relationship?


Hi -- no -- "because" is used to represent causal relationships, not conditional ones -- HTH -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon May 18, 2015 3:05 pm

pixiegal wrote:Hi Mike,

I bought the LSAT Trainer 2013 version a while back but decide to postpone by LSAT.

I'm planning to take LSAT this Oct 2015, but I see that there is a 2015 version out. Are there big difference? I'm worried if I can still use the 2013 edition.

Thanks!


Hi there -- no real differences (fixed some typos) -- you should be totally fine using the 2013 version -- best of luck -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon May 18, 2015 3:12 pm

flowering wrote:Hey Mike,

I just purchased your book on Amazon, and was wondering which LSAT practice tests the questions in your book are drawn from. So far I have used both Manhattan and Powerscore LR books, both of which pretty much stuck to the first 40 tests in order to preserve the later ones to use as fully timed tests. Does your book do the same?

Thanks you!


Hi there -- not sure if your book has arrived yet, but once it does you can find a list of all the questions used in the trainer in the appendix. Almost all q's are drawn from earlier exams (I had to use some more recent q's to discuss comparative r.c., which did not show up until fairly recently) -- the appendix will offer a longer explanation for why I chose the q's I chose --

Best of luck -- if you need help coordinating your trainer work w/drilling and timed tests, please check out my free study schedules, and don't hesitate to get in touch if you need me --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby appind » Sat May 23, 2015 1:19 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
appind wrote:Hi mike

does the premise indicator 'because' suggest a sufficient-necessary relationship?

e.g. for an argument "B because A", the premise is A, implicit assumption is "if A, then B", and conclusion is B. does it mean the relationship between a premise-conclusion pair is always a sufficient-necessary conditional relationship?


Hi -- no -- "because" is used to represent causal relationships, not conditional ones -- HTH -- MK


a causal relationship is also conditional however. A causes B also means A suff -> B necessary. the reason i think such a seemingly basic and rudimentary question is important is that many times we use 'because' or other premise and conclusion indicators to indicate just that, premises and conclusions. but we don't associate the logic of causality or conditionality or deductive/inductive etc with these indicator words. and these are the things, the logic underneath the set of premises and conclusions, that make an argument valid or invalid. so when we subconsciously process 'because' or other such loaded premise indicators, should one just think that this is a premise or should one associate causality/conditionality too with it? it seems indicator words for conclusion and premises mean more than just indicators of conclusion and premises.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon May 25, 2015 5:01 pm

appind wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
appind wrote:Hi mike

does the premise indicator 'because' suggest a sufficient-necessary relationship?

e.g. for an argument "B because A", the premise is A, implicit assumption is "if A, then B", and conclusion is B. does it mean the relationship between a premise-conclusion pair is always a sufficient-necessary conditional relationship?


Hi -- no -- "because" is used to represent causal relationships, not conditional ones -- HTH -- MK


a causal relationship is also conditional however. A causes B also means A suff -> B necessary. the reason i think such a seemingly basic and rudimentary question is important is that many times we use 'because' or other premise and conclusion indicators to indicate just that, premises and conclusions. but we don't associate the logic of causality or conditionality or deductive/inductive etc with these indicator words. and these are the things, the logic underneath the set of premises and conclusions, that make an argument valid or invalid. so when we subconsciously process 'because' or other such loaded premise indicators, should one just think that this is a premise or should one associate causality/conditionality too with it? it seems indicator words for conclusion and premises mean more than just indicators of conclusion and premises.


Hey -- your q's seem specific to your situation, so I think I can probably help best via pm -- I'll send u a message shortly.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon May 25, 2015 5:22 pm

Hi everyone --

I know that many of you are getting ready to take the June exam, and so I thought it might be helpful for me to post a few quick last minute tips. These tips are not specific to the trainer (though those of you familiar with the trainer will be familiar with these suggestions). I know that at this point, most of you are focused on taking and reviewing PT’s -- what I’m about to mention are all simple suggestions/exercises that you should be able to integrate into that PT work fairly easily. Not all suggestions are meant for all students, so please, of course, pick and choose whichever you think might be useful for your situation.

For LR

During this final period it can be very helpful to firm up and habitualize your question-specific strategies and thought processes. To that end...

Without looking back over your work, create a notecard for each type of Logical Reasoning question. On one side of this notecard, write out the most important things to know/keep in mind for that q type, and on the other side, write out the basic strategies you generally try to employ. Once you’ve done the best you can from memory, return to your notes and lessons and such and make sure to fill in the q types, key priorities and such that you missed initially. Review these cards before PT’s, then, in your PT review afterwards, use these cards to assess your methods, figure out where you need to modify strategies or put in a reminder for yourself, and so on. These actions can help you notice, and address, those areas of prep where perhaps your learning has yet to fully convert into skills and habits.

LG

The more automatic you feel about your notations/diagramming strategies, the less nervous you will feel about what might appear on the games section, the better you will be able to set up your diagrams, and the faster and more accurate you’ll be at doing the work necessary to solve questions.

So, to that end, without look back over your work/learning products, try to create a list of all the different types of rules that can appear in Logic Games, and try to organize all of these rules in some way (for example, trainer students know I organize rules in terms of ordering, grouping, and so on). Note how you plan to diagram each of these rules. Then go through games you’ve played in the past, just looking at the scenarios and rules, and fill in your notes with all the various other types of game rules you missed initially. Create notecards of any rules for which you don’t feel automatic about your notations, and study those carefully. Review all your diagramming strategies before taking PT’s, then, in your review, review carefully whether you were able to use diagramming methods effectively for every rule. Take note of, and carefully review, those situations when you were not.

RC

It’s very important to understand what pressure does to your brain (and, consequently, to your reading process): it literally changes the way that you think and the way you read. If, in all your practice, you are far more relaxed (and perhaps forgiving of yourself) than you will be during the real exam, it is possible that you are going to find it very difficult to apply all that you’ve gained during your practice on the real thing -- it’s very possible you will end up reading the passage very differently from how you intended to, and end up rushing too much and overlooking important concepts, or being too careful and wasting too much time, and so on.

So at this point you want to do whatever is necessary to train your brain to read the passage exactly as you want it to. Make your decisions about which reading strategies you want to apply, make sure you are practicing applying them under enough pressure, and get enough practice in so that you can feel a “set rhythm” for how you read LSAT RC passages. It gives you a great advantage to go into the test with a consistent, habitual, and effective method specifically tailed for reading LSAT RC passages, one which is practiced enough so that you apply it without having to think about it.

Timing Strategies/Mindset

Finally, you want to use for final prep to set your timing strategies, determine what you are going to do should tough timing decisions arise, and practice applying those timing strategies/making those timing decisions.

Nearly everyone who takes the exam wastes a lot of unnecessary time and energy thinking about section timing, rather than the question in front of them. It puts you in a much better position if you’ve anticipated potential issues, have the right mindset about them, have practiced dealing with them, and so on.

So, getting your timing strategies set should be one of the main goals of your final PT work. You want to think about your ideal timing, and how you’d like to balance your time through a section and so on, but you also want to make sure to practice and think about timing challenges -- how long to give yourself when stuck on a certain type of question, or how to balance your time between two RC passages when it seems like you don’t have enough to finish both, and so on. One way to experience/practice these challenges, especially if you are in a very high score range, is to artificially limit the time you have per section (say, to 30 mins, etc.) for a couple of your PT’s and test out your survival strategies.

Final Random Timing Tip

In my experience, one of the most common ways in test takers end up wasting time is by over-investing it in the hardest problems -- you want to avoid this as much as possible.

To illustrate, imagine that you are in the 160-165 range and your goal is to get that 165. Depending on the scale for that test, you know that you can miss about 20 q’s or so and still get the score you want. And if you were to take all the q’s from any one particular LSAT practice exam and order them in terms of difficulty, you’d perhaps find that about 70 of them are ones that you feel fairly confident you can get right without too much difficulty, 20 of them are ones that are challenging for you, and, depending on the day, your mindset, etc., you might get right or wrong, and finally perhaps 10 are so hard that you think it’d be very unlikely you can get the right answer in a reasonable amount of time no matter what.
The best way for you to use your time is to --
1) get through the easier 70 as fast as you comfortably can without making errors.
2) recognize when a problem is of extreme difficulty and don’t allow yourself to spend too, too long on those hardest 10.
3) give yourself as much time as possible for those 20 in the make/break down that will determine where you will score within your range.

Keep that in mind, and make sure you don’t allow yourself to overinvest too much time or energy in those hardest problems -- the harder ones aren’t worth any more points.

Again, not every suggestion is for every student, but if you read this whole thing I hope you found at least some of it useful -- I wish you all the best on test day -- Mike

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sanibella
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby sanibella » Mon Jun 01, 2015 12:53 pm

Hi Mike,

Love the Trainer so far. Can you tell me a little bit about how you chose to structure the Trainer, particularly in terms of the sequence in which you presented the sections?

Thanks!

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The LSAT Trainer
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Jun 03, 2015 6:31 pm

sanibella wrote:Hi Mike,

Love the Trainer so far. Can you tell me a little bit about how you chose to structure the Trainer, particularly in terms of the sequence in which you presented the sections?

Thanks!


Oh gosh - this could be my favorite question ever - I can go on about this for pages and pages, but I’ll do my best to keep it from getting out of hand -

Thinking about structure is fundamental to how I work-to me, thinking about how best to teach the LSAT, and thinking about how best to structure LSAT instruction, are two sides of the same coin-

In my opinion the structure of many other LSAT products represents the priorities of the developers (and in the worst cases, the marketing departments) rather than what is best for the student. This is a big reason why, statistically speaking, the majority of LSAT prep materials are ineffective or minimally effective. For example, the developer, in order to manage and organize his work, must break down questions and games into categories and such, and so the final product ends up getting structured in much the same way - here’s a visual representation of the consequences of such thinking -


Image




I try to imagine that I’m teaching the LSAT to a close friend or a family member, and I do my best to think of my work in terms of what would be optimal for their learning process-the best, most efficient way for them to gain mastery and avoid unnecessary roadblocks. (How successful I am at that is, of course, a matter of opinion.)

Two driving factors for my decision-making in designing/structuring the trainer were -

1) Making sure I prioritized that which is most important to students

As I’ve written elsewhere, before I started writing the trainer I spent months breaking down over 10 years worth of published LSAT’s, taking note of every challenge created by every problem (skills students need, weaknesses that might tempt them toward certain wrong answers, and so on). By doing so I was able to get an amazing big picture view of the LSAT as a whole, how all the challenges on it relate, and which strengths and weaknesses most impact student performance.

2) Making sure I organized lessons in an optimal order

The test is markedly easier to master when you learn things in the right order, and there were countless ordering concerns that I had to consider.

Here is just one illustration to represent how such concerns impacted the structure of the book: conditional logic is important to both Logic Games and Logical Reasoning, the challenges of conditional logic can by organized into two large categories (1. Understanding and utilizing conditional reasoning correctly and 2. mastering the language used to represent conditional relationships), and, to generalize, for Logic Games conditional statements tend to be written the same way again and again (that is, they challenge you less with the language) and the hardest LG conditional logic tasks require you to focus on the various and complicated ways in which these statements actually function (link together or not), while for Logical Reasoning, often the biggest challenges involve deciphering the language of these conditional statements.

So you’ll notice that, in terms of conditionality, the way things are ordered in the trainer are that
1) you learn the basics of how conditional rules work
2) you learn about how to apply these rules to Logic Games
3) you get more in-depth instruction about the language of conditional reasoning
4) you get practice at applying this understanding to LR q’s that are conditional heavy
5) you get additional advanced practice bringing all your skills together (in the LSAT vocab chapter).

Again, there were countless decisions similar to that one which contributed to the overall design of the book. In terms of the overall structure of the book, perhaps my biggest influences were the realizations that

1) For each of the sections, respectively, there is one general skillset that is far more important than all others for driving student improvement/mastery: for Logical Reasoning, the ability to correctly evaluate arguments/for Logic Games, the ability to take control of a game by diagramming/ and for Reading Comprehension, the ability to recognize and read for reasoning structure. If you can do these three things well, you put yourself in an awesome position to be successful, and it becomes much easier to pick up all the other skills necessary for mastery. On the flip side, if you can’t do these three things well, no other skills can make up for your weaknesses.

Not only are those three components in and of themselves critical for success in each of the sections, the development of those skills naturally leads to the positive development of other skills that the test requires of you - for example, by getting really good at understanding arguments, you’ll naturally get better at reading for reasoning structure, you’ll develop skills useful for eliminating wrong answers to Inference questions, and so on.

2) It also just happens that, in terms of the optimal order for learning things, in my opinion, it’s most effective for students to start their LR instruction by focusing on arguments, start their LG instruction by focusing on diagramming, and start their RC instruction by focusing on reading structure.

It doesn’t have to be that way - for example, if the test was a little different, it might make more sense to start the LR instruction by focusing on certain reading issues instead.

But, the fact that the priorities and ideal order did happen to coincide, along with all the other principles that I believe are important for effective instruction-dividing lessons into learnable chunks, cycling instruction, having students immediately apply what they learn, etc.-is what largely determined the eventual design of the book.

Again, this is a question about which I can go on and on - so I’ll stop myself here, and I hope that what I’ve mentioned thus far is the type of info you were looking for - great to hear that you are finding the trainer useful and wish you the very best w/your prep - please don’t hesitate to reach out if u need me --

Mike

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Shcamz
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Shcamz » Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:23 pm

Just ordered your book Mike! Really looking forward to using it along with the bibles and Cambridge packets.


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