Mike's Trainer Thread

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acacius
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby acacius » Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:12 pm

Hey Mike,

I bought your book 2 months ago, and I gave it a read, then I moved onto the PowerScore Bibles, but I've found that I was studying inefficiently (studied 8 hours/7 days a week). After much thought, I've decided to move my testing date to December, because of the fact that I've rushed through material and slacked off a few problems here/there.

My question is how do you combine the schedule of the LSAT Trainer/PS/Cambridge LSAT packets? Is 4 months too short? Should I push it even further back, but honestly I feel it is doable, even if I am a student in college right now. What is your advice?

Thanks

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The LSAT Trainer
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Jul 27, 2015 3:11 pm

acacius wrote:Hey Mike,

I bought your book 2 months ago, and I gave it a read, then I moved onto the PowerScore Bibles, but I've found that I was studying inefficiently (studied 8 hours/7 days a week). After much thought, I've decided to move my testing date to December, because of the fact that I've rushed through material and slacked off a few problems here/there.

My question is how do you combine the schedule of the LSAT Trainer/PS/Cambridge LSAT packets? Is 4 months too short? Should I push it even further back, but honestly I feel it is doable, even if I am a student in college right now. What is your advice?

Thanks


Hey --

Here are some thoughts that come to mind -- as I often mention, you know yourself best, so please feel free to utilize whatever you’d like and to ignore whatever you feel doesn’t apply to you (I also apologize ahead of time for repeating comments I’ve made elsewhere) --

Advice for Mindset --

When you are planning, organizing, and evaluating your study schedule, you are bringing together three key factors --

1) when you want to study/how much time you want to spend studying (# of hours/days)
2) what you want to study (trainer, drills, etc)
3) what you want to get better at and in what ways (LG diagramming, reacting to RC q stems, etc.)

As much as possible, you want to lead with #3 -- when people first start studying, they don’t know anything about the exam, and so they have to put in the time and get to learn some materials before they can develop any sense of what they want to accomplish --

But, the advantage you have from having already gone through your previous prep is that you should have a much better sense of what you need to get better at in order to improve your score, and you should be better able to adjust your studying per those needs.

So, of course you want to plan out what you want to do and when you want to do it, but I encourage you to stay flexible and to use your goals to faster in certain parts or spend extra time/use additional resources on others.

Practical Advice --

1) Start by taking some time to do a general assessment of where you stand right now.

Without looking back through your notes/materials, write out every LR q type, and for each type of q, write out the key things to know about that q type, and your general strategies (I love to use notecards for this). Also create “macro-outlines” of everything important you know about LG (you can do it by game type if you’d like, or rule type as per the trainer) / key strategies for each type of LG and LG question, and everything important to know/key strategies for RC passages and q types.

Then return to your notes and books and such and fill in all the rest of the q types, key rule types, etc. you missed off the top of your head.

For each main issue/main q type, create a method for assessing yourself on four levels -- understanding (I get how this q type works), strategies (I know a good way for dealing with this situation), skills (I’m able to apply my understanding and strategies) and correct habits (I know when to apply my skills and I do so consistently).

This is going to an invaluable tool going forward --

For each of these categories, assess where you are right now relative to where you want to be, and then, as you go through the phases of your prep, use your assessment to note how you are improving / notice areas you still need to address.

2) Allocate your study time to learning, drilling, pt’s (+ review)

I recommend, per what you’ve mentioned, that you take a look at the diy schedule on my website -- that will allow/help you to choose which q’s you want to use for drilling and which ones you want to use for PT’s (so that you can integrate whichever cambridge packets you’d like). Here’s a chart that relates trainer q categories to the cambridge ones -- viewtopic.php?f=43&t=209573&start=625#p7449633.

The schedule and the trainer have plenty more advice about how to integrate learning, drilling, pt’s, and review, but in general, you want to

a)start by focusing on learning in order to increase understanding and strategies
b)move on to drilling to improve skills and habits (and overlap learning and drilling so that you get plenty of practice at applying what you learn)
c) move on to pt’s to get ready for test day

If you want to use both PS and the trainer that’s fine, but you want to make sure you have enough time to get both done without sacrificing drilling, pt and review. You can choose to --

a) go through trainer first then overlap PS with drilling
b) go through PS first then integrate trainer w/drilling
c) use trainer for some parts and ps for others
d) use both simultaneously (in which case I recommend you use trainer for overall structure, and then integrate corresponding PS lessons in when appropriate -- PS LG book after first batch of LG lessons in trainer, PS LR Q type lesson after that Q type has been covered in the trainer)

Since you’ve already been through both, I’m sure you probably know better than me which of the above will work best for you.

3) Keep track of improvements (using initial assessment) and adjust as necessary

For example, you may choose to just use the trainer or the PS guide for one section type, and maybe you are 90% fine doing that, but you realize you have weaknesses in understanding or strategies for one or two particular areas -- at that point you may want to give yourself some extra time to study that same issue in another learning resource. On the flip side, if you are re-learning something you already feel very strong about, you obviously don’t need to force yourself to spend more time than is necessary.

***

Your timeframe and the volume of work you mention should be more than enough for you to get where you need to, but this is a weird test and every student is different, so if it takes you longer you owe it to yourself to take more time.

I think a big key to knowing whether you do need more time, and a big key to making better use of that time, is being better able to accurately assess strengths and weaknesses, set specific goals, and evaluate how effective your prep was relative to those goals --

Hope some of my advice was helpful in that regard -- good luck with your studies --

Mike

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Cochran
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Cochran » Mon Jul 27, 2015 4:26 pm

Hey Mike,

Not sure if this question has been asked before, but does the LSAT Trainer contain questions from newer LSATs? I'm interested in the trainer, but I don't want to sour any of the full PTs I have left to take before October. Specifically, does the trainer cover a lot of questions from PTs 56-75, and if so, how would someone best get around this issue?

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Jul 27, 2015 4:42 pm

Cochran wrote:Hey Mike,

Not sure if this question has been asked before, but does the LSAT Trainer contain questions from newer LSATs? I'm interested in the trainer, but I don't want to sour any of the full PTs I have left to take before October. Specifically, does the trainer cover a lot of questions from PTs 56-75, and if so, how would someone best get around this issue?


Hi -- most of the q's in the trainer come from earlier exams -- PT 36 and below -- I also use q's from the free June 07 exam, and some comparative RC q's from PT 62 and 64 (b/c comparative passages weren't in earlier exams) -- the appendix includes a list of all the q's used, and so you can reference that in order to avoid doubling up on q's --

Take care -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby sara1993 » Tue Jul 28, 2015 4:04 pm

Hi Mike,

I was working through the drill sets on the 12 Week Study Schedule for the Trainer and I noticed that the questions for Explain this Set 1 are the same as those listed fro Give an Example Set 1. Do you recommend that we do these questions for this exercise or are there other questions that are supposed to be there?

Thanks so much for your time!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Jul 28, 2015 4:26 pm

sara1993 wrote:Hi Mike,

I was working through the drill sets on the 12 Week Study Schedule for the Trainer and I noticed that the questions for Explain this Set 1 are the same as those listed fro Give an Example Set 1. Do you recommend that we do these questions for this exercise or are there other questions that are supposed to be there?

Thanks so much for your time!


Hi Sara --

Yikes! There were indeed other q's that were supposed to be there -- thanks so much for catching that -- I've already corrected the schedule available online (you can get a fixed one here -- http://www.thelsattrainer.com/assets/tw ... s52-71.pdf) but in case you want to keep using the same one you are using, the

Explain This Set 1 should contain --

52-1-11, 14
52-3-20, 22
53-1-24
53-3-22
54-2-4
54-4-6, 13, 21

Sorry if that disrupted your studies, and thanks again for letting me know about it -- hope the studying is going well and take care --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby w7ldcard » Tue Aug 11, 2015 7:28 pm

Hi Mike,

My fiance is currently studying for the LSAT. She is PTing around 171-174 but continues to miss about 4-5 on the LG section because she is running out of time. She has begun the section on LG in your book and I was wondering if you would suggest skipping the LR & RC sections (She is currently averaging -1/-2 LR and -3 RC) until she can get her LG section down to a 0/-1? Without time she is hitting -1/-2 on LG. Thanks!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:26 am

w7ldcard wrote:Hi Mike,

My fiance is currently studying for the LSAT. She is PTing around 171-174 but continues to miss about 4-5 on the LG section because she is running out of time. She has begun the section on LG in your book and I was wondering if you would suggest skipping the LR & RC sections (She is currently averaging -1/-2 LR and -3 RC) until she can get her LG section down to a 0/-1? Without time she is hitting -1/-2 on LG. Thanks!


Hey! What a good significant other you are :) --

That’s obviously an impressive score level, and an awesome position for her to be in at this point, and she knows best whether she’s beyond learning LR or RC from a study guide (and instead just needs to get more practice w/drilling and pt’s), but, as long as she has the time I would strongly recommend going through the entire trainer --

I did my best to make the trainer very skimmable -- there are no main lessons/strategies hidden within paragraphs, etc. -- all the key ideas are bolded, quoted, emphasized with mini-drills, and so on -- so, if she does want to save some time, what I recommend is that she still go through the LR and RC lessons in the order in which they are presented, but, when she runs into something she already feels comfortable with, and doesn’t feel she needs to learn again, she can just skim those parts, and maybe try just a few q’s from each mini-drill to make sure she’s good-to-go, etc. -- I think doing so will allow her to get through the book fairly quickly, while also assuring her that she doesn’t miss out on anything that could have helped her out on test day. I think it’s also good to keep in mind that there is a lot of overlap in terms of the skills necessary for each of the sections, so she might find an LR lesson on vocab useful for LG, and so on.

I also have a few thoughts in terms of LG timing --

The primary mental challenge of LG is making inferences -- putting information together to figure out something new -- other than for rules questions, the right answer to every question will be justified not based on the information given directly in the rules, but rather the inferences that can be made based on those given rules --

Having said that, the inability to make inferences isn’t generally what holds test-takers back, especially at her score level, and my guess is that her inference skills are already at an extremely high level --

What holds test-takers back is not being able to put themselves in the best position to make inferences -- because they struggle with thinking about the game, or notating the rules, and so on --

So here’s a checklist of skills/habits necessary to put yourself in the right place to make LG inferences -- I would suggest she keep this in mind as she goes through the trainer, and that she use this as a gauge during her remaining LG prep --

1) Familiarity with all game possibilities / ability to see any game in a “big-picture” sort of way and relate it to other games she’s played.

2) Ability to correctly understand every rule.

3) Ability to clearly and correctly notate every rule. The notations for the vast majority of rules should be automatic enough so that you don’t have to think twice about how to make them/decipher them. This is crucial for making rapid and accurate inferences again and again, as the questions require.

4) Systems/habits to ensure/double-check that you’ve thoroughly/ideally set up a game -- depending on what diagramming methods you choose to employ, this could include taking the rules out of order, having set methods for when you want to split boards, habitually back-checking your notations against the rules, giving yourself certain moments where you remember to pause and think about inferences and so on.

5) Specific and practiced habits for each type of problem -- In my experience, this is an area where a lot of students do not maximize their potential -- there are set ways in which the test writers design questions, and you want to make sure you take advantage of this -- that you make inferences when you are supposed to, don’t rush into hypotheticals unless you have to, look to either eliminate wrong answers or find the right one, and so on.

I imagine she’s already strong in most if not all of these areas, but if, by the time she’s done w/the trainer and some drilling, she feels good-to-go w/all 5 parts of the checklist, I expect that she’s going to knock it out of the park on test day.

HTH and I wish you and your fiance the best -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby ebb44 » Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:31 pm

Hi Mike,

When I do a practice test how should I review it? How much time should I spend reviewing it? I'm in the middle of my studies.

Also I noticed that your book says the first practice test will be reviewed again as drills, but it isn't according to my study schedule. I'm using the 16 weeks schedule with PT 29-71. The first practice exam is #52. The drills only go up to PT 51.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Aug 21, 2015 7:05 pm

ebb44 wrote:Hi Mike,

When I do a practice test how should I review it? How much time should I spend reviewing it? I'm in the middle of my studies.

Also I noticed that your book says the first practice test will be reviewed again as drills, but it isn't according to my study schedule. I'm using the 16 weeks schedule with PT 29-71. The first practice exam is #52. The drills only go up to PT 51.


Hey -- thanks for catching that discrepancy (as you may have guessed, that schedule is the only one w/o such overlap) --

Here are some thoughts about review --

I think quality review is one of the most critical components of an effective study plan, and one of the key differentiators between students who improve a lot and students who don’t. I also think you’ll get more and more out of your review the deeper you get into your work -- I’ll discuss reviewing your work quite a bit in the trainer, and obviously be able to go into more subtly there, and I also have some suggestions in the appendix of the schedule itself, but here are some key points --

In terms of processes --

First,always time your drill work and PT’s, but don’t be beholden to time.

To illustrate what I mean by that -- if you are going to practice test, what I recommend at the beginning of your prep is to take each section completely as fast as you can -- see how long it takes you overall, but, in terms of evaluating your score, only consider those you got correct in the allotted 35 mins.

Even when drilling, always focus on trying to solve problems as quickly and efficiently as you possibly can, but don’t develop any bad shortcut habits -- those that cut time at the sake of accuracy.

A benefit of doing this will be that you know to gravitate toward and habitualize strategies that will work under pressure and under time restraints.

Another benefit is that you can monitor yourself getting faster throughout your training -- maybe a full LR section will take you 45 mins to begin with, then by the end you will naturally get to being under the 35 minute mark, without having to force it.

And finally, it helps you avoid an issue that a lot of students accidentally end up with -- they, without meaning to, develop strategies that seem to be smart and effective, but that ultimately don’t work as well under time pressure. These students then have to make a choice between being fast and being accurate, when it would have been better for them to work, from the start, on being fast at being accurate.

In addition to timing yourself and finishing out sections, I recommend you take note of the problems for which you weren’t sure of the answer. As bonus work, if you don’t find it too distracting, you can also take note of the questions/games/passages for which you know you did well, but you know your processes weren’t as strong/efficient as they should have been. Again, don’t worry about doing this second issue if you find it too distracting -- the most important thing to mark is the problems for which you weren’t sure of the answer.

After the test, and before you look up the correct answers, return to the problems you circled, and this time try to solve them as correctly and thoroughly as you can, and see if you can figure out the right answer for yourself.

This is a study method that J.Y. Ping of 7Sage has popularized as “blind review” and I find it to be tremendously useful. You get many benefits to building in this step before looking up the answers, among them --

1) a stronger internalized sense of right and wrong

2) far better data from which you can make determinations about what caused you trouble (more on this later).

3) a change to notice areas of significant concern -- the biggest shock is when you think you got a problem correct, for sure, then you realize you missed it. Often these situations, if studied properly, show big gaps in our understanding of the test or of reasoning issues. By marking and blind reviewing, you can isolate these types of problems better.

Here’s a post I wrote about blind review as it relates specifically to RC -- http://www.thelsattrainer.com/how-to-re ... nsion.html --

Only after you’ve reviewed your performance thoroughly on your own should you reach to the answer key to see how you actually did, review your work again in light of that, and then, when necessary, reach for other aids, such as solutions offered by 7Sage, on lsathacks.com, and the manhattanlsat forums.

Keep track of the problems that cause you trouble, and periodically assess the list to look for patterns -- you will often find that it’s a certain type of question, or a certain type of reasoning issue, tripping u up again and again, and that’ll help guide your work -- you can use the notebook organizer available on the trainer website to that if you’d like. Return to them and review problem areas again and again until you feel you no longer need to.

In terms of mindset:

Again, I’ll talk about all of this in greater detail in the book, but there are a few different ways in which you can think about and organize your review -- the two main ones that come to mind are --

1) in terms of the characteristics necessary for success -- understanding, strategies, skills, and habits -- you can miss a problem because you don’t understand the reasoning or the task, because you didn’t have effective macro- or micro- strategies, because, even though you have the understanding and know the strategies, you aren’t skilled enough at applying it all, or because you have the skills but you aren’t consistent enough about using the right ones at the right times.

2) in terms of the challenges presented by the exam -- reading, reasoning, mental discipline -- you can miss a problem because you misorganized the structure or misunderstood the meaning of a phrase, because you didn’t reason through it correctly, or because you lacked mental discipline -- you weren’t able to stay on task.

If you can consistently consistently think about the problems that cause you trouble using the above barometers, it’ll allow you to notice issues that come up again and again (and thus what you ought to focus on in your prep) and it’ll allow you to notice all the improvement that I’m sure you’ll be making (as you realize certain issues eventually cause you fewer and fewer problems) --

Hope helps and take care -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby ILikeKneadedErasers » Tue Aug 25, 2015 11:41 pm

Hi Mike, in the trainer you mentioned that for strengthen/weaken q's only one will ever actually strengthen or weaken, is this an absolute truth or just more of a general statement?

For example, on PT 50 sect. 4 no.23, answer A appears to strengthen as does C. Granted A seems to be a weaker strengthener than C upon further examination but I ended up spending more time than probably necessary trying to determine whether I was missing something. I mean, I may be but I checked the bit on correlation and you stated that correlation is supposed to be adequate for strengthening an arg right? It just doesn't definitively prove it. Or are there instances where strengthen q's are effectively sufficient assumptions?

Sorry, this question just really stumped me and has me rethinking how I approach strengthen/weaken q's.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby stig2014 » Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:58 pm

Mike, first off I loved the Trainer and believe it's an invaluable tool for any serious LSAT taker. I'm sitting for the October 2015 test and have been going through a fairly regimented schedule of 2-3 practice tests a week, with review and drilling on my off days. However for the past 2-3 weeks I've been stuck right around the 170 mark. The section that seems to be holding me back the most is LR; I'm consistently missing 5-7 questions for both sections combined and it's keeping me from breaking into the mid to upper 170's range.

I'm pretty serious about tracking data and for other sections I can see the question types I consistently miss, review the corresponding chapter in the Trainer and then drill it ad nauseam. However, in logical reasoning there doesn't seem to be any regularity with the question types that I'm missing; other than the fact they usually fall in the 18-25 range. Do you have any tips on how I may be able to gain a few extra points in LR? Is it just a matter of reviewing the Trainer and getting back to basics? Thanks in advance.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Aug 28, 2015 1:00 pm

ILikeKneadedErasers wrote:Hi Mike, in the trainer you mentioned that for strengthen/weaken q's only one will ever actually strengthen or weaken, is this an absolute truth or just more of a general statement?

For example, on PT 50 sect. 4 no.23, answer A appears to strengthen as does C. Granted A seems to be a weaker strengthener than C upon further examination but I ended up spending more time than probably necessary trying to determine whether I was missing something. I mean, I may be but I checked the bit on correlation and you stated that correlation is supposed to be adequate for strengthening an arg right? It just doesn't definitively prove it. Or are there instances where strengthen q's are effectively sufficient assumptions?

Sorry, this question just really stumped me and has me rethinking how I approach strengthen/weaken q's.



Hey --

The q has you rethinking how you approach strengthen/weaken -- wow! That's some pressure on me --

Answer (A) gives us a comparison between studies that included people with insomnia and ones that didn't -- there could be many reasons why these studies had different outcomes (different types of study goals, locations, etc.) but, at best, what this information could lead to is a comparative statement: there is a higher correlation between melatonin and sleep in people without insomnia than there is between melatonin and sleep in people with insomnia.

This is very different from showing low correlation between melatonin and insomnia.

This comparative doesn't give us any real information about that correlation, in the same way that saying "Tom is older than Fred" doesn't tell us anything at all about Tom's actual age or Fred's actual age, or whether they are actually young or old people. Put more directly, knowing that correlation between A and B is lower than the correlation between A and C does not tell us how strong or weak the correlation is between A and B. That's why answer (A) doesn't strengthen the argument --

...

In terms of my statement that only one answer will ever weaken or strengthen, please keep in mind that this isn't some strategy I give students to "outsmart the test," (I don't believe in that) but rather something that has to do with the fundamental design of the problems --

Every single LR problem must have one answer that is absolutely correct and 4 that are absolutely wrong per the rules of logic, in the same way that an equivalent math word problem must have one right answer and four wrong per the rules of math. There is no logical way to compare the impact of two strengtheners or two weakeners -- trying to figure out which of two strengtheners impacts the argument more will always be just an opinion, and the test writers cannot create right and wrong answers based on opinions.

So, I hope that helps, and just let me know if you have any follow-up --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Aug 28, 2015 1:39 pm

stig2014 wrote:Mike, first off I loved the Trainer and believe it's an invaluable tool for any serious LSAT taker. I'm sitting for the October 2015 test and have been going through a fairly regimented schedule of 2-3 practice tests a week, with review and drilling on my off days. However for the past 2-3 weeks I've been stuck right around the 170 mark. The section that seems to be holding me back the most is LR; I'm consistently missing 5-7 questions for both sections combined and it's keeping me from breaking into the mid to upper 170's range.

I'm pretty serious about tracking data and for other sections I can see the question types I consistently miss, review the corresponding chapter in the Trainer and then drill it ad nauseam. However, in logical reasoning there doesn't seem to be any regularity with the question types that I'm missing; other than the fact they usually fall in the 18-25 range. Do you have any tips on how I may be able to gain a few extra points in LR? Is it just a matter of reviewing the Trainer and getting back to basics? Thanks in advance.


Hey! --

Thanks so much for your comments --

It's awesome to hear that you are performing so well and that you are eager to reach even higher. With this much prep time left until October, I definitely think you should expect your score to rise even higher (as long as you keep putting in the work, of course) --

Here are a few suggestions --

1) The first is the most obvious -- make sure you are covering all of your bases -- so, you are thinking about problems in terms of reading issues, reasoning issues, and issues of mental discipline (staying on task), and in terms of understanding, strategies, skills, and habits. Even at the 170 level, it could be that you haven't paid enough attention to one or more of these areas up to this point, and doing so will make it just that much easier for you to solve q's.

The next two suggestions are more specific to your situation -- I think that in order to reach into that crazy stratosphere of mid-170's scores and beyond, it really helps to try to go for overkill -- thinking you have to get to 190 (metaphorically speaking, of course) makes it easier to keep getting better than thinking you are almost at 180.

2) Work to get even faster and more automatic at the easier/normal questions.

The hard questions are hard for everyone, but they become markedly easier when you have as much time as you need to solve them. Consider, for just a couple of tests/practice sections, pushing yourself with a 30 minute time limit and see if you can even go faster than that -- see how many of the questions you can answer in 25 minutes, and so on.

The LSAT constantly requires you to juggle your desire to go fast and your desire for accuracy -- at your score level, you've proven that you've generally mastered all accuracy issues, so you really want to push to see how much faster you can get without sacrificing any of that. And if you can get to a place where you can answer all but the two or three hardest q's in a section in 25 mins or less, it will give you an enormous advantage on those hardest questions.

3) Go for overkill on the development of your elimination skills.

Imagine you took an entire LR section and never bothered to identify or confirm a right answer -- instead, all you did was try the best you can to find reasons why four answers are wrong for every single problem. How well could you perform?

Elimination skills become more and more important as questions get harder, and as I mention often in the book, strong elimination skills essentially allow you to arrive at the right answer in two different ways (while also helping you time) --

Again, though hardest LR q's are tough for everyone -- if you have two different angles from which you are able to zero in on the right answer, it will give you a big edge over everyone else, because it's so often true that q's with right answers that are tough to see will, nevertheless, often have 4 wrong answers that are obviously wrong if you know what to look for.

As I often say, every student is different and you know yourself best, but I hope at least some of that applies -- congrats again for being in such great shape, and I'm excited to see how much more you improve -- let me know if you need anything else --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby manchas » Thu Sep 03, 2015 11:53 am

Hi Mike. This is in regards to a weaken question from 69.4.19.( the one on lotto tickets and insurance) which thanks to much review of the Trainer, I was able to answer correctly. I quickly narrowed it down to D and E...however, it took a little too much time for me to eliminate D from the contenders. Do you have any advice as to how I could have eliminated it faster? I still feel like I was on shaky ground with this question. Thanks !

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Sep 04, 2015 1:58 pm

manchas wrote:Hi Mike. This is in regards to a weaken question from 69.4.19.( the one on lotto tickets and insurance) which thanks to much review of the Trainer, I was able to answer correctly. I quickly narrowed it down to D and E...however, it took a little too much time for me to eliminate D from the contenders. Do you have any advice as to how I could have eliminated it faster? I still feel like I was on shaky ground with this question. Thanks !


Hey -- that's an interesting q and I definitely get why you'd ask about it --

I think the key challenge of this problem has to do with understanding the reasoning issue in the argument as clearly and correctly as possible --

The professor is using the analogy of the insurance policy to make a claim about buying lottery tickets, so, before you go into the answer choices, when you are thinking critically about why the support doesn't justify the conclusion, the focus of your thinking should be on how come the insurance policy is not a good or apt analogy for the lottery ticket -- what is the difference between these two situations?

The difference is not in the math involving cost versus average payout -- we are told that in both instances average payout is much less than cost (being able to see this clearly makes it so that an answer like D, which if anything we might be tempted to believe relates to cost versus average payout, becomes far less tempting) --

The difference is that in one instance (insurance) you are paying much more than the average cost would
have been in order to avoid a situation where you suddenly need to spend a lot of money, and in the other instance (lottery) you are paying much more than the average gain would have been in order to try to get a lot of extra money.

That's what makes these two situations different, and that's what makes the insurance a bad analogy for the lottery, and if you are focused in on that, then (E) is the type of answer you look for.

If you weren't able to see the reasoning issue as clearly (and that happens to all of us all the time), and then you get tempted by (D) (as I could imagine happening to me), your mindset is to try to eliminate, so --

The first thought is to see what part of the argument (D) relates to and whether that part is central to the reasoning -- (D) seems to relate most to the issue of cost versus average payout, and as we discussed above cost versus average payout doesn't seem to be what is wrong with the comparison between the lottery and insurance. And that's when I cut it myself.

Looking more carefully, (D) actually has to do with the odds of winning (and winning something very specific - the grand prize). In a different type of argument, it could be a fault in reasoning that the author didn't consider the odds. However, in this case, since odds are very different from the concept of average payout (number of payouts and amount paid out don't relate to one another), we can see that (D) doesn't impact the reasoning.

Those are my thoughts -- it could be that (D) was attractive to you for some other reason that I'm not seeing, and if so I'm happy to discuss further, but I hope that helps --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby manchas » Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:24 am

Thanks so much, Mike! You're exactly right, I found it very hard to leave (D), as the LSAT writers hoped. I think the lesson for me here is that having a surface understanding of the reasoning in the stimulus is not enough. (in my mind, after reading the stimulus, I thought, "ok,look for the answer choice that says playing the lotto =/= buying insurance." That was enough to get me down to (D) and (E). Next time, I'll remember to take a 2nd, closer reading and really drill down the stimulus rather than dither between two attractive answer choices.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby ltowns1 » Sun Sep 06, 2015 12:13 am

Hi Mr. Kim I hope all is well. I had a question about LR IN terms of making the gap easier to find on harder questions. It seems like for most question in LR, one subject will be mentioned in the conclusion and premise, making the gap pretty easy to find. However, on some harder questions, it seems like there aren't any real easily recognizable like terms from premise to conclusion, or maybe they just seem extremely subtle. For those types of questions, would how would you approach them? I find myself wondering/doubting whether I've found the correct assumption or not. I hope my comment is clear. Thanks for any comments, or tips you can provide.

It seems like this mostly applies to necessary assumption, and weaken questions. Especially when it applies to necessary assumption question with conditional statements in the premise(s)

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Sep 08, 2015 4:39 pm

ltowns1 wrote:Hi Mr. Kim I hope all is well. I had a question about LR IN terms of making the gap easier to find on harder questions. It seems like for most question in LR, one subject will be mentioned in the conclusion and premise, making the gap pretty easy to find. However, on some harder questions, it seems like there aren't any real easily recognizable like terms from premise to conclusion, or maybe they just seem extremely subtle. For those types of questions, would how would you approach them? I find myself wondering/doubting whether I've found the correct assumption or not. I hope my comment is clear. Thanks for any comments, or tips you can provide.

It seems like this mostly applies to necessary assumption, and weaken questions. Especially when it applies to necessary assumption question with conditional statements in the premise(s)


Hey! -- hope all is well with you too --

Being able to correctly find the gap in an LR argument is the most important skill required for the LSAT. If you are able to do that easily, chances are that you have mastery over the rest of the test, or at least have the capacity for that. So, it’s definitely not something for which there is an easy fix, and it’s something that you just want to keep working to get better and better at throughout your studies.

A few thoughts you might find helpful --

1) I think it’s useful to keep in mind that LR problems get harder in quantitative rather than qualitative ways --

That is, harder questions don’t test different things -- they test the same exact things as the easier questions, but just do so in more challenging ways. So, if you have 80% mastery over a certain reasoning issue, for example, you might be able to overcome that on easier questions, but the harder ones will be designed so that you have fewer crutches and your lack of correct understanding will get exposed.

One practical takeaway from this is to utilize the harder problems to assess your strengths and weaknesses, and to figure out which habits are actually helpful and which ones are not.

2) You read by habit --

I know I stress this and stress this and stress this in the Trainer, but I think it’s one of the most important principles to understand in order to really get better at reading the LSAT.

You are reading words right now, and I can pretty guarantee you that you aren’t doing so by looking to match terms, or by looking for nouns first, then verbs, or looking for sufficiency indicators, or anything like that -- instead you are, without conscious effort, putting together the gazillion reading rules that exist in your head, and you are doing so in order to understand what I am saying, for the purpose of taking away from your read information that can help be better at the LSAT or study better for the LSAT.

You most certainly want to know all the key reading rules correctly, and you want to be able to rely on your understanding when you get stuck in challenging reading issues and have to tread carefully, but it’s unnatural to direct your reading efforts with such rules (that is, it’s unnatural for you to read these very words that you are reading right now in terms of their grammatical role) and I don’t know of any top scorers who read this way.

So you want to make sure you understand the meaning and common purpose of important words such as since, or because, or therefore, and so on, and you certainly want to be aware of shifts such as when a premise is about a baseball team and the conclusion is about a baseball organization, etc., but you want to make sure that you aren’t driven by those things, and instead that you are driven by the right purpose, which is, for most LR q’s, to --

a) understand the author’s point as accurately as you possibly can.

b) extract out the author’s support as cleanly as you possible can.

c) emphasize with the author to see how he or she sees the support-conclusion relationship.

d) recognize why the given reasoning does not guarantee the conclusion reached.

And you want to use all your reading tools in your efforts to complete the above tasks as accurately as you can.

3) Since identifying the reasoning issue correctly does require so many skills, it can most definitely be very difficult to know when you’ve done your job correctly and when you haven’t.

However, you do have some gauges that, when used properly, can really help you assess this --

The first is the experience you have with the answer choices. Just like, when you set up a Logic Game correctly, it’ll work out that one answer makes sense and the other four clearly don’t, when you understand an argument correctly, it makes it much easier to see why wrong answers are wrong -- and if you can very easily recognize that many of the wrong choices clearly have nothing to do with the reasoning, that’s a great sign that you understand the argument correctly. And of course, if the right answer fits well with what you expect per your understanding of the argument the given task, that’s a reassuring sign as well.

On the flip slide, when you cannot see as easily why wrong choices are wrong, or can’t see how the right answer relates, those are very strong indicators that you had issues seeing the gap, and you want to review these problems carefully to see what they reveal to you about problems you might have in your understanding or your process.

The second is your review process. Again, during the review, the wrong answer choices should be a great gauge of how well you understood the argument initially. If you can very clearly see how the wrong choices are wrong, that’s a great sign. If, even after careful blind review you can’t find reasons why some of the answers are incorrect, that’s generally a sign that you misread the argument and you should try to carefully figure out why.

--

Again, I know that’s some pretty general advice, and I don’t know at all whether it applies to you or not, but those are the thoughts that came to mind when I read your q -- take care --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby ltowns1 » Tue Sep 08, 2015 5:42 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
ltowns1 wrote:Hi Mr. Kim I hope all is well. I had a question about LR IN terms of making the gap easier to find on harder questions. It seems like for most question in LR, one subject will be mentioned in the conclusion and premise, making the gap pretty easy to find. However, on some harder questions, it seems like there aren't any real easily recognizable like terms from premise to conclusion, or maybe they just seem extremely subtle. For those types of questions, would how would you approach them? I find myself wondering/doubting whether I've found the correct assumption or not. I hope my comment is clear. Thanks for any comments, or tips you can provide.

It seems like this mostly applies to necessary assumption, and weaken questions. Especially when it applies to necessary assumption question with conditional statements in the premise(s)


Hey! -- hope all is well with you too --

Being able to correctly find the gap in an LR argument is the most important skill required for the LSAT. If you are able to do that easily, chances are that you have mastery over the rest of the test, or at least have the capacity for that. So, it’s definitely not something for which there is an easy fix, and it’s something that you just want to keep working to get better and better at throughout your studies.

A few thoughts you might find helpful --

1) I think it’s useful to keep in mind that LR problems get harder in quantitative rather than qualitative ways --

That is, harder questions don’t test different things -- they test the same exact things as the easier questions, but just do so in more challenging ways. So, if you have 80% mastery over a certain reasoning issue, for example, you might be able to overcome that on easier questions, but the harder ones will be designed so that you have fewer crutches and your lack of correct understanding will get exposed.

One practical takeaway from this is to utilize the harder problems to assess your strengths and weaknesses, and to figure out which habits are actually helpful and which ones are not.

2) You read by habit --

I know I stress this and stress this and stress this in the Trainer, but I think it’s one of the most important principles to understand in order to really get better at reading the LSAT.

You are reading words right now, and I can pretty guarantee you that you aren’t doing so by looking to match terms, or by looking for nouns first, then verbs, or looking for sufficiency indicators, or anything like that -- instead you are, without conscious effort, putting together the gazillion reading rules that exist in your head, and you are doing so in order to understand what I am saying, for the purpose of taking away from your read information that can help be better at the LSAT or study better for the LSAT.

You most certainly want to know all the key reading rules correctly, and you want to be able to rely on your understanding when you get stuck in challenging reading issues and have to tread carefully, but it’s unnatural to direct your reading efforts with such rules (that is, it’s unnatural for you to read these very words that you are reading right now in terms of their grammatical role) and I don’t know of any top scorers who read this way.

So you want to make sure you understand the meaning and common purpose of important words such as since, or because, or therefore, and so on, and you certainly want to be aware of shifts such as when a premise is about a baseball team and the conclusion is about a baseball organization, etc., but you want to make sure that you aren’t driven by those things, and instead that you are driven by the right purpose, which is, for most LR q’s, to --

a) understand the author’s point as accurately as you possibly can.

b) extract out the author’s support as cleanly as you possible can.

c) emphasize with the author to see how he or she sees the support-conclusion relationship.

d) recognize why the given reasoning does not guarantee the conclusion reached.

And you want to use all your reading tools in your efforts to complete the above tasks as accurately as you can.

3) Since identifying the reasoning issue correctly does require so many skills, it can most definitely be very difficult to know when you’ve done your job correctly and when you haven’t.

However, you do have some gauges that, when used properly, can really help you assess this --

The first is the experience you have with the answer choices. Just like, when you set up a Logic Game correctly, it’ll work out that one answer makes sense and the other four clearly don’t, when you understand an argument correctly, it makes it much easier to see why wrong answers are wrong -- and if you can very easily recognize that many of the wrong choices clearly have nothing to do with the reasoning, that’s a great sign that you understand the argument correctly. And of course, if the right answer fits well with what you expect per your understanding of the argument the given task, that’s a reassuring sign as well.

On the flip slide, when you cannot see as easily why wrong choices are wrong, or can’t see how the right answer relates, those are very strong indicators that you had issues seeing the gap, and you want to review these problems carefully to see what they reveal to you about problems you might have in your understanding or your process.

The second is your review process. Again, during the review, the wrong answer choices should be a great gauge of how well you understood the argument initially. If you can very clearly see how the wrong choices are wrong, that’s a great sign. If, even after careful blind review you can’t find reasons why some of the answers are incorrect, that’s generally a sign that you misread the argument and you should try to carefully figure out why.

--

Again, I know that’s some pretty general advice, and I don’t know at all whether it applies to you or not, but those are the thoughts that came to mind when I read your q -- take care --

Mike



Got it, thanks! I think if my prep continues the way it's going I will purchase your book. I'm scheduled to take the LSAT in October, but I'm not even close to my desired range. I think I may need more of structured way to study for a person who self studies. It's so annoying, I've been studying for so long geesh

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Sep 11, 2015 1:55 pm

SirArthurDayne wrote:Hey Mike,

Hope all is well with you. I wanted to ask you about an idea I've been considering as a remedy to my RC woes. RC is really holding me back, and I'm starting to see that because I have to devote more time to this section, it is compromising my effectiveness on the other two sections as well. I've went through your book and have been studying for quite some time now. My issue is timing! I never have enough time to finish the last passage, and knowing this, it forces me to rush the earlier passages.

I've considered possible slowing down and spending most of my time on the three passages with the most questions, and doing a quick read of the forth. I understand this is not the optimal strategy, as we should be trying to work on our skills and habits. But my reasoning is that hopefully by slowing down, I can begin to better use these skills under the pressure of the test, and over time I'll build up my speed by being more effective with the first three passages, leaving enough time for that last passage.

What do you think?


Hey! --

So, I imagine you can predict a lot of what I’m about to write --

In general, I would suggest you reach for some other strategies before you go for something like that -- but, every student is different and it could very well be that that is indeed a positive thing for you to do -- but, here are some of my thoughts --

1) What you are really specifically practicing by employing that strategy is a) taking time to evaluate passages relative to one another and b) getting used to surviving while rushing the final passage. And while (B) is important, and you should get in that work elsewhere, If your ultimate goal is to be able, by test day, to successfully get through all four passages in the allotted time, neither of those two skills is going to be important to the successful accomplishment of that goal -- that is, practicing those two things isn’t going to make it any more likely that you will have the section go as you want, so I don’t think it’s helpful to focus on those things now.

2) I encourage you to keep working on trying to go as fast as you possibly can during the reading of the passage, without sacrificing your ability to answer questions accurately.

If at this point in your prep it’s taking you more than 3 mins on average to read each passage, it is highly likely that you are still thinking about too much as you read, and that you are wasting time on things that aren’t going to helpful on the questions. If this is the case, slowing down during the read probably won’t have a significant positive impact on your accuracy.

In order to sharpen your reading habits, you need to put intense time pressure on yourself (so that you are forced to focus) and you need to critically evaluate your reading performance -- this comes in thinking about how well you did at solving the questions -- if your general understanding of the passage helped make the vast majority of q’s easier, you read the structure correctly. If you slogged through each q, it’s highly likely you didn’t focus on the right things during your read, and in these instances you want to review carefully what was wrong with how you read, and what you should have focused on.

Another way to think about this: if you were to write out, on a small note card, the reasoning structure of a passage and do so correctly, a top scorer could use this notecard (and not need the passage) to answer the majority of questions correctly. I say this to really emphasize two facts: 1) you don’t need take a million things away from the passage, but you do need a clear and correct understanding of the most important thing -- which is what the author’s main purpose is and how he/she has designed the passage relative to that purpose -- this shouldn’t take a ton of time 2) again, as I mentioned above, the questions will tell you, every time, how well you read the passage. You may run into one or two killer q’s even when you nail a passage, but when the majority of questions cause you to slow down or have unexpected answers, etc., that’s a definite sign of issues reading the passage.


Force yourself to go faster and faster and assess how well you did each time, and you will naturally get sharper and sharper at focusing on what is most important.

3) Again, if reading speed is holding you back, try cutting reading time and replacing it with “reflection” time, mostly at the end of paragraphs, and most importantly at the end of passages.

As I mention in the trainer, a lot of tough passages are structured like great movies in that, while you are reading them, the structure can throw you off and it can be tough to figure out why exactly an author is doing something, but, then, after the fact, when you have a big picture of the passage as a whole, it’s much easier to go back and correctly reassess the author’s main purpose and the roles parts played relative to that purpose. So, instead of spending time in the middle of passages being confused, it’s better to be okay with being a little fuzzy, and expect to firm up your understanding once you have more information.

4) In my experience, typically the way students answer questions has a far greater impact on timing than the way in which the read the passage.

To put it in general terms, students commonly go too slowly on the easier problems they should go faster on (for example, in an effort to be “perfect,” a test taker might, under pressure, suddenly finding herself being too overly careful and next thing she knows she’s spent 11 minutes on a first passage that should have taken 6 ), or they spend far too much time on the hardest questions.

The latter is an issue that negatively impacts the majority of test takers. To put it in numbers, if you were to time yourself solving every single problem (and I suggest trying this if you haven’t done so before) most people would find drastic variation in the amount of time spent per question…

And if you were to take the four or five toughest RC q’s in a section, and if you were to add up the amount of time you spent on these toughest four or five, many students would see that they spent in excess of 12 minutes or so (more than a third of the section!), and, as a payout, gotten one or two points.

2 right answers in 12 minutes (out of 35 total) is a horrendous use of time.

So, you want to have a goal score in mind (say, depending the outcome you want, something like “I’m okay missing 5 in the RC” etc.) and develop a very good sense of when you are getting sucked into a killer q, and whenever it’s necessary to do so, know to cut bait wisely.

So, those are some thoughts about ways to deal with RC timing issues -- from a practical perspective, with this little time left before the test, I think the fourth strategy is probably the one that, if properly implemented, can have the most positive and significant impact on your timing, but as I always say, you know yourself best, so please feel free to use whatever advice might be useful and ignore the rest --

I’m excited to see how you perform and wish you the best on test day -- let me know if you have any follow up or need anything else -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby flash21 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:47 pm

Hi Mike,

Logic games has been a really weird section for me.

Typically people do very well at it, but my LG scores have been erratic.

I wouldn't say I'm bad -- but last few pt's were -4,- 5 range BUT I just pt'ed today and got a -9 (pt 70) basically fell apart on the last two games.

How should I spend these next few weeks before October making sure LG is more consistent for me? LR is very consistent for me, and RC has been as of late as well. LG often is the different between a low 160 and a mid 160 score for me.

I've drilled sections from 40-60 so many times, I'm kind of at a loss. I've read multiple LG books, I feel like going back to books won't really be that helpful for me at the moment. I'm not quite sure what to do about it.

Thank you in advance.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:06 pm

flash21 wrote:Hi Mike,

Logic games has been a really weird section for me.

Typically people do very well at it, but my LG scores have been erratic.

I wouldn't say I'm bad -- but last few pt's were -4,- 5 range BUT I just pt'ed today and got a -9 (pt 70) basically fell apart on the last two games.

How should I spend these next few weeks before October making sure LG is more consistent for me? LR is very consistent for me, and RC has been as of late as well. LG often is the different between a low 160 and a mid 160 score for me.

I've drilled sections from 40-60 so many times, I'm kind of at a loss. I've read multiple LG books, I feel like going back to books won't really be that helpful for me at the moment. I'm not quite sure what to do about it.

Thank you in advance.



Hey --

Practically speaking, when a Logic Game takes too long, there are a few common reasons why --

1) you have trouble visualizing the game.

If the situation is unusual and you can't quite come up with a diagramming scheme/ base that you are comfortable with, it can make it so that every move, element placement, inference, etc. is harder to make and takes longer.

2) you have trouble with a rule or two.

If you don't quite understand a rule or don't quite know how to work with it in your diagram, this can obviously hold you back.

3) you lose track of time on the hardest q's.

I talked about this in one of my other recent posts -- if possible, I suggest you try, if possible, for one of your PT's, timing how long you take on each LG problem. Most people will find that their time distribution is very uneven, and that there will be a few problems for which there was too much time spent, and not enough gained from that. Make sure you have the discipline to move on to secondary strategies when you are stuck, then to next questions as necessary.

4) fail to make key inferences

Obviously, at the end of the day, inferences answer questions and everything you do needs to lead to you being able to make them -- however, you can't force yourself to be great at making inferences in the moment just by wanting to or telling yourself to -- they will naturally happen -- I do think putting yourself in the right position (by not falling for the above issues and by having the right attitude/mindset) really helps you to make inferences the best you can.

So, per the above, in order to gain some more consistency over these final few weeks, I suggest you try --

1) doing a macro-scan of all games you've played to make sure you can picture all of them, and to make sure you have a big picture understanding of how all games relate to one another.

Especially if you've devoted a lot of time to studying games by category, I can't stress enough how important second-level thinking is (that is, understanding how these categories relate to one another) for figuring out when to utilize which skills when and for not freezing when a game "seems" unusual.

Take note of the games that you had/have trouble visualizing in the past, study those, see if you can find commonalities, and address those issues.

2) doing a macro-scan of all games you've played to make sure you are comfortable understanding /diagramming all rules.

Again, take note the rules that caused you trouble, see if you can find commonalities, and try to address those issues.

3) reminding yourself before every pt lg section not to waste too much time on the hardest q's --

I posted some general last minute tips on Reddit/LSAT a couple of days ago that relate to this (such as setting expectations for how many you can miss in a section, rather than trying to be perfect, etc.). You may want to check that out if you haven't already done so.

One last small tip I have is to consider which types of games/questions you are, by this point, naturally really good at, and which types of games/questions you aren't as good at. Commonly students will find either grouping games or ordering games easier, or they will like or dislike games with a lot of conditional reasoning, or do better or worse with games that require a ton of set-up or games that require very little set-up but lots of back-end work, and so on --

During your pts and during the exam, try to play to your strengths -- if you are great at ordering, make sure to be aggressive about pace on ordering games and make sure to nail those ordering q's; if you are weak at back-end games, allow yourself to reach for educated guesses faster when you get stuck on them.

Here's the ending of my favorite sports movie of all time -- https://youtu.be/AG3MWDVM5rA -- I've probably literally spent a few years of my life dreaming of being Jimmy Chitwood, and it's a great reminder of how to deal with pressure -- don't give in to fear and try to be overly-clever, and instead believe in your strengths -- the ability to trust in them is what you've earned from all the hard work you've done.

Sorry for that little bit of cheese but I know how long you've been at this, and I'm rooting for you -- hope some of that helps -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby flash21 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:58 pm

Thanks Mike!

I got a 157 in December 2014 not sure if you knew. Break down was -8lg, -12 or 13 rc and -6 both LR

Obviously have been drilling RC like a mad man..

I've improved a lot since I resumed studying this summer for October last PT's (fresh) have been 163- 164 163 161 (the one where I got -9 games..)

Thought I'd give you a bit of an update. A lot better now that I am done undergrad.. turns out course + LSAT was a horrible choice .

Will go through your suggestions and let you know how it works

Thanks !!


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