Mike's Trainer Thread

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Joyceawt
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Joyceawt » Mon Sep 21, 2015 10:32 am

I just started studying for the LSAT recently, and have been using the LSAT trainer. I got the LSAT trainer from a friend who studied the LSAT before, so I have the version that was produced in 2013, which I believe is 1.3.

I’m not sure if I’ve been attempted one of the questions wrong, since it’s not on the error list, but I can’t wrap my head around my answer.

The question is on page 169, Lesson 12: Number Issues, Full Set up Drill 2, and it’s the last question on the page “Three Friends - Frank, Harry and Ingrid…”.

The solution set up states that Frank left the most messages (which I understand as it is one of the conditions). However, I’m not sure how Frank could’ve left four messages considering that there are only a total of 8 messages.

Going off the diagram that you’ve drawn, there’s two triangles, two squares and we know that Harry has left the third messages. This means that we’ve identified 5/8 of the messages, so how can there be 4 spaces in between? Is this an error or am I just not comprehending things?

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:57 am

Joyceawt wrote:I just started studying for the LSAT recently, and have been using the LSAT trainer. I got the LSAT trainer from a friend who studied the LSAT before, so I have the version that was produced in 2013, which I believe is 1.3.

I’m not sure if I’ve been attempted one of the questions wrong, since it’s not on the error list, but I can’t wrap my head around my answer.

The question is on page 169, Lesson 12: Number Issues, Full Set up Drill 2, and it’s the last question on the page “Three Friends - Frank, Harry and Ingrid…”.

The solution set up states that Frank left the most messages (which I understand as it is one of the conditions). However, I’m not sure how Frank could’ve left four messages considering that there are only a total of 8 messages.

Going off the diagram that you’ve drawn, there’s two triangles, two squares and we know that Harry has left the third messages. This means that we’ve identified 5/8 of the messages, so how can there be 4 spaces in between? Is this an error or am I just not comprehending things?


Hi Joyceawt -- I think I saw that you emailed or pm'd me as well but I'll answer this here --

No one left more messages than Frank, but that doesn't mean he has to leave the most messages. Someone else can leave the same number of messages as him --

I hope that clears it up, and I'll be responding to your other message as soon as I can as well --

Take care -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:58 am

Hi everyone --

Just a quick note that I am putting together a directory of tutors. You do not need to use Trainer methods to be included. If you are interested, please email me at mike@thelsattrainer.com --

Thanks --

Mike

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appind
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby appind » Wed Sep 23, 2015 3:55 pm

i had thought that i'd decide to take or not the Oct test based on pt-72 which i sat for last june. i didn't discuss or dwell on any questions of the test since the real take so it was otherwise a fresh test for me. pt-72 that i took over the weekend destroyed me. i scored well below my target.
now i am in a dilemma about my lsat score level at this point and have almost no fresh tests left. Is pt-72 a representative test for one's score level considering it's widely known to be a difficult test to score high on with its unusual game-4 and difficult rc? if one could take only 1 pt of 73, 74, 75 before the game day to get a diagnostic score, which one would be it?

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:22 am

appind wrote:i had thought that i'd decide to take or not the Oct test based on pt-72 which i sat for last june. i didn't discuss or dwell on any questions of the test since the real take so it was otherwise a fresh test for me. pt-72 that i took over the weekend destroyed me. i scored well below my target.
now i am in a dilemma about my lsat score level at this point and have almost no fresh tests left. Is pt-72 a representative test for one's score level considering it's widely known to be a difficult test to score high on with its unusual game-4 and difficult rc? if one could take only 1 pt of 73, 74, 75 before the game day to get a diagnostic score, which one would be it?


Hey Appind --

Sorry to hear that the PT didn't go as well as you'd hoped -- I'm sure it's not what you wanted to see this close to the test --

In my opinion, no one LSAT is any harder or less accurate than any other --

I do think that different tests feel easier or harder for all of us, but that has more to do with how well our own skills, habits, and performance match up with that particular exam (it happens to include the type of game we feel weakest at, etc.)

Not only do I believe all this to be true, I believe that thinking about the tests in this way can be helpful for your mindset leading up to the test.

During the exam, everybody is going to run into extremely difficult challenges -- the game that you can't visualize or the RC where none of the answer choices go as you expect -- and obviously how you react to these situations is going have a significant influence on your score. The absolute last thing you want in this situation is to be thinking about how you got unlucky, picked the wrong exam, aren't going to get the score you want, etc. Instead, what you want to be focused on is being as smart as possible about utilizing the tools that you've worked so hard to develop, and as rational as possible about how much time you ought to spend per q, when you need to go back to the text or game setup to reassess, and so on, and you want to use your final practice exams to really work on firming up these types of habits. As long as your pts are recent and fresh tests, it doesn't matter which ones you take --

Not sure if that's info you needed, but that's what came to mind and I hope that gives you some ideas. I wish you the best --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby manchas » Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:31 pm

Hi Mike - Hope you're doing well. Need your help to assess whether I approached this question correctly. It's Q23 from the first LR section from the June '14 exam. For the life of me, i couldn't isolate what the gap was in this question dealing with phenezines and bacteria. Because there seemed to be no support given for the conclusion in the stimulus, it seemed that I was being asked to merely strengthen a conclusion. Did I misread something or was this a unusual question that just asked me to strength a claim and to an argument?

And the correct answer choice - which I only got to thru process of elimination - was so unexpected and not something that I could ever have conjured up prior to going to the choices. And it's STILL unnerves me! By my understanding (A) seems almost to be the type of strengthener you would select if you were asked to strengthen a causal argument. ( i.e. if one were to trying to strengthen A causes B, one could strengthen by showing that when A is not around, neither is B). But there was no causal argument in 23, was there? So confused on this one.

These are the reasons why I eliminated the other choices, but I am still so unsure of this q that I would really appreciate if you could verify if these were based on sound reasoning. To simplify things, I'll use your "constellation of wrong answers" that you discussed in the book.

B. attractive for me because it touched upon the "fending off bacteria" issue from the first sentence in the stimulus, but ultimately wrong because it doesn't relate to the conclusion.
C. a false comparison that's unrelated to the stimulus ?
D. same as (B); strengthens the first idea in the stimulus but fails to relate to the conclusion.
E. eliminated this cuz it seemed to actually do the opposite and if anything, seemed to weaken the hypothesis by suggesting that P doesn't help interior bacteria.

Thanks and sorry for the excruciating detail.
Last edited by manchas on Fri Sep 25, 2015 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby missfozzie » Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:32 pm

HI Mike! I am planning on taking the June 2016 test. Is it bad that I am reading your Trainer now? I hear it is bad to start studying too earlier, I guess the burn out? It is just that I am working full time, and this Oct and December are too soon for me, with balancing the work/studying and everything else. I just started your trainer. Thanks!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:33 pm

manchas wrote:Hi Mike - Hope you're doing well. Need your help to assess whether I approached this question correctly. It's Q23 from the first LR section from the June '14 exam. For the life of me, i couldn't isolate what the gap was in this question dealing with phenezines and bacteria. Because there seemed to be no support given for the conclusion in the stimulus, it seemed that I was being asked to merely strengthen a conclusion. Did I misread something or was this a unusual question that just asked me to strength a claim and to an argument?

And the correct answer choice - which I only got to thru process of elimination - was so unexpected and not something that I could ever have conjured up prior to going to the choices. And it's STILL unnerves me! By my understanding (A) seems almost to be the type of strengthener you would select if you were asked to strengthen a causal argument. ( i.e. if one were to trying to strengthen A causes B, one could strengthen by showing that when A is not around, neither is B). But there was no causal argument in 23, was there? So confused on this one.

These are the reasons why I eliminated the other choices, but I am still so unsure of this q that I would really appreciate if you could verify if these were based on sound reasoning. To simplify things, I'll use your "constellation of wrong answers" that you discussed in the book.

B. attractive for me because it touched upon the "fending off bacteria" issue from the first sentence in the stimulus, but ultimately wrong because it doesn't relate to the conclusion.
C. a false comparison that's unrelated to the stimulus ?
D. same as (B); strengthens the first idea in the stimulus but fails to relate to the conclusion.
E. eliminated this cuz it seemed to actually do the opposite and if anything, seemed to weaken the hypothesis by suggesting that P doesn't help interior bacteria.

Thanks and sorry for the excruciating detail.

Hey --

Appreciate the detail and I’m guessing my response will be even longer --

This is a great problem -- I imagine that pretty much everyone who saw this on the exam had a “What the…” moment -- I know did when I just tried it --

And I think you did a great job thinking through it (and getting it right even though you didn’t totally feel comfortable) -- the one big issue was that you stretched too hard to find an argument when there wasn’t one --

I talk a lot about tendencies and twists in the trainer, and I think it can really be helpful to think of harder or more unusual q’s on these terms --

The big twists included here are that
a) the stimulus doesn’t include an argument &
b) the right answer is far more unique than is the norm

Notice the question asks us to strengthen a hypothesis -- hypothesis is the equivalent of “claim” or “conclusion,” rather than an equivalent of “reasoning” or “argument.”

When we go into the stimulus, we can see that there is background, and a conclusion, but no support. Without support, we don’t have an argument.

We can tell that the background is not meant to serve as support because we don’t have any terms that indicate a support-conclusion relationship (such as therefore or thus) and instead only have the term “also,” which indicates that the roles (fending off bacteria and getting stuff to the interior bacteria) are part of a list together rather than having some sort of connection to one another.

So, this is one of those rare S/W q’s for which there is no argument given (I would guess they appear roughly once every 5 to 10 exams) and our job isn’t to strengthen the reasoning, but rather just the conclusion.

Knowing that this is an unusual situation, and also having a bit of bias knowing this is #23 and so probably tough, going into the answer choices, I’m very careful --

The right answer needs to support something very specific -- the idea that phanazines give interior bacteria access to essential nutrients from the outside environment. My guess is that the right answer will support in an unusual way (though I certainly didn’t expect anything like A).

What can we expect from wrong answer?
1 - they won’t relate to the conclusion -- in this case, the only other thing they can relate to is the b.g., so I can almost guarantee there will be choices that connect to the b.g. info but not in a way that relates to the actual point in the conclusion.
or
2 - if they do relate to the conclusion, there must be no possible way they can strengthen (without being restricted to some argument, this is a pretty wide net of possibilities for how answers could strengthen) -- almost the only option the test writer has for this second type of wrong answer is to make it extremely blatant that it plays the opposite role -- that is, the info given relates but could only, if true, weaken the conclusion rather than strengthen it.

Okay, with all that said --

(A) seemed super unattractive to me, but I kept it just because of “increasing number of bacteria in direct contact with the surrounding environment” which has a suspicious relationship to “interior bacteria” in the stimulus (in retrospect, easier to see that it produces opposite of having interior bacteria).

(B) relates to the background info, and not in any way that can be used to support the conclusion - so we can cut it.

(C), if anything, weakens the potential that phenazines help survival, and so we can cut it as well.

(D) relates to the background info, and not in any way that can be used to support the conclusion, so we can cut it as well.

(E) actually tempted me a lot at first (I think in part because I didn’t believe (A) could be correct and I was running out of options) -- so I had to think about it very carefully -- while (E) relates phenazines, interior, and non-interior bacteria, it does so in way that doesn’t help show that the phenazines help get nutrients to the inside -- again, like (C), if anything, it goes against the idea that phenazines help interior survival.

So, super-hard and unusual q, and so as is common our elimination skills can be of huge help here --

Going back to (A) -- what it tells us is that bacterial colonies that don’t produce phenazines have another method by which they deal with issues of “interior” bacteria -- they shape themselves in such a way that more of the bacteria are closer to the perimeter and not on the interior.

So, if colonies without P are designed to prevent bacteria from being in the interior, it can strengthen the potential that perhaps, for the colonies with P that have interior bacteria, the P aids in the survival of that bacteria.

That’s a really round-about way to strengthen, and one that’s very tough to see -- here’s an analogous situation to show it a bit more clearly.

“John wears sunglasses to protect his eyes from the sun. It also seems he wears them to help correct his vision.”

Notice, this structure makes it clear that the protection from the sun isn’t meant to relate to the correcting the vision in any way -- it’s just b.g. and a conclusion.

Now imagine this strengthener: “Whenever John doesn’t wear the sunglasses, he wears contact lenses.”

So, when the sunglasses aren’t there, he uses something else for the eyesight issue. This can help strengthen the claim that perhaps he uses the sunglasses to correct his vision.

Does it make the conclusion airtight? Absolutely not. It’s got more holes than swiss cheese. But I hope you can see how it does strengthen just a bit. Same thing going on here.

Yikes - sorry for the length -- again, great q -- it’s extremely unusual for a S/W to ask just about a conclusion, rather than an argument, and that seems to be what got you started off on the wrong foot -- hope that helps clear things up a bit --

Best,

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:38 pm

missfozzie wrote:HI Mike! I am planning on taking the June 2016 test. Is it bad that I am reading your Trainer now? I hear it is bad to start studying too earlier, I guess the burn out? It is just that I am working full time, and this Oct and December are too soon for me, with balancing the work/studying and everything else. I just started your trainer. Thanks!


Hi MissFozzie --

Nice to meet you online and thanks for trusting in my book --

I don't think it's too early at all to start studying for next June, and, in fact, I think it's great that you are starting now. It'll give you plenty of time to get in all the learning and practice you need, and plenty of time to address weaknesses, spend extra time on the hardest issues, etc. Most students go into the exam wishing they had had a bit more time to study, and I think it's great that you are getting a head start. If you need any help organizing your time, I suggest you take a look at one of the free schedules available on my website, and if you run into any issues during your studies, please don't hesitate to reach out --

Best,

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby manchas » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:58 pm

Thanks for clearing that up. I feel much better knowing that it was just a strengthen the claim question, as opposed to a strengthen the argument, which I was more accustomed to seeing on modern LSATs.

Thank you so much.. and yeah, the sunglass/contact lens example helped a lot!!!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby AlexandraHope » Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:43 am

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
missfozzie wrote:HI Mike! I am planning on taking the June 2016 test. Is it bad that I am reading your Trainer now? I hear it is bad to start studying too earlier, I guess the burn out? It is just that I am working full time, and this Oct and December are too soon for me, with balancing the work/studying and everything else. I just started your trainer. Thanks!


Hi MissFozzie --

Nice to meet you online and thanks for trusting in my book --

I don't think it's too early at all to start studying for next June, and, in fact, I think it's great that you are starting now. It'll give you plenty of time to get in all the learning and practice you need, and plenty of time to address weaknesses, spend extra time on the hardest issues, etc. Most students go into the exam wishing they had had a bit more time to study, and I think it's great that you are getting a head start. If you need any help organizing your time, I suggest you take a look at one of the free schedules available on my website, and if you run into any issues during your studies, please don't hesitate to reach out --

Best,

Mike


Hi Mike!

I am buying your book. Can you please check your DM's I emailed you a question. If you want I can post it here alo

roranoa
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby roranoa » Mon Oct 12, 2015 7:58 pm

I have a question from PT 70 section 2 RC.

Question 12, which is a detail related question, seems to ask something that was very lightly mentioned and wasn't really something one would remember unless you remembered everything.

How do you approach such question with speed when it asks for attention to the most minute detail?

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Postby pta » Fri Oct 16, 2015 8:19 pm

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Oct 22, 2015 1:02 pm

roranoa wrote:I have a question from PT 70 section 2 RC.

Question 12, which is a detail related question, seems to ask something that was very lightly mentioned and wasn't really something one would remember unless you remembered everything.

How do you approach such question with speed when it asks for attention to the most minute detail?


Hi Roranoa --

Sorry for the delay --

I just tried the problem -- here's the approach I took (I didn't try the q's around it, so I'm not sure how they would have influenced my actions) --

I certainly didn't answer the q from memory -- instead --

I read the q stem, and focused on "dance forms that Dunham began studying in 1935" --

I then returned to the passage and found that component (beginning of third p) and quickly ready from before that paragraph to right after it --

I understood the meaning/purpose of that paragraph both when I initially read it and when I returned to it, but I'm honestly a bit nervous because almost all of it seems to be about Dunham's research methods, rather than the dance forms themselves -- so that made me a little worried I was going to run into a trick answer --

In any case, now I return to the answers, and what I know, per the way the q is written -- is that --

1 answer -- the right answer, will be something actually discussed in the passage

4 answers -- the wrong answers -- will not --

I think maybe your concern (a good one) is the challenge of what to do with those wrong answers --

The first time through the answer choices, I didn't take each answer one at a time and check against the entire paragraph/passage -- instead, I scanned to see if any jumped out as making sense relative to the paragraph and the author's main points -- I got nervous when I didn't see anything from (A) - (D), but then (E) jumped out at me as being most likely correct because it matched the one bit of info we were given in that sentence in the passage that includes "1935."

If, at this point, you were nervous about time, you might want to quickly eliminate the rest of the answers, and confirm (E) -- if you have more time you would then perhaps take the time to more carefully eliminate the other answers and confirm the right one --

Hope that helps -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Oct 22, 2015 1:10 pm

Peta wrote:I stopped studying for about 2 months. I feel like I've forgotten a lot. Do you recommend I start all over or should I start where I left off?


Hi Peta --

I often find myself in a similar situation -- I work on a variety of projects and I often switch from one to the other for months at a time and then need to reacclimate --

What I would suggest is that you start off by giving yourself some time to do a general assessment and get organized --

Make some notes on how you feel about LR, LG, and RC -- separate it out into what you need to know vs what you need to be good at, strengths vs weaknesses, whether you need more instruction or drilling, whatever you want --

Try to do as much of this as you can before going back and reviewing your material. Once you do return to the material, take note of the things you forgot to consider --

Use this general assessment to --

a) create a checklist of all that you want to work on to finish up your prep &
b) create a study schedule that aligns with what you want to accomplish -- if you need some help with this, you can start off with the free diy schedule on the trainer site and adapt it to your needs --

Hope that helps and wish you the best --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Hi-So - ArshavinFan » Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:49 pm

Hey Mike - back again!

So I'm taking the LSAT in December - and hopefully i'll be done ( I was supposed to take Oct - I ended up enrolling in a TM course - and the main benefit i got was the Drill Books - the class didn't help at all, other than help me see I had a decent mastery over the some of the concepts.

I have a couple of questions to ask:

1) So i got a 170 on a TM proctored exam, (PT 56), however I took PT 65 a week later, and i got a 164.
Now, i definitely understand the spiel about exams not getting Harder per se, but I've noticed that when it comes to strengthen, weaken, and sufficient assumption questions - the answer choices have become mind-numbing abstract ( I can tell the gaps perfectly!, but filling them has become much, much harder)
I guess my question is - is the reason these new answer choices are harder is because I'm not used to them? I feel like the earlier PT's I'm used to - so it doesn't matter, but I remeber having to drill the hell out of those to get used to it, and every section on the PT 50's I'm very used to. So is it the same concept with the 70s, in that the patterns have changed?


2) I have 2 questions i want to go over - the first being PT 60 S1 Q11 -

I see the gap clearly : how does the fact that not having limitations on novels required ensure a more cosmopolitan education?

To me - How i look for theses strengthen answers are almost in an If-then fashion - (so If the requires are lessened, you will have a greater comprehensive education) or something along those lines. Now the problem is that C & E don't exactly say this but i picked C as it comes the closest to saying this. Can you evaluate this question from the way you see it - I feel like these assumption questions are whats keeping me from the 170 score consistently - my RC & LG have pretty much been fine.

The second question is the same test and question - Q22

I see the gap again clearly - how does the fact that Money is an artificial, human invention - warrant that it was probably/likely created independently in more than one society? The credited answer is A, but I always though of sufficient assumptions answering proving conclusion completely. ow does A do this. Again i look for if then statements - or answer choices that say if then statements in their answers - and it worked pretty well, up until this exam. and PT 65 - which makes me think the LSAC hos taken notice.

Furthermore going forward - I followed the Trainer to a tee, and its helped me immensely ( a 143 - 164 is significant, even if its not where i want to end) However, I feel like with proper guidance I can make up the 6 points so I would like to know your recommendations in taking the rest of the PTs and learning from them.. Thanks again
Last edited by Hi-So - ArshavinFan on Wed Oct 28, 2015 2:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

lynn.wibi
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby lynn.wibi » Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:57 pm

Hi Mike, quick copy-paste of my previous post on the LSAT forum :) Wondering if you will kindly offer any advice on improving accuracy and speed on LR and RC sections.

Breakdown:
- 1-4 questions wrong on each LR section;
- 1-5 questions wrong on the RC section;
- 0 wrong on the LG section.

The number of mistakes fluctuate quite widely; most of the 20 or so PT's I've taken score between 170 and 176, with the exception of a few high 160's. During all of these practice tests, though, I still need around 40 minutes to finish a LR section and 40-45 minutes to finish the RC section. With respect to the LR section, I am usually able to complete 15 questions in 15 minutes, but for whatever reason start to scramble through the last few questions. With respect to RC, I spend around 8 to 12 minutes on each passage, depending on its difficulty and the number of questions.

My timing has improved and I have been able to get less questions wrong lately, but there's much room for improvement. Ideally, it would be great to be able to complete a section in ~30 minutes, with few minutes to spare for quick skim over the more troublesome questions.

My plan for these last final weeks:
- Do 20 more practice tests, with blind reviews later on.
- Finish skimming through LSAT Trainer.
- Do Cambridge Drills on specific LR question types.
- Review challenging LR questions and redo challenging Logic Games section (the latter to minimize mistakes on the one section that should have -0).

Should I strictly time myself to 35 minutes? What would you recommend? Thanks in advance, and thanks for the great advices!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby ak00 » Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:08 am

Hello, I sent my questions to your site inbox
Last edited by ak00 on Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

roranoa
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby roranoa » Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:25 am

Thanks Mike for all the help!

I have a really important question about test taking.

How can I stop making absent minded mistakes?

The thing is, for LG, I would sometimes misread a question or forget one of the rules even though I had it written down.

For LR, after I grade my pt and reread the question I got wrong (without knowing the answer bc someone else grades it for me) I would immediately have an epiphany as to what was wrong with the argument or what the question had intended.

I always think to myself 'Why didn't I see this the first time?', but see myself do it again and again.

What do you suggest I do to fix this?

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Oct 29, 2015 7:03 pm

lynn.wibi wrote:Hi Mike, quick copy-paste of my previous post on the LSAT forum :) Wondering if you will kindly offer any advice on improving accuracy and speed on LR and RC sections.

Breakdown:
- 1-4 questions wrong on each LR section;
- 1-5 questions wrong on the RC section;
- 0 wrong on the LG section.

The number of mistakes fluctuate quite widely; most of the 20 or so PT's I've taken score between 170 and 176, with the exception of a few high 160's. During all of these practice tests, though, I still need around 40 minutes to finish a LR section and 40-45 minutes to finish the RC section. With respect to the LR section, I am usually able to complete 15 questions in 15 minutes, but for whatever reason start to scramble through the last few questions. With respect to RC, I spend around 8 to 12 minutes on each passage, depending on its difficulty and the number of questions.

My timing has improved and I have been able to get less questions wrong lately, but there's much room for improvement. Ideally, it would be great to be able to complete a section in ~30 minutes, with few minutes to spare for quick skim over the more troublesome questions.

My plan for these last final weeks:
- Do 20 more practice tests, with blind reviews later on.
- Finish skimming through LSAT Trainer.
- Do Cambridge Drills on specific LR question types.
- Review challenging LR questions and redo challenging Logic Games section (the latter to minimize mistakes on the one section that should have -0).

Should I strictly time myself to 35 minutes? What would you recommend? Thanks in advance, and thanks for the great advices!


Hi lynn -- just so I understand you clearly and can thus hopefully offer more relevant advice -- when you mention those scores -- are those based off of 35 minute sections? if not, do you mind telling me a bit about what sort of drilling/pt work you've been doing timed vs untimed? -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Oct 30, 2015 2:30 pm

Hi-So - ArshavinFan wrote:Hey Mike - back again!

So I'm taking the LSAT in December - and hopefully i'll be done ( I was supposed to take Oct - I ended up enrolling in a TM course - and the main benefit i got was the Drill Books - the class didn't help at all, other than help me see I had a decent mastery over the some of the concepts.

I have a couple of questions to ask:

1) So i got a 170 on a TM proctored exam, (PT 56), however I took PT 65 a week later, and i got a 164.
Now, i definitely understand the spiel about exams not getting Harder per se, but I've noticed that when it comes to strengthen, weaken, and sufficient assumption questions - the answer choices have become mind-numbing abstract ( I can tell the gaps perfectly!, but filling them has become much, much harder)
I guess my question is - is the reason these new answer choices are harder is because I'm not used to them? I feel like the earlier PT's I'm used to - so it doesn't matter, but I remeber having to drill the hell out of those to get used to it, and every section on the PT 50's I'm very used to. So is it the same concept with the 70s, in that the patterns have changed?


2) I have 2 questions i want to go over - the first being PT 60 S1 Q11 -

I see the gap clearly : how does the fact that not having limitations on novels required ensure a more cosmopolitan education?

To me - How i look for theses strengthen answers are almost in an If-then fashion - (so If the requires are lessened, you will have a greater comprehensive education) or something along those lines. Now the problem is that C & E don't exactly say this but i picked C as it comes the closest to saying this. Can you evaluate this question from the way you see it - I feel like these assumption questions are whats keeping me from the 170 score consistently - my RC & LG have pretty much been fine.

The second question is the same test and question - Q22

I see the gap again clearly - how does the fact that Money is an artificial, human invention - warrant that it was probably/likely created independently in more than one society? The credited answer is A, but I always though of sufficient assumptions answering proving conclusion completely. ow does A do this. Again i look for if then statements - or answer choices that say if then statements in their answers - and it worked pretty well, up until this exam. and PT 65 - which makes me think the LSAC hos taken notice.

Furthermore going forward - I followed the Trainer to a tee, and its helped me immensely ( a 143 - 164 is significant, even if its not where i want to end) However, I feel like with proper guidance I can make up the 6 points so I would like to know your recommendations in taking the rest of the PTs and learning from them.. Thanks again


Hey! --

That’s some amazing improvement -- congrats, and I’m sure hearing about that gives hope to a lot of others out there -- also, as you might imagine, I love hearing that you want to get even better -- here are some thoughts --

In terms of changes to the test and so on, obviously there are different ways to think about it, but, in my opinion, the test has really not changed much over time, and, for as long as I’ve been teaching, the LSAT has been entirely consistent in terms of how they define right and wrong answers for all problems. Again, I realize there are different ways to think about this, but that’s my view of it --

In terms of the two specific q’s you asked about (both, in my mind, pretty tough ones) --

pt 60 - 1 - 11

I think I saw the reasoning flaw in the argument in pretty much the same way you did -- the author is going from something specific (the increased inclusion of Asian, African, and American Indian histories in history textbooks) to something much more general and not exactly in the same vein -- not only is the conclusion about the overall education offered by universities, it is about this education being more in-depth and cosmopolitan -- including the history of these areas doesn’t necessary increase depth or “cosmopolitanness” in any way -- so, to put it in trainer terms, it’s a piece doesn’t equal puzzle issue, with a bit of apples to oranges thrown in.

The right answer needs to address these concerns in one way or another, but because it’s a strengthen q, we cannot and should not predict the actual substance of it.

(E) does not have a direct relation to the author’s conclusion or the given support. It discusses reading history books that only discuss a single culture -- “single culture” has no direct relation to our given premise, which is about adding a few new cultures to an unknown amount that are already discussed. That’s what eliminated (E) for me in real time. Furthermore, the consequence (E) gives us has to do very specifically with getting this sort of education “from these courses alone” -- whereas our conclusion is about increased depth and “cosmopolitanness” in general -- we can play around with (E) and try to get creative with contrapositives and such to see if we can make (E) fit with the argument somehow, but it doesn’t, and it’s really the differences in subject matter (and noticing this is a reading issue) that, to me, most obviously tips me off that (E) is incorrect.

pt 60 - 1- 22

To super-simplify --

We are told --

Use of money is universal

The concept of using money is a human invention.

Conclusion: probable that money was invented independently in more than one society.

So, let’s think about this -- what would we need in order to prove the conclusion true?

We know, from the premises, that money has been invented at least once by humans. In order to validate the conclusion, we need to know that it’s (probably) been invented more than once.

If (A) is true, and added to the premises, it gives us that justification --

What (A) tells us is that there are cultures that have not been influenced by other cultures.

Do these cultures use money -- absolutely or probably (depending on how you choose to read “universality”) -- if they use money, and they didn’t learn to do so from someone else, they had to have invented it -- in either case, (A) gives us enough to justify the conclusion.

Those are my thoughts about the q’s -- I hope that helped -- I know I went through those fairly quickly, so let me know if I failed to address any more subtle concerns you may have had about the q’s --


Finally, in terms of how to maximize your remaining prep time -- with that sort of score increase, I’m sure you probably know better than I do how to use your remaining time best -- but here are a few suggestions that are based on experiences with some previous students --

1) Resist the temptation to focus on the hardest q’s -- this is a part of our nature that conflicts with the design of the LSAT -- for this test, harder q’s aren’t worth more, and they don’t necessarily teach us more about the exam -- make sure to continue to work on covering all your bases and

2) figure out where to get the lowest hanging fruit -- I know that’s a phrase overused by cheesy-business types, but it works well here -- where are the problems you feel most silly about missing? focus on those -- chances are they can tell you of certain easier fixes you can make to improve your performance.

3) work to get faster and more automatic at the easier q’s. The hard q’s are hard for everyone -- top scorers are often top scorers because they have more time for these harder q’s than others do -- so, make sure you are using your drilling/final pt work to become a machine at the stuff you are already good at -- for example, if there are particular types of games that you know you can nail every time -- try to really push the pace on those and see how much advantage you can get and utilize on a game that feels more difficult.

4) but, at the same time, do your best to get rid of any last “trying to outsmart the test” sort of shortcuts -- (the type that might work on an easy q but will mess you up on a hard one) -- it’s super easy for all of us to develop them, even without realizing it, but if you want to get to the 170+ level, you really can’t be dependent on such gimmicks -- all of your methods ought to be based on absolute rules of right and wrong, and a clear understanding of best practices, practices which should work for problems at all difficulty levels.

Those are the thoughts that come to mind -- I hope at least some of them relate to you situation and are helpful, and congrats again on the awesome improvement thus far -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Oct 30, 2015 3:18 pm

roranoa wrote:Thanks Mike for all the help!

I have a really important question about test taking.

How can I stop making absent minded mistakes?

The thing is, for LG, I would sometimes misread a question or forget one of the rules even though I had it written down.

For LR, after I grade my pt and reread the question I got wrong (without knowing the answer bc someone else grades it for me) I would immediately have an epiphany as to what was wrong with the argument or what the question had intended.

I always think to myself 'Why didn't I see this the first time?', but see myself do it again and again.

What do you suggest I do to fix this?


Great q --

Before I get further, here’s a random video that I think relates to this q -- it’s probable you’ve seen some version of this before elsewhere -- https://youtu.be/IGQmdoK_ZfY

I think just about everyone who takes the exam suffers some from making absent-minded mistakes, and mitigating their impact is one of the best ways to improve performance and take control of the exam --

But that’s definitely easier said than done, and I think absent-minded LSAT errors are a perfect representation of the adage that problems cannot be solved at the level at which they arise -- that is, you can’t lessen the impact of absent-minded mistakes just by wanting to, or by noticing after the fact that they have happened.

Rather, it’s much more effective to work on impacting
A) the factors that allow them to occur in the first place &
B) safeguards you can put use in order to catch yourself when they do occur --

Let’s start w/A -- the factors that allow them to occur in the first place -- three suggestions for working on this --

1) Work hard to habitualize problem-solving processes, and, more specifically, be hyper-critical of the steps you take, in real time, to solve problems.

By definition, absent-minded mistakes happen when you are focused on something else -- if you make an absent-minded mistake that causes you to miss a q, that means that you likely made that mistake during a moment where your focus wasn’t where it ought to have been.

Whether you are using trainer strategies or other strategies, make sure you are working to habitualize effective processes -- that you are working on taking the same steps every time you solve a certain type of problem -- and is in large part this is about strengthening discipline in terms of what you ought to focus on and when.

2) Remember to think of it as a reading test.
3) Remember to think of it as a test of mental discipline.

Your brain has a natural inclination to see the exam as a reasoning test. Most commonly, absent-minded mistakes are reading mistakes (don’t notice subtle difference between two different words, for example) or mistakes of mental discipline (lose track of exactly what q stem is asking for, etc.), and these mistakes often get by you because your mind is focused on thinking about the reasoning in an abstract manner. The more you can convince your mind that the test is a reading test and a test of mental discipline, the less likely these issues will slip through because you are lost in thought.

In terms of (B) -- mitigating the impact -- you don’t necessarily need to add on extra steps above and beyond the process of solving the problem -- instead, I think, ideally, you want to habitualize problem-solving methods that, along the way, help you both get to the right answer better & help you catch yourself when you’ve gone astray.

Here are a few that I discuss in the trainer that I think are important specifically in terms of offsetting absent-minded mistakes.

For LG: read the stimulus and rules completely before starting to diagram -- you are much less likely to make a mistake on a rule when you have a big-picture sense of the game as whole, and more likely to mistake a rule when you have trouble seeing how it relates.

For LG: after you’ve set up your diagram and before you go into the game, look at your diagram, say to yourself what each notation means, then check that understanding back against the rules as they were written.

A lot of students think they don’t have time for such steps as these, but they will take just a few seconds, and the added comfort level they give you will invariably mean that you will more than make up that time by going faster on the q’s.

For LR & RC: Make sure you utilize an elimination process, and more specifically, one where you actively seek out specific reasons why answers are absolutely wrong (as I discuss in the trainer, this is very different from just getting rid of answers that don’t fit what you predict for a right answer).

For LR and RC: Always confirm your right answer against the specific information in the text (the stimulus or passage) and the specific information in the question stem (this second step is especially important for RC) -- again, treat it as a test of exact reading, and this will help you avoid the temptation to confirm a right answer using just the generalized understanding of text or task that exists in your head.

As I always say, every student is different, and I imagine that some of what I discussed relates to your particular issues and some of it doesn’t -- please feel free to ignore any advice you feel like ignoring, and to follow up on anything that doesn’t make sense --

Take care and I wish you the best -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby lynn.wibi » Fri Oct 30, 2015 6:33 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
lynn.wibi wrote:Hi Mike, quick copy-paste of my previous post on the LSAT forum :) Wondering if you will kindly offer any advice on improving accuracy and speed on LR and RC sections.

Breakdown:
- 1-4 questions wrong on each LR section;
- 1-5 questions wrong on the RC section;
- 0 wrong on the LG section.

The number of mistakes fluctuate quite widely; most of the 20 or so PT's I've taken score between 170 and 176, with the exception of a few high 160's. During all of these practice tests, though, I still need around 40 minutes to finish a LR section and 40-45 minutes to finish the RC section. With respect to the LR section, I am usually able to complete 15 questions in 15 minutes, but for whatever reason start to scramble through the last few questions. With respect to RC, I spend around 8 to 12 minutes on each passage, depending on its difficulty and the number of questions.

My timing has improved and I have been able to get less questions wrong lately, but there's much room for improvement. Ideally, it would be great to be able to complete a section in ~30 minutes, with few minutes to spare for quick skim over the more troublesome questions.

My plan for these last final weeks:
- Do 20 more practice tests, with blind reviews later on.
- Finish skimming through LSAT Trainer.
- Do Cambridge Drills on specific LR question types.
- Review challenging LR questions and redo challenging Logic Games section (the latter to minimize mistakes on the one section that should have -0).

Should I strictly time myself to 35 minutes? What would you recommend? Thanks in advance, and thanks for the great advices!


Hi lynn -- just so I understand you clearly and can thus hopefully offer more relevant advice -- when you mention those scores -- are those based off of 35 minute sections? if not, do you mind telling me a bit about what sort of drilling/pt work you've been doing timed vs untimed? -- Mike


Hi Mike,

I did the tests untimed, then timed as I proceeded to more recent tests, with the exception of RC, which I usually need 40 minutes to finish. Out of the 20 or so preptests I have done so far, around 13-15 are timed, and the remaining 7 are not. Would like to ask some follow-up questions, if you don't mind :)

While now I could finish a LR section with around 2-5 minutes to spare, I still generally make around 2-3 mistakes per section. Some of them are careless mistakes, to my disappointment, as it means that I'm still not accurate and careful enough. Some of them, however--even with the remaining 2-3 minutes that I spent on them, and even after being able to eliminate the answer choices down to 2, I still got them wrong. How does one overcome this hurdle? Should I increase my speed even more to allocate more time to these questions? Also, What is your opinion on the difficulty of the RC section over the years, especially the difficulty of PT.41-50 to that of the more recent PTs?

Thanks again!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Nov 03, 2015 12:32 pm

lynn.wibi wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
lynn.wibi wrote:Hi Mike, quick copy-paste of my previous post on the LSAT forum :) Wondering if you will kindly offer any advice on improving accuracy and speed on LR and RC sections.

Breakdown:
- 1-4 questions wrong on each LR section;
- 1-5 questions wrong on the RC section;
- 0 wrong on the LG section.

The number of mistakes fluctuate quite widely; most of the 20 or so PT's I've taken score between 170 and 176, with the exception of a few high 160's. During all of these practice tests, though, I still need around 40 minutes to finish a LR section and 40-45 minutes to finish the RC section. With respect to the LR section, I am usually able to complete 15 questions in 15 minutes, but for whatever reason start to scramble through the last few questions. With respect to RC, I spend around 8 to 12 minutes on each passage, depending on its difficulty and the number of questions.

My timing has improved and I have been able to get less questions wrong lately, but there's much room for improvement. Ideally, it would be great to be able to complete a section in ~30 minutes, with few minutes to spare for quick skim over the more troublesome questions.

My plan for these last final weeks:
- Do 20 more practice tests, with blind reviews later on.
- Finish skimming through LSAT Trainer.
- Do Cambridge Drills on specific LR question types.
- Review challenging LR questions and redo challenging Logic Games section (the latter to minimize mistakes on the one section that should have -0).

Should I strictly time myself to 35 minutes? What would you recommend? Thanks in advance, and thanks for the great advices!


Hi lynn -- just so I understand you clearly and can thus hopefully offer more relevant advice -- when you mention those scores -- are those based off of 35 minute sections? if not, do you mind telling me a bit about what sort of drilling/pt work you've been doing timed vs untimed? -- Mike


Hi Mike,

I did the tests untimed, then timed as I proceeded to more recent tests, with the exception of RC, which I usually need 40 minutes to finish. Out of the 20 or so preptests I have done so far, around 13-15 are timed, and the remaining 7 are not. Would like to ask some follow-up questions, if you don't mind :)

While now I could finish a LR section with around 2-5 minutes to spare, I still generally make around 2-3 mistakes per section. Some of them are careless mistakes, to my disappointment, as it means that I'm still not accurate and careful enough. Some of them, however--even with the remaining 2-3 minutes that I spent on them, and even after being able to eliminate the answer choices down to 2, I still got them wrong. How does one overcome this hurdle? Should I increase my speed even more to allocate more time to these questions? Also, What is your opinion on the difficulty of the RC section over the years, especially the difficulty of PT.41-50 to that of the more recent PTs?

Thanks again!




Hi there -- thank you for the extra info --

Big picture-wise, what it seems to me (and you know yourself best) is that you ought to focus your attention for this last month on trying to fine tune and firm up your habits as much as possible.

Your untimed scores indicate that you have the understanding necessary to get a top score -- your timing indicates that either your processes include unnecessary steps that slow you down, or that you are working too much just off your pure abilities.

You certainly don’t need to use trainer strategies to have high level success, but, whatever strategies you do use, it’s important that you consider as criteria the fact that, because of the design of the exam, it’s often true that ---

a) many effective strategies help you solve problems both faster and more accurately -- in large part, this is because they help you focus on what you are supposed to focus on.

b) many ineffective strategies, or bad habits, are harmful both because they cause you to waste time and because they increase the chances for making mistakes and being tempted by wrong answers.

So, to give one example, if you are not as strong as you can be at differentiating supporting premises from background info, and so you end up often spending too much unnecessary time/attention focused on what the background info tells you, not only will it take you longer to solve problems, you will open yourself up to being more attracted to answers that don’t directly relate to the core of the argument. At your score level, chances are you are able to overcome something like this just fine most of the time, but having to do so will certainly cause the test to take longer/feel more challenging than it ought.

So, at this stage, (especially because so much of your prep has been untimed), you want to avoid making “trade-off” decisions between speed and accuracy, and instead use your drilling or pt’ing to try and firm up those habits that help with both speed and accuracy.

If you are using the trainer, these would include habits such as always working to zero in on the concl-premise relationship before evaluating the reasoning of an argument in an LR Q, double-checking your notations against the given rules for an LG game, having set and practiced strategies for each of the common types of RC question types, and so on.

At your level, I’m sure you know very well which of your tools are most important for helping you get to that right answer quickly and accurately -- again, I recommend you use your prep to try and strengthen and highlight these habits, and, even more importantly --

I recommend that going forward you always time every single problem you solve, do your best to solve everything as fast as you possibly can, and, in your review, carefully assess even the problems you found easy to see how your process was -- whether you dealt with things as quickly and accurately as you could have, or whether you ended up wasting time going down unnecessary rabbit holes. Make it a priority to try and cut out as many such unnecessary steps as possible -- for many students in your situation, this may be the very best way possible to improve both speed and accuracy.

In terms of taking 20 pts between now and test day -- that’s certainly commendable, but I don’t think it’s necessary, and, on the flip side of things, I think it’s really important to make sure you maximize the learning you get from each test. They are all extremely similar, and you want to see it that way. So again my big recommendations are to push the pace as much possible without sacrificing accuracy, to recognize that the purpose of taking these exams is to set the right habits, and, in your review, focus on the process you used, and, in particular, parts that were more inefficient than they could have been.

Finally, in terms of your q about the RC -- I do think that some of the language they’ve been using has arguably become a bit more challenging, but the changes over time are very, very subtle, and, in my view, not really worth stressing about -- I think two things to keep in mind are that --

a) when tests do gradually change over time, they tend to do so in terms of quantity, rather than quality -- that is, if RC or LG does get harder, it won’t do so in new ways, but rather with by shifting a bit more emphasis to certain types of challenges, making certain challenges a bit more subtle or better hidden, etc.

b) whatever changes have occurred are also being experienced by the other test takers, so it’s really helpful to keep in mind that your score won’t be determined by how hard you find the test to be, but rather how you react to those challenges --

Sorry for the length - not sure which of the above applies to your situation, but I hope that at the least it gave you one or two ideas for how to get a bit more out of this last month --

Take care --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby appind » Sun Nov 08, 2015 12:16 pm

A question about PT-C.LR1.2.

the conclusion is: I should stop drinking; only then I can ensure not getting cancer.
this translates to "Ensure no cancer" --> Stop drinking

the Q asks for a flaw in the argument.
E is the credited choice: "does not consider possibility of other causes of cancer."

but the conclusion is only saying that to ensure not getting cancer, i must not drink. One can still get cancer from other causes but to ensure that one doesn't get cancer, not drinking is a necessary condition.
since "X only then Y" means Y->X, the TCR is not supported based on it.

why this issue in this question?


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