Mike's Trainer Thread

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:07 pm

paglababa wrote:Mike,

I've done extensive drilling for LG and LR and have those done good enough. I'm PTing between 174 and 168 now which is quite a big range. I'd like to get it consistent in the upper 170s. My main weakness is RC. If I could get that down to a -1 through -3 I would be ecstatic and have 175+

I've been studying since the last week of June and writing the exam in October. Tips for improving RC? Being killed by inference questions. I'm thinking of buying the lsat trainer but only if it will help me in RC. To be honest, the only studying i did for RC was reading the entire MLSAT book and doing the sections on my practice exams.

Thanks.


Hi --

I have to admit I've been following the RC conversation on the Oct thread and really enjoying it --

In terms of buying the trainer only for rc -- I think you can guess, from some of my previous posts, that I'm not going to answer that for you -- but I will say that the best way to decide will probably be to take a look at the RC Review chapter available for free on my website -- it summarizes the topics that are covered in the book (and gives you timing strategies as well) -- I'm sure you'll be able to tell after that whether looking at the book will be worth your while. In my head, it's very different from MLSAT RC, but I'm probably not as good a judge of that as you guys are.

In terms of offering specific tips, more than happy to give some here, but let me ask you first --

What have you tried to change about how you approach RC?

How effective have these changes been?

Other than a specific question type, what do you think is holding you back?

I've got to get off this forum and get my work done, but if you have a chance to respond I'll get back to you later today --

Mike

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

Postby paglababa » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:54 am

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
paglababa wrote:Mike,

I've done extensive drilling for LG and LR and have those done good enough. I'm PTing between 174 and 168 now which is quite a big range. I'd like to get it consistent in the upper 170s. My main weakness is RC. If I could get that down to a -1 through -3 I would be ecstatic and have 175+

I've been studying since the last week of June and writing the exam in October. Tips for improving RC? Being killed by inference questions. I'm thinking of buying the lsat trainer but only if it will help me in RC. To be honest, the only studying i did for RC was reading the entire MLSAT book and doing the sections on my practice exams.

Thanks.


Hi --

I have to admit I've been following the RC conversation on the Oct thread and really enjoying it --

In terms of buying the trainer only for rc -- I think you can guess, from some of my previous posts, that I'm not going to answer that for you -- but I will say that the best way to decide will probably be to take a look at the RC Review chapter available for free on my website -- it summarizes the topics that are covered in the book (and gives you timing strategies as well) -- I'm sure you'll be able to tell after that whether looking at the book will be worth your while. In my head, it's very different from MLSAT RC, but I'm probably not as good a judge of that as you guys are.

In terms of offering specific tips, more than happy to give some here, but let me ask you first --

What have you tried to change about how you approach RC?

How effective have these changes been?

Other than a specific question type, what do you think is holding you back?

I've got to get off this forum and get my work done, but if you have a chance to respond I'll get back to you later today --

Mike


I've only done one change. I realized I was running out of time to reach all the questions missing some easier ones, so I started reading the sections much quicker and not getting caught up on difficult questions. Spending less time on the passage is a good thing because I never really miss the main point or structure of the article. I think MLSAT really pushes that, but the problem is I'm missing questions that then need inference from specific parts of the article. Spending more time on the questions isn't helping me get them right. Looking at the stems of a few I got wrong recently: 1.What would weaken/cast doubt on the author's assertion about X? 2. Which is the most strongly supported by blah blah? 3. The author would most likely agree with blah blah?

Occasionally one of these will trip me up: "The authors use of XXX in line 32 serves to/is used primarily to..."

Am I just not retaining enough details in my read? Would love to know what I should be doing for the next few weeks to address this. BTW I've read the sample RC chapter in your book and placed the order today on amazon. I figure even if skimming the RC content helps a tiny bit it will be worth it. Thanks!

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:39 pm

paglababa wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
paglababa wrote:Mike,

I've done extensive drilling for LG and LR and have those done good enough. I'm PTing between 174 and 168 now which is quite a big range. I'd like to get it consistent in the upper 170s. My main weakness is RC. If I could get that down to a -1 through -3 I would be ecstatic and have 175+

I've been studying since the last week of June and writing the exam in October. Tips for improving RC? Being killed by inference questions. I'm thinking of buying the lsat trainer but only if it will help me in RC. To be honest, the only studying i did for RC was reading the entire MLSAT book and doing the sections on my practice exams.

Thanks.


Hi --

I have to admit I've been following the RC conversation on the Oct thread and really enjoying it --

In terms of buying the trainer only for rc -- I think you can guess, from some of my previous posts, that I'm not going to answer that for you -- but I will say that the best way to decide will probably be to take a look at the RC Review chapter available for free on my website -- it summarizes the topics that are covered in the book (and gives you timing strategies as well) -- I'm sure you'll be able to tell after that whether looking at the book will be worth your while. In my head, it's very different from MLSAT RC, but I'm probably not as good a judge of that as you guys are.

In terms of offering specific tips, more than happy to give some here, but let me ask you first --

What have you tried to change about how you approach RC?

How effective have these changes been?

Other than a specific question type, what do you think is holding you back?

I've got to get off this forum and get my work done, but if you have a chance to respond I'll get back to you later today --

Mike


I've only done one change. I realized I was running out of time to reach all the questions missing some easier ones, so I started reading the sections much quicker and not getting caught up on difficult questions. Spending less time on the passage is a good thing because I never really miss the main point or structure of the article. I think MLSAT really pushes that, but the problem is I'm missing questions that then need inference from specific parts of the article. Spending more time on the questions isn't helping me get them right. Looking at the stems of a few I got wrong recently: 1.What would weaken/cast doubt on the author's assertion about X? 2. Which is the most strongly supported by blah blah? 3. The author would most likely agree with blah blah?

Occasionally one of these will trip me up: "The authors use of XXX in line 32 serves to/is used primarily to..."

Am I just not retaining enough details in my read? Would love to know what I should be doing for the next few weeks to address this. BTW I've read the sample RC chapter in your book and placed the order today on amazon. I figure even if skimming the RC content helps a tiny bit it will be worth it. Thanks!


Hi there --

As I'm mentioned before, it's pretty much impossible to predict what students at your level need in order to get over that final hump -- to me, it's kind of like helping a pitcher with a 94 mph fastball get to 97 mph -- so, as always feel free to utilize whatever advice you think is relevant, and to discard whatever advice isn't.

1) Make sure that, in looking for structure, you expect a lot out of yourself -- not only should you have a strong sense of the main points, but you should also have a very strong sense of how the other parts of the passage are meant to relate to those main points.

Structural understanding doesn't just impact general questions -- it impacts the vast majority of questions. Even for questions that ask about specific details, a strong structural understanding can typically help you at the least get rid of a few answers. I have said before, and I think bp shinners has said something similar -- that if you gave me a short summary of the structure of each passage, I'm confident I can get at least 80% of the questions in an RC passage correct. If you don't feel that your understanding of structure (as well as question tendencies) is that helpful, I encourage you to either expect more in terms of your initial understanding, or make more of an effort to notice how structural understanding comes into play even on q's that don't ask about structure directly.

2) Make sure that a fundamental aspect of reading for structure is thinking about the author's intentions. I think the ideal mindset to have while reading a passage is "Why did the author include this part, and this part, and..." The author's intention is typically (though not always) to present two somewhat opposing viewpoints, and information relevant to those viewpoints, and the author will typically tip his/her hat as to which side he/she favors -- on tougher passages, the author's opinions will commonly be more subtle, but regardless, author's intention and opinion typically plays a large role in a large number of questions (and it seems it's related to many of the question types that are causing you trouble).

3) Make sure to have question-specific strategies. A recent trend for both RC and LG is that there tend to be some harder backend problems -- questions for which the challenge comes more at the point of the question (or answer choices), rather than at the point of the passage or scenario. It makes sense why the test writers would do this, and I fully expect this trend to continue (though of course I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't).

I do not think that the solution to solving these backend q's is to try and predict what information they will ask for inferences about, and I do not think it's an effective reading strategy for you to try and absorb more details as you read. Other than for the components that are critical to understanding author's purpose/structure, it's not that easy to predict what they will ask inference q's about (I could probably come up with 20 different and random inference q's that they could ask for any one passage), and reading for the trees will hinder you in your attempts to see the forest/big picture.

These backend RC q's are tough, but again I think the tough work to be done is at the point of the question, not at the point of the passage. I do think a strong understanding of author intent/purpose is still relevant to the vast majority of these q's (at the least enough so so that you can knock off a few answer choices), and, again, I encourage you to keep thinking about how different types of questions, and answers to all different types of questions, relate to structural understanding.

I also think you need to allow yourself extra time for these types of q's, and that you need specific strategies for them -- I break down each type of q in the trainer, and hopefully that'll give you a good sense of what to work on. Speaking of which...

4) On these tough RC q's that require some reasoning skill, I think it's always very helpful to remember the test writer's burden. They have to make it so there is one correct answer and 4 incorrect answers. Most of the q types you asked about, and many of the toughest RC question types, are ones that have vague, not-exact sort of right answers -- right answers that mostly fit, but don't match the text word for word in such a way that you can feel like it's "absolutely correct." It doesn't mean the answers aren't right-- it's simply the way those questions work. If you look for perfection in these right answers -- the same type of perfection you should expect for right answers to questions that only test reading ability and not reasoning ability, you will go mad.

How does the test writer get away with writing a somewhat vague right answer? By making sure the four wrong choices are absolutely incorrect. This is a big reason why having elimination skills is so so important for consistent success in RC -- any time a question doesn't have a slam dunk right answer, it has to have slam-dunk wrong answers. Keep that in mind, and for questions that tip you off about "imperfect" right answers (for example, if the question stem says "suggests" rather than "states") know that it's the incorrect choices, rather than the correct choice, that will give you that 100% certainty that you got a question correct.

5) If you don't change, you can't expect to get better

For reference, think about how different your process is now for LG or LR than it was when you first started to prep. For both of those sections, I'm sure you learned about the q's, and changed up how you approached them in order to seek improvement. Change is also required in order to improve at RC --

I know we don't think of RC in that way -- for one, reading is something we all know how to do, and for another, reading is something most of us do best when we aren't conscious about how we're doing it -- we're probably at our reading best when we are sucked deep into a novel, and at that point I'm sure you aren't thinking about how you read.

However, it's also true that we naturally know to read differently in different situations -- you will read a menu differently from how you read an essay, and again, you don't have to consciously tell yourself to read any differently.

What you want to do during your LSAT prep is to align your reading instincts to best match the exam, and you want to work at this very actively. Whether you follow the advice in the trainer, or in another book, or you just follow your own instincts, make sure that...
1) in your review, you always think about how you read (what you paid attention to, etc) and how that impacted your performance on the questions. Equate a good read with one that helped you answer the questions, and a bad read with one where, even though maybe you thought you understood everything, the things you thought about didn't align with what was relevant to the majority of those questions. Be hyper-critical.
2) Before the next RC passage you try, actively remind yourself of a few things you want to focus on during your read, then, again, in your review, carefully consider how well they way you read matches up to the nature of the questions.
Again, I really like the metaphor of "alignment" here -- you are constantly working to align your reading process to the design of the LSAT, with the goal of being as "in tune" before the test as possible.

Whew -- waaaay too long -- sorry about that -- to summarize --

1) make sure you see how understanding of structure impacts far more than just questions that ask directly about structure
2) make sure that a fundamental part of reading for structure involves reading for author's intentions
3) make sure you've got question-specific strategies
4) make sure to take advantage of the test writer's burden
5) (perhaps most important) make sure to think about your prep as work that allows you to better align your reading process with the design of the questions, and try to be aggressive about shaping how you read.

Again, I don't mean to say you need to do all of the above -- please pick and choose whatever you think will help you most -- if you'd like, feel free to follow up here or in pm if you need anything else -- HTH

Mike

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

Postby paglababa » Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:14 am

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
paglababa wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
paglababa wrote:Mike,

I've done extensive drilling for LG and LR and have those done good enough. I'm PTing between 174 and 168 now which is quite a big range. I'd like to get it consistent in the upper 170s. My main weakness is RC. If I could get that down to a -1 through -3 I would be ecstatic and have 175+

I've been studying since the last week of June and writing the exam in October. Tips for improving RC? Being killed by inference questions. I'm thinking of buying the lsat trainer but only if it will help me in RC. To be honest, the only studying i did for RC was reading the entire MLSAT book and doing the sections on my practice exams.

Thanks.


Hi --

I have to admit I've been following the RC conversation on the Oct thread and really enjoying it --

In terms of buying the trainer only for rc -- I think you can guess, from some of my previous posts, that I'm not going to answer that for you -- but I will say that the best way to decide will probably be to take a look at the RC Review chapter available for free on my website -- it summarizes the topics that are covered in the book (and gives you timing strategies as well) -- I'm sure you'll be able to tell after that whether looking at the book will be worth your while. In my head, it's very different from MLSAT RC, but I'm probably not as good a judge of that as you guys are.

In terms of offering specific tips, more than happy to give some here, but let me ask you first --

What have you tried to change about how you approach RC?

How effective have these changes been?

Other than a specific question type, what do you think is holding you back?

I've got to get off this forum and get my work done, but if you have a chance to respond I'll get back to you later today --

Mike


I've only done one change. I realized I was running out of time to reach all the questions missing some easier ones, so I started reading the sections much quicker and not getting caught up on difficult questions. Spending less time on the passage is a good thing because I never really miss the main point or structure of the article. I think MLSAT really pushes that, but the problem is I'm missing questions that then need inference from specific parts of the article. Spending more time on the questions isn't helping me get them right. Looking at the stems of a few I got wrong recently: 1.What would weaken/cast doubt on the author's assertion about X? 2. Which is the most strongly supported by blah blah? 3. The author would most likely agree with blah blah?

Occasionally one of these will trip me up: "The authors use of XXX in line 32 serves to/is used primarily to..."

Am I just not retaining enough details in my read? Would love to know what I should be doing for the next few weeks to address this. BTW I've read the sample RC chapter in your book and placed the order today on amazon. I figure even if skimming the RC content helps a tiny bit it will be worth it. Thanks!


Hi there --

As I'm mentioned before, it's pretty much impossible to predict what students at your level need in order to get over that final hump -- to me, it's kind of like helping a pitcher with a 94 mph fastball get to 97 mph -- so, as always feel free to utilize whatever advice you think is relevant, and to discard whatever advice isn't.

1) Make sure that, in looking for structure, you expect a lot out of yourself -- not only should you have a strong sense of the main points, but you should also have a very strong sense of how the other parts of the passage are meant to relate to those main points.

Structural understanding doesn't just impact general questions -- it impacts the vast majority of questions. Even for questions that ask about specific details, a strong structural understanding can typically help you at the least get rid of a few answers. I have said before, and I think bp shinners has said something similar -- that if you gave me a short summary of the structure of each passage, I'm confident I can get at least 80% of the questions in an RC passage correct. If you don't feel that your understanding of structure (as well as question tendencies) is that helpful, I encourage you to either expect more in terms of your initial understanding, or make more of an effort to notice how structural understanding comes into play even on q's that don't ask about structure directly.

2) Make sure that a fundamental aspect of reading for structure is thinking about the author's intentions. I think the ideal mindset to have while reading a passage is "Why did the author include this part, and this part, and..." The author's intention is typically (though not always) to present two somewhat opposing viewpoints, and information relevant to those viewpoints, and the author will typically tip his/her hat as to which side he/she favors -- on tougher passages, the author's opinions will commonly be more subtle, but regardless, author's intention and opinion typically plays a large role in a large number of questions (and it seems it's related to many of the question types that are causing you trouble).

3) Make sure to have question-specific strategies. A recent trend for both RC and LG is that there tend to be some harder backend problems -- questions for which the challenge comes more at the point of the question (or answer choices), rather than at the point of the passage or scenario. It makes sense why the test writers would do this, and I fully expect this trend to continue (though of course I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't).

I do not think that the solution to solving these backend q's is to try and predict what information they will ask for inferences about, and I do not think it's an effective reading strategy for you to try and absorb more details as you read. Other than for the components that are critical to understanding author's purpose/structure, it's not that easy to predict what they will ask inference q's about (I could probably come up with 20 different and random inference q's that they could ask for any one passage), and reading for the trees will hinder you in your attempts to see the forest/big picture.

These backend RC q's are tough, but again I think the tough work to be done is at the point of the question, not at the point of the passage. I do think a strong understanding of author intent/purpose is still relevant to the vast majority of these q's (at the least enough so so that you can knock off a few answer choices), and, again, I encourage you to keep thinking about how different types of questions, and answers to all different types of questions, relate to structural understanding.

I also think you need to allow yourself extra time for these types of q's, and that you need specific strategies for them -- I break down each type of q in the trainer, and hopefully that'll give you a good sense of what to work on. Speaking of which...

4) On these tough RC q's that require some reasoning skill, I think it's always very helpful to remember the test writer's burden. They have to make it so there is one correct answer and 4 incorrect answers. Most of the q types you asked about, and many of the toughest RC question types, are ones that have vague, not-exact sort of right answers -- right answers that mostly fit, but don't match the text word for word in such a way that you can feel like it's "absolutely correct." It doesn't mean the answers aren't right-- it's simply the way those questions work. If you look for perfection in these right answers -- the same type of perfection you should expect for right answers to questions that only test reading ability and not reasoning ability, you will go mad.

How does the test writer get away with writing a somewhat vague right answer? By making sure the four wrong choices are absolutely incorrect. This is a big reason why having elimination skills is so so important for consistent success in RC -- any time a question doesn't have a slam dunk right answer, it has to have slam-dunk wrong answers. Keep that in mind, and for questions that tip you off about "imperfect" right answers (for example, if the question stem says "suggests" rather than "states") know that it's the incorrect choices, rather than the correct choice, that will give you that 100% certainty that you got a question correct.

5) If you don't change, you can't expect to get better

For reference, think about how different your process is now for LG or LR than it was when you first started to prep. For both of those sections, I'm sure you learned about the q's, and changed up how you approached them in order to seek improvement. Change is also required in order to improve at RC --

I know we don't think of RC in that way -- for one, reading is something we all know how to do, and for another, reading is something most of us do best when we aren't conscious about how we're doing it -- we're probably at our reading best when we are sucked deep into a novel, and at that point I'm sure you aren't thinking about how you read.

However, it's also true that we naturally know to read differently in different situations -- you will read a menu differently from how you read an essay, and again, you don't have to consciously tell yourself to read any differently.

What you want to do during your LSAT prep is to align your reading instincts to best match the exam, and you want to work at this very actively. Whether you follow the advice in the trainer, or in another book, or you just follow your own instincts, make sure that...
1) in your review, you always think about how you read (what you paid attention to, etc) and how that impacted your performance on the questions. Equate a good read with one that helped you answer the questions, and a bad read with one where, even though maybe you thought you understood everything, the things you thought about didn't align with what was relevant to the majority of those questions. Be hyper-critical.
2) Before the next RC passage you try, actively remind yourself of a few things you want to focus on during your read, then, again, in your review, carefully consider how well they way you read matches up to the nature of the questions.
Again, I really like the metaphor of "alignment" here -- you are constantly working to align your reading process to the design of the LSAT, with the goal of being as "in tune" before the test as possible.

Whew -- waaaay too long -- sorry about that -- to summarize --

1) make sure you see how understanding of structure impacts far more than just questions that ask directly about structure
2) make sure that a fundamental part of reading for structure involves reading for author's intentions
3) make sure you've got question-specific strategies
4) make sure to take advantage of the test writer's burden
5) (perhaps most important) make sure to think about your prep as work that allows you to better align your reading process with the design of the questions, and try to be aggressive about shaping how you read.

Again, I don't mean to say you need to do all of the above -- please pick and choose whatever you think will help you most -- if you'd like, feel free to follow up here or in pm if you need anything else -- HTH

Mike


That's a 180 answer - thanks Mike. A lot of things for me to think about as I lock this down. I'll let you know how it goes or If I have any specific questions in a few weeks. Thanks again!

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

Postby neprep » Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:19 pm

That's a 180 answer - thanks Mike. A lot of things for me to think about as I lock this down. I'll let you know how it goes or If I have any specific questions in a few weeks. Thanks again!


Point of agreement.

How do you get the time to respond so thoroughly, Mike? Much appreciated!

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

Postby roranoa » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:11 am

Can you help me out with PT29 Sec 4 Question 19.

I don't understand answer choice E. But before that, am I suppose to infer that the first survey happened after the M&A crisis started to happen? (What year exactly is mid 80's?)

The stimulus doesn't specify whether the first survey happened before or after the crisis. How am I suppose to solve this?

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:05 pm

roranoa wrote:Can you help me out with PT29 Sec 4 Question 19.

I don't understand answer choice E. But before that, am I suppose to infer that the first survey happened after the M&A crisis started to happen? (What year exactly is mid 80's?)

The stimulus doesn't specify whether the first survey happened before or after the crisis. How am I suppose to solve this?


Hi there --

Going to give a long explanation -- I don't know much about what you are thinking, so I'm reading tea leaves a bit, but I hope the following answers your question, and that you find at least some of the extra stuff helpful for you going forward on these types of questions --

To be exact, mid 80's would be midnight between dec 31 '84 and jan 1 '85 --

Do you think that's what the test writer meant? I don't think so.

When it comes to exactness, the LR is a bit of a mental dance -- some situations require you to be very exact, and others do not, and a significant and necessary skill is the ability to switch your mindset based on the situation (and by the way, it's not arbitrary when you should be more exact and when less so -- there are clues everywhere to indicate that, and you want to work to build up your reading and test taking ability in order to see these clues more easily).

Let's say I was talking to you and I wanted to make a point about how my addiction to Krispy Kreme caused me to gain a bunch of weight over the past year. And what I said to you was "So, I started getting into Krispy Kreme mid-June of last year, and couldn't get off it until June of this year. Last June, I weighed 140 pounds, and by the time I'd stopped eating KK I was at 240."

How important is it when, exactly, last June I weighed 140? What if it was a day before I started the KK, or the day after? How relevant is that exactness to the point that I'm making? Not very.

For our LSAT q, could it be that there is indeed some issue with the timing of the survey? Absolutely -- and maybe this issue will show up in an answer -- but it's not your job, in the beginning of the process, to be thinking about the exactness of such details -- it's not critically relevant to your task.

The big big big problem with focusing on such issues as the exactness of the mid 80's (a term that is purposely meant to be general) is that it means you are not focusing on what the question is actually asking you to focus on- your initial focus should be on defining the main discrepancy.

Okay, with all that said -- let's discuss the problem itself --

What's the discrepancy here?

After a decade of events that should have made people feel less secure about their jobs, these surveys show that people didn't feel less secure about their jobs. The discrepancy is "How come people don't feel less secure even though these events make it so they should feel less secure?"

For a typical explain a discrepancy q, there will only be one answer that attempts to explain the discrepancy, and often, if your sense of the discrepancy is clear, that answer commonly pops out at you very easily.

For these typical q's, It's important to note that wrong answers will relate to different parts of the stimulus in different ways (otherwise, they wouldn't be attractive) but they will not relate to the discrepancy. So, if you are not focused on the discrepancy, but rather, focused on trying to understand the stimulus as a whole, or focused on one aspect of the stimulus that you happen to be paying attention (like when, exactly, mid-80's is), these wrong answers will feel markedly more attractive.

This is an EXCEPT q, so in this case we should expect four answers to give potential explanations for the discrepancy, and one answer not to relate to it. I expect that there will a marker or two that will make it clear which answer doesn't relate. Again, keep in mind that in relating answers to the stimulus we don't need the level of absolute connection that we would for, say, a Sufficient Assumption answer -- the four answers that relate to the discrepancy will relate in a more reasonable, rather than absolute, sort of way.

So again, the discrepancy is: "How come people don't feel less secure even though these events make it so they should feel less secure?" Four of the answers will help explain how this could be, and one won't.

(A) can help explain the discrepancy because it helps explain how, even though these negative events did happen, they didn't tend to impact those that were surveyed.
(B) -- the thing that jumps out at me right away is "jobs of others" -- checking that against the stimulus, it mismatches the subject being discussed "own jobs" -- this is when paying attention to details is required and important -- this answer is talking about something that is clearly different from what is being discussed in the stimulus.
(C) can help explain too -- even though these negative events happened, people expected it, and so their mindset didn't change (again, is this answer absolutely "provable" in any sort of way -- of course not -- it is reasonably relevant, however).
(D) can help explain too -- maybe, by the time the 95 survey took place, the downsizing etc had long been forgotten about.
(E) can help explain too -- maybe, even though they should have felt less secure, they didn't, because everyone in the country was drinking happy juice. Notice, it offers a potential for the discrepancy -- people may have responded a certain way, despite worse economic conditions, because of their attitude.

On the test, I would go back to (B) to verify it isn't relevant before I select and move on --

HTH -- again, I focused on the things I focused on because I felt like it was your expectations about how these q's work/what you should do that got in the way of you solving this correctly -- please don't hesitate to follow up if I missed the mark or if you have any follow up q's.

Mike
Last edited by The LSAT Trainer on Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby Clyde Frog » Sat Aug 24, 2013 10:24 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
paglababa wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
paglababa wrote:Mike,

I've done extensive drilling for LG and LR and have those done good enough. I'm PTing between 174 and 168 now which is quite a big range. I'd like to get it consistent in the upper 170s. My main weakness is RC. If I could get that down to a -1 through -3 I would be ecstatic and have 175+

I've been studying since the last week of June and writing the exam in October. Tips for improving RC? Being killed by inference questions. I'm thinking of buying the lsat trainer but only if it will help me in RC. To be honest, the only studying i did for RC was reading the entire MLSAT book and doing the sections on my practice exams.

Thanks.


Hi --

I have to admit I've been following the RC conversation on the Oct thread and really enjoying it --

In terms of buying the trainer only for rc -- I think you can guess, from some of my previous posts, that I'm not going to answer that for you -- but I will say that the best way to decide will probably be to take a look at the RC Review chapter available for free on my website -- it summarizes the topics that are covered in the book (and gives you timing strategies as well) -- I'm sure you'll be able to tell after that whether looking at the book will be worth your while. In my head, it's very different from MLSAT RC, but I'm probably not as good a judge of that as you guys are.

In terms of offering specific tips, more than happy to give some here, but let me ask you first --

What have you tried to change about how you approach RC?

How effective have these changes been?

Other than a specific question type, what do you think is holding you back?

I've got to get off this forum and get my work done, but if you have a chance to respond I'll get back to you later today --

Mike


I've only done one change. I realized I was running out of time to reach all the questions missing some easier ones, so I started reading the sections much quicker and not getting caught up on difficult questions. Spending less time on the passage is a good thing because I never really miss the main point or structure of the article. I think MLSAT really pushes that, but the problem is I'm missing questions that then need inference from specific parts of the article. Spending more time on the questions isn't helping me get them right. Looking at the stems of a few I got wrong recently: 1.What would weaken/cast doubt on the author's assertion about X? 2. Which is the most strongly supported by blah blah? 3. The author would most likely agree with blah blah?

Occasionally one of these will trip me up: "The authors use of XXX in line 32 serves to/is used primarily to..."

Am I just not retaining enough details in my read? Would love to know what I should be doing for the next few weeks to address this. BTW I've read the sample RC chapter in your book and placed the order today on amazon. I figure even if skimming the RC content helps a tiny bit it will be worth it. Thanks!


Hi there --

As I'm mentioned before, it's pretty much impossible to predict what students at your level need in order to get over that final hump -- to me, it's kind of like helping a pitcher with a 94 mph fastball get to 97 mph -- so, as always feel free to utilize whatever advice you think is relevant, and to discard whatever advice isn't.

1) Make sure that, in looking for structure, you expect a lot out of yourself -- not only should you have a strong sense of the main points, but you should also have a very strong sense of how the other parts of the passage are meant to relate to those main points.

Structural understanding doesn't just impact general questions -- it impacts the vast majority of questions. Even for questions that ask about specific details, a strong structural understanding can typically help you at the least get rid of a few answers. I have said before, and I think bp shinners has said something similar -- that if you gave me a short summary of the structure of each passage, I'm confident I can get at least 80% of the questions in an RC passage correct. If you don't feel that your understanding of structure (as well as question tendencies) is that helpful, I encourage you to either expect more in terms of your initial understanding, or make more of an effort to notice how structural understanding comes into play even on q's that don't ask about structure directly.

2) Make sure that a fundamental aspect of reading for structure is thinking about the author's intentions. I think the ideal mindset to have while reading a passage is "Why did the author include this part, and this part, and..." The author's intention is typically (though not always) to present two somewhat opposing viewpoints, and information relevant to those viewpoints, and the author will typically tip his/her hat as to which side he/she favors -- on tougher passages, the author's opinions will commonly be more subtle, but regardless, author's intention and opinion typically plays a large role in a large number of questions (and it seems it's related to many of the question types that are causing you trouble).

3) Make sure to have question-specific strategies. A recent trend for both RC and LG is that there tend to be some harder backend problems -- questions for which the challenge comes more at the point of the question (or answer choices), rather than at the point of the passage or scenario. It makes sense why the test writers would do this, and I fully expect this trend to continue (though of course I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't).

I do not think that the solution to solving these backend q's is to try and predict what information they will ask for inferences about, and I do not think it's an effective reading strategy for you to try and absorb more details as you read. Other than for the components that are critical to understanding author's purpose/structure, it's not that easy to predict what they will ask inference q's about (I could probably come up with 20 different and random inference q's that they could ask for any one passage), and reading for the trees will hinder you in your attempts to see the forest/big picture.

These backend RC q's are tough, but again I think the tough work to be done is at the point of the question, not at the point of the passage. I do think a strong understanding of author intent/purpose is still relevant to the vast majority of these q's (at the least enough so so that you can knock off a few answer choices), and, again, I encourage you to keep thinking about how different types of questions, and answers to all different types of questions, relate to structural understanding.

I also think you need to allow yourself extra time for these types of q's, and that you need specific strategies for them -- I break down each type of q in the trainer, and hopefully that'll give you a good sense of what to work on. Speaking of which...

4) On these tough RC q's that require some reasoning skill, I think it's always very helpful to remember the test writer's burden. They have to make it so there is one correct answer and 4 incorrect answers. Most of the q types you asked about, and many of the toughest RC question types, are ones that have vague, not-exact sort of right answers -- right answers that mostly fit, but don't match the text word for word in such a way that you can feel like it's "absolutely correct." It doesn't mean the answers aren't right-- it's simply the way those questions work. If you look for perfection in these right answers -- the same type of perfection you should expect for right answers to questions that only test reading ability and not reasoning ability, you will go mad.

How does the test writer get away with writing a somewhat vague right answer? By making sure the four wrong choices are absolutely incorrect. This is a big reason why having elimination skills is so so important for consistent success in RC -- any time a question doesn't have a slam dunk right answer, it has to have slam-dunk wrong answers. Keep that in mind, and for questions that tip you off about "imperfect" right answers (for example, if the question stem says "suggests" rather than "states") know that it's the incorrect choices, rather than the correct choice, that will give you that 100% certainty that you got a question correct.

5) If you don't change, you can't expect to get better

For reference, think about how different your process is now for LG or LR than it was when you first started to prep. For both of those sections, I'm sure you learned about the q's, and changed up how you approached them in order to seek improvement. Change is also required in order to improve at RC --

I know we don't think of RC in that way -- for one, reading is something we all know how to do, and for another, reading is something most of us do best when we aren't conscious about how we're doing it -- we're probably at our reading best when we are sucked deep into a novel, and at that point I'm sure you aren't thinking about how you read.

However, it's also true that we naturally know to read differently in different situations -- you will read a menu differently from how you read an essay, and again, you don't have to consciously tell yourself to read any differently.

What you want to do during your LSAT prep is to align your reading instincts to best match the exam, and you want to work at this very actively. Whether you follow the advice in the trainer, or in another book, or you just follow your own instincts, make sure that...
1) in your review, you always think about how you read (what you paid attention to, etc) and how that impacted your performance on the questions. Equate a good read with one that helped you answer the questions, and a bad read with one where, even though maybe you thought you understood everything, the things you thought about didn't align with what was relevant to the majority of those questions. Be hyper-critical.
2) Before the next RC passage you try, actively remind yourself of a few things you want to focus on during your read, then, again, in your review, carefully consider how well they way you read matches up to the nature of the questions.
Again, I really like the metaphor of "alignment" here -- you are constantly working to align your reading process to the design of the LSAT, with the goal of being as "in tune" before the test as possible.

Whew -- waaaay too long -- sorry about that -- to summarize --

1) make sure you see how understanding of structure impacts far more than just questions that ask directly about structure
2) make sure that a fundamental part of reading for structure involves reading for author's intentions
3) make sure you've got question-specific strategies
4) make sure to take advantage of the test writer's burden
5) (perhaps most important) make sure to think about your prep as work that allows you to better align your reading process with the design of the questions, and try to be aggressive about shaping how you read.

Again, I don't mean to say you need to do all of the above -- please pick and choose whatever you think will help you most -- if you'd like, feel free to follow up here or in pm if you need anything else -- HTH

Mike


This is why Mike does it better than anyone else in LSAT prep. He really cares about students studying for the LSAT and goes the extra mile to help.

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

Postby CU44BMD » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:40 pm

Hi Mike,

first off thanks for all the advice and knowledge it's truly remarkable.

I have a question for PT48 Sec.1, Question 24. (FLAW)

I can't really pinpoint why answer choice E is correct. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Bests,

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

Postby steven21 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:10 pm

This is why Mike does it better than anyone else in LSAT prep. He really cares about students studying for the LSAT and goes the extra mile to help.[/quote]

I can personally attest to this. Great resource. His book is also highly recommended and he also gives personal help on top of that

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:49 pm

LIST OF SUBSTANTIVE ERRORS

Hi everyone -- as I previously mentioned, there were some small errors that slipped through to this version of the trainer that almost all of you are currently using --

Please note that these errors will be fixed very shortly (hopefully, knock on wood, to coincide with the release of the kindle version) and so those who are reading this message in a couple of weeks will not have to worry about this note --

These errors are relevant to you if you got the second version of the first edition -- the way you can tell this is by looking at the copyright page -- you should see this line:

17 16 15 14 13 2 3 4 5

(haven't you always wondered what those #'s meant?)

The next version will look like the same, but be missing the "2," so the #'s on the right be 3 4 5.

I know -- way too much info -- here are the errors:

148. Example 1 - explanation should have “m” in last/sixth slot
164. Solution to Drill Answer #1 - # 5 has two lines crossed out; should just have one cross out
164. Explanation for Drill Answer #1 “Since 2 is missing F or I” I should be J.
164. Solution to Drill Answer #3 - #4 has a line crossed out - it shouldn’t
166. First set, fifth column, should be 1,2 not 0,1,2.
256.Unless example should say “sixteen or over” rather than “over sixteen.”
286/288. 4th set - 2nd set, question #4: Find a Principle to Support - (E) is not the correct answer, and that question shouldn’t be there.
307. #10 - The right answer is D, and the explanation discusses why D is correct, but C is circled.


Great thanks to bimmer11, wtrcoins3, Malakai, and Morley for pointing these out to me.

All of these are minor, but still, obviously, extremely annoying. Once again, I apologize for them -- and if they caused you any frustration, or caused you to waste any time, please let me make it up to you by getting in touch with me the next time you need a little extra help --

- Mike

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:55 pm

steven21 wrote:This is why Mike does it better than anyone else in LSAT prep. He really cares about students studying for the LSAT and goes the extra mile to help.


I can personally attest to this. Great resource. His book is also highly recommended and he also gives personal help on top of that[/quote]

Thanks again for all the support --

To be honest, I'm not sure I would have come back to the LSAT if it weren't for TLS and the types of students who are on this site -- I obviously owe you guys a ton, and I won't forget that.

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

Postby wtrc » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:00 pm

No questions, just want to say that The LSAT Trainer is, really without exaggeration, the best book there is on the LSAT. And I've pretty much seen them all (Kaplan, TM, Manhattan, PS). Thanks Mike!

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

Postby objection_your_honor » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:05 pm

I dig the Neon Bible av.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:08 pm

CU44BMD wrote:Hi Mike,

first off thanks for all the advice and knowledge it's truly remarkable.

I have a question for PT48 Sec.1, Question 24. (FLAW)

I can't really pinpoint why answer choice E is correct. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Bests,


Hi there --

thanks for the comment and I hope I live up to your expectations! --

This is a really unusual question (though expectedly unusual) -- it's what I think of a "flip-side" question -- a reversal of a more common reasoning issue.

Let's imagine I said the following: "50% of LSAT takers study using books, and 30% study using courses. Therefore, 80% of LSAT takers study using either books or courses."

What's the reasoning flaw there? I am assuming that there is no overlap between the two groups -- it could be that some of those who use books also take courses, in which case the 50% and the 30% would add up to less than 80%.

Okay, so that's the more obvious version of that issue -- here's the flip side version:

"50% of LSAT takers study using books, and 30% study using courses. Therefore, 50% of LSAT takers study using books or courses."

What's the reasoning flaw there? Now I'm assuming complete overlap -- that all of those who study using courses are within the group who use books.

What is it that I am failing to consider? That some of those who are taking courses aren't using books.

Does the above make sense? If so, it's pretty much exactly the same reasoning flaw that is in 48.1.24 --

The author is putting together 26% and 16% and saying they can't add up to 30% -- the numbers are a bit messier than in my example, but basically he is assuming that all those in the 16% are also in that 26% --

What is he failing to consider? That some of those in the 16% prepared to donate $ are not the same people as the 26% who are likely to join it --that's pretty much what (E) tells us.

I hope that helps -- if u have further q's, or if your issue was with something else, please let me know --

Mike

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:55 am

wtrcoins3 wrote:No questions, just want to say that The LSAT Trainer is, really without exaggeration, the best book there is on the LSAT. And I've pretty much seen them all (Kaplan, TM, Manhattan, PS). Thanks Mike!


I've been waiting to hear your thoughts! -- so, so happy to hear that -- thanks, and thanks again for the edits -- Mike

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

Postby CU44BMD » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:29 pm

RE: (Q24 PT48 SEC.1)


That was a perfect explaination! I somewhat figured it out, and your advice made the flaw 100% clear.

The amazing part of your comment is not the explainiation for this question. But your remarks on the common "no-overlap" flaw. Thats what threw me off. As patterns become ingrained I thought "o this a the flaw where he/she assumes that there is no overlap." However in this case its the opposite in which it is assumed there entire overlapping of the two components.

Thanks once again!!

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

Postby roranoa » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:15 am

Thanks for the great explanation on my question!!(pt29 sec4 q19)

So is the stimulus saying that the first survey happened before the downsizings?
So the two surveys are comparing employee's attitudes before and after the downsizing?

I know you told me to focus on the discrepancy but I just couldn't understand the stimulus initially bc I didn't understand whether the two surveys were taken within the downsizing period or before and after the downsizing period. Without understanding that some of the answer choices just didn't make sense to me.

I'm kinda embarrassed to ask this again after that long explanation :cry:

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:19 pm

roranoa wrote:Thanks for the great explanation on my question!!(pt29 sec4 q19)

So is the stimulus saying that the first survey happened before the downsizings?
So the two surveys are comparing employee's attitudes before and after the downsizing?

I know you told me to focus on the discrepancy but I just couldn't understand the stimulus initially bc I didn't understand whether the two surveys were taken within the downsizing period or before and after the downsizing period. Without understanding that some of the answer choices just didn't make sense to me.

I'm kinda embarrassed to ask this again after that long explanation :cry:


Hey Roranoa --

I think I got a little off-tangent with my explanation -- if you don't mind, I'll p.m. you with the response so we can go back and forth until we nail this -- MK

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:20 pm

CU44BMD wrote:RE: (Q24 PT48 SEC.1)


That was a perfect explaination! I somewhat figured it out, and your advice made the flaw 100% clear.

The amazing part of your comment is not the explainiation for this question. But your remarks on the common "no-overlap" flaw. Thats what threw me off. As patterns become ingrained I thought "o this a the flaw where he/she assumes that there is no overlap." However in this case its the opposite in which it is assumed there entire overlapping of the two components.

Thanks once again!!


Glad you found it helpful! Reach out if you need anything else -- Mike

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

Postby objection_your_honor » Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:35 pm

I'm having trouble with PT55, S3, #24. Here's how I see the argument:

DISCUSS AESTHETIC VALUE --> AT LEAST TWO READERS AGREE
OBJECTIVE EVALUATION POSSIBLE --> MEANING ASSIGNED BY READER

Since the conclusion is a conditional, it's not enough to just point to one of the terms in the conditional. This is what I'm struggling with. I think D is saying:

OBJECTIVE EVALUATION --> DISCUSS AESTHETIC VALUE

This triggers the conditional in the premise, meaning that if D is assumed, then AT LEAST TWO READERS AGREE on the correct interpretation of the poem. But how does this help the conditional in the conclusion? I feel like the argument wants me to assume that AT LEAST TWO READERS AGREE somehow contradicts or negates MEANING ASSIGNED BY READERS, which would help the conclusion. But if I'm understanding this correctly, these two terms can co-exist, i.e. two readers can agree on the correct interpretation that is also assigned by those readers.

How far off am I on this one?

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

Postby modernista » Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:41 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:Hi everyone -- I've gone ahead and modified this post to be Q and A about my products or anything else LSAT related -- thanks again for all the support and please write in if I can be of any help -- Mike

ANy advice for those of us who lack the motivation to get started on studying?

10052014
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Postby 10052014 » Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:22 pm

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Last edited by 10052014 on Sun Oct 05, 2014 1:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby modernista » Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:22 pm

jaylawyer09 wrote:
modernista wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:Hi everyone -- I've gone ahead and modified this post to be Q and A about my products or anything else LSAT related -- thanks again for all the support and please write in if I can be of any help -- Mike

ANy advice for those of us who lack the motivation to get started on studying?


read this

viewtopic.php?f=22&t=79308

THAT WAS BEAUTIFUL. I'M ON IT. Starting with the deactivation of my Facebook now.

10052014
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Postby 10052014 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:23 pm

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Last edited by 10052014 on Sun Oct 05, 2014 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.


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