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 » Mon Sep 30, 2013 12:55 pm

roranoa wrote:Hey Mike, I just did pt68 and I bombed at the very last game, the one with sorting seven articles.
I had so much time left (like 13min) and later I ran out of time. Something about this game made really difficult. I usually don't write in much inferences with ordering games and just go straight for the q's. Do you think that would be a wrong approach with this one?

To be more specific, what I usually do is just plug in whatever premise a "if q" would present me with and go from there. So if it says "if X is fourth" I would plug that in and make up a scenario where all the rules are factored in and works. I do this especially with MBT q's but also with could be true q's.

Would this approach be wrong for this game? (Im thinking maybe it is)


Hey Roranoa -- I just tried this game again -- here are some thoughts you might find helpful --

1) This is your classic backend game -- different types of rules (1st - subset ordering, 2nd - conditional, 3rd&4th basic ordering) that don't initially "link" together to yield significant inferences. (Not sure which inferences you were hoping to find, but I didn't find any key ones during my initial setup).

To give an analogy: simple ordering -- (bunch of relative ordering rules -- L before F, F before K, etc.) -- like having to juggle seven tennis balls at once.

A game like this (lots of different types of rules that don't link up) -- like juggling only four items, but they are a bowling ball, a tennis ball, a beach ball, and pair of keys --

The challenge for the first situation is to deal with a lot of inferences that are all similar; the challenge of the second situation is to bring together a lot of different types of inferences -- keep in mind that a lot of the "tough" games of late have been backend games like this one.

2) Two keys to backend games -- you need to have systems that come together -- that is, if you solve a subset ordering game in a totally different way than yo do a subset grouping game, and then you get a game with subsets, ordering, and grouping, you are screwed. Make sure all the various systems you learn relate to one another and can be combined. The other key is that you need absolute comfort with your notational systems--you know that without a lot to figure out up front, and with all these rules to deal with, you are going to need to make a lot of tough inferences at the point of the questions -- it's virtually impossible to do that unless your notations are totally intuitive.

3) If you aren't using my lowercase system for subsets (chapter 11), I strongly urge you to give it a shot. For me at least (and for some students I've talked with), it makes dealing with subsets a hell of a lot easier -- it is especially helpful in terms of thinking about subsets relative to other types of rules (ordering and grouping, for example), which we pretty much have to do any time we have subsets.

4) Next time you have 13 minutes for the final game, try to solve it in 8 minutes. I think we let ourselves "slow down and be super-careful" and sometimes that can screw us up. To me, having 13 minutes left doesn't tell me I have 13 minutes to solve it once -- it tells me I have 8 minutes to solve it once, and 5 minutes to solve it again in case I screw up.

Be like Bo and just run through that end zone -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BQ72rE6iyw

5) Small tip -- that first rule is a tough one to handle for the first q (rules question) -- that's a classic time-sucker -- in that situation, make sure to jump ahead to other rules and use those to eliminate other choices first. You can come back to the tough to evaluate rule at the end when you only have 2 answer choices left, and save yourself time.

6) To me, the keys to this game turned out the be the no two in a subset next to each other rule, and the conditional rule -- I didn't really know they would be the key until I worked on the first few problems -- when nothing jumps out at you during setup as being most important (if the third and fourth rules had linked together somehow to create a big chunk, that would have clearly been most important, but here no such "big keys" exist), let your work on the first few q's dictate how a game should go/what your priorities ought to be.

7) Thinking about this simply as an ordering game, and expecting to make all the same types of ordering inferences you normally might, may make you pay less attention to the above two rules, and more attention to the two more basic ordering rules, and that would definitely make these q's feel harder/go slower. Make sure to understand and utilize tendencies, but also make sure to react to the specific situations games present and don't try to fit games into your comfort zone/how you "plan" for them to go, when they don't naturally fit there. In this case, even though it's an ordering game, we had no ordering rules link together up front, and no key ordering inferences to make up front; instead, we had a lot of different types of rules we had to bring together. Therefore, I went into the q's a lot more uncertain of the type of work I would have to do than I would for a more "standard" ordering-only game.

As always, not sure which of the above relates to your situation, but I hope you find at least some of it helpful --

Mike

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

Postby esquirelhomme » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:58 pm

Hi, Mike.

Just a quick question about the drilling (I'm following your 16-week schedule). I currently finished Drill 1 and I didn't time myself. Should I be timing myself right now? I know that this particular drill should be less than 30 minutes, but just was not sure if we should be focusing on getting through each question in 80 seconds.


I appreciate the response. Thank you.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Oct 02, 2013 8:28 pm

esquirelhomme wrote:Hi, Mike.

Just a quick question about the drilling (I'm following your 16-week schedule). I currently finished Drill 1 and I didn't time myself. Should I be timing myself right now? I know that this particular drill should be less than 30 minutes, but just was not sure if we should be focusing on getting through each question in 80 seconds.


I appreciate the response. Thank you.


Hi there -- hope you are enjoying the book so far --

I do think it's a good idea to always time yourself, and to always solve questions as if you were in the real exam, though it's certainly less important now than it will be later in your studies (these early drills are just an introduction to the questions -- a warmup for the more serious drilling to come). Don't put any timing restrictions on yourself (like trying to answer questions in 80 seconds), and don't worry about where your avg time is at now (though I know it's easier said than done) -- try to solve questions efficiently and accurately, and just be aware of what your general timing avgs are like --

Once you start doing drills on specific question types (which start coming after lesson 17), you want to start to get more serious about trying to have your per-question averages be where they ought to be. Even then though, keep in mind that questions are designed to take different amounts of time -- some questions will naturally take less time and others more.

HTH and let me know if you need anything else -- mike

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

Postby malcbru » Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:27 pm

Mike -- I have received the LSAT Trainer and plan on starting your basic 16-week study plan (7-9 hours per week) this weekend and want to sit for the February exam. I noticed some of the other study schedules have added practice exams (+7 and +20). My goal is to score in the 170s, but I have not studied for the LSAT at all so far nor taken a diagnostic.

Is achieving my goal realistic if I follow your basic 16-week schedule?

I know you probably can't answer this question entirely, but wanted to get your take on how best to use the LSAT Trainer (and other materials) to achieve my goal in February. Thanks for taking the time on here, much appreciated.

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

Postby jitsubruin » Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:52 pm

I am having a small problem with PT63, S3, Q14. I do see how B is the best answer out of the other answer choices, but when B says "accepting a claim simply because advocates of an opposing claim have not defended their view..." it is saying that is the only reason the council member is accepting his claim. Can we really say that is the only reason he concludes the shoe factory is the better site? Doesn't the first sentence imply that he already recommends the shoe factory to be the site?

Thank you in advance, Mike!

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Oct 03, 2013 4:30 pm

malcbru wrote:Mike -- I have received the LSAT Trainer and plan on starting your basic 16-week study plan (7-9 hours per week) this weekend and want to sit for the February exam. I noticed some of the other study schedules have added practice exams (+7 and +20). My goal is to score in the 170s, but I have not studied for the LSAT at all so far nor taken a diagnostic.

Is achieving my goal realistic if I follow your basic 16-week schedule?

I know you probably can't answer this question entirely, but wanted to get your take on how best to use the LSAT Trainer (and other materials) to achieve my goal in February. Thanks for taking the time on here, much appreciated.


Hi there -- thanks so much for picking up my book --

You are right -- there is no way I can say that one particular method makes 170 "realistic" -- if I could, they'd have to revise the exam.

A score in the 170's is an exceptional type of score, and your mindset should be that you need to be exceptionally good in your prep in order to get there (which means studying smarter and harder than just about anyone else). I think that for some people 10 tests is enough to reach their potential, but for others it's not. Here are some things that I think are good for you to consider:

- (1) Per the trainer schedule, you'll be doing many of those questions from those 10 exams again and again and again. My feeling is that if you can absolutely master those 10 exams worth of questions, you'll be as ready as can be for test day (I am a big fan of doing the same work again and again--there are certain parts of the trainer that I rewrote too many times to count). However, a lot of students will get more out of spreading that same work over more than 10 exams. I think it may be tough for you to know what's best for you right now, but you should have a stronger sense of it once you get a bit deeper into your studies - go with whatever seems most effective for you. Speaking of which...

- (2) Different people need to take different paths to get to that rarified 170+ zone -- what you need most will be dependent on (among other things) your own strengths and weaknesses. That's one of the big reasons I designed the schedules the way I did -- you should see that they offer a lot of flexibility, and, should you decide a few weeks into your prep that you need to do more practice tests, or that you want to use more practice tests for LG drill work, etc., it'll be easy enough to adjust the schedule to fit your needs best.

- (3) If, early on in the study schedule, you find yourself getting really into your work (I know that may seem far-fetched now, but a lot of people come to somewhat enjoy studying for the LSAT), you should feel free to push forward and get a bit ahead of the schedule (moving some stuff from week 2 to 1, and 3 to 2 and so on) knowing that, considering you've got some big goals, you will likely need to add a bit more work later on in order to address any weaker areas.

Hope that helps -- best of luck, and let me know if you need anything else -- Mike

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Oct 03, 2013 4:46 pm

jitsubruin wrote:I am having a small problem with PT63, S3, Q14. I do see how B is the best answer out of the other answer choices, but when B says "accepting a claim simply because advocates of an opposing claim have not defended their view..." it is saying that is the only reason the council member is accepting his claim. Can we really say that is the only reason he concludes the shoe factory is the better site? Doesn't the first sentence imply that he already recommends the shoe factory to be the site?

Thank you in advance, Mike!


I think I understand your issue exactly (per having heard something similar from many other students) -- however, if I'm off, happy to discuss further --

The answer choice is not saying that this is the only reason the council member has for this claim -- he could have other reasons --

It's specifically about the argument he presents -- the relationship between the support he's given and the conclusion he's reached -- and even though there may be other reasons to support the factory, what he's actually done, in presenting his argument, is just given one reason, which happens to be about another option for the shelter, then say "thus..."

As an analogy, imagine I said "Payton Manning can throw a football more than 60 yards. Thus, he is a great quarterback."

The flaw would be that I'm "simply" giving one reason that, in and of itself, doesn't guarantee the conclusion (think Ryan Leaf). It doesn't mean he's not a great quarterback, or that I couldn't give other reasons why -- it means I haven't in the argument.

Hope that helps -- again, if I'm off on what caused you trouble, happy to discuss further -- Mike

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

Postby malcbru » Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:40 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
malcbru wrote:Mike -- I have received the LSAT Trainer and plan on starting your basic 16-week study plan (7-9 hours per week) this weekend and want to sit for the February exam. I noticed some of the other study schedules have added practice exams (+7 and +20). My goal is to score in the 170s, but I have not studied for the LSAT at all so far nor taken a diagnostic.

Is achieving my goal realistic if I follow your basic 16-week schedule?

I know you probably can't answer this question entirely, but wanted to get your take on how best to use the LSAT Trainer (and other materials) to achieve my goal in February. Thanks for taking the time on here, much appreciated.


Hi there -- thanks so much for picking up my book --

You are right -- there is no way I can say that one particular method makes 170 "realistic" -- if I could, they'd have to revise the exam.

A score in the 170's is an exceptional type of score, and your mindset should be that you need to be exceptionally good in your prep in order to get there (which means studying smarter and harder than just about anyone else). I think that for some people 10 tests is enough to reach their potential, but for others it's not. Here are some things that I think are good for you to consider:

- (1) Per the trainer schedule, you'll be doing many of those questions from those 10 exams again and again and again. My feeling is that if you can absolutely master those 10 exams worth of questions, you'll be as ready as can be for test day (I am a big fan of doing the same work again and again--there are certain parts of the trainer that I rewrote too many times to count). However, a lot of students will get more out of spreading that same work over more than 10 exams. I think it may be tough for you to know what's best for you right now, but you should have a stronger sense of it once you get a bit deeper into your studies - go with whatever seems most effective for you. Speaking of which...

- (2) Different people need to take different paths to get to that rarified 170+ zone -- what you need most will be dependent on (among other things) your own strengths and weaknesses. That's one of the big reasons I designed the schedules the way I did -- you should see that they offer a lot of flexibility, and, should you decide a few weeks into your prep that you need to do more practice tests, or that you want to use more practice tests for LG drill work, etc., it'll be easy enough to adjust the schedule to fit your needs best.

- (3) If, early on in the study schedule, you find yourself getting really into your work (I know that may seem far-fetched now, but a lot of people come to somewhat enjoy studying for the LSAT), you should feel free to push forward and get a bit ahead of the schedule (moving some stuff from week 2 to 1, and 3 to 2 and so on) knowing that, considering you've got some big goals, you will likely need to add a bit more work later on in order to address any weaker areas.

Hope that helps -- best of luck, and let me know if you need anything else -- Mike


Mike -- I am very appreciative of your time and insight. Thank you.

I do have the Superprep and The Next 10, Official LSAT Preptests in addition to the 10 Preptests that accompany the Trainer. I'm thinking that this should be a sufficient amount of questions and tests for studying. I find your advice about mastering those particular 10 tests interesting and helpful; I guess I will have to decide for myself at one point whether breaking into other material is more helpful or not. Given my goal, I'm taking one week of lead time to start the 16 weeks and hope to get engrossed in my work and push ahead early on. I'm curious to see whether drilling or PTs will be more fruitful for me...time to start and find out.

I'm sure I'll be back with future questions. Thanks.

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

Postby Jumaal » Sat Oct 05, 2013 2:03 pm

After reading all the good news I decided to purchase also - writing in December.
I'm in Canada and Amazon doesn't have any in stock. Spoke to CS and they said they'll have it within "2-4 weeks".
that's just toooooo looooooong to wait!

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:34 pm

Jumaal wrote:After reading all the good news I decided to purchase also - writing in December.
I'm in Canada and Amazon doesn't have any in stock. Spoke to CS and they said they'll have it within "2-4 weeks".
that's just toooooo looooooong to wait!


So sorry to hear about that --

It's an amazon issue, rather than an issue that I can control -- if you know of any other canadian online retailers, I imagine that they can get it to you faster -- I just did a quick search and saw that Abe books will get it to you a bit earlier, but it will cost a bit more -- if I find anything else I'll let you know --

Mike

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

Postby civis » Sun Oct 06, 2013 10:24 am

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Last edited by civis on Mon Jan 06, 2014 5:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby altoid99 » Sun Oct 06, 2013 12:35 pm

Hey Mike,

I just took the October LSAT yesterday after over 2 months of studying with the Trainer. This wasn't the first time I took the LSAT but the strategies and suggestions you provided in the Trainer definitely made the difference this time around (especially using lower-case letters to denote subsets for one of the games ;) ). I'll know for sure once I get my score, but I'm pretty confident it's going to be a score I'm happy with. Thanks for all your help!

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:50 pm

civis wrote:Hey Mike,

Yesterday's October exam didn't go terribly, but i'm preemptively looking at my options moving forward. I walked out of the test feeling kind of crappy but it might've just been the emotions riding high. Definitely did not feel as confident as usual.

I'd like to get into the fall admissions cycle so a re-take in December would be an option. I used the online BP course and I definitely think it got me to a solid point, but I'm open to new options in case I have to re-take.

I probably won't touch LSAT material for at least a week or two, but I want to start laying down some framework for a mid October - December dash if need be.

I think noprep asked a question earlier about a schedule for a re-takers, but I didn't see too much follow-up. Could've missed it. I've heard / read good things about your book and wondering how useful it would be if I picked it up late October and used it into the December re-take.

Thanks!


Hi there --

I just finished writing a guest article with some tips for retakers -- it's going to be going up on the cambridge lsat site soon -- I'll let you know when it is --

I do think the trainer can be useful in your situation -- I can see you using it in one of two ways:

1) As the centerpiece of your study plan. I suggest you start with the standard 4 week schedule (available on my website) and once you are about 10 lessons into the book it should be easy enough for to see how you can adjust the schedule (change around PT's, add drills, etc.) to fit your situation best (you can always get in touch with me if you have any questions).

One of the things I try to provide in the trainer is a big picture understanding of how all the different things on the exam relate to one another -- I think a lot of retakers find the trainer really useful for bringing together the individual lessons that they have learned. At the same time, the trainer is fundamental enough (that is, it won't tell you to use any crazy or unusual strategies that are drastically different from what you learned at bp) so that you shouldn't have any trouble blending it together with your current strategies/what you already know.

2) To help fill in/address particular weaknesses. I think some students have used the trainer to strengthen just their lr, some just their rc, and some just their lg -- especially if you feel that your understanding and strategies are fairly sound, you may want to just use the trainer to get a different perspective on just the areas that need a little strengthening.

I know that the bp materials are strong, so you may just need to do drill work and pt's, but if you think another learning system will be of use to you, I certainly feel extremely confident recommending the trainer, and I think you'll get a lot out of it --

Don't hesitate to reach out if you need anything else or have any other questions --

Mike

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:53 pm

altoid99 wrote:Hey Mike,

I just took the October LSAT yesterday after over 2 months of studying with the Trainer. This wasn't the first time I took the LSAT but the strategies and suggestions you provided in the Trainer definitely made the difference this time around (especially using lower-case letters to denote subsets for one of the games ;) ). I'll know for sure once I get my score, but I'm pretty confident it's going to be a score I'm happy with. Thanks for all your help!


That's so great to hear, and thank you so, so much for sharing that (especially the stuff about subsets) with me -- congrats and take care -- Mike

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

Postby civis » Sun Oct 06, 2013 4:01 pm

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Last edited by civis on Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby PIBB » Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:14 pm

Just ordered a copy from amazon. Looking forward to working through it.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:07 pm

PIBB wrote:Just ordered a copy from amazon. Looking forward to working through it.


Great -- thanks for picking it up, and don't hesitate to get in touch if you need anything -- mike

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:12 pm

The article for retakers is out -- here it is -- http://www.cambridgelsat.com/retakers-checklist/

-- Mike

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

Postby roranoa » Fri Oct 11, 2013 11:54 am

Hey Mike, I just my copy of [The LSAT Trainer]!

Let's hope that I need it only until December! :wink:

p.s: This book is really heavy.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:03 pm

roranoa wrote:Hey Mike, I just my copy of [The LSAT Trainer]!

Let's hope that I need it only until December! :wink:

p.s: This book is really heavy.


hope you enjoy it --

sorry about the weight -- i'm trying to come up with some sort of joke about using lighter fonts, but nothing is coming to me --

mk

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

Postby tofuspeedstar » Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:30 pm

Got my copy in from Amazon today. Ready to attack it starting this weekend.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:54 pm

tofuspeedstar wrote:Got my copy in from Amazon today. Ready to attack it starting this weekend.


Cousins, huh? Weren't you Noah? Or is that someone else?

Hope you enjoy it -- Mike

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

Postby tofuspeedstar » Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:00 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
tofuspeedstar wrote:Got my copy in from Amazon today. Ready to attack it starting this weekend.


Cousins, huh? Weren't you Noah? Or is that someone else?

Hope you enjoy it -- Mike



that was me. Boogie for mayor of Sacramento.

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

Postby All Star » Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:18 pm

To Mike or Anyone else on this thread,

Does anyone know of any examples of actual Logic Games that contain Minor question types? I just finished the Trainer's LG lessons in ch 26-29 and would like to drill and practice actual LSAT examples of these games.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sat Oct 12, 2013 1:32 pm

All Star wrote:To Mike or Anyone else on this thread,

Does anyone know of any examples of actual Logic Games that contain Minor question types? I just finished the Trainer's LG lessons in ch 26-29 and would like to drill and practice actual LSAT examples of these games.


Hi All Star -- A lot of games contain minor q types -- not counting the rules q, which starts off almost every game, I'd say that off the top of my head, roughly 40% of all games contain some other type of minor q -- however, when they do appear, there are typically no more than one or two minor q's per game -- hth -- mike


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