Mike's Trainer Thread

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

Postby firefoxm » Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:52 pm

Hi Mike,
Quick question: I just got the LSAT Trainer for the December test, after hearing it recommended so much. However, I am a third of the way through a TM online course, so I was wondering how I should best study with both resources... Unfortunately, I just 'discovered' your book, but do you know how I could maximize my TM course with your book? Thanks so much:)

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sun Nov 03, 2013 1:00 pm

firefoxm wrote:Hi Mike,
Quick question: I just got the LSAT Trainer for the December test, after hearing it recommended so much. However, I am a third of the way through a TM online course, so I was wondering how I should best study with both resources... Unfortunately, I just 'discovered' your book, but do you know how I could maximize my TM course with your book? Thanks so much:)


Hi there --

Thanks so much for picking my book -- I hope you find it useful --

Unfortunately, I don't know a lot about how the specifics of the testmasters course, and so I can only give you some fairly general advice -- if you want to give me more details about your situation and get more specific advice, I'd be happy to give it -- but for now, here are some thoughts that I think might be helpful (I'm assuming you are a first-timer; this advice changes a bit if you are a retaker) --

Your prep should consist of 3 overlapping and related components:

1) learning
2) drilling
3) pt'ing

Both your testmasters course and my book should primarily be considered part of the learning phase (though of course you'll be working on problem sets etc. in your class, I'm sure, and in trainer). And, the way the trainer is designed (and the way most courses are designed), the drill work should then be integrated into the learning, so that you learn about a question type, then do a bunch of that question type on your own. In the trainer, specifically, the drill assignments begin for real after lesson 16, when the book starts to discuss specific strategies for specific types of questions.

From what I know about Testmasters, they do suggest some specific strategies that are different from the specific strategies that I suggest. However, all quality LSAT systems share some core fundamentals, and most students, when given the right resources, generally have very little trouble bringing together various methods and picking and choosing what works best for them (If you ever do run into trouble on any specific conflict of strategies, feel free to get in touch w/me here or in pm and I'll be happy to help).

The big, big point I want to stress (and I apologize if this doesn't answer your specific q- again, please follow up if you'd like) --

Make sure, with both resources available to you, that you don't devote too much of your time to the learning phase of your development. If you search through the annals of tls, you will literally find hundreds and hundreds of stories of people who devoted too much time to the "learning" phase of their study process for their first take, underperformed, spent a ton of time drilling before their second take, and raised their scores significantly --

Here's a gross oversimplification that I think can help you have the right mindset -- think of it like learning how to play basketball -- drill work is equivalent to the hours of practice that you put in; the learning phase is equivalent to your coaching/what you learn about how you are supposed to play, and pt's are like scrimmages that get you ready for the game. My book, and the testmasters course--the learning--will help you get the most out of your drill work, and the pt'ing will help ensure that the drill work you've done pays off on test day, but it's the drill work itself that really makes you better and better.

So, make sure you don't over-invest your time in the two tools -- figure out how to best bring them together efficiently, and make sure to leave yourself plenty of time for drilling and pt's (and of course drilling and pt's always involve, implicitly, careful review of your work).

I hope you find that helpful in terms of thinking about how to allocate your study time. Good luck! And if you need me, just get in touch -- Mike

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

Postby Otunga » Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:32 pm

Hi Mike,

I'm a retaker in Dec, and I scored 168 in Oct with a PT avg of 171/172. Strangely enough, LR was my strong suit going into the test, with an average of 3 to 4 misses overall, and yet I went -9 in Oct. So it's sort of an unusual spot, as people often have their weak sections that cost them on test day, and yet my apparently 'strong' section is what cost me.

So I ordered the Trainer and I like how concretely you identify the flaws of arguments. The commonsense language that you use to identify them is extremely helpful, and I believe it's helped me to better prephrase answers. Granted, I'm noticing this improved ability on retakes, so perhaps it's not indicative of my actual prephrasing ability, but it does feel like my sense of what's wrong in arguments prior to going into the answer choices is getting better. I should note that I did have LR scores here and there of -6, and one each of -7 and even -10. While those are probably outliers, it's still not something somebody who aims to score in the 170s should see. I think much of those LR misses are due to not properly figuring out what's wrong with arguments before getting to the answers. I think what I'd do is 'try and make something' of the answer choices to see if anything clicked, and while it worked much of the time, that sloppy approach is no doubt going to yield misses. I haven't yet reviewed 70 (should retake soon and review then), but I'm interested to see if that performance was a fluke due to anxiety combined with the difficulty of the section. I think the anxiety caused me to really get into the bad habit of 'making something of the answer choices' without strongly grasping the argument, if I had to guess, as that's what it felt like.

In short, while the Manhattan approach has worked wonders for me in LR, your emphasis more on commonsense ways of thinking about the arguments as opposed to the abstraction many test companies go with has enabled me to more efficiently identify the gaps in arguments, which has restored and even slightly added to my confidence in LR. 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 » Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:07 pm

Otunga wrote:Hi Mike,

I'm a retaker in Dec, and I scored 168 in Oct with a PT avg of 171/172. Strangely enough, LR was my strong suit going into the test, with an average of 3 to 4 misses overall, and yet I went -9 in Oct. So it's sort of an unusual spot, as people often have their weak sections that cost them on test day, and yet my apparently 'strong' section is what cost me.

So I ordered the Trainer and I like how concretely you identify the flaws of arguments. The commonsense language that you use to identify them is extremely helpful, and I believe it's helped me to better prephrase answers. Granted, I'm noticing this improved ability on retakes, so perhaps it's not indicative of my actual prephrasing ability, but it does feel like my sense of what's wrong in arguments prior to going into the answer choices is getting better. I should note that I did have LR scores here and there of -6, and one each of -7 and even -10. While those are probably outliers, it's still not something somebody who aims to score in the 170s should see. I think much of those LR misses are due to not properly figuring out what's wrong with arguments before getting to the answers. I think what I'd do is 'try and make something' of the answer choices to see if anything clicked, and while it worked much of the time, that sloppy approach is no doubt going to yield misses. I haven't yet reviewed 70 (should retake soon and review then), but I'm interested to see if that performance was a fluke due to anxiety combined with the difficulty of the section. I think the anxiety caused me to really get into the bad habit of 'making something of the answer choices' without strongly grasping the argument, if I had to guess, as that's what it felt like.

In short, while the Manhattan approach has worked wonders for me in LR, your emphasis more on commonsense ways of thinking about the arguments as opposed to the abstraction many test companies go with has enabled me to more efficiently identify the gaps in arguments, which has restored and even slightly added to my confidence in LR. Thanks!


Hey Otunga --

Awfully impressed that you are working hard to retake a 168, and happy to hear that you are finding the Trainer helpful (though the proof is in the pudding, and the only "real" evidence I'll accept is a higher score on the December exam). I really like how you describe where you are at now, and I've worked with a lot of students who have been in exactly that situation (though maybe not with that level of awareness) - I feel confident that getting better and better at seeing flaws will make it easier and easier for you to solve questions quickly and confidently.

Hope you keep enjoying the trainer as you get farther into it, and please don't hesitate to get in touch, here or through pm, if you need me for anything -- Mike

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

Postby firefoxm » Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:20 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Hi there --

Thanks so much for picking my book -- I hope you find it useful --

Unfortunately, I don't know a lot about how the specifics of the testmasters course, and so I can only give you some fairly general advice -- if you want to give me more details about your situation and get more specific advice, I'd be happy to give it -- but for now, here are some thoughts that I think might be helpful (I'm assuming you are a first-timer; this advice changes a bit if you are a retaker) --

Your prep should consist of 3 overlapping and related components:

1) learning
2) drilling
3) pt'ing

Both your testmasters course and my book should primarily be considered part of the learning phase (though of course you'll be working on problem sets etc. in your class, I'm sure, and in trainer). And, the way the trainer is designed (and the way most courses are designed), the drill work should then be integrated into the learning, so that you learn about a question type, then do a bunch of that question type on your own. In the trainer, specifically, the drill assignments begin for real after lesson 16, when the book starts to discuss specific strategies for specific types of questions.

From what I know about Testmasters, they do suggest some specific strategies that are different from the specific strategies that I suggest. However, all quality LSAT systems share some core fundamentals, and most students, when given the right resources, generally have very little trouble bringing together various methods and picking and choosing what works best for them (If you ever do run into trouble on any specific conflict of strategies, feel free to get in touch w/me here or in pm and I'll be happy to help).

The big, big point I want to stress (and I apologize if this doesn't answer your specific q- again, please follow up if you'd like) --

Make sure, with both resources available to you, that you don't devote too much of your time to the learning phase of your development. If you search through the annals of tls, you will literally find hundreds and hundreds of stories of people who devoted too much time to the "learning" phase of their study process for their first take, underperformed, spent a ton of time drilling before their second take, and raised their scores significantly --

Here's a gross oversimplification that I think can help you have the right mindset -- think of it like learning how to play basketball -- drill work is equivalent to the hours of practice that you put in; the learning phase is equivalent to your coaching/what you learn about how you are supposed to play, and pt's are like scrimmages that get you ready for the game. My book, and the testmasters course--the learning--will help you get the most out of your drill work, and the pt'ing will help ensure that the drill work you've done pays off on test day, but it's the drill work itself that really makes you better and better.

So, make sure you don't over-invest your time in the two tools -- figure out how to best bring them together efficiently, and make sure to leave yourself plenty of time for drilling and pt's (and of course drilling and pt's always involve, implicitly, careful review of your work).

I hope you find that helpful in terms of thinking about how to allocate your study time. Good luck! And if you need me, just get in touch -- Mike


Hi Mike,
Thanks for giving me such a great response! I realized with your message that I did risk spending too much time on the learning phase, so I've put more of an emphasis on drilling, as you recommend.. I'm starting the PTs this weekend (after 3 weeks of studying), and planning on doing 2-3 a week until the LSAT, between my learning and drilling:) I've set up a schedule I think will work around your book and the TM course, so thank you so much for your input! I might be bugging you some more in the next month or so, but I'm going to start this way and see how it goes :)

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retaking23
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby retaking23 » Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:07 am

Mike, what is your avatar?

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Dr. Dre
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby Dr. Dre » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:43 am

retaking23 wrote:Mike, what is your avatar?



arcade fire

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

Postby sashafierce » Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:13 pm

Hi Mike,

I read like 90% of the trainer before the October exam (did not read RC section because I ran out of time) and I am re reading it now along with the 4 week study plan. So far I have improved my RC score to between -2 to -4 and I drill and review a passage every night so I expect to maintain/improve in time for December. LR is an issue for me, I posted my issue on the forum but someone suggested I post it here:

Background info:

Sat the October exam knowing very well that I was not fully prepared and this was reflected in my score (155). I am retaking in December and would like your help. I went -9 on RC (-3 P1, -1P2, -1P3 and -4P4). I have been using some tips from TLS (read this thread viewtopic.php?f=6&t=218535) and have seen major improvement, I am now down to between -2 and -4. I intend to do a full timed RC section with review everyday until the December exam.

My next step now is LR improvement I went -7 and -10 in October. I have read and re-read, The Trainer/MLSAT and Powerscore books so I basically know all the strategies, my problem is I have never finished a RC/LR/LG section in 35 mins. I literally guessed around 6 questions per section in each of the LR section, guessed an entire game for the LR section and an entire passage for the RC section.

So before this turns into a short novel, let me get to the point, This is what I currently do for LR and I need someone/everyone to correct me:

Assumption Questions
Read Question Stem--> Underline/circle key words in question stem like resolve/strengthen/weaken-->Write an abbreviation above the stimulus to remind myself what type of question I am dealing with for e.g. "W" for Weaken, "S" for Strengthen, "F" for Flaw, "NA" for necessary assumption etc-->Read Stimulus-->Find Main Point-->Underline Main Point-->Write "MP" above the Main Point--> Find Support--> Underline Support-->write "S" above Support-->Identify Flaw-->Paraphrase Flaw using Trainer "Fails to consider" "Take for granted" strategy-->Go through the process of eliminating answer choices (even if I have already identified a match to my paraphrased flaw -->Usually two answer choices remain-->Confirm answer with information in stimulus

Inference Questions
Read Question Stem--> Underline/circle key words in question stem like must be true/most strongly supported/follows logically etc-->Write an abbreviation above the stimulus to remind myself what type of question I am dealing with for e.g. "MBT" for Must be True, "MSS" for Most Strongly Supported etc--> Read Stimulus--> Underline facts in the stimulus-->Write "F1", "F2" etc over facts--> Read Answer choices and eliminating obvious wrong answer choices--> Confirm contenders using facts in the stimulus--> select answer.

Principle Support/Principle Example
Use the same/similar strategy except this strategy is even longer because in addition to paraphrasing the principle I also write it out on the Preptest.

Evaluate the Argument/Point at Issue/Main Conclusion
These questions are usually sure points for me for some reason.

These strategies have worked for me for the questions that I attempt. The problem is that at most I get to complete 18 questions and as time starts running out I start skipping the more important steps like confirming the right answer which in turn increases my changes of choosing the wrong answer.

Your help is greatly appreciated. I do believe that I can improve significantly in LR by December. Thank you in advance for your help.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:05 pm

Hi Sashafierce --

After reading the manhattan books and the trainer you must be so sick of me!!! Just picture a little version of me sitting on your shoulder and whispering into your ear during the test :) --

Here are some thoughts that come to mind when I read what you wrote -- please remember that obviously you understand your own situation far better than I do, and I'm just working off some limited info, so please of course feel free to utilize what you think applies to you and ignore what you know doesn't.

I think that what you are experiencing is what a lot of LSAT students go through -- information overload. I think you've added methods on top of methods, and though it's certainly helpful to learn more about the test and to learn new strategies, this can also work against you and make the test feel harder than it needs to be --

The reason is because your ability to prioritize is a huge, huge key to success.

As I've mentioned many times elsewhere, when I studied the difference between top scorers and lower scorers, a consistent and significant difference between them had to do with what and how much they think about -- top scorers tend to think more simply, and are able to prioritize the important information. Lower level scorers may think about the very same things top scorers do, but lower level scorers also think about a million other things -- thoughts that make wrong answers more attractive and right answers harder to spot.

Related to comment about information overload, it seems like you've invested a lot of time and energy into the learning phase of your prep, but you need to now focus more of your energy on developing simple and consistent skills and habits. All of the markings and notes and reminders and steps you use (and btw, this stuff is not what is recommended in the trainer or in the manhattan books, which is part of the reason I think you may be combining/using too many strategies) force you to take the test on a very conscious level -- as I talk about in the intro to the trainer, this really prevents you from performing at your best --

An analogy that I think is really apt (and apologies if I've used this elsewhere or stole this from someone else's post) is the difference between reading in your own language vs reading in a foreign language. When you read in your own language, you don't have to think about how you are reading -- you can just focus on the content. When you read in a foreign language, you've got this other layer of work, and it prevents you from digging as deep into the material. It also slows you down, a lot.

Top scorers are able to just focus in on the question in front of them, and they don't have to consciously remind themselves of the steps that they have to take -- they just naturally take them(that's a big part of what you want to get out of your prep -- right habits). If you are consciously reminding yourself of these steps, I think you can see that you're putting yourself at a disadvantage relative to your competition.

So, having said all of that, what I suggest is that you work on simplifying and internalizing your process. You are doing too many things, and doing them on too conscious a level -- these two things go hand in hand -- make your job simpler, and try to just remember to do it, rather than making so many markings and reminders. Also, keep reminding yourself that this is a test of reading ability -- specifically, your ability to use wording and structure to recognize what your task is, and where you are meant to focus your attention.

One thing you may want to try is just take an LR section without worrying about all those various strategies -- try taking an entire section without notating anything at all (other than crossing out wrong answers and selecting the right one)-- just try to solve the questions as simply as u possibly can --
1) read the q stem, say to yourself what your task is
2) read the stimulus, and try to get out of it what you are supposed to
3) think about how answers relate to task and what to chose to focus on from the stimulus, and eliminate wrongs and confirm the right based on these two things.

I think what you'll find is that there are a lot of things that you can do well, and do naturally, without the 10-point strategies. You'll also find that there are some things you can't do as well, and so at that point you can then start "adding back" any little things you want to do (such as underlining the conclusion) as you think you need them.

I think going through the above exercise can help you simplify your process, and understand better the effectiveness/purpose of different aspects of your approach.

The last thing I want to encourage you to do is to think about putting yourself in a position where you can be aggressive. I can't stress enough the importance of this. The majority of test takers go into the test with certain strategies memorized, hoping that if they follow steps 1, 2, 3 right answers will appear as they are supposed to -- that's not how the test is going to go. The test is going to feel like challenge after challenge after challenge -- like big waves coming at you one after another in the ocean -- you want to feel excited about these challenges, and you want to feel like you have the skills to attack them. You wan to be on your toes. The more aggressive you can be, the easier questions become. The more you try to follow "right steps," the less aggressive you can be. The better skills and habits you have, the more you can just be in the moment, and the more confident you can feel attacking questions.

Sorry I rambled for a bit there, but I hope you find that helpful -- if you have any follow up or need anything more specific, please let me know -- Mike

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

Postby Straw_Mandible » Fri Nov 15, 2013 4:43 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote: The test is going to feel like challenge after challenge after challenge -- like big waves coming at you one after another in the ocean -- you want to feel excited about these challenges, and you want to feel like you have the skills to attack them. You wan to be on your toes. The more aggressive you can be, the easier questions become.


This part is beautiful. Mike, I just wanted to tell you how much I love your analogies. I get the feeling that you view the LSAT as a kind of artistic masterpiece. I sincerely hope, as my understanding of the test matures, that I will eventually come to view it that way too.

I'm really loving The Trainer by the way. Only two chapters to go! I expect to be very sad when there are no more pages to turn.

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

Postby sashafierce » Fri Nov 15, 2013 7:04 pm

\
The LSAT Trainer wrote:One thing you may want to try is just take an LR section without worrying about all those various strategies -- try taking an entire section without notating anything at all (other than crossing out wrong answers and selecting the right one)-- just try to solve the questions as simply as u possibly can --
1) read the q stem, say to yourself what your task is
2) read the stimulus, and try to get out of it what you are supposed to
3) think about how answers relate to task and what to chose to focus on from the stimulus, and eliminate wrongs and confirm the right based on these two things.


Thank you for the response. I will try doing this over the weekend. I honestly feel that you are right I am doing way too much. I spend time using all those different strategies and never end up finishing a LR section in 35 mins its frustrating :(

The LSAT Trainer wrote:The more aggressive you can be, the easier questions become. The more you try to follow "right steps," the less aggressive you can be. The better skills and habits you have, the more you can just be in the moment, and the more confident you can feel attacking questions.


This is the opposite of how I currently approach questions, I am usually calm going through the motions of following my steps and internalizing unnecessary details. Hopefully after trying the exercise above I can get to this point.

Thank you for the advice Mike :D

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:18 am

sashafierce wrote:\
The LSAT Trainer wrote:One thing you may want to try is just take an LR section without worrying about all those various strategies -- try taking an entire section without notating anything at all (other than crossing out wrong answers and selecting the right one)-- just try to solve the questions as simply as u possibly can --
1) read the q stem, say to yourself what your task is
2) read the stimulus, and try to get out of it what you are supposed to
3) think about how answers relate to task and what to chose to focus on from the stimulus, and eliminate wrongs and confirm the right based on these two things.


Thank you for the response. I will try doing this over the weekend. I honestly feel that you are right I am doing way too much. I spend time using all those different strategies and never end up finishing a LR section in 35 mins its frustrating :(

The LSAT Trainer wrote:The more aggressive you can be, the easier questions become. The more you try to follow "right steps," the less aggressive you can be. The better skills and habits you have, the more you can just be in the moment, and the more confident you can feel attacking questions.


This is the opposite of how I currently approach questions, I am usually calm going through the motions of following my steps and internalizing unnecessary details. Hopefully after trying the exercise above I can get to this point.

Thank you for the advice Mike :D


sure thing -- good luck, and get in touch here or though pm if you need any help figuring out next steps after the wknd -- mk

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:40 am

Straw_Mandible wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote: The test is going to feel like challenge after challenge after challenge -- like big waves coming at you one after another in the ocean -- you want to feel excited about these challenges, and you want to feel like you have the skills to attack them. You wan to be on your toes. The more aggressive you can be, the easier questions become.


This part is beautiful. Mike, I just wanted to tell you how much I love your analogies. I get the feeling that you view the LSAT as a kind of artistic masterpiece. I sincerely hope, as my understanding of the test matures, that I will eventually come to view it that way too.

I'm really loving The Trainer by the way. Only two chapters to go! I expect to be very sad when there are no more pages to turn.


Wow-thank you so much-that's awfully nice of you to write, and it makes my day to know that you've been so satisfied with the book --

A little bird told me you were having some trouble w/LG. Hope that's going better for you -- if you need any help with that, pm me --

Mike

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

Postby sashafierce » Sat Nov 16, 2013 5:47 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:sure thing -- good luck, and get in touch here or though pm if you need any help figuring out next steps after the wknd -- mk


Thank you for the open invitation..lol :)

So I just did 3 timed LR sections using the advice that you all gave to me well mostly because I wrote C for conclusion, P for Premise foir a few wordy questions. My breakdown is:

LR1 -3 wrong -4 did not attempt (-7 total)
LR2 -2 wrong -3 did not attempt (-5 total)
LR3 -6 wrong -4 did not attempt (-10 total)

This is an improvement as I was able to get to attempt more questions but some of my issues were:
1) I over analyzed easy questions
2) I stayed too long on some questions "chasing ghost"
3) I got exhausted after doing three consecutive LR sections
4) I fell for trap answer choices and did not critically confirm the answer choice by referring back to the stimulus.

I am not sure if I read this in your book but I read this somewhere and I wrote it on a sticky note:
To confirm answer choices do two things:
1) ensure that the answer choice is directly related to the reasoning relationship between the support and the conclusion
2) make sure that the answer choice plays the role that its supposed to play
I fully understand point 2 but can you elaborate on 1. If this information is in the Trainer then you can also guide me to wherever it is and I will re-read the pages(s)


Also, I am wondering what to do next, here is what I think I should do:

1. Review in detail all questions
2. Try to trace my thought process for each of the questions, what I understood/why I eliminated answer choices etc
3. For all the questions I got wrong or did not attempt refer back to guides MLSAT+Trainer and review the respective chapters
4. Take a break
5. Do some more timed section tomorrow
6. Start over from Step 1

Another strategy that I also considering using is drilling by question #, what I mean is- sections of the first 15 questions + sections of last 10 questions timed separately so as to work on my timing for each.

A few TLSers have recommended this strategy. My ultimate goal is to be able to complete the first 15 questions in 10-12 minutes and the last 10 in 20-23 minutes. I have concluded that I do in fact write way to much and intend to continue doing less writing and more internalizing like you all suggested.

What do you think about my strategy until the December exam? Your help is going to turn me into the next TLS success story so thank you in advance.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:01 pm

sashafierce wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:sure thing -- good luck, and get in touch here or though pm if you need any help figuring out next steps after the wknd -- mk


Thank you for the open invitation..lol :)

So I just did 3 timed LR sections using the advice that you all gave to me well mostly because I wrote C for conclusion, P for Premise foir a few wordy questions. My breakdown is:

LR1 -3 wrong -4 did not attempt (-7 total)
LR2 -2 wrong -3 did not attempt (-5 total)
LR3 -6 wrong -4 did not attempt (-10 total)

This is an improvement as I was able to get to attempt more questions but some of my issues were:
1) I over analyzed easy questions
2) I stayed too long on some questions "chasing ghost"
3) I got exhausted after doing three consecutive LR sections
4) I fell for trap answer choices and did not critically confirm the answer choice by referring back to the stimulus.

I am not sure if I read this in your book but I read this somewhere and I wrote it on a sticky note:
To confirm answer choices do two things:
1) ensure that the answer choice is directly related to the reasoning relationship between the support and the conclusion
2) make sure that the answer choice plays the role that its supposed to play
I fully understand point 2 but can you elaborate on 1. If this information is in the Trainer then you can also guide me to wherever it is and I will re-read the pages(s)


Also, I am wondering what to do next, here is what I think I should do:

1. Review in detail all questions
2. Try to trace my thought process for each of the questions, what I understood/why I eliminated answer choices etc
3. For all the questions I got wrong or did not attempt refer back to guides MLSAT+Trainer and review the respective chapters
4. Take a break
5. Do some more timed section tomorrow
6. Start over from Step 1

Another strategy that I also considering using is drilling by question #, what I mean is- sections of the first 15 questions + sections of last 10 questions timed separately so as to work on my timing for each.

A few TLSers have recommended this strategy. My ultimate goal is to be able to complete the first 15 questions in 10-12 minutes and the last 10 in 20-23 minutes. I have concluded that I do in fact write way to much and intend to continue doing less writing and more internalizing like you all suggested.

What do you think about my strategy until the December exam? Your help is going to turn me into the next TLS success story so thank you in advance.


Nice work --

In terms of the question you asked (about reasoning relationship) -- that's simply the argument core (or equivalent for a different type of q) --

For q's that require you to be critical of an argument, recognizing the reasoning relationship boils down to a paraphrased, personalized version of "The author thinks ___, because ___. However, he's failing to consider/taking for granted that ___. "

Your ability come up with a clear and correct version of the above is probably the single most important skill/habit there is for the entire LSAT -- I'm glad you recognized that it was a concern for you, and I think you'll get a lot out of score improvement out of working on getting better and better at just thinking about the above, clearly and simply, for any such question that requires it. Ideally, by the time you go into the test, you are always able to come up with the first two parts (The author thinks/because), and able to come up with the last part (wrong b/c) most of the time. When you can't quite understand the intended reasoning, or can't quite see the flaw correctly, do your best to just focus on the point and the support.

I definitely support you reviewing your work thoroughly, and one aspect that I really want you to focus on is thinking about why
a) wrong answers are wrong based on understanding of reasoning relationship and task
b) right answer fits with relationship and task.

I also really want to encourage you to do drill work on specific q's -- your issue is that you need to make the right steps more habitual so that you can be more confident and consistent and so that you can get faster -- drill sets of like q's are the best thing for that. I think mixed work is good for assessment, and firming up habits, but right now I think you need to focus most on getting better and better at the q's, and pt's and sections and such are not the best thing for that.

You mentioned in an earlier note that you typically get down to a couple of answer choices, then have to select -- know that this is not the norm (q's are not "designed" for you to consistently get down to exactly 2 answers), and I want to offer a crazy suggestion/hypothesis -- whether you realize it or not, you are choosing to get to get down to two answer choices. Whatever you are doing mentally, you are "setting the bar" at a point that eliminates most wrong choices but not all, and allows you to feel mostly good about a right answer but not exactly right -- to the point that 2 answers seem attractive. Be more critical of wrongs, and more specific in your judgement of the right choice.

Keep in mind that this is what you want to get out of the prep time you invest --
1) get better and better at correctly identifying/understanding/prioritizing reasoning relationships in stimulus
2) get better and better at comparing answers to the above & to the question task
3) be confident and aggressive about using understanding of stimulus & task to attack answers -- I know this was the theme of the first message -- it's not something that happens overnight -- you need to keep working at it and keep giving yourself clear reinforcement (a recognition you are solving q's faster and better).
4) feel more clarity/certainty about eliminating wrong choices -- this goes hand-in-hand, of course, with #'s 1, 2 & 3 -- but as I mentioned, it also has to do with where you set the bar. Invest a bit more time and energy into thinking about why wrong answers are wrong, and see if you can eliminate 4 wrongs more and more of the time.
5) feel more clarity/certainty about the right answer -- work to develop a clearer and clearer sense of when you've nailed a question. Uncertainty is something that builds up in us -- you feel a bit uncertain about one problem, and then the next, then it will most surely impact your performance on the question that follows. There are indications all throughout your messages (and I'm sure you know this) that indicate that you do not trust yourself, and this has a significant and negative impact on your performance. I think if you make your systems more intuitive and habitual, and if you can trust in your instincts more, you will see those mistakes on easy problems start going away, and I think you'll see your timing improve.

All easier said than done, but some things for you to think about. Lastly, check out the quick drill on pg. 487 -- make sure it feels very easy for you --

HTH -- Mike

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

Postby angels2fly » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:16 pm

When is "some" allowed and not? For PT29 S1 Q16 the correct answer has some in it. I definitely agree that this was the best option out of the choices but then in an explanation for PT30 S4 Q20, "some" is given as support for why option B is wrong (this is in Manhattan LR). I know this was a secondary explanation for why it was wrong, in addition to not engaging the core by ignoring the antihistamine, but wanted tome clarification.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:26 pm

angels2fly wrote:When is "some" allowed and not? For PT29 S1 Q16 the correct answer has some in it. I definitely agree that this was the best option out of the choices but then in an explanation for PT30 S4 Q20, "some" is given as support for why option B is wrong (this is in Manhattan LR). I know this was a secondary explanation for why it was wrong, in addition to not engaging the core by ignoring the antihistamine, but wanted tome clarification.


Good question --

The short answer is that it depends on how some relates to the reasoning relationship in the argument --

Here are overly simplified examples that illustrate the above point and illustrate the difference between the two q's you mentioned --

29/1/16 match:
Argument: "Since Tom is Korean, he probably likes soccer." Weakener "Some Koreans don't like soccer." Notice that the flaw is in making a generalization, and so a counterexample using some is relevant. It doesn't destroy the argument, but it exposes the flaw in the reasoning.

30/4/20 match:
Argument: "You should only buy someone a sports jersey if you know that person likes that sport. It's unclear what sports Tom likes. Therefore, in general, you shouldn't buy people sports jerseys." Equivalent of answer (B): "For some people, it's unclear what sport they like."

If a different sort of reason was given as support for the second argument, the some answer might be relevant. However, notice that the particular issue is in using one example (Tom) to get to a generality -- the "some" aspect does not have a clear or direct impact on this particular reasoning relationship/ flaw (you want an answer that bridges the support about antihistamines w/the conclusion about new drugs in general).

You could argue that the first sentence (about the introduction of a new drug) is a part of the argument core as well, and I could buy that (and would probably consider it myself if I saw this during a real exam) -- if you saw it that way, (B) becomes a much more attractive answer. If you see it this way, then the differences between the two q's becomes much more subtle, and require you to think carefully about the relationship between some (an unknown amount) and most (more than half) -- namely, why some can do more to weaken a most statement than it can to strengthen one.

Here's a super simple example to illustrate this point:

"All Americans like cheese. Therefore, most Americans like milk."

How much do "Some who like cheese don't like milk," and "Some who like cheese like milk" weaken and strengthen, respectively? And remember, our "bar" isn't "reasonable argument," it's "support needs to eventually guarantee the conclusion." Also remember that some simply means "an unknown amount greater than 0."

The author is taking for granted a connection between liking cheese and liking milk: specifically, that most people who like cheese like milk.

Knowing that there is an unknown amount of folks who like cheese but don't like milk exposes this assumption and lays open the possibility that the support does not guarantee the conclusion. That's why it weakens.

Knowing that an unknown amount of folks who like cheese do like milk does not necessarily strengthen the argument much, because we're trying to validate a point beyond that -- we're trying to prove that most of those who like cheese like milk. Just knowing some do doesn't get us much closer to our goals.

Again, that's a really subtle point, but I hope the above makes some sense. Sorry for the length of this message -- I expected it to be shorter, but the juxtaposition of these two q's got more interesting the more I thought about it -- I hope you found the above helpful -- if you have questions about any of the above, please let me know and I'll be happy to discuss further --

Mike

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

Postby blackbirdfly » Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:08 pm

Quick question -- There are two weeks left and I've already taken most of the newer (post June 2007) PTs. Should I use the rest of my time to retake newer PTs, or should I try my hand at some of the older ones I haven't taken in full?

Also, I just finished the Trainer and it was the best investment I've made for this test. Thank you for writing it!

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

Postby Nicolena. » Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:14 am

Hi mike. Could you explain how you would approach pt 60 section 3 question 22. It's a necessary assumption question.

Thanks!

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:20 pm

blackbirdfly wrote:Quick question -- There are two weeks left and I've already taken most of the newer (post June 2007) PTs. Should I use the rest of my time to retake newer PTs, or should I try my hand at some of the older ones I haven't taken in full?

Also, I just finished the Trainer and it was the best investment I've made for this test. Thank you for writing it!


Hi there -- every time I see your name that song gets stuck in my head and I can't get it out!!! --

I think you should do both -- the benefit of the newer tests is that they are more representative of what you should expect on test day (by 3 -5 5% I'd say, if I had to put a number on it), and the benefit of the older tests is that they give you the experience of having to deal w/fresh challenges (which is experience that is absolutely necessary).

I'm really happy to hear that the trainer has worked out for you -- thank you so much for your comments (but the only real thanks I'm accepting are official scores :)) -- if u need anything else in these final few weeks, let me know here or though pm -- good luck -- Mike

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:42 pm

Nicolena. wrote:Hi mike. Could you explain how you would approach pt 60 section 3 question 22. It's a necessary assumption question.

Thanks!


Hi Nicolena! --

This was an interesting question -- I just tried it and I'll share my real time thoughts --

One important point I want to discuss, before I start, is the distinction between causing something and being responsible for something. The danger is that in real life, we colloquially use "responsible" for "cause" -- if there is a mess in a class room and a teacher says "Who is responsible for this?" what he/she means is who caused it.

However, causing and being responsible are two different things (and obviously it's a distinction that may be important to lawyers) -- to illustrate, if I have a dog and the dog does something to a neighbor's yard, I may not have caused the action, but I would be responsible for it.

The distinction between responsibility and cause is what is at issue here, and it's what makes (A) relevant and correct --

But in real time, I must admit that the first time through the q, my focus was somewhere else --

So, I read the q stem and saw that it was a necessary assumption q --

I read the argument and immediately knew the argument sounded fairly strong, but that I could see two potentially significant issues:
1) maybe the government's actions have caused some of the price increase, but maybe there is something else (such as a pipeline going down, etc.) that is having an even bigger impact (which would make saying that the gov't "is responsible" too strong, even if you didn't see the distinction between responsible/cause).
2) maybe the government caused increased demand, but something else make it so that the increased demand spiked prices up far more than they should have gone up (for example, maybe the increased demand accounts for 10 cents of the increase, but policy changes in the middle east account for far more of the price hike).

Okay, so those were the things I was focused on when I went into the answer choices --

So, when I saw (A) for the first time, I did not expect it and did not think it was correct. However, I left it because I couldn't find a strong enough reason to say that it was wrong (though I didn't love "bear"), and, when I thought about the negation (gov't cannot bear responsibility) I could see it hurting the argument.

(B) - (E) all had, to me, absolute tells that showed me they were absolutely wrong (quick shorthand thoughts -- (B) -- unforeseen -- (C) doesn't have to be true -- so what if sometimes one doesn't cause other -- the author isn't making some absolute statement about all instances -- (D) -- obligation -- (E) -- describes situation that isn't relevant.

I could see (E), and perhaps (C), being somewhat attractive, but to me they were all fairly easy eliminations.

At that point, I had one answer (A), and an unclear sense of how it related to the argument exactly. I thought about it, realized the significance of the responsible vs causes issue, tried negating more carefully, then selected it. I still don't love bear -- (to me, there is a distinction between being responsible for something and being able to bear that responsibility, and I would have preferred for (A) to say "can be responsible" but maybe I'm looking at it wrong), but it's clearly the best choice.

Hope that helps -- if you have any follow up, please feel free to write back here or pm -- again, this is a tough and unusual question -- really shows how reliant I am on understanding q stem clearly (thinking about what must be, using negation technique, etc), and using elimination techniques --

MK

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

Postby retaking23 » Wed Nov 20, 2013 6:08 pm

Hey Mike,

It's been two weeks since I started with The Trainer and I just wanted to let you know that this is the best comprehensive instruction I've found on the LSAT. I'll admit that I was a little skeptical because Manhattan was so awesome but, desperate to shore up my RC and unable to ignore the praises The Trainer has been getting, I decided to take a plunge. Your RC and LR instruction are, in my opinion, especially effective and I really appreciate that you tried to instill, from the get-go and throughout the 600 pages, that we will generally be using the same skills to answer all LR and RC questions. For LR, my biggest issue has been my inconsistency and until your book, I could not figure out why. I could go anywhere from -0 on the two sections to -8. This was all the more perplexing to me because during review, I would get those same misses correct and, similarly, when I drilled the Cambridge bundles, I would get just about every question right as well. I realize now that my troubles had to do with the switching of question types. And, because of your book, I've really understood that I need to work on the discipline of switching from one type of question to another because the order given will not always be optimal. (And when the question types switch in a not-so-optimal way, the elephant just does whatever it wants.) The skills needed for LR success are generally the same for each question but not exactly the same and changing one's approach, ever so slightly, for specific question types is absolutely necessary for making LR easy and not a liability. For RC, your emphasis on reasoning structure is wonderfully insightful. For the vast majority of seasoned LSAT test takers, it is no secret that LG is the most preferred (and fun) section, followed by LR, and then RC. I was no exception to this. I am glad to say that now, RC is my second most preferred after LG; I am not scared of getting an RC experimental anymore. Thank you for making the RC a section that, just like LG, yields to a specific and easy-to-learn approach.

Having finished The Trainer, I will be starting a somewhat heavy PT schedule in the few days remaining before December 7th and I hope it's enough time to really internalize a lot of what I've learned. I really wish I had gotten this book before I took October.

I know this thread is to ask questions, and I don't really have any, but I just had to say thank you. So, thank you, again.

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

Postby sashafierce » Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:28 am

The LSAT Trainer wrote:personalized version of "The author thinks ___, because ___. However, he's failing to consider/taking for granted that ___. "


I will try this, It seems like a useful way of internalizing the argument.

The LSAT Trainer wrote:I also really want to encourage you to do drill work on specific q's -- your issue is that you need to make the right steps more habitual so that you can be more confident and consistent and so that you can get faster -- drill sets of like q's are the best thing for that. I think mixed work is good for assessment, and firming up habits, but right now I think you need to focus most on getting better and better at the q's, and pt's and sections and such are not the best thing for that.


I have been drilling by question type lately and have been seeing alot of improvement. My speed is also increasing I can now finish 15 questions in 15 minutes but still get stuck on the last few questions...I will keep practicing.

The LSAT Trainer wrote:5) feel more clarity/certainty about the right answer -- work to develop a clearer and clearer sense of when you've nailed a question. Uncertainty is something that builds up in us -- you feel a bit uncertain about one problem, and then the next, then it will most surely impact your performance on the question that follows. There are indications all throughout your messages (and I'm sure you know this) that indicate that you do not trust yourself, and this has a significant and negative impact on your performance. I think if you make your systems more intuitive and habitual, and if you can trust in your instincts more, you will see those mistakes on easy problems start going away, and I think you'll see your timing improve.


Are you psychic :shock: get out of my head :lol: This past year as been rough for me, I made some silly/silly mistakes at work while rushing to complete a few assignments which has resulted in some major repercussions for me. As a result, now I double, triple and quadruple check everything that I do at work and for the LSAT. This is affecting my speed and my confidence :( but like you said--->

The LSAT Trainer wrote:3) be confident and aggressive about using understanding of stimulus & task to attack answers -- I know this was the theme of the first message -- it's not something that happens overnight -- you need to keep working at it and keep giving yourself clear reinforcement (a recognition you are solving q's faster and better).


Practice makes perfect. Thank you for the feedback, as always it is very useful.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:36 pm

retaking23 wrote:Hey Mike,

It's been two weeks since I started with The Trainer and I just wanted to let you know that this is the best comprehensive instruction I've found on the LSAT. I'll admit that I was a little skeptical because Manhattan was so awesome but, desperate to shore up my RC and unable to ignore the praises The Trainer has been getting, I decided to take a plunge. Your RC and LR instruction are, in my opinion, especially effective and I really appreciate that you tried to instill, from the get-go and throughout the 600 pages, that we will generally be using the same skills to answer all LR and RC questions. For LR, my biggest issue has been my inconsistency and until your book, I could not figure out why. I could go anywhere from -0 on the two sections to -8. This was all the more perplexing to me because during review, I would get those same misses correct and, similarly, when I drilled the Cambridge bundles, I would get just about every question right as well. I realize now that my troubles had to do with the switching of question types. And, because of your book, I've really understood that I need to work on the discipline of switching from one type of question to another because the order given will not always be optimal. (And when the question types switch in a not-so-optimal way, the elephant just does whatever it wants.) The skills needed for LR success are generally the same for each question but not exactly the same and changing one's approach, ever so slightly, for specific question types is absolutely necessary for making LR easy and not a liability. For RC, your emphasis on reasoning structure is wonderfully insightful. For the vast majority of seasoned LSAT test takers, it is no secret that LG is the most preferred (and fun) section, followed by LR, and then RC. I was no exception to this. I am glad to say that now, RC is my second most preferred after LG; I am not scared of getting an RC experimental anymore. Thank you for making the RC a section that, just like LG, yields to a specific and easy-to-learn approach.

Having finished The Trainer, I will be starting a somewhat heavy PT schedule in the few days remaining before December 7th and I hope it's enough time to really internalize a lot of what I've learned. I really wish I had gotten this book before I took October.

I know this thread is to ask questions, and I don't really have any, but I just had to say thank you. So, thank you, again.


Thanks so much for writing this -- I definitely appreciate it, and I think it's a great sign that you are starting to enjoy RC more (sorry to be so immature, but I picture you in a cartoon boxing match w/the RC and it giving you a punch to the gut and you just smiling back at it) --

-- good luck with the pt's, and if you run into any issues or need any advice, just let me know -- MK

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

Postby lsat_hopeful » Thu Nov 21, 2013 5:09 pm

This isn't directly related to the LSAT Trainer (I hope that's ok), but just wanted to get your input on something.

I was watching a 7sage video (logic games explanation video for PT55, Game 1: http://7sage.com/lsat_explanations/lsat ... -4-game-1/) and in it J.Y. suggests that for a global, could be true question, we should dive straight into the answer choices (it seems like he was suggesting to start by creating a hypothetical for each answer choice until we find the correct answer).

Just curious if you agree with this approach, or if you suggest a different method.

Thanks a bunch!


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