chaoticx5 wrote:Hey Mike! I wanted to ask your opinion on improving Logical Reasoning. Do you think the best approach to improving to a near perfect score in Logical Reasoning is drilling? Also when trying to score highly in LR, would you recommend keeping time always when practicing or would you focus more on accuracy? I seem to always get -3 or -4 on every LR section which is frustrating for me. After reading the LSAT Trainer I got it down to -2 and even have some sections scored perfectly without timing but when I do time myself, I usually finish but end up missing average -5.
Thanks for using the trainer and for filling me in on your situation --
Here are some thoughts -- as always, keep in mind that I'm working off of very limited info, so, in order to try to be helpful, I have to be presumptuous (and I try to offer a variety of suggestions, to put one out there that you might find relevant) -- please feel free to ignore anything you think doesn't apply to you, and if I don't address something that is important to your situation, please don't hesitate to follow up --
First -- in general, I think you should always keep track of your timing, and you should always try to improve your timing, but you should never (not until the very last weeks of your prep at least) decide to sacrifice accuracy for timing (meaning, don't shortchange a part of the process - such as eliminating wrong choices, for the sake of timing) -- rather, you should always strive to get faster as you get more accurate.
I know that in real time accuracy and pace seem to be directly opposed to one another (especially when you have to decide whether to spend extra time on a question to make sure you got it right, or move on), but when you think about it a different way, getting better at the test and getting faster at the test are very closely related to one another (I'll discuss this more below), and during the bulk of your prep, I think it's a really good idea to focus on how accuracy and pace can and should enhance one another, rather than focusing on how to make decisions about sacrificing one for the other.
Based on what you've written, I think strengthening one or more of the following three skills/habits may be the key to you taking the next step forward --
1) The ability to read for structure and prioritize the important information
Put simply, the better you get at reading the LSAT, the easier it becomes to recognize and prioritize the right information. This in turn makes it easier to think about the reasoning and relate it to the answers, and leads to improved pace.
Part of the reason I strongly recommend always timing yourself and always pushing the pace is that it forces you to try and improve your reading ability -- to put it another way, if you don't worry about timing, you will have a tendency to not focus as much on prioritizing -- this makes the reasoning challenges even more difficult, and, furthermore, it's often very difficult to recognize, in your review, that reading issues are what caused you trouble -- we all naturally tend to focus on the reasoning, and we all tend to focus on what we do, rather than what we fail to do --
Here's an example to illustrate more clearly what I mean --
Person A has really strong reading/prioritizing skills and really strong reasoning skills -- when he reads LR problem X, he zeros in on the exact conclusion and the exact support. This allows him to see clearly that 4 of the answers don't relate directly to the argument, and then he confirms the one answer he has left.
Person B has really strong reasoning skills but not the reading skills -- when he reads LR problem X, he is not as clear in assigning roles, and in particular, he has mixed up and brought together in his mind some of the secondary background information with the support. This makes it so that 2 of the answer choices seem attractive. He carefully reasons through both, sees that one is stronger than the other, and selects the correct answer.
Better reading skill means Person A spends less time on the q, and that the thinking he has to do is easier.
Furthermore, it's very easy for Person B to say "Wow, that's a really tough problem with two attractive answers. Glad my reasoning skills got me through it." It's also very easy for Person B to continue on reading problems the same way as he continues his prep, and to just focus on getting better and better at the reasoning. However, Person B is consistently making problems harder / taking longer than he needs to, and eventually, may have to decide between taking the time to make such reasoning decisions, or moving on in order to finish the section.
So, all that is to say, make sure you prioritize your reading skills, and that you recognize their importance in terms of helping you join together and improve accuracy and pace. When you take too long on problems, think about it in terms of your reading process and what you chose to prioritize, and see if better reading could have helped ease your workload.
2) An ability to utilize a clear understand of task in order to evaluate answers
When you evaluate answers, you do so by comparing them against your understanding of the stimulus, and of the task presented in the q stem. As I talk about a lot in the trainer, most test takers undervalue the second of those criteria. The clearer your understanding of task, the easier it becomes to see that answers are wrong or right.
One challenge of utilizing task well is that the LSAT presents a lot of very similar tasks, and it's very easy to be lazy, even without realizing it, about how you think about what each type of question is asking you. For example, a Must be True and a Most Strongly Supported are very much alike, and most of the thoughts you are going to have for the two question types are similar. Furthermore, strong reasoning skills can often allow you to make up for not having as sharp an understanding of task as you should (for example, for both of those q types, the four wrong choices will always be very far from provable -- so, you could conceivably always be 100% correct on these q's even if you don't pay attention to the distinction in those tasks). However, on the hardest questions (and at your score level, most of your misses are the hardest q's), knowing the subtle distinctions between the two question types can be the difference between you feeling confident about your answer and you feeling just a bit uncertain. To me, that's a big deal.
One of the reasons drilling like-q's is so effective is that is helps you build up question-specific skills. My advice is to try to go over the top in terms of understanding and utilizing the q stem, and see if that helps make q's easier and helps improve pace.
Finally, if you know all the right steps to take, what you are supposed to focus on, and so on, but you are inconsistent in terms of your actions (you'll solve the same q two different ways on two different days), you need to work to translate your skills into habits -- this is another reason that drilling of like-q's is so effective -- because it's a great way to build up habits.
For most students, drilling is a necessary part of getting better, but depending on your strengths and weaknesses, you may also want to spend some extra time confirming/strengthening your understanding and strategies, and you definitely want to spend a certain amount of time doing q's mixed together (full sections, pt's) -- so that you are comfortable bringing your various skills together and jumping from one q type to another.
Way longer than I intended and perhaps a bit off topic -- sorry! But I really want to encourage you to relate accuracy and pace, rather than juxtaposing them, and to try and work in such a way that you improve both. Hope that helps and again, if you need anything else, please let me know here or through PM --