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 » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:00 pm

lsat_hopeful wrote:In the last lesson of reading comp (lesson 37, page 541) you mention that the secret to success of many top scorers is getting through easier questions quickly while maintaining accuracy. Does this apply to LR as well? (Or is it specific to RC.)


oh absolutely, and LG.

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

Postby lsat_hopeful » Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:39 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
lsat_hopeful wrote:In the last lesson of reading comp (lesson 37, page 541) you mention that the secret to success of many top scorers is getting through easier questions quickly while maintaining accuracy. Does this apply to LR as well? (Or is it specific to RC.)


oh absolutely, and LG.


That's what I thought. But, obviously haven't been able to read the entire book cover to cover. Sounds like solid advice. Thanks.

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

Postby outlawscr10 » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:34 pm

Just got my book in the mail. Let's take a look.

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

Postby CocoSunshine » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:42 pm

Hi Mike,

I started working on LSAT two weeks ago and have just bought your book. I am a foreign student from Asia. So I may have to apologize in advance for any grammar mistake or unidiomatic expression in my post. I have some questions regarding the test and your book and I really appreciate some advice from an expert on the test like you.

1. I plan to sit for the Feb's test in my home country. I would have two months to study it fulltime due to our educational system. Why do people say that taking the test in Feb is a bad idea? Simply because the test paper is not disclosed?

2. Following the sequence of your book, RC seems start late in the plan. Why do you arrange like that? Since I am not a native speaker, RC is the most challenging part for me. Should I switch the order to fit my situation or should I strengthen my reading skills first? If the latter is better, what materials would you recommend for extra reading?

3. I have done 4 LG sections and lost 0/-1 on average in around 40 minutes. My problem is I don't know how to effectively review the LG sections I have done. Should I simply do them again and figure out which is the best way to solve them?

Thank you in advance for your time!

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:14 pm

CocoSunshine wrote:Hi Mike,

I started working on LSAT two weeks ago and have just bought your book. I am a foreign student from Asia. So I may have to apologize in advance for any grammar mistake or unidiomatic expression in my post. I have some questions regarding the test and your book and I really appreciate some advice from an expert on the test like you.

1. I plan to sit for the Feb's test in my home country. I would have two months to study it fulltime due to our educational system. Why do people say that taking the test in Feb is a bad idea? Simply because the test paper is not disclosed?

2. Following the sequence of your book, RC seems start late in the plan. Why do you arrange like that? Since I am not a native speaker, RC is the most challenging part for me. Should I switch the order to fit my situation or should I strengthen my reading skills first? If the latter is better, what materials would you recommend for extra reading?

3. I have done 4 LG sections and lost 0/-1 on average in around 40 minutes. My problem is I don't know how to effectively review the LG sections I have done. Should I simply do them again and figure out which is the best way to solve them?

Thank you in advance for your time!


Hi CocoSunshine! --

Thanks for picking up my book -- here are my answers to your q's --

1) I think for three main reasons: 1.it's undisclosed, 2. in the U.S., it comes at a disadvantageous time in the admissions cycle, and 3. there is an irrational fear that it is more unusual than the published exams (it's not).

2) Though the RC comes a bit later in the book, it still starts relatively early in your study cycle (because you will also be doing a lot of drilling / pt'ing etc as you work on the 2nd half of the book/after you finish the book). There are a lot of reasons why I set up the chapters that way, but one reason is so the two RC sections can be relatively close to one another, and toward the end of the book, so that you can have a prolonged period of consistently working on LSAT RC up to test day. I also think much of what is discussed before that in the LR and LG may be helpful in terms of putting you in the right mindset to fully absorb the RC.

I understand that since you are a foreign student your situation is unique, so it may warrant you starting the RC a bit earlier. However, my general advice is to go in the order of the book.

I don't think outside reading will have much of an impact on your LSAT performance, but if you want a pleasure book to read while you are studying for the LSAT, I recommend A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

3) That's an amazing start to your LG - you clearly have some natural ability with them. You should expect, starting where you are starting, to go into the exam feeling like there is zero chance you will miss a game q or run out of time in the games section. My sense is that just doing the basic work assigned in one of the Trainer schedules will be all you need in order to naturally get there --

One suggestion I do have is to think of your LG improvement as having two components
1) you get better at LG by learning more about it and developing more effective methods
2) you get better at LG by gaining experience and turning skills into habits

There is a ton of advice in the trainer about how to review LG, but in general, as you review your performance, I recommend you habitually consider both of the above characteristics. And if I were you, I wouldn't worry much about timing or getting faster (at least for a little while) -- timing is largely a product of how good you are -- just worry about getting better, and trust that you will get faster.

HTH -- if you need anything else at all, please don't hesitate to get in touch here or through pm -- MiKeKiM

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

Postby muzzy » Sat Dec 07, 2013 5:56 pm

.
Last edited by muzzy on Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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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 Dec 08, 2013 12:25 pm

muzzy wrote:Hey Mike,

Obviously won't know for sure until scores come out, but I felt pretty good about today and I think the LSAT Trainer was part of the why.

One thing from the book really struck me today: "Always be good; sometimes be great." I had my great moments today, but I was always good.

Thanks!


Hi Muzzy --

Sounds like the test went well for you -- thanks for the thanks, and I'm excited to see what your score turns out to be -- Mike

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

Postby retaking23 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 12:51 pm

Gonna jump the gun, I feel yesterday's test went well. I had one RC and it was the last section. I feel good enough about it to say thanks again to you before even receiving my score. (I really hope I don't jinx myself for this.)

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sun Dec 08, 2013 1:16 pm

retaking23 wrote:Gonna jump the gun, I feel yesterday's test went well. I had one RC and it was the last section. I feel good enough about it to say thanks again to you before even receiving my score. (I really hope I don't jinx myself for this.)


That's great to hear --

I don't want to jinx you either, BUT...

In my experience, it's far more common for top scorers to underestimate their performance than it is for them to overestimate -- almost ways, when a top scorer has told me he/she thinks things went well (and universally there seems to be this fear of jinxing it -- I definitely feel it too), things did indeed go well.

-- thought you'd want to know. Thanks again for the support, and I'm so, so happy that you found the trainer helpful -- MK

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

Postby ManoftheHour » Sun Dec 08, 2013 7:25 pm

Mike,

Reading the question stem first and identifying the conclusion (for LR) changed my life.

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

Postby Tyr » Mon Dec 09, 2013 1:24 pm

Hi Mike,
At what point would you recommend I start drilling with the Cambridge bundle materials? I'm just getting started in the Trainer (lesson 4 finished last night), so I'm not sure when to just use the drills in the book and when to start doing major drilling with the Question by Type that Cambridge offers.

Thanks again!

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

Postby FlyingNorth » Mon Dec 09, 2013 4:59 pm

ManoftheHour wrote:Mike,

Reading the question stem first and identifying the conclusion (for LR) changed my life.


This. Thanks, Mike.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:02 pm

Tyr wrote:Hi Mike,
At what point would you recommend I start drilling with the Cambridge bundle materials? I'm just getting started in the Trainer (lesson 4 finished last night), so I'm not sure when to just use the drills in the book and when to start doing major drilling with the Question by Type that Cambridge offers.

Thanks again!


Hey Tyr --

You'll notice that the LG lessons come mainly in two large "bundles," as do the RC lessons -- my suggestion for both would be --

1) to do a bit of drilling (say 10%, to put a rough figure you on it) as you go through the initial swatch of lessons, just so you can get some experience in what is being discussed.

You'll notice that this first set of LG lessons talks about games in terms of basic characteristics, rather than game types. Unfortunately, these characteristics don't correspond well to to the Cambridge game types, but you can use the chart on this infographic -- http://www.thelsattrainer.com/articles/ ... 9-part-two -- to figure out which games to play after each lesson. After lesson 10, you can play any of the games from Ordering, Grouping, or Ordering + Grouping, after lesson 11, which is about subsets, you can play any games from Ordering + subsets, Grouping + subsets, O +G + subsets, etc.

2) do a bunch of your drilling (up to 40%, depending on how your schedule is laid out) in between the two swatches of lessons. You should be fine using cambridge categories as they are for this.
3) do a bit of drilling (10%) during the second swatch of lessons.
4) do rest of drilling after second swatch of lessons. You want to make sure, with LG, that you get plenty of drill experience with like games, but also plenty of drill experience where game types are mixed up, and you have to work on recognizing what type of game you are dealing with, and adjusting from one game type to another.

For LR, lessons about individual question types start at lesson 17. I suggest you start your drilling for each question type after you've learned the corresponding lesson in the Trainer (flaw q's after flaw q's, etc.). Just as with LG, I suggest you get plenty of question-specific work in, and also plenty of mixed work in.

Hope that's clear. Especially if you are a retaker, I'm sure you'll want to adjust the above per your schedule and needs. In any case, if you have any follow up or need anything else just let me know --

MK

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

Postby Tyr » Mon Dec 09, 2013 8:32 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Tyr wrote:Hi Mike,
At what point would you recommend I start drilling with the Cambridge bundle materials? I'm just getting started in the Trainer (lesson 4 finished last night), so I'm not sure when to just use the drills in the book and when to start doing major drilling with the Question by Type that Cambridge offers.

Thanks again!


Hey Tyr --

You'll notice that the LG lessons come mainly in two large "bundles," as do the RC lessons -- my suggestion for both would be --

1) to do a bit of drilling (say 10%, to put a rough figure you on it) as you go through the initial swatch of lessons, just so you can get some experience in what is being discussed.

You'll notice that this first set of LG lessons talks about games in terms of basic characteristics, rather than game types. Unfortunately, these characteristics don't correspond well to to the Cambridge game types, but you can use the chart on this infographic -- http://www.thelsattrainer.com/articles/ ... 9-part-two -- to figure out which games to play after each lesson. After lesson 10, you can play any of the games from Ordering, Grouping, or Ordering + Grouping, after lesson 11, which is about subsets, you can play any games from Ordering + subsets, Grouping + subsets, O +G + subsets, etc.

2) do a bunch of your drilling (up to 40%, depending on how your schedule is laid out) in between the two swatches of lessons. You should be fine using cambridge categories as they are for this.
3) do a bit of drilling (10%) during the second swatch of lessons.
4) do rest of drilling after second swatch of lessons. You want to make sure, with LG, that you get plenty of drill experience with like games, but also plenty of drill experience where game types are mixed up, and you have to work on recognizing what type of game you are dealing with, and adjusting from one game type to another.

For LR, lessons about individual question types start at lesson 17. I suggest you start your drilling for each question type after you've learned the corresponding lesson in the Trainer (flaw q's after flaw q's, etc.). Just as with LG, I suggest you get plenty of question-specific work in, and also plenty of mixed work in.

Hope that's clear. Especially if you are a retaker, I'm sure you'll want to adjust the above per your schedule and needs. In any case, if you have any follow up or need anything else just let me know --

MK


It sounds like just drilling (after sufficient lessons are completed) is more important than being too worried about drilling by question type immediately after the exact corresponding lesson.

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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 Dec 09, 2013 8:54 pm

I think they are both important (sorry if I didn't make that clear) -- drilling a bunch of LR q's of a type, or LG games that are similar, does you a world of good -- MK

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

Postby cloy26 » Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:08 pm

Proof the Trainer is the best book out there:

"For certain careers, the graduate school that you choose to attend had little impact on future career success. Not so for the legal profession."

Getting LSAT prep AND true career advice. Beautiful. Lol.

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

Postby CocoSunshine » Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:18 am

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
CocoSunshine wrote:Hi Mike,

I started working on LSAT two weeks ago and have just bought your book. I am a foreign student from Asia. So I may have to apologize in advance for any grammar mistake or unidiomatic expression in my post. I have some questions regarding the test and your book and I really appreciate some advice from an expert on the test like you.

1. I plan to sit for the Feb's test in my home country. I would have two months to study it fulltime due to our educational system. Why do people say that taking the test in Feb is a bad idea? Simply because the test paper is not disclosed?

2. Following the sequence of your book, RC seems start late in the plan. Why do you arrange like that? Since I am not a native speaker, RC is the most challenging part for me. Should I switch the order to fit my situation or should I strengthen my reading skills first? If the latter is better, what materials would you recommend for extra reading?

3. I have done 4 LG sections and lost 0/-1 on average in around 40 minutes. My problem is I don't know how to effectively review the LG sections I have done. Should I simply do them again and figure out which is the best way to solve them?

Thank you in advance for your time!


Hi CocoSunshine! --

Thanks for picking up my book -- here are my answers to your q's --

1) I think for three main reasons: 1.it's undisclosed, 2. in the U.S., it comes at a disadvantageous time in the admissions cycle, and 3. there is an irrational fear that it is more unusual than the published exams (it's not).

2) Though the RC comes a bit later in the book, it still starts relatively early in your study cycle (because you will also be doing a lot of drilling / pt'ing etc as you work on the 2nd half of the book/after you finish the book). There are a lot of reasons why I set up the chapters that way, but one reason is so the two RC sections can be relatively close to one another, and toward the end of the book, so that you can have a prolonged period of consistently working on LSAT RC up to test day. I also think much of what is discussed before that in the LR and LG may be helpful in terms of putting you in the right mindset to fully absorb the RC.

I understand that since you are a foreign student your situation is unique, so it may warrant you starting the RC a bit earlier. However, my general advice is to go in the order of the book.

I don't think outside reading will have much of an impact on your LSAT performance, but if you want a pleasure book to read while you are studying for the LSAT, I recommend A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

3) That's an amazing start to your LG - you clearly have some natural ability with them. You should expect, starting where you are starting, to go into the exam feeling like there is zero chance you will miss a game q or run out of time in the games section. My sense is that just doing the basic work assigned in one of the Trainer schedules will be all you need in order to naturally get there --

One suggestion I do have is to think of your LG improvement as having two components
1) you get better at LG by learning more about it and developing more effective methods
2) you get better at LG by gaining experience and turning skills into habits

There is a ton of advice in the trainer about how to review LG, but in general, as you review your performance, I recommend you habitually consider both of the above characteristics. And if I were you, I wouldn't worry much about timing or getting faster (at least for a little while) -- timing is largely a product of how good you are -- just worry about getting better, and trust that you will get faster.

HTH -- if you need anything else at all, please don't hesitate to get in touch here or through pm -- MiKeKiM


Thank you a lot for the advice!

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

Postby cloy26 » Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:24 am

I have finished through Chapter 8 (will be doing the Flaw review this afternoon after work) but I have noticed a problem that is stagnating my LR scores. I can kill the Flaw drills you have included at the end of each chapter, where you give a few sentences and we write out what the flaw is. However, when it's time to tackle a real LSAT question, I have an incredibly difficult time seeing the flaw and applying my task (strengthen, weaken, NA, Sa).

Is it my comprehension of the language that gets me in trouble? That's the only difference I can see from the drills to actual questions. In addition, I need heavy drilling on this... What should I focus on as far as drilling (possibly in the Cambridge packets? Flaw, Strengthen, weaken?).

This book is outstanding, btw. Thank you.

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

Postby Wrong Marx » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:00 pm

Hi, Mike,

I'm planning to retake the LSAT in February. I scored 169 in October, and was achieving an average of 173 on the 6 tests prior to taking the test in October. I've heard a lot of great things about The LSAT Trainer, but I'm wondering if you think it would be worthwhile for me to work through the book in the time I have between now and February 2014?

I believe I have a strong grasp of the fundamentals (my scores suggest this), so I would be mainly hoping to potentially get a different perspective on some of the material, and perhaps work through many exercises to reinforce concepts that I have not specifically drilled in a while, and hopefully use these drills as a way to expose any underlying weaknesses in my understanding that probably still exist. I have extensively studied both the 2nd and 3rd editions of the Manhattan LSAT guides, as well as all three PowerScore bibles.

Will 4-5 weeks be sufficient time for me to work through The LSAT Trainer from cover to cover? Given my scores and my recent performance on the LSAT, how much of a benefit should I realistically expect to gain by using The LSAT Trainer to structure my efforts over the time that I have left until February? What say you?

Thanks,

Wrong Marx

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:43 pm

cloy26 wrote:I have finished through Chapter 8 (will be doing the Flaw review this afternoon after work) but I have noticed a problem that is stagnating my LR scores. I can kill the Flaw drills you have included at the end of each chapter, where you give a few sentences and we write out what the flaw is. However, when it's time to tackle a real LSAT question, I have an incredibly difficult time seeing the flaw and applying my task (strengthen, weaken, NA, Sa).

Is it my comprehension of the language that gets me in trouble? That's the only difference I can see from the drills to actual questions. In addition, I need heavy drilling on this... What should I focus on as far as drilling (possibly in the Cambridge packets? Flaw, Strengthen, weaken?).

This book is outstanding, btw. Thank you.


Thanks for the compliment -- hope you enjoy the rest of the book just as much --

Not sure how much studying you did before the trainer, but, relative to the structure of the book, I think you sound like you are okay for now -- to elaborate further --

In order to feel mastery over argument-based q's, you need three general skills - 1) the ability to recognize and isolate the argument 2) the ability to critically evaluate reasoning and 3) the ability to eval answers per the specific task presented in the q stem --

The first swatch of LR chapters -- 5 - 9, almost exclusively focus on #2, because in my opinion that one skill drives the development of other skills. Thus far in the book, all that is being taught is how to think about the reasoning (once an argument has already been "stripped down" for you, as you said), so if you are doing that well, it's a good sign.

The next swatch of LR lessons -- 16 - 20 -- will give you a lot more instruction and practice w/#'s 1 & 3 --

So, my suggestion would be to defer judgement on your abilities until you've seen and done those lessons. Not sure if you've seen the karate kid (If I had a $1 for every time someone compared me to Mr. Miyagi) , but the first set of LR lessons are kind of like the wax-on, wax-off stuff, and what I hope is that when we get into specific questions and question strategies starting in 16, you'll find that the work you put in w/critically evaluating the argument suddenly makes it much easier for you to get better at IDing the argument correctly, and matching up the task in the q stem correctly.

Hope that helps -- once you get to those lessons (16-20) please check in w/me again because I'd love to see if they are indeed the next piece of the puzzle for you, and if you need any further help at that point I'll be more than happy to try to provide it --

Mike

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:23 pm

Wrong Marx wrote:Hi, Mike,

I'm planning to retake the LSAT in February. I scored 169 in October, and was achieving an average of 173 on the 6 tests prior to taking the test in October. I've heard a lot of great things about The LSAT Trainer, but I'm wondering if you think it would be worthwhile for me to work through the book in the time I have between now and February 2014?

I believe I have a strong grasp of the fundamentals (my scores suggest this), so I would be mainly hoping to potentially get a different perspective on some of the material, and perhaps work through many exercises to reinforce concepts that I have not specifically drilled in a while, and hopefully use these drills as a way to expose any underlying weaknesses in my understanding that probably still exist. I have extensively studied both the 2nd and 3rd editions of the Manhattan LSAT guides, as well as all three PowerScore bibles.

Will 4-5 weeks be sufficient time for me to work through The LSAT Trainer from cover to cover? Given my scores and my recent performance on the LSAT, how much of a benefit should I realistically expect to gain by using The LSAT Trainer to structure my efforts over the time that I have left until February? What say you?

Thanks,

Wrong Marx


There is a bit of a catch-22 to being at that high a score level --

1) On one hand, obviously it's great to be so good at the test, and I'm sure you'd rather be where you are than at a lower score average BUT...

2) It can be very frustrating because you are a level where every single question/point makes more and more of a difference, and yet it becomes harder and harder to actually get better. At 160, there are plenty of obvious things to get good at, but at an average of 173, it's much more difficult to find specific weaknesses (it's more like you are strong everywhere, and you have to figure out where you are less strong and where you are more strong), and it's much more difficult to see specific ways to get better. It's likely the hardest questions that trip you up, and by their nature these hard questions tend to be less predictable/tend to follow patterns less, so you end up feeling like you are shooting at a moving target.

There are a lot of stories through this thread and in Amazon reviews of people in your shoes using The Trainer to get that final push and it working out well for them -- having said that, you have to balance your time between learning, drilling, and pt'ing, and all of those things can be helpful, so I honestly can't say I'm certain it will be worth your time -- I do think you owe it to yourself to take a careful look and decide for yourself (if you don't want to shell out the $ to find out, the 8 free chapters on my website, in particular the first five, should give you a good sense of that).

Here are some things about the trainer that I think might be most appealing/useful for someone in your situation:

1) I tried to make it as user-friendly as possible. Specifically, it's very "skimmable." You can take any lesson, spend five minutes reading the headlines, bolds, asides, mini-drills, pull-quotes, etc. and get a very good sense of what that lesson is about/what the key points are -- this should make it very easy for you to go quickly over things that you already feel comfortable about without having to worry that you are going to miss something, and it should make it easier for you to find and focus in on the parts that you might find most relevant.

2) I think The Trainer can help you feel more confident and less worried about being perfect. Being a retaker, I'm sure you understand the importance of this -- I think the first time studying for the LSAT, it's very easy to get overly focused on "the perfect" way to do things -- the ideal set up for a game, for example -- obviously it's good to study these perfect methods, but, especially at your score level, a key determinant of your outcome will be how you react when things don't go perfectly. A lot of the systems recommended in the trainer (such as always getting to your LR answer 2 ways - by eliminating wrong then by confirming right) are meant to put you in a position where you can get the right answer without being perfect, and I give a lot of advice in the book about how to deal w/challenges (specifically, a lot of top students have told me they found the advice at the beginning of Lesson 28 -- Good and Great -- to be very useful).

3) The Trainer has a TON of small drills meant to help you get a bit faster and more automatic with micro-skills, such as translating conditional statements, testing inferences, etc. I think that for someone in your shoes these drills may actually be the most useful thing of all --

One way to think about test day is that there will be about 10 problems that make or break you -- chances are, 90 or so of the questions will go more or less as you expect, and the 10 (or so) questions you find hardest will determine whether you score near the top of your range or bottom --

Part of your final training should obviously be about giving yourself a better chance to get those 10 q's right --

But another huge help is getting through those other 90 q's faster, so that you have much more time for the toughest ones. I think the drills, if you are up for them, can help you get just a little bit faster at everything you do, and those seconds saved will add up.

Hope that helps -- whether you get the trainer or not, if u need anything else, just let me know -- Mike

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

Postby Wrong Marx » Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:58 pm

Mike,

Thank you for the thoughtful response and the perspective you've provided. I ordered the LSAT Trainer from Amazon and will receive it on Monday, and I am hoping to be able to start incorporating it into my plan on that very day.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sat Dec 14, 2013 1:26 am

Wrong Marx wrote:Mike,

Thank you for the thoughtful response and the perspective you've provided. I ordered the LSAT Trainer from Amazon and will receive it on Monday, and I am hoping to be able to start incorporating it into my plan on that very day.


Sure thing -- hope you enjoy the trainer, and if you run into any issues or need any help just reach out -- mk

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

Postby chaoticx5 » Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:50 pm

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.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sun Dec 15, 2013 3:14 pm

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.


Hey --

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.

3) Habits

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 --

Mike


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