FlyingNorth wrote:Hey Mike,
I used The Trainer to study for my first take in December and it helped immensely! I ended up scoring in the high 160's and although I'm happy with my score, I'm positive that I can leap into the mid 170 range.
My question is how do you think I should go about studying for this retake (June 2014) using The Trainer again? I plan to go through it again using the 16-week study schedule instead of the 8-week schedule that I used last time. My problem is that I completed all of the assigned drills and I'm worried I won't get as much out of them due to familiarity.
Is there a similar break-down of questions that I should drill from the earlier tests (1-40) instead? Or is there something that you recommend I invest in to drill with? Such as the Cambridge packets for LR and LG?
Thanks for everything, you're a great resource!
Hi FN --
Glad you've found the trainer useful, and impressed you are retaking even with such a high score under your belt --
Here are some thoughts for you --
1) Do an assessment of where you stand currently; your strengths and weaknesses. Do this without reviewing your notes, performance trackers, etc (until later in your eval, anyway) -- make the eval all about what is currently at the forefront of your mind, without the aid of outside resources.
One big advantage you have as a retaker is that having gone through the real exam before, you should have a far more accurate gauge of your own readiness and your own strengths and weaknesses. (For example, knowing what the pressure of the exam feels like, you should be much better able to tell whether you can really depend on a particular ability, such as your ability to correctly recognize, translate, and notate a biconditional, or whether it feels a little bit shaky). A thorough, hyper-critical evaluation early on in your process can help you make much more efficient use of your study time.
Some tips on how to assess: For LR, create a notecard for each q type (do not look up q types -- it'll reveal something to you if you "forget" to make a card for a question type) -- on one side, put your basic step-by-step strategy for that q type, and on the other side, put the keys/most important reminders for that q type.
Imagine yourself missing that q type during the real exam. Are you very surprised? If you would be completely shocked, that's obviously a good sign. If you wouldn't be surprised to miss that q type, what are the reasons you can see as causing you to miss? These are the areas you will know to focus on most during your prep.
For LG, please refer to my comment to baby_got_feuerbach from 12/30 on pg 23 of this thread -- there I give some suggestions for how to assess LG mastery.
For RC, I don't have anything quite as clear cut, but it can also be helpful, like with LR, to try to list out your basic reading strategies, and strategies/mindset for each q type. Especially if you find yourself going blank (What is
my strategy for this q type?) you'll know you've got something to work on.
When you think about how ready you are for RC, you should include in your consideration these three areas --
1) how helpful your read is for answering q's -- this is the best gauge of effective reading -- if you read the passage correctly and got out of it what you were supposed to, it should make sense to you why the test asks the q's it does, and your initial read should do a lot of the work for you in terms of making certain answers obviously wrong, or attractive.
2) how confidently you can consistently eliminate four wrongs and confirm one right -- imagine someone like me sitting next to you -- can you tell me, explicitly, why you know for sure the answers you eliminate are incorrect?
3) how rarely you are left stuck not knowing what to do (that is, how comfortable you are with strategies, and how automatic you are at employing them).
2. Once you've got a sense of your weaker areas -- dig a little deeper into why, and I suggest trying to think about it in terms of understanding (i need to know what's going on in these questions/this situation a little better), strategies (i need a better approach here; i need a backup strategy for this situation), or skills/habits (man, why did i do y
? i know i'm supposed to do x
If your issues are related more to understanding/strategies, you want to rely more on the trainer & perhaps other learning resources as well; if it's more a matter of skills and habit, it's going to be drilling and reviewing that's probably more important.
3. Don't get too ahead of yourself in your prep, and reassess your schedule every couple of weeks -- if you need more time with something, adjust, and if a part of the restudy is going really easy for you, don't be afraid to push the pace. Again, you should expect a lot more self-awareness the second time around, and you want give yourself license to use that to adjust things.
For most retakers, a big key is putting a bit more of a priority on drilling and pt's (the first time studying, they got most of strategies/understanding down, but didn't do enough work to turn that info into skills/habits -- second time around, it makes sense, then, to continue development by focusing more on skills/habits part), but of course it's a bit different for everyone.
4. Finally, in answer to your specific q about drilling -- I think it's fine to switch out the given assignments for question sets from 1-40 -- i love cambridge lsat, and i think it's a good idea to get questions from them; i'm sorry to say i don't have q's from those exams categorized for you yet (I'm working with Cambridge on drill sets that specifically correspond to the trainer, but that probably won't be out for a few months) --
However, especially as a retaker, I actually think it's more effective for you to drill by going through full exams and looking for that q type yourself (for example, for a flaw q drill, you can take 5 exams worth of LR sections, and scan through them, stopping at every flaw q and solving it).
I know this may be a bit more time consuming and cumbersome, but I think there is a distinct training advantage to drilling in this way:
One of the big keys to high level success, for all sections but especially LR, is your ability to cleanly jump from one task to another -- the vast majority of test takers suffer from fuzziness in this regard -- if they see, for example, a strengthen q followed by an inference q followed by an id the conclusion q, whether they realize it or not, they carry over a certain amount of their mindset from one q to another.
One of the big reasons that I strongly advocate reading the q stem first is that it acts as a trigger for you to get into a certain mindset, and for you to correctly associate the situation you are in with others most similar to it.
If you drill a pre-organized set of questions, you may read the q stem for the first few, but after that, you aren't going to really notice the question stem, even if you want to -- if you know u have necessary assumption q's, for example, what interest does your brain have in what the q stem says? It's not really going to pay attention. So, you'll still get the benefit of working on n.a. q's and getting better at them, but you won't get any work at "triggering" a certain mindset based on the q stem.
If you go through a full section of q's looking for particular types of q stems, then stop and do your work when you find them, I believe it will help you get better at "triggering" the right mindset in the right moment --
Not a huge thing, but I definitely do think it is good for you --
Best of luck -- if you have any follow up or need anything else at all, please don't hesitate to write here or through pm --