Mike's Trainer Thread

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Augy1
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby Augy1 » Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:02 pm

Hi Mike,

I recently bought the LSAT Trainer and Manhattan LR, and have a few questions for you about how to best study them.

Which book would you advise to study first? Does it make a difference?

I was planning to use a study schedule for the Trainer but saw that it requires pt 52-61 for drilling. However, I want to save those for fully timed tests since they’re relatively recent and I need practice taking full tests. I have the Cambridge bundle where questions are ordered by type from pt 1-38 that I haven’t drilled yet. Do you think that that when I’m studying the Trainer, I can replace drilling questions from pt 52-61 with drilling questions from pt 1-38? Will this be equally as effective?

When I study the Trainer, I want to focus on LR first before moving onto RC and LG. I saw on the contents page for the Trainer, however, that you don’t teach all of LR all at once and instead divide it into three different sets that are interspersed with sets from the other two sections. Is the Trainer best studied in numerical page order in how you have organized it or can I instead focus only on the LR sets first before moving onto the sets for RC and LG?

Thanks! I am really excited to get started on the Trainer. I already read the first few pages and thought the writing was excellent.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:58 pm

Lsataddict175 wrote:Hi Mike,

Just started the RC portion of your book. So far I've found your "read for reasoning structure" method extremely helpful. I'm now able to complete a majority of the questions in a short amount of time and with accuracy. However, I do have one concern. I'm now so focused on reading for structure that sometimes I find myself neglecting essential details. Consequently, when I'm faced with a detail-type question, I either take way too much time or I get the question wrong. So my question is how do I maintain the perfect balance--- reading primarily for reasoning structure but at the same time retaining essential details so that I can answer questions pertaining to the content of the passage. Again, using your method, I'm fairly confident that I can get 85% of the questions correct. What worries me is the other 15%. My goal is to not get more than 3 wrong per RC section, and therefore, that 15% is crucial.

Secondly, how do you recommend I drill RC? Should I drill each passage individually or should I drill by section? Should I drill timed or untimed? I'm just beginning my RC prep so I'm not really sure how to handle this.

Thirdly, I'm also having a difficult time distinguishing between the author's main point(s) and opinion(s). For example, in some of your RC drills in the Trainer, you classify a sentence as the author's opinion whereas I believe it to be a main point. Do the two sometimes overlap? How do I prevent these misinterpretations?

And lastly, I just wanted to thank you for the amazing book. I wanted to know though if you ever plan on making an online course similar to 7sage and Velocity. I really hope this is a possibility since I and many others find your methods and strategies to be second to none. Like your book, I think such course would be really successful (and lucrative :P).

Thank you in advance for all your help and sorry for bombarding you with many questions. Looking forward to your response!


Hi there! --

Glad to hear that you are finding the book helpful -- thanks for picking it up and for trusting in me --

Question 1 - balance between general and specific -

I think you are absolutely right to see it as a balance -- too many people try to do too much during their initial read (trying to see general and specific -- otherwise known as trying to hold on to as much as possible) and they end up reading far worse for it --

My advice is to focus on the general during your initial read, and to develop efficient systems for when you need to go back into the text during the q's. There are many, many reasons for this, all of them having to do with how the LSAT is designed (that is, if LSAT q's were designed differently, I would recommend a different reading strategy). Among the reasons I recommend this are --
1) Arguably the most significant skill tested in RC is your ability to organize and prioritize -- when you try to pay attention to everything, it makes it markedly harder for you to do this well.
2) It's futile to try to pay attention to every specific detail they could ask you about. Other test prep companies say otherwise, but I think it's highly inefficient to try and "guess" what details will show up in q's. From the flip side of things, I could probably come up with a dozen or more detail q's for any one RC passage.
3) The vast majority of q's, even detail q's, hinge on your ability to see structure -- as we'll discuss more later in the book, even when the question does ask about a particular detail you may not remember well, you'll likely be able to get rid of some/most of the answers simply because they do not fit in with the larger structure/themes of the passage -- just like focusing on the core of an LR argument makes it easier to distinguish between right and wrong for a variety of q types, reading RC for structure should have the same effect.
4) You are going to have to be good at going back into the passage and verifying details anyway. If you have a q that leans on you correctly identifying and understanding very specific and nuanced information, you'll want to go back during the question and reread that part of the passage very carefully -- you want to develop systems for knowing when to return to the text, and for being able to do so efficiently. Focusing on structure is a huge aid in this, for it's generally structural clues that tell you where to look for that relevant info.

Question 2 -- I will discuss this some in the trainer, and I have an article about how to review your RC performance on my website that you may want to check out -- you can drill passages or sections as you'd like -- always time yourself, and try to go as fast as you feel comfortable, but don't be beholden to time (that is, don't take shortcuts or skimp on steps for time's sake -- but always be aware of how fast you are and keep pushing the pace -- keep in mind that because certain passages and q's take a lot more/less time than others, individual passages will not give you an accurate overall sense of your timing in the way full sections will.

Question 3 -- The two are very closely related to one another, and in the next swatch of RC lessons I'll break down the question types in far greater detail. Every person who writes these passages has a reason for doing so (purpose), and, for LSAT passages, most commonly the reason is that they want to juxtapose two ideas (subjects). In the majority of instances, the author will have an opinion about this juxtaposition -- not an emotional opinion, but rather a reasoned one about why one theory is better than another, etc. So, purpose, subject matter, and opinion are all related to one another, and are all central to our understanding of structure.

Question 4 -- Thank you so much! At one time, I was the teacher on most of the Manhattan recordings, but they've replaced me by this point. Based on my personal skill set and my personal goals, I think writing books is the most effective way for me to help students, and additionally, to help the students that I am most interested in helping -- the disadvantaged and the exceptionally driven. So, I don't plan on making video courses in the future -- I will continue to make free videos for youtube and such from time to time --

Thanks again for the support -- if you need anything else at all, just let me know --

Mike

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WaltGrace83
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby WaltGrace83 » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:25 pm

Do you recommend drilling after reading the individual chapters LR part 2? I just got done with the chapter on sufficient assumption but I got 2/4 of the questions at the end wrong! That seems to tell me that I should practice before moving on. What do you think?
Last edited by WaltGrace83 on Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:40 pm

Baby_Got_Feuerbach wrote:Mike, I finished The Trainer late last week and immediately afterward got my best score ever on a PT.

...But then something happened, and I reverted to my old score-range. (Bad habits again?)

...And then an even better score than before.

Do you have any general advice on how to find consistency? Is it too close to the test day (3.5 weeks out) to find it?

Loved the book and will be recommending it to friends regardless of my final score -- it's obvious that it's the most quality book on the market.

Thanks,
BGF


Hey BGF --

I'm sure it wasn't pleasant to get the dip in score, but in my experience that sort of inconsistency is completely in the norm, and I don't see it as a bad sign -- it would be worse if your score had the same --

Sorry for all the sports analogies, but I think of it like changing up your jump shot - if you've been shooting the same way for a while, then try to adapt it, you should expect more inconsistency, but hopefully, at the end of the day, you'll end up at a higher level --

I expect that as you do your work over the final 3 1/2 weeks, your scores will become more and more consistent, and you want to make sure that they coalesce closer to the higher range rather than the lower -- that's what I'd encourage you to focus on -- to that end, I think it's a good idea to

1) center your work on pt's -- that is, spend most of your time and energy taking and reviewing pt's (individual sections are fine and helpful as well, and can be helpful because if you review right afterwards q's will be fresher than if you had seen them during a full test).

2) do trainer review, drill work, etc. as weaknesses reveal themselves in pt's.

3) try your best to fully review all your work as much as you can stand it -- and in particular, review while tests are fresh (I recommend right after the exam, or after a section if you are just practicing a section) and at this point in your prep, your focus should really be almost entirely on process (how you solved it) rather than understanding (why right/wrong). In particular, you want to pay attention to situations where your process was inconsistent or let you down -- when you didn't focus enough on q task, for example, or weren't able to effectively go through your elimination process.

One last thing is to make sure you are using your pt's to firm up and habitualize timing strategies -- not "best case timing ideals" but strategies you can implement in any exam and any situation -- ideally, you want these strategies to be completely habitual by test day so that you don't have to waste time and energy thinking about them -- this will give you an advantage over almost everyone else in the room on test day --

HTH -- as always, let me know if you have any follow up or any other q's. Thanks for your comments about the trainer -- always nice for me to be associated with such top students -- excited to see how you perform on the exam --

Mike

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:40 pm

Augy1 wrote:Hi Mike,

I recently bought the LSAT Trainer and Manhattan LR, and have a few questions for you about how to best study them.

Which book would you advise to study first? Does it make a difference?

I was planning to use a study schedule for the Trainer but saw that it requires pt 52-61 for drilling. However, I want to save those for fully timed tests since they’re relatively recent and I need practice taking full tests. I have the Cambridge bundle where questions are ordered by type from pt 1-38 that I haven’t drilled yet. Do you think that that when I’m studying the Trainer, I can replace drilling questions from pt 52-61 with drilling questions from pt 1-38? Will this be equally as effective?

When I study the Trainer, I want to focus on LR first before moving onto RC and LG. I saw on the contents page for the Trainer, however, that you don’t teach all of LR all at once and instead divide it into three different sets that are interspersed with sets from the other two sections. Is the Trainer best studied in numerical page order in how you have organized it or can I instead focus only on the LR sets first before moving onto the sets for RC and LG?

Thanks! I am really excited to get started on the Trainer. I already read the first few pages and thought the writing was excellent.


Hi there --

As I've mentioned elsewhere, in my opinion the trainer is both more fundamental and more comprehensive than the manhattan books -- personally, i feel like i know exponentially more about the exam now than i did back when i helped develop MLSAT, and that i'm able to teach it far more efficiently/effectively. Having said that, there are a lot of people who swear by the manhattan books (especially the LR), and if you have the time it definitely won't hurt you to utilize both resources-- at the least, you can use manhattan as a secondary resource to go to when you don't feel set on something, or feel you need additional instruction/experience with a particular topic/q type, etc. -- specifically, my suggestion is to start with the trainer and do the first swatch of LR lessons in it (lessons 5-9), then integrate the manhattan book if and when you need it starting with the second watch of LR lessons in the trainer (16-20).

In terms of drilling, etc -- just to clarify, in the schedule 52-61 are assigned both for drilling and pt'ing -- but of course you should totally feel free to switch up the assignments as you'd like, and if you want to use earlier tests exclusively for drilling and more recent tests exclusively for pt'ing, that should be no problem --

Finally, in terms of reorganizing my book -- I encourage you to use the book in whatever way you think fits you best, and to be really aggressive about adapting it to your needs -- so, if you want to reorganize your prep that way, it should be fine. There will be just a little messiness because certain lessons pertain to multiple q types (for example, conditional logic, which is important to the entire exam, is first discussed at length during an LG lesson, then that instruction is advanced during a particular LR lesson -- if u do all the LR first this may cause you just a little bit of temporary confusion), but for the most part you should be fine.

Having said that, I do also want to add that I spent months and months thinking about how to best organize the book and study schedules -- I actually spent more time working on organizing than I did any other aspect of putting the book together. The "cycling" system I've included is based on my understanding of educational theory, and my real life experience working with top students -- in my experience, in general, focusing on just one q type at a time before moving on is a less efficient way to get better (an analogy I would make is preparing for the decathlon by training for one sport at a time -- which wouldn't make a lot of sense). I don't know what your "big picture" study plan is, and how the trainer fits in, and so sorry to give you a wishy-washy answer! -- but, I want to simultaneously encourage you to make the trainer your own and take control of it, but I also want to let you know everything in it has been designed a particular way for a reason, so consider things carefully before changing them up --

Hope that helps -- best of luck with the book, and as you get deeper into it, please don't hesitate to get in touch if you need me -- Mike

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:45 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:Do you recommend drilling after reading the individual chapters LR part 2? I just got done with the chapter on sufficient assumption but I got 2/4 of the questions at the end wrong! That seems to tell me that I should practice before moving on. What do you think?


Absolutely -- now is a perfect time to drill a ton of sufficient assumptions (I also suggest you plan on doing one or two more cycles of individual q type drilling to be done after the trainer as well, and save q's and organize accordingly) --

Is Walt Grace your real name? --

mikekimikekim

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

Postby WaltGrace83 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:18 am

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
WaltGrace83 wrote:Do you recommend drilling after reading the individual chapters LR part 2? I just got done with the chapter on sufficient assumption but I got 2/4 of the questions at the end wrong! That seems to tell me that I should practice before moving on. What do you think?


Absolutely -- now is a perfect time to drill a ton of sufficient assumptions (I also suggest you plan on doing one or two more cycles of individual q type drilling to be done after the trainer as well, and save q's and organize accordingly) --

Is Walt Grace your real name? --

mikekimikekim


Nope. The name is taken from a John Mayer song. It's about a guy who everyone thinks is crazy because his life has become an endless quest of trying to build a submarine. Everyone thinks he is going to fail. Whether or not he does is debatable but he ends up actually attempting to sail across the Pacific. It is like how I am with the LSAT. No one understands why I need to study so long and hard because, after all, "a law degree is just a law degree, right?" and "it doesn't matter where you go to school" and "[insert regional x with 50% employment rate here] is a fantastic school! You should totally go there!"

The similarities between THIS song and LSAT studying is really incredible. My favorite line is "with a will to work hard and a library card...". And yes, I do have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with Mr. Mayer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrcMMyNeJJs

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Postby 10052014 » Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:09 am

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Jan 16, 2014 2:10 pm

jaylawyer09 wrote:Hello Mike!

I remember back when you started this thread, you mentioned "Spreeder".

My question is: what are the settings you recommended? (3 words per whatever.. etc)

I know its in your thread somewhere, but to go looking for it, it would take me hours.

Thanks!


Hey --

This thread has definitely gotten unwieldy (if anyone knows how I can create a menu that links people to various different parts of the thread please let me know) --

It wasn't me that recommended Spreeder, and though I don't want to dissuade you from trying things out, for the record -- I am very much against speed reading, especially for the LSAT --

Mike

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Postby 10052014 » Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:45 pm

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

Postby Hatshepsut » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:32 am

Hi Mike,

Does the book contain a list of which preptests its LSAT questions are drawn from?

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:27 pm

Hatshepsut wrote:Hi Mike,

Does the book contain a list of which preptests its LSAT questions are drawn from?


Hi there --

It does -- in the appendix --

If you don't have a copy of the book, and want to take a look at the list of q's to see how it matches up with your other work, let me know and I can make and send u over a pdf --

MK

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

Postby Hatshepsut » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:39 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Hatshepsut wrote:Hi Mike,

Does the book contain a list of which preptests its LSAT questions are drawn from?


Hi there --

It does -- in the appendix --

If you don't have a copy of the book, and want to take a look at the list of q's to see how it matches up with your other work, let me know and I can make and send u over a pdf --

MK



I would appreciate that very much

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:50 pm

Hatshepsut wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Hatshepsut wrote:Hi Mike,

Does the book contain a list of which preptests its LSAT questions are drawn from?


Hi there --

It does -- in the appendix --

If you don't have a copy of the book, and want to take a look at the list of q's to see how it matches up with your other work, let me know and I can make and send u over a pdf --

MK



I would appreciate that very much


sure thing -- i can't figure out how to post a multi-page pdf here, so if you don't mind, pm me your email (i promise i won't spam you :)) and i'll email it to u --

mk

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

Postby Hatshepsut » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:04 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Hatshepsut wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Hatshepsut wrote:Hi Mike,

Does the book contain a list of which preptests its LSAT questions are drawn from?


Hi there --

It does -- in the appendix --

If you don't have a copy of the book, and want to take a look at the list of q's to see how it matches up with your other work, let me know and I can make and send u over a pdf --

MK



I would appreciate that very much


sure thing -- i can't figure out how to post a multi-page pdf here, so if you don't mind, pm me your email (i promise i won't spam you :)) and i'll email it to u --

mk


...

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

Postby CocoSunshine » Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:55 am

Hi Mike,

New question for you! At the beginning of every LR section, it states that "You should not make assumptions that by commonsense standards implausible, superfluous, or incompatible with the passage." Does it imply that we can make certain assumptions that by commonsense standards plausible, and compatible with the passage?

For example, in Lesson 5 Flaws-Flaw Drill-Scenario four-#3 of the Trainer, the solutions say "Perhaps for some crazy reason, violence is part of a 'healthy' humanity". However, I think it is reasonable to assume that violence is not part of a healthy humanity. Want to hear your thoughts about it:)

Hope I will not run into copyright issues for posting the above sentence. Thank you very much for your support!

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

Postby mist4bison » Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:16 pm

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sun Jan 19, 2014 3:15 pm

CocoSunshine wrote:Hi Mike,

New question for you! At the beginning of every LR section, it states that "You should not make assumptions that by commonsense standards implausible, superfluous, or incompatible with the passage." Does it imply that we can make certain assumptions that by commonsense standards plausible, and compatible with the passage?

For example, in Lesson 5 Flaws-Flaw Drill-Scenario four-#3 of the Trainer, the solutions say "Perhaps for some crazy reason, violence is part of a 'healthy' humanity". However, I think it is reasonable to assume that violence is not part of a healthy humanity. Want to hear your thoughts about it:)

Hope I will not run into copyright issues for posting the above sentence. Thank you very much for your support!


Hello CocoSunshine! --

No, it does not.

Your most important job, overall, in the Logical Reasoning section is to be hyper-critical of the relationship between the support given and the conclusion reached -- any time a q stem asks you to evaluate the reasoning in an argument, you want to focus on why the reasons given do not guarantee the conclusion reached.

And this is my big point -- for many, many questions, the difference between what is "reasonable to assume" and "guaranteed" is the difference between wrong and right. You don't want to think about what is "reasonable to assume" -- to go back to grade school, remember that to assume is to make an ass of u and me. (Oh my gosh I feel embarrassed for writing that, but I hope at least it'll make the point more memorable).

Violence and humanity are two vastly different, complicated topics, and when you read a conclusion like that on the LSAT, you want focus on why it's not a guaranteed truth, as opposed to why it might be reasonable. (BTW, I think reactions to the recent Corey Knowlton/rhino story show you how vastly different peoples' opinions are about the role of violence.)

HTH -- there will be a lot more talk about this in the trainer as you get further into it -- reach out if you need anything else --

Mike

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sun Jan 19, 2014 3:42 pm

mist4bison wrote:Hey Mike,

In the intro of The Trainer you mention the importance of a study plan and I'm still trying to figure mine out. I have already finished the PS LRB and still have PS LGB, Manhattan LR, and The Trainer, plus the Cambridge drills and PTs. While I found the LRB to be somewhat helpful, I felt like it was much more of an introduction to LR than a comprehensive lesson. I was planning on jumping into the Trainer, followed by the LGB and Manhattan LR afterward, but now I'm wondering if doing the LGB before the Trainer would be beneficial. My reasoning is that I'll have an "intro" to LG, just like LRB gave me an "intro" to LR, and that will hopefully allow me to better understand the Trainer and Manhattan LR. I saw that in a previous post you mentioned using the MLSAT LR and Trainer simultaneously, which I may do, but I'm not sure about the LGB.

At the same time, I'm wondering if using too many different materials will cause more confusion (specifically in reference to diagramming) than assistance?

TL;DR: Should I do the Trainer before or after the LGB? Will using different resources for LG cause too much confusion in regards to diagramming?

Thanks! :D


Hi! --

I think it's a reasonable concern that using multiple resources might confuse you (I'd certainly be worried about that if I were in your shoes) but in my experience that typically doesn't happen to students -- most students are very easily able to bring these three resources together.

I think a bigger concern might be that by using all of these products, you don't leave yourself enough time and energy for the other aspects of your prep. Keep in mind that you want to balance learning, drilling, and pt'ing (which a greater emphasis on learning at the beginning, drilling in the middle, and pt'ing toward the end of your prep), and as I will discuss a lot in the trainer, a huge key to efficient improvement is having good "flow" between these areas (for example, you read a lesson on a certain question type, then drill that same q type).

So, my advice is to use as many different resources as you think might be helpful, but to keep it all in perspective relative to the additional work you will have to do drilling and pt'ing (and reviewing all of your work, of course). To me, time is absolutely your most valuable resource -- don't waste time on products that don't seem effective, and make sure you've got enough time to do everything you need to do.

More specifically, in terms of how to use the three books in conjunction, my advice is to use the trainer as your "base" and to modify one of the study schedules available on my website so that you can incorporate PS and MLSAT into your learning process. The Trainer is actually even more foundational than PS (but hopefully more advanced as well) in that it starts with general issues rather than specific question types. I recommend you do Trainer only for the first 15 lessons (along with corresponding hw per your schedule), and then at that point return to and review Powerscore LG to reflect on, and compare and contrast, the different strategies and such presented -- my guess is that you'll be fine figuring out how to bring them together, but if you need any specific help, don't hesitate to reach out at that point.

Starting in lesson 17 of the trainer I start getting into individual LR question types. At that point, I suggest you start incorporating MLSAT LR and/or Powerscore LR as a supplement (for example, you read the lesson about flaw q's in the trainer, then do the flaw chapter from MLSAT, PS, or both), if and when you need to. Again, I imagine you'll quickly figure out preferences, and what you expect to get out of each resource, but if you need any help just let know.

Of course, there are other effective ways to bring the books together, but I think the above is an efficient and organized way to do so.

Hope that helps, and if you have any follow up or need anything else just let me know -- Mike

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

Postby mist4bison » Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:15 am

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

Postby CocoSunshine » Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:01 am

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Hello CocoSunshine! --

No, it does not.

Your most important job, overall, in the Logical Reasoning section is to be hyper-critical of the relationship between the support given and the conclusion reached -- any time a q stem asks you to evaluate the reasoning in an argument, you want to focus on why the reasons given do not guarantee the conclusion reached.

And this is my big point -- for many, many questions, the difference between what is "reasonable to assume" and "guaranteed" is the difference between wrong and right. You don't want to think about what is "reasonable to assume" -- to go back to grade school, remember that to assume is to make an ass of u and me. (Oh my gosh I feel embarrassed for writing that, but I hope at least it'll make the point more memorable).

Violence and humanity are two vastly different, complicated topics, and when you read a conclusion like that on the LSAT, you want focus on why it's not a guaranteed truth, as opposed to why it might be reasonable. (BTW, I think reactions to the recent Corey Knowlton/rhino story show you how vastly different peoples' opinions are about the role of violence.)

HTH -- there will be a lot more talk about this in the trainer as you get further into it -- reach out if you need anything else --

Mike


Thanks for clarifying it! Presume any gap to be unreasonable assumption and read hyper-critically:)

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:17 pm

mornincounselor wrote:I'll be reading through this entire thread to see if my question has already been answered or if I come up with any new questions as a result of the thread but in the meantime --

Are you still involved with Manhattan LSAT? Does the updated 2014 version include any critical updates, specifically with regards to reading comprehension? I'm waiting for the LSAT Trainer to ship (currently on Amazon Prime for $40 with free two-day shipping!!) and excited to learn from you.


Wow does your question bring up a giant bag of mixed emotions for me -- I'll keep this professional --

I left Manhattan a couple of years back, so I'm not involved with the updates. I did come up with the current RC book, and since it'll be someone else next time I'm sure the revision will look and feel quite different -- there are a couple of manhattan teachers that regularly visit tls, so if you post a q about this on the general forum I'm sure they can give you a more detailed response --

Thanks for picking up the trainer and I look forward to seeing what you think of it -- if you need any help, don't hesitate to reach out --

Mike

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

Postby CocoSunshine » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:57 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
WaltGrace83 wrote:
4. When I review LR questions (and LG too I suppose), it could literally take me 30 minutes per LR question. I write out the argument, why the right answer is right, and why the wrong answer is wrong on the computer before looking at what the actual answer actually is. I fill up spaces with analogies to help me remember things and I have a little bit of fun with it, writing like I would be having a conversation with an illogical person. I feel like it is a good exercise but it can take me as much as 3-4 hours to review a drill (one of those 7-10 question things from LSATs in the 50s as per your study schedule). I want to be as effective as possible and I also have LOTS of time on my hands. I graduated a semester early just to study for the LSAT and only work one day a week so I can knock it out in June. However, I also don't want to be verbose. I know that only I can know the true answer to this question probably but what do you think about this?



4. I really applaud your focus and your effort -- I don't think I would have the patience to study each LR problem for 30 minutes at a time -- the thing I worry about is that you are thinking about too much, rather than working on thinking about exactly the right things. Remember, you are training yourself to, when you run into that tough argument for example, not think about all the various things you could possibly think about, but rather to focus in on exactly the right things to think about. I'm not sure it should take 30 minutes to figure out such priorities, and, again, I worry just a little bit that you may be over-doing it to the point of losing a bit of focus.

The other thing I want to remind you of is to pay attention to both understanding and process -- that is, make sure you understand what the argument means, why right is right, wrong is wrong, etc. but even more importantly, review a problem in terms of the action steps you took -- how you solved it -- did you zero in on the correct core, and, if so, did that help you differentiate between answers? If you didn't, or if it doesn't impact your answer process, why not? Were you able to get rid of all four wrong answers for specific reasons? Were the reasons you noticed ultimately the most obvious ones? If not, what did you miss? I think that shaping your review around your actions helps you get better faster and easier.



Same issue here while different situation. I have been drilling timed sections for a month. My drilling average is:
LR -4/6
RC -4/7
LG -0/1
It takes me 3-4 hours to review per LR section. I review every single question no matter I got it wrong or right. Try to figure out why I get wrong, jot down the mistakes I make; reinforce my reasoning in Qs I get right, and form my own strategies to solve different types of Qs.
I spend 2-3 hours on reviewing per RC section, mainly to reread for the reasoning structure; underline the sentences related to all answer choices; and review every single question as well.
For both LR and RC, I read the explanation from multi-sources.

I will write the exam on Feb 23 in East Asia so I have roughly a month to go. I am going to move to timed 5-section PTs in about 5 days. My question is, given my current situation, do you think I spend too much time on review, especially on the questions I got right? Any other suggestion on how to improve my score is welcome :) (I am aiming for the mid 170s).

I have been a frequent visitor on your post these days. Really really appreciate your patience with regard to my questions! I really love your book and recommend it to my fellow foreign test takers. However, on Amazon, it takes 5-7 weeks to ship which makes the book less available to us :( Will you consider creating a Kindle Edition?

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:12 pm

CocoSunshine wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
WaltGrace83 wrote:
4. When I review LR questions (and LG too I suppose), it could literally take me 30 minutes per LR question. I write out the argument, why the right answer is right, and why the wrong answer is wrong on the computer before looking at what the actual answer actually is. I fill up spaces with analogies to help me remember things and I have a little bit of fun with it, writing like I would be having a conversation with an illogical person. I feel like it is a good exercise but it can take me as much as 3-4 hours to review a drill (one of those 7-10 question things from LSATs in the 50s as per your study schedule). I want to be as effective as possible and I also have LOTS of time on my hands. I graduated a semester early just to study for the LSAT and only work one day a week so I can knock it out in June. However, I also don't want to be verbose. I know that only I can know the true answer to this question probably but what do you think about this?



4. I really applaud your focus and your effort -- I don't think I would have the patience to study each LR problem for 30 minutes at a time -- the thing I worry about is that you are thinking about too much, rather than working on thinking about exactly the right things. Remember, you are training yourself to, when you run into that tough argument for example, not think about all the various things you could possibly think about, but rather to focus in on exactly the right things to think about. I'm not sure it should take 30 minutes to figure out such priorities, and, again, I worry just a little bit that you may be over-doing it to the point of losing a bit of focus.

The other thing I want to remind you of is to pay attention to both understanding and process -- that is, make sure you understand what the argument means, why right is right, wrong is wrong, etc. but even more importantly, review a problem in terms of the action steps you took -- how you solved it -- did you zero in on the correct core, and, if so, did that help you differentiate between answers? If you didn't, or if it doesn't impact your answer process, why not? Were you able to get rid of all four wrong answers for specific reasons? Were the reasons you noticed ultimately the most obvious ones? If not, what did you miss? I think that shaping your review around your actions helps you get better faster and easier.



Same issue here while different situation. I have been drilling timed sections for a month. My drilling average is:
LR -4/6
RC -4/7
LG -0/1
It takes me 3-4 hours to review per LR section. I review every single question no matter I got it wrong or right. Try to figure out why I get wrong, jot down the mistakes I make; reinforce my reasoning in Qs I get right, and form my own strategies to solve different types of Qs.
I spend 2-3 hours on reviewing per RC section, mainly to reread for the reasoning structure; underline the sentences related to all answer choices; and review every single question as well.
For both LR and RC, I read the explanation from multi-sources.

I will write the exam on Feb 23 in East Asia so I have roughly a month to go. I am going to move to timed 5-section PTs in about 5 days. My question is, given my current situation, do you think I spend too much time on review, especially on the questions I got right? Any other suggestion on how to improve my score is welcome :) (I am aiming for the mid 170s).

I have been a frequent visitor on your post these days. Really really appreciate your patience with regard to my questions! I really love your book and recommend it to my fellow foreign test takers. However, on Amazon, it takes 5-7 weeks to ship which makes the book less available to us :( Will you consider creating a Kindle Edition?


Hi CocoSunshine! --

Thanks so much for your comments, and thanks for spreading the word about the trainer --

I've discussed the ebook at greater length elsewhere in the thread -- unfortunately, I don't think I'll be releasing that any time soon, due to a combination of factors -- converting my type of book into an ebook takes considerable time and energy, and right now the demand for an ebook doesn't warrant it -- and more importantly, again because of how the trainer is designed (with all the drills and whatnot), I have some doubts about my ability to create an ebook that is as effective as the physical book.

Now, in terms of your question --

A lot of what you wrote reminds me of the top student described in the first three paragraphs of "Equate Smart With Simple," which starts on page 15 --

The methods you describe are, in general, effective study methods, and I imagine they are the type that have helped you be a successful student all your life, and, considering that the LSAT is the most important test you'll likely ever take, it makes sense you'd ramp up these methods even more, as it seems you have. I think that, in general, review is of course great for you, but here are a couple of thoughts I have that may help you make it more effective --

1) Think of all the information you've accumulated about the LSAT as being a giant, physical mound -- think of it as the equivalent of the mound of cloths in the closet of someone who is as obsessed with accumulating clothing as you've been with accumulating understanding about this exam --

Do you really need to add more to the pile? Or more importantly, will adding more to the pile, at this point, have a significant impact on your score? Is there some final, giant piece of understanding you need that you might be missing? I doubt it.

I recommend that at this stage, you de-emphasize the aspects of your review process that primarily allow you to accumulate more information. More importantly, I urge you to try and review in such a way that you are able to organize and prioritize what you already know. (One method I've suggested elsewhere is the use of notecards -- what I love about the notecard is the limited space (don't cheat by writing tiny) -- it forces you to make decisions about what is most important to know/think about.)

2) Picture yourself on test day, with a question in front of you and the time ticking. How well you perform will be determined most directly by what happens to pop into your head (the consequence of your elephant's hard work) and the decisions you make (such as whether to spend extra time on a question you don't quite feel certain about).

In simple terms, the four factors that influence the above are
1) your understanding -- obviously you have to know what words are actually supposed to mean, what types of inferences are valid, or not, what question stems are asking for, etc. if you hope to do well
2) strategy -- you need to know of effective methods to deal with the macro- and micro- challenges
3) skills -- I know I can be a great basketball player by dunking on everyone all the time, but it doesn't mean I can do it -- you need the ability to effectively employ your understanding and strategies
4) habits -- you need to be trained at employing the right skills in the right way at the right time

The big point I want to make is for you use these four categories to determine, for yourself, what review is most or least helpful at this stage --

For most students at your level who are this close to the exam, I think your priorities should be --
- about 10% understanding and strategies -- shore up any weaknesses that appear, but otherwise don't keep adding to the pile. In particular, it is too late to keep making decisions about the strategies you want to employ -- you need time to take these strategies and turn them into habits.
- about 90% skills and habits -- I think the vast majority of your review / final prep should be about taking the understanding and strategies you already have and working to make sure you utilize them to their best on test day.

Here are two examples to illustrate what I mean --
- Imagine you are reviewing a wrong answer to an LR question -- you can choose to review it in terms of all the reasons why it is wrong, or you can choose to review it in terms of the clearest, most absolute reasons why it is wrong, and in terms of the mindset required to focus on that most important characteristic. Early on in your prep, you want to be more exhaustive, but at this stage you want be more focused on being efficient and exact. (Reviewing every single aspect of every single answer, especially for RC and LR, can actually have a detrimental effect this late in your study process, for it can easily lead to overthinking and blurring the lines between right and wrong -- remember that exhaustive is the opposite of focused.)
- You want to make sure you use the pt's during these final few weeks to make sure your timing strategies / timing habits are absolutely set. As per the trainer, this doesn't just mean knowing your timing ideals -- it means being ready to account for all timing issues and decisions. The vast, vast majority of test takers waste a ton of time and energy during the exam figuring out their timing, and their scores suffer from inefficient use of time. You can get a huge leg up if you don't have to stress about timing strategy at all, and (just as importantly), if you've used the final few weeks to firm up habits and set a consistent working pace (if you don't take realistic pt's during the final phase of prep, it's very likely you'll find yourself going much faster, or much slower, on the real exam than you expected or wanted to).

So again, it sounds like you are doing a lot of good things in your review, but just wanted to add the above points to help you prioritize -- make sure that at this point, most of your review is done with an eye toward firming up your skills and habits for the day. Good luck, and hope that helps --

Mike


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