Mike's Trainer Thread

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

Postby ioannisk » Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:24 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
ioannisk wrote:Hi Mike, I've been studying the LSAT for a good month or so for June 2014 and I've completed Manhattan Lsat/Power score LG/LR books about 4-5 months ago. I'm pretty okay at both, -3 each. I suck at RC, getting -7 to -10 sometimes.

I already bought your book awhile back and I'm thinking to go through it.

I'm thinking to go through LR/LG but do you think it'll be a waste of time to go through those sections?
I really suck at RC....

Furthermore,
What kind of score would you think someone would be averaging after finishing your Standard Workload + 18 Extra Exams study guide?


Hey there --

Don't mean to be rude but just want to make sure I understand you correctly -- are you asking me if I think reading the book I wrote is a waste of your time? I'm trying to think of a situation where an author would say "Yes, my book is an absolute waste of your time!"

The LR/LG sections..... i'm going to read it for RC regardless

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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 Feb 05, 2014 3:31 pm

ioannisk wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
ioannisk wrote:Hi Mike, I've been studying the LSAT for a good month or so for June 2014 and I've completed Manhattan Lsat/Power score LG/LR books about 4-5 months ago. I'm pretty okay at both, -3 each. I suck at RC, getting -7 to -10 sometimes.

I already bought your book awhile back and I'm thinking to go through it.

I'm thinking to go through LR/LG but do you think it'll be a waste of time to go through those sections?
I really suck at RC....

Furthermore,
What kind of score would you think someone would be averaging after finishing your Standard Workload + 18 Extra Exams study guide?


Hey there --

Don't mean to be rude but just want to make sure I understand you correctly -- are you asking me if I think reading the book I wrote is a waste of your time? I'm trying to think of a situation where an author would say "Yes, my book is an absolute waste of your time!"

The LR/LG sections..... i'm going to read it for RC regardless


Sorry -- i edited my response at the same time you wrote -- not sure if you saw it, but yes I do think you ought to study those sections.

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josh9308
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby josh9308 » Sat Feb 08, 2014 7:23 pm

This may sound absolutely stupid, but when you break down the study schedule and include the PTs, those come from a separate book called "10 New Actuals"? For some reason, I was assuming those PTs came with the LSAT Trainer


For example, the first week of the 16-week schedule, it lists PT1 as the first PT. Is that in the LSAT Trainer, or the other 10 New Actuals books?

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:07 pm

josh9308 wrote:This may sound absolutely stupid, but when you break down the study schedule and include the PTs, those come from a separate book called "10 New Actuals"? For some reason, I was assuming those PTs came with the LSAT Trainer


For example, the first week of the 16-week schedule, it lists PT1 as the first PT. Is that in the LSAT Trainer, or the other 10 New Actuals books?


Hi Josh --

Thank you for trusting in the trainer and I wish you the best with it --

Per the study schedule, the trainer is meant to be used in conjunction with a separate book with 10 practice LSATs, exams 52-61. The book is available here -- http://www.amazon.com/Actual-Official-P ... 925&sr=1-1 .

On page 27 of the trainer, I discuss why I've set it up this way, but, long story short, it's just a much cheaper way for you to get the tests.

Sorry about the confusion, and if you ever need me for anything else, please don't hesitate to get in touch --

Mike

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

Postby LMD » Sun Feb 09, 2014 2:15 am

Mike,

I am a tutor for one of the test prep companies and I just wanted to let you know that whenever I have students who are going to retake the test, I tell them to just buy your book and do it.

I occasionally recommend or lend out your book to my current students for targeting specific areas, but I don't recommend my current students do the whole book as it's just too much-- and there is a lot of overlap of course.

I've read pretty much everything out there and you've put together a book that is the best on the market and has only one contender in class-- a series of books you also had a hand in. I am thrilled to have this to recommend to students who don't want to spend another couple grand on prepping for the test, and to be frank I would probably recommend this book over taking most classes.

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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 Feb 09, 2014 3:39 pm

LMD wrote:Mike,

I am a tutor for one of the test prep companies and I just wanted to let you know that whenever I have students who are going to retake the test, I tell them to just buy your book and do it.

I occasionally recommend or lend out your book to my current students for targeting specific areas, but I don't recommend my current students do the whole book as it's just too much-- and there is a lot of overlap of course.

I've read pretty much everything out there and you've put together a book that is the best on the market and has only one contender in class-- a series of books you also had a hand in. I am thrilled to have this to recommend to students who don't want to spend another couple grand on prepping for the test, and to be frank I would probably recommend this book over taking most classes.


Thank you so much for sharing that with me -- creating the trainer was by far the hardest thing I've ever done, and what got me through it was that I was absolutely convinced that it could have a positive impact on students --

I must say that I really didn't expect for the LSAT community to be open to it so quickly, and the response has been just amazing for me to experience --

So thank you again for the support -- can't tell you how much I appreciate it -- if you have any suggestions for me, or have any questions about the trainer, please don't hesitate to get in touch here or through pm --

Mike

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:39 am

For the Logic Games obsessed --

Hi everyone,

As a break from my day job, I've come up with a type of logic puzzle game (for the general, non-LSAT-taking public) inspired by the Logic Games section of the LSAT. I have written a book of them and will be releasing it in a few weeks.

These games are similar to LSAT games in terms of their design and the type of rules that they present, but they are also different from the LSAT, mainly in that each game is meant to be solved -- that is, the clues give you enough information to figure out everything there is to figure out about a game (the games are also different from real LSAT games in other ways as well). The goal of the game is not for you to answer questions about the given scenario, but rather to solve the game using as few of the given clues as possible.

I realize that many of you who have just taken the February exam may be jonesing for some additional games to play (games where you can finally fill in all the slots! how satisfying!), and some of you studying for June or Sept may be interested in taking a look at some of these as well --

And, I'd love some people who are really good at playing these types of games to try them out and vet them -- I figured TLS might be a good place to find such folks.

So, if you are interested in playing some of these games, please pm me an email address, and I'll send you a PDF --

Thanks in advance --

Mike

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

Postby charles_monster » Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:42 am

Hi, Mike, I'm glad you are still answering questions. I'm writing in Feb in Asia, which will be in 10 days. I have done enough work and I think I have seen great progress, it's just I haven't reached my expectation yet, which is PT average 177+. I know it's a tough task but I really want to reach that. My PT average till now is somewhere around 175-176, I can hit a 179 or 180 sometimes. I did PT 69 today, what really made me feel bad is that I scored a 170, which is really below my average, I have to be honest that this is hurting my confidence. There are a couple of dumb mistakes, like I crossed out the correct answer without even carefully reading it (I don't know what I was thinking) and then wasted a lot of time choosing between 2 wrong answers, I even knew those 2 answers were wrong, I just said to myself that I needed to find a better one between these 2 bad ones, and when I was doing blind review, I was like: wtf?! how the hell did I cross out C (the correct answer). Put all those dumb mistakes aside, I can still score a 178, but I cannot guarantee that I will not make these stupid mistakes on the test day so do you think I should postpone it?
If not, I have another question, that is, should I keep on doing 70 and 71? I'm afraid my confidence issue is going to be hurt a lot more, that is not good.. like at all. I have a pretty good mindset, UNTIL today.. Should I just keep redoing old tests, building on consistency and confidence, or should I keep on doing 70 and 71 so that I could get every knowledge out of them?
I don't even know how to deal with this kind of pt score drop now, I know people keep telling me that pt score fluctuates, that's normal. But it's really hard to take all these when there are only 10 days left. I really need something to give me confidence. What's some good advice? Thanks a lot!

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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 Feb 12, 2014 12:29 pm

charles_monster wrote:Hi, Mike, I'm glad you are still answering questions. I'm writing in Feb in Asia, which will be in 10 days. I have done enough work and I think I have seen great progress, it's just I haven't reached my expectation yet, which is PT average 177+. I know it's a tough task but I really want to reach that. My PT average till now is somewhere around 175-176, I can hit a 179 or 180 sometimes. I did PT 69 today, what really made me feel bad is that I scored a 170, which is really below my average, I have to be honest that this is hurting my confidence. There are a couple of dumb mistakes, like I crossed out the correct answer without even carefully reading it (I don't know what I was thinking) and then wasted a lot of time choosing between 2 wrong answers, I even knew those 2 answers were wrong, I just said to myself that I needed to find a better one between these 2 bad ones, and when I was doing blind review, I was like: wtf?! how the hell did I cross out C (the correct answer). Put all those dumb mistakes aside, I can still score a 178, but I cannot guarantee that I will not make these stupid mistakes on the test day so do you think I should postpone it?
If not, I have another question, that is, should I keep on doing 70 and 71? I'm afraid my confidence issue is going to be hurt a lot more, that is not good.. like at all. I have a pretty good mindset, UNTIL today.. Should I just keep redoing old tests, building on consistency and confidence, or should I keep on doing 70 and 71 so that I could get every knowledge out of them?
I don't even know how to deal with this kind of pt score drop now, I know people keep telling me that pt score fluctuates, that's normal. But it's really hard to take all these when there are only 10 days left. I really need something to give me confidence. What's some good advice? Thanks a lot!


Hi there -- I've been racking my brain trying to think of some general advice that might be helpful, but everything that comes to mind, when I read your message, is fairly specific to your situation -- I also think we might need a bit of back and forth for me to be of use to you -- so, if you don't mind, I'd like to carry this on in pm -- I'll send you a message now -- MK

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

Postby FlyingNorth » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:04 pm

Mike,

Do you like Arcade Fire?

-FN

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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 Feb 12, 2014 3:38 pm

FlyingNorth wrote:Mike,

Do you like Arcade Fire?

-FN


Ha - Why yes, how did you guess? I have to admit, though, that I can't connect to their new album -- you like it?

I've always used music to pump myself up for my work, and I listened to AF pretty much exclusively as I wrote the trainer -- I think of Ready to Start (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JP7BpmAPCYU) as the unofficial theme song for the book.

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

Postby FlyingNorth » Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:04 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
FlyingNorth wrote:Mike,

Do you like Arcade Fire?

-FN


Ha - Why yes, how did you guess? I have to admit, though, that I can't connect to their new album -- you like it?

I've always used music to pump myself up for my work, and I listened to AF pretty much exclusively as I wrote the trainer -- I think of Ready to Start (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JP7BpmAPCYU) as the unofficial theme song for the book.


Your avatar. I'm warming up to it, going to see them in April.

Oh, and to stay on topic, The Trainer is an excellent study tool. I'll be going through it a second time for my June administration.

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calbear15
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby calbear15 » Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:03 am

Hi Mike, bought the book on amazon and very excited to start my journey with it as my primary book (aiming to take the test in June but might push back to sep/oct).

I guess for now I only have a question that's aimed towards people who have already utilized the trainer as their primary study book and have supplemented it with other books like PS LG Bible or the MLSAT LR Book. How did you guys go about using the other books as supplement (i.e. read through all of trainer first and adhere to a trainer study schedule, and then when completely done go to the other books, or while in the trainer doing work on LG, opening up the bible at the same time)?

Any advice would be appreciated!

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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 Feb 13, 2014 1:18 pm

calbear15 wrote:Hi Mike, bought the book on amazon and very excited to start my journey with it as my primary book (aiming to take the test in June but might push back to sep/oct).

I guess for now I only have a question that's aimed towards people who have already utilized the trainer as their primary study book and have supplemented it with other books like PS LG Bible or the MLSAT LR Book. How did you guys go about using the other books as supplement (i.e. read through all of trainer first and adhere to a trainer study schedule, and then when completely done go to the other books, or while in the trainer doing work on LG, opening up the bible at the same time)?

Any advice would be appreciated!


Hi there --

Thanks so much for picking up and trusting in the trainer -- I know the question wasn't directed exactly at me, but I do have some thoughts that you might find helpful. Also know that a lot of others have asked similar q's in the past in this thread, so if you want a bit more info and have some time to kill, you may want to take a look at some of those previous conversations as well --

For your question, I think there are two separate but related issues for you to deal with -- 1) using the trainer in conjunction w/other learning tools 2) thinking about how all these tools fit into your overall study schedule ---

For #1, my suggestion is to start with the trainer, and to use it as your primary learning resource up through the first swatch of LG lessons (so, up through lesson 15). After that, the Trainer will start to get into specific question types and such, and I think that's a great point to start integrating whatever other LR or LG learning products you want to (and then you can, if you want, integrate additional RC products after the first swatch of RC lessons in the trainer). From there on, my suggestion would be to use the other resources in conjunction (rather than finishing the trainer then starting another book), though if you wanted to get through one book at a time I think that's fine too (as long as you have the time). In my experience, there is very little downside to using multiple products -- it shouldn't confuse you, and it'll give you some perspective which will be helpful as you try to figure out what works best for you.

For #2, keep in mind that your prep for the LSAT should involve
a) learning about the test, strategies, etc -- this is the main purpose of products such as the trainer
b) drilling (of like-q's, similar games, etc.) -- of course there are lots of drills in the trainer, but you want to drill a lot, lot more real LSAT q's as part of your prep. This is really where you make significant and lasting improvements -- when you take what you learn and get in the habit of applying it correctly in relevant situations.
c) pt's -- to bring together what you learn and get ready to perform on test day --

Roughly speaking, the learning should be focus of the first part of your prep, drilling the middle of your prep, and pt's the last, with significant overlap (you want to drill what you learn, take pt's periodically to stay in touch and assess progress, etc.) --

To plan all this, you can take any of the trainer schedules (available on my site) and adapt it to your needs -- you should find the schedules fairly flexible and easily adaptable, but if you need any help don't hesitate to reach out --

HTH and good luck with your prep -- MK

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90convoy
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Re: Mike, author of the LSAT Trainer, answering questions

Postby 90convoy » Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:00 pm

I'm thinking about buying the book today. I would say that I already have a decent grasp on the concepts, (165 average) but looking at the style and technique of this book, I think it will motivate me. Thanks for this!

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

Postby scootsy » Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:11 pm

I bought my copy the other night and it should be here by Saturday....... Just in time to start the 16 Week program + 18 other PT's.

Mike, I have already purchased copies of every prep test available. Several of the high scorers on this site recommend Pt'ing every test you can from 1-present. Since the modern tests more closely resemble what we will see on test day, would you recommend drilling every test from 1-49 (since I already have those available) or so along with the trainer, and then saving all the modern ones for PT'ing? Or would you instead recommend sticking closely to your prescribed schedule?

TIA

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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 Feb 13, 2014 3:47 pm

scootsy wrote:I bought my copy the other night and it should be here by Saturday....... Just in time to start the 16 Week program + 18 other PT's.

Mike, I have already purchased copies of every prep test available. Several of the high scorers on this site recommend Pt'ing every test you can from 1-present. Since the modern tests more closely resemble what we will see on test day, would you recommend drilling every test from 1-49 (since I already have those available) or so along with the trainer, and then saving all the modern ones for PT'ing? Or would you instead recommend sticking closely to your prescribed schedule?

TIA


Hello Scootsy --

There are some differing opinions out there about PT's, and there are certainly different effective ways to think about how to use them in your prep (do you see a caveat coming), BUT...

In my professional opinion full practice exams are not where you raise your score most significantly.

I think PT's are useful at the beginning and middle of your prep for
1) keeping you grounded in terms of what the real test feels like
2) helping you practice bringing together various things you've been working on
3) helping you assess strengths and weaknesses / plan your prep

And I think PT's are essential toward the end of your prep for helping you integrate all the skills, and for making sure you are totally ready for "game day" -- for getting you in position to perform at the high end of your capacity, rather than the low end, when it counts (skills related to this include game recognition, time management, the ability to jump from task to task in LR, etc.).

However, I think learning and drilling -- in particular the application of what you learn in drills -- is where you really change your capacity -- where you really get markedly better at taking the LSAT --

I realize at this point that I haven't answered your q at all -- sorry about that, but I hope it gives some perspective --

Now on to your actual question --

The more recent exams are definitely more similar to what you are likely to see on test day, and you definitely want to make sure to save a good amount of them to use as PT's in the final weeks before your exam. However, the changes in the test over time are not that significant -- if you were to, for example, give a study group that has no experience with the LSAT PT's 52, 67, and 68, and asked this group which two were most similar, I highly doubt that they could accurately tell any sort of difference. All that is to say that, as long as you don't do something irrational like only using PT's 1-10 for your prep (which I'm sure you'd never do), I don't think the decision of which PT's to use for drilling, which ones to use for full tests, is going to make a significant dent in your score.

If you want to break up the drilling and PT'ing in that way, I think that's totally fine and will work out very well for you.

If you don't mind making slight adjustments, I think it might be a good idea to use just a few of the more recent exams earlier in your prep, for early pt's and for some drilling, so that your sense of the test is just a bit more accurate. If, for example, you choose to use 52-56 for drilling, (but still keep everything else after 50 for PT'ing), that will allow you to more easily follow the assignments in the trainer schedules, and it will also allow you to have a slightly more accurate perspective on what your test will be like.

Additionally (and these may be points you already have considered/ agree with but just to put them out there) --

1) Again, you should totally feel free to adapt the work to fit your needs best, and in fact I encourage that, but one thing I suggest you avoid is too many PT's too early in your prep. What you are doing in these PT's is setting down habits for how you are going to perform on test day. If you set some of these habits too early, before you have the background necessary to set good ones, the test will feel harder, and you'll waste study time having to "fix things" that shouldn't have been broken in the first place. It's good to take a few PT's throughout, but I suggest you save the bulk of them for later in your prep.

2) I am a big fan of using tests and questions over and over again -- in general, I'd rather you study one PT five times than study five PT's each just once. I suggest you think about the value of repeated use as you design your prep -- specifically, it's better to use q's for PT's first, then to use to them for drilling, rather than the other way around. So, I suggest you organize your prep so you can use many of your q's first for PT'ing, then for drilling (that's already integrated into the trainer schedule).

Sorry for the length and hope at least some of that was helpful -- best of luck with your prep, and reach out whenever you need me -- Mike

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

Postby scootsy » Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:27 am

Mike,

Thanks for the prompt and thorough advice! I am retaking the test, so I am nervous that I may have already (well I'm certain I have) developed the poor techniques that I'm going to have to correct. So I plan on spending those first few months just getting the proper technique in place like is recommended in the study plan. The first time around, I attended a live class. I picked up a few concepts for the LR and RC, but mainly focused on LG. I was consistently going -0 on my PT's, with the occasional -1 (which also happened on test day). But the -6's on LR and RC killed any chance at a good score.

I read a review of your book saying it solved the issues of another taker in my same situation (weakness in LR and RC), so I'm anxious to jump into it. Can't wait to report back!

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

Postby Sgt Brody. » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:57 pm

Hey Mike,
love the trainer and Im using it to prep for the June 2014 exam. I hope you can help me with certain questions I have.

1. On page 38 of the trainer (1st edition), I do get why D is correct, and I get why the reasoning in the argument is similar to the question. But I dont get why A is wrong. The way I see it, is the question tells me higher altitude-> thinner air. since MC has higher alt than PC, it means MC has thinner air than PC.
Answer choice A tells me Older-> wiser. Since H is older than her daughter, it means H is wiser. I just feel like his choice makes too much sense.

2. My next question is in page 250, again I get why C is right, but I dont get why D is wrong. D tells me that the since the residents of neighbourhood are opposed to the plan, the committee should not go ahead with the plan. Isn't this reasoning very similar to the one exhibited in the question?

3. My last question is in page 251, After I read the conclusion, support, and identified the flaw, I eliminated answer choices C,D,E and was left with A and B. I was really stuck and and did not know what to do. Even though your answer key says B, I feel like A could also be right, depending on how you look at it. And lastly, is this is question from a real LSAT test?, and do you have any advice on how to tackle if these questions come up on a test, like if it comes down to just two, how do you approach them. I usually just "go with my hunch", is that ok? or is there is a strategy to tackle these q's.

Thank you so much Mike, and I should say the book is really helping me with my prep. Im using the lsat trainer as my primary book.

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:03 pm

Sgt Brody. wrote:Hey Mike,
love the trainer and Im using it to prep for the June 2014 exam. I hope you can help me with certain questions I have.

1. On page 38 of the trainer (1st edition), I do get why D is correct, and I get why the reasoning in the argument is similar to the question. But I dont get why A is wrong. The way I see it, is the question tells me higher altitude-> thinner air. since MC has higher alt than PC, it means MC has thinner air than PC.
Answer choice A tells me Older-> wiser. Since H is older than her daughter, it means H is wiser. I just feel like his choice makes too much sense.

2. My next question is in page 250, again I get why C is right, but I dont get why D is wrong. D tells me that the since the residents of neighbourhood are opposed to the plan, the committee should not go ahead with the plan. Isn't this reasoning very similar to the one exhibited in the question?

3. My last question is in page 251, After I read the conclusion, support, and identified the flaw, I eliminated answer choices C,D,E and was left with A and B. I was really stuck and and did not know what to do. Even though your answer key says B, I feel like A could also be right, depending on how you look at it. And lastly, is this is question from a real LSAT test?, and do you have any advice on how to tackle if these questions come up on a test, like if it comes down to just two, how do you approach them. I usually just "go with my hunch", is that ok? or is there is a strategy to tackle these q's.

Thank you so much Mike, and I should say the book is really helping me with my prep. Im using the lsat trainer as my primary book.


Hi there --

Great to hear that you are finding the book helpful --

Though I'm sure it won't make you feel much better, those are most definitely the best wrong answers to be attracted to -- to me, that's a very good sign. Hope these explanations help clear up your issues -- if they don't, please feel free to follow up --

1. (A) is very, very close to the original argument -- the difference is between "The higher the altitude, the thinner the air" and "As one gets older, one gets wiser." Notice, the first statement is a comparison of two different areas, whereas the second is about what happens within one individual. In order for that part of (A) to match the original argument, it would have needed to say something like "Older people are wiser than younger people," so that we are comparing different people, rather than changes within a person.

2. Again, another situation where the wrong answer is very, very close in structure to the original. However, notice that D is about doing something (postponing) because the opinions of a group (many residents) would support that action.

The argument is about doing something (demolish old station) because there is something wrong with those who oppose that action (the local historical society).

(D) contains a ton of double negatives (to throw you off) and I oversimplified that just a bit to make my main point clear, but I hope that makes sense.

3. This last one is the toughest of the bunch, and (A) is one of the most attractive wrong choices you are ever, ever going to see -- it's so attractive that I must admit, if (B) wasn't there, I could easy see myself picking (A) as a correct answer and never thinking twice about it.

The reason that (B) is a better answer than (A) has to do with the fact that "editorial board" is a better match for "student body." "Students" refers to individual students. If (A) said "student body" it would be a better match for the original argument.

The big challenge of an answer like (A) is that, in real life, I think many of us would colloquially use a statement like "the students take mathematics" to mean that some of the students (not all) take mathematics (If someone says “the fans love kobe,” it doesn’t necessarily mean every single fan loves kobe, for example). When stuck in a situation like this (unsure if students refers to individuals or group) it can sometimes be helpful to substitute a few other more basic terms into the same grammatical structure -- that will help you shed real-life biases and help you determine what the correct interpretation ought to be --

so -- "The students take math" is same as "The apples are red" or "The lights are out." Notice that in each example, our "default" understanding would be that each apple (not just some) is red, or each and every light is out. So, we go back to students and think of it as individual students, and that makes (A) not as good as match as (B).

Sorry for getting off tangent for a bit there, but if you end up using the above trick at some point during your test I'm sure it'll be worth it.

And yes, this was a real q -- All of the LR q's in the book are real (the #'s in the front indicate where the q came from -- in this case it's PT 30, Section 2, Q 6) -- I have zero confidence in my ability to make up LSAT-like LR q's.

In terms of general advice about what to do when stuck between two answer choices --

First, in terms of your prep, I think it's crucial to see getting stuck between two answers as an effect, rather than a cause, of you having trouble with the question. It could indeed be that you've done everything else right, and that the question is just designed with two super-attractive answers that have a difference between them that you couldn't have predicted, but I guarantee you that for every one time that actually happens, 10 times you will be caught between two attractive answers because you made some mistakes on the way to getting to those two answers -- that is, you are attracted to two answers because you didn't understand the argument or flaw as clearly as you could have or should have, or because you didn't focus on something you should have in the elimination process, or because you lost sight of the task. This is not by accident -- the test writers build in moments when you could get confused, or distracted, and design answers around those issues. So, in terms of studying and reviewing your work, always see getting stuck as a symptom, rather than a cause, and try to look earlier and earlier in your process to figure out how you could have done things better / when thing started to get just slightly off track. I guarantee you that the better you get at focusing in on the core, seeing flaws, eliminating wrong answers, etc., the less you’ll find yourself stuck between two answers.

(Just to illustrate -- if for #3 of your q’s you recognized the main issue as “assigning characteristics of a group to individuals,” and if you were more focused in on that flaw, it makes it just a bit easier to notice and see the significance of the difference between editorial board and students.)

In terms of what to do when you do get into that situation -- know that I'll offer a ton more smaller suggestions as you get deeper into the book, and I hope that the written solutions give you a lot of color in terms of how to actually handle such challenges in the moment (I tried to keep those solutions as accurate as possible -- they really are my real time thoughts, verbalized more clearly than I think in my head, of course) --

However, by the time you go into the test, I think it's really, really helpful for you to try and think of the challenge as simply as possible, and to focus on just a few, central concerns.

Namely,

- feel free to check the answer choices against one another to notice or confirm differences / issues. Keep in mind that you will never figure out right or wrong directly by comparing answers to one another (more on that next), but comparing answers can help you recognize issues (students vs board, or ah, I see one answer is about changes within individual, whereas original argument and other answer are about differences about different individuals/places, etc.).
- Again, use comparisons to notice issues, but only determine right and wrong based on how the answer "fits" in between stimulus and task -- duh. I know you know to think about this -- my big point is to only think about this -- the better and better you get at focusing in specifically on how that particular answer fits in between that particular stimulus and that particular task, the easier it will be to differentiate between right and wrong answers.
- The flip side of that last point presents, I believe, a more difficult challenge: you want to avoid being distracted by other thoughts that do not directly relate to that situation at hand.

Please note that in what I'm about to say here, my opinion differs from that of many other very good LSAT prep teachers, so, please use your own judgment and only go with this if you believe in it:

If you are trying to get a top score, it is a mistake to make decisions about right and wrong based on "general tendencies" -- things that are typically true 70 or 80 percent of the time. And of course it’s a mistake to make decisions based on superstitions. Here is a list of such issues:

- 1) worrying a certain letter has shown up too often / too little in the answer choices.
- 2) treating one question type as another. So, for example, treating a Sufficient Assumption question like a Strengthen question because your tutor/book told you that they are similar.
As I discuss a lot in the trainer, a big key to really understanding tasks/issues is recognizing both similarities and differences -- sure S.A. and Strengthen q’s are similar, but they are also different, and, most importantly, the LSAT writers are hyper-hyper careful about wording. If they wanted to ask a Strengthen q they would have asked a Strengthen q.
- 3) looking for characteristics that are tendencies of correct answers, like “soft language” etc. Again, I realize that this is advice that goes against what you will hear/see from a lot of other instructors, but I am a mathematician at heart, and I believe that using such markers is not only unhelpful at high score levels, it can actually be harmful.
To discuss why, let’s imagine that “softer language” (“most likely” instead of “must,” for example) does tend to show up more often in the right answers for a “most supported” question, and, just to push it to an extreme, let’s imagine that 80% of the time the right answer is the one with the “softest” language (I totally made up that stat, btw, and I’m certain it’s absolutely not true) -- if that stat were true, though, does that mean that when you are stuck between two attractive answers to a hard question, you should go with the one with the softer language?
No.
For the main reason why, please see the previous point -- don’t distract yourself with things that do not directly relate to that particular stimulus and task. Focus on that particular stimulus and that particular task and do your best to differentiate right and wrong just based on those two things. Additionally, consider the following: when are questions not likely to follow tendencies? What types of questions will tend to be different from what you expect -- easy ones or hard ones? Very often, hard questions are hard because they defy our expectations -- so, using tendencies to answer them isn’t the best route to take.

Way, way longer than I planned -- sorry about that! -- my fault for answering while drinking too much coffee -- But I hope it was helpful -- please follow up if you had trouble with any of the above, and take care -- Mike

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

Postby Bully » Fri Feb 21, 2014 3:34 pm

Hey Mike,

Thanks for continuing to offer support on TLS!

I'm about to finish up the trainer on the 16 week schedule and will be jumping in to more dedicated drilling. My goal is to develop and solidify proper understanding and habits. In order to do this would you recommend placing any type of time restraints? I will probably be working through 1 section at a time from old PT's (1-40), blind reviewing, and re-studying concepts I am having trouble with.

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The LSAT Trainer
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:47 pm

Question for the TLS-savvy --

Hi everyone --

This thread is now way too long and unwieldy, and it's tough to find relevant info --

I'd love to create a table of links as the first post -- something like:

- Advice about Reviewing RC
- Timing Strategies for LG
- Should I Retake, etc. --

and have it so people can click on the above titles and go to corresponding posts within this thread --

If anyone knows how to do this, and doesn't mind explaining to me, please pm and I'll be forever grateful --

MK

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

Postby Sgt Brody. » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:54 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Sgt Brody. wrote:Hey Mike,
love the trainer and Im using it to prep for the June 2014 exam. I hope you can help me with certain questions I have.

1. On page 38 of the trainer (1st edition), I do get why D is correct, and I get why the reasoning in the argument is similar to the question. But I dont get why A is wrong. The way I see it, is the question tells me higher altitude-> thinner air. since MC has higher alt than PC, it means MC has thinner air than PC.
Answer choice A tells me Older-> wiser. Since H is older than her daughter, it means H is wiser. I just feel like his choice makes too much sense.

2. My next question is in page 250, again I get why C is right, but I dont get why D is wrong. D tells me that the since the residents of neighbourhood are opposed to the plan, the committee should not go ahead with the plan. Isn't this reasoning very similar to the one exhibited in the question?

3. My last question is in page 251, After I read the conclusion, support, and identified the flaw, I eliminated answer choices C,D,E and was left with A and B. I was really stuck and and did not know what to do. Even though your answer key says B, I feel like A could also be right, depending on how you look at it. And lastly, is this is question from a real LSAT test?, and do you have any advice on how to tackle if these questions come up on a test, like if it comes down to just two, how do you approach them. I usually just "go with my hunch", is that ok? or is there is a strategy to tackle these q's.

Thank you so much Mike, and I should say the book is really helping me with my prep. Im using the lsat trainer as my primary book.


Hi there --

Great to hear that you are finding the book helpful --

Though I'm sure it won't make you feel much better, those are most definitely the best wrong answers to be attracted to -- to me, that's a very good sign. Hope these explanations help clear up your issues -- if they don't, please feel free to follow up --

1. (A) is very, very close to the original argument -- the difference is between "The higher the altitude, the thinner the air" and "As one gets older, one gets wiser." Notice, the first statement is a comparison of two different areas, whereas the second is about what happens within one individual. In order for that part of (A) to match the original argument, it would have needed to say something like "Older people are wiser than younger people," so that we are comparing different people, rather than changes within a person.

2. Again, another situation where the wrong answer is very, very close in structure to the original. However, notice that D is about doing something (postponing) because the opinions of a group (many residents) would support that action.

The argument is about doing something (demolish old station) because there is something wrong with those who oppose that action (the local historical society).

(D) contains a ton of double negatives (to throw you off) and I oversimplified that just a bit to make my main point clear, but I hope that makes sense.

3. This last one is the toughest of the bunch, and (A) is one of the most attractive wrong choices you are ever, ever going to see -- it's so attractive that I must admit, if (B) wasn't there, I could easy see myself picking (A) as a correct answer and never thinking twice about it.

The reason that (B) is a better answer than (A) has to do with the fact that "editorial board" is a better match for "student body." "Students" refers to individual students. If (A) said "student body" it would be a better match for the original argument.

The big challenge of an answer like (A) is that, in real life, I think many of us would colloquially use a statement like "the students take mathematics" to mean that some of the students (not all) take mathematics (If someone says “the fans love kobe,” it doesn’t necessarily mean every single fan loves kobe, for example). When stuck in a situation like this (unsure if students refers to individuals or group) it can sometimes be helpful to substitute a few other more basic terms into the same grammatical structure -- that will help you shed real-life biases and help you determine what the correct interpretation ought to be --

so -- "The students take math" is same as "The apples are red" or "The lights are out." Notice that in each example, our "default" understanding would be that each apple (not just some) is red, or each and every light is out. So, we go back to students and think of it as individual students, and that makes (A) not as good as match as (B).

Sorry for getting off tangent for a bit there, but if you end up using the above trick at some point during your test I'm sure it'll be worth it.

And yes, this was a real q -- All of the LR q's in the book are real (the #'s in the front indicate where the q came from -- in this case it's PT 30, Section 2, Q 6) -- I have zero confidence in my ability to make up LSAT-like LR q's.

In terms of general advice about what to do when stuck between two answer choices --

First, in terms of your prep, I think it's crucial to see getting stuck between two answers as an effect, rather than a cause, of you having trouble with the question. It could indeed be that you've done everything else right, and that the question is just designed with two super-attractive answers that have a difference between them that you couldn't have predicted, but I guarantee you that for every one time that actually happens, 10 times you will be caught between two attractive answers because you made some mistakes on the way to getting to those two answers -- that is, you are attracted to two answers because you didn't understand the argument or flaw as clearly as you could have or should have, or because you didn't focus on something you should have in the elimination process, or because you lost sight of the task. This is not by accident -- the test writers build in moments when you could get confused, or distracted, and design answers around those issues. So, in terms of studying and reviewing your work, always see getting stuck as a symptom, rather than a cause, and try to look earlier and earlier in your process to figure out how you could have done things better / when thing started to get just slightly off track. I guarantee you that the better you get at focusing in on the core, seeing flaws, eliminating wrong answers, etc., the less you’ll find yourself stuck between two answers.

(Just to illustrate -- if for #3 of your q’s you recognized the main issue as “assigning characteristics of a group to individuals,” and if you were more focused in on that flaw, it makes it just a bit easier to notice and see the significance of the difference between editorial board and students.)

In terms of what to do when you do get into that situation -- know that I'll offer a ton more smaller suggestions as you get deeper into the book, and I hope that the written solutions give you a lot of color in terms of how to actually handle such challenges in the moment (I tried to keep those solutions as accurate as possible -- they really are my real time thoughts, verbalized more clearly than I think in my head, of course) --

However, by the time you go into the test, I think it's really, really helpful for you to try and think of the challenge as simply as possible, and to focus on just a few, central concerns.

Namely,

- feel free to check the answer choices against one another to notice or confirm differences / issues. Keep in mind that you will never figure out right or wrong directly by comparing answers to one another (more on that next), but comparing answers can help you recognize issues (students vs board, or ah, I see one answer is about changes within individual, whereas original argument and other answer are about differences about different individuals/places, etc.).
- Again, use comparisons to notice issues, but only determine right and wrong based on how the answer "fits" in between stimulus and task -- duh. I know you know to think about this -- my big point is to only think about this -- the better and better you get at focusing in specifically on how that particular answer fits in between that particular stimulus and that particular task, the easier it will be to differentiate between right and wrong answers.
- The flip side of that last point presents, I believe, a more difficult challenge: you want to avoid being distracted by other thoughts that do not directly relate to that situation at hand.

Please note that in what I'm about to say here, my opinion differs from that of many other very good LSAT prep teachers, so, please use your own judgment and only go with this if you believe in it:

If you are trying to get a top score, it is a mistake to make decisions about right and wrong based on "general tendencies" -- things that are typically true 70 or 80 percent of the time. And of course it’s a mistake to make decisions based on superstitions. Here is a list of such issues:

- 1) worrying a certain letter has shown up too often / too little in the answer choices.
- 2) treating one question type as another. So, for example, treating a Sufficient Assumption question like a Strengthen question because your tutor/book told you that they are similar.
As I discuss a lot in the trainer, a big key to really understanding tasks/issues is recognizing both similarities and differences -- sure S.A. and Strengthen q’s are similar, but they are also different, and, most importantly, the LSAT writers are hyper-hyper careful about wording. If they wanted to ask a Strengthen q they would have asked a Strengthen q.
- 3) looking for characteristics that are tendencies of correct answers, like “soft language” etc. Again, I realize that this is advice that goes against what you will hear/see from a lot of other instructors, but I am a mathematician at heart, and I believe that using such markers is not only unhelpful at high score levels, it can actually be harmful.
To discuss why, let’s imagine that “softer language” (“most likely” instead of “must,” for example) does tend to show up more often in the right answers for a “most supported” question, and, just to push it to an extreme, let’s imagine that 80% of the time the right answer is the one with the “softest” language (I totally made up that stat, btw, and I’m certain it’s absolutely not true) -- if that stat were true, though, does that mean that when you are stuck between two attractive answers to a hard question, you should go with the one with the softer language?
No.
For the main reason why, please see the previous point -- don’t distract yourself with things that do not directly relate to that particular stimulus and task. Focus on that particular stimulus and that particular task and do your best to differentiate right and wrong just based on those two things. Additionally, consider the following: when are questions not likely to follow tendencies? What types of questions will tend to be different from what you expect -- easy ones or hard ones? Very often, hard questions are hard because they defy our expectations -- so, using tendencies to answer them isn’t the best route to take.

Way, way longer than I planned -- sorry about that! -- my fault for answering while drinking too much coffee -- But I hope it was helpful -- please follow up if you had trouble with any of the above, and take care -- Mike


Mike, thank you so much for a detailed response. I can never thank you enough, and it really helps me a lot. Once again, I appreciate you contributing to TLS!

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

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:49 pm

Bully wrote:Hey Mike,

Thanks for continuing to offer support on TLS!

I'm about to finish up the trainer on the 16 week schedule and will be jumping in to more dedicated drilling. My goal is to develop and solidify proper understanding and habits. In order to do this would you recommend placing any type of time restraints? I will probably be working through 1 section at a time from old PT's (1-40), blind reviewing, and re-studying concepts I am having trouble with.


Hi there --

Thanks for the thanks -- I'll be here as long as you all want me here --

And congrats on finishing up the trainer -- I know it's not easy (one person just wrote an amazon review implying that trying to get through the book is making them question going to law school :) ) -- and I hope you feel it was well worth the effort --

In terms of timing during drills, my general advice is to always keep track of time, and always push the pace, but -- until a few weeks before the exam anyway -- don't be beholden to time, and don't make decisions to sacrifice accuracy for time. What I mean more specifically is --

Time yourself for every drill set you do. As you solve questions, try to go as fast as you can while still maintaining the necessary level of accuracy. On those few killer q's that you could spend forever on and still not get right, practice making efficient and effective decisions, so that on test day these q's don't become score-ruining time suckers. And don't be stuck on that 35 minute marker -- don't worry if you are a bit over it now (I promise you will get faster), and especially if you are seeking a 170+ sort of score, keep pushing beyond that mark to try to get faster and faster. And monitor your work throughout -- you want to continue to get faster and more accurate at the same time (as I discuss in the trainer and will discuss more here in just a bit, those should not feel like conflicting goals -- you want to attain those goals in conjunction).

Do not, at this point in your drilling, rush through q's and sacrifice accuracy for pace, or waste time on "time allocation strategies" -- strategies like which q's to skip, starting from the last q instead of first, trying to get through 2 games in 16 mins, etc. -- you can worry about those sorts of things later in your prep, during the phase when you say to yourself "Okay, this is the skill set I'm going into the test with, how can I maximize my performance?" For now however, your focus should be on improving and growing your abilities, and so those things should not factor into how you think about timing -- again, (to beat a dead horse) focus on getting faster and more efficient while continuing to get more accurate (rather than at the sake of sacrificing accuracy).

As you work on the above, I suggest you keep two big principles in mind:

1) The main purpose of your drilling is to strengthen your skill set and develop habits. You are training your brain -- developing muscle memory (I realize that's not the technically correct term here but hopefully you get what I mean) for how to work through certain types of challenges. That's why, as much as possible, you want to solve q's in your training just as you would on the real exam.

If you play sports, I'm sure you understand when I discuss the difference between "practice mode" and "game mode" -- it's a mistake to practice one way and play another way (unless you are Bo Jackson or Allen Iverson) -- in order for your practice to have the most and best impact on your test day performance, you want to use your practice to develop the exact same habits you hope to employ when it counts.

2) Think of working on timing not as "thinking faster" or "reading faster" or anything like that, but rather as getting more efficient -- you get faster by thinking about less, and having the things you focus on be more relevant to your task at hand. The reason why the LSAT is a test where you can really work on getting faster as you get better is because the LSAT is, in large part, a test of your ability to prioritize, and to think about the right things at the right time. The better and better you get at those things, the more accurate you'll become, and also the faster you'll become.

To emphasize this point a bit more -- imagine two types of exams -- both involve looking at a certain painting for 1 minute, and then answering questions about it. One type of exam can be exhaustive -- it can test your ability to take in the picture as a whole, and can test this by asking about random or secondary aspects of it. A second type of exam can test your ability to prioritize -- it can test this by asking advanced questions about the most important parts of the picture.

I think one of the most important things to know about the LSAT is that almost all of it is designed to function like the 2nd of those hypothetical exams, rather than the first. Over and over again, LSAT q's give you clues about exactly what you ought to think about and how you ought to think about it, and rewards those who are able to prioritize and focus in on the most relevant components. Trying to be fast is naturally related to being efficient, and so pushing the pace, again as long as you don't take that to mean taking mental shortcuts -- can help you match the dseign of the LSAT better, by forcing you to practice making decisions about prioritizing.

On the flip side, practicing without a timer can cause you to develop habits that are more exhaustive -- these habits will cause you to take longer on problems, focus more on secondary issues (which will make you more attracted to the wrong answers), and force you to make the wrong types of timing decisions down the line (having to skip certain q's, for example, because your average pace is too slow).

And one of the most dangerous aspects of the above is that it is very, very difficult for any of us to gauge how much we are doing this. For example, imagine you spend longer than you need to and create unnecessarily hypos at the beginning of a game, and this causes you to fixate on certain issues critical to creating the hypos that may not be the issues that were most critical to the test writers. Doing this can also make you think about a game in a more complicated fashion than you need to. When you are done with it and doing your review, you may notice that certain q's were really difficult for you, but it'll be almost impossible for you to gauge whether being overly-exhaustive in your setup is the culprit or not. Similarly, if you don't prioritize correctly in your evaluation of an LR stimulus, you might find yourself attractive to a wrong answer you shouldn't have been -- at that point, it's much easier to judge it as "this is a q with two attractive wrong answers" than it is to see it as "oh, I wouldn't have been attracted to that answer if I didn't overthink that piece of b.g." Since this is so difficult to see, it's tough to know that this is what you have to improve on, and it's also tough to gauge your improvement.

Per the above, it's much, much better to practice in a way that encourages you to develop prioritizing habits, rather than exhaustive habits -- timing yourself and pushing the pace certainly helps with this, and not worrying about timing, as I mentioned above, has the danger of tempting you toward more exhaustive habits.

"I can just not time myself and still try to go fast" you say. Perhaps, but I promise that won't be as effective as actually timing yourself, pushing your pace, and keeping track of your performance.

A few other things to keep in mind:

1) For LR - the majority of this sort of mixed drilling should come after you'd done what you feel is an adequate amount of question-specific drilling, and after you feel you are pretty strong at each type of q -- make sure you get good at each q type first, then get good at mixing your skills together (easiest way to develop correct and effective habits).

2) I think the quality of your review can be something that really gives you a competitive advantage over other test takers (and u may want to take a look at the ends of lessons 7, and 8 and at 37, 39, and 40 for tips on review) -- keep in mind --
-- a lot of your competitors don't review their work at all
-- a lot of your competitors only review q's they miss
-- a lot of your competitors don't keep track of their review, and thus don't fully maximize the cumulative benefit -- each q is a "one-off" and their review moves them forward very little (I highly suggest you use the trainer notebook organizer pages or an equivalent to keep track of your drill review -- I absolutely promise you that you will see patterns, and that seeing these patterns will help you get better faster)
-- a lot of your competitors stop their review at the "recognizing which q types I tend to get right or wrong" level
-- and a lot of your competitors stop their review at the "I understand why the question works the way it does" level -- that is, they know why right is right and wrong is wrong.

If you can get to an even more specific place than that -- if you review in terms of your actions -- the things you did right or wrong in solving a problem, the things you could have or should have done, the things you wasted time doing that ultimately didn't help you solve the q -- and if you keep track of your review, use it to recognize weaknesses, work on those weaknesses, keep track of how much you are improving and so on --

You'll be getting more of your review than the vast majority of other test takers, meaning you'll be able to improve that much easier and faster --

Whew! As always, more than I hoped to write, but unfortunately I don't have the time to edit as much as I'd like -- I hope the above was helpful, and, if you have any follow up or need anything else, please don't hesitate to get in touch -- Mike

lawstudenthopeful727
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby lawstudenthopeful727 » Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:54 am

Hey Mike!

I just completed week 1 of the trainer, as well as taking the PT, and I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how to go about reviewing the PT?


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