Mike's Trainer Thread

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The LSAT Trainer
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:24 pm

lawstudenthopeful727 wrote: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?


Hi! -- Hope you are finding the book useful so far --

As I mentioned in the above post, I think reviewing is an incredibly important part of your study process, and there will be more and more suggestions about review as you go forward in the book. And for most of the pt's that you review, your focus should be on understanding, strategies, (and ultimately) skills, and habits -- however, I think the goals for this first one are a bit different, and I think there are two factors to keep in mind --
1) At the beginning of your prep, you don't have as strong as sense as to what constitutes right and wrong, and you don't have as good a gauge for effective vs ineffective strategies. Evaluating your performance with such limitations put on you makes it much, much tougher for you to see things accuracy, and to focus on the right issues. Later on in your prep, when you have a very clear understanding of what determines right and wrong, and when you have a strong enough sense of possible strategies and such that you are in a position to accurately think about what strategies are most effective for you and why, that's when you can really utilize your review to carefully evaluate strategies and skills and habits --
2) A practical note -- per the trainer schedule, the q's you do as part of your first pt will also show up again as part of your first drill sets -- these drill sets will come after specific instruction that relates to those particular q's, and so at that point you will be much better equipped to be a smart reviewer --

So, add those two things up, and my point is to think about your review of this first test a bit differently than you would other pt's -- keep in mind you will be better able to assess yourself in just a bit, and you'll have more chances (in the drills) to review these very same q's --

Per all the above, I think the best thing to focus on in your review of this PT are the things you found most challenging -- what questions, or games, or passages, or parts of questions, answers, etc. did you struggle with the most? Though at this point you're not in a perfect position (yet) to understand exactly what caused these challenges, or how to best address them, you are still in a perfect position to assess where challenges do exist, and how they feel ("I had no idea how to pick between these two answers" for example).

Keep a record of your experience -- the trainer notebook tools can be useful for this but you can use whatever you'd like --

Then, when you try these q's again in your drills (and again and again, for the ones you feel necessary) -- compare your experience with your notes --

It'll be incredibly satisfying when you come to recognize that you have no problem with some issue that completely flummoxed you earlier, and if you miss the same exact problem for the same exact reason the second time around, that'll be enlightening too. Even just comparing how you wrote about q's -- what issues you focused on for example -- can be helpful --

Most students do not recognize/extract the full cumulative benefit of review -- again, I recommend using this first PT mainly as something against which you can compare your other experiences going forward, so that it'll help you see what you are getting better at, what you are not, and how your thinking is evolving --

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

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:15 pm

Hi everyone -- this thread was getting a bit unwieldy, so I created a table of contents with links to responses for some of the more commonly asked questions -- hope you all find it useful -- mk

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Sgt Brody. » Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:34 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:Hi everyone -- this thread was getting a bit unwieldy, so I created a table of contents with links to responses for some of the more commonly asked questions -- hope you all find it useful -- mk


Hey Mike! love the organization of contents, and its certainly makes the thread so much better, it now even looks like a ebook and its pretty cool.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Motivator9 » Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:56 pm

hey Mike, I started the Trainer last week and it's been great so far. I had a question about one of the questions for drill two in Chapter 7, the questions that we are to do in PT 53. It's PT 53, S 3, Q 20. Although I got this question right, my reasoning was off. When looking for the flaw in the argument, I thought the author was equating chemical machine with chemical reaction. I thought it was on of those subject flaws that were discussed in chapter 7. However, from reading some explanations, many people went ahead and equated the two, as well as equating temperature dependent with can control its body temperature. In essence, I am having a hard time spotting the right flaw in the argument. At times, I am too strict with the terms in the premises even when it is okay to equate two terms that are related such as the chemical machine and chemical reaction. What is your take on this issue?

Thank you very much for all of the knowledge that you have provided through this thread.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:42 pm

Motivator9 wrote:hey Mike, I started the Trainer last week and it's been great so far. I had a question about one of the questions for drill two in Chapter 7, the questions that we are to do in PT 53. It's PT 53, S 3, Q 20. Although I got this question right, my reasoning was off. When looking for the flaw in the argument, I thought the author was equating chemical machine with chemical reaction. I thought it was on of those subject flaws that were discussed in chapter 7. However, from reading some explanations, many people went ahead and equated the two, as well as equating temperature dependent with can control its body temperature. In essence, I am having a hard time spotting the right flaw in the argument. At times, I am too strict with the terms in the premises even when it is okay to equate two terms that are related such as the chemical machine and chemical reaction. What is your take on this issue?

Thank you very much for all of the knowledge that you have provided through this thread.


Hi there -- glad to hear that you are liking the trainer so far, and happy to help out --

I can definitely see why you'd focus in on chemical machine vs chemical reactions, and if this were a different question that might most definitely be the key issue.

If I can read into your message just a bit extra, my guess is that the key step that was missing for you was that -- before you looked for the flaw or problem -- you did not focus in enough on the exact argument being made. ID the conclusion, ID the support, zero in on that, then see what's wrong -- in this case, the big thing that jumps out is that the conclusion is about development of brains and intelligence, and the support doesn't mention anything about that. That's the giant gap that needs to be bridged.

It's really, really hard to figure out where to draw the line in terms of language -- I think that if you are at a high level, much of getting better at reading this test is a matter of getting better and better at making hard decisions on such subtle language issues -- I do also think that many, many times, the language issues can be a distraction, and often the toughest statements to read and understand etc. are not the ones most central to the task at hand. Hopefully the rest of the book will offer more specific help with various language issues, but I also think that, per the above example, knowing what to prioritize (in this case issues between argument and conclusion) will help you focus on the language issues that are most relevant, and also help you make the right decisions on those issues.

HTH -- reach out if you need anything else -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Jmazz88 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:07 am

Hi everyone. I'm a first time LSAT taker and am contemplating solely using this, along with the PT's, to prep for June (12 week schedule). Do you guys think this will be viable? Or should I use this in conjunction with another book such as PS or Manhattan (as previously mentioned in this thread). After reading some of the chapters online, along with the reviews on this site, this seems to be an amazing resource. Thanks!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby calbear15 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 6:59 am

Question for mike/anyone who has the LSAT trainer. On the uncertain groups drill on page 163, I have the following questions:

For the first drill, why are there two dashes for the 5th dish (why can't the fifth dish have F, H, and J?)

For the third drill, why is there a dash for the 4th dish (why can't the fourth dish have all four ingredients?)

And for the fourth drill, I don't get why dish two is limited to only one possible ingredient (why can't dish 1 have G; dish 2 have F and J, dish 3 have F, J, and H; dish 4 have at least G, and dish 5 have at least G?)

Sorry if these questions are painstakingly obvious, but thanks in advance to anyone for the help!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:33 pm

calbear15 wrote:Question for mike/anyone who has the LSAT trainer. On the uncertain groups drill on page 163, I have the following questions:

For the first drill, why are there two dashes for the 5th dish (why can't the fifth dish have F, H, and J?)

For the third drill, why is there a dash for the 4th dish (why can't the fourth dish have all four ingredients?)

And for the fourth drill, I don't get why dish two is limited to only one possible ingredient (why can't dish 1 have G; dish 2 have F and J, dish 3 have F, J, and H; dish 4 have at least G, and dish 5 have at least G?)

Sorry if these questions are painstakingly obvious, but thanks in advance to anyone for the help!


Hi Calbear15 --

I think you have an old version of the book -- I'll pm you -- MK
Last edited by The LSAT Trainer on Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:48 pm

Jmazz88 wrote:Hi everyone. I'm a first time LSAT taker and am contemplating solely using this, along with the PT's, to prep for June (12 week schedule). Do you guys think this will be viable? Or should I use this in conjunction with another book such as PS or Manhattan (as previously mentioned in this thread). After reading some of the chapters online, along with the reviews on this site, this seems to be an amazing resource. Thanks!


Hi there -- I know this q wasn't directed at me but I thought you wouldn't mind if I chime in --

As I'll also mention in the trainer, I suggest you think of the trainer schedule as a starting point, but that you should expect to adapt it to your own situation. Every student has different things they need to do, to differing degrees, in order to get better, and a big key to your success will be how efficiently you can utilize your study time (how much you can get better per hour invested) -- some parts, I may assign more than you need to do because you already feel mastery, and other parts you are going to struggle and need to slow down, reread the chapter, do extra drill q's, etc. -- again, I encourage you to expect that going in, and I encourage you to work on getting better and better at knowing how to adapt things to fit your needs best, so that a bit into the study process you are a studying machine (I guarantee you the stronger connection between hours put in & improvement made, the more motivation you'll have to keep working harder and harder) --

Having said all that, I think it may be a good idea for you to start with the 8 week schedule, and just the trainer and pt's -- as you get deeper into the book, you may find that you need a different perspective on LG or LR, and at that point you can change things up so you can incorporate additional tools as necessary. Or you may find that the trainer gives you all the understanding and strategies you need, and that the key to your success is just more and more drilling/pt'ing, and starting with the 8 week schedule should make it so that, if this turns out to be the case, you'll have plenty of time on the back end to get that other work in. Set goals and monitor your work and progress, but also remain flexible about your plans -- I promise your understanding of this test and how to get better at it will be totally different a month from now than it is today --

Hope that helps and good luck! If you need anything else just let me know -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby tangelo » Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:50 am

Dumb question, but, where is the trainer? I mean, there's links in the OP to other questions about something called a trainer, but I don't see a trainer or even know what program everyone is talking about. How do I find this program? Thanks.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Cambridge LSAT » Sat Mar 08, 2014 12:47 pm

Here's the book link:
The LSAT Trainer

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sat Mar 08, 2014 1:46 pm

tangelo wrote:Dumb question, but, where is the trainer? I mean, there's links in the OP to other questions about something called a trainer, but I don't see a trainer or even know what program everyone is talking about. How do I find this program? Thanks.


Hi there -- Cambridge posted a link to the book above, but if you want more info about it you can also check out my website -- http://www.thelsattrainer.com/ -- it's got 8 free chapters (1/5 of the book), study schedules, organizers, etc. -- good luck with your prep, and reach out if you need me -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby tangelo » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:31 am

Cambridge LSAT wrote:Here's the book link:
The LSAT Trainer


How interesting, that's the book I was looking at the other day while at a Barnes & Noble in west Los Angeles. Maybe it's fate.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Cambridge LSAT » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:51 am

Wow, I didn't realize the book had made its way into brick-and-mortar stores as well. Well done Mike!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby tangelo » Sun Mar 09, 2014 5:18 pm

Cambridge LSAT wrote:Wow, I didn't realize the book had made its way into brick-and-mortar stores as well. Well done Mike!


It was most definitely on the shelf. It was right next to the one I ended up getting, the "official superprep" which I was told was the standard, but yeah, I was definitely giving Mike's a thorough look-over and was on the fence.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:02 pm

Cambridge LSAT wrote:Wow, I didn't realize the book had made its way into brick-and-mortar stores as well. Well done Mike!


Thanks Morley -- appreciate the support -- it wasn't easy! -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:17 pm

mornincounselor wrote:Mike: I'm reading through your book slowly, carefully, according to the 8 week schedule, and with the goal of developing skills and identifying a solid foundation of habits as part of my preparation schedule for the September 2014 LSAT.

I have a specific question based on the matching double-dip drill from pages 93-94.

I connected "In order to build a desk…" and "Most successful financial advisors…" noting that they "mistake necessary for sufficient"

I connected "A successful business must…" and "Prosperous towns almost always…" noting they "overvalue factors; one factor /= Guarantee"

Can you speak briefly about the difference between the two and maybe give an opinion on why I messed it up and how I can better differentiate the two in the future.

Thanks so much.


Hi there! --

I think "reading through your book slowly, carefully" is probably my favorite thing to hear (professionally speaking, of course) in the world -- thanks for putting your faith in the book and hope you are finding it helpful so far --

I do think you should know that all of the arguments in this exercise are somewhat alike, and the point of it is to practice looking for more subtle distinctions -- you are essentially practicing looking for subgroups within a subgroup -- so, know that, understandably, a lot of other students have found these double-dip exercises pretty challenging.

The LSAT test writers make a big distinction between things that are sometimes true, things that are mostly true, and things that are absolutely true. I'll talk about this more as the book progresses, and you'll get plenty more chances to work on these issues. Specifically, conditional logic (necessary and sufficient, etc.) only has to do with guarantees -- things that must be.

I think this is the distinction that perhaps tripped you up. Notice both the desk and business examples include absolutes (needs, must have), whereas the advisors and towns examples represent tendencies (most, almost always).

HTH -- please don't hesitate to follow up if you need anything else -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby WaltGrace83 » Tue Mar 11, 2014 6:47 pm

Mike,

I have started your chapters on RC within the last few days and I am enjoying them a lot. I feel that I was wayyyyy too bogged down with details before and thinking in terms of reasoning structure seems much more beneficial. However, I am obsessed with review and gleaning every last possible detail I can out of the work that I have done to learn the most I can. I feel that for LR and LG this is easy! I treat LG like learning how to shoot free throws. I do them over and over and over again, trying to understand why the inferences work the way they do and why certain setups are conducive to certain question types. For LR, I go over my thought process and resolve the problem with unlimited time. I write up explanations if I feel it will help and I explain every answer choice to myself. For RC though, I feel like the more that I continue to look over the passage, the more I remember the details which makes the question easier. This is different from LR because LR is not as much about the details as it is about the LOGIC. In RC, there is little (usually no) logic to analyze! Everything is right there in front of you! I saw your thread about how to review RC, which was helpful for reading the passage. Yet i feel like I need more direction in terms of the questions too. Should I figure out why answer choices are wrong/right just like in LR? Should I make a passage map and a scale?

Maybe I am just a little anxious because I have only done a few RC passages, I dunno.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby rebexness » Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:22 pm

tangelo wrote:
Cambridge LSAT wrote:Here's the book link:
The LSAT Trainer


How interesting, that's the book I was looking at the other day while at a Barnes & Noble in west Los Angeles. Maybe it's fate.


Definitely go back and get it.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby chrisnlis » Tue Mar 11, 2014 9:12 pm

Mike~

I just ordered this book because "Cracking" by Princeton is confusing the heck out of me. I'm hoping to get better-structured explanations for most everything :)

I have 3 months (and a week) left and was planning to devote at least 5 or 6 hours a day M-F, but more if necessary, so is there a 12-week plan that incorporates all of the 16-week plan material? I'm not worried about burnout; the Master's did that years ago. I'm actually finding this studying fun (when the explanations make sense).

I would like to cover as much as possible. I have all of the PTs, with all the newest ones in 5-section format.

Thanks!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby roranoa » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:49 am

Hi Mike,

I've been studying for quite a while now and my most recent score is 168. (this was my second test)

I'm going to give myself one last shot. I'm good at games and ok with LR. I'll miss a maximum of 4 or 5 for both LR's. RC is my problem. It really depends on the test but I'll miss from 1 (on a good day) to 7 questions. So yeah, very shaky on RC.

How much studying do you think would be adequate for a day? What kind of schedule should I use?

p.s: just in case you were wondering, yes, I bought your book! But I can't seem to cut back on time with RC when I get boggled down with ambiguous answer choices.
Last edited by roranoa on Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:57 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:25 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:Mike,

I have started your chapters on RC within the last few days and I am enjoying them a lot. I feel that I was wayyyyy too bogged down with details before and thinking in terms of reasoning structure seems much more beneficial. However, I am obsessed with review and gleaning every last possible detail I can out of the work that I have done to learn the most I can. I feel that for LR and LG this is easy! I treat LG like learning how to shoot free throws. I do them over and over and over again, trying to understand why the inferences work the way they do and why certain setups are conducive to certain question types. For LR, I go over my thought process and resolve the problem with unlimited time. I write up explanations if I feel it will help and I explain every answer choice to myself. For RC though, I feel like the more that I continue to look over the passage, the more I remember the details which makes the question easier. This is different from LR because LR is not as much about the details as it is about the LOGIC. In RC, there is little (usually no) logic to analyze! Everything is right there in front of you! I saw your thread about how to review RC, which was helpful for reading the passage. Yet i feel like I need more direction in terms of the questions too. Should I figure out why answer choices are wrong/right just like in LR? Should I make a passage map and a scale?

Maybe I am just a little anxious because I have only done a few RC passages, I dunno.


Hey --

You are right that it's much tougher to analyze your RC performance than it is your LG or LR, and it can also be very tough to translate what you figure out in your review into performance.

I think one of the big challenges is that the symptoms don't clearly indicate the issues. You typically know you're in trouble at the point of the question stem ("WTF - did I read the right passage?") or as you are going through the answer choices (none of them seem attractive, can't see reasons to eliminate, can't figure what to do -- when to go back into the text, what you ought to look for, where, etc.). These symptoms can mean that you misread the passage, or that you don't understand the question, or that you haven't developed effective elimination habits, or that the answer choices themselves are tough, and so on. Again, it's very, very tough, just looking at the symptoms, to figure out where/why things went wrong.

I think you can think of all that goes into getting an RC q correct as falling into four general categories:

1) how well you read the passage

2) how well you understand the question stem

3) how you choose to answer the question -- specifically, how much prephrasing you do, when you choose to go back to the text, and so on.

4) your ability to evaluate answers - how easily you are able to understand what they mean, and how well you are able to prioritize the aspects of them most relevant to the task at hand.

So, my suggestion to you is to try and evaluate q's you do on these 4 terms, and more specifically, to perhaps try some exercises that help you isolate these skills, so that you can more accurately assess them and work on them.

Keep in mind that there will be much more specific instruction about the different types of RC questions, and how you should approach them, in the second swatch of RC lessons -- if you can't wait to get into full drilling and review, you may want to get through those other RC lessons fairly soon --

In the first swatch of RC lessons I focus mainly on reading for structure for the same reason I focus on argument eval for LR and diagramming for LG -- because it's the key skill that impacts how you look at all your other tasks.

To give an extreme example, imagine you started studying RC by studying the different question types. It might seem the answers discuss countless different things, and it's totally unpredictable what part of the passage you may need -- and so you get the false impression that you've got to do what you can to absorb every possible detail in the passage. You come up with an intricate notation system involving underlining, brackets, abbreviations, etc., then begin to gauge your improvement at RC based on how well you are able to make these annotations. This would be an example of a really inefficient way to prepare.

So for now, if you want to follow along with the trainer, what you most want to focus on is evaluating the first of the four issues mentioned above -- how well you read the passage. After the next swatch, focus more on the other three issues, and you should be able to see how being really good at #1 makes the rest of your work much easier.

One exercise that I think can be really helpful at this stage (that is, after the first swatch of RC lessons) is to try answering all q's for a passage without looking back at the text at all (this is a great exercise to do to reuse passages you've already tried before). Read the passage, make sure you understand the structure of it the best you can, then cover it up (or whatever else) and try to answer all of the questions the best you can without being able to look back and confirm.

I think the above exercise, which forces you to depend more on your initial read and understanding, can help strengthen your ability to prioritize and retain the structure of the passage. You'll naturally start being super careful about reviewing the structure before going into the q's, etc., and these are good habits to develop.

It'll also help you see just how pervasive an influence a big picture structural understanding has on all types of questions -- obviously, without being able to look back at the passage, you probably shouldn't expect yourself to get every single question right, but you should still expect to get a majority correct (!).

If you first get really, really good at using a strong initial read to do what you can with questions, then add on top of that question-specific skills and habits, such as knowing when and how to go back to check details in an answer against the text-I think you'll be golden.

Sorry for the long response -- summary --

1) think of issues as having to do with read, q stem, q approach, or answer choices
2) key to success is being able to accurately assess in terms of each of these issues / work on all of them
3) first swatch of trainer rc lessons mostly about read
4) i recommend read/no go back drilling after first swatch
5) second swatch of trainer rc mostly about q strategy -- move ahead if not having that info is pushing you back
6) do most of your drilling after that second rc swatch

HTH -- as always, please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any follow up or need anything else -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:30 pm

chrisnlis wrote:Mike~

I just ordered this book because "Cracking" by Princeton is confusing the heck out of me. I'm hoping to get better-structured explanations for most everything :)

I have 3 months (and a week) left and was planning to devote at least 5 or 6 hours a day M-F, but more if necessary, so is there a 12-week plan that incorporates all of the 16-week plan material? I'm not worried about burnout; the Master's did that years ago. I'm actually finding this studying fun (when the explanations make sense).

I would like to cover as much as possible. I have all of the PTs, with all the newest ones in 5-section format.

Thanks!


Hi there --

Which of the 16 week schedules were you thinking of using?

In any case, one thing to look out for is that you don't want to assign yourself so much work that you don't have any flexibility -- you'll find, as you get deeper into your studies, that you may be able to get through certain things faster than planned, and that you may need to slow down and work a bit more in certain areas (maybe you'll want to pick up an additional study guide, or do more drill work on a certain game type) -- don't be afraid to adapt the schedule to your needs, and make sure you allow yourself enough flexibility to do so.

Having said all of the above, what I recommend is that you either start with the eight week schedule, or, if that doesn't provide enough work for you, take one of the 16 week schedules and "double up" so that you are doing two weeks worth of assigned work each week. This will help you convert any 16 week schedule into an eight week one.

By going into your prep with an eight week schedule, knowing you actually have 12 weeks to study, I think you make it easy on yourself to adapt things when you need to without worrying about screwing things up/fitting everything in. If you do happen to finish all the assigned work in 8 weeks, I promise at that point you won't mind having an additional 4 weeks to continue pt'ing, drilling, and reviewing.

Hope that all makes sense. If you need anything else, you can get in touch with me here or through pm -- thanks for trusting in the book and good luck -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby WaltGrace83 » Wed Mar 12, 2014 3:51 pm

Thanks! I'll probably read the RC swatches back to back. Do you think it is beneficial to write out a passage map and a scale?


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