Mike's Trainer Thread

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The LSAT Trainer
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:58 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote: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?


hey -- my answer is maybe yes, maybe no, and i'll expand on that in just a bit when I have a little more time, but in the meantime, it'd be helpful for me to know -- what are the main benefits you see of doing that work?

mk

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:34 pm

roranoa wrote: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.


Hi Roranoa --

Congrats on the 168 (I know u wanted higher but most people would be absolutely thrilled w/that score and u should be proud of it) and good luck on the retake -- I know you know I can't really put a number on how many more prep hours you need --

One big difference between LR and LG vs RC is that for LR and LG you are building up skills for relatively new challenges, whereas for RC you are more adapting skills that you already have to meet the specific challenges of this exam.

To put it a different way -- you read all day every day, and you have for years and years and years -- you are not going to make a big dent in your overall reading ability by preparing for the LSAT -- your RC prep is much more about shaping how you read to fit the situation at hand.

The two areas I recommend you really focus on, and design all your RC prep around, are self-awareness and habits.

Self-awareness is not necessary to perform at a high level -- people get top scores all the time without really knowing or being able to explain how they did it. However, self-awareness is an essential ingredient for getting better, and it makes perfectly logical sense why -- you need that awareness to know what you need to spend time on and what you need to change.

Self-awareness requires several key components -- make sure you are accounting for all of these issues

1) A true and correct understanding of the test --

I know this is not self-awareness but actually test-awareness, but you cannot gauge your own aptitude and preparedness if you don't understand the rules of the game. Obviously the trainer is meant to help with this, but some additional thoughts --

Two things to focus on at this stage in your prep to aid in your understanding are 1) the connection between what the test writers expect you to understand/prioritize/take away from the text and the types of q's and right answers they give you, and 2) the wrong habits and reading mistakes and such that the test writers punish with the wrong answer choices.

Here's a simple but sneaky math problem to illustrate (sorry to bring in math) --

A car races two continuous laps around a circular track. It averages 40 mph the first lap, and 60 the second. What was the car's average speed for the two laps?
(A) 100
(B) 10
(C) 50
(D) 48
(E) It cannot be determined

The correct answer here is (D). I won't go into a long explanation of why (love to leave you a bit frustrated) but the main thing I want to emphasize is that the wrong choices are built off of mistakes the question writer (me) expects people to make -- 100 if you just add the two together, 10 if you subtract the numbers then divide by 2, 50 (the most tempting answer) if you take a simple average of those terms, or (E) if you expect/think that you need to be given a distance to make this determination.

It is possible to understand LSAT RC almost to that exact level, where a right answer, especially to general q's, indicates correct ways of thinking, and the wrong answers indicate flawed ways of thinking.

You mention that you often get stuck between two answers. Know that this is typically not a cause of your troubles, but rather a symptom of your troubles -- the key is not to get better and better when stuck between two, but rather to continue to put yourself in a better and better position to evaluate the answers in the first place.

2) A clear and correct sense for when you do things right --

For obvious reasons, we tend to not focus as much on the passages we find easier or are able to get through more quickly, but these passages, especially the harder or more unusual ones, are the best gauges of when our approach best matches the task given. Make sure you work to develop a very strong exact of your ideal methods, and again strong performances can be a good gauge of that.

3) A clear and correct sense of why you run into trouble --

Again, it could be that the answer choices are causing you the most trouble (in which case you have plenty of time to gain true mastery over how they write them, etc.) but as I mentioned most of the time you getting stuck on answers is likely a symptom, rather than a cause. #3 where students (naturally) place the greatest emphasis, but #'s 1 & 2 are necessary for being able to do this part well. Try your best to tie challenges you have into your original read -- your understanding and what you paid attention to -- and try to take away from review ideas about how you should adapt your reading style. In particular, try to see how wrong answers, especially the most tempting ones, clue you in on the wrong things to do/wrong ways to read the text/etc.

At this stage in your prep, I'm imagining you have most of the understanding you are ever going to need, and most of the strategies you are ever going to need -- the key to how well you perform will be how well you fine tune your habits.

Imagine that you are a casual golfer and you've been golfing your entire life. You play regularly and you've been at about the same level for several years.

Now you decide you want to really work on your game and try to improve. The best way to go about it would not be to just go out there and play more and more golf -- there is a quote by Warren Buffett, "The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken" and that's absolutely true of the types of habits you build playing golf for years and years (and playing even more golf will simply reinforce these habits). A better way to try to improve would be to isolate specific skills, try to fine tune them to fit your growing understanding of the game and what works best for you, try to form new habits, and carefully fold these specific actions into your overall game.

Relating this back to the LSAT, my sense, from your comment about your scores being inconsistent and from some of our previous exchanges, is that you are naturally a very strong reader, and you are still overly reliant on your general reading habits -- you have not developed habits that are specific enough to the LSAT. I could be wrong (and you'd know this better than I) but if you think this is the case, I suggest you not think about your RC prep in terms of getting in a certain of volume of work, but rather in terms of figuring out what parts of your process need fine tuning, and figuring out ways (drills and such -- I mentioned an example of such an exercise to WaltGrace above and there are plenty more suggestions in the trainer) to carefully change your specific habits, and to carefully fold these changes into your general process. Set your schedule based on actionable steps and consequences (I need to spend this week getting much better at understanding each of the different q types and working off of them correctly, for example) rather than a certain number of hours, and I think you'll see a closer connection between the work you put in and your results.

Whew! As often happens, I've run long -- I have got to stop writing these while drinking so much coffee -- I hope the points weren't lost in all that verbiage, and I hope u find some of the above useful -- as always, please keep me updated and reach out along the way if you need anything else -- MK
Last edited by The LSAT Trainer on Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:45 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
WaltGrace83 wrote: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?


hey -- my answer is maybe yes, maybe no, and i'll expand on that in just a bit when I have a little more time, but in the meantime, it'd be helpful for me to know -- what are the main benefits you see of doing that work?

mk


I was hoping/expecting to hear an interesting response from you on this -- but I've come back b4 u -- oh well --

I think that the above exercises can be helpful in terms of understanding LSAT RC. Specifically, I think you can use the above exercises to deepen your understanding of passage structure, to gauge how well you understood a particular passage, and to deepen your understanding of how passages connect to questions. All of that is very useful, especially toward the beginning of your RC prep, so if you find the exercises helping in those ways, definitely go for it.

I don't think it's necessarily a good thing to build into your review of every passage, and, more specifically, I don't think it's necessarily a good step to build in before you review the answer choices. You want to use your review partly to assess how your particular reading method for that passage happened to match up with the questions that were asked, and deconstructing the passage before thinking about the questions will invariably skew your view of that connection.

To me, if we are thinking about passage map/scale in the same way (I came up with the scale concept for Manhattan, and I imagine that is what you are referencing) -- doing such work is roughly the equivalent of doing an exercise where you write out in detail all of the possibilities for a Logic Game based on the rules that were given. Such an exercise can help you understand Logic Games better, and it can help you assess how correct you are in your understanding and steps -- if you are able to correctly come up with all possibilities, it's a good sign you know how to handle the rules well. And, you can compare your results to the questions to help get an improved sense for how the initial information given relates to the tasks the questions present.

However, I think you'd agree that making such an exhaustive list wouldn't necessarily be a great gauge of real-time performance, and making such an exhaustive list in the middle of your review (between reviewing set up and q's) would negatively impact your ability to assess the relationship between your set up and your experience with the questions. Being good at LG is less about being exhaustive and more about knowing what to think about (and how) under time pressure, and the same can be said about RC.

So, yes, creating maps and scales and such can definitely be helpful during review -- my advice is just to make sure you use them and to think about them in the proper context, and that you don't mess up your review of our own actions (I imagine you wouldn't anyway, even if I didn't mention it) by doing such work at the wrong moment in your review process --

HTH -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby WaltGrace83 » Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:28 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
WaltGrace83 wrote: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?


hey -- my answer is maybe yes, maybe no, and i'll expand on that in just a bit when I have a little more time, but in the meantime, it'd be helpful for me to know -- what are the main benefits you see of doing that work?

mk


I was hoping/expecting to hear an interesting response from you on this -- but I've come back b4 u -- oh well --

I think that the above exercises can be helpful in terms of understanding LSAT RC. Specifically, I think you can use the above exercises to deepen your understanding of passage structure, to gauge how well you understood a particular passage, and to deepen your understanding of how passages connect to questions. All of that is very useful, especially toward the beginning of your RC prep, so if you find the exercises helping in those ways, definitely go for it.

I don't think it's necessarily a good thing to build into your review of every passage, and, more specifically, I don't think it's necessarily a good step to build in before you review the answer choices. You want to use your review partly to assess how your particular reading method for that passage happened to match up with the questions that were asked, and deconstructing the passage before thinking about the questions will invariably skew your view of that connection.

To me, if we are thinking about passage map/scale in the same way (I came up with the scale concept for Manhattan, and I imagine that is what you are referencing) -- doing such work is roughly the equivalent of doing an exercise where you write out in detail all of the possibilities for a Logic Game based on the rules that were given. Such an exercise can help you understand Logic Games better, and it can help you assess how correct you are in your understanding and steps -- if you are able to correctly come up with all possibilities, it's a good sign you know how to handle the rules well. And, you can compare your results to the questions to help get an improved sense for how the initial information given relates to the tasks the questions present.

However, I think you'd agree that making such an exhaustive list wouldn't necessarily be a great gauge of real-time performance, and making such an exhaustive list in the middle of your review (between reviewing set up and q's) would negatively impact your ability to assess the relationship between your set up and your experience with the questions. Being good at LG is less about being exhaustive and more about knowing what to think about (and how) under time pressure, and the same can be said about RC.

So, yes, creating maps and scales and such can definitely be helpful during review -- my advice is just to make sure you use them and to think about them in the proper context, and that you don't mess up your review of our own actions (I imagine you wouldn't anyway, even if I didn't mention it) by doing such work at the wrong moment in your review process --

HTH -- MK


Thanks for the feedback. That does in fact help a lot. So I guess then a more beneficial review strategy would be to compare the thought process to the actual questions in addition to comparing my interpretations of the main points to the questions?

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby roranoa » Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:44 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Here's a simple but sneaky math problem to illustrate (sorry to bring in math) --

A man goes to work at 40 mph, and returns home at 60 mph. What was his average rate for the entire trip?
(A) 100
(B) 10
(C) 50
(D) 48
(E) It cannot be determined

The correct answer here is (D). I won't go into a long explanation of why (love to leave you a bit frustrated) but the main thing I want to emphasize is that the wrong choices are built off of mistakes the question writer (me) expects people to make -- 100 if you just add the two together, 10 if you subtract the numbers then divide by 2, 50 (the most tempting answer) if you take a simple average of those terms, or (E) if you expect/think that you need to be given a distance to make this determination.

It is possible to understand LSAT RC almost to that exact level, where a right answer, especially to general q's, indicates correct ways of thinking, and the wrong answers indicate flawed ways of thinking.

You mention that you often get stuck between two answers. Know that this is typically not a cause of your troubles, but rather a symptom of your troubles -- the key is not to get better and better when stuck between two, but rather to continue to put yourself in a better and better position to evaluate the answers in the first place.

Thanks for the great feedback Mike!

I'm offended that you assumed I might get frustrated by that elementary math problem lol.

Answer is D b/c (assuming the man in the question didn't make a detour), if the distance is X then the total time it took from and to home is X/60+X/40 and the total distance is 2X, then the average rate is 2X/(X/60+X/40)=48. I'm Asian. So I learned this when I was 10.

Anyway, I have a follow up question. What do you mean by "the key is ... to continue to put yourself in a better and better position to evaluate the answers in the first place." Do you mean what you're saying about developing better habits by this?

A short answer would be fine Mike. I feel bad you're using so much time on my question :)

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:50 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
WaltGrace83 wrote: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?


hey -- my answer is maybe yes, maybe no, and i'll expand on that in just a bit when I have a little more time, but in the meantime, it'd be helpful for me to know -- what are the main benefits you see of doing that work?

mk


I was hoping/expecting to hear an interesting response from you on this -- but I've come back b4 u -- oh well --

I think that the above exercises can be helpful in terms of understanding LSAT RC. Specifically, I think you can use the above exercises to deepen your understanding of passage structure, to gauge how well you understood a particular passage, and to deepen your understanding of how passages connect to questions. All of that is very useful, especially toward the beginning of your RC prep, so if you find the exercises helping in those ways, definitely go for it.

I don't think it's necessarily a good thing to build into your review of every passage, and, more specifically, I don't think it's necessarily a good step to build in before you review the answer choices. You want to use your review partly to assess how your particular reading method for that passage happened to match up with the questions that were asked, and deconstructing the passage before thinking about the questions will invariably skew your view of that connection.

To me, if we are thinking about passage map/scale in the same way (I came up with the scale concept for Manhattan, and I imagine that is what you are referencing) -- doing such work is roughly the equivalent of doing an exercise where you write out in detail all of the possibilities for a Logic Game based on the rules that were given. Such an exercise can help you understand Logic Games better, and it can help you assess how correct you are in your understanding and steps -- if you are able to correctly come up with all possibilities, it's a good sign you know how to handle the rules well. And, you can compare your results to the questions to help get an improved sense for how the initial information given relates to the tasks the questions present.

However, I think you'd agree that making such an exhaustive list wouldn't necessarily be a great gauge of real-time performance, and making such an exhaustive list in the middle of your review (between reviewing set up and q's) would negatively impact your ability to assess the relationship between your set up and your experience with the questions. Being good at LG is less about being exhaustive and more about knowing what to think about (and how) under time pressure, and the same can be said about RC.

So, yes, creating maps and scales and such can definitely be helpful during review -- my advice is just to make sure you use them and to think about them in the proper context, and that you don't mess up your review of our own actions (I imagine you wouldn't anyway, even if I didn't mention it) by doing such work at the wrong moment in your review process --

HTH -- MK


Thanks for the feedback. That does in fact help a lot. So I guess then a more beneficial review strategy would be to compare the thought process to the actual questions in addition to comparing my interpretations of the main points to the questions?


Absolutely, and, hopefully, as you deeper into your studies, those two things (thought process and understanding of main points) will overlap more and more.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:08 pm

roranoa wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Here's a simple but sneaky math problem to illustrate (sorry to bring in math) --

A man goes to work at 40 mph, and returns home at 60 mph. What was his average rate for the entire trip?
(A) 100
(B) 10
(C) 50
(D) 48
(E) It cannot be determined

The correct answer here is (D). I won't go into a long explanation of why (love to leave you a bit frustrated) but the main thing I want to emphasize is that the wrong choices are built off of mistakes the question writer (me) expects people to make -- 100 if you just add the two together, 10 if you subtract the numbers then divide by 2, 50 (the most tempting answer) if you take a simple average of those terms, or (E) if you expect/think that you need to be given a distance to make this determination.

It is possible to understand LSAT RC almost to that exact level, where a right answer, especially to general q's, indicates correct ways of thinking, and the wrong answers indicate flawed ways of thinking.

You mention that you often get stuck between two answers. Know that this is typically not a cause of your troubles, but rather a symptom of your troubles -- the key is not to get better and better when stuck between two, but rather to continue to put yourself in a better and better position to evaluate the answers in the first place.

Thanks for the great feedback Mike!

I'm offended that you assumed I might get frustrated by that elementary math problem lol.

Answer is D b/c (assuming the man in the question didn't make a detour), if the distance is X then the total time it took from and to home is X/60+X/40 and the total distance is 2X, then the average rate is 2X/(X/60+X/40)=48. I'm Asian. So I learned this when I was 10.

Anyway, I have a follow up question. What do you mean by "the key is ... to continue to put yourself in a better and better position to evaluate the answers in the first place." Do you mean what you're saying about developing better habits by this?

A short answer would be fine Mike. I feel bad you're using so much time on my question :)


Look at us two Asians doing math problems together on a law forum. Good thing we don't fit stereotypes or anything like that --

All I mean is that if you run into trouble on an RC answer, it could be because the answer choice itself is actually quite difficult, but most of time the difficulty arises from the fact that there was something off in the way you read the passage or understood the task in the question stem, or the way in which you are approached the q in the first place-- that is, for most of these situations, you if, before you looked at that answer, you had a better understanding of the passage, a better understanding of the q stem task, and stronger problem-solving habits, they wouldn't have caused you as much trouble to begin with. Hope that clears it up, but please don't hesitate to follow up if it doesn't.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Straw_Mandible » Mon Mar 17, 2014 2:11 pm

roranoa wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Here's a simple but sneaky math problem to illustrate (sorry to bring in math) --

A man goes to work at 40 mph, and returns home at 60 mph. What was his average rate for the entire trip?
(A) 100
(B) 10
(C) 50
(D) 48
(E) It cannot be determined

The correct answer here is (D). I won't go into a long explanation of why (love to leave you a bit frustrated) but the main thing I want to emphasize is that the wrong choices are built off of mistakes the question writer (me) expects people to make -- 100 if you just add the two together, 10 if you subtract the numbers then divide by 2, 50 (the most tempting answer) if you take a simple average of those terms, or (E) if you expect/think that you need to be given a distance to make this determination.

It is possible to understand LSAT RC almost to that exact level, where a right answer, especially to general q's, indicates correct ways of thinking, and the wrong answers indicate flawed ways of thinking.

You mention that you often get stuck between two answers. Know that this is typically not a cause of your troubles, but rather a symptom of your troubles -- the key is not to get better and better when stuck between two, but rather to continue to put yourself in a better and better position to evaluate the answers in the first place.

Thanks for the great feedback Mike!

I'm offended that you assumed I might get frustrated by that elementary math problem lol.

Answer is D b/c (assuming the man in the question didn't make a detour), if the distance is X then the total time it took from and to home is X/60+X/40 and the total distance is 2X, then the average rate is 2X/(X/60+X/40)=48.


But E is absolutely the correct answer because of the bolded. We do not know that the total distance can be understood as a simple 2X, since we do not know that the man took the same route to work as he did coming home.

Am I missing something?

- Not a math person

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Mar 17, 2014 2:33 pm

Straw_Mandible wrote:
roranoa wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Here's a simple but sneaky math problem to illustrate (sorry to bring in math) --

A man goes to work at 40 mph, and returns home at 60 mph. What was his average rate for the entire trip?
(A) 100
(B) 10
(C) 50
(D) 48
(E) It cannot be determined

The correct answer here is (D). I won't go into a long explanation of why (love to leave you a bit frustrated) but the main thing I want to emphasize is that the wrong choices are built off of mistakes the question writer (me) expects people to make -- 100 if you just add the two together, 10 if you subtract the numbers then divide by 2, 50 (the most tempting answer) if you take a simple average of those terms, or (E) if you expect/think that you need to be given a distance to make this determination.

It is possible to understand LSAT RC almost to that exact level, where a right answer, especially to general q's, indicates correct ways of thinking, and the wrong answers indicate flawed ways of thinking.

You mention that you often get stuck between two answers. Know that this is typically not a cause of your troubles, but rather a symptom of your troubles -- the key is not to get better and better when stuck between two, but rather to continue to put yourself in a better and better position to evaluate the answers in the first place.

Thanks for the great feedback Mike!

I'm offended that you assumed I might get frustrated by that elementary math problem lol.

Answer is D b/c (assuming the man in the question didn't make a detour), if the distance is X then the total time it took from and to home is X/60+X/40 and the total distance is 2X, then the average rate is 2X/(X/60+X/40)=48.


But E is absolutely the correct answer because of the bolded. We do not know that the total distance can be understood as a simple 2X, since we do not know that the man took the same route to work as he did coming home.

Am I missing something?

- Not a math person


Oh SM you are a little too ready for the LSAT (how r u not scoring better on the RC?) -- you are right -- i was just being a bit lazy writing the math q -- this is not the first time my "casual" writing of example q's has gotten me in trouble on this site -- I went back and reworded it -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Straw_Mandible » Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:48 pm

:lol: Happy to see that I'm not going crazy. It was your book, after all, which taught me to identify assumptions like this!

I wish I had concrete questions for you about my RC performance, but I've determined that my weakness is that I'm just not a very confident reader, in any capacity. I've taken a brief hiatus from LSAT prep, in part for personal reasons, but primarily to shore up my ability to simply translate written text into ideas in my head. I know this goes against everything you say about RC in the Trainer--that is, the LSAT tests a very specific type of reading skill, and it doesn't test "general reading level," whatever we may interpret that to mean. But I also noticed that you began those RC lessons with an assumption that you had us take for granted: that we are all great readers, and we read all the time, every day, 'naturally.' But what if we aren't? And what if we don't? Is there something to be said for taking time to develop our capacity to simply process text efficiently and confidently outside the confines of the LSAT, and then return to the test when we feel better about that basic skill?

As always, thank you for being perennially supportive and present in this great community of strivers.

-SM

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Cactus » Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:06 pm

As someone contemplating a re-take in June, on the heels of two consecutive full-length in-person PowerScore courses that got me PTing in the low 170s/high 160s before my December test (scored a 166 in December, cancelled my score in October), I am looking at alternative ways to raise my score (as opposed to redoing PS material). The LSAT Trainer stands out to me as one of the best recommended study aids I've come across. However, I am also concerned how the LSAT Trainer may meld with previous methods and techniques I've developed through PowerScore.

I have taken a long break since the December test and am now looking to gear up for the June test in an effort to raise my chances to get off WL/increase scholarship money. I am looking to build on the foundation I've created through PS and not entirely re-wire (which I imagine would take longer than 2 months and has the potential to make matters even more confusing). Do you believe starting anew with the LSAT Trainer will work in concert with my prior training to help me reach my goals in June?

Also interested in hearing others who have had success utilizing PS and the LSAT Trainer.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby media2law » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:26 am

Mike:

I am planning to take the exam in June or September, depending on my work schedule. I was wondering if a new edition would be coming out in the next few months.

Thanks!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby haus » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:30 am

media2law wrote:Mike:

I am planning to take the exam in June or September, depending on my work schedule. I was wondering if a new edition would be coming out in the next few months.

Thanks!

The trainer was published less than a year ago. It seems a bit premature for any significant modifications.

ETA: Perhaps Mike may grace us with a new errata release to patch up the existing book.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

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

Straw_Mandible wrote::lol: Happy to see that I'm not going crazy. It was your book, after all, which taught me to identify assumptions like this!

I wish I had concrete questions for you about my RC performance, but I've determined that my weakness is that I'm just not a very confident reader, in any capacity. I've taken a brief hiatus from LSAT prep, in part for personal reasons, but primarily to shore up my ability to simply translate written text into ideas in my head. I know this goes against everything you say about RC in the Trainer--that is, the LSAT tests a very specific type of reading skill, and it doesn't test "general reading level," whatever we may interpret that to mean. But I also noticed that you began those RC lessons with an assumption that you had us take for granted: that we are all great readers, and we read all the time, every day, 'naturally.' But what if we aren't? And what if we don't? Is there something to be said for taking time to develop our capacity to simply process text efficiently and confidently outside the confines of the LSAT, and then return to the test when we feel better about that basic skill?

As always, thank you for being perennially supportive and present in this great community of strivers.

-SM


You have a knack for asking q's that I want to write 10 pages in response to -- I think we need to hang out -- I'll keep this short so I don't waste your time and so I can get back to work myself --

You are right that people do have significant differences when it comes to overall reading ability. And if you come into your LSAT prep with very, very strong reading skills, it gives you a significant advantage -- the vast majority of the "naturals" that I've met (those who were able to get 99% scores with minimal or no prep) have a lot of reading or writing in their background. In general, the better a reader you are, the easier it is to improve at the LSAT (just like if you are a better overall athlete, it's likely easier to learn and get good at a new sport).

The point that I try to make in The Trainer is that even if you aren't an exceptional reader, chances are you are plenty good enough as a reader in order to perform on the LSAT at a high level, if you can learn exactly how to approach your read and if you can habitualize what you learn. From reading what you've written on this forum, my guess is that your general reading skills are more than enough for you to get good at LSAT RC. My guess is that if I could just sit next to you, watch you do RC for a few hours, and give you some pointers about how you ought to read the passages/approach the q's, it would just be a matter of practice before you made it to a higher level (and by the way, if you have access to a strong tutor, you may want to do something just like that).

I don't think there is a lot you can do during the few months you prep for the LSAT that will put a huge dent into your overall reading ability -- again, it's something we do all day every day, and that we've been doing all our lives. I do think that we go through phases where sometimes we are in better reading shape and sometimes worse reading shape, and it can help you to be in "strong reading shape" when you are preparing for and taking the LSAT. So, I have a couple of reading recommendations for you -- I don't recommend these because they are dense (I know a lot of LSAT reading recs are about that) but rather for other reasons --

1) The Short History of Nearly Everything by Billy Bryson -- The book covers every significant scientific issue ever, and there is a very good chance whatever is discussed in your passage on the LSAT is discussed in this book (though I'm sure you won't remember). Furthermore, he writes from the perspective of a lay person, not a scientist (the way LSAT passages are written), and the book is just very, very fun and inspiring.

2) The short stories of Raymond Carver -- This is totally from left field and I'm fairly certain no one else has ever recommended Raymond Carver for LSAT prep -- so, please, please feel free to ignore me. In case you haven't heard of him, Raymond Carver was a poet and short-story writer who gained fame within the writer community in part because of his writing style -- he's able to create amazingly powerful sentences and stories using extremely simple, everyday words -- he's able to do this because he is a grand master of structure. If you read his work for a while, it helps you get into the habit of paying careful attention to the words that most shape the story. Personally, I probably learned more about reading and writing from studying his work than from anything else. Again, not for everyone (or for anyone, maybe), but if you are looking to add new stuff to your reading list, do check it out.

Again, longer than I'd hoped, but much, much shorter than it could have been -- hope you enjoy your reading SM, and as always reach out if you need anything -- Mike

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The LSAT Trainer
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:26 pm

Cactus wrote:As someone contemplating a re-take in June, on the heels of two consecutive full-length in-person PowerScore courses that got me PTing in the low 170s/high 160s before my December test (scored a 166 in December, cancelled my score in October), I am looking at alternative ways to raise my score (as opposed to redoing PS material). The LSAT Trainer stands out to me as one of the best recommended study aids I've come across. However, I am also concerned how the LSAT Trainer may meld with previous methods and techniques I've developed through PowerScore.

I have taken a long break since the December test and am now looking to gear up for the June test in an effort to raise my chances to get off WL/increase scholarship money. I am looking to build on the foundation I've created through PS and not entirely re-wire (which I imagine would take longer than 2 months and has the potential to make matters even more confusing). Do you believe starting anew with the LSAT Trainer will work in concert with my prior training to help me reach my goals in June?

Also interested in hearing others who have had success utilizing PS and the LSAT Trainer.


Hi there --

My guess is that the majority of Trainer users have Powerscore experience. I think there are two main factors involved -- The Powerscore have been--for the past decade--the most popular LSAT learning products for smart students. So, it's an obvious first choice. And because my book is new, and because I have zero marketing budget, etc., most of my students don't hear about or become interested in The Trainer until they are fairly deep into their study process. So, Powerscore then Trainer is a standard route. Here are some thoughts that I think you might find helpful:

1) I don't think conflicting strategies is an issue. There will be some suggestions in The Trainer that are different from Powerscore, but most students, especially at your level, are able to pick and choose what works best for them and don't have trouble bringing their learning together. You want to go into the test feeling like your strategies are totally yours (not what someone else told you to do) and looking at a couple different learning systems, and deciding for yourself what is best, can help put you in that position.

2) Your most valuable asset is time. You need time to learn, drill, and pt (and to review all of that), and you want to be smart about allocating your time among those areas. A lot of students, the first time around, do not do enough drilling, and so that tends to commonly be the main component of a lot of retake efforts.

My suggestion is to make your decision based on what you think will be most useful to your improvement, and on how you choose to allocate your prep time. If you think you need further understanding or strategies, or a different perspective on understanding and strategies, I think The Trainer is worth your time. If you want drill work on specific issues (for example, translating conditional statements, or ID'ing the conclusion of an argument) I also think The Trainer is worth your time. If you feel your understanding and strategies are just fine and they are not what are holding you back, it may be better for you to spend your time doing more drilling and reviewing.

Hope that helps and good luck with your prep -- whether you get the trainer or not (I won't hold it against you if you don't :)) please don't hesitate to reach out if you need anything else -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:28 pm

haus wrote:
media2law wrote:Mike:

I am planning to take the exam in June or September, depending on my work schedule. I was wondering if a new edition would be coming out in the next few months.

Thanks!

The trainer was published less than a year ago. It seems a bit premature for any significant modifications.

ETA: Perhaps Mike may grace us with a new errata release to patch up the existing book.


Hi there --

There won't be a new edition coming out in the next few months --

Haus, I've been on the fence about whether it's time to do another error drive -- your note just nudged me toward yes -- I'll be putting up a post about it soon, and get a new errata list out to you guys.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby evolution » Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:51 pm

Hi Mike,

As a bit of background, I'm prepping for September, and I've noticed that RC is the section that's been dragging me down. I have the RC book by MLSAT and started drilling by passages, and I'm seeing a bit of improvement - slowly but surely.

But I'd like to find other resources to help improve my RC as well - one of which is your Trainer. However, since you wrote the MRC book and the Trainer, did you approach RC in the Trainer in terms of concepts, strategies, etc in a different way then when you wrote MRC - and if so how?

I'm trying to decide whether or not to get Trainer, or if the MRC book would suffice. (Life of a poor student - tight budgets!)

Thanks!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:10 pm

evolution wrote:Hi Mike,

As a bit of background, I'm prepping for September, and I've noticed that RC is the section that's been dragging me down. I have the RC book by MLSAT and started drilling by passages, and I'm seeing a bit of improvement - slowly but surely.

But I'd like to find other resources to help improve my RC as well - one of which is your Trainer. However, since you wrote the MRC book and the Trainer, did you approach RC in the Trainer in terms of concepts, strategies, etc in a different way then when you wrote MRC - and if so how?

I'm trying to decide whether or not to get Trainer, or if the MRC book would suffice. (Life of a poor student - tight budgets!)

Thanks!


Hi there --

A small disclaimer before I answer your q -- I make $ from selling trainers, not manhattan books, and every person likes to believe that he or she is getting better at what they are doing -- all that is to say that the following includes a heavy, heavy amount of personal bias :) --

Another disclaimer -- I just saw Christine post that the new manhattan rc books have significant changes -- typically, manhattan offers deals for students "moving up" in editions, and you may want to look into that as an alternative resource before you look into my book --

Okay, having said all that, I do think the trainer is a significantly better book -- I wouldn't have done all the work required to make it if I didn't feel confident I could make big leaps forward. At the same time, I also genuinely believe that what is most effective for you is based on fit, and it may be that the manhattan book was/is a better fit for what you need, or that since you've already gone through it, doing other work (such as drilling) is a better use of your time.

In my opinion the biggest difference between the two products is the amount of experience and understanding that I brought into writing them. The original Manhattan RC book is the first textbook I ever wrote, and I wrote it before I had ever taught the LSAT -- I learned the LSAT in order to write the book. In between the Manhattan book and the trainer, most of my time was spent creating and testing out new study materials, and studying and thinking about how students actually improve at the LSAT. My opinion is that my understanding of the test, and more importantly of how to help students get better at it, has grown exponentially, and I'd like to believe that this growth is reflected in the trainer. I don't think there is anything in the the trainer that necessarily contradicts the mlsat book, but in my opinion the trainer provides you with a lot more content and instruction, presented far more clearly and efficiently. Perhaps more importantly, I think the trainer does a better job of helping guide your overall study/improvement process, and does a better job of ensuring that you don't run into unnecessarily hiccups (thinking that you are having more trouble with the test than you are because in reality you are using a recommended strategy slightly incorrectly, for example).

Again, I do want to mention that obviously I have a lot of personal bias, and that a lot of this is based on fit. I offer two free RC chapters on my website -- the intro chapter, and the final rc chapter. The final rc chapter includes a summary of the information in the other rc chapters. Please take a look at those free lessons, and I hope that they will help you decide better whether it's worth it for you to invest your time in my book --

HTH -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby zaetoroftheprotoss » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:28 pm

Hi Mike,

First, I want to thank you for making the LSAT Trainer...it has been incredibly useful!

I have a very specific question from your book...on page 154 (Full set-up drill 1 for LG - Chapter 11) for the third drill, can you reasonably infer that T must be paired with the jack rabbit because (a) it cannot be the hamster, frog, or guinea pig from rules 1 and 4 and (b) T is sandwiched between two other animals (Rule 1), thereby precluding it from being the iguana (as per Rule 2, the iguana must be first/last)?

Thanks! This book has been an amazing way to self-study for the LSAT!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby CardozoLaw09 » Mon Mar 24, 2014 6:23 pm

zaetoroftheprotoss wrote:Hi Mike,

First, I want to thank you for making the LSAT Trainer...it has been incredibly useful!

I have a very specific question from your book...on page 154 (Full set-up drill 1 for LG - Chapter 11) for the third drill, can you reasonably infer that T must be paired with the jack rabbit because (a) it cannot be the hamster, frog, or guinea pig from rules 1 and 4 and (b) T is sandwiched between two other animals (Rule 1), thereby precluding it from being the iguana (as per Rule 2, the iguana must be first/last)?

Thanks! This book has been an amazing way to self-study for the LSAT!


Not Mike (obv), but yes, you can infer that T is the Jack Rabbit. Nice catch!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby heydude » Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:12 pm

Hi Mike!

I recently started your trainer and love it so far! I've completed going through the Blueprint games book and also dabbled with the Powerscore books (and Manhattan book for reading comp) and I really like the holistic approach you take to the process. I don't consider myself a genius but I do think that I'm fairly intelligent, and I really like the emphasis you place on building a solid foundation of critical thinking rather than a more formulaic approach that involves memorizing numerous copyrighted techniques (if no one's mentioned this to you before, other books are jam packed with copy-right symbols on their "proprietary" techniques).

Anyway, I have just finished the first practice test and wanted some advice on the best way to go about taking the practice tests.

1. Should I be writing in the Prep test book or not? I faintly recall seeing somewhere that said to NOT write in the book because then it would make it more difficult to go back and review. I thought it was in the Trainer, but when I went back to try to find it I couldn't find anything related in the book or on your website. At the same time, I can see how practicing writing in the book would better simulate actual conditions since on the test you aren't allowed any scratch paper.

2. What are your thoughts on practicing in "noise" conditions? I've seen in some places that say it's good to practice in a library or a coffee shop to stimulate test day noise. I understand that near the end of your studies you may want to stimulate test day conditions as a dry run, but when I'm early-midway in my studies and just practicing still, would it better to be in a quieter environment in which I am more focused?

3. Do you have any other tips maximizing the utility from taking prep tests?

Thanks for your time!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby zaetoroftheprotoss » Tue Mar 25, 2014 12:25 pm

CardozoLaw09 wrote:
Not Mike (obv), but yes, you can infer that T is the Jack Rabbit. Nice catch!


Thanks!

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180kickflip
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby 180kickflip » Tue Mar 25, 2014 4:59 pm

Just got the trainer in this morning. Can't wait to get started!

lawstudenthopeful727
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby lawstudenthopeful727 » Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:48 am

I'm going through the trainer, but for some reason I'm not quite getting the hand of required assumption, and strengthen/weaken the argument. Can you please elaborate a little more?


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