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
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?
(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