Mike's Trainer Thread

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The LSAT Trainer
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri May 09, 2014 7:25 pm

Hi everyone --

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks back, I am hard at work on all new study schedules that will incorporate the new 62-71 book that LSAC has released --

I'd really appreciate some feedback from some of you who are currently using the study schedules --

Specifically, if you have any ideas for how make them more user-friendly (I've already gotten requests for larger boxes/bigger fonts/less "coding" of the drill assignments), or any ideas about what else you'd like to see in the schedule pdf, I'd love to hear from you -- please pm me with them -- thanks -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby BillsFan9907 » Fri May 09, 2014 11:11 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Hi Seoulless --

Are you korean? Or lacking some koreanness? --

The most important thing is that you have total control over the rules /your diagram -- if taking a few extra seconds to write out the rules before you incorporate them helps you understand/retain/use them a bit better by all means go for it -- it's totally worth it --

Having said that, I do generally recommend that whenever you have the option, it's better to represent a rule directly on the diagram as opposed to on the side of it/below it etc. (as long as, of course, the notation on the diagram represents the rule completely).

In terms of the example you mentioned, I think one really important issue to consider is that I designed the diagram that way in large part because of that rule --

That is, I didn't come up w/diagram first, then figure out how to incorporate that rule -- I saw the impact of that rule (in combination w/the p in 1 or 7 rule) before I ever set pen to paper, and designed the diagram to take advantage of what I had noticed.


In my opinion, and I'll continue to stress this a lot throughout the rest of the book -- games become markedly easier when, instead of habitually just dealing with the rules in the order in which they are given, you become better and better at recognizing the important rules/combinations of rules/inferences, focusing on those issues first, and organizing the rest of your thought process around those issues --

To me, the impact of being able to do the above is as significant as being able to focus in on the "argument core" for LR -- it puts you in a position to see the game more like the test writers did, and makes it much easier for you to get in to the proper "flow."

Sorry to go off on a bit of a tangent, but I thought that it was relevant to the question you were asking -- hope that helps, and don't hesitate to reach out if you need further clarification or need anything else --

MK


Thanks, Mike! I am really trying to break my bad habits (I am assuming a ton are unconscious) that led my to getting a 169 despite PTing in the high 170s. I definitely would never have made my diagram AFTER going through all the rules. What I would do is if in the actual stimulus I say "7 clowns will be arranged 1-7" then right then and there I would make the diagram of 7 spots. Just so I am understanding your thought process/habit - this is something you would not do until you have read EVERYTHING and have made some mental note of the big picture (especially looking for those rule connections?)

I'm sure all of this will be covered in the book, but any time I sense that there is an opportunity for me to correct a bad habit and establish a better one, I want to jump on the opportunity no matter how early I am in the book.

Oh and, yes! Korean.
Last edited by BillsFan9907 on Wed Dec 24, 2014 12:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon May 12, 2014 2:47 pm

Seoulless wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Hi Seoulless --

Are you korean? Or lacking some koreanness? --

The most important thing is that you have total control over the rules /your diagram -- if taking a few extra seconds to write out the rules before you incorporate them helps you understand/retain/use them a bit better by all means go for it -- it's totally worth it --

Having said that, I do generally recommend that whenever you have the option, it's better to represent a rule directly on the diagram as opposed to on the side of it/below it etc. (as long as, of course, the notation on the diagram represents the rule completely).

In terms of the example you mentioned, I think one really important issue to consider is that I designed the diagram that way in large part because of that rule --

That is, I didn't come up w/diagram first, then figure out how to incorporate that rule -- I saw the impact of that rule (in combination w/the p in 1 or 7 rule) before I ever set pen to paper, and designed the diagram to take advantage of what I had noticed.


In my opinion, and I'll continue to stress this a lot throughout the rest of the book -- games become markedly easier when, instead of habitually just dealing with the rules in the order in which they are given, you become better and better at recognizing the important rules/combinations of rules/inferences, focusing on those issues first, and organizing the rest of your thought process around those issues --

To me, the impact of being able to do the above is as significant as being able to focus in on the "argument core" for LR -- it puts you in a position to see the game more like the test writers did, and makes it much easier for you to get in to the proper "flow."

Sorry to go off on a bit of a tangent, but I thought that it was relevant to the question you were asking -- hope that helps, and don't hesitate to reach out if you need further clarification or need anything else --

MK


Thanks, Mike! I am really trying to break my bad habits (I am assuming a ton are unconscious) that led my to getting a 169 despite PTing in the high 170s. I definitely would never have made my diagram AFTER going through all the rules. What I would do is if in the actual stimulus I say "7 clowns will be arranged 1-7" then right then and there I would make the diagram of 7 spots. Just so I am understanding your thought process/habit - this is something you would not do until you have read EVERYTHING and have made some mental note of the big picture (especially looking for those rule connections?)

I'm sure all of this will be covered in the book, but any time I sense that there is an opportunity for me to correct a bad habit and establish a better one, I want to jump on the opportunity no matter how early I am in the book.

Oh and, no. Not Korean. This was a handle I inherited from my Korean friend when he gave me his Dreamcast and the online account. I just stuck with it ever since.


Hey --

If you are already scoring at that level, I'm sure you've got some pretty damn good habits overall -- if I were you, I'd be careful about changing things up too much -- what you are doing is definitely working for you --

Also, please keep in mind that several other well-known LG teachers - many of whom are pretty awesome at Logic Games - don't recommend these same strategies -- so again, see what works best for you.

Having said those caveats, I personally feel 100% confident suggesting that you habitually read the scenario and rules, and prioritize the rules/key inferences, before you set pencil to paper, and I guarantee I will never suggest anything else.

To me, it makes perfect logical sense for you to approach games this way, especially when you think about it from the game writer's perspective.

When you are designing a game, what you are trying to do is create a situation that yields certain inferences. The test writer doesn't just randomly come up with a bunch of rules, and then think about how those rules come together. Rather, the test writer starts by thinking about how information -- information presented in the scenario and rules or information presented in the rules -- can come together to yield particular inferences. And of course, the test writer uses certain means to make these inferences more difficult to see, and one of the key ways they do this is by presenting information about a game, in particular the rules of the game, in a disorganized fashion.

Certain top test takers are able to get to a point where they typically are able to see games in about the same way the test writers do -- they are able to correctly spot the "crux" of a game and relate the other rules to central design issue(s). These are the situations where the questions just "flow" -- where the wrong answers are totally obvious and the right answers jump out at you.

When I think of playing a game "perfectly," it involves seeing the games like the test writers, and again, I think habitually prioritizing rules and information, rather than simply dealing with it in the order given, can have a significant and positive impact on that.

From a more practical perspective --

1) Once in a while scenarios present red herrings -- issues that seem important (or seem important in one way) that turn out not to be (or to important in a different way).

One clear example of this would be PT 35, Game 4, which is covered in chapter 29 and discussed on page 433 (I won't give the specifics in case you don't want it "spoiled" for you).

Setting up a diagram after just the scenario, in these situations, wastes time and starts you off on the wrong foot.

2) Taking a look through everything first, and thinking for a second about how rules relate, can help you make better decisions about whether to create multiple diagrams or not, and it can help you make these decisions earlier (which saves time).

The example you brought up is a prime representation of that -- I wouldn't have known to create two diagrams if I didn't see that the interaction of rules lead to that limited and significant split.

As it often happens, I've ended up writing more than I intended, but I hope you found that helpful.

Just want to reiterate -- it seems like whatever you are doing is clearly working for you, so don't feel you have to mess with it too much. But, give this a try and see if it helps, and if you need any more specific advice about bringing together what you've been doing with what's in the trainer, just let me know --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Bilka » Tue May 13, 2014 9:55 pm

Hey Mike

I'm still a bit unclear about what you mean by Reading for Structure when it comes to RC.

When focusing on structure, does this mean focusing on the main points and what supports the main points, or is there more?




Thanks in advance

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed May 14, 2014 9:20 pm

Bilka wrote:Hey Mike

I'm still a bit unclear about what you mean by Reading for Structure when it comes to RC.

When focusing on structure, does this mean focusing on the main points and what supports the main points, or is there more?




Thanks in advance


Hey Bilka --

If that was all there was to it, the trainer could have been a lot shorter --

Seriously though, I think this is a good q, and I also think I understand where it's coming from --

I also have a feeling that it might be very helpful for you to think about the difference between purpose and point -- these are obviously very closely related and overlapping subjects, but if you can recognize the distinction, and focus your efforts more toward relating RC reasoning structure to purpose rather than to point(s), I have a feeling it might make it easier for you to see that reasoning structure correctly and relate it more easily to the tasks presented in the questions --

I think it's easiest to think of making a point, or making points, as one of many possible purposes to a passage -- other purposes might be giving a chronology, making a comparison, entertaining or moving one to action, educating about a subject, and so on --

As a general rule, when you read for reasoning structure, what you are doing is thinking about how different parts of a passage relate to the purpose of a passage.

Now here's where I think some confusion might come in --

For the vast majority of LR problems, the purpose of the stimulus is to present an argument - reasoning given to justify a point made. So, when you read for structure in logical reasoning, most of the time, you want to prioritize and separate out the point and the support, because those are by far the most important components for the purpose of creating an argument. This is not the case for RC.

For Reading Comp, the vast majority of the time the purpose of the passage is to juxtapose two ideas/opinions/etc. and to (very often subtly) make some sort of claim about that comparison. When you read an RC passage, you want to be constantly asking yourself "Why did the author write this passage?" and, related to that, you want to constantly be thinking about "What does this part that I'm reading now have to do with that overall purpose?" Understand these passages are designed for it to be hard for you to answer those q's correctly, and that being able to do is the key to success on the questions. (Just to give a comparison, for LR argument based q's, you don't have to worry about these same issues -- you know why the author wrote the stimulus -- to make a particular point -- so, instead, your focus is on "what is the actual point he's making" and "how's he trying to support it?")

Unlike in LR, where you are "weeding out" just a few prime components, with RC you want an awareness of how all the different components of the passage fit relative to the whole (so, for example, you want to think "okay, the author told me this so that I have the background and context necessary to understand the passage, and the author put the first idea he's juxtaposing right here, and then he put this piece here to go against that first idea," and so on -- again, this is the main thing you are meant to extract from your read, and the main thing you ought to be thinking about as you read -- what's the author's purpose, and role do various parts play relative to that purpose).

So that's what makes it different from LR -- obviously, I go into this in far greater detail in the book, but maybe hearing it on those terms was helpful for you --

As always, in order to give specific and useful advice, I have to "read in" to your issues a bit and make some guesses as to how you are thinking about things - if I was off --if the above isn't relevant to your concerns, or if you have any follow up q's, please don't hesitate to let me know, and I'll be happy to discuss further here or through pm --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby dd235 » Thu May 15, 2014 2:03 am

Hey Mike,

Read the trainer multiple times and can’t thank you enough for all you have contributed on here.

My question is somewhat related to that of the previous poster. Time is my biggest issue when it comes to RC. I am at the point where I am somewhat consistently answering the questions correctly, but I still seem to always be running out of time. I know that answering the questions as opposed to reading the passage is the biggest time drain for me (especially spending too much time deciding between multiple attractive answer choices... I know, just pick one and move on!). Do you have any advice on how to get quicker on RC?

Just to put things in perspective, I am consistently able to get -0 on LG and about -4 on the two LR combined, so my RC score really dictates whether I score in the high 160s/low 170s or whether I score 175+

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby WaltGrace83 » Thu May 15, 2014 2:48 pm

I've been looking at Weaken questions lately and I've noticed that in these questions (and really all assumption family questions), the idea of motivations or feelings comes up quite often. The argument will give you something saying, "Because X, we should do Y." Is it safe to say that motivations/purposes really don't matter in assumption family questions unless the argument explains that it does matter?

I came across a rather peculiar question, 10.1.19 "Fares on the city-run public buses in Greenville...". While I understand what is occurring in 10.1.19 and I don't want to waste your time with a breakdown, (D) seems to be out of scope for this reason alone: we don't know if the voter's opposition is actually signaling that they would benefit/not benefit. We might assume that you would oppose something because it doesn't benefit yet the point would be that this assumption is unwarranted, correct?

If I am wrong in my thought that motivations/feelings don't matter unless specified, do tell me. Usually I don't fall for this kind of trap but I did this time because (C) seemed to focus on the councillors feelings. That is what made me question the idea that motivation/feeling don't really matter unless otherwise specified.

EDIT: and now that I think about it, I also feel this applies to the idea of cost. A lot of incorrect answer choices bring up $$$ for no reason.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby dd235 » Thu May 15, 2014 11:06 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:I've been looking at Weaken questions lately and I've noticed that in these questions (and really all assumption family questions), the idea of motivations or feelings comes up quite often. The argument will give you something saying, "Because X, we should do Y." Is it safe to say that motivations/purposes really don't matter in assumption family questions unless the argument explains that it does matter?

I came across a rather peculiar question, 10.1.19 "Fares on the city-run public buses in Greenville...". While I understand what is occurring in 10.1.19 and I don't want to waste your time with a breakdown, (D) seems to be out of scope for this reason alone: we don't know if the voter's opposition is actually signaling that they would benefit/not benefit. We might assume that you would oppose something because it doesn't benefit yet the point would be that this assumption is unwarranted, correct?

If I am wrong in my thought that motivations/feelings don't matter unless specified, do tell me. Usually I don't fall for this kind of trap but I did this time because (C) seemed to focus on the councillors feelings. That is what made me question the idea that motivation/feeling don't really matter unless otherwise specified.

EDIT: and now that I think about it, I also feel this applies to the idea of cost. A lot of incorrect answer choices bring up $$$ for no reason.


Walt,

Take a look at 61.1.12

When you asked your question this jumped out at me (probably because I recently took it and it stumped me). It is a most strongly supported question. The stimulus gives us a couple facts about the dangers of kick boxing with absolutely no opinion. Then out of nowhere, the correct answer says something along the lines of “One should avoid a certain action in order to avoid injury.” I immediately eliminated this answer (incorrectly so) because of the opinionated nature of it.

Long story short, the should in the answer choice didn’t represent an opinion like we are used to the word meaning, but rather it was used in a way that is synonymous with must. So to quote the great guys over at the manhattan forums, if we were told that "poking a bee hive inevitably results in the poker getting stung by the bees inside", then wouldn't we have to logically accept this:
"if you don't want to be stung by bees, don't poke a bee hive."
i.e. ("you must not poke a bee hive", "you should not poke a bee hive”)

Anyways, I know that you are talking about the assumption family, but I feel like this is a good example of how you shouldn’t just blindly eliminate an answer choice because of opinioned words.

Edit: Looking back on this I realize that it is not really what you are asking. I’ll leave it up anyways though.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri May 16, 2014 6:35 pm

Hi everyone -- just wanted to let you know that the trainer website might be down/wonky for a day or so for some remodeling --

DD and WG -- I'll do my best to get to your q's by end of day -- if not, i'll be back tomorrow morning -- mk

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby zaetoroftheprotoss » Sat May 17, 2014 10:57 pm

Hey Mike,

Thanks for the Trainer error log..that's been really helpful!

I have two questions about the Minor Questions Game on pages 394-95:

1) Would an average of about 1:15 to 1:30 per these weird questions be reasonable or should I focus on dropping my time down to about a minute?

2) For question 4, you stated that the correct answer was C because there were no rules that precluded G, L, M, and O from being in shift one. But the third rule of the game stated that if L is in shift one, then O will be (along with N) in shift two. As such, doesn't answer choice C break this rule, thereby making answer choice B correct (G, L, and M)?

Thanks!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon May 19, 2014 7:24 pm

dd235 wrote:Hey Mike,

Read the trainer multiple times and can’t thank you enough for all you have contributed on here.

My question is somewhat related to that of the previous poster. Time is my biggest issue when it comes to RC. I am at the point where I am somewhat consistently answering the questions correctly, but I still seem to always be running out of time. I know that answering the questions as opposed to reading the passage is the biggest time drain for me (especially spending too much time deciding between multiple attractive answer choices... I know, just pick one and move on!). Do you have any advice on how to get quicker on RC?

Just to put things in perspective, I am consistently able to get -0 on LG and about -4 on the two LR combined, so my RC score really dictates whether I score in the high 160s/low 170s or whether I score 175+


Hi DD --

Thank you for the comments and sorry for the delay --

It certainly becomes more and more challenging to figure out how you can get better once one gets into your rarified scoring range --

So, here are a few different suggestions -- see if one or more of these apply to your situation and might be helpful --

One overall suggestion I have before I start the list is to think about your RC improvement in relation to your LG improvement -- I'm sure you went through a series of stages in order to get that LG mastery, and RC requires many of the same types of steps --

1) Keep working to get more out of your initial read.

For LG, you spend the majority of your time answering q's, but it is the initial few minutes you spend setting up the game that is most important to your overall outcome (both in terms of timing and accuracy) -- same goes for RC. Though you spend the majority of your time answering q's, it's the few minutes you spend reading the passage that are most important in terms of determining your overall outcome (timing & accuracy) --

I'm sure you have a pretty strong sense, overall, of how to read an LSAT passage and why you want to read it that way -- I encourage you to try to push this further (analogous to going from feeling comfortable w/lg diagramming to feeling total mastery over lg diagramming) so that you can extract that last bit of efficiency --

You probably don't need to spend a lot more time on outside resources at this point -- what I encourage you to do is use the specific questions that come with specific passages to gauge your read -- were the things you focused on the things you should have focused on, was the way you thought of the author's opinion consistent with characteristics that showed up in right answers etc. Expect that if you read well, the things you focused on and thought about will help you answer questions. Study carefully the situations where you feel your read didn't prepare you well for the questions -- think of these as the equivalent of lg where your diagram didn't match up with the type of work the q's required -- and again, as I often say in the book, keep thinking about it in terms of alignment -- you want to align your reading strategies and habits with what the questions reward as accurately as possible, and you want to keep working on this up til test day.

2) Keep track of, and be hyper-critical of, all of the "extra" work you do --

In life, people have a tendency to regret, far more often, things they did that shouldn't have done, rather than things they could have done that they didn't (for example, if you lose a $20 bill, you will feel terrible -- yet, all of us could have invested $ in apple 10 years ago and made a fortune, but most of us don't sit around angry at ourselves for not doing that).

When it comes to standardized tests, the reverse is true -- people focus far more on things they didn't do that they should have done ("Oh I should have known to underline that part" or "Oh I should have seen that inference"), and they don't focus enough on all of the "extra" stuff they did that ultimately was harmful (they don't think, for example, about they fact they wasted a minute overanalyzing a part of the passage in a way that wasn't necessary) --

I think w/LR argument-based q's, you really see the benefit of thinking about the stuff you are supposed to be thinking about (conclusion/support) and not wasting too much time/energy on other concerns. I encourage you to have the same mindset about RC, and to actively seek out situations where you thought about things more than you needed to --

For RC, time is often very commonly wasted because test takers take the wrong approach to dealing w/question stems -- either they don't extract as many clues from the q stem as they can (for example, a q stem might hint at where in the passage the pertinent info is, but perhaps you don't notice, or choose to wait to think about it until later in your process), or don't do enough in terms of using the q stem to set specific expectations about incorrect answers (more on this in just a bit) -- in your review, always think about the most efficient ways you could have done things -- the most obvious reasons to eliminate certain wrong choices, for example, and be critical when you were less efficient then you could have been.

3) Remember the "test-writer's burden."

Every question has to have one right answer and four wrong answers. Some questions, such as "which of the following is specifically mentioned..." are designed to have absolute right answers, whereas others, such as "Which of the following, if true, would most support..." are inherently designed not to have answers that are correct for "absolute" reasons. It is the latter of these that tend to drive top scorers nuts (because they want confirmation), and tend to be classic time suckers (these are the q's where you are much more likely to be stuck between attractive choices) --

For the questions that are designed not to have "absolute" right answers, really focus in on the reasons why wrong answers are wrong -- there will be clear and absolute reasons why the other 4 choices are incorrect, and these characteristics are what will allow you to confirm that you got the q correct.

Sorry for the length -- again, not exactly sure what's going to get you over the hump, but the above suggestions have been helpful for others in similar situations, and, at the least, I hope they give you some ideas for how to go forward -- as always, please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any follow up or need anything else --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby johmica » Mon May 19, 2014 7:46 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
dd235 wrote:Hey Mike,

Read the trainer multiple times and can’t thank you enough for all you have contributed on here.

My question is somewhat related to that of the previous poster. Time is my biggest issue when it comes to RC. I am at the point where I am somewhat consistently answering the questions correctly, but I still seem to always be running out of time. I know that answering the questions as opposed to reading the passage is the biggest time drain for me (especially spending too much time deciding between multiple attractive answer choices... I know, just pick one and move on!). Do you have any advice on how to get quicker on RC?

Just to put things in perspective, I am consistently able to get -0 on LG and about -4 on the two LR combined, so my RC score really dictates whether I score in the high 160s/low 170s or whether I score 175+



Hi DD --

Thank you for the comments and sorry for the delay --

It certainly becomes more and more challenging to figure out how you can get better once one gets into your rarified scoring range --

So, here are a few different suggestions -- see if one or more of these apply to your situation and might be helpful --

One overall suggestion I have before I start the list is to think about your RC improvement in relation to your LG improvement -- I'm sure you went through a series of stages in order to get that LG mastery, and RC requires many of the same types of steps --

1) Keep working to get more out of your initial read.

For LG, you spend the majority of your time answering q's, but it is the initial few minutes you spend setting up the game that is most important to your overall outcome (both in terms of timing and accuracy) -- same goes for RC. Though you spend the majority of your time answering q's, it's the few minutes you spend reading the passage that are most important in terms of determining your overall outcome (timing & accuracy) --

I'm sure you have a pretty strong sense, overall, of how to read an LSAT passage and why you want to read it that way -- I encourage you to try to push this further (analogous to going from feeling comfortable w/lg diagramming to feeling total mastery over lg diagramming) so that you can extract that last bit of efficiency --

You probably don't need to spend a lot more time on outside resources at this point -- what I encourage you to do is use the specific questions that come with specific passages to gauge your read -- were the things you focused on the things you should have focused on, was the way you thought of the author's opinion consistent with characteristics that showed up in right answers etc. Expect that if you read well, the things you focused on and thought about will help you answer questions. Study carefully the situations where you feel your read didn't prepare you well for the questions -- think of these as the equivalent of lg where your diagram didn't match up with the type of work the q's required -- and again, as I often say in the book, keep thinking about it in terms of alignment -- you want to align your reading strategies and habits with what the questions reward as accurately as possible, and you want to keep working on this up til test day.

2) Keep track of, and be hyper-critical of, all of the "extra" work you do --

In life, people have a tendency to regret, far more often, things they did that shouldn't have done, rather than things they could have done that they didn't (for example, if you lose a $20 bill, you will feel terrible -- yet, all of us could have invested $ in apple 10 years ago and made a fortune, but most of us don't sit around angry at ourselves for not doing that).

When it comes to standardized tests, the reverse is true -- people focus far more on things they didn't do that they should have done ("Oh I should have known to underline that part" or "Oh I should have seen that inference"), and they don't focus enough on all of the "extra" stuff they did that ultimately was harmful (they don't think, for example, about they fact they wasted a minute overanalyzing a part of the passage in a way that wasn't necessary) --

I think w/LR argument-based q's, you really see the benefit of thinking about the stuff you are supposed to be thinking about (conclusion/support) and not wasting too much time/energy on other concerns. I encourage you to have the same mindset about RC, and to actively seek out situations where you thought about things more than you needed to --

For RC, time is often very commonly wasted because test takers take the wrong approach to dealing w/question stems -- either they don't extract as many clues from the q stem as they can (for example, a q stem might hint at where in the passage the pertinent info is, but perhaps you don't notice, or choose to wait to think about it until later in your process), or don't do enough in terms of using the q stem to set specific expectations about incorrect answers (more on this in just a bit) -- in your review, always think about the most efficient ways you could have done things -- the most obvious reasons to eliminate certain wrong choices, for example, and be critical when you were less efficient then you could have been.

3) Remember the "test-writer's burden."

Every question has to have one right answer and four wrong answers. Some questions, such as "which of the following is specifically mentioned..." are designed to have absolute right answers, whereas others, such as "Which of the following, if true, would most support..." are inherently designed not to have answers that are correct for "absolute" reasons. It is the latter of these that tend to drive top scorers nuts (because they want confirmation), and tend to be classic time suckers (these are the q's where you are much more likely to be stuck between attractive choices) --

For the questions that are designed not to have "absolute" right answers, really focus in on the reasons why wrong answers are wrong -- there will be clear and absolute reasons why the other 4 choices are incorrect, and these characteristics are what will allow you to confirm that you got the q correct.

Sorry for the length -- again, not exactly sure what's going to get you over the hump, but the above suggestions have been helpful for others in similar situations, and, at the least, I hope they give you some ideas for how to go forward -- as always, please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any follow up or need anything else --

Mike


This is all fantastic advice, Mike. Thanks for the input. I have a quick question for you. I'm retaking in September, after having scored a 171 last June. I've been eyeballing your book on the Amazons, and wondering if, with a score already in the 98th percentile, I would benefit from your book. I certainly like the approach you seem to take, from what I've gathered of it from both the reviews and your posts on this forum. But at this point, I definitely want to maximize the productivity of my time and effort, and if you think I'd be better served at this point by going over every PT I can get my hands on, I'd invest the $40 in more PTs (I've got 34 right now, and have worked through well over half of them).

Thanks for the input, and again, thanks for this forum. Your general "through the eyes of the test writers" perspective has definitely influenced the way I approach difficult problems already.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby dd235 » Mon May 19, 2014 9:15 pm

Mike,
Thank you so much for the awesome response! I will definitely focus on the points that you brought up when drilling and reviewing.


Johmica,
I would definitely recommend it! The drills might not be too effective for you so you could probably skip those, but the content would still be relevant even with your score. If you go through a couple chapters a day (which is totally doable), you can finish it in about a week and a half. It would be worth it even if your score only went up by a point as a result.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue May 20, 2014 1:38 pm

dd235 wrote:
WaltGrace83 wrote:I've been looking at Weaken questions lately and I've noticed that in these questions (and really all assumption family questions), the idea of motivations or feelings comes up quite often. The argument will give you something saying, "Because X, we should do Y." Is it safe to say that motivations/purposes really don't matter in assumption family questions unless the argument explains that it does matter?

I came across a rather peculiar question, 10.1.19 "Fares on the city-run public buses in Greenville...". While I understand what is occurring in 10.1.19 and I don't want to waste your time with a breakdown, (D) seems to be out of scope for this reason alone: we don't know if the voter's opposition is actually signaling that they would benefit/not benefit. We might assume that you would oppose something because it doesn't benefit yet the point would be that this assumption is unwarranted, correct?

If I am wrong in my thought that motivations/feelings don't matter unless specified, do tell me. Usually I don't fall for this kind of trap but I did this time because (C) seemed to focus on the councillors feelings. That is what made me question the idea that motivation/feeling don't really matter unless otherwise specified.

EDIT: and now that I think about it, I also feel this applies to the idea of cost. A lot of incorrect answer choices bring up $$$ for no reason.


Walt,

Take a look at 61.1.12

When you asked your question this jumped out at me (probably because I recently took it and it stumped me). It is a most strongly supported question. The stimulus gives us a couple facts about the dangers of kick boxing with absolutely no opinion. Then out of nowhere, the correct answer says something along the lines of “One should avoid a certain action in order to avoid injury.” I immediately eliminated this answer (incorrectly so) because of the opinionated nature of it.

Long story short, the should in the answer choice didn’t represent an opinion like we are used to the word meaning, but rather it was used in a way that is synonymous with must. So to quote the great guys over at the manhattan forums, if we were told that "poking a bee hive inevitably results in the poker getting stung by the bees inside", then wouldn't we have to logically accept this:
"if you don't want to be stung by bees, don't poke a bee hive."
i.e. ("you must not poke a bee hive", "you should not poke a bee hive”)

Anyways, I know that you are talking about the assumption family, but I feel like this is a good example of how you shouldn’t just blindly eliminate an answer choice because of opinioned words.

Edit: Looking back on this I realize that it is not really what you are asking. I’ll leave it up anyways though.


Sorry for the delay on this one too (last time I promise a saturday response) --

WG -- I think you are definitely on the right path w/this -- you are right that motivations, opinions, feelings, suggestions, etc come up quite often -- and you are also correct in thinking (I’m pretty sure that this is what you meant) that such feeling/opinion issues do not guarantee, nor are they guaranteed by, more objective-type statements --

The most common situations you’ll see that involve this are opinion-to-universal conclusion and objective-premise-to-opinion-type-conclusion --

“My mom says I look great in these clothes. So, I must look great in these clothes.” -- overvalues the opinion.

“Candy has certain healthy ingredients. Therefore, one should eat candy.” -- this one characteristic is not nearly enough to guarantee the truth of what one ought to do.

So that’s the tendency, and you always want to be suspicious of the value of opinion-type premises, and the validity of opinion-type conclusions. As I talk about a lot in the book, you need to be aware of tendencies, but also remain open-minded/flexible about those tendencies, especially if you are seeking a top score, and both of you brought up examples that bring up the opinion-issue in different ways.

10.1.19

I know you didn’t ask about this particular issue, but just want to note that the “should” in the main conclusion is fine here (hence this being a twist on the norm), because the reasoning is itself about what one “should” do (what follows the should is not fine -- benefit / raised differ).

As you said, (D) is not relevant because the argument itself is not about voter opinion. If the original argument was something along the lines of “Since tax funds should be used per the wishes of the city voters…” (D) would be relevant.


63.1.12

To me, the reason the “should” is okay in the right answer is because the conclusion is about something very specific -- “reducing the risk of injury” -- that clause essentially helps get rid of a lot of the other issues typically associated w/a “should” conclusion (mainly that there are other factors to be considered).

To clarify -- if (B) simply said “Beginners at kb aerobics should avoid trying to match the high kicks of more skilled practitioners” it would not be the correct answer.

It is because (B) limits itself to a very specific consequence “to reduce the risk of injuries” that the stimulus gives us enough support.

We know that, mathematically speaking, kb is riskier than many other forms of exercise. We also know of a primary cause of that risk -- beginners trying to do high kicks hurt their back. So again, if the concern is specifically “risk of injury,” which is a more a mathematical issue than an issue of what one “ought” to do, the premise offers some pretty good support for the conclusion. (notice the stimulus is too vague to give us absolute proof, which is why this is a “most supported” rather than “must be true” question.)

Just want to end w/a great point DD made (not that you need it Walt -- again, I think you nailed this to begin with) -- you want to have the right understanding of how opinions can support or be proven, and it’s great to understand what the tendencies are, but you always have to treat each q as a unique case, and avoid making blanket or overly-simplified decisions.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue May 20, 2014 1:52 pm

zaetoroftheprotoss wrote:Hey Mike,

Thanks for the Trainer error log..that's been really helpful!

I have two questions about the Minor Questions Game on pages 394-95:

1) Would an average of about 1:15 to 1:30 per these weird questions be reasonable or should I focus on dropping my time down to about a minute?

2) For question 4, you stated that the correct answer was C because there were no rules that precluded G, L, M, and O from being in shift one. But the third rule of the game stated that if L is in shift one, then O will be (along with N) in shift two. As such, doesn't answer choice C break this rule, thereby making answer choice B correct (G, L, and M)?

Thanks!


Hey --

Sure thing! --

1) -- I think that's totally fine -- but that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep working on getting faster -- I think one of the best ways to do that is to try to sharpen habits and get rid of inefficiencies -- during your blind review always think about the most efficient way you could have gotten to the right answer, always compare that to how you actually solved it, and even when you get q's right, seek to get just a bit more efficient -- having said all that, those are really hard q's, and if you are getting them with a high level of accuracy in that timeframe I think you are already in great shape.

2) I think your question w/ #4 has to do w/the "could....complete" issues discussed on page 384 -- basically, your understanding of reasoning is right, it's your understanding of the q stem that is tripping you up -- we're simply looking for a list of all the people that could work the first shift with H -- they don't all need to work w/H at the same time.

#2 is a very sneaky, but fairly common, issue -- let me know if that makes sense -- if it was actually something else about that problem that was bothering you, let me know and I'll be happy to discuss further --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue May 20, 2014 2:27 pm

johmica wrote:
This is all fantastic advice, Mike. Thanks for the input. I have a quick question for you. I'm retaking in September, after having scored a 171 last June. I've been eyeballing your book on the Amazons, and wondering if, with a score already in the 98th percentile, I would benefit from your book. I certainly like the approach you seem to take, from what I've gathered of it from both the reviews and your posts on this forum. But at this point, I definitely want to maximize the productivity of my time and effort, and if you think I'd be better served at this point by going over every PT I can get my hands on, I'd invest the $40 in more PTs (I've got 34 right now, and have worked through well over half of them).

Thanks for the input, and again, thanks for this forum. Your general "through the eyes of the test writers" perspective has definitely influenced the way I approach difficult problems already.


Hi there -- thank you for your interest in the book --

I do think you will find it helpful, but of course I am heavily-biased --

I think your most valuable and most limited asset is time, and you have to decide for yourself whether that time is best spent w/the trainer or, as you said, with more pt's --

In order to perform at your best, you need --

1) an understanding of the test -- this involves an understanding of the issues themselves (for example, how arguments about causation work), and about the nature of the lsat (the specific ways in which the lsat tests your understanding of causation issues).

2) effective strategies -- for dealing w/specific situations and the test as a whole -- a lot of students focus just on "perfect" strategies, but ideally you want to go into the exam feeling like -- though you do understand "best practices" and habitually use them, you have a thorough set of secondary tools you can reach for when you need to (to illustrate, for LG, you feel that you are smart about how you solve q's most of time, but you get stuck you also feel you know how to grind it out without making mistakes or wasting too much time).

3) skills and habits -- you may know everything about the test, and know all the best strategies, but are you comfortable implementing them? If you are comfortable implementing them, are you consistent and habitual about it? (To illustrate the latter issue -- maybe you know of some awesome strategies for framing LG games, but maybe you aren't quite sure of when you ought to utilize them, and you often realize you should have/should not have after the fact.)

At your score level, you really want to make sure you feel you've completely covered all of those bases -- depending on your prep so far, and where any weaknesses might lie, it could be that the trainer best helps address those gaps, or it could be that you just need to take and review some more work to go into the test fully prepared. However, with this time much time left until Sept, I don't see why you couldn't end up getting the benefit of both --

In particular, I think two things that the trainer offers that are relatively unique are --

a) a big picture view of the exam. I think this is particularly valuable on the hardest questions. When you feel lost or confused, having a strong sense of how the test as a whole is designed to work puts you in a better position to adjust accordingly and think about the right things.

To illustrate, with LG, there are many students who get very good at games that fit cleanly into particular categories, but then freeze up or get scared when games don't. Having a clear overall sense of everything that can can happen in games, and of how various types of games are related to one another, puts you in a position to react far better to more advanced situations.

b) tools to help you get better at very, very specific skills --

I hate to disagree w/dd, but I do think the drills and such can be useful for you -- in particular, I think they can help you get rid of small inconsistencies/errors, and they can help you get just a little bit faster/more accurate at the easy or standard questions.

To illustrate, if you look at the free sufficient assumption chapter on my website, you will see a drill on translating conditional statements -- if doing that drill a few times makes you just a little bit more accurate, and a little faster, at translating conditionals, that's a great way to move forward in your prep --

At your score level, you want to be able to spend plenty of time during the exam on the hardest q's -- chances are how you perform on the 10-15 hardest is what will make or break your score --

Certain test takers are able to get to a point where they can deal w/the other 85-90 really fast and without taxing themselves terribly mentally. This puts them in the best position to deal w/the hardest q's. And that's certainly something you want to strive for with all the time you have left between now and September --

Again, having said all that, you are already at such a high score level that you may not need it -- hope the above helps you with your decision, and whether you end up picking up the book or not, please feel free to reach out any time you need any help -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby johmica » Tue May 20, 2014 5:51 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
johmica wrote:
This is all fantastic advice, Mike. Thanks for the input. I have a quick question for you. I'm retaking in September, after having scored a 171 last June. I've been eyeballing your book on the Amazons, and wondering if, with a score already in the 98th percentile, I would benefit from your book. I certainly like the approach you seem to take, from what I've gathered of it from both the reviews and your posts on this forum. But at this point, I definitely want to maximize the productivity of my time and effort, and if you think I'd be better served at this point by going over every PT I can get my hands on, I'd invest the $40 in more PTs (I've got 34 right now, and have worked through well over half of them).

Thanks for the input, and again, thanks for this forum. Your general "through the eyes of the test writers" perspective has definitely influenced the way I approach difficult problems already.


Hi there -- thank you for your interest in the book --

I do think you will find it helpful, but of course I am heavily-biased --

I think your most valuable and most limited asset is time, and you have to decide for yourself whether that time is best spent w/the trainer or, as you said, with more pt's --

In order to perform at your best, you need --

1) an understanding of the test -- this involves an understanding of the issues themselves (for example, how arguments about causation work), and about the nature of the lsat (the specific ways in which the lsat tests your understanding of causation issues).

2) effective strategies -- for dealing w/specific situations and the test as a whole -- a lot of students focus just on "perfect" strategies, but ideally you want to go into the exam feeling like -- though you do understand "best practices" and habitually use them, you have a thorough set of secondary tools you can reach for when you need to (to illustrate, for LG, you feel that you are smart about how you solve q's most of time, but you get stuck you also feel you know how to grind it out without making mistakes or wasting too much time).

3) skills and habits -- you may know everything about the test, and know all the best strategies, but are you comfortable implementing them? If you are comfortable implementing them, are you consistent and habitual about it? (To illustrate the latter issue -- maybe you know of some awesome strategies for framing LG games, but maybe you aren't quite sure of when you ought to utilize them, and you often realize you should have/should not have after the fact.)

At your score level, you really want to make sure you feel you've completely covered all of those bases -- depending on your prep so far, and where any weaknesses might lie, it could be that the trainer best helps address those gaps, or it could be that you just need to take and review some more work to go into the test fully prepared. However, with this time much time left until Sept, I don't see why you couldn't end up getting the benefit of both --

In particular, I think two things that the trainer offers that are relatively unique are --

a) a big picture view of the exam. I think this is particularly valuable on the hardest questions. When you feel lost or confused, having a strong sense of how the test as a whole is designed to work puts you in a better position to adjust accordingly and think about the right things.

To illustrate, with LG, there are many students who get very good at games that fit cleanly into particular categories, but then freeze up or get scared when games don't. Having a clear overall sense of everything that can can happen in games, and of how various types of games are related to one another, puts you in a position to react far better to more advanced situations.

b) tools to help you get better at very, very specific skills --

I hate to disagree w/dd, but I do think the drills and such can be useful for you -- in particular, I think they can help you get rid of small inconsistencies/errors, and they can help you get just a little bit faster/more accurate at the easy or standard questions.

To illustrate, if you look at the free sufficient assumption chapter on my website, you will see a drill on translating conditional statements -- if doing that drill a few times makes you just a little bit more accurate, and a little faster, at translating conditionals, that's a great way to move forward in your prep --

At your score level, you want to be able to spend plenty of time during the exam on the hardest q's -- chances are how you perform on the 10-15 hardest is what will make or break your score --

Certain test takers are able to get to a point where they can deal w/the other 85-90 really fast and without taxing themselves terribly mentally. This puts them in the best position to deal w/the hardest q's. And that's certainly something you want to strive for with all the time you have left between now and September --

Again, having said all that, you are already at such a high score level that you may not need it -- hope the above helps you with your decision, and whether you end up picking up the book or not, please feel free to reach out any time you need any help -- MK



Word. Again, I appreciate the detailed response. I'm ordering the book right now.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby twitterati » Tue May 20, 2014 6:31 pm

Hi Mike,

I'll be taking the June test, but I bought the Trainer only two weeks ago and I'm roughly 25% of the way through it. After going through the LG/LR Bibles and the Manhattan LSAT LG book, my PT scores were in the 167 - 174 range and I thought your book might give me a fresh perspective on approaching all three sections.

In the past week, I was able to move up my average test score to 172 but I would like to (1) reduce my score volatility and (2) move up my average a couple points in these final weeks before the test.

How do you think I should use the remainder of my time with the Trainer? Skip around??

And also, I saw in your bio that you used to be a tutor. In your experience, how much does tiredness affect PT performance? M-F, I usually wake up by 5 am, at work until 5pm or so, and then take a PT around 7pm. I find on weekdays, my raw score is around 5 or 6 points below what I get on the weekend. Should I chalk this up to being tired or should I be focusing more on consistency? Any tips on working full time/making my night time study hours more effective?

Thanks a ton for your help! P.S. the new site design looks nice :D

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed May 21, 2014 3:26 pm

twitterati wrote:Hi Mike,

I'll be taking the June test, but I bought the Trainer only two weeks ago and I'm roughly 25% of the way through it. After going through the LG/LR Bibles and the Manhattan LSAT LG book, my PT scores were in the 167 - 174 range and I thought your book might give me a fresh perspective on approaching all three sections.

In the past week, I was able to move up my average test score to 172 but I would like to (1) reduce my score volatility and (2) move up my average a couple points in these final weeks before the test.

How do you think I should use the remainder of my time with the Trainer? Skip around??

And also, I saw in your bio that you used to be a tutor. In your experience, how much does tiredness affect PT performance? M-F, I usually wake up by 5 am, at work until 5pm or so, and then take a PT around 7pm. I find on weekdays, my raw score is around 5 or 6 points below what I get on the weekend. Should I chalk this up to being tired or should I be focusing more on consistency? Any tips on working full time/making my night time study hours more effective?

Thanks a ton for your help! P.S. the new site design looks nice :D


Hi there --

Thank you for the comment about the site! Did you see the jumping fish? It's the first version of the website that I've made start to finish all by myself -- it was really hard, but also a ton of fun --

In terms of your specific situation --

First off, congrats on getting yourself to such an impressive position -- I know it's so easy to get lost thinking about what might go wrong / what parts of the test might cause trouble, but I think it's also important to remind yourself of how badass you really are. You really want to be aggressive on test day, and to play off of your strengths, rather than wasting energy on your fears, and especially on that test day, you should give yourself just one minute or so where you allow yourself to feel a bit of pride -- you definitely deserve it --

As I've mentioned in a lot of other posts, it's really hard to figure out, at your score level, what will push you up even further -- and you don't want to mess with too much, because surely you are already doing a lot of things right --

Here are a few different suggestions based on where you are at, your desire to maybe push up a couple final points, and your desire to reduce volatility --

1) do as much as you possibly can to take the test as realistically as possible.

Taking pt's after work does most definitely impact things -- the lsat is a crazy workout for your brain, and if it's already tired after a long day it's going to struggle to perform.

The negative consequence of taking pts in that position is that you may form more tired or lazy habits -- and right now you really want to be working to sharpen your reactions as much as possible.

I'm not sure what your work situation is like, but if at all possible, make sure to take the test when you are fresh, and to mimic the test day situation (especially the pressure) as exactly as you possibly can.

2) make sure your timing strategies are set, and use your final pt's to make final tweaks to it and "automate" it

Pressure messes with your sense of time, and how you allocate your time has a big impact on your score -- almost all test takers underperform by at least a bit because they haven't gone into the exam with efficient, practiced, and planned timing strategies, and because they tend to waste a lot of precious time and energy during the exam thinking about what to do about time --

If you already have some effective timing strategies, make sure you utilize these final tests to make it as automatic as possible, so that you have to think about it less and make fewer tough timing decisions on test day. This doesn't mean trying to be perfect with time -- it means knowing how to adjust correctly through the twists and turns of a section.

If you don't feel you have effective timing strategies yet, jump ahead to the final trainer chapters -- 37, 39, and 40 more specifically -- which discuss timing strategy for each section type -- before doing more pt's.

3) skim the rest of the trainer, looking for issues/drills you might find helpful --

I hate to write that (b/c I'd much rather have you read through it carefully) but at the same time, I did my best to make the trainer very "skimmable" -- there are no key points hidden in the middle of paragraphs, and if you look at the bolded, pull quotes, etc. I think it's pretty easy to see what the main points are for every page. Because your time is limited, I suggest you use those markers to figure out what parts of the trainer you want to make sure you get to.

4) in dividing up your remaining prep time, prioritize pt's first and foremost -- make sure you have the time to take/review/prepare for them as much as you need, then allocate what remaining time you have to a combination of learning more in the trainer (or any other resource you might have) or looking at specific q types/doing final mini-drills to address specific issues you've noticed.

Hope that helps and good luck! Reach out if you need anything else -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby jmjm » Mon May 26, 2014 11:06 pm

Hey mike
A question about the strengthen/weaken type.

A study of students showed that those who eat less perform better in exam.
Thus eating less can improve exam performance.

a) all students in the study are similar in age and grade
b) students are not more likely to eat less than the general public
c) students are more likely to eat less than the general public
d) students are more likely to eat significantly less than the general public

For the strengthen questions will an answer choice that fills an assumption or rules out flaws with the study be credited? If so (a), (b) would strengthen and (c), (d) would weaken but it seems hard. When lsat stimulus mentions a study then are we expected to think that the study is done properly by default or can we expose issues with the study (to weaken) or validate the study further (to strengthen)? It seems that for str/wkn questions with study/survey/sampling stim, answers that do this are hard to rule out but are non-credit (e.g. 62.1.16).

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby cavalier2015 » Tue May 27, 2014 11:29 pm

really love the book, has helped me a bunch. i still have a nagging question.

could you please give me a solid strategy to attack sufficient questions?

this is what i do currently:

1) read question stem to see if it is a sufficient question
2) find and underline the conclusion (and/or interdependent conclusions)
3) find and underline the premise (or premises)
4) compare the terms in the conclusion to the terms in the premise
5) if step 4 shows that there is a term mentioned in the conclusion not mentioned in the premise, i eliminate answer choices that DO NOT mention the word
6) now i focus of choices that mention the concept found in the conclusion but not the premise (this usually leaves me with 2 and am unsure what to do here)
7) if step 4 doesn't work, meaning that i cannot find a term shift between conclusion and premise, I assume there is a gap between the premises
last step: compare premises for term shift and eliminate answer choices based off that

this helps me get level 1 and most of level 2 questions right in the Cambridge Sufficient questions packet but i miss a lot of level 3 and 4s. I am looking for advice as to how to better attack this type of question and strategies that are helpful in eliminating wrong answers.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby jmjm » Wed May 28, 2014 5:05 am

Hey mike
Adding on to my previous post about strengthen/weaken questions.

As the stimulus of these questions contain much wider gaps/flaws than other questions, when looking for a strengthener or weakener that fills the gap or widens the gap (exposes a flaw) the task of understanding precisely the assumptions in the stim is sometimes harder. Does one need to only handle the gap due to the necessary assumptions of the stim or also the sufficient ones? Since the gap is wider there is more ways to justify the argument and any choice that helps justify the argument can strengthen. But only those choices that expose a necessary (not sufficient) assumptions will be the weakeners, correct. However, there are many wide gap questions where it seems hard to know exactly if an answer choice is making an assumption more likely to be true or less likely to be true (70.1.25 D).

For example, 61.4.21 D uses the fuzzy "no clear evidence" phrasing. Even though it leaves open the possibility of some evidence being present, it also discards the presence of clear evidence. So, depending on which of these interpretations has more weight as a necessary assumption is in the stim, this choice may strengthen or weaken. It seems that the difficult questions in this question category are the ones where a wrong answer choice will attempt to fill the gap (for strengthen questions) but wouldn't do so to a good enough extent. Is there a way to know how much is good enough?

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed May 28, 2014 8:04 pm

cavalier2015 wrote:really love the book, has helped me a bunch. i still have a nagging question.

could you please give me a solid strategy to attack sufficient questions?

this is what i do currently:

1) read question stem to see if it is a sufficient question
2) find and underline the conclusion (and/or interdependent conclusions)
3) find and underline the premise (or premises)
4) compare the terms in the conclusion to the terms in the premise
5) if step 4 shows that there is a term mentioned in the conclusion not mentioned in the premise, i eliminate answer choices that DO NOT mention the word
6) now i focus of choices that mention the concept found in the conclusion but not the premise (this usually leaves me with 2 and am unsure what to do here)
7) if step 4 doesn't work, meaning that i cannot find a term shift between conclusion and premise, I assume there is a gap between the premises
last step: compare premises for term shift and eliminate answer choices based off that

this helps me get level 1 and most of level 2 questions right in the Cambridge Sufficient questions packet but i miss a lot of level 3 and 4s. I am looking for advice as to how to better attack this type of question and strategies that are helpful in eliminating wrong answers.


Hi Cavalier --

Thanks for the comments about the book and let's see if I can help --

As I often say, please keep in mind that in order to give specific advice I have to make some guesses about what you are thinking / what is causing you trouble -- you know yourself best, and if I'm off in my assessment, please feel free to ignore irrelevant advice, or continue the conversation further so that I can be more helpful --

When I read what you wrote, the strongest impression I get is that you’ve incorporated a lot of different strategies and suggestions, perhaps without being careful enough about how they come together, and you’ve fallen prey to the very common temptation to add too many strategies on top of one another. More specifically, what you wrote has the signs of incorporating certain strategies that come from a very different mindset about the LSAT than what is revealed in the trainer (to put it more bluntly -- your strategies seem to incorporate suggestions from teachers I disagree with, though please don’t ask me to get more specific than that) --

Of course that’s totally fine -- tons and tons of people have great success using strategies very different from those in the trainer -- but, in terms of approaching the test in the ways that I recommend in the book, here are a few principles that I think are very important for you to keep in mind --

1) Understand that the test consists of reasoning and reading issues -- these are certainly intertwined, but you also want to and need to think of them and understand them as being distinct.

To illustrate, if I have an argument:

“Mike lives by the beach. He must love the ocean.”

Recognizing the fault in the argument (the unwarranted assumption that because I live by the beach I must love the ocean) is a reasoning issue.

Being able to see how an answer that might be sufficient to take care of that issue can be worded in a variety of different ways is what I call a reading issue.

I think the specific focus you have on looking for a term-shift, which is simply one of many tools in your arsenal, brings reading and reasoning together in an overly simplified way, and prevents you from using your reasoning and reading skills at their fullest.

So again, make sure understand the various reasoning issues, make sure you understand the various reading issues, and make sure you are giving yourself plenty of chance to account for both.

2) Evaluating the stimulus and evaluating the answers are two separate steps, and you want to habitually expect to have a certain understanding of the stimulus before going into the answer choices.

It’s not going to work perfectly every time, but ideally what you want to do is --

a) identify the argument
b) recognize the reasoning flaw/think about the type of info that would be sufficient to address that flaw (keep in mind that if you are great at suff assumption q’s, you should be able to have a very, very clear sense of the gap to be addressed for the vast majority of sufficient assumption questions. This is the ideal you want to work toward.)
c) then go into the answer choices, and aggressively seek out reasons why the vast majority of answers do not address the flaw sufficiently
d) then check to see which of the remaining choices (hopefully only 1 or 2 answers, most of the time) is indeed sufficient.

I could be reading into what you wrote incorrectly, but my sense is you aren’t giving yourself a proper chance to use your reasoning skills to think about what’s wrong, and my sense is that you are melting together the process of thinking about the flaw, and evaluating answer choices.

In my opinion, this puts you at a disadvantage, because your understanding of the reasoning gap is the very best tool you have for evaluating those answer choices, and so you ought to give yourself as much chance as possible to understand this gap clearly before going in the answers.

You aren’t going to be able to do so all the time, and in those cases you may have to work backwards and think “this answer does seem relevant to the argument...does it address some issue I didn’t see/address the issue I thought I understood correctly in an unexpected way?” and sometimes you’ll be able to survive tough problems this way, but again, that should be a secondary step, and it seems like you are incorporating it a bit too quickly.

So, those are my thoughts about the strategies you mentioned. As I said before, giving specific advice requires me to make a lot of conjectures -- please feel free to ignore anything that doesn’t apply, and please don’t hesitate to follow up, here or through pm, if you have other q’s --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed May 28, 2014 10:59 pm

jmjm wrote:Hey mike
Adding on to my previous post about strengthen/weaken questions.

As the stimulus of these questions contain much wider gaps/flaws than other questions, when looking for a strengthener or weakener that fills the gap or widens the gap (exposes a flaw) the task of understanding precisely the assumptions in the stim is sometimes harder. Does one need to only handle the gap due to the necessary assumptions of the stim or also the sufficient ones? Since the gap is wider there is more ways to justify the argument and any choice that helps justify the argument can strengthen. But only those choices that expose a necessary (not sufficient) assumptions will be the weakeners, correct. However, there are many wide gap questions where it seems hard to know exactly if an answer choice is making an assumption more likely to be true or less likely to be true (70.1.25 D).

For example, 61.4.21 D uses the fuzzy "no clear evidence" phrasing. Even though it leaves open the possibility of some evidence being present, it also discards the presence of clear evidence. So, depending on which of these interpretations has more weight as a necessary assumption is in the stim, this choice may strengthen or weaken. It seems that the difficult questions in this question category are the ones where a wrong answer choice will attempt to fill the gap (for strengthen questions) but wouldn't do so to a good enough extent. Is there a way to know how much is good enough?


Hey Jmjm -- great q and I appreciate the examples you brought up -- I’m impressed that you noticed a subtle issue and then was able to trace it through several different contexts.

If I understand you correctly,one thing that I think is useful and important to remember is that the right answer will strengthen or weaken the argument -- not the premises in a vacuum, or the conclusion in a vacuum, but rather the argument -- the connection between the support and the conclusion. So, information that validates or exposes issues with a study is only relevant if it is directly related to the reasoning issues in the first place, and in these situations, you should be able to anticipate, most of the time, that such information might be coming. I think if you view it on those terms, it will become easier to see when such answers are relevant and when they are not.

For example (and this is a paraphrase of something in the trainer) -- if we have an argument “My daughter thinks ghosts are real. Therefore ghosts are real,” you can notice that the author is using a belief to validate an absolute truth, and you can anticipate an answer that relates to that issue (that is, an answer that exposes the fact that there is a distinct difference between her understanding -- the equivalent of what a study reveals -- and the truth.)

On the flip side, if I have the argument, “My daughter believes ghosts are real, therefore she believes Casper is real,” the reasoning issue has to do with something else (assuming something about Casper per the general comment about ghosts) and so information about whether my daughter’s beliefs are correct or not is very, very unlikely to be relevant in any way to the argument being made.

Per that statement, in terms of the hypo you started with -- not sure if it’s a paraphrase of something or I’m misinterpreting it, but I don’t quite see how any of the answers strengthen or weaken the correlation-to-causation argument.

In terms of your more specific q’s --

62.1.16 (biopsies q right?) -- (A) is the type of answer that makes you question the validity of the study, but would it work as a weaken answer if this were a weaken question? No - it has no direct bearing on the correlation/causation issues in the argument. Answer C is an answer similar to the ones in your hypo -- if this were a different type of argument, an answer like C could be more relevant, but without knowing more/having a stronger sense of how age and weight are related to the reasoning involved, it’s very tough to say it actually strengthens the reasoning. It literally helps as much as saying “None of the test subjects had been to Sweden.” -- technically speaking, the Sweden answer rules out an alternate causal possibility, but the alternative possibility is so far afield from what it being discussed that it’s impact is essentially nil. Finally, when it comes to correlation/causation reasoning issues, “alternative paths of causation,” must always be a serious consideration, which is why (E) is a significantly stronger answer than all the others offered.

70.1.25 (chemicals q right?) -- Notice that this question is not about an argument at all -- this is not a strengthen the argument question -- instead, you are looking for reasons why a clause ought to be included -- in this case, you want to go into the answer choices thinking “How come the law doesn’t allow for dilution?” and if you think abou the q’s on those terms, (B) is the only answer that is directly related to that specific issue, and it of course works to help explain why the provision was included. (D) does not have a direct bearing on why that specific clause is mentioned (forgive me if you see something I'm not seeing).

61.4.21 (I loved the way you phrased your q about this, and I definitely see what you mean about the two ways of thinking about (D)) -- keep in mind the following combination of factors --
1) whales are mentioned simply as one example of a group
2) this is important in that the argument being made isn’t specifically about how the ich. relates to whales, but to this particular characteristic that is present in the general group of “modern deep-diving marine mammals.”
3) thus to begin with, we’re not necessarily looking to strengthen or weaken the connection to whales, but rather the connection between having this specific characteristic (porous …) and a behavioral trait (deep diving).
4) to give you an analogy to illustrate -- imagine you were told “ichthyousaurs were a different color from whales” -- would that matter? maybe it’d be worth noting if they were the same exact bizarre color, but otherwise it’s very tough to see how a connect/disconnect between the other characteristics of the whale/dinosaur could be relevant.
5) no matter which of the two impressions you take away from (D), neither prevents other characteristics from actually being shared.

When you bring all this together, what I hope you see is that (D) discusses something that is not very relevant to the reasoning at hand, and does so in a way that has unclear consequences -- that all makes it so it does not strengthen or weaken the argument being made.

Sorry if some of that was unclear or if I missed your point/didn't address the right issue -- I am recovering from a nasty case of food poisoning and admittedly a bit delirious -- if I was confusing or off at all, or if you have any follow up, please don’t hesitate to let me know --

Hoped that helped and take care, Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby jmjm » Fri May 30, 2014 1:47 am

The LSAT Trainer wrote:Hey Jmjm -- great q and I appreciate the examples you brought up -- I’m impressed that you noticed a subtle issue and then was able to trace it through several different contexts.

If I understand you correctly,one thing that I think is useful and important to remember is that the right answer will strengthen or weaken the argument -- not the premises in a vacuum, or the conclusion in a vacuum, but rather the argument -- the connection between the support and the conclusion. So, information that validates or exposes issues with a study is only relevant if it is directly related to the reasoning issues in the first place, and in these situations, you should be able to anticipate, most of the time, that such information might be coming. I think if you view it on those terms, it will become easier to see when such answers are relevant and when they are not.

For example (and this is a paraphrase of something in the trainer) -- if we have an argument “My daughter thinks ghosts are real. Therefore ghosts are real,” you can notice that the author is using a belief to validate an absolute truth, and you can anticipate an answer that relates to that issue (that is, an answer that exposes the fact that there is a distinct difference between her understanding -- the equivalent of what a study reveals -- and the truth.)

On the flip side, if I have the argument, “My daughter believes ghosts are real, therefore she believes Casper is real,” the reasoning issue has to do with something else (assuming something about Casper per the general comment about ghosts) and so information about whether my daughter’s beliefs are correct or not is very, very unlikely to be relevant in any way to the argument being made.

Per that statement, in terms of the hypo you started with -- not sure if it’s a paraphrase of something or I’m misinterpreting it, but I don’t quite see how any of the answers strengthen or weaken the correlation-to-causation argument.

In terms of your more specific q’s --

62.1.16 (biopsies q right?) -- (A) is the type of answer that makes you question the validity of the study, but would it work as a weaken answer if this were a weaken question? No - it has no direct bearing on the correlation/causation issues in the argument. Answer C is an answer similar to the ones in your hypo -- if this were a different type of argument, an answer like C could be more relevant, but without knowing more/having a stronger sense of how age and weight are related to the reasoning involved, it’s very tough to say it actually strengthens the reasoning. It literally helps as much as saying “None of the test subjects had been to Sweden.” -- technically speaking, the Sweden answer rules out an alternate causal possibility, but the alternative possibility is so far afield from what it being discussed that it’s impact is essentially nil. Finally, when it comes to correlation/causation reasoning issues, “alternative paths of causation,” must always be a serious consideration, which is why (E) is a significantly stronger answer than all the others offered.

70.1.25 (chemicals q right?) -- Notice that this question is not about an argument at all -- this is not a strengthen the argument question -- instead, you are looking for reasons why a clause ought to be included -- in this case, you want to go into the answer choices thinking “How come the law doesn’t allow for dilution?” and if you think abou the q’s on those terms, (B) is the only answer that is directly related to that specific issue, and it of course works to help explain why the provision was included. (D) does not have a direct bearing on why that specific clause is mentioned (forgive me if you see something I'm not seeing).

61.4.21 (I loved the way you phrased your q about this, and I definitely see what you mean about the two ways of thinking about (D)) -- keep in mind the following combination of factors --
1) whales are mentioned simply as one example of a group
2) this is important in that the argument being made isn’t specifically about how the ich. relates to whales, but to this particular characteristic that is present in the general group of “modern deep-diving marine mammals.”
3) thus to begin with, we’re not necessarily looking to strengthen or weaken the connection to whales, but rather the connection between having this specific characteristic (porous …) and a behavioral trait (deep diving).
4) to give you an analogy to illustrate -- imagine you were told “ichthyousaurs were a different color from whales” -- would that matter? maybe it’d be worth noting if they were the same exact bizarre color, but otherwise it’s very tough to see how a connect/disconnect between the other characteristics of the whale/dinosaur could be relevant.
5) no matter which of the two impressions you take away from (D), neither prevents other characteristics from actually being shared.

When you bring all this together, what I hope you see is that (D) discusses something that is not very relevant to the reasoning at hand, and does so in a way that has unclear consequences -- that all makes it so it does not strengthen or weaken the argument being made.

Sorry if some of that was unclear or if I missed your point/didn't address the right issue -- I am recovering from a nasty case of food poisoning and admittedly a bit delirious -- if I was confusing or off at all, or if you have any follow up, please don’t hesitate to let me know --

Hoped that helped and take care, Mike


Hey mike,
thanks! With respect to the hypo posted earlier, I thought that (a)(b) were strengthening by showing that the study sample is less likely to be flawed ((a) showing that sample points are not unevenly distributed among the control group and the group that eats less, and (b) showing that any the cause (eating less) is not more pronounced in the study sample points (which makes it less likely that the cause-effect relationship of eating less-exam performance is getting highlighted incorrectly because the cause is already more pronounced in the sample)).
Similarly, I thought (c)(d) were weakening by showing that study sample is flawed by being unrepresentative of the scope of the conclusion because the cause (eating less) is more pronounced in the study sample, which can make correlation more pronounced that it really is.

The hypo argument has two shifts: first, extrapolating the result of the study of students to all people and second, extrapolating the correlation to causation.
I see that for (a) one could argue that it may suggest a flawed study because now the sample is just too less diverse and therefore unrepresentative. If one takes the approach that study is not the argument core, which I'm not sure is true considering the above two shifts in the argument, then (b)(c)(d) should have no effect. Why does (b) weaken? Also would then the choices (e) (f) below strengthen by validating the study
(e) students in the study are representative of the general population
(f) students are just as likely to eat less as the general population

The hard part about these questions seems to be that there are large gaps in the argument. Since strengthen/weaken questions work by making any assumption in the argument slightly more likely to be true/untrue (it could be very tiny change), it seems that there is a need to know the assumptions in the argument first. But since the gap is wide like in the hypo, a plethora of sufficient/necessary assumptions can fill it. To me (e) and (f) seem to be the necessary assumptions and by validating them they strengthen. Similarly anything that has the possibility of making the study a bit flawed would attack the necessary assumption involved in the shift and therefore weaken. But identification of necessary assumption for big gap arguments seems interpretive; if there's a (g) choice below, then whether it strengthens or weakens depends on whether the necessary assumption in the argument is that the study must be closely and not necessarily perfectly representative of the general population or that the study must be (perfectly) representative of the general population (ok to assume 100% representative even if perfectly is omitted?). Which is correct?
(g) students in the study closely but not perfectly represent the general population

Even when we are not consciously deciding str/wkn choices based on assumptions, we seem to be subconsciously making judgments about them based on the arguments' suff/nece assumptions, which can be diverse because there can be more than one way to justify the argument. For question such as 61.4.21 I saw the argument as an argument of analogy in which deep-diving marine mammals like whales are used to make a conclusion about ich behavior. If (c) instead said (f) below would it be correct?
(f) In addition to the porous outer shells of their bones, whales have at 3 characteristics suited to deep diving that definitely do not exist in ichthyosaurs.
Last edited by jmjm on Fri May 30, 2014 2:24 am, edited 1 time in total.


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