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 Jul 25, 2014 12:42 pm

jk148706 wrote:Wanted to pop in to say thanks, Mike.

Didn't get exactly what I was hoping for, but scored a 171 with the help of The Trainer.

Thank you for creating such a valuable product.


That's an awesome score --

Thanks for the thanks -- great to be associated w/such top students -- best of luck w/the rest of the application process --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Jul 25, 2014 12:47 pm

AJ_NY wrote:Hi all -

I'm having a hard time doing the 'extreme links' drills at the end of Chapter 31- LSAT Vocabulary (p.460). Could anyone explain what we need to do here?

For example, I don't see how we can know whether this statement - 'If Sarah attends, Fred will not' - is provable/not provable. I don't see how we can make any inference from Sarah's attendance. I don't think I'm getting this exercise. Please help!


Hi AJ --

Not sure if you are using the full book, or just looking at the free lesson --

That extreme links drill is meant be very tough, and it involves several issues that are covered in more depth earlier in the book -- including tough conditional links and tough conditional language.

For more on the conditional logic involved in these problems, please check out chapter 13 and chapter 18 (in case you don't have the book, chapter 18 is available for free on my website) --

For your specific q, we know...

1) If Sara attends, Leon will not attend
2) If Leon doesn't attend, Fred won't

Therefore, if Sara attends, Fred won't.

Best of luck and get in touch if u have any follow up or need anything else -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:13 pm

tweedledee wrote:Hi Mike,

First off, I want to say thank you! I've been using the Trainer for my LSAT prep since April while working full-time, and I've finished the book while following your 16 week schedule with exams 41-68. Your book is amazing and I've gone from a 160 diagnostic to a 172 on my last PT! I originally thought that I'd have to use multiple books but I think the Trainer is truly comprehensive and so, so insightful. I couldn't have made a better purchase! I'm signed up to take the Sept. 27th exam and I was hoping to get some advice on how to finish my prep out strong so that I use full PTs, drills and reviews effectively?

I've only taken a few PTs thus far and my score range since I finished the last chapter of the Trainer has been between 169-172. I'm aiming to score 173+ on test day, and really hoping to get as close to 180 as possible. After finishing the Trainer, my biggest issue was timing for LG. After reviewing your post on this thread about how to speed up, reviewing relevant chapters, and drilling a lot, I've finally gotten my timing in order (thanks for that!). Now, my biggest issue is LR, as I score between -5 and -2 per section. For RC and LG, I average -2 per section. When I review my wrong Qs, some are just stupid careless mistakes and some are though ones. How would you recommend I structure the rest of my time? Should PTs be spread out evenly or should I take less now and more as I get closer to the exam? Should I focus on drills/sections rather than full PTs? Should I take PTs in noisy places like coffee shops to make sure I'm ready for anything on test day?

Also, I have this giant fear of getting a super hard logic game on the day of the test. On a "normal" section, I can finish under 35 mins and get around -2 wrong. But I've found with sections with the harder games (like the one from your mastery challenge/ones from released Feb exams), I can get the right answers (mostly), but typically go over on time. Do you have any advice on how to prep for that?

Thanks for all your help!


Hi there --

Thanks for the note and I'm glad you've found the trainer useful --

In general, I would recommend that you focus mostly on drilling at this point, and then focus mostly on pt's as you get closer to the exam. Review your work carefully, and try to eliminate any and all final areas of weakness (you are going to miss q's once in a while,but you want to make sure that you have a clear understanding of all underlying issues, and habitual strategies for all q types).

In terms of the LG concern -- I think that is (understandably) the most common fear of people at your score level -- getting a killer game you have to struggle through is probably the most negative thing that can happen on test day -- however, you have plenty of time to mitigate this, and if you can go into your exam with less fear of this than everyone else, it'll give you a huge advantage.

So here are some tips

1) Keep working to get faster/more automatic at the easier games.

Arguably the best thing to do for yourself is to get fast enough at games so that you have plenty of time to slow down and work carefully when you run into that killer game.

2) Don't be too tied to game categories

This should be less of a concern b/c you are using the trainer systems, but when students learn games, and develop methods, that are based on rigidly defined game categories, it creates and extra and unnecessary level of challenge on test day -- if you have more generalized systems (for example, notations that are consistent no matter the type of game) it allows you to be more flexible when you run into more unusual games.

3) Get to know all of the unusual games that have appeared really, really well

On the trainer website, I have an infographic with a list of the 10 most unusual games from 29-68, and another infographic with the 10 most challenging games from 29-68. I encourage you to look at those, and, even better, to perhaps put together such lists for your own self (lists of the toughest or most unusual games you've seen, with notes on what makes them unusual or difficult, and the keys to succeeding on them). You can use these to think about how you'd react in real time, and I also encourage you to study these in terms of how they are "twists on the norm" -- I think looking at the rogue games collectively, and thinking about how they are related to the more standard games, can help you develop a stronger instinct about how the test writers think of these unusual games, and how you can get react to them.

4) Make sure you are flexible w/front-end and back-end solving strategies -- front-end strategies include making multiple diagrams up front, seeking big inferences, etc -- the types of things that can break a game wide open. Back-end strategies include exhausting possibilities, creating hypos, etc -- the "messier" ways to solve games.

Some students get really good at the front end stuff, but fall apart when games don't go perfectly (that is, when they have to grind it out). Other students get strong at grinding it out, but not at the front end stuff, so they consistently end up having to do far more work/take longer than they could otherwise.

Make sure you are comfortable attacking games both ways. In practice, try practicing the same game using front-end and back-end methods (that is, one time, try to spend a lot of time up front making frames, inferences etc. with the hope of getting through q's quickly, and then another time try same game again, but limit the work you do upfront and force yourself to do a lot of the work on the back end).

Those are the thoughts that come to mind right now -- one last thing I'll say is that I think it helps to know that the killer game you run into will feel hard for everyone taking the test -- everyone in there with you in that room is going to feel the same "Oh shit, what do I do?!?" panic -- the difference comes in how you react to it, and you want to make sure you are more prepared than everyone else in there to react like an all-star --

HTH -- if you have any follow up or need anything else, just let me know --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby AJ_NY » Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:16 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:For your specific q, we know...1) If Sara attends, Leon will not attend2) If Leon doesn't attend, Fred won't


Hi Mike - Thanks for your reply! I'm almost done with the book, and it's been very helpful, so thank you!

Looking back at the question I asked earlier, I think what confused me was the structure of the second rule: "Leon will only attend if Sarah does not" - I initially diagrmed this as ~S -> L. Would the correct diagramming of this sentence be L -> ~S?

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby ilikebaseball » Fri Jul 25, 2014 2:46 pm

just put my order in for the trainer. Sorta getting nervous that we're around 2 months til test day. I still wanna master LR. I'm trying to keep it consistently at 5 or less combined, because I've gotten the games down. If I can have a trustworthy score for 3/4 sections I can really try and buckle down on my reading comp as test day nears

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby tweedledee » Mon Jul 28, 2014 5:29 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
Hi there --

Thanks for the note and I'm glad you've found the trainer useful --

In general, I would recommend that you focus mostly on drilling at this point, and then focus mostly on pt's as you get closer to the exam. Review your work carefully, and try to eliminate any and all final areas of weakness (you are going to miss q's once in a while,but you want to make sure that you have a clear understanding of all underlying issues, and habitual strategies for all q types).

...


Thanks for the advice! Very much appreciated.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby keosu11 » Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:37 pm

Hey Mike,

Book has been great so far! I tried clicking on the Trainer to Cambridge LR conversion chart link on the first page, but it seems to not be working. Anyway you could post a new link?

Thanks!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:37 pm

keosu11 wrote:Hey Mike,

Book has been great so far! I tried clicking on the Trainer to Cambridge LR conversion chart link on the first page, but it seems to not be working. Anyway you could post a new link?

Thanks!


Hi Keosu --

The moderators just moved my thread into a new category, and I think that messed up all the links -- I'll get them fixed by later on today -- in the meantime, here's the link to the cambridge conversion --

viewtopic.php?f=43&t=209573&start=625#p7449633

Take Care -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby jrdavila09 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 5:01 pm

Hey Mike,

I just wanted to say, I just received your book this past Friday and took my diagnostic (140) this past weekend. I have a 2.8 GPA and 2 years work experience since graduating. I know I will need a 165+ in order to be considered for my dream school (SMU). I had major problems with Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension, I only missed 5 questions on the Logic Games (mainly due to simple mistakes). Do you think I have plenty of time until the December LSAT to get to the range I need to be? Upon looking at your 16 week schedule, and every where I have read said I should be studying 3-4 hours a day to get the score I want, do you think your schedule can help me get there even if it takes me only an hour and half to two hours to complete the tasks of the day? is there anything I can do, besides just using your Trainer, that can help supplement for the RC and LR sections?

Thanks!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby NotASpecialSnowflake » Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:50 pm

Mike I first want to say thanks because you really helped me on my first retake. The LSAT finally made sense. Its helped me make huge strides in LR and RC, and I've been recommending your book to everyone who I know is taking the LSAT.

I also have a question. I've taken a ton of practice tests and the questions are starting to become different than before. I'm not sure how to describe it, but I instinctively drift towards the right answers. I know an answer is right, but I don't know why it is right. I guess its my elephant working, and while I'm doing really well on my PTs, I'm having more trouble identifying the questions that I'm getting wrong (and making the same errors). I am also concerned this is a problem with retaking old PTs.

Do you have any advice for this type of problem? Thanks!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Aug 06, 2014 2:15 pm

NotASpecialSnowflake wrote:Mike I first want to say thanks because you really helped me on my first retake. The LSAT finally made sense. Its helped me make huge strides in LR and RC, and I've been recommending your book to everyone who I know is taking the LSAT.

I also have a question. I've taken a ton of practice tests and the questions are starting to become different than before. I'm not sure how to describe it, but I instinctively drift towards the right answers. I know an answer is right, but I don't know why it is right. I guess its my elephant working, and while I'm doing really well on my PTs, I'm having more trouble identifying the questions that I'm getting wrong (and making the same errors). I am also concerned this is a problem with retaking old PTs.

Do you have any advice for this type of problem? Thanks!


Hey --

Thanks for the thanks -- I know exactly what you are talking about (I suffer the same issues to an extreme degree), and, like you alluded to, it's a bit of a good thing and a bad thing -- it indicates a greater level of comfort, but it also makes you a bit more susceptible to overlooking something --

I have two suggestions that might be useful for you --

1) work to ensure that you consistently utilize multiple ways to confirm the correct answer

For certain types of questions, you should be able to anticipate quite a bit about the answer choice. For example, students at a top level should be able to anticipate the substance (though not the wording) of the right answer for pretty much every single flaw problem. The better you are able to anticipate, the less you will be attracted to tempting wrong choices.

When you review your work, always think carefully about what you could have/should have known/anticipated about the right answer based on the stimulus, and try to hold yourself to a higher and higher level of expectation in this regard.

And on the flip side, as I emphasize incessantly in the book, you want to keep working to get more and more absolute about confirming the right answer (has to match stimulus and task) and (perhaps more importantly) eliminating the wrong ones. To give you some reference --

If I were to drill a full LR section just looking for right answers, I feel pretty good about my chances of going -0, but I know I might misread or overlook something and miss a problem.

If I were to drill a full LR section just looking for reasons to eliminate wrong answers (without confirming that the right one is right), I feel the same way -- I feel pretty good about my chances of going -0, but there may be a problem I get tripped up on.

I always habitually try to do both -- I prove the wrong answers wrong and the right answer right -- going through both of those layers makes it very, very unlikely I will ever miss a problem. I think having these layers is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you can stay in your flow, but also not make avoidable mistakes.

2) When you are reusing q's you've seen before, I suggest you push the pace a bit more (say, 30 - 32 minutes for a full LR section, or equivalent for drilling) to offset the slight advantage that familiarity gives you.

Hope those help -- if u have any follow up, or need anything else, just let me know -- mk

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Aug 06, 2014 2:52 pm

jrdavila09 wrote:Hey Mike,

I just wanted to say, I just received your book this past Friday and took my diagnostic (140) this past weekend. I have a 2.8 GPA and 2 years work experience since graduating. I know I will need a 165+ in order to be considered for my dream school (SMU). I had major problems with Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension, I only missed 5 questions on the Logic Games (mainly due to simple mistakes). Do you think I have plenty of time until the December LSAT to get to the range I need to be? Upon looking at your 16 week schedule, and every where I have read said I should be studying 3-4 hours a day to get the score I want, do you think your schedule can help me get there even if it takes me only an hour and half to two hours to complete the tasks of the day? is there anything I can do, besides just using your Trainer, that can help supplement for the RC and LR sections?

Thanks!


Hi there --

Thanks for trusting in my book and I look forward to seeing how it works out for you --

I'm sure you've seen the stats and I'm sure you don't need me to tell you, but getting a 165+ score is very, very difficult -- most test takers will not get there, no matter their starting point, and even if they spend a significant amount of time and resources on their prep.

However, some students do figure out how to get very good at this exam, and though of course I don't know you personally (maybe you are nutz :)), I see no reason why you can't be one of them.

Here are some general thoughts that might be useful to you at this stage -- all of these topics are discussed at greater length in the book --

1) Your prep should consist of learning, drilling, and practice exams, with plenty of review throughout.

The schedules account for all three phases, and the trainer is meant to be the primary component of your learning phase.

If you find that you have the time and would like to look at additional learning products, by all means you should do so (and powerscore and 7sage are the first two alternative viewpoints that I'd recommend). If you feel that the trainer provides you with the learning you need, but you have the time to do more work than is assigned on the schedule, I recommend that you push the pace and get a bit ahead, with the idea that you can get into drilling earlier and do more of it.

2) Getting better at the LSAT is about developing better skills and habits.

These skills and habits come about as a result of better understanding, better strategies, and more experience, and the connection between these three components -- that is, when you use your understanding to shape strategies, put strategies to work on actual problems and see the results, and so on.

You can't study for the LSAT passively -- keep in mind that the end goal of everything you read/try/etc. is to help you get better and better at solving problems in real time. Always work to link together your learning, strategies, and experience, and use your skills and habits as your primary gauge of improvement. That is, as the weeks pass, instead of saying "I think I'm getting better at the LSAT because I've read X, spent this much time doing Y, etc." you want to be able to say "I know I'm getting better at the LSAT because I'm now able to do X, Y, and Z."

3) And finally,, here are some common characteristics of successful students --

The students I've worked with/seen who have made such improvements typically have
a) a great work ethic
b) self-awareness
c) an ability to change

Nobody is perfect and we all have weaknesses, but there are steps you can take to help yourself in these three areas (such as keeping a study schedule to hold yourself accountable, or taking detailed notes on what you thought about as you solved a q) and I encourage you to do so.

Hope that helps and I wish you the best -- if you need me along the way, just get in touch -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby joeisreallycool » Mon Aug 11, 2014 4:16 pm

Hi Mike,

First off I want to thank you for writing the LSAT trainer, and for consistently answering all of these questions to the best of your ability. It really means a lot to me and to this whole community.

I picked up your book because of the phenomenal reviews I heard it got, specifically in teaching LR, which has by far been the bane of my existence. Your tips and drills in finding the flaw seriously opened my eyes and assumption questions rarely phase me. I've found that I actually cannot turn off finding the flaw, and I have lost subsequent friends because of this.

That is besides the point though. Going from sucking at LR as a whole to now only a few question types is a great feeling that I owe to you. My question now is what do I do with my weakness, which is basically parallel reasoning+flaw/Most strongly supported. Any one size fits all tips on these types of questions?

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:08 pm

Hey everyone --

Just wanted to let you know I've put out a new (beta) version of a d.i.y. study schedule -- you can find it here --

http://www.thelsattrainer.com/assets/d.i.y.lsattrainerstudyschedule(beta).pdf

This schedule allows you to make adjustments for the amount of prep time that you have, or for the practice exams that you want to utilize. It should prove especially relevant for retakers and those who started using the trainer later in their prep.

The schedule includes a breakdown of all LR q's and LG games from exams 29-71. Even if you aren't preparing with the trainer, you may find these breakdowns to be of use.

This is a beta version, so please let me know if you spot any errors, find any parts confusing, or have any suggestions for how to improve it --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Aug 14, 2014 6:05 pm

joeisreallycool wrote:Hi Mike,

First off I want to thank you for writing the LSAT trainer, and for consistently answering all of these questions to the best of your ability. It really means a lot to me and to this whole community.

I picked up your book because of the phenomenal reviews I heard it got, specifically in teaching LR, which has by far been the bane of my existence. Your tips and drills in finding the flaw seriously opened my eyes and assumption questions rarely phase me. I've found that I actually cannot turn off finding the flaw, and I have lost subsequent friends because of this.

That is besides the point though. Going from sucking at LR as a whole to now only a few question types is a great feeling that I owe to you. My question now is what do I do with my weakness, which is basically parallel reasoning+flaw/Most strongly supported. Any one size fits all tips on these types of questions?


Hey --

Thanks so much for your comments -- I appreciate hearing them --

And sorry for the delay -- (as you'll see) I had a lot of thoughts about your q and needed some time to bring them together.

As I often say, I'm not quite sure what's going to apply to your situation, so I'll mention a few different things that you might find helpful -- please feel free to use what u want and ignore whatever is not relevant.

1) Keep in mind that these questions often represent harder ways of testing the very same things that other q types do, and so they can be very useful for exposing some underlying fundamental weaknesses that may be easier to overlook on easier q’s --

This has to do both with the nature of the q’s themselves, and the way in which the test writers choose to utilize them.

To illustrate, if we were to compare a Match the Flaw to an ID the Flaw q --

For the ID the Flaw q, imagine you go into the answers with a 70% correct sense of the reasoning issue in the argument -- maybe all 4 wrong answers have obvious tells and can be easily eliminated, and, when you see the right answer, it helps fill in the remaining 30% of your understanding and you can answer w/confidence (and feel that you understood the flaw “well enough” initially).

Now imagine going into Match the Flaw answers w/the same 70% correct sense of the reasoning issue in the argument -- now you have to try to hold on to this sense as you focus your primary attention on the unique and new situation each answer choice presents -- you have to hold on to it as you mentally structure these individual answers, and try to find their own unique flaws. All these actions can very likely reduce your level of understanding far below the 70% you started with, and make it that much more difficult to recognize the right match when you run into it.

All of the q types you brought up require this sort of extra thinking/work, and so again, they can be useful for exposing fundamental issues (such as not understanding the reasoning flaw as absolutely as you can/should) you may not notice while solving other types of q’s.

Additionally, as I mentioned, it also has to do w/way test writers choose to design LR sections -- typically (in large part obviously because these q types are more difficult by nature), they tend to use these q types for the harder q’s in a section -- you are far more likely to see them show up at the end of a section then the beginning of one.That in and of itself can explain at least in part why these q’s can, as a whole, feel more difficult.


2) When I think about what all these q types -- Match Flaw, Match Reasoning, MSS -- have in common, it’s that they all require very strong elimination skills.

To give an analogy -- do you remember those worksheet games you used to play as a kid where you are given one drawing of something, and then four others that are almost identical except for that in 3 of the 4 the artist has changed something (3 bananas in the original picture/4 in the new picture, etc.), and the goal of the game is to identify the correct match?

Now, imagine you have a fairly complex picture, and you take just one of those answer choices and spend a ton of time comparing it to the original. Imagine you can’t find any differences, no matter how hard you try -- would you feel 100% confident that you’ve gotten the right match? I certainly wouldn’t. There is no “proof” that I am right, and I’d be concerned I missed something.

So, in that situation, what you can you do to feel 100% confidence? You can find things wrong with the remaining three options. If you can find definitely differences in those other three, you can know for sure that the one remaining is the right match.

All three q types you mentioned are ones for which it’s very, very difficult to feel a sense of absolute confidence just from choosing a good match. However, for all of those problems, every single wrong answer has something that is absolutely inconsistent with the information given in the stimulus.

To expand on this a bit more, if you think of a sufficient assumption question, or a required assumption question, there are ways to know with certainty that a right answer is right -- the answer has to fulfill a very specific task (which you can define ahead of time) and you can verify an answer relative to that task. The right answer to a “most supported” or “match the reasoning” will be very consistent with the given stimulus, but the verification process won’t give you the same sense of absolute correctness.

So, I know I stress elimination techniques a lot in the book, but I can’t over-emphasize how important it is prioritize them for the three types of questions you brought up.

With that in mind, here are some things you can do to help yourself eliminate better --

a) Give yourself extra time for these q’s -- they require more steps and take longer, and they are harder -- the last thing you want to do is rush by holding yourself to the same timing standards you use for easier q’s. If you can get fast enough at other q’s to have up to 1:40 or so per any one of these q’s (you often won’t need to use all that time but nice to know it’s there) it will give you a better chance to perform your steps more accurately.

b) Know what you ought to get out of the stimulus -- For each of these q types, the “main event” is the elimination process -- however, how easy or difficult that elimination process is is based on what’s in your mind after you are done going through the stimulus.

Make sure that you are prepared enough before going into the answers choices to be able to notice and catch suspicious or inconsistent elements in the answer choices.

More specifically --

For Match the flaw -- you ought to have a very strong sense of the type of point being made, and the reasoning issue in the original argument.

For Match the reasoning -- you ought to have a very strong sense of the conclusion and premise(s) (and the relationship between them).

For Inference -- you ought to have a general sense of the main subject matter discussed, and a very strong sense of the relationships -- the stated links between the various elements mentioned.

c) Next, you want to be really, really good at proving with absolute certainty that answers are wrong. You want to develop a rhythm where you spot suspicious elements in answer choices, match those against the text to confirm they are inconsistent, then eliminate answers. Get automatic at this and all these q types become much easier.

d) Only when you have eliminated as much as possible do you then start to evaluate whether answers could be correct -- I recommend that you try to confirm in as many “layers” as possible -- for example, for a match the flaw, you want to first think about whether they have the same type of flaw, then the same type of conclusion, then the same type of support. If an answer hits the mark on all three fronts, you are in good shape.


Those are my thoughts for now -- try some of those suggestions out and see if they help -- if you happen to run into a particularly tough q that causes you trouble when you try to apply some of those recommendations, feel free to post it and I’ll be happy to discuss w/you --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby JazzyMac » Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:07 pm

Hello again!

I've finally began LSAT study. Talk about a wave of emotions! From stress to confidence to pure psycho-mode.

I downloaded the 16-week schedule with full knowledge that my work schedule would make it a more self-paced effort. However, after more than a month, I'm anxious to complete the first month schedule. This includes...well you know what it includes!

Okay, so my question, and I posted here instead of a PM because perhaps folks just hitting your book might have the same inquiry.

I decided not to work the drills until after completing various Lessons. For instance, I decided to do Drills 1-3 after Lesson 8 and before moving on to Lesson 9. It just works with my schedule and the amount of books I carry throughout the day (study books, work documents, gym clothes, lunch, snacks, etc.).

Anyway, on to my actual question. Your In-Lesson drills ask to find flaws. I felt I was doing great in finding a flaw to the scenario, but then I get to an actual test question and now I'm supposed to strengthen or weaken an argument. I cannot relate and it's making me feel (inadequate) like I didn't understand the lesson. How can I further strengthen the bond between what I read in the lesson and relating it to the test/drill questions?

Also, we're asked to find the flaws in the drills. But I've noticed most of my flaws are way different than your answers. Are the answers supposed to match? Or do you just want us to get in the habit of finding the flaw?

And I noticed in the earlier lessons you said to try and use "Fails to consider" and "Takes for granted". But I didn't use them in other lessons. Am I supposed to be doing that? Will it make the lessons easier to understand?

Here's a for instance: On page 90, #16 I put "greater impact does not equal only impact" And I also put various other considerations like "absorbency, cost, size, color" as reasons someone may purchase the item.

Your answer to that somewhat relates...but it's way different. Am I supposed to be thinking along those/your lines?

Do these questions make sense? Thanks a lot!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby flash21 » Wed Aug 20, 2014 4:14 pm

Mike Kim! I was wondering when the best time to start taking PT's consistently would be, I am taking in December. Appreciate the advice.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby joeisreallycool » Sat Aug 23, 2014 3:59 pm

Hey Mike,

Reiterating what I said before, your advice and your presence alone on this forum is something extraordinary. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question, and so in depth at that. Talk about customer service, you went and almost gave me another chapter on specific weaknesses that I personally have, the importance of elimination, and steps on how to get better it.

From your post alone I am already seeing improvements in MSS and MBT questions, drastically reducing the number I get wrong. Matching is a different beast, but I feel like I am starting to get the hang of it. Definitely go in with more confidence. It will click eventually.

I loved your analogy as I played those matching games all the time. I want to ask you for one more however. I try and relate aspects of my life to other parts in a multitude of ways, in this example the gym and LSAT prep. When you first start going to the gym what is highly recommended are four exercises called compound exercises. Compound being that they work a multitude of muscles. They are the bench press, squat, deadlift, and pullups (I count pullups). My question to you is, what in your opinion, are the compound exercises of LR? What four question types can I drill that benefit my ability to answer other questions on a grand scale?

Thanks for everything Mike,

Joe

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
joeisreallycool wrote:Hi Mike,

First off I want to thank you for writing the LSAT trainer, and for consistently answering all of these questions to the best of your ability. It really means a lot to me and to this whole community.

I picked up your book because of the phenomenal reviews I heard it got, specifically in teaching LR, which has by far been the bane of my existence. Your tips and drills in finding the flaw seriously opened my eyes and assumption questions rarely phase me. I've found that I actually cannot turn off finding the flaw, and I have lost subsequent friends because of this.

That is besides the point though. Going from sucking at LR as a whole to now only a few question types is a great feeling that I owe to you. My question now is what do I do with my weakness, which is basically parallel reasoning+flaw/Most strongly supported. Any one size fits all tips on these types of questions?


Hey --

Thanks so much for your comments -- I appreciate hearing them --

And sorry for the delay -- (as you'll see) I had a lot of thoughts about your q and needed some time to bring them together.

As I often say, I'm not quite sure what's going to apply to your situation, so I'll mention a few different things that you might find helpful -- please feel free to use what u want and ignore whatever is not relevant.

1) Keep in mind that these questions often represent harder ways of testing the very same things that other q types do, and so they can be very useful for exposing some underlying fundamental weaknesses that may be easier to overlook on easier q’s --

This has to do both with the nature of the q’s themselves, and the way in which the test writers choose to utilize them.

To illustrate, if we were to compare a Match the Flaw to an ID the Flaw q --

For the ID the Flaw q, imagine you go into the answers with a 70% correct sense of the reasoning issue in the argument -- maybe all 4 wrong answers have obvious tells and can be easily eliminated, and, when you see the right answer, it helps fill in the remaining 30% of your understanding and you can answer w/confidence (and feel that you understood the flaw “well enough” initially).

Now imagine going into Match the Flaw answers w/the same 70% correct sense of the reasoning issue in the argument -- now you have to try to hold on to this sense as you focus your primary attention on the unique and new situation each answer choice presents -- you have to hold on to it as you mentally structure these individual answers, and try to find their own unique flaws. All these actions can very likely reduce your level of understanding far below the 70% you started with, and make it that much more difficult to recognize the right match when you run into it.

All of the q types you brought up require this sort of extra thinking/work, and so again, they can be useful for exposing fundamental issues (such as not understanding the reasoning flaw as absolutely as you can/should) you may not notice while solving other types of q’s.

Additionally, as I mentioned, it also has to do w/way test writers choose to design LR sections -- typically (in large part obviously because these q types are more difficult by nature), they tend to use these q types for the harder q’s in a section -- you are far more likely to see them show up at the end of a section then the beginning of one.That in and of itself can explain at least in part why these q’s can, as a whole, feel more difficult.


2) When I think about what all these q types -- Match Flaw, Match Reasoning, MSS -- have in common, it’s that they all require very strong elimination skills.

To give an analogy -- do you remember those worksheet games you used to play as a kid where you are given one drawing of something, and then four others that are almost identical except for that in 3 of the 4 the artist has changed something (3 bananas in the original picture/4 in the new picture, etc.), and the goal of the game is to identify the correct match?

Now, imagine you have a fairly complex picture, and you take just one of those answer choices and spend a ton of time comparing it to the original. Imagine you can’t find any differences, no matter how hard you try -- would you feel 100% confident that you’ve gotten the right match? I certainly wouldn’t. There is no “proof” that I am right, and I’d be concerned I missed something.

So, in that situation, what you can you do to feel 100% confidence? You can find things wrong with the remaining three options. If you can find definitely differences in those other three, you can know for sure that the one remaining is the right match.

All three q types you mentioned are ones for which it’s very, very difficult to feel a sense of absolute confidence just from choosing a good match. However, for all of those problems, every single wrong answer has something that is absolutely inconsistent with the information given in the stimulus.

To expand on this a bit more, if you think of a sufficient assumption question, or a required assumption question, there are ways to know with certainty that a right answer is right -- the answer has to fulfill a very specific task (which you can define ahead of time) and you can verify an answer relative to that task. The right answer to a “most supported” or “match the reasoning” will be very consistent with the given stimulus, but the verification process won’t give you the same sense of absolute correctness.

So, I know I stress elimination techniques a lot in the book, but I can’t over-emphasize how important it is prioritize them for the three types of questions you brought up.

With that in mind, here are some things you can do to help yourself eliminate better --

a) Give yourself extra time for these q’s -- they require more steps and take longer, and they are harder -- the last thing you want to do is rush by holding yourself to the same timing standards you use for easier q’s. If you can get fast enough at other q’s to have up to 1:40 or so per any one of these q’s (you often won’t need to use all that time but nice to know it’s there) it will give you a better chance to perform your steps more accurately.

b) Know what you ought to get out of the stimulus -- For each of these q types, the “main event” is the elimination process -- however, how easy or difficult that elimination process is is based on what’s in your mind after you are done going through the stimulus.

Make sure that you are prepared enough before going into the answers choices to be able to notice and catch suspicious or inconsistent elements in the answer choices.

More specifically --

For Match the flaw -- you ought to have a very strong sense of the type of point being made, and the reasoning issue in the original argument.

For Match the reasoning -- you ought to have a very strong sense of the conclusion and premise(s) (and the relationship between them).

For Inference -- you ought to have a general sense of the main subject matter discussed, and a very strong sense of the relationships -- the stated links between the various elements mentioned.

c) Next, you want to be really, really good at proving with absolute certainty that answers are wrong. You want to develop a rhythm where you spot suspicious elements in answer choices, match those against the text to confirm they are inconsistent, then eliminate answers. Get automatic at this and all these q types become much easier.

d) Only when you have eliminated as much as possible do you then start to evaluate whether answers could be correct -- I recommend that you try to confirm in as many “layers” as possible -- for example, for a match the flaw, you want to first think about whether they have the same type of flaw, then the same type of conclusion, then the same type of support. If an answer hits the mark on all three fronts, you are in good shape.


Those are my thoughts for now -- try some of those suggestions out and see if they help -- if you happen to run into a particularly tough q that causes you trouble when you try to apply some of those recommendations, feel free to post it and I’ll be happy to discuss w/you --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:45 pm

mornincounselor wrote:Mike, my question is about those pesky high-difficulty parallel reasoning / parallel flawed reasoning questions that often appear in the last few questions of a section.

Would you agree that the best way to answer these questions is to write out the conditional relationships for the prompt and then find the choice which best matches it? If so, do you have any tips for eliminating choices prior to jumping in and writing out the conditionals for each of the choices?

For example, in 60-3-23, since the prompt says that a species will do something can we use that and eliminate the choices which don't use the same language? What are some other words which, if they appear in the prompt, also (or which in fact do) allow us to eliminate choices which do not contain the words.

Additionally, assuming we are running short of time do you have any good tips for accurately guessing at these questions?

Thanks Mike.


Hey MC -

Not sure if u saw but gave some advice about // in previous response to joeisreallycool -- i’ll expand on what I wrote there and try to give some advice more specific to difficult q’s --

I know that my advice might differ from that you’ve gotten elsewhere, and obviously other systems have been very effective for students, so please free to ignore what I say and try it a bunch of different ways etc. to see what works for you --

Having said that...

I don’t think that it’s a good idea to write out the conditional prompts -- and in fact I’d only recommend you do something like that only as a secondary strategy -- when you are finding it impossible to see the flaw in a clearly conditional argument, for example, or when you find the reasoning structure for a //-reasoning q simply too difficult to understand or organize.

i think some of the dangers are-
1) it causes you waste time doing more work than is necessary
2) it creates chances to make mistakes that wouldn’t otherwise be there
3) it artificially focuses you in on just conditional relationships, when there could be other issues
4) it can make you try to think about too much at once
5) it can distract you from focusing in on the conclusion-support relationship

in place of diagramming, in my opinion it is generally much easier and faster to simply compare diff parts of answers to stimulus -- for match the reasoning --

1) same type of conclusion?

2) same type of support?

3) same type of reasoning relationship?

For the easier q’s, if you get really good at zeroing in on differences, you’ll be able to get rid of the vast, vast majority of wrong choices because they have very different general structure -- they reach a different type of conclusion (causal instead of conditional, absolutes vs tendencies, etc.) or use a different type of support (the original argument brought two premises together but answer just have one premise, or original had example as support and answer has principle as support, etc.).

The hardest answers to eliminate are those with very similar structures but subtly different reasoning relationships -- if you sometimes need to diagram in service of thinking about this, by all means do so (and I could see needing to diagram some of the answers for the q you brought up - 60-3-23 -- to make sure they are wrong/right). However, also keep in mind that just as often the difference arises from something like the use of a modifier or a subtle change in the relationship between the subjects mentioned in premise/conclusion, things that notation doesn’t necessary clarify.

For Match the Flaw, the absolute key is to be able to see the matching flaw -- duh -- I know you know that -- the point I want to emphasize is this: everything else doesn’t really matter, and the best method the test writers have for tempting you with wrong choices or steering you away from right ones is by by creating commonalities or differences that aren’t that relevant to the very specific task at hand -- having the same type of flaw -- So, you don't want to look for every little thing that's different -- as with all other q types, you need to be able to correctly prioritize.

Ideally, you always always always want to pick a right answer because you see the exact same problem between it and the original argument -- if you don’t see the flaw correctly at any point in the process, there is nothing you can do to feel 100% confident in your answer (b/c it will mean you selected an answer w/o being able to perform the main task asked of you).

Okay, so what does this mean in terms of process? --

1) you really want to have a very clear sense of the flaw before going into the answers. For me, a good gauge of a “clear enough” sense is that I could look up from the argument and without looking back at it, describe the flaw clearly in words, and give examples of other arguments that have the same flaw. Obviously you don’t need to actually do this, but you want to push yourself to hold it that well in your head before going into the answers. It's so tempting to rush into the answers, but give yourself the time to organize and clarify your understanding.

2) for each answer choice, you want to id the conclusion, id the support, and make sure it doesn’t have the same type of flaw (you don’t have to figure out exactly what’s wrong, simply need to know the same thing isn’t wrong). During the process, you’ll often find that an answer reaches an very different type of conclusion, or uses a different type of premise, and you can eliminate answers as soon as you notice that.

2b) you do not want to try to compare the entirety of the stimulus with the entirety of the answer choice, and you don’t want to nit pick every single detail w/o a proper sense of context and role.

3) sometimes u won’t be able to see the flaw in original argument as clearly as you’d like -- the LSAT is obviously a very hard and very well made exam -- in these situations, you want to get rid of as many wrong choices as possible, try to see the flaw in a remaining answer choice clearly, then using that understanding, go back to the original argument, and use what you know to clarify your understanding of original -- either it will make you see the original issue better (b/c it’s the right choice and has same issue) , or you’ll notice something different about it (which is a sign it’s not the right answer).

Finally, in terms of guessing on these if running out of time --

First off, though I hate the idea of you having to guess on any, these are indeed good options if you must, simply because even when they are of same difficulty as other q’s, these are problems that are designed to take you longer --

If you need to guess -- I suggest you scan the stimulus for conclusion, then support -- scan answer choices just trying to ID conclusions and support, and pick one answer which seems to have most similar general structure. i’m willing to bet you can get to a 60-80% level of accuracy this way -- again, not ideal, but it does work. BTW, I think it's nice to use q's you've already done for exercises such as this --

Nothing groundbreaking, but I hope that gives you some food for thought -- if you have any follow up, or need anything else, let me know --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:11 pm

JazzyMac wrote:Hello again!

I've finally began LSAT study. Talk about a wave of emotions! From stress to confidence to pure psycho-mode.

I downloaded the 16-week schedule with full knowledge that my work schedule would make it a more self-paced effort. However, after more than a month, I'm anxious to complete the first month schedule. This includes...well you know what it includes!

Okay, so my question, and I posted here instead of a PM because perhaps folks just hitting your book might have the same inquiry.

I decided not to work the drills until after completing various Lessons. For instance, I decided to do Drills 1-3 after Lesson 8 and before moving on to Lesson 9. It just works with my schedule and the amount of books I carry throughout the day (study books, work documents, gym clothes, lunch, snacks, etc.).

Anyway, on to my actual question. Your In-Lesson drills ask to find flaws. I felt I was doing great in finding a flaw to the scenario, but then I get to an actual test question and now I'm supposed to strengthen or weaken an argument. I cannot relate and it's making me feel (inadequate) like I didn't understand the lesson. How can I further strengthen the bond between what I read in the lesson and relating it to the test/drill questions?

Also, we're asked to find the flaws in the drills. But I've noticed most of my flaws are way different than your answers. Are the answers supposed to match? Or do you just want us to get in the habit of finding the flaw?

And I noticed in the earlier lessons you said to try and use "Fails to consider" and "Takes for granted". But I didn't use them in other lessons. Am I supposed to be doing that? Will it make the lessons easier to understand?

Here's a for instance: On page 90, #16 I put "greater impact does not equal only impact" And I also put various other considerations like "absorbency, cost, size, color" as reasons someone may purchase the item.

Your answer to that somewhat relates...but it's way different. Am I supposed to be thinking along those/your lines?

Do these questions make sense? Thanks a lot!


Hello JazzyMac! --

Here are some thoughts -- hope you find them useful --

- “fails to consider” and “takes for granted” are two phrases that can help put you in the right mindset for seeing the types of reasoning mistakes that are made in LSAT arguments -- you don’t have to use these words yourself -- however, at the same time, you should be very comfortable thinking about the flaw using these words --

For example, if I see the argument: “Mike quenched his thirst. He must have drank water.”

I could say to myself “oh, the flaw is he’s thinking it had to be water when it could have been a lot of other things.” --

However, if I wanted to, I could think of the flaw as being “Fails to consider other ways he could have quenched thirst” or “Takes for granted that he drank water to quench thirst.”

So again, you don’t personally have to use these phrases, but --

1) you want to make sure your understanding of the flaw is conceptual and not tied to certain language.

2) if you can think of the flaw in terms of “fails to consider” or “takes for granted” and it’s easy for you to think of it using different phrasings, it’s a great sign you understand the flaw well.

3) a great many of their answer choices are written using the terms “fails to consider” and “takes for granted” so being able to think about flaws in these terms gives you an advantage when it’s time to evaluate them.

On the flip side, here are some signs of concern:

1) if you are consistently seeing flaws that are very different from the flaws I mention in the trainer or if the flaws you see in drill problems are not the ones relevant to the right answer. Keep in mind that these arguments don’t have lots of different flaws -- instead, arguments tend to have one clearly definable flaw, which can be worded in lots of different ways. It’s fine for you to word it differently in your head, but it’s not fine to see a different flaw.

2) if your understanding is tied to specific language -- that is, if you have trouble seeing how the same flaw can be phrased in different ways. This is a sign that your understanding may not be as strong as it should be, and it’s going to cause you a lot of trouble when it comes time to evaluate answers -- one of the test writer’s best tools for tripping you up is writing answers in ways you might not expect.

To me, in the example you brought up, your understanding and mine are quite similar, but I don’t quite know exactly what you are thinking, so I encourage you to keep thinking about, and deciding for yourself, whether the differences are based on understanding or language -- figuring that out better will surely help you become a stronger test taker. Again, if either of these is an issue, keep paying attention to them and working on them throughout your prep -- improving here will be a huge key to your success.

In terms of the work you are doing translating to actual q’s -- a few things to keep in mind --

1) solving a q requires many strategies, some of which are q specific (for example, you want to develop a specific way you solve a strengthen q as opposed to a flaw q, etc), and you’ve only gotten started learning about strategies related to one aspect (evaluating flaw) -- so it’s understandable not to see a big impact yet.

2) reading/prioritizing correctly might be an issue for you. For these flaw drills, I’ve purposely made it very simple to ID and organize the conclusion and support -- in real LSAT problems, the conclusion and support will be mixed into larger, more convoluted stimuli. So, it might be that you are having trouble extracting and focusing in on the arguments and flaws. If that’s the case, there will be plenty of discussion and practice of ideal reading strategies/priorities etc. later in the book.

3) what you want to pay most attention to, especially as you review q’s you had trouble with, is the actual flaw / q stem / right answer relationship -- at the end of the day, can you clearly see what the flaw in the argument was, and how the right answer matches the task relative to that? At this stage in your prep, you want to make sure to spend as much energy strengthen your abilities here as possible. You can think about the other stuff (such as strategy specific to strengthen q’s) later on --

Hope that helps clarify -- if you have any follow up, please let me know --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:22 pm

flash21 wrote:Mike Kim! I was wondering when the best time to start taking PT's consistently would be, I am taking in December. Appreciate the advice.


Hello Flash! --

Up to you --

As you know from my other stuff, I think there are three general benefits to pt's --

1) they give you a visceral sense of the exam, which will help you decide on strategies etc that will be effective under pressure.

2) they help you get sense of strengths/weaknesses, where you are improving/where you are not

3) they help you set right habits so that you can represent skills at max --

The tests you take toward the end of your prep are mainly for #3 -- in my opinion, you need a minimum of 5 or 6 exams toward the end there to get your timing strategies and routines down --

Other students will benefit from doing far more --

I think you know yourself really well at this point --

My suggestion is to weigh pt'ing against drilling -- keep drilling in order to get better, and switch over to pt's when you feel comfortable w/your general skill set and feel eager to get yourself in perfect shape for test day -- push this transition later into your process (say, 3 or 4 weeks before the exam) if you keep improving from drilling, or push this transition earlier into process (maybe end of oct / beg of nov) if you are at a pretty good level and scoring near where you want to end up --

Hope that helps -- let me know if you have any follow up --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:54 pm

joeisreallycool wrote:Hey Mike,

Reiterating what I said before, your advice and your presence alone on this forum is something extraordinary. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question, and so in depth at that. Talk about customer service, you went and almost gave me another chapter on specific weaknesses that I personally have, the importance of elimination, and steps on how to get better it.

From your post alone I am already seeing improvements in MSS and MBT questions, drastically reducing the number I get wrong. Matching is a different beast, but I feel like I am starting to get the hang of it. Definitely go in with more confidence. It will click eventually.

I loved your analogy as I played those matching games all the time. I want to ask you for one more however. I try and relate aspects of my life to other parts in a multitude of ways, in this example the gym and LSAT prep. When you first start going to the gym what is highly recommended are four exercises called compound exercises. Compound being that they work a multitude of muscles. They are the bench press, squat, deadlift, and pullups (I count pullups). My question to you is, what in your opinion, are the compound exercises of LR? What four question types can I drill that benefit my ability to answer other questions on a grand scale?

Thanks for everything Mike,

Joe


Hey Joe --

Thanks again for the comments -- I'm so happy you've found my advice helpful --

I think the q types you brought up -- //flaw, //reasoning, and inference -- do a great job of representing all of the skills necessary for success on LR -- that is, the same skills needed to answer all other LR q's are required for these three.

Having said that, I don't think an over-emphasis on these 3 q types would be a great way to develop your overall skill set. For one thing, these are typically tough q's that require multiple skills, and so it can be very difficult to spot and work on issues/weaknesses correctly. Secondly, you really want to work on developing q-specific habits.

However, I do think there are a few general exercises that can be very helpful across a spectrum of q's -- it's great to reuse already-done drill sets/pt's for these exercises, and it's great to do these as a quick warmup before any study session (I've also included suggestions for LG and RC) --

For LR, do a quick scan of a section - don't solve q's, diagram, or anything like that -- instead --

For every argument-based stimulus that requires you to be critical - find the conclusion, support, and figure out what's wrong.

For every argument-based stimulus that doesn't - simply try to id and understand conclusion-support relationship.

For every inference / most supported q -- read stimulus, and try to correctly identify which statements link together to make inferences and which ones don't.

For every conform to principle, make sure you can id principle in stimulus.

For every explain the discrepancy, make sure you can phrase the discrepancy in terms of "how come..."

Again, don't worry about solving q's completely -- key is to go fast enough to get a sense of the rhythm of the test / get a sense of how you are as a whole -- you should feel confident your understanding is correct the vast majority of time -- take note of moments when you aren't, and look for patterns.

For LG, similarly -- do scans of full sections -- but don't actually diagram/solve q's etc. -- instead, for every game, make sure
1) you can picture it -- you can see what type of base to lay down, what type of game it is, etc.

2) you feel comfortable understanding and notating every rule

3) you take a minute to think about rules that go together / possible frames or key inferences.

For RC, similarly -- read full passages, but don't actually solve q's -- after each passage, ask yourself "do i know why the author wrote this passage (purpose), and how she structured to fit this purpose?"

Doing such macro exercises can help you see patterns and develop confidence. They can also expose issues that need to be addressed.

Hope you find that useful -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby JazzyMac » Tue Aug 26, 2014 5:43 am

The LSAT Trainer wrote:
JazzyMac wrote:Hello again!

I've finally began LSAT study. Talk about a wave of emotions! From stress to confidence to pure psycho-mode.

I downloaded the 16-week schedule with full knowledge that my work schedule would make it a more self-paced effort. However, after more than a month, I'm anxious to complete the first month schedule. This includes...well you know what it includes!

Okay, so my question, and I posted here instead of a PM because perhaps folks just hitting your book might have the same inquiry.

I decided not to work the drills until after completing various Lessons. For instance, I decided to do Drills 1-3 after Lesson 8 and before moving on to Lesson 9. It just works with my schedule and the amount of books I carry throughout the day (study books, work documents, gym clothes, lunch, snacks, etc.).

Anyway, on to my actual question. Your In-Lesson drills ask to find flaws. I felt I was doing great in finding a flaw to the scenario, but then I get to an actual test question and now I'm supposed to strengthen or weaken an argument. I cannot relate and it's making me feel (inadequate) like I didn't understand the lesson. How can I further strengthen the bond between what I read in the lesson and relating it to the test/drill questions?

Also, we're asked to find the flaws in the drills. But I've noticed most of my flaws are way different than your answers. Are the answers supposed to match? Or do you just want us to get in the habit of finding the flaw?

And I noticed in the earlier lessons you said to try and use "Fails to consider" and "Takes for granted". But I didn't use them in other lessons. Am I supposed to be doing that? Will it make the lessons easier to understand?

Here's a for instance: On page 90, #16 I put "greater impact does not equal only impact" And I also put various other considerations like "absorbency, cost, size, color" as reasons someone may purchase the item.

Your answer to that somewhat relates...but it's way different. Am I supposed to be thinking along those/your lines?

Do these questions make sense? Thanks a lot!


Hello JazzyMac! --

Here are some thoughts -- hope you find them useful --

- “fails to consider” and “takes for granted” are two phrases that can help put you in the right mindset for seeing the types of reasoning mistakes that are made in LSAT arguments -- you don’t have to use these words yourself -- however, at the same time, you should be very comfortable thinking about the flaw using these words --

For example, if I see the argument: “Mike quenched his thirst. He must have drank water.”

I could say to myself “oh, the flaw is he’s thinking it had to be water when it could have been a lot of other things.” --

However, if I wanted to, I could think of the flaw as being “Fails to consider other ways he could have quenched thirst” or “Takes for granted that he drank water to quench thirst.”

So again, you don’t personally have to use these phrases, but --

1) you want to make sure your understanding of the flaw is conceptual and not tied to certain language.

2) if you can think of the flaw in terms of “fails to consider” or “takes for granted” and it’s easy for you to think of it using different phrasings, it’s a great sign you understand the flaw well.

3) a great many of their answer choices are written using the terms “fails to consider” and “takes for granted” so being able to think about flaws in these terms gives you an advantage when it’s time to evaluate them.

On the flip side, here are some signs of concern:

1) if you are consistently seeing flaws that are very different from the flaws I mention in the trainer or if the flaws you see in drill problems are not the ones relevant to the right answer. Keep in mind that these arguments don’t have lots of different flaws -- instead, arguments tend to have one clearly definable flaw, which can be worded in lots of different ways. It’s fine for you to word it differently in your head, but it’s not fine to see a different flaw.

2) if your understanding is tied to specific language -- that is, if you have trouble seeing how the same flaw can be phrased in different ways. This is a sign that your understanding may not be as strong as it should be, and it’s going to cause you a lot of trouble when it comes time to evaluate answers -- one of the test writer’s best tools for tripping you up is writing answers in ways you might not expect.

To me, in the example you brought up, your understanding and mine are quite similar, but I don’t quite know exactly what you are thinking, so I encourage you to keep thinking about, and deciding for yourself, whether the differences are based on understanding or language -- figuring that out better will surely help you become a stronger test taker. Again, if either of these is an issue, keep paying attention to them and working on them throughout your prep -- improving here will be a huge key to your success.

In terms of the work you are doing translating to actual q’s -- a few things to keep in mind --

1) solving a q requires many strategies, some of which are q specific (for example, you want to develop a specific way you solve a strengthen q as opposed to a flaw q, etc), and you’ve only gotten started learning about strategies related to one aspect (evaluating flaw) -- so it’s understandable not to see a big impact yet.

2) reading/prioritizing correctly might be an issue for you. For these flaw drills, I’ve purposely made it very simple to ID and organize the conclusion and support -- in real LSAT problems, the conclusion and support will be mixed into larger, more convoluted stimuli. So, it might be that you are having trouble extracting and focusing in on the arguments and flaws. If that’s the case, there will be plenty of discussion and practice of ideal reading strategies/priorities etc. later in the book.

3) what you want to pay most attention to, especially as you review q’s you had trouble with, is the actual flaw / q stem / right answer relationship -- at the end of the day, can you clearly see what the flaw in the argument was, and how the right answer matches the task relative to that? At this stage in your prep, you want to make sure to spend as much energy strengthen your abilities here as possible. You can think about the other stuff (such as strategy specific to strengthen q’s) later on --

Hope that helps clarify -- if you have any follow up, please let me know --

MK


Thanks so much for explaining. You're right, I am getting tripped up in attempting to prioritize in the questions. I'll be revisiting these lessons once more. I appreciate that you took time to go into this so in-depth.


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