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 Mar 13, 2015 6:08 pm

Procyon wrote:Dear Mike,

Please let me trouble you with two matters.

The first is resource strategy. I'm retaking a 170 from 5 years ago. I thought I had long forgotten any of the preparation I did back then, which is why I began late January, but it's coming back to me very quickly. I am now testing at the 175 range on five section simulations and I need to figure out the best way to use the remainder of my time. I now have only 12 fresh modern tests (59-60 and 65-74) and I need to stretch them all the way to 28 June because I am taking it in the Asia-Pacific region. As you can see, even if I take things at the very glacial pace of one per week, I will run out by the end of May.

I also have a hard time understanding how to review these exams most effectively. Of course I spend my effort on the missed questions but that takes at most one day intermittently between my tasks at work. To stretch out my time, I also review every single test question, going over my process for each one carefully and strenuously. I think there's value in doing this but that also goes by very quickly. Basically, by the end of Wednesday, I'm not sure what I should be doing if not another practice exam. Should I maybe study another curriculum like Powerscore?

Second, I hope to solicit your input on how I intend to proceed tactically. When I go back through the exams, I can usually pick out my errors quickly. I'd attribute these mistakes to misreading and general carelessness. At most, there are maybe 1-3 missed questions that I get wrong on my second try and take more than 5-10 minutes to fully comprehend. Whilst I'm happy about my general position, I have some persistent weaknesses.

In Logic Games, even if I come across one really unusual game, I will miss maybe 4 at most. However, I have not yet seen a perfect section because I just don't feel at ease with these types of questions; I'll rush through and miss some big inferences or use a very sloppy diagram. I did all the drills in the book conscientiously but the payoff continues to feel distant. I think my best play here is to simply go back to the drills repeatedly and labor over the old exams and every game I can get my hands on. If I run out, should I use the unofficial games made by companies like Kaplan?

On Reading Comprehension, I have not seen a worse section than -1 after four tests. However, I still don't feel entirely confident. In my last two exams, I struggled on two problems and then returned at the end of the section to find the right answers. That seems inefficient and I'm not sure what to do about that. There is no rhyme or reason to this. As you note in the Trainer, some questions are tougher and I think those are the ones tripping me up.

Logical Reasoning is just a slog and so I'll sometimes get a combined -0 but other times -4 depending on my stamina. My only tactic here is to hit the gym and eat better. I think the ones I usually get wrong are the Match the Reasoning and the Reasoning Strategy types but I can't say definitively as I miss some simple ones on occasion; hopefully a pattern will emerge with a larger sample.

Thanks in advance!



Hey Procyon --

I’ll give it my best shot here to be helpful -- please keep in mind my common caveat that in order to give advice that gets more specific, I have to make some assumptions and guesses about you, based on the limited info I have, and some of my assumptions and guesses could be totally off -- so, please feel free to take whatever advice you feel is relevant and to discard whatever is not --

One basic bit before I go further -- I fully support reusing old exams, especially if I am reading you correctly and you haven’t seen some of those q’s for five years. I recommend that you use the older exams mostly for drilling, and that you try to keep most of the new, unseen exams fresh for closer to test day.

My sense is that you are a natural at this exam -- and though this is obviously a very good thing in terms of your life, it can be both a good thing and a bad thing in terms of your path to improvement.

The good is that it’s possible that all you need is more exposure -- that is, it won’t really matter much how you choose to study -- as long as you’re seeing enough LSAT, you’ll end up with a remarkable score.

The bad is that it’s often tougher for “naturals” to purposely drive their own improvement, in part because they often have a tougher time seeing their own weaknesses / seeing the value of improving these weaknesses. I think an analogy can be made to an athlete who is so gifted at a sport (and easily defeats most every opponent) that he/she doesn’t have to study the game/develop alternative strategies etc. as much.

So with all that said, my main suggestion is to try to be as hyper-specific and critical as you can in your review --

You mention “misreading” and “general carelessness” -- you could have been just been speaking off the cuff, but I believe that getting specific about these problems may be a key to your prep -- to me, these phrases are generalizations that can represent up to roughly ⅔ of the total challenges offered up by the exam.

The LSAT is as much a reading test as it is a reasoning test -- it is designed to make you misread everywhere and to punish you for it -- you want to work to develop a very specific sense of the reading mistakes that you are making, and shape your work to address those issues.

General carelessness represents issues of mental discipline -- either not being able to stay on task, or not building in enough “security” (such as eliminating wrong answers AND confirming the right one) into your problem-solving process. Again, ideally, you want to work to identify these issues as specifically as you can and address them.

Now here’s some more practical/specific advice --

1) For Logic Games --

A) Work to develop a big-picture understanding of all that can happen in games -- I think the scariest thing about the LG section is the unexpected -- what could they throw out at me that I’m not prepared for?

The great news is that there is great consistency to how all games are designed. Right now, you probably have a gazillion snippets of information/wisdom about the LG section scattered throughout your understanding -- what you want to do is work to bring it all together, and “prove” to your brain/confidence that there aren’t any unexpected issues that can appear.

Here’s an exercise to help with that -- take a giant piece of paper (posterboard, etc.) and just start writing out everything that can possibly happen in a game, the types of rules you have to deal with, notations you have to write out, inferences you have to make, when to create frames when not to -- whatever you think is worth putting down. Start with what’s in your head first, then go through all the games you’ve played recently, and fill out the board as completely as you can. If you use this board as your catch-all of important things to know about games, and then go through a ton of games to fill out the board (you can keep filling it out/rewriting it as you do more practice) what you will invariably find is that after a certain period of time, there is nothing more to add to the board. That is, everything will start being a repeat of challenges you’ve seen /thought of before. And when you can go through game after game after game and say to yourself, “yup, I’ve already accounted for all of this,” it can help you greatly reduce the fear that something unexpected will appear.

B) Work to become more automatic at notations/diagramming -- your diagram is the main tool you have for thinking about games, and what I’m reading from your message is that you are doing amazing well even though you aren’t using this tool as well as you can. You should not have to think too hard about how to diagram any game -- it should typically feel pretty routine, and this is what needs to happen in order for you have the “free mental bandwidth” necessary to do the tough thinking the section requires. My guess is that once you get your diagramming under better control you’ll start to see your times go way down. Playing games over and over again can be a good way to work on this.

C) Work to get super-fast at easier games -- tough games are tough, no matter what, and if you can’t afford misses you want to give yourself as much time for the tougher games as you possibly can. A couple of your games will be easier, and more predictable -- if you can get through these easier games faster, it will give you a big advantage.

D) Unofficial games cannot take the place of real ones, and in general you’ll be far better off replaying real games you’ve seen before.

2) For Reading Comp

No worse than -1 is pretty damn impressive. I don’t think you need to worry about much here. Just a couple of quick recommendations --

A) As with LG, see if you can get just a little bit faster / quicker on the easier passages and questions. This will give you more time for those 2 or 3 questions in the section that you really have to think about more carefully, and it seems like, as long as you have enough time, you’ll usually nail those q’s.

B) Make sure you practice/habitualize basic strategies for the most common types of q’s -- this is actually mostly just to help with the first point -- by better habitualizing effective strategies, you should be able to shave some time.

3) For LR

For reference, I never exercise and I eat terribly, and this doesn’t seem to impact my LR performance. :) --

A) Next time you do a full LR section, remind yourself beforehand that it is primarily a test of your reading ability, and that how well you do will be determined by how well you read.

B) Make sure that you are always getting to the right answer both ways -- at the end of most problems, you should be able to explain verbally at least one reason each wrong answer was wrong and why the right answer was right. This both ways system can help catch some errors you might miss otherwise, and it’s a great antidote for the design of the hardest q’s -- often, the right answers to these q’s are very tough to know for sure, and your ability to eliminate can help prevent you from being too attracted to the wrong choices.

C) Just want to finish by going back to the point I started with -- if you haven’t been as specific about defining misreads / carelessness as you think you ought to have been, work to understand these issues better, and I think it might help you get rid of last last bit of uncertainty about the section.

Sorry for the length -- I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that you are in great shape and probably don’t need any advice at all, but since I wrote so damn much I hope at least some of it was relevant and helpful -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:06 pm

UC_hopeful wrote:Hey, Mike -

I'm going through The Trainer, and everything is going well. I had previously worked throught the LR Bible, and after just a portion of The Trainer I can see improvement in my LR. Thanks for your help.

So I just finished up Lesson 20, and I'm going through the "16 Week | Exams 29-71" study schedule (yes, I'm a few days behind if I'm going to finish before the June LSAT). At this point I've done several of the LR drill sets and I just completed PT 30 Section 4 (just the subjective questions). As you know, several of the LR drills use questions from 30.4. So when I did the 30.4 section, I was pretty familiar with a few of the questions.

When I repeat questions like this, how much value do I get?

Also, I feel good about my performance on the 30.4 section (-1 in 21 min.). Should I not put too much stock in this performance due to the repeated questions?

Lastly, if I come across repeated questions in my future studies, do you have any tips for how I can approach them so that I can extract the most value? I tried to go through the normal steps as if I didn't remember the problem just to reinforce the correct habits. This was a struggle because I would immediately remember the flaw when beginning to read the argument, and I would immediately remember the correct answer when I was trying to eliminate incorrect choices.

Thanks!


Hey -- glad to hear that you are finding the trainer helpful so far --

I definitely think that repeating questions can be extremely effective (especially for building habits) but of course I know what you mean in terms of how easy it is to remember previous work & have it impact your performance -- a few suggestions--

1) again, keep in mind that the work is meant to build up habits as you said, so don't worry if you remember the steps -- just make sure to take them again correctly.

2) push yourself to expect a little more the second time through a q -- certainly you can get through a q a little faster and more easily, but you should also, in your review, expect to be more exact in thinking about understanding/processes. Especially with something small like why we eliminate a wrong answer choice, it's so easy to just say "Oh, that's just obviously wrong," especially the second time you see that obviously wrong answer, but push yourself to put in words exactly why -- imagine having to tutor someone who picked that answer as being correct, or imagine hosting a tv show where you discuss how you solve LSAT q's -- can you put into exact words why that answer is wrong?

3) I think it can be a good idea to use q's you've seen before as the warm-ups in a drill set, so that you use them to get the right habits going, and then naturally "roll" into new problems already in the right rhythm.

To that end, there's a list of all q's used in the trainer in the appendix should you need it. You'll notice most of the q's used in the trainer are from earlier exams.

That's it --

Missing only 1 in a practice section, no matter if you've seen some of the q's before, is pretty awesome, so you are in great shape -- hope the rest of your prep goes well, and please get in touch if you need me --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby biggestlawman » Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:18 pm

Mike,

I just starting reading the Trainer, and the 'Matching Double-Dip Drill' on page 81 is confusing me. The flaws for these passages when mentioned prior in the book were the same as the ones that I identified as well, but here, the flaws that you have identified in order to pair these passages are different compared to before and compared to the flaws that have identified to pair the passages.

Is it wrong to think that "did you know Ted is older than Grandma? He must be really old!", and "LeBron James is now the most recognized athlete in the world. A recent poll by Sports Illustrated showed that he is by far the most recognized athlete amongst its readers." both have the small sample flaw?

And, "Turns out that chimps are not the smartest of all non-human mammals after all. Recently, it was shown that whales are able to compose and communicate with songs that rival and often surpass songs that humans are capable of composing in terms of complexity and aesthetic elegance." and "this shirt is less formal than my other shirts. So this is my hip shirt." both have the flaw of taking for granted that the one and only premise, by itself, definitely leads to the conclusion?

As I mentioned earlier, the flaws that you have mentioned earlier in the book for the passages mentioned on page 81 are the same as the ones that I came up with, but here, the pairs that I got are different than yours.

Curious about your thoughts.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby jwelsh » Sun Mar 15, 2015 10:23 am

biggestlawman wrote:Mike,

I just starting reading the Trainer, and the 'Matching Double-Dip Drill' on page 81 is confusing me. The flaws for these passages when mentioned prior in the book were the same as the ones that I identified as well, but here, the flaws that you have identified in order to pair these passages are different compared to before and compared to the flaws that have identified to pair the passages.

Is it wrong to think that "did you know Ted is older than Grandma? He must be really old!", and "LeBron James is now the most recognized athlete in the world. A recent poll by Sports Illustrated showed that he is by far the most recognized athlete amongst its readers." both have the small sample flaw?

And, "Turns out that chimps are not the smartest of all non-human mammals after all. Recently, it was shown that whales are able to compose and communicate with songs that rival and often surpass songs that humans are capable of composing in terms of complexity and aesthetic elegance." and "this shirt is less formal than my other shirts. So this is my hip shirt." both have the flaw of taking for granted that the one and only premise, by itself, definitely leads to the conclusion?

As I mentioned earlier, the flaws that you have mentioned earlier in the book for the passages mentioned on page 81 are the same as the ones that I came up with, but here, the pairs that I got are different than yours.

Curious about your thoughts.


I'm not Mike, but I am working through the Trainer and just recently went through the drills you mentioned. Here are a few thoughts:

1) One of the focuses of the Trainer is that flaws aren't stuck in rigid categories-- you can see and understand and articulate them in a number of different ways. As such, as you look at the explanations in the Trainer, it's best to determine if the explanation Mike gives matches yours conceptually, rather than literally.

2) That said, I think there are a few issues with your explanations of the flaws:
a) "Did you know Ted is older than Grandma? He must be really old!" takes for granted that being older than Grandma defines one as old. Grandma may be in her 30s, which would mean Ted could also be in his 30s, which isn't exactly all that old. The Lebron James argument IS an issue with small sample. Put another way, the argument takes for granted that the Sports Illustrated poll is representative of all sports enthusiasts throughout the world.

b) This set is a little trickier. I can see how you could link those two, but even still I don't think they are perfect matches for each other. The first argument re: chimps takes for granted that the ability to compose and communicate with songs defines "smartness" in animals-- there are any number of other components of intelligence of the that the argument fails to recognize. The argument re: the shirt doesn't offer any characteristic of the hip shirt, only that it is comparatively "less formal than my other shirts". As such, this argument takes for granted that "being less formal" defines "hip shirts". Like Ted being older than Grandma doesn't require that he is old, just because the shirt is less formal doesn't require that it is hip, it could still be hideous, it could still be formal, it could be many other things.

I'll definitely defer to Mike here, but given that I just went through this section, I thought I'd add my two cents (and, hopefully, solidify my own understanding).

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby biggestlawman » Sun Mar 15, 2015 12:39 pm

jwelsh wrote:
biggestlawman wrote:Mike,

I just starting reading the Trainer, and the 'Matching Double-Dip Drill' on page 81 is confusing me. The flaws for these passages when mentioned prior in the book were the same as the ones that I identified as well, but here, the flaws that you have identified in order to pair these passages are different compared to before and compared to the flaws that have identified to pair the passages.

Is it wrong to think that "did you know Ted is older than Grandma? He must be really old!", and "LeBron James is now the most recognized athlete in the world. A recent poll by Sports Illustrated showed that he is by far the most recognized athlete amongst its readers." both have the small sample flaw?

And, "Turns out that chimps are not the smartest of all non-human mammals after all. Recently, it was shown that whales are able to compose and communicate with songs that rival and often surpass songs that humans are capable of composing in terms of complexity and aesthetic elegance." and "this shirt is less formal than my other shirts. So this is my hip shirt." both have the flaw of taking for granted that the one and only premise, by itself, definitely leads to the conclusion?

As I mentioned earlier, the flaws that you have mentioned earlier in the book for the passages mentioned on page 81 are the same as the ones that I came up with, but here, the pairs that I got are different than yours.

Curious about your thoughts.


I'm not Mike, but I am working through the Trainer and just recently went through the drills you mentioned. Here are a few thoughts:

1) One of the focuses of the Trainer is that flaws aren't stuck in rigid categories-- you can see and understand and articulate them in a number of different ways. As such, as you look at the explanations in the Trainer, it's best to determine if the explanation Mike gives matches yours conceptually, rather than literally.

2) That said, I think there are a few issues with your explanations of the flaws:
a) "Did you know Ted is older than Grandma? He must be really old!" takes for granted that being older than Grandma defines one as old. Grandma may be in her 30s, which would mean Ted could also be in his 30s, which isn't exactly all that old. The Lebron James argument IS an issue with small sample. Put another way, the argument takes for granted that the Sports Illustrated poll is representative of all sports enthusiasts throughout the world.

b) This set is a little trickier. I can see how you could link those two, but even still I don't think they are perfect matches for each other. The first argument re: chimps takes for granted that the ability to compose and communicate with songs defines "smartness" in animals-- there are any number of other components of intelligence of the that the argument fails to recognize. The argument re: the shirt doesn't offer any characteristic of the hip shirt, only that it is comparatively "less formal than my other shirts". As such, this argument takes for granted that "being less formal" defines "hip shirts". Like Ted being older than Grandma doesn't require that he is old, just because the shirt is less formal doesn't require that it is hip, it could still be hideous, it could still be formal, it could be many other things.

I'll definitely defer to Mike here, but given that I just went through this section, I thought I'd add my two cents (and, hopefully, solidify my own understanding).


If you look above at my original post, I do mention that in the Trainer, the flaws presented individually for these passages are the same as the ones I noticed. These flaws are also the same as the ones that you mentioned in your post. That is not the issue!

Let me repeat, I am comfortable with the flaws noted by the Trainer when looking at these passages individually.

The problem is when the Trainer is looking at the commonalities in the flaws for these passages. There the flaws that you mentioned above, which are the same as the ones mentioned by the Trainer for these passages when looking at them individually, and are indeed the same as the ones that I detected when looking at these passages individually, and then there are the ones that the Trainer mentions as common between certain two passages as presented on pages 81 and 82. These 'common flaws' are NOT the same as flaws detected by you, the Trainer and I, when looking at these passages individually, and these are not the same as the ones that I thought to be common among certain two passages as I have presented using two examples in my original post.

I hope I have successfully conveyed the issue this time around!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sun Mar 15, 2015 3:12 pm

jwelsh - thanks for trying to help and hope the studying is going well --

biggestlawman -- I think I can probably help you best if we talk about this via pm -- I'll send you a message tomorrow -- mk

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby biggestlawman » Sun Mar 15, 2015 4:01 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:jwelsh - thanks for trying to help and hope the studying is going well --

biggestlawman -- I think I can probably help you best if we talk about this via pm -- I'll send you a message tomorrow -- mk


Thanks, Mike! I look forward to your pm!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Procyon » Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:43 am

The LSAT Trainer wrote:...Sorry for the length -- I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that you are in great shape and probably don’t need any advice at all, but since I wrote so damn much I hope at least some of it was relevant and helpful -- Mike


Dear Mike,

Thank you very much for writing such an insightful and extensive message. I bookmarked it and already made a new plan of attack incorporating your suggestions. I think you've actually brought into focus many of the reasons behind my various frustrations at this juncture.

I forgot to mention this in my first post but the Trainer has been wonderfully effective. My performance has clearly jumped a tier. Even five years ago, I started having many good days after just a week or two of study but I've never seen such consistency. Anyway, thanks again for your time and I anticipate coming back a few months down the line with good news in hand!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Apr 08, 2015 3:30 am

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to mention that I've released a new updated version of the trainer --

The book has gone through another full round of professional edits, and also has a new cover (goodbye fish). The website has been revamped as well, so please check it out if you'd like, and please let me know if you have any requests for articles, videos, etc. you'd like for me to add in the coming months --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby ChoboPie » Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:49 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:Hi everyone,

Just wanted to mention that I've released a new updated version of the trainer --

The book has gone through another full round of professional edits, and also has a new cover (goodbye fish). The website has been revamped as well, so please check it out if you'd like, and please let me know if you have any requests for articles, videos, etc. you'd like for me to add in the coming months --

MK


Congrats on the new release! Just to be safe, do you recommend getting a new copy if we already have a copy from '13? Basically, just wondering if there were any changes in content (though even if there weren't, that snazzy new cover is really appealing >.<;).

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Apr 08, 2015 3:29 pm

ChoboPie wrote:
The LSAT Trainer wrote:Hi everyone,

Just wanted to mention that I've released a new updated version of the trainer --

The book has gone through another full round of professional edits, and also has a new cover (goodbye fish). The website has been revamped as well, so please check it out if you'd like, and please let me know if you have any requests for articles, videos, etc. you'd like for me to add in the coming months --

MK


Congrats on the new release! Just to be safe, do you recommend getting a new copy if we already have a copy from '13? Basically, just wondering if there were any changes in content (though even if there weren't, that snazzy new cover is really appealing >.<;).


Thanks so much for your thoughts about the new cover! To be honest I've been a nervous wreck about making the change, and your comments couldn't have come at a better time --

More importantly, glad you asked your q (I'm sure others are wondering the same thing) -- if you already have a copy of the book, there is no reason at all for you to get the new version.

Wish you the best with everything, and don't hesitate to get in touch if you need me -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby boosane » Sun Apr 19, 2015 3:57 am

Mike,

I graduated last year in May and laid off the LSAT and your book for a while. Now, I'm in the beginning phases of your book, and was wondering if you think this book will be enough for me to fully prepare for the test?

Thanks.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:55 pm

boosane wrote:Mike,

I graduated last year in May and laid off the LSAT and your book for a while. Now, I'm in the beginning phases of your book, and was wondering if you think this book will be enough for me to fully prepare for the test?

Thanks.


It certainly can be (at least, aside from practice problems/tests), and I've tried very hard to make it as useful as possible. I've gone to great lengths to make sure that it covers every significant issue you are likely to face on test day, and that it gives you all the understanding and tools you need to combat these issues --

But LSAT prep isn't one size fits all, and it could be that there is some other learning product out there that is a better fit for you, or that can at the least be more useful/effective in particular areas than The Trainer has been --

And the most compelling argument for using additional resources, in my head at least, is the difference between downside and upside -- other than study time (which I'll discuss more in a bit), there is very little to be lost from studying another resource -- ineffective prep material isn't going to make your score go down (at least as long as you don't force yourself to use methods that aren't effective for you) -- at worst it just won't have a positive impact.

And so if you do end up feeling like another prep resource might be useful for you, the main argument against would be the limitations of your prep time. More specifically, learning products such as The Trainer add up to just one part of your prep process, which should also include drilling and practice exams, and you may decide that it's more important to your score for you to spend your other time drilling more and taking more pt's.

So, what I generally suggest is to play it by ear, but work to get very good at assessing your performances, and constantly try to determine for yourself, as best you can, whether the challenges that you have on the test are due to
a) not knowing something / not knowing something well enough
b) not having effective strategies
c) not being as strong/consistent as you'd like to be at applying that understanding and those strategies.

If, in your self-assessment, you keep thinking (a) and (b) are holding you back, it's very likely that time spent either restudying The Trainer or working with another study resource (whichever you prefer) would be beneficial to you. If you find (c) to be the main issue, then prioritizing more drilling/pt'ing is best.

Hope that helps and best of luck -- get in touch if you need anything else --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby StickerAdverse » Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:13 pm

Mike,

How do you approach this question stem: "Which one of the following could most logically be added to the end of the last paragraph of the passage?"

Also, as a side note, I came across an RC question stem that I've never seen before asking to "replace the term 'X' without making a substantial change in meaning." Is this a super rare stem or is it pretty obselete by now? I was thrown off by it.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby 179orBust » Tue Apr 21, 2015 7:35 pm

Mike, can you PLEASE release a kindle version of the book? Would be extremely helpful!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby boaltlaw » Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:20 pm

Mike, right now I'm on lesson 7. In the drills, the solutions usually start with "fails to consider" and "takes for granted". Is there an appreciable difference between the two? I ask because on lesson 6, on page 94 (2013 version), for the second group, the matching double-dip solutions starts with "fails to consider", but the same one individually (recent poll conducted among readers of a popular surfing magazine, number 5. on page 91) starts with "takes for granted"

thanks

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:57 pm

StickerAdverse wrote:Mike,

How do you approach this question stem: "Which one of the following could most logically be added to the end of the last paragraph of the passage?"

Also, as a side note, I came across an RC question stem that I've never seen before asking to "replace the term 'X' without making a substantial change in meaning." Is this a super rare stem or is it pretty obsolete by now? I was thrown off by it.


Hi there --

The first q type you ask about is one of the few in the RC section that will require you to use a significant amount of reasoning ability (though, in general, you shouldn't expect the type of mental gymnastics required for a very tough LR inference q). If I had to put #'s on it, I'd say these q's are 20 % about understanding the info in the passage correctly, 40% about seeing the reasoning structure correctly, and 40% about evaluating that reasoning correctly.

So, what I'd typically do is, after reading the q stem, go back and rescan the passage to quickly remind myself of the overall flow of the passage (like 5 seconds or less, probably) -- and then read the last paragraph, and in particular the last few lines, very carefully. For some of these q's, it seems that the last lines can add a slight twist, or a depth, to the point of the passage that, if you aren't careful (or have already decided in your head, too early, what the passage is about) you might miss.

I keep the overall flow of the passage, and in particular the function of those last lines, in mind, and, if an anticipation of an answer comes to me, I won't fight it, but at the same time I won't expect to be able to predict the right answer (though I will expect to be able to recognize many of the characteristics of it).

And then I'll go through the answers and eliminate all based on the fact that they
a) don't match the author's ideas/point
b) don't match the reasoning flow (for example, a wrong answer might be more relevant to something in the second paragraph or something like that) or
c) don't match the actual subject matter (talks about something different than the text).

At the end of this, typically, only one answer remains. As with LR inference q's, it's my opinion that for these problems the elimination of wrong answers is far easier than the verification of the right answer, though of course you want to make sure to go through both processes.

To me, replace the term X without substantial change in meaning is basically a vocab q -- the right answer will have the most similar meaning and intonation as the term it replaces, and because the right answer will be "most similar" rather than an exact match, again you want to focus a lot of energy on thinking about why the wrong answers are wrong.

Hope that helps, and please follow up if I've misunderstood anything or if you have any follow up --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:08 pm

179orBust wrote:Mike, can you PLEASE release a kindle version of the book? Would be extremely helpful!


Hey --

I hear you and thanks for the message -- I was initially planning on releasing an ebook version of the trainer, but to be honest, I cannot figure out in my head how to create an electronic version of the guide that I think will be as effective, or nearly as effective, as the paper version. So, there will be no ebook version of the book coming out in the near future.

Sorry about that, but, if there is anything I can do here, just let me know and I'll try my best to help.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:29 pm

boaltlaw wrote:Mike, right now I'm on lesson 7. In the drills, the solutions usually start with "fails to consider" and "takes for granted". Is there an appreciable difference between the two? I ask because on lesson 6, on page 94 (2013 version), for the second group, the matching double-dip solutions starts with "fails to consider", but the same one individually (recent poll conducted among readers of a popular surfing magazine, number 5. on page 91) starts with "takes for granted"

thanks


Hi --

Sorry if I wasn't clear on this in the book (I get a ton of q's about this very issue, so I imagine there are some things I should be doing better in terms of teaching it) --

To me, they are just different ways to think about a flaw (rather than different types of flaws), and I'll discuss this further deeper into the book --

So, if I were to make an argument such as "Bob lives in California. Therefore, he must live in Los Angeles," and if I as the author make a mistake in thinking that living in California guarantees living in Los Angeles, you can describe the mistake I'm making --

in terms of the incorrect connections I am making in my head/the connections that don't have enough support -- "Takes for granted that because Bob lives in California he must live in L.A."

or in terms of the other things that I am not thinking of in reaching that conclusion -- "Fails to consider that Bob lives someone else in California other than L.A."

So, ideally, you want to be able to see flaws from both perspectives, and it's also often true that when the flaw is hard to see from one perspective (say, for example, you are having a hard time thinking about what the author has taken for granted) it can be helpful to try to examine the flaw from the other perspective (in this case, what the author perhaps failed to consider).

HTH - if you have any follow up, or if the further discussion in the book doesn't clear things up, just let me know --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby boaltlaw » Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:42 am

Thanks for the reply Mike, I appreciate it.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby theoretics » Sat Apr 25, 2015 3:31 pm

Hi Mike. I posted a thread on the exam forum about the difference between strengthening the reasoning and strengthening the conclusion. Another user and I both kind of see the two as being, more or less, synonymous from a practical perspective. But you mention that some of the most tempting trap answer choices will strengthen the conclusion without strengthening the reasoning presented in favor of that conclusion. Any additional insight would be much appreciated on this nuance!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Tue Apr 28, 2015 3:16 pm

theoretics wrote:Hi Mike. I posted a thread on the exam forum about the difference between strengthening the reasoning and strengthening the conclusion. Another user and I both kind of see the two as being, more or less, synonymous from a practical perspective. But you mention that some of the most tempting trap answer choices will strengthen the conclusion without strengthening the reasoning presented in favor of that conclusion. Any additional insight would be much appreciated on this nuance!


Hi there -- great q, and I understand and appreciate where you are coming from --

I think this is definitely an area where there is benefit to understanding both commonalities and differences --

First, it is important to keep in mind that to the test writers the words conclusion and argument are very important, and mean two different things. A conclusion is a point reached, and an argument is the relationship between a point and the support given for that point. In visual terms, you can imagine the conclusion as a receiver, the support as a quarterback, and the argument as the pass in between the two.

The vast majority of strengthen q's, and most likely all of the strengthen q's that you will see on test day, supply you with an argument in the stimulus and then, in the question stem, ask you to strengthen that argument.

But sometimes, the stimulus contains a conclusion and information that could be taken as support for that conclusion, but doesn't necessarily have to be, and offers no direct grammatical evidence that it is being used as support.

For example, consider the following:

Sean is strong. He must be good at football.

Notice that, grammatically speaking, we could take the first component to simply be background that has nothing to do with the conclusion, and so the test writers can't say "argument." Instead, what they will say is something like:

"Which of the following most supports drawing the conclusion from the information given?"

This difference between strengthen the argument and strengthen the conclusion is largely a matter of semantics -- in both cases, your task is to find an answer that allows you to strengthen the bond between the information given and the conclusion. I'm guessing this is the commonality you notice, and it's a certainly a smart one to notice.

So, to summarize, the vast majority of strengthen q's ask you to strengthen the argument, and of the minority that don't, most ask you to perform a task that is essentially the same (the test writer just can't say so because of the way the stimulus is written). Thus, it certainly makes a lot of sense to focus on the commonality between the two question types.

One point of difference is that every once in a while you will be asked to strengthen a conclusion for which no support has been given. An example would be 43-2-8. In this case, you are just looking to strengthen the point made (which itself has a "link" in the form of a cause-effect relationship, and so requires thinking similar to that of linking support to conclusion).

More importantly, when I've worked with students who have missed strengthen/weaken questions, and when I've asked them about the thought process behind selecting, and feeling fairly certain of, an incorrect answer that they thought was correct, very commonly what happened was that the student saw, or imagined, a way in which that answer choice could have the desired impact on the conclusion, but then made the mistake of not checking carefully enough to see if that answer happened to strengthen/weaken the particular link between the given support and the conclusion (this is illustrated on page 275 of the trainer, in answer (B) for the super-simple example).

This is the most important reason why I think it's important to understand the distinction between strengthening (or weakening) the argument vs s/w the conclusion.

Hope that helps, and please feel free to follow up if you need anything else --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Stannis the Mannis » Tue Apr 28, 2015 3:40 pm

Hi Mike,

Just wanted to say that your book was a huge help in preparing for the LSAT. Your commentary gave me a few laughs along the way too, which was appreciated.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby hunt godlink » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:20 pm

Mike,

I did see that your recently released your new book. Congratulations! I am currently using the older version to prepare for the June and October LSATs and am finding it very helpful. Objectively speaking, is it worth it for me to buy the new book? Why/why not? Thanks.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Spence334 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 11:09 pm

Hey Mike,

I wanted to get a copy of your book-- but there's an error on Amazon.ca saying "customers have told us there may be something wrong with our inventory of the item, the way we are shipping it, or the way it's described here." Any ideas on what the issue is and when it would be resolved? I'd like to a get a copy asap so I can start studying!


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