Why is my score dipping?

christinalsat
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Why is my score dipping?

Postby christinalsat » Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:26 pm

I've been studying since Nov. My first diag was Nov. 31:

1st diag: 159
2nd diag: 166
3rd diag: 154
4th diag: 158

WTF?!?

Is a 170 realistic for the Feb 6th lsat? I thought it was when I jumped to a 166, but now I am having serious doubts. Should I wait until June?

UTexas
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby UTexas » Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:02 am

I think you should wait. If you're applying for 2011, there's no compelling universal reason to take the February test over the June test, especially if you're struggling with confidence and performance at this stage.

Are you taking a course? If so, which one? Which sections give you the most trouble? What's the average amount of time you're waiting between diagnostics? How much time do you spend reviewing the problems you miss and the problems you found difficult? With your score range, you should be spending at least as much time reviewing the test as you do taking it. At the least, you should write out a justification for selecting and for eliminating every answer choice on these problems (during review). What else are you doing to study? Are you studying too much? Are you getting adequate sleep? Don't expect gains if you're studying while fatigued.

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PoorOrpheus
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby PoorOrpheus » Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:14 am

My first thought was: Why has OP taken so few PTs? What are you using to prepare? Calling all of them diagnostics has me worried you're using test company-made LSAT tests.

christinalsat
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby christinalsat » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:38 am

I'm taking Testmasters and after our first diagnostic in November, they refused to release the PTs to us until the first week of January. They're all real practice tests though! (I called them "diags" because that's how Testmasters refers to them). The 166 was from a test I just purchased myself and took in December. The last three tests have been within a few days of each other.

As far as sections go, I'm still really struggling with LG. Usually I can't get more than half right on that section due to not having time for more the last game and making a couple stupid mistakes on the others. Other than that, I usually get 4-5 wrong on RC and LR sections. 2-3 of those missed questions are also usually due to stupid mistakes or time constraints. I always spend a significant amount of time going over the questions I got wrong and then all of the LG section. The thing is...this is basically where I was a month and a half ago BEFORE I started the course. Also, a month and a half ago I had no problem finishing LR in the given amount of time (even had a couple minutes to spare) and now I keep running short on time.

All of my studying consists of Testmasters material. It's very possible I'm studying too much and not getting enough sleep. I work in the news media and have to be at my desk by 7:30am every day so I've averaged about 5 hrs of sleep the past couple weeks.

Thanks for the responses!

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Sauer Grapes
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby Sauer Grapes » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:40 am

....
Last edited by Sauer Grapes on Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

christinalsat
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby christinalsat » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:54 am

I actually did get the LG and LR bibles and got through a chunk of them before my course. I think that's part of the reason I was able to get a 159 on my first diagnostic. You think it's worth going through them again? When I read them the first time I was still getting "introduced" to the lsat.

Woozy
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby Woozy » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:59 am

Looks like you score pretty consistently in the mid-high 150s, with one outlier.

Time to get more PTs, study on your own, and postpone to June.

christinalsat
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby christinalsat » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:17 am

Maybe I'm just being overly optimistic, but I'm not sure that's the case. When I got the 166 and the 159 I felt like I had a much clearer mindset than I currently do. Timing wasn't a big issue, and stupid mistakes were also more infrequent. I got problems wrong because I hadn't yet learned how to approach them. Since then, my mind just feels fuzzy every time I sit down to take a test.

examplepdf
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby examplepdf » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:24 am

christinalsat wrote:Maybe I'm just being overly optimistic, but I'm not sure that's the case. When I got the 166 and the 159 I felt like I had a much clearer mindset than I currently do. Timing wasn't a big issue, and stupid mistakes were also more infrequent. I got problems wrong because I hadn't yet learned how to approach them. Since then, my mind just feels fuzzy every time I sit down to take a test.


I don't think you're being overly optimistic--having an alert, clear mind when sitting down for the test is a big part of doing well. Lots of people could do great on the test if it wasn't timed. But it is, so you need to be in tip top shape to take every question at 100% mental capacity. You need to start getting more than 5 hrs of sleep a night ASAP, and start doing LG sections from real tests over your lunch breaks. If that's where most of your points are being lost, don't work on RC and LR much for a week and just focus on taking *timed* LG sections and then going over every single qusetion. (This close to the test, I wouldn't be doing any practice that wasn't timed. Even if you do a single problem, you should time it.)

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PoorOrpheus
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby PoorOrpheus » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:45 am

Woozy wrote:Looks like you score pretty consistently in the mid-high 150s, with one outlier.

Time to get more PTs, study on your own, and postpone to June.

TITCR

Most people seem to score around the average of their PTs or worse on the actual LSAT. If you have a set goal of 170, then you should be aiming for several PTs above 170 prior to the actual test. You're also looking at a difference of 15 to 20 more correct answers needed to hit your goal.

You need to not be studying yourself into the ground. It's not how much you study, just how. Do an LG section in the morning and an LG section after work. Do not move on to another LG section until you completely understand what you did wrong. Take them again a week later. If you cannot score -0 on an LG section you've already reviewed, there's a problem. This should be your primary focus since, imho, LG are easy points.

Woozy
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby Woozy » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:55 am

christinalsat wrote:Maybe I'm just being overly optimistic, but I'm not sure that's the case. When I got the 166 and the 159 I felt like I had a much clearer mindset than I currently do. Timing wasn't a big issue, and stupid mistakes were also more infrequent. I got problems wrong because I hadn't yet learned how to approach them. Since then, my mind just feels fuzzy every time I sit down to take a test.


This could be a function of you poor sleep habits or just a sign that you need to study more. It is a strange fact of the human brain that a little knowledge can actually harm performance. Only when it gets completely internalized will it begin to help. Also, learning is full of plateaus followed by breakthroughs. You are in the doldrums now, but if you keep at it a breakthrough will come.

Also, fix your sleep habits. You can't learn properly if you don't sleep. The time you have to be at work is a poor excuse - there are 24 hours in a day, no matter when you start it. I started work at 6am when I was studying for the LSAT and still slept plenty.

amg0996
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby amg0996 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:56 am

Stop......bibles......tests (there are about 60 so you can bring your average up)

UTexas
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby UTexas » Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:40 pm

Definitive answer: Postpone your test date until June. Print every supplemental section and self-scored diag off the TM website before your access expires. Take at least two or three weeks off. Get adequate sleep when you resume your studies.

I have some related personal experience. I took the summer TM course and registered for the September LSAT. I was working 60 hours a week and decided to sacrifice sleep to have more time to study. I did fine in college when I had to skimp on sleep, but it just doesn't work for the LSAT. I flogged myself really hard over the last month and was pretty fatigued with two weeks remaining. My performance on PTs and HW declined across all sections. I went from mid to high 170s to performance around 168-170.

I decided to take an absence for the September test (too late to postpone) and study in a sane fashion for December after a break from the material. My performance recovered immediately, and I improved further. I got a 178 in December; I probably would have scored eight points lower in September.
Last edited by UTexas on Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

christinalsat
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby christinalsat » Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:10 pm

I wish TM had some sort of warning about that. There are a few people in my class who are taking the LSAT and the class for a second time because of that time crunch. I'm sure everyone is different, but it's at least worth pointing out before someone coughs up $1,500. Ideally I would've taken the course for the Sept lsat in preparation for Feb.

Other than taking a couple weeks off, how would you recommend keeping up my momentum without burning out?

I was planning on staying signed up for the Feb 6th lsat, taking it, and canceling my score. Is that a bad idea? Cancellation deadline is Jan 17th, so please respond!

I also functioned fine in college without sleep. In fact it didn't even occur to me that sleep could be one of the big problems until you folks started pointing it out.

UTexas
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby UTexas » Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:06 am

To keep your momentum going, keep studying consistently. Just don't study so much that you're not resting properly. If you start your break now, you should have plenty of time to work, sleep, and study very thoroughly for the June test. I think you'll find that things seem easier and that your performance and understanding improve at a greater rate after a two-week break. It certainly worked well for me. Many others around here will also testify to the benefits of taking a step back. And avoiding burnout is, of course, crucial.

As for taking the test, I don't think that's a good idea. I generally don't think it's a good idea to take the test when you don't feel adequately prepared/confident. Taking it in February and canceling means that June has to go well. One "cancel" on your score report is fine, but two are not. If June doesn't go well, for whatever reason (killer game, no sleep, illness), you'll be faced with the choice of having two cancels or one cancel and a bad score on your record. Neither scenario is very pretty.

Don't waste your mulligan. Postpone your test date, study hard for June, and take it for the first time then. If you feel you did poorly, you can cancel the score and be no worse off -- as far as the score report and admissions cycle are concerned -- for having to take it a second time in October.

Good luck.

christinalsat
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby christinalsat » Sun Jan 17, 2010 1:18 pm

Thanks for the advice. Just took another PT (on my own) and got a 165. Definitely not the score I'm shooting for (would like 170 or above), but I think my goal is tangible within the next three weeks so I'm considering digging my heels in and sticking with the Feb 6 exam and canceling my score if I'm just not there yet. Seems my biggest obstacle is going to be the nerves I get whenever someone else is proctoring the exam. Not sure how to kick those, but otherwise seems raising my score by a few points in the next few weeks is doable. What do others think?

The deadline for the date change is tomorrow, so time is running out!

UTexas
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby UTexas » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:18 pm

Congrats on your score rebound! That changes the equation a little. I think your goal is attainable, if a bit ambitious.

With three weeks left, don't think that you have to do the maximum possible number of questions. That would be an inefficient use of time. Review all of the problems you've missed on HW and PTs/diagnostics in depth, focus on the LR question types that give you the most trouble, take the 2009 PTs, and do and re-do as many games as possible. But get decent rest, especially during the last week, since you probably won't sleep well at all the night before the test.

As for nerves, just don't build the problem up further in your mind. Everyone will be nervous for the real thing. Just put all of your attention on the test questions and remind yourself that you've already seen a few thousand of them.

And, whatever you do, don't cancel on the day of the test. Think about it for a few days. I actually thought my test had gone poorly (relative to the goal I had set), and I contemplated canceling right up to the deadline.

Derrex
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby Derrex » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:35 am

The typical reason your score is dipping is most likely because you lack fundamental understanding of the material to score where you spiked. Especially at your level where the difference between 160s and 150s is more than a few unlucky questions. Make sure to review all of your answers right and wrong and reason them out. I find that by the time most people take their test, they know, with high probability where their scores will fall. Technique over score; work on the former and the later will (consistently) follow.

Oh and I would wait for June although by now, you are set one way or the other.

heyguys
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby heyguys » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:34 am

PoorOrpheus wrote:My first thought was: Why has OP taken so few PTs? What are you using to prepare? Calling all of them diagnostics has me worried you're using test company-made LSAT tests.



Credited. Read the bibles, don't waste your time on any classes, and take a TON of preptests. Seriously, I took nearly 50.

christinalsat
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Re: Why is my score dipping?

Postby christinalsat » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:38 am

Was able to hit a 166 again last night, so feeling better. Four more points and I'll be able to sleep soundly again.




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