Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

User avatar
mallard
Posts: 1092
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:45 am

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby mallard » Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:34 pm

Intelligence and a certain kind of adrenaline and calm under pressure. Probably already been said.

User avatar
Na_Swatch
Posts: 472
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 4:40 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby Na_Swatch » Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:57 pm

acrossthelake wrote:
jason8821 wrote:
I am not a psychologist, neuroscientist, psychiatrist etc. All I can really state are my own observations, and I am just one person. I find it interesting that you had a cut off at 144. 144 is an extremely high IQ, and even on the more liberal Stanford-Binet, I believe that would be noticeably lower than 1% of people. That said if by "top notch" education you are saying that you went to a private school, than I do agree that the combination of an atmosphere where knowledge is viewed as a virtue, (and being able to chug Milwaukees best is not as big of a concern), and an extremely high IQ would almost guarantee a 1300, the same way that a 130 IQ essentially precludes one from scoring say an 800 no matter. Of course if you are "extremely intelligent" you will master tests such as the SAT with or without a good education, and once you get to a certain level, you may be there, but for those people in the 120's and 130's who still score really high on the lsat, and I believe they are out there, I think there are other defining factors. An example of this is "how much did you read in high school? are you a really detailed note taker? are your parents extremely organized?" again, I'm not a psych guy, just think other things play a role. In your case a diagnostic of 170 almost certainly proves that you have a great deal of aptitude for the test no matter where you went to school, but what would be incredible is to see someone who maybe did not grow up in an area where education was cherished, and maybe didn't read a lot, than the LSAT would be more "Innate" IMO.


I mean the LSAT is testing reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and analytical reasoning. These are cognitive skills. You can come to possess a high degree of cognitive skill through both talent and experience. Being "gifted" basically meant that one learned and acquired cognitive skills more easily and quicker. You'd expect that someone bright with a reasonable education will come to the table with those skills developed enough to do well naturally. Being able to do well naturally on the LSAT comes from three roads: 1) Being a natural-born cognitive ninja. 2) Training to become a cognitive ninja through upbringing. 3) Both. The less you have of one, the more you need of the other. The other things you're talking about (did you read a lot as a kid) is path 2.

They defined the cut-off at top 1% and then adjusted what IQ cut-off that would be from year to year, which happened to be 144 my year. The exam was being done on children, which is less accurate the younger they are, so yeah some of the kids who had been admitted at like...age 6/7 didn't necessarily do as well by age 12, while everyone admitted at age 10/11 ended up in the top half by the end of the program(age 13/14). I don't mean a private school education---this was a public school system. However, we're basically kids of computer programmers, doctors, lawyers, successful business people, etc. so combination of bright parents and a well-educated household.



Yeah I kind of agree a 144 cut-off is way further than a 1% cut-off... I mean just based on the statistical formulation for LSAT, a 144 is beyond 99.9%, basically equivalent to 0.1% cutoff.

Also, with that kind of basic cognitive ability, it just makes it easier to achieve higher scores on standardized tests due to a quicker grasp of basic concepts and faster processing... adrenaline/stress/concentration etc. all still contribute, but the basic advantage is there.

For example, i have no idea what my IQ would be tested at now, but I tested at 150+ during elementary school and then scored a 1410 (old lsat scale) in the 7th grade a couple of years later... i find that just being able to understand questions and makes inferences faster allows greater accuracy and faster completion even without special training.

12262010
Posts: 612
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:15 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby 12262010 » Tue Jun 22, 2010 8:03 pm

mallard wrote:Intelligence and a certain kind of adrenaline and calm under pressure. Probably already been said.


I think my meme captured it:

Image

Hey-O
Posts: 719
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:50 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby Hey-O » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:31 pm

People have different mental capacities. The LSAT measures verbal cognitive ability (reading, and linear thinking). People who have the natural proclivity and a life time of training in this area are going to be better standardized test takers than people who are not.

But I agree with that hard work trumps natural intelligence any day of the week. Give me a person of average intelligence who is an incredibly hard worker over a Good Will Hunting.

adonai
Posts: 1033
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:09 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby adonai » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:44 pm

Natural intelligence. Studying for THIS test can only get you so far. The more intelligence and natural aptitude you have, the more potential you have to go further and score higher by studying. Some people's limits might be in the 160-165 range, others 170-175 range, etc. Concepts, reasoning structures, and rules are understood and grasped faster and more fully also. Cmon people, you can't say studying plays a bigger part than natural aptitude, especially on the LSAT. It seems like the kids who read a lot of books growing up and actually understood what they read do "naturally" well on this test.
Last edited by adonai on Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Canarsie
Posts: 137
Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 3:41 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby Canarsie » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:50 pm

jason8821 wrote:So this is sort of an off topic question for a law school forum, sort of, but a lot of people on here have taken multiple standardized tests such as the GMAT, GRE, and MCAT as well. I know it seems like this question has been discussed Ad Infinitum in some shape or form, but for those who have done really well on the LSAT, did you always read a lot since you were really young, do you believe it's just a matter of pattern recognition over a long period of time, or is it that you actually have better short term recall, or cognitive capabilities than a person who struggles to get into the 150's or is it all of these things?


I read most of this thread but skimmed the large blocks of text for the most part. My siblings and I both scored very high on the Stanford-Binet (I was top 2%, sister scored a 130 which falls shy of the 132 cut-off), we scored high on all standardized testing offered throughout grade school, SAT, and I am now studying for the LSAT (having taken a high-scoring diagnostic). My sister is premed and while she has yet to take her MCATs she will probably do quite well.

My parents both fall into this category. I don't believe intelligence is black-or-white related to genetics, but in my experience intelligent children have intelligent parents. There are always exceptions in both directions.

I don't think it's pattern recognition-- at least not at first because sometimes, like the LSAT, I look at a test with a totally new format. If I learn a technique it sticks and helps enormously. I think I have a better capacity to remember/analyze information on a test than someone who scores quite low with the same amount of preparation. Not trying to brag or show off or anything like that.

There are other factors though-- I never have trouble concentrating when I take tests, even if it's too loud or too cold. I seldom have to reread an answer. High scores have always been emphasized in my family and in my culture. I was always in the gifted classes like previously mentioned and they also emphasize higher score and perhaps even teach/reinforce techniques over the years.



---
TL;DR
Almost anyone with sufficient prep and test conditions can do well. I think the people who do exceptionally well (180s) have a greater cognitive ability, personally. Or are maybe just lucky. I think if you are intelligent, prepped hard, and can keep your focus during testing, you will probably score at least the average.

User avatar
jayn3
Posts: 667
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 5:21 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby jayn3 » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:51 pm

i don't know the answer to your question but i would like to brag that i am a cognitive ninja who fell asleep during the PSAT and still made national merit. bitch.

Hey-O
Posts: 719
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:50 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby Hey-O » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:53 pm

adonai wrote:Natural intelligence. Studying for THIS test can only get you so far. The more intelligence and natural aptitude you have, the more potential you have to go further and score higher by studying. Some people's limits might be in the 160-165 range, others 170-175 range. Cmon people, you can't say studying plays a bigger part than natural aptitude, especially on the LSAT.


Completely disagree. I think that studying is more important than natural aptitude on this test.

Actually, let me re-phrase that in LSAT speak: Natural aptitude is necessary but not sufficient to get a top score on the LSAT. I would say 170+ requires a certain natural aptitude but only a statistically insignificant amount of people who have this capacity could reach this score without practice. The LSAT isn't an intelligence test. It is a test of reasoning and reading skills.

Skill is the key word and you improve skills with practice and repetition.

175+ requires aptitude, study, and luck.

adonai
Posts: 1033
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:09 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby adonai » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:56 pm

Hey-O wrote:
Completely disagree. I think that studying is more important than natural aptitude on this test.

Actually, let me re-phrase that in LSAT speak: Natural aptitude is necessary but not sufficient to get a top score on the LSAT. I would say 170+ requires a certain natural aptitude but only a statistically insignificant amount of people who have this capacity could reach this score without practice. The LSAT isn't an intelligence test. It is a test of reasoning and reading skills.

Skill is the key word and you improve skills with practice and repetition.

175+ requires aptitude, study, and luck.

Good points and well noted. Of course one would need both to excel to their maximum potential. I just think natural aptitude outweighs studying by far, though.

User avatar
Ty Webb
Posts: 517
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby Ty Webb » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:57 pm

Pretty sure Roy McAvoy said it best:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0tTtEnzFv0

Army2Law
Posts: 154
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:35 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby Army2Law » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:03 am

I've just done well on standardized tests since elementary school. I probably actually got worse at them in college. I was always in 99%ile on standardized tests through junior high then ended up 96%ile LSAT and 97%ile GMAT. Take from that what you will.

User avatar
Ty Webb
Posts: 517
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby Ty Webb » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:10 am

Army2Law wrote:I've just done well on standardized tests since elementary school. I probably actually got worse at them in college. I was always in 99%ile on standardized tests through junior high then ended up 96%ile LSAT and 97%ile GMAT. Take from that what you will.


This post provides some backing to those who claim that any fool can do well on the LSAT.

You didn't "get worse" at standardized testing. The obvious answer is that the field for graduate school entrance exams (presumably college graduates) was substantially stronger than the field at Bumfuck County Elementary School.

Army2Law
Posts: 154
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:35 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby Army2Law » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:13 am

Ty Webb wrote:
Army2Law wrote:I've just done well on standardized tests since elementary school. I probably actually got worse at them in college. I was always in 99%ile on standardized tests through junior high then ended up 96%ile LSAT and 97%ile GMAT. Take from that what you will.


This post provides some backing to those who claim that any fool can do well on the LSAT.

You didn't "get worse" at standardized testing. The obvious answer is that the field for graduate school entrance exams (presumably college graduates) was substantially stronger than the field at Bumfuck County Elementary School.


That's what I figured, that I was testing against a pool of tougher competition instead of the sacrificial lambs in the 0-15% range who wouldn't be taking these types of exams.

d34d9823
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:52 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby d34d9823 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:21 am

There's a ton of stuff you can point to - abstract thinking, critical reasoning, and all that. I won't get into that discussion.

I will say that reading holistically (not line by line) has helped me tremendously on the LSAT. I can read paragraphs in less than a second and that helps a ton with speed on the exam.

User avatar
Cosmo Kramer
Posts: 141
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:11 am

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby Cosmo Kramer » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:32 am

acrossthelake wrote:
underachiever wrote:So many variables its really not even worth getting into.

I just tear up standardized tests, but I am a lazy student (always have been) I never do homework, I barely take notes, I never read (unless I like the subject). But I do have a great memory and I just "get things", even in law school I can pick up ideas quickly and apply them easily. Really its dumb luck to a certain extent as I have non-college educated parents and lived in the worst school district in my state.

However, I know people who SUCK at standardized test and take hours to process ideas but through hard work they have gotten high LSAT scores and now attend T14 law schools. I think they are all better for it

Natural ability only gets you so far. It is work ethic that really matters.


This.

The really successful people my age I know are, indeed, very very smart, but also match this with working very very hard.


Malcolm Gladwell-Outliers

mrm2083
Posts: 238
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:16 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby mrm2083 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:33 am

I think it has to do a lot with natural skill and genetics. I honestly think people are just born with the right mix of abilities to help them succeed on standardized test. That may be a high IQ, extra bursts of adrenaline during testing, a calm attitude, etc. For example, I have always scored in at least the top 96% on standardized tests starting since I was a little kid yet I never read, am a B student (was a C student when I was young) and a psychologist even told my parents I was "of average intelligence and would never be a doctor or lawyer" (must have been a really shitty psychologist). For some reason when I take standardized tests though, the stars just align.

User avatar
Ty Webb
Posts: 517
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby Ty Webb » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:38 am

Army2Law wrote:
Ty Webb wrote:
Army2Law wrote:I've just done well on standardized tests since elementary school. I probably actually got worse at them in college. I was always in 99%ile on standardized tests through junior high then ended up 96%ile LSAT and 97%ile GMAT. Take from that what you will.


This post provides some backing to those who claim that any fool can do well on the LSAT.

You didn't "get worse" at standardized testing. The obvious answer is that the field for graduate school entrance exams (presumably college graduates) was substantially stronger than the field at Bumfuck County Elementary School.


That's what I figured, that I was testing against a pool of tougher competition instead of the sacrificial lambs in the 0-15% range who wouldn't be taking these types of exams.


There's a name for the 0-15% (or really 0-70% in most public schools) on middle school standardized tests. It's "unskilled laborer".

Hey-O
Posts: 719
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:50 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby Hey-O » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:41 am

Ty Webb wrote:
Army2Law wrote:
Ty Webb wrote:
Army2Law wrote:I've just done well on standardized tests since elementary school. I probably actually got worse at them in college. I was always in 99%ile on standardized tests through junior high then ended up 96%ile LSAT and 97%ile GMAT. Take from that what you will.


This post provides some backing to those who claim that any fool can do well on the LSAT.

You didn't "get worse" at standardized testing. The obvious answer is that the field for graduate school entrance exams (presumably college graduates) was substantially stronger than the field at Bumfuck County Elementary School.


That's what I figured, that I was testing against a pool of tougher competition instead of the sacrificial lambs in the 0-15% range who wouldn't be taking these types of exams.


There's a name for the 0-15% (or really 0-70% in most public schools) on middle school standardized tests. It's "unskilled laborer".


There's a name for people who make unwarranted generalizations: An ass.

User avatar
Cosmo Kramer
Posts: 141
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:11 am

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby Cosmo Kramer » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:44 am

Ty Webb wrote:
Army2Law wrote:
Ty Webb wrote:
Army2Law wrote:I've just done well on standardized tests since elementary school. I probably actually got worse at them in college. I was always in 99%ile on standardized tests through junior high then ended up 96%ile LSAT and 97%ile GMAT. Take from that what you will.


This post provides some backing to those who claim that any fool can do well on the LSAT.

You didn't "get worse" at standardized testing. The obvious answer is that the field for graduate school entrance exams (presumably college graduates) was substantially stronger than the field at Bumfuck County Elementary School.


That's what I figured, that I was testing against a pool of tougher competition instead of the sacrificial lambs in the 0-15% range who wouldn't be taking these types of exams.


There's a name for the 0-15% (or really 0-70% in most public schools) on middle school standardized tests. It's "unskilled laborer".


yeah public school kids are dummies. same for those scrubby ass state school grads. Get richer parents you losers!

User avatar
acrossthelake
Posts: 4432
Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 5:27 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:58 am

I mean the LSAT is study-able. I had a high diagnostic, but prepped anyway because I didn't want to kick myself for being overly pompous later. I have a friend who scored in the lower 170s without prepping, but she really regrets not prepping, since she probably could've scored in the higher 170s if she had. Even if someone has natural aptitude, it's still a good idea to practice a bit. Talent can go a fair way by itself, and hard work can go a far way by itself, but obviously the optimal combination is both, so if you've got talent, don't waste it. And if someone lacks in the aptitude, they can still score into the 170s, they just have to work a lot harder at it.

Na_Swatch wrote:

Yeah I kind of agree a 144 cut-off is way further than a 1% cut-off... I mean just based on the statistical formulation for LSAT, a 144 is beyond 99.9%, basically equivalent to 0.1% cutoff.

Also, with that kind of basic cognitive ability, it just makes it easier to achieve higher scores on standardized tests due to a quicker grasp of basic concepts and faster processing... adrenaline/stress/concentration etc. all still contribute, but the basic advantage is there.

For example, i have no idea what my IQ would be tested at now, but I tested at 150+ during elementary school and then scored a 1410 (old lsat scale) in the 7th grade a couple of years later... i find that just being able to understand questions and makes inferences faster allows greater accuracy and faster completion even without special training.


So turns out I remembered wrong(it's been many years...and I was a kid at the time...). Just went to check the website. Turns out we take the Cognitive Abilities Test: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_Abilities_Test, where 100 is the average, and 150 is the max, which is a low ceiling, and explains why I scored on par with people who were smarter than me. 144 is the cut-off, and is the 99.7th percentile. Got 150 on that and the 99.8th percentile on the LSAT. Makes sense.

booyakasha wrote:
mallard wrote:Intelligence and a certain kind of adrenaline and calm under pressure. Probably already been said.


I think my meme captured it:

Image

Your meme is fantastic.

Miniver
Posts: 119
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:13 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby Miniver » Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:18 am

...
Last edited by Miniver on Tue Jul 06, 2010 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jason8821
Posts: 212
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:42 am

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby jason8821 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:31 pm

Someone mentioned Outliers above. Def true hard work beats natural talent, especially after a certain point in intelligence. For those who said they don't read and score extremely high on the LSAT, I honestly don't know how that is possible. The LSAT has some semi-difficult vocabulary that one must have at least a decent grasp on when writing LR and RC, I don't know how to acquire this knowledge without being at least a semi-avid reader. Gladwell, and others seem to believe that becoming an expert takes a lot of focus in a niche area, because the number one skill the LSAT really tests is "processing speed" also known as reading. I recently began speaking with some of the people who I knew who did really well on standardized tests. Almost without fail they were avid readers, Most said at the very least two books per month at a younger age. Imagine someone trying to write the LSAT while reading only a few books throughout high school. If you say some read 20 hours/month for leisure, times 12 months for say 15 years, and someone else read 100 hours/leisure all through middle/high school. Person A has 3500 hours of extra practice!!! Perhaps if a moderately intelligent person spent 2000-3000 extra hours on reading to catch up, their processing speed might be similar. And really for most it's probably more like 10,000 extra hours of reading. I'm not saying innate ability has nothing to do with it. but I'm just saying the child prodigy who has a "photographic memory" is more rare than people make it out to be, and there is not a huge gap between the people with the "pretty" intelligent, and the "average" law student at Harvard. fuck they did an average IQ test for Oxford Professors, and Harvard Students, and it was 128, and 127 respectively.

09042014
Posts: 18282
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby 09042014 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:10 pm

jason8821 wrote:Someone mentioned Outliers above. Def true hard work beats natural talent, especially after a certain point in intelligence. For those who said they don't read and score extremely high on the LSAT, I honestly don't know how that is possible. The LSAT has some semi-difficult vocabulary that one must have at least a decent grasp on when writing LR and RC, I don't know how to acquire this knowledge without being at least a semi-avid reader. Gladwell, and others seem to believe that becoming an expert takes a lot of focus in a niche area, because the number one skill the LSAT really tests is "processing speed" also known as reading. I recently began speaking with some of the people who I knew who did really well on standardized tests. Almost without fail they were avid readers, Most said at the very least two books per month at a younger age. Imagine someone trying to write the LSAT while reading only a few books throughout high school. If you say some read 20 hours/month for leisure, times 12 months for say 15 years, and someone else read 100 hours/leisure all through middle/high school. Person A has 3500 hours of extra practice!!! Perhaps if a moderately intelligent person spent 2000-3000 extra hours on reading to catch up, their processing speed might be similar. And really for most it's probably more like 10,000 extra hours of reading. I'm not saying innate ability has nothing to do with it. but I'm just saying the child prodigy who has a "photographic memory" is more rare than people make it out to be, and there is not a huge gap between the people with the "pretty" intelligent, and the "average" law student at Harvard. fuck they did an average IQ test for Oxford Professors, and Harvard Students, and it was 128, and 127 respectively.


I am embarrassingly poorly read. I didn't read a single book (novel, text book, anything) during my undergrad. And I still got only 1 RC question wrong and it was because I made an improper assumption about a topic I was familiar with. The vocab on the LSAT is simplistic at best.

jason8821
Posts: 212
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:42 am

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby jason8821 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:34 pm

To the above, I think you have to admit that this is a rare quality. I mentioned that some people have a high processing speed with words, others have it with math, some have with with spatial perception, hell some have it with all 3. It's just rare to be "truly" born with such ability. To call the LSAT vocab "simplistic" seems like a bit of a stretch. The vocab is similar to The Economist, and other similar publications. Is a word like "palpable" or "conjecture" a big word?? No probably not to most people taking the LSAT, but if you never or rarely read, I doubt you would be exposed to such words in conversation, if you were able to pick them up from conversation, that would require extreme recall as their use would be scarce at best.

User avatar
alexonfyre
Posts: 425
Joined: Fri Dec 25, 2009 3:00 am

Re: Why are some people really good at standardized testing?

Postby alexonfyre » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:48 pm

It's because they are freemasons.




Return to “LSAT Prep and Discussion Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: PantoroB and 7 guests