Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

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EarlCat
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Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby EarlCat » Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:06 am

For some reason, people studying the LSAT have a tendency to assume that previous LSATs somehow go bad. Post after post people fret about having seen questions before, or saving a few tests to keep them "fresh". "OMG I did all 63 practice tests! NOW WHAT WILL I STUDY???"

Please stop this nonsense.

Reusing PrepTests WILL NOT HURT YOU!

In fact, one of the most valuable things you can do is reuse your PrepTests. Do them. Then do them again. Then do them again. It's good. It's called practice, and practice, by definition, requires repetition.

Exhibit 1:
Merriam Webster wrote:prac·tice verb \ˈprak-təs\
2 a : to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient
b : to train by repeated exercises

Ok, sure, your score on a PrepTest that you've seen before will probably be higher than on a "fresh" one. Whoopie do. The point of doing preptests is not to have an "accurate" preptest score, it's to get better at the test. Musicians don't fret about keeping songs fresh--they do them over and over again. Athletes don't fret about running a drill a second or third time--they do them over and over again. Repetition makes them better. Do your LSAT questions over and over again. It will make you better.

I've come to understand LSAT prep as taking place on two levels. There's a basic level where you're learning about conditional reasoning, game setups, question types, premises, conclusions, flaws, and things like that. Those are important for initial improvement on the test, and a good grasp of those concepts is probably good to get you a respectable number of points above the median.

The second level, as I've come to understand it, is almost entirely about pattern recognition. The vast majority of, say, consistent 165+ or 170+ scorers work the test without having to use a whole lot of mental capacity thinking through the logic of arguments or memorizing what they've read in RC. Instead, they see things about the current test that remind them of things they've repeatedly seen in the past. The LSAT is an incredibly consistent test from administration to administration. The structures of the arguments, the games, the passages, and the answer choices have all appeared multiple times on prior tests. "Hey, this is just like the such-and-such game where this particular rule was the key to most of the questions!" That is where you want to be.

Once you've got a good grasp of the basics, I've found that repetition of old questions is the most effective way to begin seeing (and recalling) the patterns in the test--of getting to that higher level. Redoing questions is like like watching a movie a second time. You begin to see things--obvious things--that you totally missed the first or second time through.

Exhibit 2:
Image

That flaw in that argument you just worked? You're going to see it again. So get familiar with it so that you don't waste any time recognizing it. That crazy clue in that game? It's probably been in 3 or 4 other games. Like the ending in the Sixth Sense, repetition will make these things obvious.

Now, this doesn't mean you should pull out an old LSAT and say, "oh yeah, I remember this one, the answer is C." Knowing the answer doesn't really do much good. Instead, look at the questions with an eye toward articulating exactly what kind of problem it is, what steps you should follow to answer it, what the answer is likely to look like, and exactly why each answer choice is right or wrong. Write your explanation down if you need to. Pretend you're teaching someone how to work the problem. Take people's questions on here and try to explain to them how to solve a problem or set up a game. Post your thinking on questions on here if you're not sure you understand it quite right. Then go through them again.

The usefulness of a question is more than it's ability to simply test whether you can answer it right. But you don't gain a lot of that additional value if you go through the question once, find that you got it right, and then discard it forever. So use your tests. Reuse them. Resuse them again. Abuse them. Wear them out and squeeze every bit of knowledge and understanding you can get out of your materials. It will make you better.
Last edited by EarlCat on Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

tomwatts
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby tomwatts » Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:16 am

I've posted something to the same effect — though perhaps not as eloquently — elsewhere. I fully agree. Between my first LSAT and my second (December '07 and February '10), I took maybe two timed tests. But I taught LSAT courses that involved doing the same 10-20 PTs worth of questions in class over and over and over. My first score was already really high, so I can't say that I jumped a million points or something, but I did have a hell of a lot more confidence (and was finishing sections way, way early, which I never did on my first test) the second time around. I've been a huge fan of redoing questions ever since (more so than I was before).

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99.9luft
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby 99.9luft » Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:17 am

quality post, EC.

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NikaneOkie
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby NikaneOkie » Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:35 am

I took everything from 25-50 and retook everything from 40-50. I did very well, and I certainly think that retaking the tests actually helped me.

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jtemp320
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby jtemp320 » Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:36 am

+1 to this reusing tests or at least sections is worthwhile

not for trying to gauge where you are at but for learning/practice works fine...good post

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coldshoulder
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby coldshoulder » Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:04 am

+1
Sticky this shit.

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Jeffort
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby Jeffort » Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:36 am

I agree 100%

The point of working through a lot of the available PrepTests to prepare (AKA improve your score) is NOT just to get good at being able to pick a letter (whether it is correct or incorrect) to bubble in for each question per section in 35 minutes or less.

Anybody can condition themself to race through reading the questions and bubbling in an answer choice for each one in the time allotted without resorting to making totally blind guesses, but being able to do that is just one of many necessary factors to being able to bubble in more credited answer choices than not.

The key is getting to know and understand the concepts of logic tested and getting good at how to think and reason through the materials logically (meaning applying valid methods of reasoning) in the process of deciding which bubble to fill in. Quality study, review and dissection of test materials is much more important than the volume of tests you blast through for the purpose of improving accuracy.

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mac35352
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby mac35352 » Sat Mar 12, 2011 11:01 am

+1

jim-green
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby jim-green » Sun Mar 13, 2011 12:06 am

EarlCat wrote:For some reason, people studying the LSAT have a tendency to assume that previous LSATs somehow go bad. "Hey, this is just like the such-and-such game where this particular rule was the key to most of the questions!" That is where you want to be.
Thanks so much for this post, OP! It is very reassuring. I am the person who posted the anxious question about re-using PTs for a retake, and am relieved after reading your post. By the way, you are correct about the Hey moment you describe above. I had it on the Feb 2011 LSAt when I recognized an LG I had seen before on an earlier PT.

youknowryan
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby youknowryan » Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:41 am

EarlCat wrote:
Reusing PrepTests WILL NOT HURT YOU!




Reusing a test or specific sections is guaranteed to lower one's score.


You and your well reasoned and air-tight silly little arguments just are not fooling anyone. :wink:

bhan87
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby bhan87 » Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:06 am

youknowryan wrote:
EarlCat wrote:
Reusing PrepTests WILL NOT HURT YOU!




Reusing a test or specific sections is guaranteed to lower one's score.


You and your well reasoned and air-tight silly little arguments just are not fooling anyone. :wink:


Flame or not, shut up.

All test takers should listen to the OP. It always baffles me that people will complain about running out of tests to practice with when they haven't bothered redoing the ones they bombed during practice.

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mickeyD
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby mickeyD » Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:12 am

With all this in mind, is it still smart to save a few PrepTests in case a retake is necessary? I'm studying for June, but in case it doesn't work out, I've heard I should about 5 untouched.

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EarlCat
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby EarlCat » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:57 am

mickeyD wrote:With all this in mind, is it still smart to save a few PrepTests in case a retake is necessary? I'm studying for June, but in case it doesn't work out, I've heard I should about 5 untouched.


If you want to save a handful to use as diagnostics, that's fine. Nobody needs to use all 60+ tests to adequately prep for the LSAT anyway. The point is that tests you've done are still incredibly (and increasingly) valuable after you've used them.
Last edited by EarlCat on Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

d34d9823
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby d34d9823 » Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:02 am

EarlCat wrote:
mickeyD wrote:With all this in mind, is it still smart to save a few PrepTests in case a retake is necessary? I'm studying for June, but in case it doesn't work out, I've heard I should about 5 untouched.


If you want to save a handful to use as diagnostics, that's fine. Nobody needs to use all 60 tests to adequately prep for the LSAT.

Beyond this, tests you haven't done before actually are better in terms of challenging you. I agree with the stuff that's being said about retaking tests that you did poorly on, but you don't get the same challenge from a test you've already done.

I would definitely save a few.

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EarlCat
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby EarlCat » Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:05 am

youknowryan wrote:Reusing a test or specific sections is guaranteed to lower one's score.

You and your well reasoned and air-tight silly little arguments just are not fooling anyone. :wink:

I laughed.

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EarlCat
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby EarlCat » Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:12 am

bhan87 wrote:It always baffles me that people will complain about running out of tests to practice with when they haven't bothered redoing the ones they bombed during practice.

d34dluk3 wrote:I agree with the stuff that's being said about retaking tests that you did poorly on

Let me clarify. This isn't just about redoing things you messed up (though that's probably the most important thing to do). Redo the stuff you got correct too. You want to be ultra familiar with everything the test is going to throw at you. So even if you can always think through to the right answers on in/out games, it's still better to get to the point where it comes almost automatically. At worst you're shaving time off your performance.

d34d9823
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby d34d9823 » Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:14 am

EarlCat wrote:
bhan87 wrote:It always baffles me that people will complain about running out of tests to practice with when they haven't bothered redoing the ones they bombed during practice.

d34dluk3 wrote:I agree with the stuff that's being said about retaking tests that you did poorly on

Let me clarify. This isn't just about redoing things you messed up (though that's probably the most important thing to do). Redo the stuff you got correct too. You want to be ultra familiar with everything the test is going to throw at you. So even if you can always think through to the right answers on in/out games, it's still better to get to the point where it comes almost automatically. At worst you're shaving time off your performance.

This is true, but what you need to be good at is not the specific question on that preptest - it's the abstract concept behind that question, which will be used many times. Doing the question again is good, but doing the concept again in a different question is better.

youknowryan
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby youknowryan » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:32 pm

bhan87 wrote:
youknowryan wrote:
EarlCat wrote:
Reusing PrepTests WILL NOT HURT YOU!




Reusing a test or specific sections is guaranteed to lower one's score.


You and your well reasoned and air-tight silly little arguments just are not fooling anyone. :wink:


Flame or not, shut up.

All test takers should listen to the OP. It always baffles me that people will complain about running out of tests to practice with when they haven't bothered redoing the ones they bombed during practice.


Perhaps law is not for you. Your post indicates an inability to comprehend even a simple bit of text. To clarify, in least common denominator language just for you: #1. I agree with the OP's points. All of them in every way. #2. I was ironically saying the same kind of stuff people who do not agree with him say. The irony part is that I shot my own point in the foot by noting that his arguments are, "well reasoned and air-tight". #3. For people like you, I even put a winking smilie face to further drive home that I was kidding around. If the above still leaves you befuddled, I have some colored letter blocks or "See Spot" like books that might amuse you. At the very least, they will make this forum a better place by keeping you busy and thus preventing you from posting.
Last edited by youknowryan on Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

d34d9823
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby d34d9823 » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:35 pm

youknowryan wrote:rant

Ignore the retards. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

youknowryan
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby youknowryan » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:35 pm

EarlCat wrote:
youknowryan wrote:Reusing a test or specific sections is guaranteed to lower one's score.

You and your well reasoned and air-tight silly little arguments just are not fooling anyone. :wink:

I laughed.


Thanks. :) Your post is fundamentally on point. It amazes me that some people would actually question the ideas of reviewing games that got them or even retaking whole PTs.

youknowryan
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby youknowryan » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:36 pm

d34dluk3 wrote:
youknowryan wrote:rant

Ignore the retards. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.


HAHAHA! You're right. Very funny and good point.

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EarlCat
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby EarlCat » Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:02 pm

d34dluk3 wrote:Doing the question again is good, but doing the concept again in a different question is better.

To a point. Obviously people shouldn't pick just one test and make that their entire curriculum. Doing multiple tests, you're going to see those same concepts again and again in different questions, and I agree with you that that's very important. But if churning and burning alone were sufficient, these people doing 30+ or 50+ tests would be dominating. Most of them aren't. And one of the big reasons they aren't is because they don't practice effectively--they don't reuse their material. IMHO, you're much better off going through 20 tests three times than 60 tests once.

d34d9823
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby d34d9823 » Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:07 pm

EarlCat wrote:
d34dluk3 wrote:Doing the question again is good, but doing the concept again in a different question is better.

To a point. Doing multiple tests, you're going to see those same concepts again and again in different questions, and I agree with you that that's very important. Obviously people shouldn't pick just one test and make that their entire curriculum. But if churning and burning alone were sufficient, these people doing 30+ or 50+ tests would be dominating. Most of them aren't. And one of the big reasons they aren't is because they don't practice effectively--they don't reuse their material.

My two main points are 1) the real gains don't come from just churning and burning, as is evidenced by the overwhelming number of threads where people report doing 30+ PrepTests with little or no improvement, and 2) avoiding material because you've seen it before is just plain silly.

I agree with 2) completely.

As far as 1) goes, a number of people do see large gains from doing large numbers of PTs. I think you'd be hard pressed to show that the lack of improvement in your example is due to poor technique rather than lack of talent / maxed out talent.

I agree that learning from your tests is crucial. I think it's more effective, however, to thoroughly go over the tests after scoring them than to take it again at some later date. The former is a crucial part of any study plan while the latter is merely somewhat helpful.

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kwais
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby kwais » Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:09 pm

bhan87 wrote:
youknowryan wrote:
EarlCat wrote:
Reusing PrepTests WILL NOT HURT YOU!




Reusing a test or specific sections is guaranteed to lower one's score.


You and your well reasoned and air-tight silly little arguments just are not fooling anyone. :wink:


Flame or not, shut up.

All test takers should listen to the OP. It always baffles me that people will complain about running out of tests to practice with when they haven't bothered redoing the ones they bombed during practice.


yikes, how did this guy get a 172 and two T6 admits?

d34d9823
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Re: Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!

Postby d34d9823 » Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:10 pm

kwais wrote:yikes, how did this guy get a 172 and two T6 admits?

There is no sarcasm on the LSAT.




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