Not sure how to approach studying

it'sjustme
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Not sure how to approach studying

Postby it'sjustme » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:43 pm

Okay, so here's the story - I took the LSAT in February, and didn't score well at all on it (150). I felt I studied in a way that hindered me more than it helped, with a focus on the time, without really knowing how to approach the questions. I did a good number of practice tests in the months leading up to this exam, and obviously this approach didn't work for me.

After a few months of disappointment, I am ready to begin studying again for the October LSAT. However, I am not sure how. My weakest section - and the one I feel more uncomfortable with - is the logic games section. I have purchased the Powerscore Bible for it, and I also own multiple practice tests.

Like the title states, I am not sure how to approach studying for it this time - I have done several practice tests, but never really grasped the logic games. I was not outstanding on the other sections (obviously), but I am not sure what books to purchase for work on the other sections - based on some less than exemplary reviews I have come across.

With this post, I am just looking for some advice in terms of preparation, purchasing additional testing materials, or just general thoughts that would help with significant improvement.

Thank you for reading!

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:48 pm

What you should be doing for logic games depends on what the problem is. Three possibilities:

A) That you don't know how to diagram the games.
B) That you can't get from the diagrams to the answers.
C) That it takes you too long to get the answers.

Also, although it doesn't get many positive reviews here, I thought the Examkrackers LG book was good - as a supplement to Powerscore.

it'sjustme
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby it'sjustme » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:58 pm

AntipodeanPhil wrote:What you should be doing for logic games depends on what the problem is.

C) That it takes you too long to get the answers.


Definitely this option.

Whenever I took an exam untimed, I usually nailed most of the logic questions. But when I timed them, I just fell apart.

When it was timed, I made crucial errors while reading the rules (and subsequent diagramming) that made for a diaster.

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:08 pm

it'sjustme wrote:Whenever I took an exam untimed, I usually nailed most of the logic questions. But when I timed them, I just fell apart.

When it was timed, I made crucial errors while reading the rules (and subsequent diagramming) that made for a diaster.

Hmmm....

Perhaps the problem is that you are trying to rush too much and panicking.

When I started doing timed LGs, I had a similar problem. If it took me too long to diagram, I would start to panic and miss the 'look for initial inferences' stage. That, of course, cost me big time when I got to the questions.

Since then, before I start a timed LG section, I tell myself repeatedly to look for initial inferences - I say it in my head - to make sure I don't forget.

I would suggest: slow down in diagramming, remain conscious of the fact that you have to be careful, and keep practicising. If it's taking you 40-45 minutes to complete timed LGs like that, don't panic, just keep practising and hopefully your times will improve.

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fastforward
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby fastforward » Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:24 pm

ETA: Nice avatar, AntipodeanPhil. :lol:

Diagnosing the problem is half the battle. Good job!

Now, for the remedy. Resist the urge to rush through setups. This takes discipline and practice, but it's essential. It's very common to skimp on setup time when you start doing timed sections. Also, check and double-check for deductions.

Most first questions are setup testers, i.e. "Which of these could be a complete and accurate list, could be the proper order, etc. You can cut a great deal of time by going through the rules instead of the answer choices. If your first rule is "J must be in first or seventh place," there is sure to be a choice that violates that rule; eliminate that choice and go on to the next rule. Doing it this way takes a fraction of the time it would take to go through the answer choices.

There are many shortcuts like this, but just working many problems is the most important strategy. Remember in grade school, how long it took you to do math problems that you now do in your head? That's because you were forced to do them until they were second nature. Same principle applies to LGs, and there is no shortcut for that.

All the best in your prep.

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Kabuo
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby Kabuo » Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:36 pm

I ended up taking every released LSAT in my preparation, and after about 50, you sort of can predict what inferences will likely be important, and the type of question they'll use to test your knowledge of a specific rule. This is the same for the other sections too. So I guess what I'm saying is that if you do enough prep, and always go over your wrong answers, you'll eventually be able to predict what the Q and A will be, which saves a lot of time.

it'sjustme
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby it'sjustme » Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:27 pm

AntipodeanPhil wrote:
it'sjustme wrote:Whenever I took an exam untimed, I usually nailed most of the logic questions. But when I timed them, I just fell apart.

When it was timed, I made crucial errors while reading the rules (and subsequent diagramming) that made for a diaster.

Hmmm....

Perhaps the problem is that you are trying to rush too much and panicking.

When I started doing timed LGs, I had a similar problem. If it took me too long to diagram, I would start to panic and miss the 'look for initial inferences' stage. That, of course, cost me big time when I got to the questions.

Since then, before I start a timed LG section, I tell myself repeatedly to look for initial inferences - I say it in my head - to make sure I don't forget.

I would suggest: slow down in diagramming, remain conscious of the fact that you have to be careful, and keep practicising. If it's taking you 40-45 minutes to complete timed LGs like that, don't panic, just keep practising and hopefully your times will improve.



Rushing through it is definitely an issue for me. Untimed, it does take me a bit longer than that to do the logic games (closer to 55 minutes), which is where I thought the Powerscore Bible would be particularly useful (more efficient diagramming/inference making).

it'sjustme
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby it'sjustme » Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:31 pm

fastforward wrote:ETA: Nice avatar, AntipodeanPhil. :lol:

Diagnosing the problem is half the battle. Good job!

Now, for the remedy. Resist the urge to rush through setups. This takes discipline and practice, but it's essential. It's very common to skimp on setup time when you start doing timed sections. Also, check and double-check for deductions.

Most first questions are setup testers, i.e. "Which of these could be a complete and accurate list, could be the proper order, etc. You can cut a great deal of time by going through the rules instead of the answer choices. If your first rule is "J must be in first or seventh place," there is sure to be a choice that violates that rule; eliminate that choice and go on to the next rule. Doing it this way takes a fraction of the time it would take to go through the answer choices.

There are many shortcuts like this, but just working many problems is the most important strategy. Remember in grade school, how long it took you to do math problems that you now do in your head? That's because you were forced to do them until they were second nature. Same principle applies to LGs, and there is no shortcut for that.

All the best in your prep.


Thanks very much!

For what it's worth, it takes me quite a bit longer to grasp/diagram correctly certain types of logic games (grouping) than others (linear).

it'sjustme
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby it'sjustme » Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:34 pm

Kabuo wrote:I ended up taking every released LSAT in my preparation, and after about 50, you sort of can predict what inferences will likely be important, and the type of question they'll use to test your knowledge of a specific rule. This is the same for the other sections too. So I guess what I'm saying is that if you do enough prep, and always go over your wrong answers, you'll eventually be able to predict what the Q and A will be, which saves a lot of time.


That's the first step for me: getting a hold of all of the materials, and then working slowly through the questions. As evidenced by my score, I am not very strong in any certain section, so I will be looking for any Powerscore-esque books for the other two sections.

it'sjustme
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby it'sjustme » Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:34 pm

Thank you for all your responses, by the way. Any other advice is certainly welcomed and appreciated.

alumniguy
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby alumniguy » Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:54 pm

If you haven't already exhausted the previously released tests, I would highly suggest taking these tests in chronological order. Figure out how many previously released tests you haven't taken and set up a schedule so that you finish the most recent test a week prior to the test. If there are too many tests, then omit some of the first tests (or some of the middle tests).

You'll gradually develop the skills and also see how the test has evolved over the years (e.g., the logic games section on the early tests are quite easy compared to the current logic games section). This should also build your confidence (at least with respect to the LG section).

Another tip would be to do a mixture of timed tests and untimed tests. So perhaps you start off with doing 75/25 timed vs. untimed for the first month or so. Then you move to 50/50. Then 25/75. Finally working up to all timed. On the untimed tests, you need to focus on getting the right answers, no matter how long it takes you. On the timed tests, you should be cognizant of the time and really focusing on getting the best accurate score.

* * *

I am several years out of law school, but that is how I studied. If my memory serves me correctly, I got a 158 on the first test and the second time I took the test I got a 165 (although, as most people who have done significant studying for the test, I was routinely getting in the upper 160s/low 170s on my practice exams by the end). So practice definitely will improve your score.

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:06 pm

fastforward wrote:ETA: Nice avatar, AntipodeanPhil. :lol:

LOL. TY - I think we're the only sheep on this board!

I would like to reinforce what others have already said: practice, practice, practice. You should do every official LG at least once - especially the recent ones. If you think you're going to run out of official LGs and still need practice, there are 30 unofficial games on the Manhattan LSAT website. They're a bit more difficult than the average LSAC game, but good as a mental workout.

it'sjustme
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby it'sjustme » Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:09 pm

AntipodeanPhil wrote:
fastforward wrote:ETA: Nice avatar, AntipodeanPhil. :lol:

LOL. TY - I think we're the only sheep on this board!

I would like to reinforce what others have already said: practice, practice, practice. You should do every official LG at least once - especially the recent ones. If you think you're going to run out of official LGs and still need practice, there are 30 unofficial games on the Manhattan LSAT website. They're a bit more difficult than the average LSAC game, but good as a mental workout.


Thank you!

To answer, I did complete quite a few practice tests, but I don't remember the exact number. I believe it's more than 20. But I believe if I do those tests again with a different mindset, after reading the LR and LG bibles, it will (hopefully) make a big difference.

it'sjustme
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby it'sjustme » Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:12 pm

alumniguy wrote:If you haven't already exhausted the previously released tests, I would highly suggest taking these tests in chronological order. Figure out how many previously released tests you haven't taken and set up a schedule so that you finish the most recent test a week prior to the test. If there are too many tests, then omit some of the first tests (or some of the middle tests).

You'll gradually develop the skills and also see how the test has evolved over the years (e.g., the logic games section on the early tests are quite easy compared to the current logic games section). This should also build your confidence (at least with respect to the LG section).

Another tip would be to do a mixture of timed tests and untimed tests. So perhaps you start off with doing 75/25 timed vs. untimed for the first month or so. Then you move to 50/50. Then 25/75. Finally working up to all timed. On the untimed tests, you need to focus on getting the right answers, no matter how long it takes you. On the timed tests, you should be cognizant of the time and really focusing on getting the best accurate score.

* * *

I am several years out of law school, but that is how I studied. If my memory serves me correctly, I got a 158 on the first test and the second time I took the test I got a 165 (although, as most people who have done significant studying for the test, I was routinely getting in the upper 160s/low 170s on my practice exams by the end). So practice definitely will improve your score.


Thank you for responding. I will definitely incorporate the mix of timed and untimed tests into my preparation.

If I would have scored a 158-160 on my first try, I would have been pleased. The University at Buffalo Law School (pardon the off topic comment) is really the one law school I am interested in, and I believe that would have been good enough.

alumniguy
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby alumniguy » Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:21 pm

it'sjustme wrote:Thank you for responding. I will definitely incorporate the mix of timed and untimed tests into my preparation.

If I would have scored a 158-160 on my first try, I would have been pleased. The University at Buffalo Law School (pardon the off topic comment) is really the one law school I am interested in, and I believe that would have been good enough.


No problem. NO reason you can't get even higher and try to get a scholarship offer from Buffalo!

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fastforward
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby fastforward » Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:21 pm

it'sjustme wrote:
For what it's worth, it takes me quite a bit longer to grasp/diagram correctly certain types of logic games (grouping) than others (linear).


AHA!!

I actually thought of addressing this in my post above, but edited it out because I didn't want to assume you had trouble with grouping games. We force our clients to master this LG type from the very beginning of the prep process, and they thank us later (although they mutter hate speech under their breath at the time).

Go to the chapter on conditional statements in your Powerscore LR (yes, LR) Bible. Learn every variant of every conditional statement, and its contrapositive. You will master the grouping games and cut your setup time substantially. Virtually every rule for a pure grouping game is a conditional statement, although some hybrids have additional rules. Over 40% of PTs have at least one grouping game, and some have two of these monsters. If you set up grouping games properly, it takes very little time to get through the questions.

BONUS: From any rule that begins with a negative condition (e.g. If A is not in, then B is in), absent an explicit rule to the contrary, you can infer that you MUST have A or B, or both. Such a rule is a huge gimme IF you know this little secret. In fact, this deduction alone is likely to allow you to answer at least one and maybe three of the questions. As a throwback to when you were learning math, do not try to understand this rule; just memorize it.

PT 33 is an example of a test with two grouping games (2 -- Birds in Forest: In & Out Grouping & 3 -- Gemstones: Hybrid Grouping & Matching). Each of these games has a rule that begins with a negative condition. Work them and you'll see that knowing this rule is a huge bonus.

DOUBLE BONUS: All this work mastering conditional statements leads to a shortcut in the LR sections. If you find a conditional statement in the prompt, you are likely to be facing an inference (must be true) problem for which the correct answer choice will be the contrapositive. This is just the beginning of how knowing a few basic logic rules unlocks the key to LSAT success.

We are just starting the blog on our website in recent months but we plan to have posts on tip like these in the weeks to come. All the best in your prep!

it'sjustme
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby it'sjustme » Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:57 pm

fastforward wrote:
it'sjustme wrote:
For what it's worth, it takes me quite a bit longer to grasp/diagram correctly certain types of logic games (grouping) than others (linear).


AHA!!

I actually thought of addressing this in my post above, but edited it out because I didn't want to assume you had trouble with grouping games. We force our clients to master this LG type from the very beginning of the prep process, and they thank us later (although they mutter hate speech under their breath at the time).

Go to the chapter on conditional statements in your Powerscore LR (yes, LR) Bible. Learn every variant of every conditional statement, and its contrapositive. You will master the grouping games and cut your setup time substantially. Virtually every rule for a pure grouping game is a conditional statement, although some hybrids have additional rules. Over 40% of PTs have at least one grouping game, and some have two of these monsters. If you set up grouping games properly, it takes very little time to get through the questions.

BONUS: From any rule that begins with a negative condition (e.g. If A is not in, then B is in), absent an explicit rule to the contrary, you can infer that you MUST have A or B, or both. Such a rule is a huge gimme IF you know this little secret. In fact, this deduction alone is likely to allow you to answer at least one and maybe three of the questions. As a throwback to when you were learning math, do not try to understand this rule; just memorize it.

PT 33 is an example of a test with two grouping games (2 -- Birds in Forest: In & Out Grouping & 3 -- Gemstones: Hybrid Grouping & Matching). Each of these games has a rule that begins with a negative condition. Work them and you'll see that knowing this rule is a huge bonus.

DOUBLE BONUS: All this work mastering conditional statements leads to a shortcut in the LR sections. If you find a conditional statement in the prompt, you are likely to be facing an inference (must be true) problem for which the correct answer choice will be the contrapositive. This is just the beginning of how knowing a few basic logic rules unlocks the key to LSAT success.

We are just starting the blog on our website in recent months but we plan to have posts on tip like these in the weeks to come. All the best in your prep!



Wow - thank you so much for this!

Those small tips definitely go a long way with me. Any others that you can share would be much appreciated - I will be following the blog closely.

bp shinners
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Re: Not sure how to approach studying

Postby bp shinners » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:02 pm

There's a lot of great advice in this thread.

I would add that having a method to getting through a setup will probably help you slow down and avoid errors. You'd have to have a 'checklist' of the steps (ours has 8), one of which must be rereading the rules to make sure that you've diagrammed them correctly. If you know you're going to do A, then B, then C, etc..., it'll force you to go through the steps instead of rushing.

Also, you'd be surprised how much time you'll save and how many answers you'll improve by when you reread the rules and check your setup that way.




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