Struggling with time!

kenzembo1
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Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:57 pm

Struggling with time!

Postby kenzembo1 » Fri May 06, 2011 10:13 pm

Hey guys,

I'm looking for advice on timing strategies. I've scoured the forums and haven't found anything specifically dedicated to improving one's time. For me, this is the single most frustrating thing about the LSAT.

To put things into perspective, I'm consistently scoring in the 150-152 range after having taken the LSAT for the first time this past February and scoring a 148. My last PT (June 2005) yielded a 152, as I was able to correctly answer 60/69 I attempted. For the most part, I'm pretty accurate (usually around 80-90%) but I always run out of time around question #17 and have to resort to quickly bubbling in "D" or another random answer choice for the last 8-10 questions per section!

Time for me is particularly relevant during the RC and LR sections (although RC is by far my worst). I'm only able to get anywhere from 2-2 1/2 passages completed before time is expired. On LR, I make a strong effort to answer the first ten questions in 15 minutes but it usually extends closer to 18 minutes (or just under 2 mins/question). I can usually only get between 16-18 questions completed before the random bubbling commences. I consider LG to be my best section (despite bombing it in February). I can typically complete 3 out of 4 games with perfect (or near perfect) accuracy.

I feel like I've studied the material over and over and despite improvements in accuracy, I still fall victim to time. To help prep, I've previously taken the full-length PowerScore course and hired a personal tutor (a friend of mine, who scored a 171 and will be attending Georgetown this fall). I'm really at wit's end but will continue to plug away at these PT's in hopes that I will get faster.

I have no doubt I can get a higher score (156-160+) if I can cover more ground. If anyone has successfully learned to overcome this obstacle and could provide additional advice/insight on how I might be able to improve on time, I would be very appreciative! Thanks!

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EarlCat
Posts: 610
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2007 4:04 pm

Re: Struggling with time!

Postby EarlCat » Sat May 07, 2011 2:21 am

kenzembo1 wrote:I'm really at wit's end but will continue to plug away at these PT's in hopes that I will get faster.

Racing the clock churning and burning preptests won't make you faster. Focus on the slow, off-the-clock work even if your accuracy off the clock is near 100%. Over time it will improve your speed, I promise.

kenzembo1 wrote:I've scoured the forums and haven't found anything specifically dedicated to improving one's time.

Kurst will probably come in here and post about 17 links.

skippy1
Posts: 96
Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:56 am

Re: Struggling with time!

Postby skippy1 » Sat May 07, 2011 2:48 am

Agree with previous poster that at this point, going thru preptests isn't going to make you faster.

I don't know all the details but it seems that perhaps you are not recognizing certain question types. Usually, identifying the question type makes a huge difference because you can quickly eliminate the wrong answers.

When you are answering questions, observe how you are approaching each question. Are you able to identify the question type and anticipate what the correct answer should look like? If not, then you need to go back to review your prep class material. You need to figure out for yourself where the time is going - is it reading the question, reading the answers, etc? Getting a tutor wouldn't help you with these issues - only you can figure out how your time is being spent on each question.

I usually had a rule of answering 20 questions in 20 min - didn't matter which 20. So I would jump around the section because I knew around 15-17, there would be tougher questions, I wouldn't spend my first 20 min on them. On the older tests, I left PR questions for the end, on the newer ones, I did them in the first 20 min. Remember it's about getting as many points as possible so doing the questions in order may not be the best strategy.

Anyway, hope this helps.

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Addicted to LSAT
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:31 pm

Re: Struggling with time!

Postby Addicted to LSAT » Sat May 07, 2011 4:38 am

Since you say your accuracy is pretty good (80-90% of questions you attempt you get right) the issue really is speed. There's a few things you can do to address this.

1. If you're skipping difficult questions and that's how you're getting a high accuracy rate, then go back and review the questions you've skipped. Determine what type they are and review your strategy for solving these types. Considering your post, this doesn't seem to be the issue.

2. If you're just going question 1-17 or so and then running out of time you need to force yourself to pick up the pace. This may seem like a blinding glimpse of the obvious but forcing yourself to read and answer faster will help. Focus on moving through the questions faster, keep an eye on the clock (not too frequently) and force yourself to move forward faster. At first you will see a drop in your accuracy but you will at least be attempting more questions. With your accuracy of 80-90% on 17 questions (14 or 15 right) you'd actually be better off with 70% right on 25 attempted questions. Once you've pushed yourself to answer more questions, hopefully moving up to all of them in a section, you can then go back and improve accuracy.

4. Try doing a couple sections with the goal of attempting each question within the time limit no matter what. Give yourself about 1.5 minutes per question and move on to the next at that point no matter what. If you're still reading answer (B) then you need to pick up your reading speed, if you're still considering (D) vs. (A) then just go with your gut and move on. You might be surprised at how well you do despite pushing your speed up. The fact is you can attempt all the questions in the time limit you're just choosing to take more time on some questions than you have allotted to you. Don't.

5. Skip your nemesis questions. The types you take the most time with or get wrong most often. Likely questions like parallel reasoning, that tend to involve more reading, will slow you down. Skip them on sight and come back if you have time. It's better to skip a question that would take you 3 minutes and you're likely to get wrong anyway than to move on and take a shot at 2 more questions.

6. When you take practice tests or timed sections, do as many questions as you can before the 35 minute time limit. Then mark a line on your answer sheet at that point. Continue with the rest of the questions and record your final time for finishing the full section. Your actual score is the 35 minute mark, but you're at least getting practice on the remaining questions and you can push yourself to improve that finishing time.

RC Section

I'm a slow reader so I struggled with this at first too. One key is having a very clear idea as to what you're going to take out of the passage and marking it up as you read. Don't waste time trying to understand every little detail. Most questions are not detail oriented and if they are they will direct you to the specific line or paragraph. Instead focus on the author's view point, the main idea of the passage, the main idea/purpose of each paragraph, opinions/characters expressing them, and changes in direction e.g. from one view to an opposing view. If you mark these as you read it can actually improve your speed as you know exactly what you're looking for, you know it will be underlined or circled or boxed for you when you need it and you don't need to read as slowly to process and remember it all.
You don't need to remember everything.

There's a video with some tips on improving your RC reading skills here too: --LinkRemoved--

I wouldn't recommend this to most but for some it can help your speed in RC. Try it on a couple of RC sections and if your score goes up use it, if not drop it. Skim, and I mean skim, the question stems. Look for key words. At this point you don't care about things like "Which of the following..." you're looking for things like "...Kepler's theory on planetary motion..." make note of these key topical words, underline or highlight them. This whole process shouldn't take more than 30 seconds max. Don't bother with the first question it's almost always a main point of the passage question.
Now when you go on to read your passage you have an idea as to what you're looking for. The key points you identified in your questions plus your typical main point, author's views etc. This allows you to skim over other details that you know won't be asked about.

I hope this helps.

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GATORTIM
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Re: Struggling with time!

Postby GATORTIM » Sat May 07, 2011 6:22 am

--ImageRemoved--

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Addicted to LSAT
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:31 pm

Re: Struggling with time!

Postby Addicted to LSAT » Sat May 07, 2011 11:14 am

Addicted to LSAT wrote:Since you say your accuracy is pretty good (80-90% of questions you attempt you get right) the issue really is speed. There's a few things you can do to address this.

1. If you're skipping difficult questions and that's how you're getting a high accuracy rate, then go back and review the questions you've skipped. Determine what type they are and review your strategy for solving these types. Considering your post, this doesn't seem to be the issue.

2. If you're just going question 1-17 or so and then running out of time you need to force yourself to pick up the pace. This may seem like a blinding glimpse of the obvious but forcing yourself to read and answer faster will help. Focus on moving through the questions faster, keep an eye on the clock (not too frequently) and force yourself to move forward faster. At first you will see a drop in your accuracy but you will at least be attempting more questions. With your accuracy of 80-90% on 17 questions (14 or 15 right) you'd actually be better off with 70% right on 25 attempted questions. Once you've pushed yourself to answer more questions, hopefully moving up to all of them in a section, you can then go back and improve accuracy.

4. Try doing a couple sections with the goal of attempting each question within the time limit no matter what. Give yourself about 1.5 minutes per question and move on to the next at that point no matter what. If you're still reading answer (B) then you need to pick up your reading speed, if you're still considering (D) vs. (A) then just go with your gut and move on. You might be surprised at how well you do despite pushing your speed up. The fact is you can attempt all the questions in the time limit you're just choosing to take more time on some questions than you have allotted to you. Don't.

5. Skip your nemesis questions. The types you take the most time with or get wrong most often. Likely questions like parallel reasoning, that tend to involve more reading, will slow you down. Skip them on sight and come back if you have time. It's better to skip a question that would take you 3 minutes and you're likely to get wrong anyway than to move on and take a shot at 2 more questions.

6. When you take practice tests or timed sections, do as many questions as you can before the 35 minute time limit. Then mark a line on your answer sheet at that point. Continue with the rest of the questions and record your final time for finishing the full section. Your actual score is the 35 minute mark, but you're at least getting practice on the remaining questions and you can push yourself to improve that finishing time.

RC Section

I'm a slow reader so I struggled with this at first too. One key is having a very clear idea as to what you're going to take out of the passage and marking it up as you read. Don't waste time trying to understand every little detail. Most questions are not detail oriented and if they are they will direct you to the specific line or paragraph. Instead focus on the author's view point, the main idea of the passage, the main idea/purpose of each paragraph, opinions/characters expressing them, and changes in direction e.g. from one view to an opposing view. If you mark these as you read it can actually improve your speed as you know exactly what you're looking for, you know it will be underlined or circled or boxed for you when you need it and you don't need to read as slowly to process and remember it all.
You don't need to remember everything.

There's a video with some tips on improving your RC reading skills here too: --LinkRemoved--

I wouldn't recommend this to most but for some it can help your speed in RC. Try it on a couple of RC sections and if your score goes up use it, if not drop it. Skim, and I mean skim, the question stems. Look for key words. At this point you don't care about things like "Which of the following..." you're looking for things like "...Kepler's theory on planetary motion..." make note of these key topical words, underline or highlight them. This whole process shouldn't take more than 30 seconds max. Don't bother with the first question it's almost always a main point of the passage question.
Now when you go on to read your passage you have an idea as to what you're looking for. The key points you identified in your questions plus your typical main point, author's views etc. This allows you to skim over other details that you know won't be asked about.

I hope this helps.


A couple more things...

Review - I think this goes without saying but for any LSAT studying review is essential. This is where you can, and should, take your time and really understand questions. Try to understand the wrong answers and right ones to the point that you could explain it to someone else as if you were teaching it. Try actually doing this a few times.
Also, it can help to take the same section over again. This works better with games but you can do it with LR and RC too. Do a section the first time recording your score and how far you get. Mark the ones you get wrong as wrong but don't make note of the correct answers. Give yourself another try at the ones you got wrong. Take your time on this go around. Then mark them again and really study the ones you got wrong twice. Then put this section aside for a day or two (you'll need to make copies) and when you come back to it start over doing a clean copy in 35 minutes. Yes, you'll recognize some questions but you still need to read them. Don't just answer from memory, read the full question and answers before answering. Keep repeating this on sections until you are scoring close to perfect.This will help you get into the flow and confidence of answering in the required time. Then move on to a new section and hopefully see your score and speed improve.

About reading faster - it takes effort but you can push yourself to read faster. I've heard of speed readers training by having a text scroll by with only one line visible at a time. The text moves at a speed faster than they can initially read but eventually they start to catch up. Force yourself to pick up the pace. Initially it will feel a bit like skim reading and you'll miss somethings but eventually you get faster.

Good luck!

The DeLorean Time Machine is an awesome alternative. Last I checked it's not on the list of banned items for the LSAT.




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