Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Yes, everyone should do it.
61
88%
Yes, but only for those prone to test day issues.
3
4%
No, it's all about confidence, etc.
5
7%
 
Total votes: 69

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Samara
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Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby Samara » Fri Jul 01, 2011 2:09 pm

So, I've noticed that a common strong suggestion for LSAT studying is to simulate test day conditions when practicing, such as going to a library, practicing at the test's time of day or taking a fifth "experimental" section. Does it really have a significant impact though?

I started doing practice tests a couple weeks ago (for October) and I am taking them timed of course, and in quiet conditions in my home, but I'm just doing the PTs as they come, i.e. four sections, no essay and not really simulating other test day conditions. FWIW, I've always been a good test taker; I took the GRE this past spring and scored in the upper half of my practice range without doing any test day simulation. I also don't tend to get affected by nerves or suffer from test fatigue.

I'm worried though, from the stories I read, that maybe the LSAT is a different animal. What do you guys think? Were any of you taken off-guard on test day? Did practicing under simulated conditions seem to have a significant impact?

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emciosn
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby emciosn » Fri Jul 01, 2011 2:14 pm

I voted yes above but really I just mean they need to be timed, in a quiet environment etc. I personally don't think you need to go to the actual testing site but being in a quiet, calm environment is important so you can get the most out of it. When I was studying I took 20 or so PTs. Only did the four sections but made sure they were times and went over my wrong answers. I went up 15 from my diagnostic. It think if you are a good test taker just learning the material and practicing under timed conditions is more important than reproducing test day conditions each time you take a PT.

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JamMasterJ
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby JamMasterJ » Fri Jul 01, 2011 2:16 pm

You absolutely must use experimental sections, and you need to slip them in among the regular sections rotating between first, second and third

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rinkrat19
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby rinkrat19 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 2:20 pm

I'm a firm believer in not training yourself to depend on perfect quiet conditions. Otherwise any tiny little disturbance (the person two desks over is breathing loudly, someone has a sniffle, the proctor's blackberry has clicky buttons and he keeps texting, etc.) will screw you up.

I practiced in conditions varying from a silent office after hours to a noisy family gathering. I got to the point where I could be watching TV (actually paying close enough attention that I could tell you what had happened on the show) with a cat on my lap and still score my PT average. I was completely impervious to distraction.

I also never bothered to PT with an experimental section, because I wasn't worried about fatigue in what is really not a very long test in the grand scheme of things. I've taken longer. (The Fundamentals of Engineering exam is 8 hours, with a 1-hour break in the middle, and no break between smaller sections.) If this will be the longest exam you've taken and you're worrying about your stamina (do you consistently score lower on the last section of PTs?), you might want to make sure to include an experimental.

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emciosn
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby emciosn » Fri Jul 01, 2011 2:27 pm

Yeah having some noise probably wouldn't be a bad idea. Helps you practice focus, which you will need when your brain is drained on test day. I never did experimental sections and I don't think it affected my mental stamina on test day.

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glucose101
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby glucose101 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:19 pm

For the real question would be, why not practice under "proper conditions"? Don't cut yourself short.

09042014
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby 09042014 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:24 pm

Practice somewhere with some noise, like a busier part of a library.

Don't waste time doing experimental sections, just do 4 sections straight with no break in the middle. Just finish one section restart the clock and go.

Don't bother with the writing section. That happens after you already took the LSAT part.

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Samara
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby Samara » Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:28 pm

glucose101 wrote:For the real question would be, why not practice under "proper conditions"? Don't cut yourself short.

No reason beyond the hassle I guess. I have more free time at night and at work, so it's easier to study then, than under conditions more representative of the test day. I'm also equally worried about this:
rinkrat19 wrote:I'm a firm believer in not training yourself to depend on perfect quiet conditions. Otherwise any tiny little disturbance (the person two desks over is breathing loudly, someone has a sniffle, the proctor's blackberry has clicky buttons and he keeps texting, etc.) will screw you up.

I'm thinking of throwing in experimental sections as I get closer to test day since it has the added advantage of completing an extra fourth of a test in each sitting. Thanks for the comments everyone; I'm a little surprised the poll is so one-sided...

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glucose101
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby glucose101 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:34 pm

Perhaps we have different environments, but I don't see the hassle.

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Kronk
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby Kronk » Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:36 pm

Experimental sections are a waste of time in my opinion. But I think practicing tests early in the morning to get used to having your brain working that way early (if 9am is early for you--was for me) is a good idea. I woke up and did practice tests at like 7am a few times. I figured if I could hit my target score groggy and sick right after waking up at 7am with noise, I could easily hit in in pure silence in a testing room at 9am having been awake 2 hours.

I would do preptests back to back because I would get bored in the fourth section and get a little lazier. So I would do two tests straight to get over that.

I also started shortening my time to 30 minutes per section instead of 35, but I don't know that it was important for my score.

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northwood
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby northwood » Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:55 pm

I used to go 5 sections without taking a break after section 3. made sure the exp was somewhere in the first 3 sections, and didnt do the writing section. Took all of my tests in libraries ( but on a roatation of 4 public libraries in my town).

WHat helped me was getting the staminia to attack the 5 section test.
to help that I made sure to creat a 5 section test for LR, RC and LG. that way i could handle doing back to back to back heavy reading sections ( LR and RC) on game day- if that occurred. and it also helped cement my gaming pacing and strategies. Those 3 tests didnt count as prep tests, but i graded them and did them the same.

If you are worried about having a case of the nerves on game day- try allowing yourself 31 minutes pers ection to give you some anxiety simulation. But i think the more prepared you are, and the more confident you are- the less you need to worry about nerves.
This is also why its good to take it in a somewhat noisy environment( like a lirbary)

Coffee shops and bookstores are too noisy though imo

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DamnLSAT
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby DamnLSAT » Fri Jul 01, 2011 4:01 pm

I would take 5 section practice tests on a variety of desks and in a variety of environments. I scouted my testing area (at the local University) and saw full table desks. Come test day, though, I was in a basement room with desks the size of a closed test booklet - No joke.

This definitely threw me for a loop and it took at least one section for me to figure out where to put my book and answer sheet. This is probably an extreme example, but it sucked. I'm not blaming it for my test score, but it certainly was a factor.

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JamMasterJ
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby JamMasterJ » Fri Jul 01, 2011 4:23 pm

DamnLSAT wrote:I would take 5 section practice tests on a variety of desks and in a variety of environments. I scouted my testing area (at the local University) and saw full table desks. Come test day, though, I was in a basement room with desks the size of a closed test booklet - No joke.

This definitely threw me for a loop and it took at least one section for me to figure out where to put my book and answer sheet. This is probably an extreme example, but it sucked. I'm not blaming it for my test score, but it certainly was a factor.

Will LSAC still allow us to bring in a board to supplement a tiny desk?

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thelong
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby thelong » Fri Jul 01, 2011 4:27 pm

If you do happen to get stuck with the tiny desks you can ask the proctor if there are other options. They may say no, regardless, but it doesn't hurt to ask. We actually had those tiny desks in our room but the proctors let us grab a second desk to set down pencils and what have you. There still wasn't much room to set the booklet and answer sheet. I just got used to tucking my answer sheet in below my book so that only the answer bubbles section stuck out and I folded the test so it wasn't wide open on the desk. It wasn't ideal but if you're really worried maybe it's a good idea to try and take up as little room as possible when practicing.

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DamnLSAT
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby DamnLSAT » Fri Jul 01, 2011 4:52 pm

JamMasterJ wrote:
DamnLSAT wrote:I would take 5 section practice tests on a variety of desks and in a variety of environments. I scouted my testing area (at the local University) and saw full table desks. Come test day, though, I was in a basement room with desks the size of a closed test booklet - No joke.

This definitely threw me for a loop and it took at least one section for me to figure out where to put my book and answer sheet. This is probably an extreme example, but it sucked. I'm not blaming it for my test score, but it certainly was a factor.

Will LSAC still allow us to bring in a board to supplement a tiny desk?



If it fits in your 1 quart plastic bag. :)

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DamnLSAT
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby DamnLSAT » Fri Jul 01, 2011 4:54 pm

thelong wrote:If you do happen to get stuck with the tiny desks you can ask the proctor if there are other options. They may say no, regardless, but it doesn't hurt to ask. We actually had those tiny desks in our room but the proctors let us grab a second desk to set down pencils and what have you. There still wasn't much room to set the booklet and answer sheet. I just got used to tucking my answer sheet in below my book so that only the answer bubbles section stuck out and I folded the test so it wasn't wide open on the desk. It wasn't ideal but if you're really worried maybe it's a good idea to try and take up as little room as possible when practicing.



There was one stand-alone desk at the front of the classroom. This chick was sitting at it, and I was furious that she somehow swindled the desk before I could. Then, at the break, she stood up - She was at least 7 months pregnant. I'll take tiny desk as opposed to tiny human in my stomach.

bp shinners
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby bp shinners » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:08 pm

I think the two most important conditions to simulate (other than timing each section, which should go without saying after you get the methods/accuracy down) are the time of day you'll be taking the exam, and the full 5 sections. If you're used to waking up at noon, an early test can really throw you off. If you're used to being done after 4 sections, you might start dragging on section 5 (which is definitely scored).

NCB166
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby NCB166 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:25 pm

This is something that is completely subjective. If you feel like the addition of a fifth section will reduce your fatigue on test day, practice with it. I knew that it wouldn't affect me at all, so I used the time to go more in depth in reviewing the four sections that I did do. If you feel like you can handle a room that is super quiet or super loud without studying in those conditions, there is no need to go out of your way to create those conditions. Some people are better at adapting than others, and to act like everyone should be practicing under the same conditions seems a little strange IMO.

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libdemjenn
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby libdemjenn » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:54 pm

I would suggest taking a five section test and timing it like they do during the test (pencils down, turn to the next section, begin). Take the full break after the first three sections, and then take the last two sections. I don't know that you need to do this for every PT, but I would do it for several of them. If you aren't taking five section tests, I would test straight through the four sections without a break. I had a small amount of time to study and take PTs between working fulltime and taking a prep class at night and on the weekends. My score wasn't awesome, but I went up by 12 points in 6 weeks. I didn't have any issues or anxiety on test day. I never took a PT at the same time of day as the actual exam, and I did not simulate the conditions such as testing in a library or classroom.

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Stringer Bell
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby Stringer Bell » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:02 pm

I'm in the 4 sections with no break camp.

echo
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby echo » Sat Jul 02, 2011 5:31 am

I think it depends what you mean by "proper conditions". Obviously make sure that you are tight on timing, as they will be. I would do five sections just because the extra section could wipe you out, come test day. Of course you don't need to worry about the written section. I looked at one a couple of times just to know what the format was, but the one I wrote on test day was my first.

I think getting out of your house to do tests is a good idea, but I never quite got the coffee shop thing. Yes, there are going to be some distractions. Libraries are probably much closer than coffee shops. I live on a busy downtown street, so having the window open was a pretty big distraction. Thought the testing room was much quieter than that.

I dropped about 3 points on test day from my PT average (from ~178 to 175). Honestly the biggest change for me was just sleep. I wrote my prep tests at the same time of day, but well rested. Should I write it again, my first thought would be how to get a good night's sleep the night before.

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northwood
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby northwood » Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:06 am

to be fair a lot of posters on here have experienced a slight drop from their pt score average to what they got on the actual day.( like 1-3 points)

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theavrock
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby theavrock » Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:17 am

I took the test twice and improved 11 points the second time around.

1st time I did 4 sections. Loose timing, at my house etc. Essentially didn't use "proper conditions."

2nd time I said screw it, it can't hurt me so why not. I did 5 section tests with no break under strict timed conditions, used the watch I would on test day, pencils sharpened etc. I also took the test in libraries around time and rotated them and where I sat so I was always in a new, unfamiliar location.

I am sure there are people out there that can do well without doing what I did, but my thought was it isn't going to hurt me so why take the chance that I am not one of those people. I would have improved over my 1st attempt simply by a more regimented study plan, but I am certain that my improvement was at least in part due to being very strict on myself when taking PT's

On test day I was relaxed and strong the entire test. I scored my PT average on the real thing and I credit it to the real thing essentially being the same as one of my PT's.

notanumber
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby notanumber » Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:29 am

Stringer Bell wrote:I'm in the 4 sections with no break camp.


This is what I did.

YMMV.

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Jack Smirks
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Re: Does practicing under "proper conditions" really help?

Postby Jack Smirks » Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:34 am

Yes.




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