Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Which do you prefer to do first?

Question stem first
34
61%
Stimulus first
17
30%
It doesn't matter, both work for me
5
9%
 
Total votes: 56

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Ocean64
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Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby Ocean64 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:40 am

Which one do you do first and why?
Last edited by Ocean64 on Fri Aug 05, 2011 4:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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JoeFish
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby JoeFish » Fri Aug 05, 2011 3:53 am

On LR? Hmm. I have always read the question stem first, so I knew what type of question I was dealing with and what I should be looking for. Always worked fine for me, and I thought it was exceedingly mind-numbingly obvious to do so. However, I just googled this out of curiosity, and PowerScore - which many swear by - emphatically recommends NOT reading the question stem first. Especially for students scoring 160 and above, it says.

This seems really counter-intuitive to me; they suggest that the typical student who reads the stem first will have to check it again anyway - and thus be wasting time by reading it first - but aren't the students scoring above the low 160s the atypical ones who won't have to read it twice?

http://www.powerscore.com/lsat/help/qstem.cfm

I don't buy some of the reasons they give, most of which seems to be completely opposite of what I experienced (ie. they said reading the stem first doesn't hurt so much on easy questions but makes hard questions difficult, whereas I always felt that the harder the question, the harder it would be to go into the stimulus blind).

So, let me echo this question. I'm pretty sure Kaplan disagrees with PS on this.
Does it just come down to personal preference, or do the advantages of one outweigh those of the other?

chadbrochill
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby chadbrochill » Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:36 am

I switched to reading question stem first b/c my approach varies by question type.

Edit:
Like others said, mainly to glance to see how strongly the conclusion will be needed. A glimpse only costs 1 second and keeps me actively reading. However, I tend to just dive in to resolve the paradox/point of disagreement since I immediately recognize the format and want to read those with an open mind.
Last edited by chadbrochill on Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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KevinP
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby KevinP » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:01 am

I've tried it both ways and I found that reading the question stem first increased both my accuracy and my speed.

I think you should try it both ways and see which one works better.

Manhattan LSAT Noah
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby Manhattan LSAT Noah » Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:19 am

KevinP wrote:I've tried it both ways and I found that reading the question stem first increased both my accuracy and my speed.

I think you should try it both ways and see which one works better.

+1

What you don't want to do is spend time on the test thinking about this.

What I do is glance at the question stem to see if it's an assumption family question or not. But, often I forget to and it doesn't seem to really make a big difference.

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TrojanHopeful
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby TrojanHopeful » Fri Aug 05, 2011 1:19 pm

Manhattan LSAT Noah wrote:
KevinP wrote:I've tried it both ways and I found that reading the question stem first increased both my accuracy and my speed.

I think you should try it both ways and see which one works better.

+1

What you don't want to do is spend time on the test thinking about this.

What I do is glance at the question stem to see if it's an assumption family question or not. But, often I forget to and it doesn't seem to really make a big difference.


Noah, I noticed that the Manhattan books do not specify one way or the other regarding reading the question stem / stimulus first. Is that because it is Manhattan's view that neither way is superior, thus leaving the decision up to the student (whichever works best for the student)?

According to Powerscore and Testmasters, students should read the stimulus first. I find that reading the question stem first is much more advantageous (for me at least).

Manhattan LSAT Noah
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby Manhattan LSAT Noah » Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:01 pm

TrojanHopeful wrote:
Manhattan LSAT Noah wrote:
KevinP wrote:I've tried it both ways and I found that reading the question stem first increased both my accuracy and my speed.

I think you should try it both ways and see which one works better.

+1

What you don't want to do is spend time on the test thinking about this.

What I do is glance at the question stem to see if it's an assumption family question or not. But, often I forget to and it doesn't seem to really make a big difference.


Noah, I noticed that the Manhattan books do not specify one way or the other regarding reading the question stem / stimulus first. Is that because it is Manhattan's view that neither way is superior, thus leaving the decision up to the student (whichever works best for the student)?

According to Powerscore and Testmasters, students should read the stimulus first. I find that reading the question stem first is much more advantageous (for me at least).

There is a bit in it in the process chapter, but it isn't a big priority as it doesn't seem to us to be hardly a central issue to a student's success in comparison to understanding arguments and answer choices (and I think the information about people ending up having to re-read the question stem is telling). It's the sort of thing some students cling to as one of the secret keys to "cracking the LSAT" and it seems like a distraction from the main issues at play in LR. But, I believe every one of our teachers suggest doing it, but each probably emphasizes it to different degrees. There's a point in which you can say too much and give too many categories and students get distracted - most high scorers don't worry about a lot of the minutia that a lot of mid-scorers worry about.

But, back to the stem vs. stimulus, I do think it's good to know if you're debating the stimulus (assumption family) or if you're supposed to accept the stimulus and debate the answer choices (inference, matching, method of reasoning).

Edited for correctness
Last edited by Manhattan LSAT Noah on Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TrojanHopeful
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby TrojanHopeful » Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:34 pm

Thanks for your insight.

I feel that if a student is very familiar with what each question is asking (suff/nec assumption, weaken, strengthen, main point, etc.), then there should be no reason to reread the question stem. If I look at a question stem and see that it is asking what "most accurately expresses the environmentalist's MAIN CONCLUSION," I am actively looking for the conclusion in the stimulus. I find it highly unlikely that I will forget what I am looking for while reading the stimulus and say to myself, "wait, is this a strengthening question? I better reread the question!" At least, I hope that will never happen; if it does come test day, I'm in trouble!

I find it a waste of time attempting to "think" about necessary assumptions when all you have to do is locate the main point of the argument.

All that being said, what floats my boat might sink another's.

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Ocean64
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby Ocean64 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 4:19 pm

from what i've read it seems that high scorers (170+) tend to "glimpse" over the question first, are there any 170+ folks who can vouch for this?

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NZA
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby NZA » Fri Aug 05, 2011 4:20 pm

Question first. If you don't read the question, you don't know what to look for in the stimulus.

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bport hopeful
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby bport hopeful » Fri Aug 05, 2011 4:35 pm

NZA wrote:Question first. If you don't read the question, you don't know what to look for in the stimulus.

I agree with this, though I never really tried the other way.


--Add Pole.

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Ocean64
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby Ocean64 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 4:43 pm

bport hopeful wrote:--Add Pole.


good call.

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suspicious android
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby suspicious android » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:03 pm

Not something to worry about. Agree with Noah that this is something that people focus on hoping it'll be a big deal for them, I don't think it ever is. Personally, I always read stim, then question stem. If I get confused by something in the stimulus, I'll skip to the question stem. Worked for me, perfect or near perfect on the February LR.

Everyone wants a super awesome technique that they can implement to make their scores jump. And prep companies really, really want to provide these kind of techniques because it make students feel good about the money they're paying. But.. in general, I think it can detract from the focus on the overwhelmingly important skills that trump any techniques: careful reading and argument evaluation.

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EarlCat
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby EarlCat » Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:59 pm

bport hopeful wrote:
NZA wrote:Question first. If you don't read the question, you don't know what to look for in the stimulus.


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EarlCat
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby EarlCat » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:04 pm

bport hopeful wrote:--Add Pole.

Image

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DC_Patent_Law
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby DC_Patent_Law » Sun Aug 07, 2011 4:55 pm

In a similar vein I started trying to read the questions in RC sections first. This was not helpful because I started to forget what the question was anyways. What it did help was to determine whether it had more global questions or local questions. This would help me determine how to approach the section (i.e. understand it better vs. know where things are relative to each other).

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TrojanHopeful
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby TrojanHopeful » Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:24 pm

EarlCat wrote:
bport hopeful wrote:--Add Pole.

Image


:D Not sure if anyone else had caught that

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Blumpbeef
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby Blumpbeef » Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:10 am

Stimulus, because PS told me to. If it is a long sitmulus, I will glance down at the stem though, or if it seems like a difficult problem.

bp shinners
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby bp shinners » Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:09 pm

Question stem first, if for no other reason than to know if you're dealing with a series of premises or an argument.

But there are other reasons (like knowing what to look for in the stimulus).

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bport hopeful
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby bport hopeful » Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:08 am

Heres my reasoning behind reading the question stem first.

If you read the stimulus first, you know how to handle the stimulus. You know exactly what youre looking for when you start the stimulus.

If you read the stimulus first, you may end up getting to stem and not remembering exactly what you read, and having to read it twice slowing you down.

I also think that you lose some accuracy because on LR, little wording differences can make a large difference. So if you dont exactly recall what you read after you finish with the stem, you can bone yourself.

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TrojanHopeful
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby TrojanHopeful » Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:27 am

bport hopeful wrote:Heres my reasoning behind reading the question stem first.

If you read the question stem first, you know how to handle the stimulus. You know exactly what youre looking for when you start the stimulus.

If you read the stimulus first, you may end up getting to stem and not remembering exactly what you read, and having to read it twice slowing you down.

I also think that you lose some accuracy because on LR, little wording differences can make a large difference. So if you dont exactly recall what you read after you finish with the stem, you can bone yourself.


Agreed

lothsome
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby lothsome » Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:37 pm

Ocean64 wrote:from what i've read it seems that high scorers (170+) tend to "glimpse" over the question first, are there any 170+ folks who can vouch for this?


I'm still only doing the official prep tests, but here's my 2 cents anyways. For my prep tests, I'm averaging a score of 175/176 (min 173) for the past two weeks (about 6 tests).

For logical reasoning, I find that I prefer to glance at the question before reading the the rest of it. If I take the question first, I can retain in my head what the question is and prephrase a couple possible answers. On the other hand, I often reread the question as my eye travels over it to the answers, and sometimes I don't read it first. I find that it doesn't make much difference since the questions only take about 1 minute to do, and there's usually time to reread something if I'm confused. In particular, most of the question stems use a key term or two to distinguish the question (i.e., "most weakens," "depends on," "describes... flaw in the reasoning," etc, etc). So identifying what the question is actually asking really just depends on seeing those key terms and applying them. Irregularities are fairly obvious after a while.

For Reading comp, I glance at the questions to identify key words or areas, then I make sure to memorize where in the passage I saw the related topic - that way I can rapidly reference the passage if I'm having trouble deciding between two convincing or subtle answers.

For Logic Games... I just write out the rules. I can't divine any reason to look at the questions ahead of time. It just seems like wasting time to me.

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JoeFish
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Re: Question Stem vs. Stimulus first

Postby JoeFish » Thu Aug 11, 2011 2:33 am

lothsome wrote:For Reading comp, I glance at the questions to identify key words or areas, then I make sure to memorize where in the passage I saw the related topic - that way I can rapidly reference the passage if I'm having trouble deciding between two convincing or subtle answers.


I've never looked at the questions first on RC but, again, if you're fast/good enough it doesn't make much difference.

The bolded statement is very important, perhaps. In literature classes, whenever we were looking for a certain passage, I'd always be the one to find it - I couldn't remember what page it was on, but I'd remember that it was on the left page and 8 lines up from the bottom, and then flip through the book rapidly with my eyes trained on the certain area. This skill worked tremendously for me on RC; since it was only one page, I could pretty much remember "ok, author alluded to this on lines 17 and 18". I ended up being able to burn through sections in less time than LR. If there's some way to train yourself to remember page position when you're reading, I'd say do it. It's really advantageous.




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