Help with study techniques...

vdog
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Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:29 pm

Help with study techniques...

Postby vdog » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:35 pm

I took the test in February and received a disappointing 164. I've been scoring 170-172 on my practice tests (10 timed and 5 untimed), so I thought I couldn't do worse than a 167, but the nerves got to me. As I have a 3.95 GPA, I aim for mid-T14 (Harvard and Stanford are wishful thinking, but Columbia, NYU, Berkeley, Penn, and Uva are my "realistic" reaches).

So I have decided to regroup and prepare again for the October LSAT beginning April, but this time with high focus on my problem areas. I aim to get 175+ on the practice tests and a 170+ for the actual thing.

Here is my problem. I am a strong LG taker and usually finish that section in 25-30 minutes. However, I tend to fatigue quickly with RC and the longer questions for LR (parallel reasoning questions take me 3-4 minutes to do). This fatigue really hit with the nerves on test day, and that's where I'm guessing I lost most of my points on the actual test. Plus, the increase in RC/decrease in LG questions over the years doesn't help my case.

For RC, I read the first paragraph and the first sentence of every subsequent paragraph, answer main idea/reference questions, then skim for the rest. Inference questions take much more time and effort for me, and where I tend to lose most of my points. I also tend to lose stamina and focus with jargon-intensive passages.

For parallel reasoning questions, I read and try to diagram the argument out, but it almost always comes out a jumbled mess. Even while spending 3-4 minutes on these questions, I have about a 60% success rate, so not good. Strengthen/assumption are also not my forte (though I strangely do well on weaken questions).

If anyone has trouble with LG, I have a few diagramming tricks (not covered in the Bible) to make things a lot faster. I use a dynamic visualization system that allows me to come up with secondary rules and combinations for if-questions very quickly. In return, I would like some help/tips/suggestions knowing how to focus my reading skills for these types of questions, because those extra points is the difference between a rejection/WL and a scholarship acceptance for my reach schools.

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twenty
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Re: Help with study techniques...

Postby twenty » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:51 pm

With Parallel, I don't diagram -- I find it just takes too friggin' long. I go about it in the same way I go about the "first" question in many of the logic games -- find out which ones simply don't conform, and narrow it down to 2-3 answers (albeit, in LG you can usually narrow it down to one)

For instance, if the prompt is "Most architects are bad people, and some college students go on to become architects. Therefore, it follows that some college students will become bad people." ...

I'll look for the wrong answers, which will say "all x will become y" or "all p are q". The prompt doesn't say all once, so in NO EVENT should your final answer include all. Then choosing between two or three becomes a lot more manageable.

I'll be back to edit this later with more.

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Liquox
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Re: Help with study techniques...

Postby Liquox » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:56 pm

if you want to do well on the lsat, stop thinking about schools, ranks, gpas, w/e. show up, take it, leave. the lsat is already a time crunch; freaking out will only waste more time

as for rc, go with your first instinct. i read my last article and did the 8 questions in 6 minutes. nothing bad happened

AEIOU
Posts: 31
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Re: Help with study techniques...

Postby AEIOU » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:01 pm

vdog wrote:I took the test in February and received a disappointing 164. I've been scoring 170-172 on my practice tests (10 timed and 5 untimed), so I thought I couldn't do worse than a 167, but the nerves got to me. As I have a 3.95 GPA, I aim for mid-T14 (Harvard and Stanford are wishful thinking, but Columbia, NYU, Berkeley, Penn, and Uva are my "realistic" reaches).

So I have decided to regroup and prepare again for the October LSAT beginning April, but this time with high focus on my problem areas. I aim to get 175+ on the practice tests and a 170+ for the actual thing.

Here is my problem. I am a strong LG taker and usually finish that section in 25-30 minutes. However, I tend to fatigue quickly with RC and the longer questions for LR (parallel reasoning questions take me 3-4 minutes to do). This fatigue really hit with the nerves on test day, and that's where I'm guessing I lost most of my points on the actual test. Plus, the increase in RC/decrease in LG questions over the years doesn't help my case.

For RC, I read the first paragraph and the first sentence of every subsequent paragraph, answer main idea/reference questions, then skim for the rest. Inference questions take much more time and effort for me, and where I tend to lose most of my points. I also tend to lose stamina and focus with jargon-intensive passages.

For parallel reasoning questions, I read and try to diagram the argument out, but it almost always comes out a jumbled mess. Even while spending 3-4 minutes on these questions, I have about a 60% success rate, so not good. Strengthen/assumption are also not my forte (though I strangely do well on weaken questions).

If anyone has trouble with LG, I have a few diagramming tricks (not covered in the Bible) to make things a lot faster. I use a dynamic visualization system that allows me to come up with secondary rules and combinations for if-questions very quickly. In return, I would like some help/tips/suggestions knowing how to focus my reading skills for these types of questions, because those extra points is the difference between a rejection/WL and a scholarship acceptance for my reach schools.


I recommend doing back to back timed practice tests. It is great for building focus and stamina. You should also begin a regular exercise routine -- this will really help with improving mental focus. You should also read constantly.

bp shinners
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Re: Help with study techniques...

Postby bp shinners » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:13 pm

vdog wrote:For RC, I read the first paragraph and the first sentence of every subsequent paragraph, answer main idea/reference questions, then skim for the rest. Inference questions take much more time and effort for me, and where I tend to lose most of my points. I also tend to lose stamina and focus with jargon-intensive passages.


This is absolutely the wrong way to do RC. You should be reading the whole thing straight through and tracking the viewpoints, the arguments, the role of each paragraph, and making sure that you understand how each element works in the argument. If you're reading just first sentences and skimming for the rest, you're not going to be nearly as quick or efficient as you otherwise could be. Also, it might explain why you're losing focus on 'jargon' passages - how can you hope to understand that stuff if you're just skimming over it?

AEIOU
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Re: Help with study techniques...

Postby AEIOU » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:18 pm

bp shinners wrote:
vdog wrote:For RC, I read the first paragraph and the first sentence of every subsequent paragraph, answer main idea/reference questions, then skim for the rest. Inference questions take much more time and effort for me, and where I tend to lose most of my points. I also tend to lose stamina and focus with jargon-intensive passages.


This is absolutely the wrong way to do RC. You should be reading the whole thing straight through and tracking the viewpoints, the arguments, the role of each paragraph, and making sure that you understand how each element works in the argument. If you're reading just first sentences and skimming for the rest, you're not going to be nearly as quick or efficient as you otherwise could be. Also, it might explain why you're losing focus on 'jargon' passages - how can you hope to understand that stuff if you're just skimming over it?


That seems super confusing. I just read it, but if I had to choose between your method and the op's I would def go with the op.

03152016
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Re: Help with study techniques...

Postby 03152016 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:42 pm

.
Last edited by 03152016 on Tue Mar 15, 2016 2:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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gaud
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Re: Help with study techniques...

Postby gaud » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:47 pm

Max324 wrote:Skimming is a horrible idea. Read the passage once, and read it well. Spending an extra minute on the passage saves you time in the long run; less fishing around for relevant information when you're answering questions. You never know where the author might add a crucial piece of information that you'll be tested on.


This, and this:

Liquox wrote:as for rc, go with your first instinct.



To increase RC endurance, for me it helped to read dense writing during free time. The Economist is good. Reading cases also helped.

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WhiteGuy5
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Re: Help with study techniques...

Postby WhiteGuy5 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:58 pm

vdog wrote:I took the test in February and received a disappointing 164. I've been scoring 170-172 on my practice tests (10 timed and 5 untimed), so I thought I couldn't do worse than a 167, but the nerves got to me. As I have a 3.95 GPA, I aim for mid-T14 (Harvard and Stanford are wishful thinking, but Columbia, NYU, Berkeley, Penn, and Uva are my "realistic" reaches).

So I have decided to regroup and prepare again for the October LSAT beginning April, but this time with high focus on my problem areas. I aim to get 175+ on the practice tests and a 170+ for the actual thing.

Here is my problem. I am a strong LG taker and usually finish that section in 25-30 minutes. However, I tend to fatigue quickly with RC and the longer questions for LR (parallel reasoning questions take me 3-4 minutes to do). This fatigue really hit with the nerves on test day, and that's where I'm guessing I lost most of my points on the actual test. Plus, the increase in RC/decrease in LG questions over the years doesn't help my case.

For RC, I read the first paragraph and the first sentence of every subsequent paragraph, answer main idea/reference questions, then skim for the rest. Inference questions take much more time and effort for me, and where I tend to lose most of my points. I also tend to lose stamina and focus with jargon-intensive passages.

For parallel reasoning questions, I read and try to diagram the argument out, but it almost always comes out a jumbled mess. Even while spending 3-4 minutes on these questions, I have about a 60% success rate, so not good. Strengthen/assumption are also not my forte (though I strangely do well on weaken questions).

If anyone has trouble with LG, I have a few diagramming tricks (not covered in the Bible) to make things a lot faster. I use a dynamic visualization system that allows me to come up with secondary rules and combinations for if-questions very quickly. In return, I would like some help/tips/suggestions knowing how to focus my reading skills for these types of questions, because those extra points is the difference between a rejection/WL and a scholarship acceptance for my reach schools.


In my experience, when people usually score well below their average, it has less to do with "fatigue" or "nerves" and more to do with the fact that you fundamentally did not understand some of the question types. You can get by like that with easy questions and questions that you're already familiar with, but you can't repeat that performance on test days (and yes, nerves don't help). With that said, the bolded explanation seems to be plausible, but I hope you've taken a hit in your confidence and can channel that disappointment to your studying.

I only say that because one problem otherwise high scoring repeat test takers have is cockiness. They think something external of their abilities (e.g. fatigue/nerves) went wrong on test day, thus leading to the lower-than-average score. This mental block doesn't allow them to appreciate how useful going back to the fundamentals of the different LR question types/games/RC approaches can be.

I didn't read the thread so others may have already pointed this out, but I don't think your RC approach (italicized) is the best way to do it. You seem like an otherwise bright person; relax, take a deep breath, and just read the whole passage from beginning to end. Look at a few notations systems (Powerscore, Manhattan) and use those. The one specific advice I'd give for this section is: don't treat it like the other two. Reading Comprehension is testing a core skill you should have developed in college. Yes, there are specific strategies you can use to do better because of the bias in comprehension the questions introduce, but all in all, if you're a decent reader, don't overdo the section with fancy techniques like what you're doing now. The only fancy thing I did on test day was for the Comparative Reading passage, I read passage A and answered questions just on passage A before reading passage B.

As far as the LR section goes (the underlined), this is where I see great evidence for why you need to hit the drawing board again. Messing up parallel reasoning diagrams is a no-no for any 170+er (especially if those are conditional reasoning Qs). In fact, I think if you're scoring in the 99th percentile, Parallel Reasoning questions should be one of the easier question types. They look intimidating, but they are really testing to see if you understood one of the major lessons of the LSAT: read for structure, not content. Specific advice: don't presume that you need to diagram ALL Parallel questions. In fact, when you hit the books again, see if you can do Parallel questions WITHOUT diagramming, this might train you to see structure more easily. The other thing I can think of is: when you DO need to diagram, remember that the correct answer choice can flip the order it presented the argument inside out. Also, be flexible enough when you're looking for the correct answer choice to realize that you diagrammed incorrectly/messed up the structure of the question, and correct for it appropriately. Maybe you added an extra part of the argument that wasn't really there? Maybe it there was a premise you accidentally split into two but there was really only one? Things like this...

As far as Strengthen/Assumption (I presume you mean Necessary Assumptions) questions go...this is probably the biggest problem with where you are right now. Think about it--strengthen and assumption questions are essentially testing to see if you could see the gap or hole in the argument presented. Both of these question types have a hole in their arguments (a usually important part of the argument the author neglected to mention). In order to be good at these questions, analyzing the strength of a conclusion needs to be second nature to you--and if it's not, then this will seriously handicap you on test day, where you wont be prepared for "curve ball" questions. I'm a little surprised that you've gotten to the 170-172 range despite thinking that this is your weakness, honestly. You should be able to see the assumptions inherent in EVERY logical reasoning question where an argument is present. Your pre-phrase should also be dead-on most of the time. Ask yourself: did the premises the author give me support his conclusion? If so, how well did they manage to do that? Is the conclusion pretty much impossible to deny? Or was it rather weak? If it was weak, why so? What was missing from the argument that made it weak? What issue is still mudding the waters when it comes to the conclusion? The answer to these questions will lead you to the GAP in the argument. That is where you will find the answer to strengthen/weaken/assumption questions (and even most sufficient assumptions or "justify the conclusion" questions).

Also, if you've been practicing with PowerScore, give Manhattan LSAT's study guides a chance. I promise you won't be confused making the transition--I think it will give you the fresh perspective you need to make that jump in your score range more definitive.

Sources: I tutor for the LSAT now and have a much better understanding of how to study for it than when I was studying. My PTs are all 177+, and I only get RC questions wrong now (once in a blue moon I'll get a LR or LG question).

I don't like to make long posts often, but when I do, I like them to be informative =). I hope you found this helpful brah. You sound like you already know what you're doing, and you're DEFINITELY capable of a 175+ at this point. Good luck!

Edit: I just read the other posts int he thread. With the exception of AEIOU's advice, everything else in here is consistent with that I believe and what I think would help you. DEFINITELY change your approach to RC.

TRex77
Posts: 66
Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:27 am

Re: Help with study techniques...

Postby TRex77 » Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:20 am

RC is my worst too. I need to start reading long boring passages. There doesn't seem to be a strategy besides being able to read long boring passages without losing concentration:/

vdog
Posts: 34
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:29 pm

Re: Help with study techniques...

Postby vdog » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:57 am

WhiteGuy5 wrote:In my experience, when people usually score well below their average, it has less to do with "fatigue" or "nerves" and more to do with the fact that you fundamentally did not understand some of the question types. You can get by like that with easy questions and questions that you're already familiar with, but you can't repeat that performance on test days (and yes, nerves don't help). With that said, the bolded explanation seems to be plausible, but I hope you've taken a hit in your confidence and can channel that disappointment to your studying.

I only say that because one problem otherwise high scoring repeat test takers have is cockiness. They think something external of their abilities (e.g. fatigue/nerves) went wrong on test day, thus leading to the lower-than-average score. This mental block doesn't allow them to appreciate how useful going back to the fundamentals of the different LR question types/games/RC approaches can be.

I didn't read the thread so others may have already pointed this out, but I don't think your RC approach (italicized) is the best way to do it. You seem like an otherwise bright person; relax, take a deep breath, and just read the whole passage from beginning to end. Look at a few notations systems (Powerscore, Manhattan) and use those. The one specific advice I'd give for this section is: don't treat it like the other two. Reading Comprehension is testing a core skill you should have developed in college. Yes, there are specific strategies you can use to do better because of the bias in comprehension the questions introduce, but all in all, if you're a decent reader, don't overdo the section with fancy techniques like what you're doing now. The only fancy thing I did on test day was for the Comparative Reading passage, I read passage A and answered questions just on passage A before reading passage B.

As far as the LR section goes (the underlined), this is where I see great evidence for why you need to hit the drawing board again. Messing up parallel reasoning diagrams is a no-no for any 170+er (especially if those are conditional reasoning Qs). In fact, I think if you're scoring in the 99th percentile, Parallel Reasoning questions should be one of the easier question types. They look intimidating, but they are really testing to see if you understood one of the major lessons of the LSAT: read for structure, not content. Specific advice: don't presume that you need to diagram ALL Parallel questions. In fact, when you hit the books again, see if you can do Parallel questions WITHOUT diagramming, this might train you to see structure more easily. The other thing I can think of is: when you DO need to diagram, remember that the correct answer choice can flip the order it presented the argument inside out. Also, be flexible enough when you're looking for the correct answer choice to realize that you diagrammed incorrectly/messed up the structure of the question, and correct for it appropriately. Maybe you added an extra part of the argument that wasn't really there? Maybe it there was a premise you accidentally split into two but there was really only one? Things like this...

As far as Strengthen/Assumption (I presume you mean Necessary Assumptions) questions go...this is probably the biggest problem with where you are right now. Think about it--strengthen and assumption questions are essentially testing to see if you could see the gap or hole in the argument presented. Both of these question types have a hole in their arguments (a usually important part of the argument the author neglected to mention). In order to be good at these questions, analyzing the strength of a conclusion needs to be second nature to you--and if it's not, then this will seriously handicap you on test day, where you wont be prepared for "curve ball" questions. I'm a little surprised that you've gotten to the 170-172 range despite thinking that this is your weakness, honestly. You should be able to see the assumptions inherent in EVERY logical reasoning question where an argument is present. Your pre-phrase should also be dead-on most of the time. Ask yourself: did the premises the author give me support his conclusion? If so, how well did they manage to do that? Is the conclusion pretty much impossible to deny? Or was it rather weak? If it was weak, why so? What was missing from the argument that made it weak? What issue is still mudding the waters when it comes to the conclusion? The answer to these questions will lead you to the GAP in the argument. That is where you will find the answer to strengthen/weaken/assumption questions (and even most sufficient assumptions or "justify the conclusion" questions).

Also, if you've been practicing with PowerScore, give Manhattan LSAT's study guides a chance. I promise you won't be confused making the transition--I think it will give you the fresh perspective you need to make that jump in your score range more definitive.

Sources: I tutor for the LSAT now and have a much better understanding of how to study for it than when I was studying. My PTs are all 177+, and I only get RC questions wrong now (once in a blue moon I'll get a LR or LG question).

I don't like to make long posts often, but when I do, I like them to be informative =). I hope you found this helpful brah. You sound like you already know what you're doing, and you're DEFINITELY capable of a 175+ at this point. Good luck!

Edit: I just read the other posts int he thread. With the exception of AEIOU's advice, everything else in here is consistent with that I believe and what I think would help you. DEFINITELY change your approach to RC.


Thank you, Whiteguy5. I wasn't trying to make excuses, but I expected to perform similarly to my PT's (maybe a small dip of 2-3 points due to jitters), because I did put in a lot of time to prepare for test. Now that I have had some time to regroup, I do recognize the flaws I made during the test and want to get some opinions on changing my current strategy.

I will definitely change my RC strategy, because I do recognize that it is not working well for me. Although given an extra 5 minutes, I would get almost all of the questions right, I can't seem to finish things in a timely manner within 35 minutes. Inference questions are the worst for me because while I generally understand the main idea/structure/attitude on the first complete readthrough, the "what can you infer" questions force me to reread the section, which consumes a lot of time and tires me out quickly. I can't seem to find the right balance between reading enough and not wasting time.

I should clarify when I said Strengthen/Assumption weren't my forte. I was PTing 9-12 questions wrong timed, with the bulk (5-7) being in RC. The rest of the questions were from LR, with the majority (2-3) wrong on PR and a mix of Strengthen, Assumption, and Justify the Conclusion, and maybe 1 LG wrong from a stupid mistake. I tend to do better with flawed argument questions, including flawed PR (where I can normally summarize the type of error), weaken, flaw in argument, resolve paradox, etc. I guess my mind likes to focus on more on inherent flaws/anomalies instead of "assumed" flaws.

Some of these tips are really helpful, so thank you. I'll definitely rework my strategy come April (need to take a breather first). Also thanks to all the others who have commented.

keyanaut
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Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:55 pm

Re: Help with study techniques...

Postby keyanaut » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:16 am

Whiteguy

That is great advice. I actually am doing what you recommend; I was previously did the powerscore class, it didn't help me as much so I bought the manhattan lsat books and am going to self prep. I have all the exact problems you state. I was PTing from 163-170, scored a 156 and a 154 on my last two tests. It boils down to fundamentals. After I redo each book, should I hit the LR questions by type? I just finished the LR book and want to reinforce them by doing all the LR questions by type form pt 1-38. At what point should I focus on timing? LG is pretty simple for me, but I do have problems with RC. So I think between now and June, I'm going to do the LR by type with occasional timed sections (maybe once a day), go to RC and do the manhattan lsat book with timed sections, then do the LG book again. That way by May I'm doing timed tests.

What do you think?

bp shinners
Posts: 3091
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:05 pm

Re: Help with study techniques...

Postby bp shinners » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:39 pm

AEIOU wrote:
bp shinners wrote:
vdog wrote:For RC, I read the first paragraph and the first sentence of every subsequent paragraph, answer main idea/reference questions, then skim for the rest. Inference questions take much more time and effort for me, and where I tend to lose most of my points. I also tend to lose stamina and focus with jargon-intensive passages.


This is absolutely the wrong way to do RC. You should be reading the whole thing straight through and tracking the viewpoints, the arguments, the role of each paragraph, and making sure that you understand how each element works in the argument. If you're reading just first sentences and skimming for the rest, you're not going to be nearly as quick or efficient as you otherwise could be. Also, it might explain why you're losing focus on 'jargon' passages - how can you hope to understand that stuff if you're just skimming over it?


That seems super confusing. I just read it, but if I had to choose between your method and the op's I would def go with the op.


Then enjoy results similar to the ones about which the OP is complaining ;-).

My write up was cursory, but I was just making the point that skimming the passage is the easiest way to ensure that you get questions wrong.

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pizzabrosauce
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Re: Help with study techniques...

Postby pizzabrosauce » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:21 pm

bp shinners wrote:Then enjoy results similar to the ones about which the OP is complaining ;-).

My write up was cursory, but I was just making the point that skimming the passage is the easiest way to ensure that you get questions wrong.


Listen to shinners, he knows what he's talking about, and the method he is advocating is pretty much universally accepted.

TRex77 wrote:RC is my worst too. I need to start reading long boring passages. There doesn't seem to be a strategy besides being able to read long boring passages without losing concentration:/


I know its the last thing you'll want to do, but I found that drilling RC's (by type if you are able) can help with boredom b/c you begin to recognize and actively hunt for patterns.




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