Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

User avatar
Scotusnerd
Posts: 813
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby Scotusnerd » Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:44 am

Bah. I was hoping to get a good discussion. Instead I come in and it's an epeen contest. :roll:

/disappoint

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

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby bp shinners » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:22 pm

Scotusnerd wrote:I just don't find it plausible that someone who has completed that much schooling, and has gotten a respectable GPA, lacks so much in reading comprehension that he or she cannot take that test.


Teach the exam for a few years and then see if you still feel this way. It's not only plausible, but I've seen it many times. College isn't what it used to be - there are plenty out there that don't provide an educational experience that enhances the reading and critical thinking abilities of its students. They're also more than happy to hand out solid grades to sub-par work.

Do I think people have a ceiling? Generally, no, but there's definitely a practical ceiling for most people. To develop the reading and critical thinking skills necessary to get past that high-160s mark (which is generally where I draw the line between being able to answer the questions on the test and understanding it so well that you are demonstrating high-level critical thinking skills*), many people who have 4-year degrees would have to go back to middle school and essentially start their education over again. That's not something most people are willing to do to take a test.

*And, as a side note, I don't think people who can't break that 167 mark lack the ability to demonstrate high-level critical thinking skills. I just think that people who do break that line demonstrably have those abilities. So breaking a 167 is sufficient but not necessary to demonstrating to me your ability to think critically at a certain, high level.

User avatar
Micdiddy
Posts: 2190
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:38 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby Micdiddy » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:54 pm

bp shinners wrote:So breaking a 167 is sufficient but not necessary to demonstrating to me your ability to think critically at a certain, high level.


Dang it, I put C for that question. I always miss the N vs. S questions :twisted:

TERS
Posts: 161
Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 11:29 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby TERS » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:23 pm

bp shinners wrote:To develop the reading and critical thinking skills necessary to get past that high-160s mark (which is generally where I draw the line between being able to answer the questions on the test and understanding it so well that you are demonstrating high-level critical thinking skills), many people who have 4-year degrees would have to go back to middle school and essentially start their education over again.


If I understand you, I agree. I'm one of those people whose major called predominantly upon mathematical and analytical reasoning, so it was possible for me to maintain a high GPA while having sub-par reading/retention ability. My barrier is almost entirely reading/retention related, and improvements in these areas, as you allude to, come only through long-term practice.

Most undergrads are capable of learning the required analytical and logical skills in reasonable time, but not the reading/retention skills. Really, a test entirely in reading comprehension would be almost as indicative of law school success as the LSAT. It would be interesting to see data on the section most correlated with law school success. If it wasn't RC, I'd be very surprised.

User avatar
dowu
Posts: 8334
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:47 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby dowu » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:30 pm

:shock: :shock:
Last edited by dowu on Mon Apr 18, 2016 12:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby bp shinners » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:20 pm

TERS wrote:Most undergrads are capable of learning the required analytical and logical skills in reasonable time, but not the reading/retention skills.


I would disagree with this statement: I honestly don't think that the required analytical/logical skills are something that most students will pick up in a reasonable time. From the very first day people are taught to read, they're mostly abstracting the words away from the page and 'sounding them out' instead of reading in context and actually understanding what's being said. It's why you run into the issue of people reading something out loud but being unable to comprehend it at the same time - they'll read it, and forget it immediately afterwards; they'll misspeak because they've forgotten the context of the sentence that they just started reading. The two brain functions are developed almost independently in our education system, and so it's bridging that gap between critical thinking and reading that is the issue. I think most colleges focus so much on getting students to read the material and not enough on lateral thinking with the material that it perpetuates this gap and leaves students with the ability to think, or the ability to absorb outside information, but not the ability to do both at the same time. And the focus is definitely on absorbing outside information, which stymies the development of independent critical thinking skills.

In short, our whole system is set up to have people read and regurgitate, so the ability to actually use the information in a meaningful way (instead of just being able to apply it as you see it) is woefully underdeveloped in most college grads.

And TERS, I honestly think that if you feel you have a reading/retention issue, you're not properly prepping for the LSAT. I think you're using that as an excuse, and it's preventing you from seeing gains that you would otherwise see. The amount of retention you need while reading anything on the LSAT is unbelievable small, and the number of actual words you have to get through is also small. If you have the analytical abilities, focus on using them on the exam instead of focusing on how you feel you're a 'weak' reader.

User avatar
Scotusnerd
Posts: 813
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby Scotusnerd » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:01 pm

bp shinners wrote:Teach the exam for a few years and then see if you still feel this way. It's not only plausible, but I've seen it many times. College isn't what it used to be - there are plenty out there that don't provide an educational experience that enhances the reading and critical thinking abilities of its students. They're also more than happy to hand out solid grades to sub-par work.

Do I think people have a ceiling? Generally, no, but there's definitely a practical ceiling for most people. To develop the reading and critical thinking skills necessary to get past that high-160s mark (which is generally where I draw the line between being able to answer the questions on the test and understanding it so well that you are demonstrating high-level critical thinking skills*), many people who have 4-year degrees would have to go back to middle school and essentially start their education over again. That's not something most people are willing to do to take a test.

*And, as a side note, I don't think people who can't break that 167 mark lack the ability to demonstrate high-level critical thinking skills. I just think that people who do break that line demonstrably have those abilities. So breaking a 167 is sufficient but not necessary to demonstrating to me your ability to think critically at a certain, high level.


I think we're confusing the issue. You're referring to a high-water mark (167) that is at the ~95th percentile of the test. In other words, your maximum potential is to score better than 95% of the other people taking it. Your argument starts from the ceiling and works its way down, while mine starts at the bottom and works its way up. I think that has to do with the fact that you've taught it and I haven't, and that affects your view of the test.

This is a small, but important difference. If the point of the LSAT were to master the materials, then mastery would directly equal admission to law school, and I would agree with you. But it doesn't. Outperforming your peers is what allows you entrance to law school. I don't think that you particularly need a higher critical thinking ability to outperform your peers and reach your ceiling. You might, but it's a skill that can be learned while learning the test. Basic reading comprehension is more important.

I suppose that at any one time, our arguments would look similar, but mine has the advantage of being worthwhile over time. Mastery of the materials at one specific LSAT cycle does not mean mastery at another test. The test is competitive, and the competition will ebb and flow based on how many people take it. Today's required skills will not be so important tomorrow (such as the difference between the early 30 preptests and the 50-60 preptests. The skills they test are quite different.)

Therefore, a basic reading ability is more important to determining your ceiling than the current focus of critical thinking.

User avatar
Scotusnerd
Posts: 813
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby Scotusnerd » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:06 pm

bp shinners wrote:
TERS wrote:Most undergrads are capable of learning the required analytical and logical skills in reasonable time, but not the reading/retention skills.


I would disagree with this statement: I honestly don't think that the required analytical/logical skills are something that most students will pick up in a reasonable time. From the very first day people are taught to read, they're mostly abstracting the words away from the page and 'sounding them out' instead of reading in context and actually understanding what's being said. It's why you run into the issue of people reading something out loud but being unable to comprehend it at the same time - they'll read it, and forget it immediately afterwards; they'll misspeak because they've forgotten the context of the sentence that they just started reading. The two brain functions are developed almost independently in our education system, and so it's bridging that gap between critical thinking and reading that is the issue. I think most colleges focus so much on getting students to read the material and not enough on lateral thinking with the material that it perpetuates this gap and leaves students with the ability to think, or the ability to absorb outside information, but not the ability to do both at the same time. And the focus is definitely on absorbing outside information, which stymies the development of independent critical thinking skills.

In short, our whole system is set up to have people read and regurgitate, so the ability to actually use the information in a meaningful way (instead of just being able to apply it as you see it) is woefully underdeveloped in most college grads.

And TERS, I honestly think that if you feel you have a reading/retention issue, you're not properly prepping for the LSAT. I think you're using that as an excuse, and it's preventing you from seeing gains that you would otherwise see. The amount of retention you need while reading anything on the LSAT is unbelievable small, and the number of actual words you have to get through is also small. If you have the analytical abilities, focus on using them on the exam instead of focusing on how you feel you're a 'weak' reader.


I think this is an interesting point about our education system. You're right about their reading abilities in the public school system...very right.

I gotta agree with BPshiners about TERS. Don't focus on your weaknesses. Focus on overcoming them.

I'll be interested in seeing what happens to law school after this current crop of students graduate. Maybe then they'll finally pay attention to how badly they're f***ing over our country with this NCLB bullsh*t. (<---former teacher)

User avatar
Tiago Splitter
Posts: 15487
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:20 am

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:13 pm

Scotusnerd wrote:Mastery of the materials at one specific LSAT cycle does not mean mastery at another test. The test is competitive, and the competition will ebb and flow based on how many people take it. Today's required skills will not be so important tomorrow (such as the difference between the early 30 preptests and the 50-60 preptests. The skills they test are quite different.)


I can't agree with any of this at all. The point of equating (rather than curving) the test is to make sure that a person with the ability to score a 170 scores that 170 without regard to the difficulty of the test nor the skill of the other test takers in that section.

Does anyone really think the skills that preptest 30 tests are "quite different" from preptest 60? Seriously? If that's the case then test prep is almost totally worthless.

User avatar
Scotusnerd
Posts: 813
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby Scotusnerd » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:25 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:
Scotusnerd wrote:Mastery of the materials at one specific LSAT cycle does not mean mastery at another test. The test is competitive, and the competition will ebb and flow based on how many people take it. Today's required skills will not be so important tomorrow (such as the difference between the early 30 preptests and the 50-60 preptests. The skills they test are quite different.)


I can't agree with any of this at all. The point of equating (rather than curving) the test is to make sure that a person with the ability to score a 170 scores that 170 without regard to the difficulty of the test nor the skill of the other test takers in that section.

Does anyone really think the skills that preptest 30 tests are "quite different" from preptest 60? Seriously? If that's the case then test prep is almost totally worthless.


Yes, they are different. Take one from 30, and then take one from 60. You'll find that logical reasoning makes a fair bit of changes, as does reading comprehension and (to a lesser extent) logic games. LR goes from following complex chains of reasoning to them trying to trip you up and playing 'hide the shell' with their wording. Reading comprehension has added in comparative analysis between two sections. Logic games is less about 'super inferences' and more about plugging in numbers quickly.

And no, prep test is not useless. The point of test prep is to a) get you comfortable with your skills and b) learn the damn skills in the first place. You don't know what exactly they're going to test until you actually get to the test. Trying all the variations you can is definitely a good thing.

My question in return about the 170 is 'what is the ability to score a 170?' How do you (or they) know when you're capable of scoring a 170? What specific set of skills lets you score a 170? If it's different from the 1990s until now, than my argument holds water. If it isn't, then BPshiners is right, and I'm wrong.

User avatar
Tiago Splitter
Posts: 15487
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:20 am

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:33 pm

Scotusnerd wrote:My question in return about the 170 is 'what is the ability to score a 170?' How do you (or they) know when you're capable of scoring a 170? What specific set of skills lets you score a 170? If it's different from the 1990s until now, than my argument holds water. If it isn't, then BPshiners is right, and I'm wrong.


I'm saying someone who actually gets a 170 on a real LSAT should be able to do so on any other variation of the LSAT. If you are correct, that same person might score a 150 on prep test 15 and then a 180 on prep test 61. Hard to imagine.

I do think there are small differences in the LSAT over time, but they are very slight and not enough to suggest that earlier and later LSATs test different things.

User avatar
Scotusnerd
Posts: 813
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby Scotusnerd » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:52 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:
Scotusnerd wrote:My question in return about the 170 is 'what is the ability to score a 170?' How do you (or they) know when you're capable of scoring a 170? What specific set of skills lets you score a 170? If it's different from the 1990s until now, than my argument holds water. If it isn't, then BPshiners is right, and I'm wrong.


I'm saying someone who actually gets a 170 on a real LSAT should be able to do so on any other variation of the LSAT. If you are correct, that same person might score a 150 on prep test 15 and then a 180 on prep test 61. Hard to imagine.

I do think there are small differences in the LSAT over time, but they are very slight and not enough to suggest that earlier and later LSATs test different things.



Ok, this topic has gotten way more awesome. Thanks for actually giving it some attention. :D

You're right that large a range sounds ridiculous. That's because it is ridiculous. This is where things get dicey for the 'top-down' argument that bpshiner was making. A 167 is better than 94.6% of the people who take that test. Once you get above those numbers, the differences become very small and hair splitting. Because of how small these differences are, the little details start to matter a lot more. The difference between a 175 and a 180 is probably the understanding of one or two concepts (and luck).

So those very slight differences? They suddenly become a lot more important at this high level. I agree that 151-180 is too high a range. But I think that 165-180 is pretty reasonable. I think beyond that, it really does depend on the current 'fashionable questions' that LSAC is focusing on. I think the Noguchi RC passage in 59, for example, confused and tripped up a lot of people because it played shell games with the RC answers. I was getting pretty damn good at RC and then that one belted me in the face.

It wasn't technically that much harder than any of the others, but it did test something different. That one type of question could change your LSAT score five points at the upper levels.

So...yeah. 151-180? Not so much. But 165-180? Yeah, I think that's where those 'little' details that keep changing matter. A lot.

User avatar
Tiago Splitter
Posts: 15487
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:20 am

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:02 pm

Scotusnerd wrote:So...yeah. 151-180? Not so much. But 165-180? Yeah, I think that's where those 'little' details that keep changing matter. A lot.


I guess I just think the range is tighter than 15 points. Score bands seem to show up in 4-5 point ranges and I think that's fair given the slight differences in the tests over time.

Speaking for myself I knew after taking about a dozen PTs that I'd score within a very narrow range. Most of my PTs were from the PT 50 and up but I also took a couple from the "First Ten" book and scored about as well.

Scotusnerd wrote:The difference between a 175 and a 180 is probably the understanding of one or two concepts (and luck).


I agree with this, and I attribute my own score at least partially to luck, at least with the 50-50 questions. But I don't think it means the tests over time began testing different things.

User avatar
smaug_
Posts: 2195
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:06 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby smaug_ » Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:10 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:
Scotusnerd wrote:The difference between a 175 and a 180 is probably the understanding of one or two concepts (and luck).


I agree with this, and I attribute my own score at least partially to luck, at least with the 50-50 questions. But I don't think it means the tests over time began testing different things.


It is also probably about minimizing risk. Being able to double check every answer and catch any possible mistakes is probably what separates a consistent low 170 scorer and a high 170 scorer. (Although I do agree that luck also comes into play.)

I also still hold that there isn't anything about the test or 170+ scorers that makes scoring 170+ an unobtainable goal for your average college grad. I do agree that reading ability is something that would be very hard to change and therefore reaching for 170+ isn't reasonable for some.

User avatar
uconjak
Posts: 357
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:20 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby uconjak » Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:12 am

is their a ceiling or wall? who knows, probably no one on this site...
but that being said, I have been studying for the june test since April 3rd. the first Un-timed PT i took i got a 166. i thought that was pretty good, I studyed for a few weeks (about 3-4 hours/day) until the semester was over, took a timed test, got a 157 UG. So I went to my sis's place after the semerster was over. I have been hitting the books for about 3 weeks now (at least 6 hours/day) and had a timed test every other day. I have moved up to a consistant 166-168 but i can't seem to break that wall and get to my 175 goal. I hope their is not a ceiling. I need that 175 to get to the T5 schools. I haven't decided to take the test on the 11th or not. I am going to keep studing and will decide probably on sunday night.

User avatar
mattviphky
Posts: 1117
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 6:43 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby mattviphky » Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:54 am

JDot wrote:
ams212 wrote:
I think prestige of undergrad is highly overrated anyways. I would argue that your average LSAT-taker at Harvard isn't any smarter than an above average LSAT-taker at a state school. Getting in to an Ivy League undergrad doesn't make you automatically more intelligent (ie more able to crack a higher LSAT with hard work and study) than someone from a less prestigious schools. Undergrad admissions are, in a lot of ways, a crap shoot. Self-selection, your high school teachers, financial constraints, and standardized test scores play such a large role. The standardized tests to get into undergrad, IMO, are more indicators of knowledge than intelligence, whereas the LSAT is more of an indicator of intelligence (based on its heavy testing of analytic skills). I also, would argue Harvard students are more likely to study for the LSAT because they probably likely prepared for the SAT and ACT before undergrad to get into Harvard. I think that's why the LSAT is such a valuable tool. It eliminates factors besides work ethic and intelligence. While on average Harvard students are more intelligent than a less prestigious school's students, at the top level I don't think there's a difference. So it doesn't at all surprise me that Harvard students only average a 166 because there are bound to be students who got into Harvard based on other factors than intelligence (hard work, easy graders in high school, etc.).



I agree, also consider the people that go to ivy league schools are the people that actually gave a shit in high school, that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily more intelligent...I probably could've gone to an ivy league school, but I didn’t care, I was content with getting straight Bs studying for barely any tests, doing barely any school work, and just going in to take the SAT with no prep and flying through it with minimal effort… I know so many people that were like this too, they just used their intelligence to do nothing and still get decent grades, instead of actually trying and getting great grades…


A friend and I were talking about this the other day as we walked around the campus of a very prestigious university. We both went to local state colleges, and we just wanted to walk around this campus because it is very scenic. As we passed by a group of students, my friend made a comment to me about how smart the students must be to study at a school such as X. But I gave him the same spiel as above. The students we saw had no more intellegence or knowledge than either of us, but what they did have were the proper priorities in high school. Our mindset in hs was: what is the bare minimum I can do to get into my local school? Alright, now that I have all this free time from not giving a shit about grades, let's go drive a car, smoke a cigarette, attempt to buy beer, and try like hell to get laid. It's all about priorities. Luckily, we both figured it out in college. If many of us gave as much diligence to the act/sat as we did our lsat, we would probably have much more impressive diplomas. But whatever, that inferiority complex enabled us to be admitted in prestigious law schools.

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

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby bp shinners » Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:43 pm

Scotusnerd wrote:I suppose that at any one time, our arguments would look similar, but mine has the advantage of being worthwhile over time. Mastery of the materials at one specific LSAT cycle does not mean mastery at another test. The test is competitive, and the competition will ebb and flow based on how many people take it. Today's required skills will not be so important tomorrow (such as the difference between the early 30 preptests and the 50-60 preptests. The skills they test are quite different.)

Therefore, a basic reading ability is more important to determining your ceiling than the current focus of critical thinking.


I was using that high-water mark for two reasons. First, it's the plateau that most people around this site hit, so I was pandering a bit. Second, I have many students who read this site, so I don't want to start getting into an analysis of a whole bunch of different score bands. In short, I'm safer talking about the top of the score band because it's less likely to dishearten someone than if I was talking about a score closer to the median.

That being said, I completely disagree with everything you say above. There is, without a doubt in my mind, not a whole lot of difference between what's tested in the early preptests and the more recent ones. The test has evolved, and there have been some changes. However, the difference between the old and new exams isn't so vast that someone with the skills to do well on the old ones won't also do well on the new ones. Maybe, MAYBE a 5 point difference, at most. But the skills their testing are nearly identical.

I can't really argue with the point that reading skills will always be more important on the exam than any specific critical thinking skill, because every single question on the LSAT requires you to read. Saying that makes reading skills more important, however, is, to me, a completely useless statement. It's like saying having eyesight is more important than critical thinking skills, because you have to see to read the questions.

In short, nearly everyone taking the LSAT has the basic reading skills needed to get through the test. They can sound out the words and get the general idea of what's going on. Most people, however, don't have the critical thinking skills to put those ideas together and answer ___ number of questions right.

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

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby bp shinners » Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:48 pm

Scotusnerd wrote:So those very slight differences? They suddenly become a lot more important at this high level. I agree that 151-180 is too high a range. But I think that 165-180 is pretty reasonable. I think beyond that, it really does depend on the current 'fashionable questions' that LSAC is focusing on. I think the Noguchi RC passage in 59, for example, confused and tripped up a lot of people because it played shell games with the RC answers. I was getting pretty damn good at RC and then that one belted me in the face.


To me, the test has, recently, gotten a lot less shell-gamey. The questions now are harder, but they're not tricky (which is how I would refer to a shell-gamey answer). So, to me, your view of the test is limited by your own experience, and how you feel the LSAT is getting you to pick wrong answer. Since you think that Noguchi shell-gamed you, that's what you think is currently the 'hard part' of the LSAT, and so that's what you see as a trend. I don't think that trend exists, and I actually think the trend is going in the opposite direction.

I also find your assertion that someone could swing from a 165 on the old tests to a 180 on the new tests as patently absurd. So our argument is probably at a standstill, since we disagree about the underlying facts.

Though I'm more than willing to admit that I might be wrong, I also do this for a living, so I spend a lot of time analyzing tests not just for right/wrong answer, but also for trends both in the exam and student responses to the exams. So, ya know, 8)

atomicfront
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 5:59 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby atomicfront » Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:31 pm

I find the LSAT test to be easy. But I believe that for a lot of people there will be a ceiling. That is beyond their ability to put in a lot of effort. Sure effort will help a lot, but some people think faster than others. Some people think more logically than others.

But something I find interesting that their is a huge reading comprehension part to the exam, yet people are quick to hire tutors or take classes. Instead of saving themselves money and pick up a book. This forum provides plenty of useful advice on which books are the ones to choose first. A tutor isn't going to be able to take the test for you. Where a tutor could help you the most would probably be in LG but there is a the LG Bible which is easy to read and seems to be useful for most people.

User avatar
Scotusnerd
Posts: 813
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby Scotusnerd » Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:03 pm

Hey Bpshiner, thanks for taking the time to respond to this. I absolutely respect what you do, and I freely admit that you know a lot more about the LSAT than I do. 8) I get what you mean about the underlying facts, and I think I understand why it's occurring, as well. Let's leave aside the extra stuff about the little details for now and return to the original point I had here: reading comprehension is by far the most important ability you can have, and it is what determines your ceiling for the LSAT.

The difference between our arguments is the scale of our arguments. Your argument is based on what you've experienced as an LSAT teacher for a number of years. Normally, this would give you a huge advantage in any sort of argument about the LSAT, but not in this case.

When you deal with a student, you are dealing with someone who is (I'm assuming) paying for the privilege of being instructed by you on the LSAT. They (or their parents) want them to be there and listen to you. Your argument would work perfectly if this were the target of this forum post.

It is not. The question is not "do you believe that your students have a ceiling", the question is "do you believe that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?" This broadens the scale of the question quite a bit. It goes from dealing with only the very highest range (yes yes, the ceiling, I'll get back to that in a minute) to dealing with the entire range of scores, from 130 up to 180. It also broadens the target audience from merely those that put forth effort into studying to every person taking the exam. So, what does this in turn change?

It changes the meaning of "ceiling". Earlier, you said that my argument for reading comprehension seemed like a completely useless statement. When dealing with a set of people that want to improve, and put forth the effort, I agree with you. But when taken in this context, where ceiling has a different meaning, it becomes the only coherent argument. The only meaningful ceiling is one that affects the largest number of people, and would actually stop them from scoring a respectable score.

And the one ability that can actually create that ceiling is your reading comprehension. You cannot take this test well if you cannot read at a college level. Anything else can be learned with patience and time.

User avatar
Scotusnerd
Posts: 813
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby Scotusnerd » Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:04 pm

bp shinners wrote:To me, the test has, recently, gotten a lot less shell-gamey. The questions now are harder, but they're not tricky (which is how I would refer to a shell-gamey answer). So, to me, your view of the test is limited by your own experience, and how you feel the LSAT is getting you to pick wrong answer. Since you think that Noguchi shell-gamed you, that's what you think is currently the 'hard part' of the LSAT, and so that's what you see as a trend. I don't think that trend exists, and I actually think the trend is going in the opposite direction.

I also find your assertion that someone could swing from a 165 on the old tests to a 180 on the new tests as patently absurd. So our argument is probably at a standstill, since we disagree about the underlying facts.

Though I'm more than willing to admit that I might be wrong, I also do this for a living, so I spend a lot of time analyzing tests not just for right/wrong answer, but also for trends both in the exam and student responses to the exams. So, ya know, 8)



Thanks for the insight. I hadn't thought of that. It doesn't change my argument, though. :D

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

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby bp shinners » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:36 am

Scotusnerd wrote:Long argument


Here's my summation of your argument, so let me know if it's correct or not:

The subset of people you see work on the LSAT is unrepresentative because they want to prep and do well. The average student isn't going to prep (I hope you admit that the average student wants to do well). You sum this up by saying the scale of my argument is too small - that it should be about everyone.

I personally think that we're disagreeing over what a ceiling is. My definition doesn't really care if people prep or not - my definition of ceiling has to do with what people would run against if they did prepare at a high level. So my students, Kaplan students, self-prep students, and winging-it students, to me, all have a ceiling. They may not come close to reaching it because they don't prepare properly, but they would hit a ceiling eventually if they did go through an intense preparatory program. Not everyone (that's why my original statement said 'generally'), but most people will hit one eventually.

Your definition of ceiling seems closer to my definition of plateau - a wall that someone will hit and be able to break through with the right push. In that case, I would agree with you - if you are dealing with the set of people who (want to improve - you won't find people who want to do poorly on the LSAT, generally) aren't really prepping, just picking up a book and doing a few problems, then their reading comprehension ability will probably define that plateau. However, they could easily break through it with the right prep. The ceiling, as I define it, is higher than that and is something that you might be able to eventually break through, but it's going to require a couple of years and work on things besides just the LSAT.

But, again, I could be wrong. You're right in that I do live in a little bubble world of the LSAT, where most people in the class want to be there (at least, since I've moved East Coast - several of my California students were there just for their parents). However, I don't think the group is misrepresentational when you're talking about potential. If anything, they're super-representational, in that if the people who are willing to put in the most effort have a ceiling, so does everyone else.

wanderlust
Posts: 67
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:02 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby wanderlust » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:16 pm

Hi BP shinners
your points are very enlightening.
What do you mean by the "right prep", are you talking about structuring the preparation process? Or some techniques that are employed to certain type of questions?

bp shinners wrote:
Scotusnerd wrote:Long argument


Here's my summation of your argument, so let me know if it's correct or not:

The subset of people you see work on the LSAT is unrepresentative because they want to prep and do well. The average student isn't going to prep (I hope you admit that the average student wants to do well). You sum this up by saying the scale of my argument is too small - that it should be about everyone.

I personally think that we're disagreeing over what a ceiling is. My definition doesn't really care if people prep or not - my definition of ceiling has to do with what people would run against if they did prepare at a high level. So my students, Kaplan students, self-prep students, and winging-it students, to me, all have a ceiling. They may not come close to reaching it because they don't prepare properly, but they would hit a ceiling eventually if they did go through an intense preparatory program. Not everyone (that's why my original statement said 'generally'), but most people will hit one eventually.

Your definition of ceiling seems closer to my definition of plateau - a wall that someone will hit and be able to break through with the right push. In that case, I would agree with you - if you are dealing with the set of people who (want to improve - you won't find people who want to do poorly on the LSAT, generally) aren't really prepping, just picking up a book and doing a few problems, then their reading comprehension ability will probably define that plateau. However, they could easily break through it with the right prep. The ceiling, as I define it, is higher than that and is something that you might be able to eventually break through, but it's going to require a couple of years and work on things besides just the LSAT.

But, again, I could be wrong. You're right in that I do live in a little bubble world of the LSAT, where most people in the class want to be there (at least, since I've moved East Coast - several of my California students were there just for their parents). However, I don't think the group is misrepresentational when you're talking about potential. If anything, they're super-representational, in that if the people who are willing to put in the most effort have a ceiling, so does everyone else.

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

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby bp shinners » Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:30 pm

wanderlust wrote:Hi BP shinners
your points are very enlightening.
What do you mean by the "right prep", are you talking about structuring the preparation process? Or some techniques that are employed to certain type of questions?


To me, the right prep means learning methods to attack questions, doing a lot of questions, and reviewing them thoroughly so that you learn where your mistakes are. Then, learn the methods to avoid those mistakes, do a lot more questions, and then review them thoroughly so that you learn where your mistakes still are. Repeat.

So the answer to both of your sub-questions is 'yes'.

And there are plenty of different ways to prep right. A class is one, and one that I certainly believe in. But I also prepped by myself and did well, so I can't say that self-prep is a bad route (slow and inefficient, but definitely something that can work).

The secret is to find a method that works for you, and then make sure that you're focusing on learning how to do problems, not just doing them; practicing a lot; and reviewing properly. If you want the structure of a class, find one that works for you (a curriculum and instructor that match your own style). If you are extremely self-motivated, get some books and prep on your own. If your last name is Trump, pay me a fortune to live with you while I privately tutor you.

Essentially, 'the right prep' means the one that's going to have you actually learning how to approach the test instead of just doing problems until it clicks. That's generally not how it works.

User avatar
Scotusnerd
Posts: 813
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Are you a believer that everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT?

Postby Scotusnerd » Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:26 am

I just want to add in that all of BPshinners advice is great, and he should definitely be listened to. Sorry I've been a bit slow, I've been very busy running around trying to get a house, helping out with various travel things and so on.

All right, back to the argument. Our definition of ceilings is at issue. My definition relies on the fact that it is a general ceiling, for as many people as possible, while yours relies on the individual having a ceiling. Since OP asked whether 'everyone has a ceiling on the LSAT', I decided to pursue the path that it was a general ceiling that applied to most people.

Obviously, not everyone has the same ceiling, since different people have different levels of comprehension and skills for this test, so I had to choose a ceiling that affected the most people possible to effectively answer his question. That's how I came up with reading comprehension as a ceiling. As a note, not everyone has this problem, but this is the one factor I think that would significantly limit performance on the test. For example, if English is your second language, you are at a disadvantage when taking this test versus someone who has read it their entire life. If your reading and writing skills languished in college, you will be at a disadvantage on this test.

Reading comprehension is not as easy to pick up as critical thinking, analysis, organization etc. It takes approximately 9 years to teach you to read effectively in the first place, and I know several adults that still read at a middle school level. These are the people I refer to as having ceilings for the LSAT. It will take them years to catch their reading up to where they can comfortably read and answer the RC sections.

I hope this clarifies my argument. I do not think that it resembles your definition of a plateau. It is a serious problem that these people would have to REALLY push, and it could take them years, depending on their situation. This to me, is a ceiling.




Return to “LSAT Prep and Discussion Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider], Google [Bot] and 4 guests