Psychological Tricks of LSAT

rakeshow
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Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby rakeshow » Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:32 pm

I was wondering if people would help me compile a list of psychological tricks that the LSAT uses. As a mid/high 160 scorer, I'm trying to get over that last hump into the 170s. Instead of focusing my review on why each answer is right/wrong, I'm taking advice I saw on this forum (I believe it was by BP Shinners, so thank you) about focusing on the psychological exploits of the exam. I'm still not sure how to go about reviewing in this manner (not even sure what the psychological tricks are).

Some I could think of have to do with answer choice placement (i.e. putting a tempting wrong choice right before the correct one). Another I can think of is making the correct answer be D or E in the last few questions, to make people get them wrong who are pressed for time. Since these silly tricks dont pertain to most of TLS scorers, I was just looking for any other insight. It would be greatly appreciated!

BrianP
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby BrianP » Sun Aug 26, 2012 6:27 pm

I'm sure this will be a very helpful list and look forward to seeing it.

Seeing as how I would probably always pick B if I were guessing, that would be just cruel for them to make it D or E. :twisted:

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NoodleyOne
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby NoodleyOne » Sun Aug 26, 2012 6:45 pm

I think they like avoiding a letter for half a section and then making 4 out of the next five answers the letter that has been skipped. Gets in my head quite a bit.

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smaug_
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby smaug_ » Sun Aug 26, 2012 6:50 pm

Don't be afraid of strings of the same letter. Sometimes the answers just bunch up that way. I was never sure if that was coincidental or intentional.

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bdeebs
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby bdeebs » Sun Aug 26, 2012 6:52 pm

Presenting an answer choice that is almost exactly what one would be expected to pre-phrase with an error that is very easy to skip over if you are reading quickly. Usually accompanied by a correct answer that has some odd ball phrase like "a portrait presenting his or her father in an unflattering light" (PT 1.3.25) that causes you to gloss over it and immediately dismiss as incorrect.

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NoodleyOne
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby NoodleyOne » Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:02 pm

hibiki wrote:Don't be afraid of strings of the same letter. Sometimes the answers just bunch up that way. I was never sure if that was coincidental or intentional.


I know... still freaks me out though. And knowing these assholes, I expect it to be intentional.

rakeshow
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby rakeshow » Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:03 pm

Thanks for the tips everyone, I hope this list continues to grow!

Also, I wasn't referring to just petty letter choice tricks (although those are helpful too). Instead, I'm more concerned with individual questions that I can later review through the lens of psychological tricks. Ie. what exactly about the stimulus or answer choices tripped me up? Although I suppose this is hard to talk about without providing any specific question/answers...
I just don't know how to review my PTs basically. Don't want to keep falling for certain psychological traps

senorhosh
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby senorhosh » Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:42 pm

My advice is for those who are comfortable with doing LR but need that extra "push" to get over a plateau. If you're getting -10 on each LR section, this probably won't help. If you're looking to go from -4 to -1, it just might be what you're looking for.

Work backwards or in any order you are comfortable with.
There are so many nuances and small factors when taking a test that it's in your best interest to capitalize on every one of them. Even if it's psychological. Working backwards helps if you have timing issues or pressure issues.

Here's why:
First, you can see how many questions there are (25 or 26) and assess your time accordingly. Second, you can choose to tackle the more "difficult" problems first (#16-26) when you aren't pressed on time. When I first started prepping, I used to do LR in order, I would spend 15 minutes on #1-15, then 20 minutes on #16-26. The problem for me however, was sometimes 20 minutes wasn't enough for the last 10 problems.
I would then try to finish #1-15 as fast as possible, without checking. Then sometimes I realize #16-26 wasn't too difficult and I had much time left over. Then I wouldn't know which questions I had to check for #1-15. Other times, I wouldn't know how difficult #16-26 was and underestimated how "fast" I should do #1-15.

Doing LR backwards eliminated this issue. I would know exactly how much time #16-26 took, and then would do #1-15 accordingly. For me, when I was pressed on time, I scored higher if I did #1-15 under pressure and as fast as possible versus doing #16-26 in the same conditions.

Basically a simple example is:
Would you rather do 5 easy problems knowing the timer is going off in 3 minutes
or
3 difficult problems in the same condition?

I would rather do #1. That's just me personally. It helped (a lot, actually). I saw a huge score increase in LR as I was able to manage my time better. For me, #1-15 is usually much easier and I speed through those. Obviously, you should be familiar with your test taking style, which questions you get wrong, and other factors before doing this.
It's not for everyone but hopefully that helps.

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theprophet89
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby theprophet89 » Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:50 pm

hibiki wrote:Don't be afraid of strings of the same letter. Sometimes the answers just bunch up that way. I was never sure if that was coincidental or intentional.


Has to be intentional... I did an LR section not long ago where 6 of 7 answers were C. That doesn't just happen.

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totgafk180
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby totgafk180 » Sun Aug 26, 2012 8:33 pm

senorhosh wrote:My advice is for those who are comfortable with doing LR but need that extra "push" to get over a plateau. If you're getting -10 on each LR section, this probably won't help. If you're looking to go from -4 to -1, it just might be what you're looking for.

Work backwards or in any order you are comfortable with.
There are so many nuances and small factors when taking a test that it's in your best interest to capitalize on every one of them. Even if it's psychological. Working backwards helps if you have timing issues or pressure issues.

Here's why:
First, you can see how many questions there are (25 or 26) and assess your time accordingly. Second, you can choose to tackle the more "difficult" problems first (#16-26) when you aren't pressed on time. When I first started prepping, I used to do LR in order, I would spend 15 minutes on #1-15, then 20 minutes on #16-26. The problem for me however, was sometimes 20 minutes wasn't enough for the last 10 problems.
I would then try to finish #1-15 as fast as possible, without checking. Then sometimes I realize #16-26 wasn't too difficult and I had much time left over. Then I wouldn't know which questions I had to check for #1-15. Other times, I wouldn't know how difficult #16-26 was and underestimated how "fast" I should do #1-15.

Doing LR backwards eliminated this issue. I would know exactly how much time #16-26 took, and then would do #1-15 accordingly. For me, when I was pressed on time, I scored higher if I did #1-15 under pressure and as fast as possible versus doing #16-26 in the same conditions.

Basically a simple example is:
Would you rather do 5 easy problems knowing the timer is going off in 3 minutes
or
3 difficult problems in the same condition?

I would rather do #1. That's just me personally. It helped (a lot, actually). I saw a huge score increase in LR as I was able to manage my time better. For me, #1-15 is usually much easier and I speed through those. Obviously, you should be familiar with your test taking style, which questions you get wrong, and other factors before doing this.
It's not for everyone but hopefully that helps.


I like this idea.

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DSman
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby DSman » Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:19 am

I'm sure someone has mentioned a variation on this but they sometimes have a very close answer as an earlier option (a-c) but either d or e is even better, Usually because of one word. I actually just came across one again as i was reviewing an LR is took few days ago and I almost made the mistake AGAIN. Anyone curious, its question 20 in the first LR (sec 2) on PT 56.

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Ixiion
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby Ixiion » Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:16 am

I'm sure someone has mentioned this before too --

For LR questions that really shouldn't be tricky but are just because of odd wording, I've noticed that sometimes they'll also add in an incorrect answer about mistaking a necessary condition for a sufficient one (or vice versa), just because after PTing so many tests, you almost expect at least one question to have that answer now.

& Sometimes, they'll make the incorrect answers sound more correct because of the language they use. ie. Mistaking a sufficient condition for a necessary condition sounds more formal and sounds more like a test answer than, say, an answer worded like "He thought not true meant false." (Ofc, I'm making this random answer up as I'm going along, but you get the idea.)

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wtrc
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby wtrc » Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:55 am

theprophet89 wrote:
hibiki wrote:Don't be afraid of strings of the same letter. Sometimes the answers just bunch up that way. I was never sure if that was coincidental or intentional.


Has to be intentional... I did an LR section not long ago where 6 of 7 answers were C. That doesn't just happen.


I remember someone saying that LSAT often has 3 in a row, but never has had 4 in a row. Is that true?

culturaln
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby culturaln » Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:07 pm

A simple tip that’s helped me in my prep-tests: I stopped reviewing answers from A to E and did it in reverse instead, E to A. It keeps me from falling for the choices which are only slightly off just because of their order of presentation. (I think it’s a test of executive control, really: forced to refrain from choosing under the pressure of time.)

Also, in LR, I always read the questions first, and then the argument-blurb; saves a bit of time and effort in looking for the right thing. But I think these are both pretty well known tips, so maybe somebody has already pointed this out.

bp shinners
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby bp shinners » Mon Aug 27, 2012 1:04 pm

One of the most devious tricks that's extremely hard to pick up on (because it spans the entire section) is to present several questions of the same type spread out over the entire section, with answer choices in a similar pattern (think flaw - A-C are the same flaw in Q1, 5, 16, and 22), but then switch it up for the last one with a single word.

So without even realizing it, you start to associate C with a part vs. whole composition fallacy. Then, in 22, they give you a part vs. whole composition fallacy. And answer choice C will, instead, give you a whole vs. part composition fallacy. They switch it up, but your brain sees what it wants to see and disregards the rest (lie la lie lie lie la lie). And you get it wrong, even though you knew the right answer.

To the OP, though, there are usually 2 flaws that most students will commit at certain times, and I think that's the psychological trick that you're asking about (because this is the one that you really have to recognize and work on to fix).

1) Equivocation - the LSAT will use two words that are colloquially identical, but in reality have different meanings. One will be in the stimulus, and the other will be in the answer choice. You'll pick it because, to you and most Americans, the two mean the same thing. However, they actually don't, and so you're stuck with a wrong answer. The flipside of this is true, too - they'll use an esoteric word that means the same thing as a common word, and you'll throw the answer choice out because you think the concepts are distinct. For the former problem, you need to watch out ANYTIME your answer uses language different from the stimulus, and spend a second to make sure they actually do mean the same thing. For the second, you'll have to notice patterns in question types where this happens to you - for instance, it's much more likely to happen in a MBT question than a flaw question - and then be on the lookout for it there.

2) Logical force - they used to change up the logical force using small keywords that most Americans gloss over while reading (the biggest one being 'can'). However, they've started to use non-keyword logical force words in ways that make answer choice right/wrong. While you're looking for 'most' or 'might', the LSAT throws 'independently' at you. That's a very strong word. Ditto with words like 'irrelevant'. Watch out for these really strong words, as they'll guide what answers you can and cannot pick.

3) I'm feeling generous, so also watch out for committing an absence of evidence fallacy. As far as fallacies go, this is the one that sounds the best to most people, so it's easy to commit. But just because you haven't proven something doesn't exist, doesn't mean it's true. And, more insidiously, just because you pointed out someone was lying about something doesn't mean that their conclusion isn't true. If I'm on the stand for murder, and you prove my alibi (I was cleaning baby seals coated with oil) was BS, that doesn't mean I committed the murder. I could have been buying crack from a prostitute and just don't want to admit that on the stand.

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bdeebs
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby bdeebs » Mon Aug 27, 2012 1:35 pm

senorhosh wrote:My advice is for those who are comfortable with doing LR but need that extra "push" to get over a plateau. If you're getting -10 on each LR section, this probably won't help. If you're looking to go from -4 to -1, it just might be what you're looking for.

Work backwards or in any order you are comfortable with.
There are so many nuances and small factors when taking a test that it's in your best interest to capitalize on every one of them. Even if it's psychological. Working backwards helps if you have timing issues or pressure issues.

Here's why:
First, you can see how many questions there are (25 or 26) and assess your time accordingly. Second, you can choose to tackle the more "difficult" problems first (#16-26) when you aren't pressed on time. When I first started prepping, I used to do LR in order, I would spend 15 minutes on #1-15, then 20 minutes on #16-26. The problem for me however, was sometimes 20 minutes wasn't enough for the last 10 problems.
I would then try to finish #1-15 as fast as possible, without checking. Then sometimes I realize #16-26 wasn't too difficult and I had much time left over. Then I wouldn't know which questions I had to check for #1-15. Other times, I wouldn't know how difficult #16-26 was and underestimated how "fast" I should do #1-15.

Doing LR backwards eliminated this issue. I would know exactly how much time #16-26 took, and then would do #1-15 accordingly. For me, when I was pressed on time, I scored higher if I did #1-15 under pressure and as fast as possible versus doing #16-26 in the same conditions.

Basically a simple example is:
Would you rather do 5 easy problems knowing the timer is going off in 3 minutes
or
3 difficult problems in the same condition?

I would rather do #1. That's just me personally. It helped (a lot, actually). I saw a huge score increase in LR as I was able to manage my time better. For me, #1-15 is usually much easier and I speed through those. Obviously, you should be familiar with your test taking style, which questions you get wrong, and other factors before doing this.
It's not for everyone but hopefully that helps.


I dislike this approach for two reasons. Both reasons are a result of my own testing style and tendencies, but I thought I would offer an opposing view as food for thought.

First, I like doing 1-15 first because it helps me warm up on easy questions. It usually takes me about 3 questions to get in the zone where certain thoughts (what is the question stem asking me to do, what is the main conclusion, what are the most common flaw types I can expect, etc.) become background processes in my brain. I would much rather get this out of the way on questions that require relatively little analysis to discern the right answer. Second, I'm an advocate of plucking the low hanging fruit. The way I test, I skip any question where the stimulus confuses me (due to wording or subject matter) or where I can't discern the reason that 1 of 2 answers is incorrect. This usually leaves me with about 6 extra minutes for 1-2 questions that completely baffle me, and I use the left over time to confirm my less than certain choices. I feel like going backwards would hamper my ability to do this because I would end up spending more time on the difficult questions than I currently do which would probably decrease my accuracy on the easier questions. But this is just a guess.

Even with the 5 in 3 vs 3 in 3 situation, I would rather be presented with 3 difficult problems in the last 3 minutes than 5 easy problems in the last 3 minutes. The reason is my relative confidence in answer choices in each scenario. In scenario 1, I would assume I have a 90% chance to get the 3 difficult questions correct, a 100% chance for 3 easy questions, and a 60% chance on 2 easy ones. This comes out to an expected value of 6.9 CR. In scenario 2, I would assume a 100% chance for the 5 easy questions, a 100% chance for 1 hard question, and a 60% chance on 2 hard questions for an expected value of 7.2. Even though it's a small difference, when combined with my reasons for starting early in the preceding paragraph, the choice is pretty clear for me.

Part of the beauty and difficulty of the test is that when you get to the point of trying to get from -4 to -0, it matters much less what works for everyone else and more what works for your particular testing tendencies.

rakeshow
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby rakeshow » Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:19 pm

there is some wonderful information in this!

I was wondering if anyone had any RC specific comments

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Cerebro
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Re: Psychological Tricks of LSAT

Postby Cerebro » Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:45 pm

The whole process of filling in your name and identification details at the beginning of the test is underrated as a psychological trick employed by the LSAT. The fact that the proctor makes everyone do this stuff in unison is absolutely mind numbing, and it may be difficult for some test takers to wake up their brains after sitting through this exercise.




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