some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Mik Ekim
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Mik Ekim » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:59 pm

thanks for the thanks. glad to be of use.

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boiseman
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby boiseman » Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:25 am

Mike,
Thanks for posting so much great info. I have perhaps an odd question... I am currently working through the LR guide (about 1/3 of the way through) and have come to the realization that I have a much higher likelihood of getting an answer choice correct (regardless of the type of question) if I am able to identify the reasoning structure of the stimulus. It appears that conditional and cause and effect reasoning dominate, with a few comparative reasoning structures sprinkled in. Do you have (or are you aware) data or a list containing the most common types of reasoning? Again I'm not referring to the actual question types or the task at hand (as it appears that some stimuli could be used interchangeable between several different question types), but how the stimulus actually draws its conclusion. If not, is this something that is necessary (or even helpful) in predicting the correct answer?
Thanks again for all the great insight.

before2day
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby before2day » Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:37 am

thank you mike, a great read, really appreciate the input and wisdom

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Ixiion
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Ixiion » Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:21 am

Wow, thank you, Mike! This is amazing. Thanks for taking the time to write this and answer questions.

Mik Ekim
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Mik Ekim » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:01 pm

boiseman wrote:Mike,
Thanks for posting so much great info. I have perhaps an odd question... I am currently working through the LR guide (about 1/3 of the way through) and have come to the realization that I have a much higher likelihood of getting an answer choice correct (regardless of the type of question) if I am able to identify the reasoning structure of the stimulus. It appears that conditional and cause and effect reasoning dominate, with a few comparative reasoning structures sprinkled in. Do you have (or are you aware) data or a list containing the most common types of reasoning? Again I'm not referring to the actual question types or the task at hand (as it appears that some stimuli could be used interchangeable between several different question types), but how the stimulus actually draws its conclusion. If not, is this something that is necessary (or even helpful) in predicting the correct answer?
Thanks again for all the great insight.


You are right -- for argument-based questions that require subjective analysis (per the manhattan books, the "assumption family"), which make up the majority of LR questions and an even higher majority of the most difficult LR questions -- reasoning structure is the key to everything. You could even argue that it's the only thing that really matters.

I think it's extremely helpful for test takers to think about reasoning structure in two distinctive phases, or tasks --

task 1: to objectively understand the reasoning structure that exists

your first job is to figure out exactly what the author's point is, and how he is trying to support it. for a variety of reasons, it is to your advantage to complete this step before you start evaluating the reasoning. the vast majority of test takers focus less on this step than they should, and when they do so the logical reasoning section seems far more difficult. keep in mind that lr is 50% a test of reading ability, and the primary way in which they test this ability is by having you organize aspects of the stimulus, and then by gauging (with right and wrong answers) whether you actually organized them correctly. a lot of the discussion in the argument core chapters of the book, and the "process for assumption family questions" chapter is meant to help you with habitualizing reading strategies that help objectively understand reasoning structure well.

(keep in mind certain questions only require an objective understanding, and will punish those who go beyond)

task 2: to figure out why the reasoning structure is flawed

this is the "money" step, and i think this is the step you were more interested in discussing --

in the flaw chapter of the book, you will see some samples of what we feel are the most common reasoning flaws that appear. we do not have a breakdown of all questions by flaw type, but i agree that would be extremely useful.

all flaws are based on common logical fallacies (the test writers can't just make up flaws -- logical fallacies are to LR writers what math formulas are to people who have to write math word problems), and I know that a lot of other prep companies teach the LSAT in terms of these logical fallacies -- so going outside of manhattan will give you a lot more information on this topic, if you are interested. i also believe i saw, a few years ago, a list on tls that some student had made with all the questions broken down by flaw type--perhaps someone can dig that up (bat signal for Kurst). staying within manhattan, if you ever want to hit up matt sherman on the forums for a discussion of this, i'm sure he can give you all the information you need and more --

a couple of related suggestions --

1) try to avoid the abstraction of flaws. abstraction (think--going to war against an "axis of evil" rather than actual countries for actual reasons) is in general not a good thing for situations that require subtle understanding. in general, unless you are part of the 1% of the population for whom terms like ad hominem, and affirming the consequent are intuitive (e.g. lsat teachers and philosophy majors), I would suggest that you come up with your own, more easily understandable, terms for flaw categories. it's not that you can't teach yourself what ad hominem is, it's just that your thinking of it will not be as intuitive as it could be in time for the test. avoiding the abstraction of flaws also means that as you are solving actual questions, you are using your understanding of categories to think about that particular flaw in that particular argument, rather than devoting your energy to correctly matching what you see to some general understanding.

I said before that LR questions are built around logical fallacies -- before I started teaching the LSAT, I knew of these logical fallacies as something else -- common sense. Abstraction prevents you from using your common sense to the fullest. In my experience, when students really get to know what questions require of them, and in particular when they develop reading habits that really match up well with the test, the reasoning issues become far simpler, and the vast majority of students find that their common sense is just find for handling almost all reasoning issues thrown their way. Make sure, as you learn more and more about how the test is constructed, that it doesn't take you away from your own instincts and abilities.

2) In terms of seeing the reasoning issue with an argument, I think that your mindset is as important as anything else. Often even without realizing it, a shocking number of LSAT-takers read LR arguments with a mindset of "how does the support justify the conclusion?" Other students read arguments with the mindset "is this conclusion justified?" Both of those mindsets put you at a huge disadvantage.

Every time you are asked to be critical, your mindset needs to be "Why does the conclusion not absolutely have to be true based on the support given?" Stay in this mindset for two+ months of studying, and the flaws will just jump at you. Some mantras that are very effective for staying in this mindset at "he's failing to consider..." and "he takes for granted..." Every single flaw can be thought of in at least one of these terms, and saying them to yourself can get you going in terms of figuring out the flaw.

Oh boy -- I mean to write one paragraph and this is what happened. Anyway, sorry for the rambling and I hope that was the information you were looking for -- let me know if I missed the mark or if you have a follow up.

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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby kaseyb002 » Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:16 pm

Mik Ekim wrote:2) In terms of seeing the reasoning issue with an argument, I think that your mindset is as important as anything else. Often even without realizing it, a shocking number of LSAT-takers read LR arguments with a mindset of "how does the support justify the conclusion?" Other students read arguments with the mindset "is this conclusion justified?" Both of those mindsets put you at a huge disadvantage.

Every time you are asked to be critical, your mindset needs to be "Why does the conclusion not absolutely have to be true based on the support given?" Stay in this mindset for two+ months of studying, and the flaws will just jump at you. Some mantras that are very effective for staying in this mindset at "he's failing to consider..." and "he takes for granted..." Every single flaw can be thought of in at least one of these terms, and saying them to yourself can get you going in terms of figuring out the flaw.


Didn't read the whole post, but big +1 for this. Velocity helped me get in that mindset and it's made all the difference.

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cloudhidden
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby cloudhidden » Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:53 pm

I want to second the gratitude on here for your wonderful insight and products.

This test has become an initiation rite and my room a shrine for all things LSAT. However, I'm still banging my head against the 170 wall. I've even been as far as one question short on multiple practice attempts. One of the understated challenges of the test that you may have alluded to in your discussion about mental discipline has been to fire on all cylinders for four (five if you include the experimental) sections in a row. It's easy to isolate a few perfect sections here and there and think, well this could all happen together on test day. I would have smashed 170 on my last two prep tests if it weren't for one anomolous section. The ironic thing has been that that section has been of the same section type that I included as an experimental and occured sequentially sometime after that experimental section. Ironically, in both cases I aced the experimental but bombed the scored section. Rather than mistaking this as some fluke coincidence, I believe that this trend underscores the difficulty of having enough mastery (and perhaps endurance) to string together superior after superior sections.

I wanted to also comment on another interesting phenomonon that I have recently noticed: RC and LG have swapped places as my best and worst sections, respectively. Although it feels like I've had to climb a mountain to get where I'm at on LG, my euphoria has been dimmed by RC woes. I must have done over 50 sections worth of passages at this point without noticeable progress. Sometimes I ace them, other times I rush through the final passage and miss seven questions.

Wheras on LR I have greatly benefited (and many props to your company for empasizing this strategy) by instantly breaking the stimulus apart into the support, the conclusion, and the gaps; RC still seems too ponderous, too diffuse, to solve mechanically. I have sharpened my instincts on LR to a level that approaches unconscious competence and I grasp the relative certainty level I can expect from question to question, but on RC I feel like I walk on eggshells throughout the questions: three choices may seem appealing on a main point question, I slow to a crawl on some inferrence questions, etc.

I take heart in reading how you think some people might overdo the passage in attempting to understand unnecessary subtlities. And while it can seem like blasphemy to some people, I have found annotation to be mostly counter-productive. I try to mark up the passage as I go along and the back-and-fourth detracts from my focus. Although in the end I may retain more, I lose a good minute or so, and that certainly adds up. I used to never have timing issues, now thay have become expected.

I'm beginning to presume that the problem might arise from the fact that I actually have an unconscious understanding of what's relevant, but in trying to think though it while reading, I actually complicate the matter. Have you worked with any students who found switching from a LR mindset to RC one especially troubling? I don't know if my words have done any justice, but something about RC continues to baffle me. Would you suggest reviewing answer explanations as intensely as one might for LR? Have you ever heard of someone organizing questions by type and then drilling them as they might for LR? I know this last tactic would be tremendously time-consuming but I simply will not let RC compromise my score. Thank you very much again for your contribution toward helping us realize our goals!

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Ixiion
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Ixiion » Sat Sep 01, 2012 8:51 am

I have a lot of issues with LR, don't get me wrong - but one of my biggest issues on LR & RC seems to be second-guessing/doubting my answers. For once, I finished a LR section with 6 minutes left (and I really don't know how I did that.) I ended up using that time to review the questions I had circled. I erased some of the correct answers and ended up putting in the wrong ones, resulting in my worst LR section since I started. But this happens all the time even without review, just while I'm actually answering it for the first time. And this isn't just on the LSAT - I do this on all my school tests, too.

Ended up getting a 170, but that score could have easily been 173 had I not reviewed those questions. I don't know how to stop doing it. I always tell myself not to, but I do it anyway. Any advice on this?

Techsan23
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Techsan23 » Sat Sep 01, 2012 2:48 pm

Ixiion wrote:I have a lot of issues with LR, don't get me wrong - but one of my biggest issues on LR & RC seems to be second-guessing/doubting my answers. For once, I finished a LR section with 6 minutes left (and I really don't know how I did that.) I ended up using that time to review the questions I had circled. I erased some of the correct answers and ended up putting in the wrong ones, resulting in my worst LR section since I started. But this happens all the time even without review, just while I'm actually answering it for the first time. And this isn't just on the LSAT - I do this on all my school tests, too.

Ended up getting a 170, but that score could have easily been 173 had I not reviewed those questions. I don't know how to stop doing it. I always tell myself not to, but I do it anyway. Any advice on this?


Trust your instinct. It has helped me tremendously. You've practiced enough to where your subconscious knows what it needs to be doing. When I start thinking about questions I start missing them because I'm messing with the flow of my natural thought process. Just leave your first answer and move on and leave it at that. Don't change an answer unless you're 100% sure that the new answer is correct. It takes a few PTs to get in the mindset but it worked out for me. Hope that helps.

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cloudhidden
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby cloudhidden » Sat Sep 01, 2012 3:08 pm

I agree with the previous poster. I would only change an answer if I find something new in the core or I had an unclear understanding of the core in the first place. Provided that you did sufficient prepatory work, trusting your instincts is the way to go. In actuality, taking the section under timed conditions can be relatively painless. The arduous work is in mulling over the reasoning during untimed prep/ review, but that process allows you to trust your instincts.

Mik Ekim
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Mik Ekim » Mon Sep 03, 2012 1:06 pm

cloudhidden wrote:I want to second the gratitude on here for your wonderful insight and products.

This test has become an initiation rite and my room a shrine for all things LSAT. However, I'm still banging my head against the 170 wall. I've even been as far as one question short on multiple practice attempts. One of the understated challenges of the test that you may have alluded to in your discussion about mental discipline has been to fire on all cylinders for four (five if you include the experimental) sections in a row. It's easy to isolate a few perfect sections here and there and think, well this could all happen together on test day. I would have smashed 170 on my last two prep tests if it weren't for one anomolous section. The ironic thing has been that that section has been of the same section type that I included as an experimental and occured sequentially sometime after that experimental section. Ironically, in both cases I aced the experimental but bombed the scored section. Rather than mistaking this as some fluke coincidence, I believe that this trend underscores the difficulty of having enough mastery (and perhaps endurance) to string together superior after superior sections.

I wanted to also comment on another interesting phenomonon that I have recently noticed: RC and LG have swapped places as my best and worst sections, respectively. Although it feels like I've had to climb a mountain to get where I'm at on LG, my euphoria has been dimmed by RC woes. I must have done over 50 sections worth of passages at this point without noticeable progress. Sometimes I ace them, other times I rush through the final passage and miss seven questions.

Wheras on LR I have greatly benefited (and many props to your company for empasizing this strategy) by instantly breaking the stimulus apart into the support, the conclusion, and the gaps; RC still seems too ponderous, too diffuse, to solve mechanically. I have sharpened my instincts on LR to a level that approaches unconscious competence and I grasp the relative certainty level I can expect from question to question, but on RC I feel like I walk on eggshells throughout the questions: three choices may seem appealing on a main point question, I slow to a crawl on some inferrence questions, etc.

I take heart in reading how you think some people might overdo the passage in attempting to understand unnecessary subtlities. And while it can seem like blasphemy to some people, I have found annotation to be mostly counter-productive. I try to mark up the passage as I go along and the back-and-fourth detracts from my focus. Although in the end I may retain more, I lose a good minute or so, and that certainly adds up. I used to never have timing issues, now thay have become expected.

I'm beginning to presume that the problem might arise from the fact that I actually have an unconscious understanding of what's relevant, but in trying to think though it while reading, I actually complicate the matter. Have you worked with any students who found switching from a LR mindset to RC one especially troubling? I don't know if my words have done any justice, but something about RC continues to baffle me. Would you suggest reviewing answer explanations as intensely as one might for LR? Have you ever heard of someone organizing questions by type and then drilling them as they might for LR? I know this last tactic would be tremendously time-consuming but I simply will not let RC compromise my score. Thank you very much again for your contribution toward helping us realize our goals!


I appreciate the careful write-up -- helps me see your situation more clearly -- I could spend a 100 pages commenting on some of the things you brought up, but I want to highlight the points that were most important to me --

You mentioned two things that are very interesting to me when you put them together -- 1) you've done 50 or so sections of RC and are not seeing significant improvement & 2) you'll sometimes find three answers appealing on a main point question -- I think the big thing that may be holding you back is how you approach the initial read of the passage --

As I wrote previously in this thread, I think it's extremely important to focus on reasoning structure as you read a passage. If you do so correctly, you should be able to see that almost all questions are related to reasoning structure in some way -- even when you are asked about a specific detail, it tends to be about how that specific detail relates to the reasoning structure of the passage as a whole.

Here is a good test for you -- when you are done with a passage, you should be able to move your eyes through it and, in about five seconds or less, see clearly the overall reasoning structure (example might be: 1st p: bg, 1st point, 2nd p - opposition to first point, then second point, 3rd p- more support for second point, example of application). You should be able to do this every single time. If you can't, you want to spend more time focusing on reasoning structure, and less time focusing on everything else, during your read.

There are two barometer-type questions that, to me, really indicate whether students are attacking questions properly --
for LR, it is the flaw problem -- if you are in the ideal mindset for LR, you should be able to see the flaw for any flaw question, and you should be able to correctly predict the right answer (substance, not wording) every single time. If you can get to this point, you have the skills to be good at all other questions (at that point, improvement is just a matter of properly matching skills to tasks). The answers to flaw problems represent what I am thinking every time I read any argument based LR question.

for RC, it is the purpose of the passage question -- if you are in the ideal mindset for RC, you should be able to see the passage structure and purpose very clearly, and you should be able to predict the right answer (substance, not wording). The answer to a purpose question generally represents exactly what I am thinking about a passage. The fact that you are having a difficult time with these questions, I believe, is directly tied in to your inconsistency. Make it your goal to read RC passages so that you can always answer main purpose questions correctly. If you are able to do so, that will be a sign that you are reading effectively, and you should be able to see a more significant connection between your read and all various questions, and also between your practice and your improvement.

I realize I may be off the mark, so let me know if I am and I'll try to follow up -- good luck.

Mik Ekim
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Mik Ekim » Mon Sep 03, 2012 1:33 pm

Ixiion wrote:I have a lot of issues with LR, don't get me wrong - but one of my biggest issues on LR & RC seems to be second-guessing/doubting my answers. For once, I finished a LR section with 6 minutes left (and I really don't know how I did that.) I ended up using that time to review the questions I had circled. I erased some of the correct answers and ended up putting in the wrong ones, resulting in my worst LR section since I started. But this happens all the time even without review, just while I'm actually answering it for the first time. And this isn't just on the LSAT - I do this on all my school tests, too.

Ended up getting a 170, but that score could have easily been 173 had I not reviewed those questions. I don't know how to stop doing it. I always tell myself not to, but I do it anyway. Any advice on this?


I agree w/what the other posters have said --

Of course, I have a few more thoughts --

1) in general, by the time you get stuck between two answers, or by the time you are second-guessing yourself, the % chance you will get the question right has already decreased significantly (and, if you end up second-guessing yourself, it's very unlikely you will end up feeling 100% confident of the answer you pick one way or the other). Such a situation is, I mentioned before, generally a consequence of problems, rather than a problem itself.

so, make sure you do everything you can in your previous steps to ensure that you end up in a situation of doubt as little as possible. one suggestion i have for this is to really focus on the process of eliminating incorrect choices before selecting the right choice -- I feel absolutely certain that if I didn't do this I would accidentally miss a question or two per section -- now, keep in mind that most of the time I am going through the elimination process, I have a very good sense of what the right answer will be. However, by going through a step in which I look for specific reasons why answers are wrong before I really let myself like any one answer too much, I really up my accuracy, and I think I really decrease my likelihood of getting stuck between two choices.

2) what is it that causes the second-guessing? a lot of times it's a conflict between our conscious plan and our instinct. other times it's a conflict between strategies you haven't aligned correctly in your head (i.e. the characteristic of a right answer to a particular type of question happens to be, in general, a characteristic that is common to wrong answers overall, and so you don't know how to feel about it). one way to combat this is by taking inventory of all of your strategies, and of all that you know, to make sure that everything is in alignment, and to make sure that, at this point in the game, all strategies that need to be intuitive are intuitive. If at this point you are still doing something in your strategy just because a book or a teacher told you to, you need to really look at that and make sure it's something that works for you.

the other way to combat this is to have confidence, as the other posters have said. It's always amazing to me the disconnect that exists (even within myself) between ability and confidence -- on one end there are 170 level scorers (like yourself) who second-guess answers, and on the other end are 150 scores who come to me convinced that the problems are written wrong --

you score is already at a level that is beyond impressive -- in terms of the LSAT, you are a six' five" quarterback with a rocket arm -- you are eli! you should trust in the fact that you have all the skills necessary to get every single question right, and just work to make sure that you can take test as intuitively and confidently as possible.

3) if you do end up having to decide between two answers, do not get caught in the trap of just thinking about the answers relative to one another --that is, don't sit there going back and forth between the answers thinking about which answer is better. that will lead you to mistakes. (you can compare them to notice important characteristics, but beyond that you ought to only be thinking about how the answers relate to the stimulus.)

LSAT LR questions are not meant to have better and best answers -- they are meant to have four wrong answers and one right answer. Even down to two choices, focus on finding reasons why they are right or (more importantly) wrong relative to the argument. Picking an answer should be a matter of seeing what is right about one answer, or wrong about another, not about seeing what is better about one or the other.

A last point I want to make is to try and relieve the build-up of stress --

Every time you answer a question, you have stress (I have to get this right) and relief (yay, I got this right). But, as you know from life, stress lingers in us, long after we've found solutions to things. During a standardized test, we are capable of building up an enormous amount of stress.

To combat this, I think it's really helpful to try, as much as possible, to be done with a question when you are done with it. If you happen to have a few minutes at the end of a section to go back, great, but don't mark eight questions to go back to -- the mindset that leads to that guarantees you will take the exam with more pressure than you should. HTH and good luck.

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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby b33eazy » Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:27 pm

I actually have a question. The LR is what is killing me the most. I just don't understand how to find the gap. I can find the conclusion just find, but it is difficult for me to find what is missing. For example, I have bought all three books and am part way through LR and on the assumptions necessary and sufficient. I have a little trouble figuring out exactly what's needed. The example you mentioned about a pants costing $40 and have at least $20 and having exactly $20 seemed easy until I actually had to apply that to LSAT questionss and the problem continued for flaw, strengthen,weaken, etc. I have trouble piecing it all together..

Mik Ekim
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Mik Ekim » Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:55 pm

b33eazy wrote:I actually have a question. The LR is what is killing me the most. I just don't understand how to find the gap. I can find the conclusion just find, but it is difficult for me to find what is missing. For example, I have bought all three books and am part way through LR and on the assumptions necessary and sufficient. I have a little trouble figuring out exactly what's needed. The example you mentioned about a pants costing $40 and have at least $20 and having exactly $20 seemed easy until I actually had to apply that to LSAT questionss and the problem continued for flaw, strengthen,weaken, etc. I have trouble piecing it all together..


I wrote some thoughts about this in a post above, but of course I have other thoughts -- but two questions for you so i can better help -- 1) out of every 10 or so assumption family questions, for how many are you able to see the gap, and for how many are you not? 2) have you read the problem-solving process for assumption family q's chapter yet?

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Ixiion
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Ixiion » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:45 pm

Thanks, Mike. That was all helpful. & Thanks to the 2 previous posters -- I'm trying! :)

I definitely do think that a substantial portion of this is a lack of confidence. Lately, I've been feeling discouraged. I've only improved 2-3 points over my cold diagnostic score. I'm still consistently scoring a 170 avg, with my lowest being 169 and highest being 171. It's been like this for the last month or two, so this complete lack of improvement has started to get to me, at least psychologically. I've also gone on a weird trend. 2 weeks ago, I was getting -3 per LR section for a combined -6. The two most recent tests, I went -6/-5 on the first LR sections and then -0/-1 on the second sections. I don't know why.

When I'm torn between 2 choices, I only really understand why it was wrong after I know which one was right. Hindsight is 20/20, right? I've decided to take the test in December rather than Oct, due to the lack of improvement. So... I think I'm going to do only one PT a week until I read & finish the LR book, because I haven't done that yet. I think I'm still taking PTs with the exact same mindset as I did when I took it cold, with maybe just a tad more information to help me move faster - not more accurately.

Would you agree with this idea/strategy?

Mik Ekim wrote:you score is already at a level that is beyond impressive -- in terms of the LSAT, you are a six' five" quarterback with a rocket arm -- you are eli!

FYI - I absolutely love this. Haha! I needed that laugh, thanks. This really brightened my day. "I BELIEVE IN ELI!"

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cloudhidden
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby cloudhidden » Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:18 pm

Mik Ekim wrote:
cloudhidden wrote:I want to second the gratitude on here for your wonderful insight and products.

This test has become an initiation rite and my room a shrine for all things LSAT. However, I'm still banging my head against the 170 wall. I've even been as far as one question short on multiple practice attempts. One of the understated challenges of the test that you may have alluded to in your discussion about mental discipline has been to fire on all cylinders for four (five if you include the experimental) sections in a row. It's easy to isolate a few perfect sections here and there and think, well this could all happen together on test day. I would have smashed 170 on my last two prep tests if it weren't for one anomolous section. The ironic thing has been that that section has been of the same section type that I included as an experimental and occured sequentially sometime after that experimental section. Ironically, in both cases I aced the experimental but bombed the scored section. Rather than mistaking this as some fluke coincidence, I believe that this trend underscores the difficulty of having enough mastery (and perhaps endurance) to string together superior after superior sections.

I wanted to also comment on another interesting phenomonon that I have recently noticed: RC and LG have swapped places as my best and worst sections, respectively. Although it feels like I've had to climb a mountain to get where I'm at on LG, my euphoria has been dimmed by RC woes. I must have done over 50 sections worth of passages at this point without noticeable progress. Sometimes I ace them, other times I rush through the final passage and miss seven questions.

Wheras on LR I have greatly benefited (and many props to your company for empasizing this strategy) by instantly breaking the stimulus apart into the support, the conclusion, and the gaps; RC still seems too ponderous, too diffuse, to solve mechanically. I have sharpened my instincts on LR to a level that approaches unconscious competence and I grasp the relative certainty level I can expect from question to question, but on RC I feel like I walk on eggshells throughout the questions: three choices may seem appealing on a main point question, I slow to a crawl on some inferrence questions, etc.

I take heart in reading how you think some people might overdo the passage in attempting to understand unnecessary subtlities. And while it can seem like blasphemy to some people, I have found annotation to be mostly counter-productive. I try to mark up the passage as I go along and the back-and-fourth detracts from my focus. Although in the end I may retain more, I lose a good minute or so, and that certainly adds up. I used to never have timing issues, now thay have become expected.

I'm beginning to presume that the problem might arise from the fact that I actually have an unconscious understanding of what's relevant, but in trying to think though it while reading, I actually complicate the matter. Have you worked with any students who found switching from a LR mindset to RC one especially troubling? I don't know if my words have done any justice, but something about RC continues to baffle me. Would you suggest reviewing answer explanations as intensely as one might for LR? Have you ever heard of someone organizing questions by type and then drilling them as they might for LR? I know this last tactic would be tremendously time-consuming but I simply will not let RC compromise my score. Thank you very much again for your contribution toward helping us realize our goals!


I appreciate the careful write-up -- helps me see your situation more clearly -- I could spend a 100 pages commenting on some of the things you brought up, but I want to highlight the points that were most important to me --

You mentioned two things that are very interesting to me when you put them together -- 1) you've done 50 or so sections of RC and are not seeing significant improvement & 2) you'll sometimes find three answers appealing on a main point question -- I think the big thing that may be holding you back is how you approach the initial read of the passage --

As I wrote previously in this thread, I think it's extremely important to focus on reasoning structure as you read a passage. If you do so correctly, you should be able to see that almost all questions are related to reasoning structure in some way -- even when you are asked about a specific detail, it tends to be about how that specific detail relates to the reasoning structure of the passage as a whole.

Here is a good test for you -- when you are done with a passage, you should be able to move your eyes through it and, in about five seconds or less, see clearly the overall reasoning structure (example might be: 1st p: bg, 1st point, 2nd p - opposition to first point, then second point, 3rd p- more support for second point, example of application). You should be able to do this every single time. If you can't, you want to spend more time focusing on reasoning structure, and less time focusing on everything else, during your read.

There are two barometer-type questions that, to me, really indicate whether students are attacking questions properly --
for LR, it is the flaw problem -- if you are in the ideal mindset for LR, you should be able to see the flaw for any flaw question, and you should be able to correctly predict the right answer (substance, not wording) every single time. If you can get to this point, you have the skills to be good at all other questions (at that point, improvement is just a matter of properly matching skills to tasks). The answers to flaw problems represent what I am thinking every time I read any argument based LR question.

for RC, it is the purpose of the passage question -- if you are in the ideal mindset for RC, you should be able to see the passage structure and purpose very clearly, and you should be able to predict the right answer (substance, not wording). The answer to a purpose question generally represents exactly what I am thinking about a passage. The fact that you are having a difficult time with these questions, I believe, is directly tied in to your inconsistency. Make it your goal to read RC passages so that you can always answer main purpose questions correctly. If you are able to do so, that will be a sign that you are reading effectively, and you should be able to see a more significant connection between your read and all various questions, and also between your practice and your improvement.

I realize I may be off the mark, so let me know if I am and I'll try to follow up -- good luck.



Kudos for your help, I appreciate the detailed reply. I have taken RC for granted. That might seem paradoxical considering the volume of sections that I have gone through, but they don't hand out brownie points for having practiced x amount of passages! Rather, I mean that I have not made it a priority to develop a consistent strategy. And while I feel like I have taken steps toward mastery in LR and LG, RC can still feel like a crapshoot.

Part of this may result from how much information you have to sort through on the section. Whereas on LR you get condensed "packets" of information, on RC there exists a greater possibility of getting lost in extraneous matters. My LG performance spiked after I realized how many of my thought processes were roundabout and wasted needed time, and I feel like I could use some of the same medicine on RC.

While I know what I should be reading for, in actuality, I find myself trying to absorb as much information as possible and thinking that I can sort it out by working through the questions. I almost feel like I'm reading for encyclepedic knowledge and not for specifically tested skills. Interestingly, I noticed that a disproportionate amount of my misses stem from the problems that I don't work from wrong answers to right, and I think that may have something to do with not having that clearly defined process. Being able to answer identification questions without referring back to the passage has encouraged bad habits, because I say to myself "see, look how much you can retain now" when that can often come at the expense of clearer understanding of the purpose in the passage.

That's not to say that I don't think about the bigger issues in the passage, but just that that process may have dulled over time. I find your suggestion about quickly testing myself on the overall reasoning structure particularly illuminating because I always seem to have such a working knowledge in my mind, but it runs together and gets jumbled.

I miss few main point questions, but I still think it's telling that I can get waylaid by as many tempting answers. I want to get more methodical on this section and see through the surface content and into the abstract pattens. I have long realized how interchangable LR questions can seem when you simply recognize the variation on a concept you already understand. Same thing for LG. I think I need to train myself to focus on the way the passage relates together, and how those relations form in predictable patterns.

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Ixiion
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Ixiion » Tue Sep 04, 2012 6:30 am

That's not to say that I don't think about the bigger issues in the passage, but just that that process may have dulled over time. I find your suggestion about quickly testing myself on the overall reasoning structure particularly illuminating because I always seem to have such a working knowledge in my mind, but it runs together and gets jumbled.


I don't know if this will help you, but what I've started to do is to make a quick note next to every, let's say, structure/reasoning change.
So, I'll have an arrow next to the first P that says "arg1" for argument one, then another next to the second "arg2, undermining 1", etc. Same for opinions, premises, conclusions. if there's particularly strong language on the part of the author, I'll circle it and write "author tone" so if I'm asked what the author might agree with, I have a quick reference to his tone, etc.

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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby b33eazy » Tue Sep 04, 2012 5:58 pm

Mik Ekim wrote:
b33eazy wrote:I actually have a question. The LR is what is killing me the most. I just don't understand how to find the gap. I can find the conclusion just find, but it is difficult for me to find what is missing. For example, I have bought all three books and am part way through LR and on the assumptions necessary and sufficient. I have a little trouble figuring out exactly what's needed. The example you mentioned about a pants costing $40 and have at least $20 and having exactly $20 seemed easy until I actually had to apply that to LSAT questionss and the problem continued for flaw, strengthen,weaken, etc. I have trouble piecing it all together..


I wrote some thoughts about this in a post above, but of course I have other thoughts -- but two questions for you so i can better help -- 1) out of every 10 or so assumption family questions, for how many are you able to see the gap, and for how many are you not? 2) have you read the problem-solving process for assumption family q's chapter yet?


1. I would say that I am at 50/50 so far sometimes worse. And I would say that I do see the gap in 20/20 hindsight but that's as far as it's went for me.

2. I have not read the problem-solving chapter yet.. I am on the flaw chapter right now.. And so far I have been doing poorly.

M.M.
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby M.M. » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:13 pm

Mik Ekim wrote:
M.M. wrote:This is why I <3 TLS.

Thanks Mike. I actually just bought the set of 3 Manhattan guides on Sunday; they should be coming in the mail by this Friday and I can't wait. The October test is looming and I'm still quite a bit away from where I want to be, but I've heard nothing but good things about your program, so I am optimistic - and sure as hell not going to give up without a fight.

What I like most of all is the advice on reviewing. I am finding it hard to review productively, honestly. I literally have almost no idea how to review for RC, Logic Games I just seem to need to work faster and make sure that my answer choice is proven before committing to it (as I sometimes see that "B looks good and the rest look wrong" so I pick B without putting in all the work without fully proving it), and with Logical Reasoning I have tried the strategy of looking at every question I got wrong / questions that were difficult and, after reading the Princeton review explanation of those questions, re-reading the question myself and writing out next to each answer choice why they were wrong.

I will be using your criteria to review, as I not only have heard nothing but good things about your materials, but obviously it is a much more elaborate and well thought out method (and obviously for RC and LG, it's better than nothing :D)

Don't apologize about the long replies - User Ixiion and I were just joking about this - as future attorneys we're going to have to get used to reading walls of text!

One more thing - upon taking my first practice test in a long time, I was nearly hysterical at the results, and posted this thread:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=192170&p=5831913#p5831913

I have gotten slightly better at LR, but could you give me your thoughts on the questions inside?

Also - I will be using your books shortly, but if I don't score to what I think I should I was considering another prep course by Manhattan. Obviously you have an interest in me purchasing one, but I feel that I can expect a non biased response from you here when I ask:
1. Would I gain much, having already taken a course and having scored 165?
2. Would I just be going over the material I've already learned in your books?
3. Would I be going over a lot of questions I've done in a Princeton Review course? (Obviously this one might be harder to answer)
4. Overall do you think it'd help me?

I just think that the interaction of a course - being able to have my questions answered thoroughly, having an instructor explain each one, being forced to stay focused, etc. was beneficial from my Princeton Review course, and I've never been amazing at self teaching, especially, as you can see, at stuff like reviewing my mistakes and where I'm going wrong.

Thanks a ton.


I read through the post you linked to -- it sounds like you are in a tough spot -- I can just imagine the wave you've gone through -- you felt on pace earlier on in your process, and now here comes the finish line, and you suddenly find you are going backwards --

Here are the things that I think are most helpful for the general questions you are asking -- let me know if I missed anything important --

- I think that the main benefit you will get from taking a manhattan class is pretty much exactly what you said -- you get some experience with someone who is really in-tune with the exam, and the type of back and forth interaction you get facilitates a great deal of super-efficient learning.

- however, learning--understanding better the issues on the exam and the best strategies for the exam--is a necessary but not sufficient aspect of performing well. You won't do much better on the exam just because you know more --

- you get better at the lsat by getting better at the lsat. it's very much like working out to get in shape. it helps to have the best trainer, and to know the best techniques, but what actually determines whether you get in shape is the work that you do yourself.

- you mentioned that your score went down a bit after you spent some time not studying as intensely -- that's perfectly understandable -- you get out of shape when you work out less.

- it's also understandable that your score dips a bit after you learn new systems or change approaches. Using new strategies and thinking about new things forces you to take your next exam on a more "conscious" level -- this hurts because it prevents you from fully taking advantage of your own advanced, intuitive, thinking habits. With more and more work, expect that you will naturally develop new habits that better align with the systems you are learning, and expect your score to go up as a consequence.

- so here's my point: i think a class is a great aid, and of course i happen to think that you can't get better than manhattan. however, whether you take a course or not, your score is going to be based on how good you get at solving problems in real time -- it's going to depend on the work you do outside of class. do a ton of category-specific questions, and work on integrating them into full practice tests. it's clear you've got the natural aptitude for the exam -- make sure that you make the development of skills and habits your primary focus for a few weeks, and see where your score is at that point. HTH -- again, feel free to tell me if i'm off the mark in terms of what you need, or if you have any other q's.


Thanks again for this.

I have another question. People have been pretty unanimous in their advice to me not to take a prep course, saying that since I have already scored well into the 160s I know the basics that the course would merely reinforce. If I don't get my score in October, how much do you think spending the equivalent price of a course in tutoring would aid me? Obviously this is a tough question to answer, but say I paid for 10 hours of tutoring with an average (not necessarily MLSAT's) tutor, costing about a grand. Have you had experience with many students who took tutoring and made good gains? Are they usually successful? I would want the tutor to focus on teaching me how to

- review (probably the most important)
- Get better at specific LR questions (assumptions comprise 40% of the questions I miss, Inference / Must Be True questions 15%, Paradox 10%, logical flaw 10% so it'd focus on those)
- Get better at games in general, but in particular on speed and "plug and chug" - I can finish three games in the time limit and only get 1 question wrong or so on each of them but then the fourth game kills me

I don't live in a major city, so the tutoring would likely be online... unfortunately. But do you think it'd help significantly?

Mik Ekim
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Mik Ekim » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:42 pm

Ixiion wrote:Thanks, Mike. That was all helpful. & Thanks to the 2 previous posters -- I'm trying! :)

I definitely do think that a substantial portion of this is a lack of confidence. Lately, I've been feeling discouraged. I've only improved 2-3 points over my cold diagnostic score. I'm still consistently scoring a 170 avg, with my lowest being 169 and highest being 171. It's been like this for the last month or two, so this complete lack of improvement has started to get to me, at least psychologically. I've also gone on a weird trend. 2 weeks ago, I was getting -3 per LR section for a combined -6. The two most recent tests, I went -6/-5 on the first LR sections and then -0/-1 on the second sections. I don't know why.

When I'm torn between 2 choices, I only really understand why it was wrong after I know which one was right. Hindsight is 20/20, right? I've decided to take the test in December rather than Oct, due to the lack of improvement. So... I think I'm going to do only one PT a week until I read & finish the LR book, because I haven't done that yet. I think I'm still taking PTs with the exact same mindset as I did when I took it cold, with maybe just a tad more information to help me move faster - not more accurately.

Would you agree with this idea/strategy?

Mik Ekim wrote:you score is already at a level that is beyond impressive -- in terms of the LSAT, you are a six' five" quarterback with a rocket arm -- you are eli!

FYI - I absolutely love this. Haha! I needed that laugh, thanks. This really brightened my day. "I BELIEVE IN ELI!"


Glad to be helpful -- In terms of your strategy, I think, if you are going to take it in Dec, you have some time to get in question-specific drilling before you move on to full PT's, and if you want to change the way you solve certain problems, this is really the key.

To use another sports analogy -- you are trying to go from an 85% free throw shooter to a 90% free throw shooter -- the difference between the two isn't necessarily a difference of ability, it's one of consistency --

You want to get just a little bit more consistent with each type of question, and I think drilling sets of the same question can be very helpful for that (and you can integrate that into your book work, so that, say, after you do the flaw chapter, you do a bunch of flaw questions) --

I also think it's very good practice to integrate the questions together slowly and carefully -- so, you might do a batch of "assumption family questions," or a batch of "objective questions" and very consciously fold q's together.

To put some pressure on you -- starting off where you did, I really think you have no excuse for scoring anywhere less than 175 -- the improvement is absolutely do-able, and it's not magic -- it's just a matter of work. Make sure you are active about making changes to how you think about and solve questions.
Last edited by Mik Ekim on Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mik Ekim
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Mik Ekim » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:56 pm

b33eazy wrote:
Mik Ekim wrote:
b33eazy wrote:I actually have a question. The LR is what is killing me the most. I just don't understand how to find the gap. I can find the conclusion just find, but it is difficult for me to find what is missing. For example, I have bought all three books and am part way through LR and on the assumptions necessary and sufficient. I have a little trouble figuring out exactly what's needed. The example you mentioned about a pants costing $40 and have at least $20 and having exactly $20 seemed easy until I actually had to apply that to LSAT questionss and the problem continued for flaw, strengthen,weaken, etc. I have trouble piecing it all together..


I wrote some thoughts about this in a post above, but of course I have other thoughts -- but two questions for you so i can better help -- 1) out of every 10 or so assumption family questions, for how many are you able to see the gap, and for how many are you not? 2) have you read the problem-solving process for assumption family q's chapter yet?


1. I would say that I am at 50/50 so far sometimes worse. And I would say that I do see the gap in 20/20 hindsight but that's as far as it's went for me.

2. I have not read the problem-solving chapter yet.. I am on the flaw chapter right now.. And so far I have been doing poorly.


Thanks for the information --

You are certainly correct in saying that you are having trouble seeing the gap, and you are correct in thinking that is the big impediment to improvement. I think, if you are having that much trouble, this should really be the primary issue you think about when you study the LSAT. Improve at seeing the gap (and I expect you will) and you will definitely find questions to be far easier.

Of course, I don't know exactly what is causing you trouble, but here are the general steps necessary to see the gap correctly --

1) you need to read correctly to identify the argument -- more specifically, this means being able to separate out the conclusion and support from everything else. in my experience, this is, overwhelmingly, the key issue for all students at all levels.

2) you need to be in the right mindset. the author is saying that that little piece of information he is using is enough to absolutely validate his point. in every single instance, you will know that it is not -- why is it not?

3) you need to understand why argument flaws are flaws -- that is, as you look at the relationship between support and conclusion, you need to know what types of problems you are looking for. there is some general discussion of this in the flaw chapter, and other companies offer more formal descriptions of flaws.

one breakdown of flaws that i find to be helpful is as follows:
1) jumps to a conclusion -- john is tall. he must be good at basketball.
2) mistakes apples for oranges -- john likes tim, so tim must like john.
3) thinks 1 + 1 = 3 -- frank is the tallest in his family, and sharon the shortest in hers, so frank must be taller than sharon.

every single flaw u see on the test can be seen as falling into at least one of the three above categories.

use whatever system or systems you feel most comfortable with, and really work on seeing that gap in every assumption family q --

one study suggestion i have -- go back through all subjective-argument-based-questions that you have already done in your homework and pt's -- for each one, practice finding exactly what is wrong with the support/conclusion relationship, then review exactly how the question stem and right answer relate to the gap you saw. This isn't work that is a whole lot of fun, but I do think it will be very informative. Good luck.

Mik Ekim
Posts: 102
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Mik Ekim » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:06 pm

[quote/]Thanks again for this.

I have another question. People have been pretty unanimous in their advice to me not to take a prep course, saying that since I have already scored well into the 160s I know the basics that the course would merely reinforce. If I don't get my score in October, how much do you think spending the equivalent price of a course in tutoring would aid me? Obviously this is a tough question to answer, but say I paid for 10 hours of tutoring with an average (not necessarily MLSAT's) tutor, costing about a grand. Have you had experience with many students who took tutoring and made good gains? Are they usually successful? I would want the tutor to focus on teaching me how to

- review (probably the most important)
- Get better at specific LR questions (assumptions comprise 40% of the questions I miss, Inference / Must Be True questions 15%, Paradox 10%, logical flaw 10% so it'd focus on those)
- Get better at games in general, but in particular on speed and "plug and chug" - I can finish three games in the time limit and only get 1 question wrong or so on each of them but then the fourth game kills me

I don't live in a major city, so the tutoring would likely be online... unfortunately. But do you think it'd help significantly?[/quote]

I think tutoring can be extremely helpful, but, as a lot of previous posters have mentioned, it really depends on the quality of the tutor. The LSAT teaching industry is dominated by people who know a lot about the LSAT but don't know a lot about teaching, and there is a lot of inconsistency in terms of what different tutors are able to provide. I would say that even among the experts who give advice on this forum, there is a great amount of variation in terms of the quality of their advice.

When I interviewed people for teaching positions, one of the main things I thought about was "Whose mind is this teacher in?" Is he in the student's mind, or is he in his own mind? Being able to explain the test does not make one a good tutor. A good tutor will be able to see how you are thinking about and solving questions, and a good tutor will be able to give you invaluable advice about how you can adapt things to improve your performance.

So, if a friend of mine asked me about how to find a tutor, I would say -- meet with a few different people, look for someone with a lot of experience, and look for someone who bases the conversation on you -- there are plenty of good ones out there, and if you find one it's definitely well worth the $ -- good luck.

b33eazy
Posts: 146
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby b33eazy » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:54 pm

Mik Ekim wrote:
b33eazy wrote:
Mik Ekim wrote:
b33eazy wrote:I actually have a question. The LR is what is killing me the most. I just don't understand how to find the gap. I can find the conclusion just find, but it is difficult for me to find what is missing. For example, I have bought all three books and am part way through LR and on the assumptions necessary and sufficient. I have a little trouble figuring out exactly what's needed. The example you mentioned about a pants costing $40 and have at least $20 and having exactly $20 seemed easy until I actually had to apply that to LSAT questionss and the problem continued for flaw, strengthen,weaken, etc. I have trouble piecing it all together..


I wrote some thoughts about this in a post above, but of course I have other thoughts -- but two questions for you so i can better help -- 1) out of every 10 or so assumption family questions, for how many are you able to see the gap, and for how many are you not? 2) have you read the problem-solving process for assumption family q's chapter yet?


1. I would say that I am at 50/50 so far sometimes worse. And I would say that I do see the gap in 20/20 hindsight but that's as far as it's went for me.

2. I have not read the problem-solving chapter yet.. I am on the flaw chapter right now.. And so far I have been doing poorly.


Thanks for the information --

You are certainly correct in saying that you are having trouble seeing the gap, and you are correct in thinking that is the big impediment to improvement. I think, if you are having that much trouble, this should really be the primary issue you think about when you study the LSAT. Improve at seeing the gap (and I expect you will) and you will definitely find questions to be far easier.

Of course, I don't know exactly what is causing you trouble, but here are the general steps necessary to see the gap correctly --

1) you need to read correctly to identify the argument -- more specifically, this means being able to separate out the conclusion and support from everything else. in my experience, this is, overwhelmingly, the key issue for all students at all levels.

2) you need to be in the right mindset. the author is saying that that little piece of information he is using is enough to absolutely validate his point. in every single instance, you will know that it is not -- why is it not?

3) you need to understand why argument flaws are flaws -- that is, as you look at the relationship between support and conclusion, you need to know what types of problems you are looking for. there is some general discussion of this in the flaw chapter, and other companies offer more formal descriptions of flaws.

one breakdown of flaws that i find to be helpful is as follows:
1) jumps to a conclusion -- john is tall. he must be good at basketball.
2) mistakes apples for oranges -- john likes tim, so tim must like john.
3) thinks 1 + 1 = 3 -- frank is the tallest in his family, and sharon the shortest in hers, so frank must be taller than sharon.

every single flaw u see on the test can be seen as falling into at least one of the three above categories.

use whatever system or systems you feel most comfortable with, and really work on seeing that gap in every assumption family q --

one study suggestion i have -- go back through all subjective-argument-based-questions that you have already done in your homework and pt's -- for each one, practice finding exactly what is wrong with the support/conclusion relationship, then review exactly how the question stem and right answer relate to the gap you saw. This isn't work that is a whole lot of fun, but I do think it will be very informative. Good luck.


Thank you. I will try that. I don't know why I am having trouble finding gaps. I had trouble finding conclusions, but I have figured that out reading your book, so it has helped me there. It's just I need help getting to the next step. So what I will do is try yo go over that again and I will try to go over the stems, etc. But my issue is I see why the answer is correct a number of the questions, but I keep falling into the same trap for some reason. The other thing is that sometimes when I feel a question is too difficult I double guess myself, stay on the same question for about 5 minutes and then pick the wrong answer, which frustrates me to death. But thanks again for the help. I will try to go over the subjective based arguments.

Mik Ekim
Posts: 102
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Mik Ekim » Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:11 pm

Hi everyone -- with the test less than two weeks away, I wanted to come on and give some thoughts about test-day mindset that you may not find elsewhere --

My sense is that, for most of you, this note will be overly-theoretical and useless (sorry), and of course you can stop reading whenever you would like -- but for a few of you, I am convinced that this can have a significant and positive impact on your performance. So, I write this at the risk of boring a majority, but helping a minority --

One of my favorite metaphors in life is that of the elephant and the rider, and this is a metaphor that is quite popular among folks who think about how we think. The elephant is this big, powerful animal; the rider is small, but in charge. We can think of our conscious mind--what we notice--as the rider, and everything else that goes on in our minds--our unconscious work--as the elephant.

When it comes to the LSAT, there are two really important points to keep in mind: The rider cannot do the work of the elephant, but the rider, if he's smart, can get his elephant to do what he wants.

The rider tries to do the work of the elephant when he tries to keep a list of ten things to look out for while reading a RC passage, or creates multiple unnecessary hypotheticals for logic games, and the rider tries to do the work of the elephant when it tries to use tips and tricks, or keywords taken out of context, or crazy notational systems, to outsmart the test (good luck with that).

Just to give an example of what I mean: do not go into an RC passage thinking: "I have to find the main points, the author's opinion, the other opinions. I have to use double underlines to notate one thing, circles to notate another..." Unless that is how you naturally read, that's going to force you to stay on an overly conscious level, and, more importantly, it's going to prevent you from getting your elephant to do the work it's capable of doing.

Finding all of those things is important, but the better way to get there is to:
1) set clear goals
2) set clear steps

Carrying on with the same RC example I mentioned above, here is what I would suggest you do instead of going into the passage with eight things to look out for:

1) set a clear goal: "Why did the author write this passage?"

Remember, RC is all about "why" not "what." I know that, most of the time, the author wrote the passage to discuss some sort of two-sided issue, and I know that most of the time the author is going to give subtle hints that throw his/her opinion onto one side or another, and I'll use this understanding to help with my instincts.

I know that, at the end of the day, I need to understand what role each part of the passage plays, but that is not what I worry about on a sentence-by-sentence level. And I certainly never distract myself with secondary thoughts like "oh maybe this is a term they might ask me a question about." If I keep clear focus on my simple, direct goal, "why did the author write this passage?" it gives my elephant the best chance it has to see, honestly, the role each part plays.

2) set clear steps:

I encourage a system of reading fairly quickly, with built-in pauses at the paragraph breaks (one of the reasons I encourage this so much is because LSAT RC, unlike a lot of other modern writing, really holds to the convention that a paragraph will typically reflect an end of one thought and the beginning of another, and so is very commonly an effective moment to stop). Guess what I'm thinking about in this breaks: Why did the author write this? How does this paragraph relate?

I've also mentioned above and elsewhere that I strongly encourage habitualizing simple, and specific step-by-step problem-solving processes for different types of RC questions. I think, especially at this point, getting down how you will solve each question is just about as important as anything else. Keep the steps super simple (example: for primary purpose questions, steps would be "predict answer, eliminate ones with mistakes, confirm what i think is right using various parts of text").

That's it. Again, it's a small, but I think very significant difference (for those it matters to): don't give your conscious mind a list of ten things to look out for. Instead, set a clear, correct goal for each task, and use your final few practice tests to really habitualize effect problem solving processes. HTH, and let me know if anybody needs help applying these ideas to LG and LR.

Good luck on the test everyone.

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relevantfactor
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby relevantfactor » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:26 pm

Mik Ekim wrote:which make up the majority of LR questions and an even higher majority of the most difficult LR questions -- reasoning structure is the key to everything. You could even argue that it's the only thing that really matters.

While I agree with everything else, I have to disagree to that statement. Reasoning structure is not the key to everything nor is it the only thing that matters, and if one chose to argue that point of view, he would be wrong. Here's a counter-example that illustrates just that:
PT16, LR#2, #15
A doesn't have the same error of reasoning as the stimulus, however, the reasoning structure is the same as C and obviously the same as the stimulus.




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