To Time or Not to Time

xbsnguy
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To Time or Not to Time

Postby xbsnguy » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:03 am

First, thank you for reading!

Help! I am having difficulty deciding whether I should continue practicing LR under timed conditions. At the moment, I tend to score -4 or -5 (unless the section was particularly difficult) and find myself expending the entire 35 minutes without getting the chance to review.

I used to be able to finish sections in 27-28 minutes, but my accuracy was much worse(from -6 to -8). Given that half of my errors committed stemmed from misreading stimuli, question stems, answer choices, or prematurely selecting answers before reading all of the choices(it was a bad habit; stupid I know), I decided to slow my reading so that it was more deliberate and thorough. The rest of my errors were due to unfamiliarity with the question type(parallel reasoning, I'm looking at you). I self-diagnosed errors and now I THINK I have a good grasp on how to tackle the various questions (parallel-reasoning, I'm not afraid of you anymore!). Though perhaps, my approach to various question types could be more systematic?

Now, the mistakes I make are when I have narrowed choices down to two contenders but, because of time-pressure, I fail to pick up on a key word in choices, am forced to rush through the analysis and arrive at the wrong answer, or commit some other frustrating flub. I'm not sure how to remedy this while increasing speed, but maintaining accuracy.

Should I stop timing myself, so I can develop an approach for each question type that works for me until I reach 100% accuracy and cut down on how much time I require per question? Or should I continue to time myself, so I can eventually be desensitized to time pressure, eliminate silly mistakes, and grow comfortable with thinking quickly and accurately under pressure? I am concerned about expending too many actual LSAT LR sections and thus "tainting" too much material before I even begin practicing full-length tests. I have burned through maybe 16 authentic LR sections thus far.

Sorry if anything was incoherent or confusing, it's 3am and my mind is frazzled. :lol:

Thanks again!

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objection_your_honor
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby objection_your_honor » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:20 am

Do both. Supplement the timed PTs with drilling questions by type from PTs 21-38 untimed, occasionally doing a full LR section from one of those tests as well.

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NoodleyOne
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby NoodleyOne » Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:05 pm

objection_your_honor wrote:Do both. Supplement the timed PTs with drilling questions by type from PTs 21-38 untimed, occasionally doing a full LR section from one of those tests as well.

I would say just get packets of questions by type, organized by difficulty. Get better at easy questions (traditionally 1-10) to give yourself more time on the hard ones.

whereskyle
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby whereskyle » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:14 pm

I've been "slowjamming" the early PTs untimed, literally taking as much time as I need to feel good about eliminating wrong choices/selecting correct ones. I've also stopped flipping to the answer key hastily to check to see if I'm right or wrong. It has been great for my confidence in LR, and I think it is increasing my understanding.

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Br3v
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby Br3v » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:24 pm

The answer is always time.

The only thing that should be not timed is when you are reviewing your answers/questions after the fact.

"But what if I'm just starting out and I want to get..."
No. Time it.

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NoodleyOne
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby NoodleyOne » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:25 pm

Br3v wrote:The answer is always time.

The only thing that should be untuned is when you are reviewing your answers/questions after the fact.

"But what if I'm just starting out and I want to get..."
No. Time it.

Eh... if you're talking about PTs, absolutely always time. At the same time, there is a ton of benefit of just practicing questions untimed. I say accuracy first, then worry about speeding it up.

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Br3v
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby Br3v » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:28 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:
Br3v wrote:The answer is always time.

The only thing that should be untuned is when you are reviewing your answers/questions after the fact.

"But what if I'm just starting out and I want to get..."
No. Time it.

Eh... if you're talking about PTs, absolutely always time. At the same time, there is a ton of benefit of just practicing questions untimed. I say accuracy first, then worry about speeding it up.


I disagree (though he outperfomed me with a 179 so take our differences for what they're worth) but the "practicing the questions untimed" thing IMO comes from doing the PowerScore/Velocity/whatever books that use real questions and explain the process. Outside of that I don't feel one should "waste" fresh questions by doing them untimed.
Last edited by Br3v on Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

whereskyle
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby whereskyle » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:30 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:
Br3v wrote:The answer is always time.

The only thing that should be untuned is when you are reviewing your answers/questions after the fact.

"But what if I'm just starting out and I want to get..."
No. Time it.

Eh... if you're talking about PTs, absolutely always time. At the same time, there is a ton of benefit of just practicing questions untimed. I say accuracy first, then worry about speeding it up.



Exactly the right point: I feel that I'm honing my accuracy. I just didn't take the time to understand certain questions completely in my last round of studying.

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NoodleyOne
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby NoodleyOne » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:36 pm

Br3v wrote:
NoodleyOne wrote:
Br3v wrote:The answer is always time.

The only thing that should be untuned is when you are reviewing your answers/questions after the fact.

"But what if I'm just starting out and I want to get..."
No. Time it.

Eh... if you're talking about PTs, absolutely always time. At the same time, there is a ton of benefit of just practicing questions untimed. I say accuracy first, then worry about speeding it up.


I disagree (though he outperfomed me with a 179 so take our differences for what they're worth) but the "practicing the questions untimed" thing IMO comes from doing the PowerScore/Velocity/whatever books that use real questions and explain the process. Outside of that I don't feel one should "waste" fresh questions by doing them untimed.

I see what you're getting at, and I don't disagree out of hand, but I think drilling you should really slow down and look at the process. The Post-It method, the writing of explanations... these take way more than 75 seconds to do, but they're all incredibly worthwhile. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to get in a pissing match over scores and if you're just doing questions, then at least keep an eye on time, but I think the most effective drilling techniques rely on more time consuming methods.

whereskyle
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby whereskyle » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:41 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:
Br3v wrote:
NoodleyOne wrote:
Br3v wrote:The answer is always time.

The only thing that should be untuned is when you are reviewing your answers/questions after the fact.

"But what if I'm just starting out and I want to get..."
No. Time it.

Eh... if you're talking about PTs, absolutely always time. At the same time, there is a ton of benefit of just practicing questions untimed. I say accuracy first, then worry about speeding it up.


I disagree (though he outperfomed me with a 179 so take our differences for what they're worth) but the "practicing the questions untimed" thing IMO comes from doing the PowerScore/Velocity/whatever books that use real questions and explain the process. Outside of that I don't feel one should "waste" fresh questions by doing them untimed.

I see what you're getting at, and I don't disagree out of hand, but I think drilling you should really slow down and look at the process. The Post-It method, the writing of explanations... these take way more than 75 seconds to do, but they're all incredibly worthwhile. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to get in a pissing match over scores and if you're just doing questions, then at least keep an eye on time, but I think the most effective drilling techniques rely on more time consuming methods.


If you slowly lay out the formal logic 20 times with success, then you will be able to lay out the formal logic with more rapidity from that point on. (I hope.) Going fast, when I don't know what I'm doing yields the sweats and the "oh shits!" that kept me from perfecting my score. I feel that I'm rectifying that spending a lot of hours going slow in LR. Also, I've "slowjammed" PTs 1 and 2 and may do them up to 15 or so, as no recommends taking those timed anyhow.

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Malakai
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby Malakai » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:37 pm

xbsnguy wrote:Now, the mistakes I make are when I have narrowed choices down to two contenders but, because of time-pressure, I fail to pick up on a key word in choices, am forced to rush through the analysis and arrive at the wrong answer, or commit some other frustrating flub.

Should I stop timing myself, so I can develop an approach for each question type that works for me until I reach 100% accuracy and cut down on how much time I require per question? Or should I continue to time myself, so I can eventually be desensitized to time pressure, eliminate silly mistakes, and grow comfortable with thinking quickly and accurately under pressure? I am concerned about expending too many actual LSAT LR sections and thus "tainting" too much material before I even begin practicing full-length tests.


When are you considering taking the LSAT?

It's been mentioned in older posts, but alot of people (myself included) on TLS can't help but stress enough the importance of first building and increasing your accuracy and familiarity (this includes approach and picking up on patterns), since increased accuracy and familiarity tend to build confidence and speed. Stop timing yourself until you've done and examined every answer you got wrong AND right, and do this for every LR type for your weak areas using at least those LR's from PT's 1-20 (though it could be even more beneficial if you've done every LR type from 1-40).

It even sounds like you have a similar problem that regularly plagued me before, and that comes down to time and having to pick between two choices. After I slowed down and stopped timing and stopped doing full, mixed-LR sections, I just drilled single q-types and thoroughly reviewed that question types related concepts where/if touching up was needed. After becoming more thorough during review and more familiar with patterns in both stimuli and incorrect AC's, I found that I was decreasingly faced with the time and choosing between 2 problem.

Further regarding familiarization, which helped me and may be of benefit to you as well, would be to accustom yourself and be able to more quickly understand the abstract language of stimuli and many of the abstract language in the AC's that the LSAT can throw (the latter especially, because if you're not randomly guessing the CR, you're often being credited for your understanding of and selecting the correct answer choice). But only after slowing down and familiarizing did I notice the tendency for abstract language to bog my time down when having to choose between 2.

Now if you don't have the means to drill questions by type, then you can certainly do LR untimed, but really soul-search within yourself why choosing between 2 AC's for a particular question type in that LR section (be it weaken, strengthen, assumption, flaw, you get the idea) held you up. It's often in finding why and where one tends to get tied up that allows them to get past a similar sort of 'cap' like the one you are currently experiencing.

Lastly, it's worth mentioning that for many who hit this kinda cap and have been studying for awhile and fully understand the concepts and etc. as it appears in the text (this may or may not be you), many of these people come to find that they may be dealing with an internal/comprehension/personal issue with their own logic and reasoning that they have yet to resolve. But it could take a good deal of introspection to sort this out, since may not know those ' deeper' causal factors until you've slowed down and really ruled out what is and isn't holding your timing up. To illustrate, and like I said before, what really slowed me down was 1) unfamiliarity with patterns and concepts and 2) bogged time when reading abstract language in stims and abstract language when choosing between AC's. But it is worth taking the time to slow down and rule out these factors for yourself.

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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby whereskyle » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:52 pm

Excellent post above.

xbsnguy
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby xbsnguy » Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:23 pm

Wow, thank you to everyone for the wealth of responses!

Malakai you made a great point when you talked about introspection and scrutinizing my own logic. Like you, the more abstract language act like road bumps on the test for me, and translating them into concrete things within the context of the stimuli slows me down more than I think it should. It definitely seems valuable to breakdown not just what makes the LR questions "tick", but my own reasoning. I'll start "slowjamming" the questions, as NoodleyOne and whereskyle advocated, until I've reached the desired accuracy.

However, I still have the very same concerns that Br3v mentioned: I'm afraid of using up too many actual LSAT questions. Should I buy a practice book with non-LSAC questions(I think the Princeton book with the 400 questions is like this?) or is it still worth it to consume LSAC-constructed questions because they are truer to what I will be facing(and thus I'll be developing an understanding for the nuances of actual test questions)?

Once again, I appreciate everyone's contribution. I'll be taking the LSAT in June and started studying at the beginning of February(the time I decided to pull the trigger on law school and career in law).

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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby lsatyolo » Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:45 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:
objection_your_honor wrote:Do both. Supplement the timed PTs with drilling questions by type from PTs 21-38 untimed, occasionally doing a full LR section from one of those tests as well.

I would say just get packets of questions by type, organized by difficulty. Get better at easy questions (traditionally 1-10) to give yourself more time on the hard ones.


Where can I get these packets?

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NoodleyOne
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby NoodleyOne » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:40 pm

lsatyolo wrote:
NoodleyOne wrote:
objection_your_honor wrote:Do both. Supplement the timed PTs with drilling questions by type from PTs 21-38 untimed, occasionally doing a full LR section from one of those tests as well.

I would say just get packets of questions by type, organized by difficulty. Get better at easy questions (traditionally 1-10) to give yourself more time on the hard ones.


Where can I get these packets?

Cambridge LSAT... my old ass post on how to get a 179 has it linked, I believe.

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Malakai
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby Malakai » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:00 am

xbsnguy wrote:However, I still have the very same concerns that Br3v mentioned: I'm afraid of using up too many actual LSAT questions. Should I buy a practice book with non-LSAC questions(I think the Princeton book with the 400 questions is like this?) or is it still worth it to consume LSAC-constructed questions because they are truer to what I will be facing(and thus I'll be developing an understanding for the nuances of actual test questions)?

Once again, I appreciate everyone's contribution. I'll be taking the LSAT in June and started studying at the beginning of February(the time I decided to pull the trigger on law school and career in law).



Glad the info above was able to help!

Anyway, the questions offered by the Princeton Review can widely differ in appearance and wording than the actual ones. Like you, at first I was heavily concerned with preserving PT's so I tried Princeton stuff. Personally, I didn't like them. I tried using/reading through the Princeton LR and LG books for a few sections/types before trying to tackle some of the related LSAC questions, and felt like I was looking at pretty different entities. In hindsight, I even feel that my brief time using Princeton when tackling LSAC constructed q-s had worked against me in some ways.

This leads to my next point: it's definitely worth consuming LSAC-constructed questions. Why? Because you're unlikely to see non-LSAC constructed question on LSAC's own tests, and as the previous paragraph suggests, to do otherwise may even do more harm than good since they can widely differ in appearance and wording (It's hard to describe this difference if you haven't actually seen it for yourself, but try checking out a Barnes & Noble or local bookstore for a Princeton LR or LG book and you might see what i'm talking about).

But fearing the consumption of and actually using LSAC constructed questions doesn't have to be mutually exclusive, since you're trying to get as close to 100% accuracy anyway - whether it be by drilling, PT'ing or both! It's even likely to be inevitable that you'll use all the LSAC stuff anyway, since it seems as though you intend to do so by doing all or most of the PT's at some point. But what does it matter if you fulfill those intentions by either doing all of the PT's, or drilling all the q's for a particular question type, or some combination of both? This leads to an illustration of an important point - that of asking yourself which method of proceeding with the LSAC-available material do you think would give you the higher advantage or improvement? Do 90% of the PT's and save 10% of the LSAC-constructed material for drilling and building accuracy? Or do 65% of the PT's and leave 35% of the LSAC stuff to drill and build accuracy? I think you get the point: just distribute the material between PT's and/or drilling in a way you think would best serve you, but don't be afraid to do so using LSAC stuff. And if you're still -4 or -5 in some sections, you shouldn't worry about using more material to shore up that gap, since you may keep missing that amount until you've drilled the problem away. And definitely don't be afraid of 'wasting' the early PT's for drilling.

If I were you (and you seem to be in a previously similar situation as me haha), I'd really go for the Cambridge packets. But if you're just really looking for an actual book and trying to forgo the Cambridge Packets, you can buy Kaplan's Mastery or Kaplan's Big Orange book for questions too (I paid like $6 for the Mastery book on Amazon, but make sure to look for a seller that describes the product as having little to no writing inside since you can only buy them used if you haven't taken their course). The two Kaplan books separate the questions by question-type (and I think difficulty too), and provide some pretty good explanations for each Q at the end of each particular section. I think the only major differences between the two is that Kaplan Mastery is just a more recent edition/release of what was once titled the "Kaplan Orange Book" (meaning that they just stopped calling it the "Big Orange Book"), with the second major difference being that the Mastery Book is a bit more representative than the Orange Book in terms of 1) recency of and 2) amount of questions per type.

The difference between the two Kaplan books and the Cambridge packets are that the Kaplan books WILL NOT be as representative in giving out every single LR for every single type from PT Range X to PT Range Y, BUT it does have the advantage of carrying explanations for every question it offers, in the convenience of a single binding. But if you just REALLY want to go minimalist with content and save as many PT's as possible, don't be afraid to use a Kaplan Mastery, Kaplan Orange book, or just one of the Cambridge LR Packets (There's 3 i think, and each packet will contain every LR in the PT ranges from 1-20, 21-40, and I forgot what PT range the most recent Cambridge LR covers but u can find it on their site).

Sorry for the long post - i've been studying for too long lol.

xbsnguy
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby xbsnguy » Tue Apr 16, 2013 2:22 am

After lots of review and diagnosing, the Logical Reasoning section finally "clicks" for me. My range for timed sections have improved to (-1 to -3) under ideal conditions. I define unideal as conditions that don't include studying on less than 3 hours of sleep, not having eaten, or other similarly controllable factors that unnecessarily slow/fuzzy your cognition and judgement. Whenever I tested myself under unideal conditions, my errors would spike back to their previous levels. This leads me to think that cognitive fatigue caused me to regress back to my bad habits(reading errors, overlooking important details when deciding between contenders, etc). Ideally, you want to be able to score consistently well even while tired, but for the purposes of drilling timed sections, it behooves you to not practice when less than alert. You don't want to reinforce bad habits, after all.

"Slow-jamming" sections and conducting extensive after-action reviews helped to fix my mechanics and identify why contender questions gave me so much trouble. I highly recommend it to others who are struggling. It's difficult to "smoke out" your problem areas if you only do timed sections, because you're essentially reinforcing the very same bad habits that cause you to get questions wrong. These are the things that worked for me:

1) Take breaks: Giving myself a short break from timed sections after 2 hours. This is important, because after some point, cognitive fatigue sets in, and you start thinking slower, lose focus, and start making errors you probably would not otherwise have.

2) Talk to yourself: Mentally analyzing the structure of stimuli(identifying statements, premises, and conclusions) AND annotating while reading, as opposed to waiting until the end to annotate, like I had before. I'm not sure why this helped, but it allowed me a stronger grasp on each stimuli.

2) Slowing down even more and forcing myself to read every single word in the stimuli, questions, and choices. Doing this allowed me to only have to read a stimuli once, instead of going over parts of it or even the entire thing because I did not force myself to read every single word. Basically, slowing down actually saves you more time in the long run, because you then need to only read once. This also makes sure you don't glaze over single important words that qualify a premise or argument.
Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.

3) Correct answers are obvious: It's just less obvious where the deciding differentiating detail between two contenders are. If you have a solid grasp on the stimulus, then it becomes easier to spot. Just look at the premise-conclusion.

4) Don't over think: I have a tendency to over analyze and I think this caused me to over-justify an answer that was not AS good as the correct one. This really piggy backs off of (3), but repeating over and over in my head "the answers are obvious and justifiable from evidence within the stimulus" helped a lot. I probably sound crazy now, lol.

Looking back, these four points sound like common-sense. Maybe they are, and I just failed to understand how to approach the LR section. Either way, I hope this can help others.

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Clearly
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby Clearly » Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:32 am

xbsnguy wrote:Given that half of my errors committed stemmed from misreading stimuli, question stems, answer choices, or prematurely selecting answers before reading all of the choices(it was a bad habit; stupid I know)

This by the way absolutely not true. You shouldn't form this habit until you get very good at at least the easier questions, but the key to having tons of time on LR, is doing 1-10 and 20-25 quickly. The way you do that is by practicing enough that you can predict the answers to the majority of these questions before you look at the answer choices. 1-10 are almost always straightforward, and you will be able to predict at least 7 of them once you get consistently good at the section. When you find an answer you predicted, you circle it and move on, I don't care if its answer choice A, or choice E. You'd be surprised how much time you have for the rest of the section, when you do 1-10 in six or seven minutes. You can spend a whole five minutes on that tough question that's really stumping you if you need to, you earned that time, by not reading all the answer choices.

ETA: Keep it up, good luck!

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MKX
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby MKX » Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:29 am

What I do is time myself on a PT and grade it. Then I wait a 3-7 days and retake that test untimed. Then I compare the two tests and try to figure out why did I pick this answer on timed and this one untimed, what mistakes I made on both, what I did well on both, was time a factor towards the end or did I just struggle with the questions, and most importantly what should I review.

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NoodleyOne
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby NoodleyOne » Tue Apr 16, 2013 2:06 pm

Clearlynotstefan wrote:
xbsnguy wrote:Given that half of my errors committed stemmed from misreading stimuli, question stems, answer choices, or prematurely selecting answers before reading all of the choices(it was a bad habit; stupid I know)

This by the way absolutely not true. You shouldn't form this habit until you get very good at at least the easier questions, but the key to having tons of time on LR, is doing 1-10 and 20-25 quickly. The way you do that is by practicing enough that you can predict the answers to the majority of these questions before you look at the answer choices. 1-10 are almost always straightforward, and you will be able to predict at least 7 of them once you get consistently good at the section. When you find an answer you predicted, you circle it and move on, I don't care if its answer choice A, or choice E. You'd be surprised how much time you have for the rest of the section, when you do 1-10 in six or seven minutes. You can spend a whole five minutes on that tough question that's really stumping you if you need to, you earned that time, by not reading all the answer choices.

ETA: Keep it up, good luck!

Disagree. I think you should ALWAYS read all the answer choices. Toward the end of your prep you will likely have minutes at the end of an LR section... taking that extra five seconds to make sure you're right isn't going to kill you. Also, they're pretty good at giving trap answers that are almost true, so reading all of the answer choices can keep you from getting tripped up.

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Squintz805
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby Squintz805 » Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:59 pm

This thread is fantastic. Tagging.

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Clearly
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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby Clearly » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:09 am

NoodleyOne wrote:
Clearlynotstefan wrote:
xbsnguy wrote:Given that half of my errors committed stemmed from misreading stimuli, question stems, answer choices, or prematurely selecting answers before reading all of the choices(it was a bad habit; stupid I know)

This by the way absolutely not true. You shouldn't form this habit until you get very good at at least the easier questions, but the key to having tons of time on LR, is doing 1-10 and 20-25 quickly. The way you do that is by practicing enough that you can predict the answers to the majority of these questions before you look at the answer choices. 1-10 are almost always straightforward, and you will be able to predict at least 7 of them once you get consistently good at the section. When you find an answer you predicted, you circle it and move on, I don't care if its answer choice A, or choice E. You'd be surprised how much time you have for the rest of the section, when you do 1-10 in six or seven minutes. You can spend a whole five minutes on that tough question that's really stumping you if you need to, you earned that time, by not reading all the answer choices.

ETA: Keep it up, good luck!

Disagree. I think you should ALWAYS read all the answer choices. Toward the end of your prep you will likely have minutes at the end of an LR section... taking that extra five seconds to make sure you're right isn't going to kill you. Also, they're pretty good at giving trap answers that are almost true, so reading all of the answer choices can keep you from getting tripped up.

Gonna very respectfully agree to disagree on this one, I consider flying through the easier questions critical to having great timing on the section. However, I don't advocate skipping answer choices till a student gets accurate enough to prephrase the answers anyway. Naturally it comes down to question types. If I know what the necessary assumption is before I read the answer choices, I'm circling and moving on, same with role of a statement, flaw, easy (1-10) strengthen and weaken, etc. You raise a good point about trap answers, thats why I don't advocate this idea for all question types (those which could reasonably have 2 technically correct answers) or any of the harder questions on the test. Very few viable trap answers show up in 1-8/10. That said, if you prephrase an answer choice, and it's among the answer choices, nothing you see after that is going to sway you anyway. There are a million different strategies for LR, so to each his own, many people would worry about skipping answers, and many people do well not reading answers once they have a solid choice on the easier questions.

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Re: To Time or Not to Time

Postby givemea180 » Tue May 21, 2013 8:07 pm

tagging




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