UPDATE 6/13/2014: I just finished my time as an LSAT Instructor/Tutor for a major prep company and I’m going to add some things I picked up along the way.
What I have done here is emphasize the things that helped me while I was studying and make suggestions based upon those things. In the interest of full disclosure, I scored a 172 on the LSAT in June of 2013 then I retook the test and scored a 174 later that year. There are a few guides written very well by people who have scored higher than me and I encourage you to read them. Anyways, good luck with your LSAT prep and I hope you find this useful.
So you’re studying for the LSAT. Congratulations, you’ve chosen to spend 10-30 hours each week reading about everything from sculpting methods to drilling muds instead of drinking screwdrivers in the sun with your friends. There are those that say that studying for the LSAT is like stirring cement with your eyelashes. But they are right! The good news is that your hard work will pay off, eventually. Let’s begin with some broad strokes:
There is only one to succeed at this test. And it is to think like LSAC wants you to think. But how exactly do they want you to think? It’s simple in theory, they want you to make valid inferences and analyze arguments. But what if you don’t do that aleady? Well then you need to change how you think! To change your method of reasoning, you must first identify what method is used in the present. This is where review comes in. Reviewing your work is the most important part of LSAT prep. When you review, and you should review every LSAT question you take, I'd suggest answering the following questions:
1. Did I understand the question stimulus/passage/game?
2. Did I understand the answers that I choose or eliminated?
3. Why did I select the answer that I selected?
4. Why did I eliminate the other answers?
You need to be able to support your selection and elimination of answers. No more gut feelings, and no more outside information. If you answer any of the above questions in the negative, you must then identify what you were thinking at the time, then find out what you should have thought instead.
If this fat baby can do it, then so can you
I should be able present to you any LR question, any game, and any RC passage you have completed you should be able to break it down and tell me for RC: what’s going on in the passage, what the main point is, the structure of the passage, the author’s tone/what he would agree with, what the author’s purpose is, the views of the passage, what the proponents of those views would agree with, and potential ways to weaken a view. For LR you should be able to tell me what the gap is, assuming it’s in the assumption family, and what the correct answer to an assumption family and matching question would look like. For LG, I don’t really need to explain this one, do the games, over and over and over. For any section, after your review you should be able to explain to anyone why the correct answer is correct and why the wrong answers are wrong. This is what review is.
I went through a lot of books during my prep, a lot of paper, and enough pencils to build an exact replica of Hogwarts, by my rough estimates. You will too, so clear off your desk and try not to think about the trees. I used the following books, I’ll tell you why I used these books, make a recommendation for you, and discuss which order you should do them in below.
Powerscore Bibles (LRB, LGB, RCB)
Manhattan’s Books (MLR, MLG, MRC)
Cambridge LR and LG, PTs 1-38
Every old LSAT
My plan was very simple: concepts, drilling, PTs and then PTs again.
I started prep with Kaplan’s books. They are about as valuable to your prep as Battlefield Earth is to cinema, which is to say they are not valuable at all. I discovered TLS, and though I had some doubts at first, I found that many of the guides, suggestions, and members could contribute positively to one’s LSAT score. Many of the guides I read recommended Powerscore’s Bibles and Manhattan’s books, along with the Cambridge packets for PTs 1- 38 for LR and LG. So I bought all of that and all of the old PTs, eventually I picked up BP LG as well. However, I would suggest a different route.
Many people speak negatively about Powerscore. Some of my complaints are that it can be a dense read, some of the LG diagramming methods are unnecessary, and it’s LR approach is too mechanical. That being said, you have to start somewhere, and by beginning with Powerscore, you’ll be more prepared for the later books. I’ll start with the LRB. Powerscore does some things better than any other prep book in specific areas of this book: flaws, S/A questions, causation, conditional logic, and formal logic. My issue with the LRB is that arguments require flexibility, a test taker must be able to recognize the abstract elements of the stimulus and do a few other things based upon patterns, and the LRB’s approach is not quite as flexible as I think it should be---there’s more on this when I lay out the family types. The LG book suffers from the same issue, it’s overly mechanical. I would also argue that most of Powerscore’s diagramming methods are overcomplicated. In addition, the RCB is more useful as kindling than it is to your prep. It is the most mechanical of all three books, and RC is the least mechanical section. Thus, in my opinion, the only Powescore book you should use is the LRB.
Read the LRB and then read it again. I read or skimmed all three bibles twice, and then I moved into Manhattan. I recommend using two books before Manhattan: the LRB and the BP LG book; it is awesome, funny, and educational, it will help you cut down your mistakes in LG with its unique teaching methods. I’d suggest mixing it up, by doing LG, LR, LG, RC, whatever, just mix it up, these books are boring, mixing it up will help reduce the amount of time you want to close the books and see which schools’ medians are low enough for you to stop studying and spend the rest of your time watching Seinfeld reruns and drinking tequila from plastic bottles. I’d start with BPLG, mainly because LG is the most learnable section and many people are terrible at it, by beginning with it, you’ll start to feel better about the section, and soon enough, you’ll be acing every game.
Now do skim them again. I know, you just read them, but by skimming it over you’ll reinforce what you just learned. Then do MLG and MLR. In my opinion, Manhattan’s books were tougher than Powerscore and BP, and they are also great books, due in part to the challenges they presented. Finish Manhattan, and skim them again.
In terms of book suggestions, use Manhattan’s/BP’s diagramming methods for LG, they’re the same, for ordering games, the dashed line (A – B- C), learn the open board method, which is Manhattan’s doing, it can come in useful, don’t learn Manhattan’s logic tree for In-Out games, just use basic conditional chains. Also, use Manhattan’s methods for LR; this book suggests reading abstractly, once you do this, the arguments break apart. Also, use the LRB’s methods for formal logic, they’re priceless. That’s pretty much it.
I know, you just devoured thousands of pages of dense information, and all you want now is to hit the beach with a few bottles of rum and forget all about the LSAT. But now it’s time for drilling.
Seriously, Jaws is in there. Do you want your legs?
At this point you should not only have a solid foundation of LSAT knowledge, but also be able to tell me anything about LR, what each question type asks for, what to look for, and what not to look for. For LG, you should be on pace to get to -0 very soon. And in terms of RC, you should focus on reading structurally and anticipating common questions.
Drill Cambridge. I used the LR and LG from 1-38. I’m sure you’re wondering, “Why not RC?” Well I don’t really have a great reason. Honestly, I think they test the same skills and the differences are much more straightforward than in LR and LG, so I just did sections. I advise you to take games in fours, at the least, and drill LR in thirty question increments. This is for two reasons, first off, there are four games, or more if you count the experimental section, per test. There’s also 24 LR questions, or more, each section. Now you should be drilling untimed. Why? Because timing will come with accuracy and you’re probably not as accurate as you want to be. Plus drilling is all about thinking. This is your opportunity to see how well you can reason without the constraints of time. I also recommend mixing up the difficulty levels, do thirty level ones, thirty level twos, etc. because the questions on the LSAT are not in order of difficulty, you may have a tricky number 16, or number 1.
Also, let me spend a moment here on answers. This is the first time you have the opportunity to cheat yourself. The books gave you questions and then described the approach and methods to reach the correct answer. Cambridge gives you questions and answers. When I say cheat yourself I mean that you’ll be tempted to take actions including checking your answers too early, and those actions will prevent you from getting the most out of Cambridge. When you drill, you should focus on not only finding the correct answer but also determining why the others are not correct. The answer sheet is like a crutch, and you’re on the disabled list, when you finish drilling and immediately check your answers you’re not improving your condition. To get the most out of drilling you should read actively, possess a reason for selecting and eliminating each answer, and you should review afterwards the ones you are unsure about. Then you should check your answers. This process is similar to the Blind Review method, and you should use it for everything.
Now, the following recommendation, for some reason, which honestly I can’t fathom, confuses some people: do all of the level ones and twos, but don’t do all of the level threes and fours. Why? Because you don’t need to. Now for the question people ask me when I tell them this, “What if I suck at a specific question type, won’t the difficult ones help me?” To begin with, this is really just a recommendation and it completely depends upon the skills of the person in question. But I’ll answer it anyways, if you do all of the ones and twos, review after each time, and still manage to miss more than 5/30 on your last increment of the question type, then do some, but not most, of the threes and fours. Honestly, this is just a tip, if you think you need to do half of them, then do half, if you think you need to do all of them, then do all, but it would be better for your future fifth sections or just retakes of old sections if you did not. You’ll learn from those three and fours eventually, you’ll probably even get them correct.
PTs – It's a great feeling to get to this point because it takes a lot of work to get here. PTs are really the easy part, you learn the methods through the concept phase, you advance those methods through drilling, and now you just need to tweak them and work on timing. You’ve waited a long time for this, now and only now is it time to take PTs consistently. You’ve done the books multiple times, you’ve drilled, and reviewed thoroughly, now you’re ready. It’s important to note, however, that you shouldn’t expect to score in the 175+ range just yet, be patient, don’t get discouraged, it will come. But you must train Daniel-Son.
This is how I picture the Ninja in the BP LG
I find that the best way to take PTs is to rip out the answer page and take the PT somewhere, the answer sheet being elsewhere, time yourself strictly, I mean strictly, no exceptions. I’m of the opinion that you should mix up the tests; see my attached PT schedule for June. Work in a fifth section three months before the test; take back-to-back PTs and redo the most recent ones the month preceding the test. Also during this phase of the test, don’t neglect games, LR will work its way down to -0, but there might be a few tricky ones, which might get you on the big day, or human error penetrates you. Either way you need to expect LG to be -0. To make this a reality, you should continue to take old games, from 1-38, from previous PTs, all of them, every other day, four each day. Do this and I guarantee you’ll get -0 come test day. This brings me to the second part of phase three: redoing PTs, or at least sections, you should repeat LR and RC sections, or do ones from the 30s, in addition, like I said above, you should always work on games. I also recommend reviewing old LR questions #1-10, an RC passage, and an easy game before doing any PT. Why? Because the first section of a PT can take you by surprise, it’s difficult to shift from a normal thought process to LSAT mode, no matter how advanced you are, by doing the process above, you’ll be ready.
So now you have a general idea of what to use, but how do you use it? What should your schedule be like? Well, the part of my schedule after I finished drilling Cambridge is below, check it out.
(the PTs which are not mentioned were completed in January)
(2/4).......... PT 40
(2/15).......... PT 41
(2/18).......... PT 50
(2/25).......... PT 51
(3/2).......... PT 67
(3/9).......... PT 66 and RC from PT 38, Review on 3/10
(3/12).......... PT 52, Review 3/16
(3/14).......... PT 53 and RC from PT 37, Review 3/17
(3/19).......... PT 65, Review 3/23
(3/21).......... PT 64 and RC from PT 36, Review 3/24
(3/26).......... PT 54, Review 3/30
(3/28).......... PT 55 and RC from PT 35, Review 3/31
(4/2).......... PT 56, Review 4/6
(4/4).......... PT 63 and RC from PT 33, Review 4/7
(4/9).......... PT 57, Review 4/13
(4/11).......... PT 58 and RC from PT 32, Review 4/14
(4/16).......... PT 62, Review 4/20
(4/18).......... PT 61 and RC from PT 31, Review 4/21
(4/23).......... PT 59, Review 4/27
(4/25).......... PT 60 and RC from PT 30, Review 4/28
May: the final stretch, all at the test center review
(4/30).......... PT 68, Review 5/4
(5/2).......... PT 43 and RC from PT 29, Review 5/5
(5/7).......... PT 44 and PT 63, Review 5/11
(5/9).......... PT 45 and PT 62, Review 5/12
(5/14).......... PT 46 and Preptest B, Review 5/18
(5/16).......... PT 47 and Preptest C, Review 5/19
(5/21).......... PT 48 and PT 64, Review 5/25
(5/23).......... PT 49 and PT 50, back to back, Review 5/26
(5/28).......... PT 65 and 66, back to back, Review 6/1
(5/30).......... PT 67 and PT 68 back to back, Review 6/2
(6/1 - 6/9).......... Relax
(6/10).......... PT 69 at the test center
Now I’m sure you are wondering, “But DD everyone else does them in order, why don’t you?” Because I think outside the box. The logic behind my PT order was that the test I took in June would be most similar to the recent PTs (60s), therefore I should take those before doing others then reinforce them by doing them again during the last month. In addition, during April, I began to redo old sections from PTs I used, and drill old sections from 40 upward, I suggest doing at least four games, one LR section, and one RC section every two days during the two months leading up to your testing date.
That’s pretty much it, now you know how to go about your prep, or at least how I did it, but I picked up a few things along the way that you might find helpful. So keep reading, or don't, it's not like this is an important test or anything.
GENERAL NOTES FOR EACH SECTION:
There are only three different sections. Now take a moment and process that. Three sections, master two and you’re almost guaranteed a 170. Now remember what I said above about how this test is assessing how you think? Well I’m going to go into a bit more detail below. What I’ll attempt, and hopefully do so successfully, is outline what each section is basically all about, and then I’ll recommend how I think during the section.
LOGICAL REASONING (LR):
This is by far my favorite section and really it’s all about arguments. Some arguments have a conclusion, some don’t, some are valid, some are flawed, and some are tricky. What this section is all about is making valid inferences and analyzing argumens in about 26 questions. Now that we understand what we’re looking at, let’s dive into the details.
I think it’s important to have a very strong foundation in each section, especially LR since it’s half of the test. Luckily for you, LR is very easy to separate into specific categories, or families. The question types in each family are similar in some way; you should understand how they are similar and different. I say this because the better foundation you have, the easier it will be to build upon that foundation. With that said, let’s get into it:
Evaluate the Argument
Principle (Identify) / Principle Match - essentially there's an overall assumption guiding the argument to its core. You need to reason from the premises to the core, basically these are one huge S/A question
Must Be True
Most Strongly Supported
Complete the Passage
Cannot Be True
Point at Issue
Principle (Apply) - first you must identify the principle in the stimuli, and then apply it to the answers. I view these as MSS questions with a twist
I know, I know, that's not how the companies do it. Yeah, I know how they do it, I know why they do it that way, but this is just how I think of it. If you don't know what each question type is asking for then I'd suggest reviewing the concepts. I'm going to do a brief over view though.
Assumption - these questions revolve around a gap, which is to say, there's at least one reason why the core might not necessarily follow from the supporting premises. Thus, all questions in the assumption family are flawed in some way. I try to identify the gap, and then come up with an answer, usually I just come up with one and move to the answers, sometimes it's right, sometimes it is not, but usually the correct answer addresses the point my prephrase was designed to touch on. Anyways, wrong answers for these questions will reverse the logic, or not address the core, although sometimes you do see premise boosters/premise weakeners as correct answers, this is rare though, you just have to eliminate as many as possible on your first pass. There are additional things to look for in these such as a correlation supporting causation, causation in general, conditionality in general, and formal logic. For these questions, you must work towards identifying the gap, coming up with a potential answer, then move to the answers. As a side note, and tip, what really helps me slice through N/A questions is to prephrase an answer for both a sufficient and necessary assumption. So if I’m looking at a N/A, I’ll think to myself, what is the gap? What would connect the premises to the conclusion (sufficient assumption), what must be true of the argument if the conclusion is the follow from the premises? (What statement, if not true would collapse the argument) Doing this makes me focus more intently upon the gap, and it comes in handy when I’m stuck.
Inference - these questions require you to use the information provided to you in the stimulus to select an answer, which must follow from that information. Scope is your biggest obstacle in these, you have to possess a very narrow sense of scope, cut down the wrong answers, diagram if you must, and remember the information is in the stimulus, and the correct answer will always follow from it. I'll diagram conditional and formal logic, the rest I usually just work from my notations in the stimulus. I usually look for very un-absolute language in these, because words and phrases like "some may," "one cause may be," "(this thing) might," are so not absolute that they can almost always be supported, if not the most strongly supported. Also know that there’s usually not a core in these, just a bunch of statements, usually containing conditional or formal logic, or causation, you need to develop a sense of what is important and what is not. The sad thing is that the only way to do this is to do an obnoxious number of inference family questions.
Structure - these questions require you to understand the abstract nature of the argument and pay attention to subtle shifts in terms, degree, division, etc. and select an answer, which either conforms to the information in the stimulus, or to describe it in an abstract fashion. I usually diagram matching questions; argument part questions are usually pretty straightforward.
As a quick tip, you should prephrase an answer after reading the stimulus to every question type except Must Be True questions and Principle Apply questions. Digging deeper, because the members of the assumption family all resolve around a gap, which the correct answer will attack, these are easily prephrased. In terms of the inference family, everything except Must be True and Principle apply questions, which I encourage diagramming, are also easily prephrased. If you assume that diagramming is a prephrase of sorts, then technically, I encourage prephrasing everything in LR. The matching family requires a mental or physical diagram and you’re set.
Once you learn the basics your biggest obstacle will be applying the concepts, identifying the relevant parts of arguments, weeding through answers and timing. I’ll spend a second on timing here. This tends to be a big problem for people. I’ve gotten to where I’d finish each LR section before the five minute mark, one way that helped me get there is developing a pattern of approaching questions:
1. Read the question stem (the actual question)
2. Identify what type of question the stem refers to
3. Read the question stimulus.
(3a) If assumption, identify the core, then the gap, come up with a likely candidate
(3b) If Inference, diagram if necessary, link the logic, usually the correct answer to these links logic
(3c) If matching, diagram that shit
4. Move to the answers
(4a) First pass, try to find the correct answer by eliminating the wrong ones. Eliminate answers containing language that is out of scope due to degree, (All, Every, Must, Always, etc.). Eliminate answers with logical errors, (mistaken reversal/negation)
(4b) Second pass, usually it’s down to one, but let’s assume two. Ask yourself, "What makes these answers different?" Which one is most likely to satisfy the question type? Although there is only one right answer to each question, so by definition the others are wrong, it is easier during timed conditions to look at the separation between two answers instead of trying to put absolute labels on them like right or wrong. This is really the most important part of answering questions. You need to focus here and make a conscious effort when selecting answers. What I’m getting at here is that for every single answer you select, you need to have a reason for selecting that answer, not a gut feeling, you need to be able to tell yourself, “This is why I think this answer is the credited response.”
The process described above takes me a minute or less for the first ten/fifteen problems, usually I slow down during numbers 17 -21, (for some reason, I find the tricky ones are in here), then I grind through the last four/five. I find that the first fifteen are extremely easy, and by extremely easy, I mean that the wrong answers are very wrong and the right answers are very right. You should anticipate this in the first fifteen. The next five to seven can be, but not always are, tricky, by tricky I mean that there may be more than one attractive answer, in addition, the stimuli during these questions tends to be more dense than the preceding ones. The last four or five are usually very straightforward, but because the stimuli are longer, and/or denser, they take more time. There’s also a subtle shift in the answer choices from 1-24, there’s clearly only one right answer in the first fifteen, but the last 12 or so tend to have more than one likely candidate until you look closer, see my approach above. As a side tip, sometimes you may get confused, maybe the information in the stimulus overwhelms you, what I do is pause for a moment and tell myself, this question is actually very easy, LSAC is just trying to trick you, now is the time to figure it out. The worst part is that no matter how difficult the question is, and I’ll grant one exception (PT 52, S1, Q16), but only that one exception, every single other question, if you give me or another qualified person the opportunity, we will explain it so that you clearly see, and will hate yourself for not doing so, that the question is actually really easy, there is only one correct answer, and that that answer is clearly better than the rest.
If there is a family that you should be better at than the others, it’s the Assumption family. Why? Because the members of this family make up a large part of the test. Now I tried something slightly different during my reviews when I saw a tricky question of this family, sometimes I even did it for easy questions. What I did was prephrase an answer to every member of the family. By doing this I got much better at this than just looking at the members as completely separate things. I suggest you do the same. So if you see a N/A question and you want to give this a try, during your review, pretend the question stem is asking you for each of the members of the Assumption family as I’ve listed it above, then prehprase an answer to each of the members.
A couple things come up so often that you should understand them completely. They are, Weaken with Causation, Formal Logic in General, and Conditionality in General. Links covering these in are provided at the end, but because I have two previous posts that fit well here, I’ll explain a bit of the first two:
Weaken with Causation. Usually these proceed by introducing a correlation, then linking a casual claim to the correlation in the core by making a sweeping causal claim. For example, in a study conducted recently of a representative sample of people, researchers found that most depressed people suffer from alcoholism. This is conclusive evidence that depression causes alcoholism. Now as you should know from your books, there are three ways to weaken a causal claim:
1. The stated cause is in fact the effect, and the stated effect is in fact the cause (reverse the relationship). Using the example above, I’d expect the correct answer to say, ignores the possibility that alcoholism causes depression
2. Show that when the cause occurs, the effect does not occur. Using the example above, everyone who watches Mad Men suffers from depression but none of them suffer from alcoholism.
3. Identify an alternate cause for both the stated cause and the stated effect. Using the example above, I’d expect something along the lines of, being in a marriage causes both depression and alcoholism
Formal Logic. This stuff is literally the easiest thing on the test if you know how to diagram it using Powerscore’s methods. The stimulus will revolve around shifts in degree from Some, (many, a couple, not most, not all, less than a majority, etc.) to Most, (almost always, a majority, etc.) to Absolutes: All/None (straight up conditionality, All, Every, any, none, etc.), and not necessarily in that order. First thing you need to do is read Powerscore’s section on this, the Some train is awesome. But I’ll do a brief overview using PT 55, S1, #25 as an example:
Stimulus: Some A’s are B’s. If B then C. If not D then not B.
Stem: Must be True EXCEPT
Now, rearranging it, mentally, you know the following relationship, I’d write it down to be sure though:
A <--(S)--> B ----> C and D
Things we know:
• By extending the some across the absolute, we know that some A’s are C’s and D’s.
• Since B ----> C and D, and we know that B exists, some C’s must be with some D’s
• If B then C and D, and if not C or not D then not B
Things we don’t know, if C ----> D, put another way, D only occurs when C occurs, now you might be thinking well, if B then both right? Yeah, but what if B doesn’t occur? Then we could have C or D in isolation.
Conditionality. My favorite questions are usually S/A questions, mostly because many of them have conditional logic, as a tip, for these you need the core/conclusion to be the necessary condition of the correct answer. I could go into this, but so many others already have, so just check the links at the end of the guide or try digging through the LSAT Prep Forum.
READING COMPREHENSION (RC):
I look at the whole things as basically 24 - 28 inference questions. Every RC question asks you to select an answer based off the information in the passage and specific lines in the passage will support the right answer, while the incorrect ones will be unsupported or contradict lines in the passage. Also, to touch upon the passage as a whole, each passage will begin by describing something, and then it will introduce the views of critics/other people to support and/or contradict this thing. Those views will be supported and/or contradicted by examples, analogies, or surveys. But what's most important is what the author is saying, so we know that all that stuff above is going to be in every passage, but what does the author think? Note the author's position every time, words like unfortunately, surprisingly, etc. are subtle hints that some questions pick up on, but most of the time the author's voice is most noticeable, based on what I've seen, is in the first and/or the last paragraph, why I don’t know. When doing RC, just remember that many questions appear tricky because of the answers, so if I read a question and don't have an idea of what the answer is, then I'll go back to the relevant part of the passage and double check before going into the answers.
What I do is anticipate from the beginning what could go on in the passage, and then when I see something that fits one of those things, I mentally lock that in. The things that I anticipate could be in any passage, not necessarily in the following order are:
Topic - the overall topic of discussion, generally its a field of study followed by an issue/problem/specific instance/author's work/etc., this is the topic, (basically it's something under the umbrella of the field).
Views - these can be opposing, not opposing, or used as a transition, regardless, there will be views of critics/professors/authors/scientists/etc.
Author's view - this is expressed throughout the passage, but usually follows the topic, usually follows one of the views, and usually comes in the last paragraph
Support - this can be support for anything, usually it's support for a view
Form of Support (this falls under the preceding category, but it's important to note) - examples, analogies, metaphor, studies, etc.
Purpose of the Passage/Main Point - at the end of the passage, I ask myself, "Why the should people read this passage?" and "What do I know now, after reading this passage that I didn't know before?" When I answer these questions in my head I don't try to phrase them correctly or anything, it's just me spitting out thoughts mentally, usually along the lines of "Well there was ISSUE, then VIEW 1, but that didn't work, so eventually there was VIEW 2, which succeeded because of X."
Everything else is a detail question, just by anticipating the things above, realizing how the information in the passage matches the things above, and connecting the dots, I can frequently eliminate most of the wrong answers in each question. Now I know these categories are stressed in every book, but I'm suggesting that before every RC passage you approach it like a treasure hunt. These things are in almost every passage, just find them and connect the dots. To get in the habit of this, what I did was, before every section, take a deep breath and think of the categories, how they interact, and then remind myself that they will be present and I just needed to find them.
I read for structure, while simultaneously notating examples, the author's voice, analogies, and claims. I really don't process that much content, because honestly, there's going to be a topic, I remember that, then at least one view, I remember that, that view will be supported, if not then, by not supporting the view, there will be another view which contradicts the first view, that view will be supported, and the author's view. Really I just remember what the views are, where and how they are supported, abstractly speaking, and what the author thinks. That's usually sufficient to kill main point questions, passage structure, author's tone, and what the author agrees with, the rest, inference questions, and detail questions, I just go back into the passage.
As a side note, many people read guides, MLSAT, LRB, the one I just did above, and when they continue making the same mistakes, they blame the guides, some even go so far as to call them ineffective. But it is one thing to read guides, and another thing entirely to apply what you have learned from them and it takes practice. When you practice new methods, the information presented in that guide should be at the forefront of your thought process when the during the section. For example, you just read my guide above. Now do an RC passage.
Did you think about what could present itself in the passage? Did you read the information in the passage and mentally separate it into one of the above categories? If yes, then that’s awesome, how did you do? What tripped you up? Did this method work effectively for you? If no, referring to the previous question, then why didn’t it work? What do you think you could have done to answer more questions correctly? One of the guides will work for you, the guides are all over this website and I’ve linked many of them at the bottom of the page. RC was my biggest weakness for a long while. Eventually I made a breakthrough. It wasn't like I really did anything differently than I usually do; I just became familiar with the patterns in RC and then started recognizing them as they occurred.
LOGIC GAMES (LG):
Sorry if LG is your weakness, I just didn't struggle very much with it. I did at the beginning of my prep, but after doing the games books, Cambridge over and over, watching 7sage and checking that against Manhttan's forums, I began to ace them, then I just kept redoing them every few days to stay sharp. What helped me was learning when to make hypotheticals, when not to, and how to approach specific questions.
I got in the habit of basically not doing hypos for the first game in each section, I would usually just work from my master diagram for that game. Of course, if I needed to I would. I never really had any trouble with timing after Cambridge, instead I had issues on specific questions, sometimes I would just hit a wall during games. The issue was that I was moving too quickly through them instead of thinking about each scenario. So instead, I began to hypo more frequently, depending of course on the game, if game three or four, then if I saw a conditional question, I immediately started to hypo it. What I did though was start prephrasing my answers to conditional questions, and after I got in the habit of it, I could almost predict the answer every time before seeing the answers. This made me more accurate, and faster I think. In order to prephrase answers, I found out what must be true in every conditional question. Because in every question where an element is moved into a position, or taken out of a postion, rules are triggered, by finding out what must be true in that case, I could not only eliminate answers easily but also I could also predict the correct answer. This approach worked really well for me, and once I became good at games, they were actually entertaining.
So give this a shot, hopefully it works. But at the very least, do the old games. Do them again, and again if you have to.
Eat healthy sometimes, spend Fridays at happy hour, and Saturdays too if you can manage it. Just try to forget about the test when you have free time.
How did you use TLS?
I and about eight others from the June study group formed a group. We had a mass email going where we would plan days and times to take PTs and review. It was good to bounce ideas and views off each other such as how A got to the correct answer or how B eliminated a tricky incorrect answer, etc. I recommend you do the same.
How was the Test/What Would You do Differently?
I took the test in June and scored a 172. I knew I should have been content. A 172 is a great score. But I was annoyed that my real score was below my practice tests at the time. I thought I got over it after a week, and I started teaching and tutoring the test shortly after receiving my score. Eventually, I gave in and signed up for a retake. Now that I think about it, I could have just described a character flaw of mine. So what changed between my first and second takes? Not much really. I got into the schools I was a reach for, was having a great time working with students, and I took some practice tests lazily.
You Retook Tests, is that Good?
Yes. I emphatically endorse redoing old PTs. The value of redoing them is severely underrated on this site, unless you know where to look. The argument against redoing them usually begins with the premise that doing something you have done before is less beneficial than doing something new. And I agree with that statement. But the argument usually takes a twist when it then goes that since old PTs are not new, they are not an accurate indication of one's score. And since they are not an accurate indication of one's score, they should basically be frowned upon. Yes, I took some liberties with the phrasing, but that's really the gist of the argument that people have against redoing PTs or old sections. I could attempt to convince you otherwise, however I don't have the energy and I think someone has already covered it well. Below is a link to this post I'm referring to and my favorite part of it.
Reusing PrepTests Will Not Hurt You!
EarlCat wrote:Ok, sure, your score on a PrepTest that you've seen before will probably be higher than on a "fresh" one. Whoopie do. The point of doing preptests is not to have an "accurate" preptest score, it's to get better at the test.
What was your Diagnostic?
I'm not sure of the exact number, but it was in the middle of the 50s, maybe slightly higher or lower. My main issue was games. I remember that I missed somewhere between 15 and 20. I even gave up on one of the games. My LR scores were -12 combined, not sure why I remember that. And my RC score was somewhere between -8 and -12. This is from memory with little attempt at precision mainly because I have no idea how to actually find my score from a PT I took so long ago, so please don't quote me on this.
Expect the Unexpected
People have asked me a lot over the past year and a half "What do I do if there's a circle game? Or, what is the likelihood of a mapping game/difficult passage? IS LSAC OUT TO GET ME?"
This is an important test, but if you psych yourself out, if you convince yourself that there are types of games, or subjects in RC, or question types in LR that would ruin your test, then if you see anything that fits these qualities you will have a small or large mental breakdown during the test, and that's one of the worst things you can do to yourself. Now you may be a masochist and enjoy self loathing and defeat, but if you don't then what you should do is expect to be challenged on this test.
Anticipate something unusual, be it a game, passage type, or five parallel questions back to back, look forward to it. You've done the work, you can think on your feet, you should be confident that you can handle curveballs LSAC throws your way. So when something odd or unusual pops up on the test, recognize that this is the unexpected situation you thought would appear and instead of freaking out, give it your best shot----by doing so you've already separated yourself from the majority of test takers, and what's more, you avoided the pitfalls of a mid-test collapse.
I have read many of the links presented in this website. Below are the ones I founds most helpful. Click around the websites, there's a bunch of good stuff on them.
The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 179 for Retakers
TLS1776's Thoughts on the LSAT
Pithypike's Complete LSAT Study Guide
Great Advice on How to get 160+ on the LSAT...
Graeme’s free Online Email Course
Great New LSAT Articles on TLS
The LSAT Blog
Free Velocity Videos
A BIT OF EVERYTHING:
Blueprint's LSAT Blog
Manhattan's Answers and Explanations
7 Sage LG Explanations
LSAT Hacks Explanations (Graeme's Blog)
Books; BP LG, LRB, MLSAT, then drilling, then PTs. Every time you select and eliminate an answer, you should have a good reason for doing so. And perhaps, most importantly, be confident. If you work hard preparing for this test, trust that it will pay off and don’t second guess yourself on test day.