Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

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LSAT Hacks (Graeme)
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Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:02 am

Hi everyone. I used to have an active question and answer thread, and decided to start a new one. Happy to answer any LSAT questions you've got.

I'll give you my background. I took the LSAT in June 2007, and got a 177. Worked for Testmasters, taught for a Canadian company called Ivy Global (still do), and tutor on my own. Went to a Canadian law school for a bit, but decided to work full time with the LSAT.

I'm the moderator of Reddit's LSAT forum, I used to work with 7Sage, and I write books of LSAT explanations.

My latest project is a website with free explanations for LSAT 69. I'm planning to put explanations for other tests online; I already have 29-38 and 65-68 ready to go. The site is an experiment. Hopefully you'll like it. Not sure where I'll go with it, but I think that good things come from free.

So, I'm here to answer questions. Ask away.

p.s. The site is new, so it's google rank is not so great. Let me know if you can't find it. I'm not linking directly due to TLS policy. The website is LSAT Hacks. Hacking the LSAT is my book series.
Last edited by LSAT Hacks (Graeme) on Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:54 am, edited 2 times in total.

littlegiant
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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby littlegiant » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:13 am

What would you say is a typical point jump from someone who scored poorly on a previous test (assuming prep was poor as well) but became dedicated for a retake?

Obviously no scientific answer is expected, just asking for you to comment from your experience tutoring the LSAT

Thanks for doing this, and your explanation of PT69 was very helpful as well!

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:24 am

Really depends where the student started. Going from 138 to 155 is much easier than going from 160 to 170.

In fact, from my anecdotal experience, any score under 150 seems to be pretty similar. I teach classes, have students start anywhere from 138-147 or so, and they all tend to reach about 150-155 in short order. Then the real work kicks in.

I think there are three phases of improvement:

1. Getting used to the test. Anyone will improve about 4-5 points just from getting used to LSAT questions.
2. Learning the stuff that's easy to learn. Basic logic games diagram, LR diagramming and quantifiers, argument structure. Any of the stuff that's easy to teach. Another 4-5 points.
3. The hard stuff: efficient LG methods. Having a detailed grasp of the structure of RC passages. Spotting precise distinctions in LR. Avoiding common LR errors that aren't question types: rate vs. amount, percentage vs. number, the 1001 logical errors your brain makes that the LSAT exploits, etc.

Potential point gain of the third one: unlimited, but gets harder with each point increase. You'll naturally get the low hanging fruit first.

I do NOT stand by the specific numbers in this post. Just a rough way of thinking about the stages of improvement.

So, someone who did poor prep probably only got the first part, and part of the second part. Still some portion of easy points left on the table, and then the hard work of becoming more efficient and error proof in your methods. That requires self-examination. You actually have to learn to think better to make the third level of improvements.

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby LSAT Blog » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:26 am

Congrats on the new site!

Graeme (Hacking the LSAT) wrote:Not sure where I'll go with it, but I think that good things come from free.


It's certainly been my experience that good things come from free. I have no doubt that this will work out for you. Curious to see where you take it.

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby Duchess14 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:34 am

I am working my way through a 7sage curriculum right now and finding it really useful/valuable but I am wondering if I should be supplementing the class with other materials like the Logic Games Bible, etc.

Any thoughts on if I need to supplement the class and/or how I should do so? Thanks!

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:40 am

Duchess14 wrote:I am working my way through a 7sage curriculum right now and finding it really useful/valuable but I am wondering if I should be supplementing the class with other materials like the Logic Games Bible, etc.

Any thoughts on if I need to supplement the class and/or how I should do so? Thanks!


I'd say the curriculum on it's own is fine. This applies to any of the popular methods you'll read about on TLS, they're all sufficient on their own.

However, other materials can be useful for two reasons:

1. If you get stuck in one area, a different way of explaining it may make it click for you
2. If you can understand multiple methods of approaching the same issue, then you really understand it.

All the different LSAT methods are different ways of explaining the same thing. They're complimentary, not contradictory.

Once you really get a concept, you should be able to look at the 7Sage or LSAT Blog video for that game and understand what's going on in each, even though they often take superficially different approaches.

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:41 am

LSAT Blog wrote:Congrats on the new site!


Thanks! Am excited to see what you've got lined up as well. Am just about to show my students your day of the test post. They asked about coffee and cigarettes.

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby akechi » Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:40 pm

Hey Graeme,

I spent the better part of June obsessively reading all the guides, posts, and threads related to creating an effective 3 month study plan and had a couple questions regarding the structure of drilling / review for LGs:

1. How long do you suggest to wait before redoing a set of LGs within a certain game type (e.g. Basic Linear, Advanced Linear, Pure Seq, etc)? My current approach is the following: i) do 12 timed Basic Linear games - focusing on accuracy and getting -0 (timed primarily to keep track of future progress during repeats), ii) wait a couple hours or a day and redo the problems that took longer than 8 or 9 minutes until I get my time down to at least 8:45, iii) repeat a third time to verify it was indeed me remembering the key inferences rather than a stroke of luck.

Should I be putting more distance between my repeat attempts of these LGs? In other words, should I do all 24 questions of the Basic Linear / Simple Ordering games then merely repeat the ones that exceed 8-9m? Or is my current method of 12-repeat-12 perfectly fine?

2. How long did it take you to master Advanced Linear games? I feel like I am progressing too slowly on LGs. It took me 3 days to get my Basic Linear (the entire Cambridge Simple Order packet) times down to a consistent 5-6m / -0 and I am on my third day of the Advanced Linear packet and I am still at about 8-9m / -0 for levels 1/2/3.

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby flash21 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:23 pm

what do you think is the best way to review wrong LR questions?

Cutting them out and saving them (a 7sage suggestion)?

or, some people have said that they made a word document with all their wrong answers and listed why they were correct / incorrect

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby splitcity » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:41 pm

I'm having some serious issues with LG. What's the best way to approach questions that seem to require working out several hypotheticals? For example: "If L is placed third, which of these must be true?"

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby steel_shot » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:05 pm

2. How long did it take you to master Advanced Linear games? I feel like I am progressing too slowly on LGs. It took me 3 days to get my Basic Linear (the entire Cambridge Simple Order packet) times down to a consistent 5-6m / -0 and I am on my third day of the Advanced Linear packet and I am still at about 8-9m / -0 for levels 1/2/3.


For me anyways, once I got my accuracy up (like it seems you have), I just found that some games take less time than others. Usually there are two easy ones to breeze through in 2-5m, and two hard ones that take more time. I think you should keep drilling, but it may just be for you that advanced linear take a bit more time. That's just my opinion though.

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:27 pm

splitcity wrote:I'm having some serious issues with LG. What's the best way to approach questions that seem to require working out several hypotheticals? For example: "If L is placed third, which of these must be true?"


I think those can become the easiest questions. The trick is that 95% of those questions will let you make new deductions.

1. Draw L third
2. Examine your rules, one by one. SOMETHING will happen now that L is third.
3. Check if that is the answer.
3. Examine your rules one by one. Something else probably will happen.
4. Check if that is the answer.

It can get a bit more complex than that: sometimes you have to play around with the restricted points of the game, or multiple rules to make a deduction.

You could check out some of my explanations for the games section of LSAT 69. For the local rule questions I walk you through the process of making those deductions. Practice it on your own yourself under timed conditions until you can do it routinely for the game.

Do this on enough games and you'll get in the habit of quickly making deductions for local questions.

(If you're saving LSAT 69, I'll have 68 up soon. There are also pdfs for earlier tests)
-----------

I'll answer the other questions soon, got busy. - Graeme

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby mvonh001 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:49 pm

will you be taking down pt 69 once you put on pt 68? or are these tests up there for good?

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:02 pm

mvonh001 wrote:will you be taking down pt 69 once you put on pt 68? or are these tests up there for good?


No, they're up there for good. I'm hoping to eventually put up explanations for all the tests. I have about 15 other sets of explanations ready to go at the moment. Just sorting out a few technical issues before I put up more.
Last edited by LSAT Hacks (Graeme) on Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:07 pm

flash21 wrote:what do you think is the best way to review wrong LR questions?

Cutting them out and saving them (a 7sage suggestion)?

or, some people have said that they made a word document with all their wrong answers and listed why they were correct / incorrect


I like both of those suggestions. The main thing would be to track them in some way, and redo them. Get confirmation from someone why you were wrong. That can be posting on here, asking a teacher, checking with your study group, reading/watching explanations, etc.

Mistakes are precious. They tell you where your weaknesses are. Pay attention to every mistake, and you stand a chance of eliminating your errors.

I'm going to re-emphasize the part about checking with an outside source. A bit feature of mistakes is that you made them because you didn't understand the question. There are many questions you will think you understand, when in fact you misunderstand them. An outside source keeps you from that blunder.

However, I find in my classes that two students around a 155 level can usually figure out everything about a question that I could tell them. You don't need a brilliant study partner to figure out your mistakes. It's just that half the ideas in your head are nonsense, but you won't know which ones are dumb until you try to convince someone else.

(I have nonsense ideas too, and teaching people forces me to get rid of them)

Also worth saving are questions you were very uncertain about, but got right due to luck.

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby alexrodriguez » Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:02 am

I'm taking the June 2014 LSAT. I've been studying for about two months now. I have the LSAT BLOG 7 month Study Schedule. I have the Manhattan and Powerscore series. I have the Cambridge questions organized by type. I have an account on Economist.com I have a lot more. I have everything any self respecting top scorer has.

Right now I'm focusing on Logic Games. I'll print out 3 copies of each and I'll go through them all.

I haven't read the Manhattan LG book yet. Should I finish this before I continue on with games? Or should I study games in it's entirety and then go back and study it all again post Manhattan LG.

Should I be taking preptest this early on? I've been studying for 2 months like I said and I have yet to taken an official test with the actual time constraints. About a month ago I scored a 157 without time. I've learned a lot since then and I'm curious as to what another untimed score would look like.

How would you approach this next 11 months to study?

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby mvonh001 » Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:23 am

louierodriguez wrote:I'm taking the June 2014 LSAT. I've been studying for about two months now. I have the LSAT BLOG 7 month Study Schedule. I have the Manhattan and Powerscore series. I have the Cambridge questions organized by type. I have an account on Economist.com I have a lot more. I have everything any self respecting top scorer has.

Right now I'm focusing on Logic Games. I'll print out 3 copies of each and I'll go through them all.

I haven't read the Manhattan LG book yet. Should I finish this before I continue on with games? Or should I study games in it's entirety and then go back and study it all again post Manhattan LG.

Should I be taking preptest this early on? I've been studying for 2 months like I said and I have yet to taken an official test with the actual time constraints. About a month ago I scored a 157 without time. I've learned a lot since then and I'm curious as to what another untimed score would look like.

How would you approach this next 11 months to study?


Go out and party for the next 5 months - go fuck some girls, do some drugs , make bad decisions, because once you really start studying your not gonna have time to do anything like that again....

just my $0.02

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby alexrodriguez » Fri Jul 19, 2013 1:21 pm

I'm forward deployed right now out in the Indian Ocean. I'm in the Navy.

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby mvonh001 » Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:05 pm

louierodriguez wrote:I'm forward deployed right now out in the Indian Ocean. I'm in the Navy.



... O. Well then, um... disregard what i said, UNLESS they actually know how to have a good time on deployments. But if not, then, I guess, continue studying away?

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby jrsbaseball5 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 3:32 pm

Graeme-

I'm having some difficulty understanding how to approach Most Strongly Supported questions. I have been creating my own drill packets and included them with Must Be True and tried to approach them the same way, which I feel is incorrect. Next, I have seen them listed under Strengthen questions, which means I will try to help the conclusion to become stronger. My question is two-fold

1) What is the best way to approach MSS questions?
2) Should I use them to drill strengthen questions or will the approach be different?

Thanks!

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:19 am

akechi wrote:Hey Graeme,

I spent the better part of June obsessively reading all the guides, posts, and threads related to creating an effective 3 month study plan and had a couple questions regarding the structure of drilling / review for LGs:

1. How long do you suggest to wait before redoing a set of LGs within a certain game type (e.g. Basic Linear, Advanced Linear, Pure Seq, etc)? My current approach is the following: i) do 12 timed Basic Linear games - focusing on accuracy and getting -0 (timed primarily to keep track of future progress during repeats), ii) wait a couple hours or a day and redo the problems that took longer than 8 or 9 minutes until I get my time down to at least 8:45, iii) repeat a third time to verify it was indeed me remembering the key inferences rather than a stroke of luck.

Should I be putting more distance between my repeat attempts of these LGs? In other words, should I do all 24 questions of the Basic Linear / Simple Ordering games then merely repeat the ones that exceed 8-9m? Or is my current method of 12-repeat-12 perfectly fine?

2. How long did it take you to master Advanced Linear games? I feel like I am progressing too slowly on LGs. It took me 3 days to get my Basic Linear (the entire Cambridge Simple Order packet) times down to a consistent 5-6m / -0 and I am on my third day of the Advanced Linear packet and I am still at about 8-9m / -0 for levels 1/2/3.


1. You'd want to repeat even games you finished under time. If you could have finished a game in 6 min, but you took 8, then you didn't master it. That 2 min could be invaluable for a harder game.
2. I found most games I could understand well within 2-4 repetitions. Once I had a game mastered, similar games (which aren't always of the same 'type') came pretty easily.

I don't really think in terms of game types, so I couldn't tell you how long it took me to master advanced linear. I find some games are similar across "types", and some games classified as 'in-out grouping', for example, are completely different.

I think you should eventually move to timed sections. That's what you'll face on test day. But take note of games you feel you haven't mastered, and redo them.

Do a broad enough sample of games, master them, and you can develop an intuition for games that transcends thinking about them in terms of types.

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:30 am

jrsbaseball5 wrote:Graeme-

I'm having some difficulty understanding how to approach Most Strongly Supported questions. I have been creating my own drill packets and included them with Must Be True and tried to approach them the same way, which I feel is incorrect. Next, I have seen them listed under Strengthen questions, which means I will try to help the conclusion to become stronger. My question is two-fold

1) What is the best way to approach MSS questions?
2) Should I use them to drill strengthen questions or will the approach be different?

Thanks!


Most strongly supported are different from must be trues. MBT questions usually involve formal logic, and an answer that is 100% supported.

MSS answers usually have some wiggle room. They're things that 'make sense' or are 'probably' true. In practice, the answers are usually pretty damn near certain. But they won't hit that 100% standard used on MBT questions.

MSS questions (and MBT questions) are NOT arguments. So, they are not at all like strengthen questions.

In fact, the two types are very different. On strengthen questions, the right answer helps prove the conclusion correct.

On MSS questions, there is no conclusion. Instead, you combine statements to form a deduction. A probable deduction, in the case of MSS.

So you should read over everything, then think how it fits together. Do any of the two facts affect each other? Is there one element mentioned in multiple facts? Is there anything you assume to be true on reading them?

Sometimes, you'll see a MSS answer and think "that can't be right, they already said that". That's usually the right answer. They never repeat themselves, the answer is a deduction so obvious that you think it was already stated explicitly.

One thing that helps solve MSS questions is simply listing everything you know from the stimulus. Often, you may forget a fact when thinking about a question, and miss a deduction.

Having a clear picture of the 3-4 facts they give you will help you see how they can be combined.

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:33 am

louierodriguez wrote:I'm taking the June 2014 LSAT. I've been studying for about two months now. I have the LSAT BLOG 7 month Study Schedule. I have the Manhattan and Powerscore series. I have the Cambridge questions organized by type. I have an account on Economist.com I have a lot more. I have everything any self respecting top scorer has.

Right now I'm focusing on Logic Games. I'll print out 3 copies of each and I'll go through them all.

I haven't read the Manhattan LG book yet. Should I finish this before I continue on with games? Or should I study games in it's entirety and then go back and study it all again post Manhattan LG.

Should I be taking preptest this early on? I've been studying for 2 months like I said and I have yet to taken an official test with the actual time constraints. About a month ago I scored a 157 without time. I've learned a lot since then and I'm curious as to what another untimed score would look like.

How would you approach this next 11 months to study?


I think you should work on some games first before looking at the Manhattan book. Having a sense of what games are like will help you understand the theory they give you. I recommend alternating between practice and theory. You should always be applying what you learn.

An untimed test is not much of an indicated of timed score. I'd take at least a couple of timed tests now to see where you're at.

11 months is a long study period. Two things come to mind:

1. -0 is a reasonable goal for games. They're the most masterable section. Set your sights high, you've got time to figure it out.
2. Make sure not to run through all your practice materials too soon. Save most of the recent tests for timed practice.

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby itsanemily » Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:35 pm

Hi Graeme -

First off, thanks for hosting this thread! I am currently preparing to retake in October, and am PT'ing in the high 160s - 170s. I would ideally like to PT around 175-180 before October. I have taken a handful of practice tests since June, using exams that I have seen before, and am starting to build a list of questions that I got wrong. Given that the exams I took are not even new to me, the fact that I am still getting questions wrong clearly means I did not review thoroughly enough the first time I used these tests. Do you have any suggestions as to the most effective way to review wrong answers for LR/RC/LG?

I took 7sage before the June exam, so I am familiar with Blind Review and redoing LG 10 times. I have been doing this for each PT I take. However, I still miss anywhere from -2 to -4 on exams that I have seen before. The fact that my average number of incorrect questions per exam has remained fairly stable suggests to me that my reviews are not allowing me to see the underlying patterns necessary to avoid traps from test to test. Therefore, I am wondering if you have any further advice, guidance, or insight into this?

Thanks!

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Re: Graeme Blake, creator of LSAT Hacks, taking questions

Postby Louis1127 » Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:51 pm

Graeme,

I saw on a couple of your previous threads where you said that improving a significant number of points from one's diagnostic is possible but very rare (talking like 150 to 170). Obviously this is a shared view on TLS. I just have kind of a general question. Do you think this is because achieving this high a jump takes a tremendous amount of work and most people just don't do it, or another reason? Thanks for your help.




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