Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

poirot
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Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

Postby poirot » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:24 am

I took a Testmasters course, but due to too many conflicts during the course wasn't able to invest time in working on the homework. I went to every class possible but I barely touched the homework and found it very difficult to keep up with the class (learnt that I'm not really an audio learner...). Now that I have much more time this year to study for the LSAT, I was wondering if you could provide me with some advice about how to use the TM material. After stalking the forum, it seems that there are two ways about going about prepping: drilling + PrepTests or exclusively using PrepTests with review.

The TM homework is separated by question type so I don't think I need to buy the Cambridge packets to drill (or should I?) and I have around 20 untouched PTs from TM and the SuperPrep. However, I'm worried that this isn't a large enough number of untimed PTs, but if I drill with TM this will "spoil" the PTs. Should I just go ahead and buy the PTs, do them timed and then after a period of time then drill?

I have the PS LG, LR, and Manhattan LG + LR and am planning on reading and reviewing them both on top of the TM class strategies. RC is my strongest section, so I think I should be okay as long as I practice. I absolutely SUCK at LG though.

I'm planning on taking the test in either Feb or June 2014 depending on how I'm feeling (making a major move to another country in a month so worried about adjusting/settling in etc).

Would LOVE any advice you can give. Thanks in advance!

kiyoku
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Re: Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

Postby kiyoku » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:27 am

yes buy cambridge~

kiyoku
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Re: Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

Postby kiyoku » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:30 am

and you can get drills that go for 1-38th PT from cambridge. so that leaves you more than 20 unspoiled.. which is likely going to be more than enough, given that you review like nuts after drilling.

I was worried about this when I started but now I feel that instead of worrying about tainting the fresh PT's i need to worry about focusing and learning at every corner. Unfortunately, having many fresh PTs left doesn't really suggest that I will learn.

So I'd say you don't worry too much about tainting your PTs and go ahead with drilling. I do think you should have at least several fresh PT's waiting around so that you can see a snapshot of where you are at from time-to-time.

poirot
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Re: Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

Postby poirot » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:27 pm

Thanks for the suggestion! I'll look into the Cambridge sets. Do you have an opinion on whether or not I should still get them if the TM material is also broken down by question type into sets? I don't think they are rated by difficulty though will that make that much of a difference in drilling? Do the Cambridge packets come with complete explanations?

Thanks again :)

magickware
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Re: Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

Postby magickware » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:56 pm

Cambridge isn't necessary if you have the previous PT materials (most people use everything before 40 for drilling) broken down into their types and components.

You can also do this yourself if you're inclined to do so, but it'll take a LONG period of time.

Drilling is absolutely necessary though. It's like saying do I learn better if I take a bunch of previous versions of a test that I will take in the future vs do I learn better if I study all the components in the test, then take a bunch of previous versions of a test.

poirot
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Re: Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

Postby poirot » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:53 pm

Thanks for the suggestion! The main reason why I asked about the PTs vs drilling is that I'm worried about getting timing right and it seems like that's a huge part of the test. I suppose I could try to time myself on drills though as I start to get the hang of certain concepts? Also, how early is too early to start drilling? I'm pretty sure I'm going to take the June test now and don't want to overly burn myself out beforehand.

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ScottRiqui
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Re: Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

Postby ScottRiqui » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:12 pm

This is only my opinion, and I realize that I'm in the minority here, but I think the value of doing a bunch of full, timed PTs is way overblown, unless you're consistently running out of time on multiple sections, or you're seriously worried about test anxiety/test fatigue and want to simulate the stresses of taking a full, timed test. Otherwise, I think you'd be better off breaking down almost all of the available PTs into questions by type and drilling them.

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NoodleyOne
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Re: Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

Postby NoodleyOne » Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:10 am

ScottRiqui wrote:This is only my opinion, and I realize that I'm in the minority here, but I think the value of doing a bunch of full, timed PTs is way overblown, unless you're consistently running out of time on multiple sections, or you're seriously worried about test anxiety/test fatigue and want to simulate the stresses of taking a full, timed test. Otherwise, I think you'd be better off breaking down almost all of the available PTs into questions by type and drilling them.

I kind of agree, actually. I mean, you should definitely do SOME, and doing full PTs is good so you're used to switching your mind around as different question types pop up, but I find the main benefit to PTs is tracking your progress more than a means to an end. Also, I find more benefit comes from review of the actual test than the actual taking of the test.

poirot
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Re: Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

Postby poirot » Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:26 am

Thanks for the input! I was getting stressed over not having 30 preptests to do so it's good to hear a different perspective. Would you recommend saving all of the PTs until after drilling?

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ScottRiqui
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Re: Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

Postby ScottRiqui » Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:44 am

NoodleyOne wrote:
ScottRiqui wrote:This is only my opinion, and I realize that I'm in the minority here, but I think the value of doing a bunch of full, timed PTs is way overblown, unless you're consistently running out of time on multiple sections, or you're seriously worried about test anxiety/test fatigue and want to simulate the stresses of taking a full, timed test. Otherwise, I think you'd be better off breaking down almost all of the available PTs into questions by type and drilling them.

I kind of agree, actually. I mean, you should definitely do SOME, and doing full PTs is good so you're used to switching your mind around as different question types pop up, but I find the main benefit to PTs is tracking your progress more than a means to an end. Also, I find more benefit comes from review of the actual test than the actual taking of the test.


All true. But I don't think that people need to burn through 3-5 PTs a week in order to "track progress". I think in some cases, they're getting conditioned to receiving a "score" at the end of their efforts, and subconsciously don't want to do plain drilling because you don't get that kind of instant feedback.

And obviously this depends on how close to your goal score you are, but it's possible that you could take a half-dozen full PTs and only see 20-30 of the types of problems you're actually having chronic difficulty with. That's a waste of time.

I've used this analogy before, but think back to undergrad - if you had access to a test bank of the professor's old exams, did you sit down and take them each straight through (ooh - I would have made a 97% on her Spring 2005 Final!) Or did you go through all of them, see what types of questions she asked and how often she asked them, and then practice accordingly? I'm betting it was the latter.

tl;dr version:

IMHO, 1) Don't get addicted to near-constant feedback. 2) Don't waste time on problem types or difficulty levels that you already have "on lockdown", and 3) You should be able to get through an entire LSAT prep only setting aside 6-10 "virgin" PTs for full-length, timed practice unless you're seriously affected by test anxiety or test fatigue.

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ScottRiqui
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Re: Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

Postby ScottRiqui » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:07 am

poirot wrote:Thanks for the input! I was getting stressed over not having 30 preptests to do so it's good to hear a different perspective. Would you recommend saving all of the PTs until after drilling?


I'd recommend maybe doing one full timed PT a week to gauge your progress, and to incentivize your studying if you need that kind of feedback.

But I feel that I should talk a little more about my particular situation and how it informed my opinions. Your situation may be *very* different, so my advice may be worthless to you. So here's me "airing my dirty laundry" in public:

I only took two full, timed PTs before my first LSAT (June 2013) - one was my cold diagnostic, and the other was the week before test day. BUT, I was already fairly strong in LR and RC from the beginning (-2 to -4 per section, with ~10 minutes per section left over). LG was my problem area (mostly because of running out of time on just about every question), and I plateaued pretty early in my LG studies and was stuck there right up until test day. I didn't need frequent PTs to tell me where I was, since I had a good "feel" for it. When I walked out of the June administration, I predicted that I scored somewhere in the mid- to high-160s, and even more specifically, I felt that between 1/2 and 2/3 of my total missed questions were in LG. When the scores came out, I had made a 167, and 8 of my 15 missed questions were in games, so I was pretty much spot-on in my estimation.

I haven't taken another timed PT since June, so my total still stands at two (or three, if you count the actual June test). Since then, I've just been drilling the hell out of logic games by type, and I'm happy that I've finally "turned the corner" on them. In the last 2-3 weeks before the October test, I plan to re-introduce LR and RC into my studying as a refresher. I may take another full PT in late September, but it'll be mostly out of curiosity and (hopefully) for a confidence boost.

poirot
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Re: Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

Postby poirot » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:53 am

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It definitely helps to hear about your own practice and prep. Glad to hear that you've improved so much (def very encouraging to hear given that prep can be so discouraging). I think I'll try to read/work through the material before drilling and then going to timed preptests. Hopefully timing won't be too much of an issue. Thanks again :)

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Otunga
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Re: Drilling vs Actual PrepTests?

Postby Otunga » Fri Aug 02, 2013 1:07 pm

Timing has been a big issue for me, but no surprise here, as I've always been a slow test-taker. So taking more full-timed PTs works better for me. I need the structure and the confidence of taking them so that I'm confident I can finish each section on test-day. Anxiety doesn't get to me before testing, but it does get to me during testing. Realizing that, I need to maximize the chances of avoiding a test-day clusterfuck by becoming more and more acclimated to formal time constraints.

By the way, if you drill, you still can get all the instant gratification you want by scoring things right away after you drill them. This obviously shouldn't be your emphasis, of course.




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