What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Journey180
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What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby Journey180 » Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:16 am

Just studying and wondering what you guys think should be the "necessary" but not-necessarily-sufficient qualities of a 170+ test taker. Please don't say "For 170 students, ability to get a raw score of 90 out of 100."


For example:



For consistent 170-180 test takers, it is a necessary quality/ability to have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the test and find creative logical solutions in an extremely accurate and efficient manner.

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Brettanomyces
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby Brettanomyces » Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:38 am

Search function blues.

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bumblebeetuna
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby bumblebeetuna » Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:46 am

It necessary to be courageous in a pinch, like a hobbit; a sense that the score is rightfully yours and to pursue it with the greed of a dwarf; a dash of elvish high minded playfulness; and the ascendant destiny of Man.

With all this, the 170+ will be yours!

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wtrc
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby wtrc » Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:57 am

Time effort and energy

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ThetaX
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby ThetaX » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:08 am

Will to keep going no matter what. Knowing when to move to the next question when you are stumped.

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emciosn
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby emciosn » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:17 am

Along with putting in the work studying, I really think it is necessary to be a "good standardized test-taker" in that you need the ability to approach the LSAT with calm confidence on test day. I think there are people that study a lot and know the material but freak out on test day because they can't control their nerves and score relatively poorly.

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vuthy
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby vuthy » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:28 am

Smartness.

LSAT produces some false negatives -- i.e., you can be smart and not get a good score -- but almost no false positives -- i.e,. you can't get a good score without being smart. So to me smartness is the classic example of a condition for 170+ that is necessary but not sufficient.

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t-14orbust
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby t-14orbust » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:29 am

Flexibility IMO. It's one thing to recognize patterns and have strict methods for solving problems but the harder questions that separate the higher scores from the lower ones force you to take a step back and adjust your approach in order to solve the problem in a time-efficient manner.

UnderrateOverachieve
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby UnderrateOverachieve » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:22 pm

I definitely think you need to be above-average intelligence to break 170+. Just above-average though, not Hawking smart. Everything else is just hard work and practice.

I tend to see the really hard working kids that got 3.8-4.0s in undergrad really struggle to even break 160 sometimes. I honestly think with double the time even an average intelligence person could break 170... It is the time crunch that swallows many up.

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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby bp shinners » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:56 pm

UnderrateOverachieve wrote:I definitely think you need to be above-average intelligence to break 170+. Just above-average though, not Hawking smart. Everything else is just hard work and practice.


I think most people, especially those on TLS, vastly over-estimate how intelligent "slightly above-average intelligence" is.

For me, you need to be more than slightly above-average wrt intelligence, a good reader who has read a lot throughout their life, curious, and hard-working.

The LSAT Trainer
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:59 pm

I wrote a loooooong and boring post about this a while back -- thought you might be interested, so i've pasted it here --

Hi –

This is Mike Kim – I am the co-creator (along with Dan Gonzalez) of the Manhattan LSAT curriculum, and I am the co-author of the Manhattan strategy guides.

At the moment, I am semi-retired from the LSAT teaching world, but I do miss talking to people about the test, and I must admit that I love coming to TLS from time to time to get my LSAT fix. In particular, I like following the people who end up actively participating in the study-groups. They tend to be a self-selecting group, and cycle after cycle it seems there are great groups of hardworking students who push each other and ultimately end up with some pretty remarkable results – like clockwork, it happens again and again, cycle after cycle – as a teacher, I really draw a lot of inspiration from this.

I know that a lot of you, with the October test looming, are thinking about how you can ensure that you’ll end up scoring at a 170+ level. Of course, I know a lot of great stuff has been written about this subject on TLS already, but I also feel that I have a unique vantage point from which I can give some additional information. For one, at Manhattan LSAT, I was surrounded by truly the best of the best – teachers who were all pretty much at the top of the field already before joining us, and since my job was to think about curriculum, I spent a lot of time thinking about the various ways that they approached the test (and there were some significant differences in style). In addition, I also interviewed a ton of 172+ scorers and got to see how they all thought through problems and solved the test. Finally, I’ve worked with a lot of students, and I’ve seen a lot of them get to and even surpass their goals, and unfortunately I’ve seen a lot of them not get there. I feel that this broad range of experience is unique, and helps me see some things that other people don’t get to see.

Here’s the point I’d really like to make: a 170+ score is not necessarily an indication of exceptional ability in any one particular area. You don’t necessarily have to be much better at understanding conditional statements, or faster at diagramming games than the 165-scorer is.

The far more important characteristic that differentiates top scores is the full combination of skills that they have. For my fellow math nerds -- to get a 1 in a 1000 score, you don’t need 1 in a 1000 skills – you need 1 in 10 reasoning skill X 1 in 10 reading skills X 1 in 10 mental reasoning ability (obviously that’s a gross over-simplification, but I think the point is clear).

Here’s another way to think about it: sure, your score is based on right and wrong, but more directly, it’s based on how you do relative to the other test-takers (or, to be more accurate, a simulation of the other test-takers determined by previously used experimental sections). The LSAT is a competition, and the most accurate way to think about a 170+ score is that you scored in the top 2.5% of all test-takers. Imagine forty people in a room taking the LSAT. In order to get in the top 2.5%, you have to be the best of those forty. To be confident you are going to get that score, you have to be confident that in any such group, you are likely to be the best.

After years and years of thinking about the test, I’ve come to see the LSAT as a test of three primary issues:

1) your reading ability – they care about two primary components of this – your ability to understand the meaning of common words used in argumentation (since, however, or, therefore, all, etc.), and your ability to see reasoning structure, the relationship between the components of a sentence or a stimulus (your ability to identify a main point, its support, etc).

2) your reasoning ability – again, just two primary components here – your ability to see how two ideas are able to be linked together (as in logic games), and (most importantly) your ability to see why the support given for a LR argument is not sufficient to justify a conclusion reached.

3) your mental discipline – you can simply think of this as your ability to stay on task and not get tempted away to thoughts that stray from that task. Two examples of situations in which mental discipline is critical: during the logical reasoning section, when jumping from question to question, since each question requires something unique from us, and if we’ve not careful we’ll end up mixing up, even without knowing it, strategies for different types of questions, and during the answering of logic games questions, when sometimes we ought to be focused on eliminating wrong choices, and other times on identifying the right answer choice – it’s easy to get lost in doing one when we are supposed to do the other, and that’s invariably a huge waste of our precious time.

Every single challenge on the LSAT can be connected, in a very direct way, to the issues mentioned above.

Now, think about yourself in that room of 40 test-takers.

You want to feel confident that you’ll get 170+? Some people in there might be better readers than you are. And some of them may have reasoning instincts that better match the exam. That’s okay. You can feel confident if you know that no one in that group has your combination of advanced reading and reasoning skills, and your level of mental discipline.

Most test-takers who are near that 170 level are already strong in a lot of areas. For a lot of them, it’s a matter of propping up one weak component – that’s why you’ll hear some of them swear that getting really good at focusing in on argument cores is the key to breaking 170 (these people likely have very strong reasoning skills and just needed to focus more energy on their reading skills), some will say that getting to a point of never misusing a conditional statement is the key (that is, they needed to firm up their reasoning skills), and, most commonly, a lot of top-scorers will say that a ton of practice is the key (practice is to your mental discipline what working out is to your muscles).

What was a key for someone else may not be the key for you. What you need is going to be dependent on what your particular weaknesses are (again, if you are close to that 170 level, I’m imagining you have a whole lot of strengths). You can use the reading/reasoning/mental discipline barometer I mentioned above, or any other general system that feels more comfortable to you, to take an honest look at what you are good at and what you are not, and, in thinking about getting to 170+, you want to make sure you cover all of the bases necessary to be the best of the best.


Still…

How can you gauge, exactly, how good you are at reading, reasoning, etc? How can you gauge how ready you are in terms of that particular issue? I’m sure you have a gut sense as to your strengths and weaknesses, and my guess is that your gut sense is pretty damn good –

I want to make a general suggestion: especially as you get closer and closer to the exam, gauge your preparedness using two considerations—your skill set, and your habits.

When we take high school exams, we generally gauge our preparedness by how well we understand the material – since those exams are designed to test, as clearly as possible, what we understand, just knowing the information that a test was about was enough to ensure success. When it comes to standardized testing, another factor comes in—strategy. Most high school tests don’t require a whole lot of strategy – you go in, regurgitate what you know, and you get out. But of course, the LSAT requires a whole lot of strategy.

And so it’s natural for us to think to use understanding and strategies as our gauges—if we know the rules of the test, and we know the best ways to attack problems, we should be fine…right?

It’s natural for us to think that way, but it’s not ideal. Understanding and strategies do not directly determine whether you will get a question right, and, if you use those factors as your gauge, you are always going to be nervous about how you will perform on test day.

Skills and habits are a far better gauge of your preparedness.

Your skills are defined by your ability to utilize your understanding, strategies, and experience in the context of real problems – your ability to turn understanding and strategies into action. Your habits determine how consistently you are able to apply you skills at their best.

Off the top of my head, here are what I would say are the general skills required for high-level success on the LSAT --

Logical Reasoning
- ability to easily and intuitively understand the task presented in the question stem
- ability to identify and understand conclusions of arguments
- ability to recognize support for conclusions
- ability to see why the support does not justify the conclusion (*the key)
- ability to recognize when particular phrases can be linked together to form additional truths (far less important than most people think)
- ability to predict characteristics of right answer and wrong answers based on what is given in the question stem and the stimulus
- ability to correctly sense the degree to which we should be able to anticipate the right answer (for example, you should be able to pretty much 100% be able to anticipate the right answer for an “ID the Conclusion,” but you should not expect to be able to anticipate the right answer for an inference question).
- ability to eliminate wrong choices based on specific and absolute reasons
- ability to use a variety of task-specific tools to confirm the correct answer

Reading Comprehension
- ability to recognize the overall reasoning structure of a passage (*the key)
- ability to correctly understand the specific tasks that each question stem presents
- ability to recognize the correct points at which it’s necessary to return to the passage for specific information
- ability to anticipate characteristics of right and wrong answers
- ability to eliminate wrong choices for specific reasons that directly relate to the question stem and the passage
- ability to confirm the right answer

Logic Games
- ability to get a big-picture understanding of the parameters of the game(*key)
- ability to correctly understand ALL rules and notate them in an intuitive and usable way (*key)
- ability to recognize most inferences as they present themselves
- ability to keep clear the distinction between what is known about a game and what is not
- ability to correctly utilize the question stem to define approach (this is a simple enough step, but in my experience the vast majority of test-takers under-utilize the information in the question stem).
- ability to intuitively recognize whether to search for a right answer or to eliminate wrong ones.
- ability to use secondary strategies, such as creating hypotheticals, when need be

I know that most of you are taking a lot of practice tests as part of your final prep (as you should) – as you review your performance on those exams, I strongly encourage you to use skills and habits to assess how you did. If you miss a question, don’t just make sure you understand why another answer is right. Think about it in terms of the skills and/or habits that let you down (I didn’t have a clear sense of what was the support vs what was the background / I wasn’t able to eliminate enough wrong answers with confidence, I gave in to temptation and considered issues outside the argument, etc). Again, feel free to use the specific skill let listed above, or any other listing you feel more comfortable with—that part doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you think about everything in terms of the actions you took, and in terms of actions you can perform better.

It may seem like a small thing, but, as you get closer and closer to the test, you will find that using skills and habits, as opposed to understanding or time spent studying or anything else as a barometer, gives you a far more accurate, less-stressful understanding of where you are in terms of how you face up to the exam.

One final final tip – when you are taking practice tests, here’s one thing I think is helpful: as you are working through a section, mark the questions for which you don’t feel 100% certain of the right answer. When you are done, after you’ve checked to see which questions you’ve missed, pay careful attention to which ones you knew to be challenging for you, and which ones you felt certain you got right but then ended up getting wrong. These different types of misses are often due to different types of issues (for example, if you misunderstand or underutilize a question stem, you are more likely to feel certain you selected the correct answer when in fact you didn’t). Commonly (though not always), the questions we miss that we feel certain we got right are more indicative of obvious, more easily correctable issues. The ones for which we get down to two choices but select the wrong choice are often – if you are taking the test at a high level – the most objectively difficult questions.

If you’ve read thus far, you clearly have the stamina for the exam – hope some of the above was helpful. If any of you have any other general questions, I’d be happy to help out if I can. I apologize ahead of time if some of my responses are going to be a bit too long and unedited (since I’m just doing this for fun, I’m not going to edit). Best of luck to everyone -- Mike

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RobertGolddust
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby RobertGolddust » Mon Aug 12, 2013 4:35 pm

Thanks LSAT trainer, that was a nice read for my lunch break.
Last edited by RobertGolddust on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

sighsigh
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby sighsigh » Mon Aug 12, 2013 4:50 pm

IMO, if you can get an A/A- average (a split between the two) in an arts major at a respectable undergrad (I'm not American but maybe something like UCLA?), you have the raw intelligence and work ethic to break 170.

KingofSplitters55
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby KingofSplitters55 » Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:27 pm

.
Last edited by KingofSplitters55 on Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

KingofSplitters55
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby KingofSplitters55 » Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:28 pm

Solid analysis "The LSAT Trainer".

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Motivator9
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Re: What are the necessary qualities of a 170+ test taker?

Postby Motivator9 » Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:16 pm

The LSAT Trainer wrote:I wrote a loooooong and boring post about this a while back -- thought you might be interested, so i've pasted it here --

Hi –

This is Mike Kim – I am the co-creator (along with Dan Gonzalez) of the Manhattan LSAT curriculum, and I am the co-author of the Manhattan strategy guides.

At the moment, I am semi-retired from the LSAT teaching world, but I do miss talking to people about the test, and I must admit that I love coming to TLS from time to time to get my LSAT fix. In particular, I like following the people who end up actively participating in the study-groups. They tend to be a self-selecting group, and cycle after cycle it seems there are great groups of hardworking students who push each other and ultimately end up with some pretty remarkable results – like clockwork, it happens again and again, cycle after cycle – as a teacher, I really draw a lot of inspiration from this.

I know that a lot of you, with the October test looming, are thinking about how you can ensure that you’ll end up scoring at a 170+ level. Of course, I know a lot of great stuff has been written about this subject on TLS already, but I also feel that I have a unique vantage point from which I can give some additional information. For one, at Manhattan LSAT, I was surrounded by truly the best of the best – teachers who were all pretty much at the top of the field already before joining us, and since my job was to think about curriculum, I spent a lot of time thinking about the various ways that they approached the test (and there were some significant differences in style). In addition, I also interviewed a ton of 172+ scorers and got to see how they all thought through problems and solved the test. Finally, I’ve worked with a lot of students, and I’ve seen a lot of them get to and even surpass their goals, and unfortunately I’ve seen a lot of them not get there. I feel that this broad range of experience is unique, and helps me see some things that other people don’t get to see.

Here’s the point I’d really like to make: a 170+ score is not necessarily an indication of exceptional ability in any one particular area. You don’t necessarily have to be much better at understanding conditional statements, or faster at diagramming games than the 165-scorer is.

The far more important characteristic that differentiates top scores is the full combination of skills that they have. For my fellow math nerds -- to get a 1 in a 1000 score, you don’t need 1 in a 1000 skills – you need 1 in 10 reasoning skill X 1 in 10 reading skills X 1 in 10 mental reasoning ability (obviously that’s a gross over-simplification, but I think the point is clear).

Here’s another way to think about it: sure, your score is based on right and wrong, but more directly, it’s based on how you do relative to the other test-takers (or, to be more accurate, a simulation of the other test-takers determined by previously used experimental sections). The LSAT is a competition, and the most accurate way to think about a 170+ score is that you scored in the top 2.5% of all test-takers. Imagine forty people in a room taking the LSAT. In order to get in the top 2.5%, you have to be the best of those forty. To be confident you are going to get that score, you have to be confident that in any such group, you are likely to be the best.

After years and years of thinking about the test, I’ve come to see the LSAT as a test of three primary issues:

1) your reading ability – they care about two primary components of this – your ability to understand the meaning of common words used in argumentation (since, however, or, therefore, all, etc.), and your ability to see reasoning structure, the relationship between the components of a sentence or a stimulus (your ability to identify a main point, its support, etc).

2) your reasoning ability – again, just two primary components here – your ability to see how two ideas are able to be linked together (as in logic games), and (most importantly) your ability to see why the support given for a LR argument is not sufficient to justify a conclusion reached.

3) your mental discipline – you can simply think of this as your ability to stay on task and not get tempted away to thoughts that stray from that task. Two examples of situations in which mental discipline is critical: during the logical reasoning section, when jumping from question to question, since each question requires something unique from us, and if we’ve not careful we’ll end up mixing up, even without knowing it, strategies for different types of questions, and during the answering of logic games questions, when sometimes we ought to be focused on eliminating wrong choices, and other times on identifying the right answer choice – it’s easy to get lost in doing one when we are supposed to do the other, and that’s invariably a huge waste of our precious time.

Every single challenge on the LSAT can be connected, in a very direct way, to the issues mentioned above.

Now, think about yourself in that room of 40 test-takers.

You want to feel confident that you’ll get 170+? Some people in there might be better readers than you are. And some of them may have reasoning instincts that better match the exam. That’s okay. You can feel confident if you know that no one in that group has your combination of advanced reading and reasoning skills, and your level of mental discipline.

Most test-takers who are near that 170 level are already strong in a lot of areas. For a lot of them, it’s a matter of propping up one weak component – that’s why you’ll hear some of them swear that getting really good at focusing in on argument cores is the key to breaking 170 (these people likely have very strong reasoning skills and just needed to focus more energy on their reading skills), some will say that getting to a point of never misusing a conditional statement is the key (that is, they needed to firm up their reasoning skills), and, most commonly, a lot of top-scorers will say that a ton of practice is the key (practice is to your mental discipline what working out is to your muscles).

What was a key for someone else may not be the key for you. What you need is going to be dependent on what your particular weaknesses are (again, if you are close to that 170 level, I’m imagining you have a whole lot of strengths). You can use the reading/reasoning/mental discipline barometer I mentioned above, or any other general system that feels more comfortable to you, to take an honest look at what you are good at and what you are not, and, in thinking about getting to 170+, you want to make sure you cover all of the bases necessary to be the best of the best.


Still…

How can you gauge, exactly, how good you are at reading, reasoning, etc? How can you gauge how ready you are in terms of that particular issue? I’m sure you have a gut sense as to your strengths and weaknesses, and my guess is that your gut sense is pretty damn good –

I want to make a general suggestion: especially as you get closer and closer to the exam, gauge your preparedness using two considerations—your skill set, and your habits.

When we take high school exams, we generally gauge our preparedness by how well we understand the material – since those exams are designed to test, as clearly as possible, what we understand, just knowing the information that a test was about was enough to ensure success. When it comes to standardized testing, another factor comes in—strategy. Most high school tests don’t require a whole lot of strategy – you go in, regurgitate what you know, and you get out. But of course, the LSAT requires a whole lot of strategy.

And so it’s natural for us to think to use understanding and strategies as our gauges—if we know the rules of the test, and we know the best ways to attack problems, we should be fine…right?

It’s natural for us to think that way, but it’s not ideal. Understanding and strategies do not directly determine whether you will get a question right, and, if you use those factors as your gauge, you are always going to be nervous about how you will perform on test day.

Skills and habits are a far better gauge of your preparedness.

Your skills are defined by your ability to utilize your understanding, strategies, and experience in the context of real problems – your ability to turn understanding and strategies into action. Your habits determine how consistently you are able to apply you skills at their best.

Off the top of my head, here are what I would say are the general skills required for high-level success on the LSAT --

Logical Reasoning
- ability to easily and intuitively understand the task presented in the question stem
- ability to identify and understand conclusions of arguments
- ability to recognize support for conclusions
- ability to see why the support does not justify the conclusion (*the key)
- ability to recognize when particular phrases can be linked together to form additional truths (far less important than most people think)
- ability to predict characteristics of right answer and wrong answers based on what is given in the question stem and the stimulus
- ability to correctly sense the degree to which we should be able to anticipate the right answer (for example, you should be able to pretty much 100% be able to anticipate the right answer for an “ID the Conclusion,” but you should not expect to be able to anticipate the right answer for an inference question).
- ability to eliminate wrong choices based on specific and absolute reasons
- ability to use a variety of task-specific tools to confirm the correct answer

Reading Comprehension
- ability to recognize the overall reasoning structure of a passage (*the key)
- ability to correctly understand the specific tasks that each question stem presents
- ability to recognize the correct points at which it’s necessary to return to the passage for specific information
- ability to anticipate characteristics of right and wrong answers
- ability to eliminate wrong choices for specific reasons that directly relate to the question stem and the passage
- ability to confirm the right answer

Logic Games
- ability to get a big-picture understanding of the parameters of the game(*key)
- ability to correctly understand ALL rules and notate them in an intuitive and usable way (*key)
- ability to recognize most inferences as they present themselves
- ability to keep clear the distinction between what is known about a game and what is not
- ability to correctly utilize the question stem to define approach (this is a simple enough step, but in my experience the vast majority of test-takers under-utilize the information in the question stem).
- ability to intuitively recognize whether to search for a right answer or to eliminate wrong ones.
- ability to use secondary strategies, such as creating hypotheticals, when need be

I know that most of you are taking a lot of practice tests as part of your final prep (as you should) – as you review your performance on those exams, I strongly encourage you to use skills and habits to assess how you did. If you miss a question, don’t just make sure you understand why another answer is right. Think about it in terms of the skills and/or habits that let you down (I didn’t have a clear sense of what was the support vs what was the background / I wasn’t able to eliminate enough wrong answers with confidence, I gave in to temptation and considered issues outside the argument, etc). Again, feel free to use the specific skill let listed above, or any other listing you feel more comfortable with—that part doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you think about everything in terms of the actions you took, and in terms of actions you can perform better.

It may seem like a small thing, but, as you get closer and closer to the test, you will find that using skills and habits, as opposed to understanding or time spent studying or anything else as a barometer, gives you a far more accurate, less-stressful understanding of where you are in terms of how you face up to the exam.

One final final tip – when you are taking practice tests, here’s one thing I think is helpful: as you are working through a section, mark the questions for which you don’t feel 100% certain of the right answer. When you are done, after you’ve checked to see which questions you’ve missed, pay careful attention to which ones you knew to be challenging for you, and which ones you felt certain you got right but then ended up getting wrong. These different types of misses are often due to different types of issues (for example, if you misunderstand or underutilize a question stem, you are more likely to feel certain you selected the correct answer when in fact you didn’t). Commonly (though not always), the questions we miss that we feel certain we got right are more indicative of obvious, more easily correctable issues. The ones for which we get down to two choices but select the wrong choice are often – if you are taking the test at a high level – the most objectively difficult questions.

If you’ve read thus far, you clearly have the stamina for the exam – hope some of the above was helpful. If any of you have any other general questions, I’d be happy to help out if I can. I apologize ahead of time if some of my responses are going to be a bit too long and unedited (since I’m just doing this for fun, I’m not going to edit). Best of luck to everyone -- Mike


Hit the nail on the head




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