Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

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theramblingfool
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Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby theramblingfool » Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:30 pm

It's important to me that I break the 175 mark, as I am set on UChicago, and I will be a splitter of sorts, because my undergrad GPA was a 3.45 (been out for a year and a half and working for Wolfram Research, although I don't know if that helps any).

I am taking the December LSAT. I have had to condense the great advice given on these forums, because I got into the LSAT prep game a little too late. A couple of weeks ago, I took my first PT and got a 168.

Since then, I've gotten 171, 173, 172, and 177 on my other PTs. Unfortunately, the 177 PT presents a confound, as I had already drilled one of its RC passages in the past.

My LR is very consistent. I've missed -1 on 7 out of these 8 sections, and I got -2 on the other. My LGs range from -3 to -0, and have been getting better with time.

Without a doubt, it's my RC that's tripping me up. I typically get between -6 and -3 on this section, and it frustrates me that I don't seem to be making consistent improvement. I feel like there's a plateau I'm on and maybe I need to break some threshold rather than expecting incremental improvement (I could be wrong, that's just my intuition).

Obviously, I need to periodically drill LGs and LR to maintain my performance in those, but the bulk of my efforts the next few weeks will be in Reading Comprehension. My question is, what is the most effect way to make a real, lasting improvement on this section so late in the game? Should I continue the timed sections and just PT, or should I go back to untimed RC sections and try and get accuracy down before timing again? What do you think the best course of action here is?

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Cerebro
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Re: Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby Cerebro » Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:44 am

You know how coffee has given some people unrealistic expectations of productivity? TLS has done the same for the LSAT.

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theramblingfool
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Re: Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby theramblingfool » Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:11 pm

An interesting study in social cognition: Pessimistic individuals' self-expectations are more in-line with reality than optimists'. Yet, optimists perform significantly better on the average. A plausible explanation for this phenomenon seems to be that, although optimists' sense of potential is inflated, that inflation actually helps to close the gap a bit. In short, having unrealistic expectations (backed up with the proper drive, of course) actually makes those expectations a little more realistic.

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mellow
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Re: Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby mellow » Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:49 pm

I was in a situation similar to yours for the October test in regards to PT scores and test score goal. Just fyi, you need to be averaging at least 3 points higher than your target score to be comfortable because that test day drop is real (unless you're one of the lucky few). So ~178.

You need to get that LG to -0 with the occasional -1 due to misbubbling or misreading. That way you have more leeway when it comes to the more variable sections, aka RC. I would say most, if not all, 175+ scorers got -0 or -1 on LG.

Unfortunately, RC is the most difficult section to improve on. Where are you losing points? Are you running out of time, rushing the last passage, or getting a type of question wrong? Is there a specific category of passages you have trouble on?

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theramblingfool
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Re: Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby theramblingfool » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:03 pm

I think the issue is a combination of concentration and time restraint. I don't ever run out of time, but the rush I feel when doing each question certainly affects my accuracy.

I've been drilling lately with the mantra "read for form rather than content" and it seems to be helping. When I have to refer back to the passage (which is often), I have a better intuition of where to look. Also, some of the questions just don't ask for details (purpose, most agree with, etc) and reading for content really hurt my performance on those questions.

So at this point, I'm hoping it's just a matter of applying that new mantra enough so that it becomes habit. I'm open to any and all additional suggestions/insights, though.

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toshiroh
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Re: Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby toshiroh » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:05 pm

melodygreenleaf wrote:I was in a situation similar to yours for the October test in regards to PT scores and test score goal. Just fyi, you need to be averaging at least 3 points higher than your target score to be comfortable because that test day drop is real (unless you're one of the lucky few). So ~178.

You need to get that LG to -0 with the occasional -1 due to misbubbling or misreading. That way you have more leeway when it comes to the more variable sections, aka RC. I would say most, if not all, 175+ scorers got -0 or -1 on LG.

Unfortunately, RC is the most difficult section to improve on. Where are you losing points? Are you running out of time, rushing the last passage, or getting a type of question wrong? Is there a specific category of passages you have trouble on?


People usually score lower on TLS, that doesn't me the masses will score lower. Test day I scored six points higher, many others scored higher. TLS is but a minor subset of actual test takers

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theramblingfool
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Re: Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby theramblingfool » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:09 pm

Not only do I do well under pressure, I actually do better with it (comes from an interesting life story, definitely working it into my personal statement, by the way).

So I'm hoping that attribute helps overcome the test-day drop for me. We'll see, though.

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mellow
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Re: Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby mellow » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:48 pm

theramblingfool wrote:I've been drilling lately with the mantra "read for form rather than content" and it seems to be helping. When I have to refer back to the passage (which is often), I have a better intuition of where to look. Also, some of the questions just don't ask for details (purpose, most agree with, etc) and reading for content really hurt my performance on those questions.

Seems like you're on the right path. General tone and structure are key things to look out for in the initial read-through because they're more implicit while you can usually just skim and find the exact quote for detail questions.

Now I haven't mastered RC yet (1~2 wrong on average), so I might be giving bad advice here, but I like to make very quick annotations on the side where shifts in argument occur. So next to "some critics oppose this idea..." I'd write OPP for opposition/opposite side and for "but they fail to realize..." CA for counterargument. I also like to bracket obvious lists and write LIST on the side.

toshiroh wrote:People usually score lower on TLS, that doesn't me the masses will score lower. Test day I scored six points higher, many others scored higher. TLS is but a minor subset of actual test takers

Won't argue with you on this because there's only anecdotal evidence. But TLS doing worse on test day could be due to TLS scoring significantly higher on the LSAT than the general masses. Once you're aiming at 170+ (and OP is going for 175+), a test day boost is much, much less likely than a test day drop. Just a thought.

However, I still stand by my comment that if OP is dead set on 175+, OP still needs to be averaging higher than 175 (ideally at least 178) to be comfortable. Now if OP said around 175 instead of 175+, that'd be a different matter entirely.

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toshiroh
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Re: Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby toshiroh » Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:00 pm

melodygreenleaf wrote:
theramblingfool wrote:I've been drilling lately with the mantra "read for form rather than content" and it seems to be helping. When I have to refer back to the passage (which is often), I have a better intuition of where to look. Also, some of the questions just don't ask for details (purpose, most agree with, etc) and reading for content really hurt my performance on those questions.

Seems like you're on the right path. General tone and structure are key things to look out for in the initial read-through because they're more implicit while you can usually just skim and find the exact quote for detail questions.

Now I haven't mastered RC yet (1~2 wrong on average), so I might be giving bad advice here, but I like to make very quick annotations on the side where shifts in argument occur. So next to "some critics oppose this idea..." I'd write OPP for opposition/opposite side and for "but they fail to realize..." CA for counterargument. I also like to bracket obvious lists and write LIST on the side.

toshiroh wrote:People usually score lower on TLS, that doesn't me the masses will score lower. Test day I scored six points higher, many others scored higher. TLS is but a minor subset of actual test takers

Won't argue with you on this because there's only anecdotal evidence. But TLS doing worse on test day could be due to TLS scoring significantly higher on the LSAT than the general masses. Once you're aiming at 170+ (and OP is going for 175+), a test day boost is much, much less likely than a test day drop. Just a thought.

However, I still stand by my comment that if OP is dead set on 175+, OP still needs to be averaging higher than 175 (ideally at least 178) to be comfortable. Now if OP said around 175 instead of 175+, that'd be a different matter entirely.


That I can agree with

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teampeeta
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Re: Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby teampeeta » Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:15 pm

melodygreenleaf wrote:I was in a situation similar to yours for the October test in regards to PT scores and test score goal. Just fyi, you need to be averaging at least 3 points higher than your target score to be comfortable because that test day drop is real (unless you're one of the lucky few). So ~178.

You need to get that LG to -0 with the occasional -1 due to misbubbling or misreading. That way you have more leeway when it comes to the more variable sections, aka RC. I would say most, if not all, 175+ scorers got -0 or -1 on LG.


Unfortunately, RC is the most difficult section to improve on. Where are you losing points? Are you running out of time, rushing the last passage, or getting a type of question wrong? Is there a specific category of passages you have trouble on?


I disagree with the bolded. Many people, even though they seem to be in the minority on TLS, reach or exceed their PT average on test day. Especially when you're talking about someone who scores in the mid-170s and above, whether that person get a 174 or a 177 or a 179, is really a function of how they mesh with the material on a given test and whether they make silly mistakes or not. If you have a bad day on test day and you're shooting for 175+, whether you had a 172 average or a 178 average on your PTs is going to be irrelevant.

I also think it's difficult to generalize about 175+ scorers. I think it's fair to say that very few of them have a glaring weakness (because it's really unlikely that a person who consistently misses 6 questions on RC, LR or LG can get enough questions right to attain a 175+ score). But I know of several people whose worst section was LG and who achieved their 175+ scores by getting 2-4 wrong there and missing almost no questions elsewhere. It's not more necessary to get -1 or -0 on LG than anywhere else. It's just important that, between the 4 sections, you don't miss more than 6~ questions.

As for OPs question, I'd suggest doing as many RC sections as possible between now and the 7th. I'd also try to pinpoint what types of questions on RC give him trouble (for example, I hated the passage organization questions and frequently screwed those up) and try to develop a strategy to have better success (in my case, it helped to write a 5~ word summary of each paragraph). Also, I've found that a lot of my mistakes on RC were due to not going back to the passage every time I had a question and/or misinterpreting what questions meant. So if it says what does obfuscate mean in line 25, you probably need to go back and re-read lines 24-26 and make sure you pinpoint it.

Good luck!

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mellow
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Re: Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby mellow » Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:02 pm

teampeeta wrote:I disagree with the bolded. Many people, even though they seem to be in the minority on TLS, reach or exceed their PT average on test day. Especially when you're talking about someone who scores in the mid-170s and above, whether that person get a 174 or a 177 or a 179, is really a function of how they mesh with the material on a given test and whether they make silly mistakes or not. If you have a bad day on test day and you're shooting for 175+, whether you had a 172 average or a 178 average on your PTs is going to be irrelevant.
The point I was trying to make was that if OP is aiming for minimum 175, OP should be aiming higher to be comfortable. (On hindsight, I realized I didn't make that clear in my post.) Regardless of test day drops or boosts, you'd want to make sure that your minimum score is within your test range. Perhaps average was a bad choice of words. Getting 175~177 and averaging 176 for the 10 PTs before the test would probably be a better scenario for OP then fluctuating between 170~180 and averaging 178.

On your second point, I agree that if you have a bad day it doesn't matter if you were averaging 172 or 178. But when I said test day drop, I wasn't referring to a bad day but more to how in general people seem to score on the lower end of their range (so technically below average) whether it's due to nerves, silly mistakes, or not having replicated test day conditions during PTs.

I also think it's difficult to generalize about 175+ scorers. I think it's fair to say that very few of them have a glaring weakness (because it's really unlikely that a person who consistently misses 6 questions on RC, LR or LG can get enough questions right to attain a 175+ score). But I know of several people whose worst section was LG and who achieved their 175+ scores by getting 2-4 wrong there and missing almost no questions elsewhere. It's not more necessary to get -1 or -0 on LG than anywhere else. It's just important that, between the 4 sections, you don't miss more than 6~ questions.
You're right, it was hasty of me to generalize. It just seemed from my experience that LG is thought to be the easiest to master out of all three sections so most people choose to maximize their score in LG first. Regardless, I still stand by my advice in regards to OP's situation because LG is easier to make obvious, consistent improvements on than RC imo.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby Tiago Splitter » Wed Nov 20, 2013 7:00 pm

Tighten up those games. Can't miss any there. One thing that worked for me on RC is to rip through a few in five minutes or less. It will help you speed up and will give you confidence because chances are your accuracy will be similar. As with games and LR, going faster on the easier RC passages is key because it gives you more time to work through the tough ones.

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Wrong Marx
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Re: Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby Wrong Marx » Wed Nov 20, 2013 8:22 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:Tighten up those games. Can't miss any there. One thing that worked for me on RC is to rip through a few in five minutes or less. It will help you speed up and will give you confidence because chances are your accuracy will be similar. As with games and LR, going faster on the easier RC passages is key because it gives you more time to work through the tough ones.


I can attest to the truth of this. I found this out (luckily) by observing that I was able to get -0 on all questions on the last passage, even though I spent the least amount of time on those passages. That always happened in my practice tests when the virtual proctor would give me the 5-minute warming, and this was usually when I had just flipped to passage #4.

drevo
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Re: Breaking 175 in the next 3 weeks

Postby drevo » Wed Nov 20, 2013 9:01 pm

RC was my biggest weakness as well going into Oct. It was always all over the place and it was the main thing keeping me stuck PTing at 173 and not 175+. One little trick I picked up late that worked for me on RC was to quickly flip through the passages at the beginning and count and write down how many questions each passage has. Then attack them from most questions to fewest. If passages had the same number of questions I typically did the one further back first (i.e. passage 3 then 2) This takes only a few seconds and allowed me to go from barely finishing with any time left to having about 5 minutes left at the end to go back over my answers.

On the Oct. test I did this and actually ended up going back to what I found to be the hardest passage and changing two answers. I ended up getting those two correct as well as going -3 on RC (which for me was a huge success due to the volatility in my RC scores). I ended up getting a 175. And my last two fresh PTs before the actual test I finally broke through 173 and hit 177 and 176. This method wasn't the only reason for that break through but it was a HUGE part of it.

Also just really get games down. I as well was at like a -0 or -1 always from dumb mistakes. Finally hashed those out and on game day made sure I double checked all my answers since I finished with time. Wouldn't you know it I had misbubbled one and caught it. Ended up with -0.




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