150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

McBrunson
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150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby McBrunson » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:34 am

Just discovered TLS and have been browsing this amazing forum the entire day.
I began my LSAT journey today and plan on taking the exam in either October or December. Took a diagnostic, strictly timed, and scored a pathetic 150. Also, this wasn't really a cold diagnostic since I did skim some LSAT books earlier in the year (sporadically and haphazardly), thus making the score even worse.
My question: Is 170+ attainable? I have a 4.0 GPA, and the LSAT is the only thing that's holding me back from attending a top school. Told a few of my friends that I scored a 150 and their opinions were mixed. Some said it's unlikely that I'll score 170+, while others said that a diagnostic is not a good predictor of one’s real LSAT score. I'm really confused.
For those that are interested here's the breakdown of my diagnostic. Took PT 38 since I didn't want to waste the newer exams. Was this considered one of the more difficult tests? Timing was a major problem for me throughout (especially RC and LG), and consequently, I had to skip/ guess on many questions. I felt like I only had 10 minutes to answer all the questions.

LG: 12/24. Only answered 13 questions and felt lost throughout. Skipped two games entirely.
LR: 34/49. LSAC omitted one question from the exam. Skipped on around 5 questions, guessed on 4.
RC: 12/27. I know, it's really bad. REALLY BAD. Skipped one passage entirely, and basically guessed on another. Timing was a HUGE problem. Did not expect my RC score to be this bad, as I read a lot and scored well on the SAT verbal.

Overall, I’m really disappointed with my score. However, I feel like it was more of a timing problem than with an inability to answer the questions. You just have to be so fast and efficient. Glad I did this exam strictly timed since it showed me I have a LONG way to go. Anyway, I’d really appreciate everyone’s advice on where to go from here.

Thank you all in advance, I really appreciate all the help!

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Nova
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby Nova » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:36 am

Yes.

Ive seen many TLSers jump from a 14x/15x to 17x

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Icecold62
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby Icecold62 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:37 am

McBrunson wrote:Just discovered TLS and have been browsing this amazing forum the entire day.
I began my LSAT journey today and plan on taking the exam in either October or December. Took a diagnostic, strictly timed, and scored a pathetic 150. Also, this wasn't really a cold diagnostic since I did skim some LSAT books earlier in the year (sporadically and haphazardly), thus making the score even worse.
My question: Is 170+ attainable? I have a 4.0 GPA, and the LSAT is the only thing that's holding me back from attending a top school. Told a few of my friends that I scored a 150 and their opinions were mixed. Some said it's unlikely that I'll score 170+, while others said that a diagnostic is not a good predictor of one’s real LSAT score. I'm really confused.
For those that are interested here's the breakdown of my diagnostic. Took PT 38 since I didn't want to waste the newer exams. Was this considered one of the more difficult tests? Timing was a major problem for me throughout (especially RC and LG), and consequently, I had to skip/ guess on many questions. I felt like I only had 10 minutes to answer all the questions.

.
LG: 12/24. Only answered 13 questions and felt lost throughout. Skipped two games entirely.
LR: 34/49. LSAC omitted one question from the exam. Skipped on around 5 questions, guessed on 4.
RC: 12/27. I know, it's really bad. REALLY BAD. Skipped one passage entirely, and basically guessed on another. Timing was a HUGE problem. Did not expect my RC score to be this bad, as I read a lot and scored well on the SAT verbal.

Overall, I’m really disappointed with my score. However, I feel like it was more of a timing problem than with an inability to answer the questions. You just have to be so fast and efficient. Glad I did this exam strictly timed since it showed me I have a LONG way to go. Anyway, I’d really appreciate everyone’s advice on where to go from here.

Thank you all in advance, I really appreciate all the help!


Logic games have lots to do with drilling. But then again I got a 165, maybe not the best influence to follow.

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Nova
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby Nova » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:37 am

check out this guy's thread, for instance viewtopic.php?f=6&t=224337

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Clearly
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby Clearly » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:08 am

Possible? Yes. Easy? No. I personally had a diagnostic of 150 myself, and surpassed your goal. But it's statistically rare, and will require a lot of work, so get started, and don't give up!

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reasonable_man
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby reasonable_man » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:11 am

No. Its not.

Now go prove me wrong.

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Icecold62
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby Icecold62 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:23 am

Also, I think that this is a normal question. I had it too (159diagnostic) I wanted to know how high I should aim. That's the wrong move. We kind of rationalize towards what we think is possible. A 180 is possible, just hard. Don't shortcut yourself. A high LSAT is life changing as you probably know, so put in the time and get one.

Lax101
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby Lax101 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:23 am

To give you some perspective, most test prep companies say their students average a 10-12 point increase, for those who take every practice test, attend all classes, etc. I also went from your score to a 170+, but I also consider myself an outlier (took the test twice, took every practice test available in the past 10-15 years, etc.)

McBrunson
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby McBrunson » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:44 am

Clearly wrote:Possible? Yes. Easy? No. I personally had a diagnostic of 150 myself, and surpassed your goal. But it's statistically rare, and will require a lot of work, so get started, and don't give up!


Since we scored the same, I'd be interested to know how you studied and for how long. Perhaps I'll follow a similar path. And congrats on getting such a high score, you must have worked your butt off. I plan on doing the same. Don't really care if my GPA dips, LSAT is more important.

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Jeffort
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby Jeffort » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:46 am

McBrunson wrote:
Clearly wrote:Possible? Yes. Easy? No. I personally had a diagnostic of 150 myself, and surpassed your goal. But it's statistically rare, and will require a lot of work, so get started, and don't give up!


Since we scored the same, I'd be interested to know how you studied and for how long. Perhaps I'll follow a similar path. And congrats on getting such a high score, you must have worked your butt off. I plan on doing the same. Don't really care if my GPA dips, LSAT is more important.


Noooo! Don't let your GPA slip!!!!!! That would be a huge mistake. You can postpone the LSAT but not your UG demands and you don't get re-takes with UG grades. GPA is massively important for admissions and it would be a shame to tarnish your 4.0

That being said, what Clearly said is 100% true, don't underestimate the difficulty of achieving 170+ on the LSAT on test day. It takes a huge amount of work over a significant amount of time (think many months, not just weeks) to solidly improve from 150 to test day 170+.

My situation is similar to Clearly, started at 151, ended with test day 177 but it didn't come quickly or easily.

Take a look at the study guides linked in the sticky thread at the top of the index. Prepping for 170+ is no different than prepping for 160+ except that it will take longer.

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mirroroferised7
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby mirroroferised7 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:52 pm

Seriously, don't let your GPA slip. Not worth it. LSAT can be fixed, once GPA is done, it's done.

But my cold diagnostic was a 142, after three months of studying (PT'ing and Powerscore), I brought it up to a 168 on my first take.
Second take, I knocked out two more months of just PT's (would not recommend. should have reviewed and analyzed more.) got a 170.
Third take, I've spent two months PT'ing, and studying Manhattan and Powerscore books for my weakest areas. I'll update when I know what my February score was ;)

McBrunson
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby McBrunson » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:53 pm

Jeffort wrote:
McBrunson wrote:
Clearly wrote:Possible? Yes. Easy? No. I personally had a diagnostic of 150 myself, and surpassed your goal. But it's statistically rare, and will require a lot of work, so get started, and don't give up!


Since we scored the same, I'd be interested to know how you studied and for how long. Perhaps I'll follow a similar path. And congrats on getting such a high score, you must have worked your butt off. I plan on doing the same. Don't really care if my GPA dips, LSAT is more important.


Noooo! Don't let your GPA slip!!!!!! That would be a huge mistake. You can postpone the LSAT but not your UG demands and you don't get re-takes with UG grades. GPA is massively important for admissions and it would be a shame to tarnish your 4.0

That being said, what Clearly said is 100% true, don't underestimate the difficulty of achieving 170+ on the LSAT on test day. It takes a huge amount of work over a significant amount of time (think many months, not just weeks) to solidly improve from 150 to test day 170+.

My situation is similar to Clearly, started at 151, ended with test day 177 but it didn't come quickly or easily.

Take a look at the study guides linked in the sticky thread at the top of the index. Prepping for 170+ is no different than prepping for 160+ except that it will take longer.


Thanks. But do you think graduating with a 3.9X instead of a 4.0 really makes a difference? It's my last semester so slacking off wouldn't really affect my GPA too much. I just feel like there's so much more to gain by utilizing the next 3-4 months primarily for LSAT study.

McBrunson
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby McBrunson » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:57 pm

mirroroferised7 wrote:Seriously, don't let your GPA slip. Not worth it. LSAT can be fixed, once GPA is done, it's done.

But my cold diagnostic was a 142, after three months of studying (PT'ing and Powerscore), I brought it up to a 168 on my first take.
Second take, I knocked out two more months of just PT's (would not recommend. should have reviewed and analyzed more.) got a 170.
Third take, I've spent two months PT'ing, and studying Manhattan and Powerscore books for my weakest areas. I'll update when I know what my February score was ;)


Wow, congrats on the major improvement! You just made me feel a whole lot better. And please look at my previous post in response to Jeffort's comment. The same question would apply to you. Thanks!

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mirroroferised7
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby mirroroferised7 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:37 pm

McBrunson wrote:
mirroroferised7 wrote:Seriously, don't let your GPA slip. Not worth it. LSAT can be fixed, once GPA is done, it's done.

But my cold diagnostic was a 142, after three months of studying (PT'ing and Powerscore), I brought it up to a 168 on my first take.
Second take, I knocked out two more months of just PT's (would not recommend. should have reviewed and analyzed more.) got a 170.
Third take, I've spent two months PT'ing, and studying Manhattan and Powerscore books for my weakest areas. I'll update when I know what my February score was ;)


Wow, congrats on the major improvement! You just made me feel a whole lot better. And please look at my previous post in response to Jeffort's comment. The same question would apply to you. Thanks!


Can you not do both? A 4.0 just looks sooooo nice on those apps. And while LSAT study does take time, I did all of my studying while working 60+ hours per week, and during these last two takes, while planning a wedding. I feel like this is not an either/or scenario. Especially if you're a full-time student.

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jk148706
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby jk148706 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:18 pm

Yes

McBrunson
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby McBrunson » Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:52 pm

mirroroferised7 wrote:
McBrunson wrote:
mirroroferised7 wrote:Seriously, don't let your GPA slip. Not worth it. LSAT can be fixed, once GPA is done, it's done.

But my cold diagnostic was a 142, after three months of studying (PT'ing and Powerscore), I brought it up to a 168 on my first take.
Second take, I knocked out two more months of just PT's (would not recommend. should have reviewed and analyzed more.) got a 170.
Third take, I've spent two months PT'ing, and studying Manhattan and Powerscore books for my weakest areas. I'll update when I know what my February score was ;)


Wow, congrats on the major improvement! You just made me feel a whole lot better. And please look at my previous post in response to Jeffort's comment. The same question would apply to you. Thanks!


Can you not do both? A 4.0 just looks sooooo nice on those apps. And while LSAT study does take time, I did all of my studying while working 60+ hours per week, and during these last two takes, while planning a wedding. I feel like this is not an either/or scenario. Especially if you're a full-time student.


You're right, I can definitely do both. No excuses. Thanks for your help!

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mirroroferised7
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby mirroroferised7 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:35 pm

McBrunson wrote:You're right, I can definitely do both. No excuses. Thanks for your help!


Image

bcjets212
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby bcjets212 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 5:17 pm

Just answering the OP's question... it is definitely possible. I've had students go from 130's into mid 160's and I personally went from a 153 to a 180. Don't let anyone tell you that any score is out of reach

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TLSanders
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby TLSanders » Thu Feb 20, 2014 7:44 pm

Though it's far above the average, I have had students improve by 20-25 points. The highest score improvement I have personally seen from diagnostic to actual LSAT score was 27 points.

Although you haven't provided a lot of information, what you write here actually bodes very well for a significant improvement. Since you didn't get to a lot of the questions, your proportion of correct answers is actually higher than your score reflects. Timing is an easy problem to correct, as is the sense of control you seem to be lacking.

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Frozinite
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby Frozinite » Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:24 pm

It's definitely possible. Your first cold-take will be completely confusing, so as soon as you start reading prep materials, your score should jump well as you figure out the question types and general timing strategy.

Then comes the long grind of getting your actual abilities up. This is what takes months of hard work, frustration and heartbreak.

It's definitely possible. I don't consider myself an extraordinary student, but I have really strong drive and motivation. Last year at this time, I didn't even know I wanted to go to law school. I was working happily making good money. Then March rolled around and I did a full 180 (pun not intended!) and decided to go to law school, took a cold diagnostic and scored 15x (I think it was 153?). I then bought everything that was recommended on TLS and studied my ass off from then on. Took the October test for a 173 and already have several acceptance under my belt at T20+.

If you want details, feel free to PM me and I can give you my general guidelines and study guide.

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a.sleepyhead
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby a.sleepyhead » Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:27 pm

Frozinite wrote:Then March rolled around and I did a full 180 (pun not intended!) and decided to go to law school


That pun was too good to not be intended :P

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WaltGrace83
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby WaltGrace83 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:28 pm

One thing I will say is this: TLS is definitely a self-selected bunch. The people here are not normal and I mean that in the best way. Everyone will tell you that you can do it yet the statistics will say you cannot. However, you absolutely must realize that the statistics include everyone and, let's face it, the average LSAT score is a less-than-stellar 151. What that means most likely is that there is a huge majority of people that simply do not try very hard (this is of course assuming that trying hard is sufficient to guarantee a score raise). I have seen what some people consider "studying:" no reviewing, doing logic games with the TV on, guessing on gut feelings - getting the question right - and thinking "hey I got this," etc. etc. etc.

Take the statistics for what they are worth...aka not a whole lot.

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Jeffort
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby Jeffort » Sat Feb 22, 2014 1:29 am

WaltGrace83 wrote:One thing I will say is this: TLS is definitely a self-selected bunch. The people here are not normal and I mean that in the best way. Everyone will tell you that you can do it yet the statistics will say you cannot. However, you absolutely must realize that the statistics include everyone and, let's face it, the average LSAT score is a less-than-stellar 151. What that means most likely is that there is a huge majority of people that simply do not try very hard (this is of course assuming that trying hard is sufficient to guarantee a score raise). I have seen what some people consider "studying:" no reviewing, doing logic games with the TV on, guessing on gut feelings - getting the question right - and thinking "hey I got this," etc. etc. etc.

Take the statistics for what they are worth...aka not a whole lot.


Yeah, this really needs to be emphasized so that new users don't get false impressions and unrealistic expectations about their chances of achieving 170+ just because they decide to 'study hard and prep a lot' for the LSAT.

I don't think new TLS users/people new to the LSAT fully appreciate or understand what "It takes a lot of hard work and dedication" really means in reality when it comes to achieving a high LSAT score. Many people just assume it means similar types/amount of work/studying and dedication they had to put in to get As in hard undergrad classes and/or for other hard tests they've taken in the past because they don't know the LSAT is significantly different than all other tests they've faced before.

Maybe we should start balancing threads like this with more detailed descriptions of what is and isn't 'a lot of hard work/prep' for the LSAT in terms of what it takes to achieve 170+ from a much lower starting point so people don't think it just means reading the prep books back to back and taking 10+ practice tests or taking a class and keeping up with going to classes and doing all the homework. I think many people get the false impression that simply putting in the time to go through all the prep books at least once and working at least 20-30 tests worth of materials satisfies the 'worked hard enough to get 170+' requirement. That common type of misconception leads many people to form unrealistic expectations and to wasting a bunch of time prepping in ineffective ways.

The most important thing people need to understand at the very beginning is that the bulk of the prep time and hard work required to significantly improve and achieve a high LSAT score is NOT the initial time and effort spent reading, learning and memorizing the information/concepts/techniques/etc. taught in LSAT prep books and prep classes or time spent taking practice tests. Many people mistakenly think doing all that stuff, like reading and learning everything in the bibles, is the majority of the hard work before just focusing on practice tests to get faster. They also fail to realize that gaining LSAT knowledge/understanding is just phase 1, the shortest one of a long three phase process.

The bulk of the real hard work required to significantly improve is large amounts of time spent doing tedious focused drilling with thorough review and detailed analysis of everything including careful self analysis. People mistake the 'gaining LSAT knowledge' phase for the hard work required to learn how to and get good at effectively APPLYING everything they learned to be able to actually solve questions effectively, aka improve skill level.

Slow motion drilling focused on getting better and better at applying proper approaches, techniques, step by step processes, etc. to each Q type is the most important LSAT prep work that directly improves actual skills/abilities and score range. It's important to spend A LOT of time doing slow motion drilling before rushing into doing full sections/tests and focusing on timing, but most people shortchange this phase because they incorrectly think working on timing with practice tests right after learning the basics is more important. Developing good LSAT skills and habits through lots of tedious repetitive slow motion drilling is the key to raising score range. Taking timed practice tests doesn't improve skills, it just measures them and gives you a corresponding number. Drilling with quality review is what improves skills and score range.

Pretty much everyone that sets out with the intention of prepping hard for the LSAT completes phase 1 and jumps into phase 3 but few of them ever improve to 170+.

The majority of the time consuming work necessary to achieve a high score needs to be spent in phase 2. People that shortchange phase 2 and focus mainly on phase 3 hit score plateaus below their goal and typically don't break through the barriers without realizing the flaws in their prep approach and changing it.

Here's a basic breakdown of the main phases of LSAT prep. There is of course overlap between them as prep progresses with intermixing of phases. The length of the phases varies considerably per individual due to many different subjective variables involved. Phase 2 should last as long as it reasonably takes to improve ones skill level to being able to hit desired score range on a timed PT, making it impossible to estimate how long it needs to be for any particular person. Hopefully some of this will be helpful to new students thinking about prepping for the LSAT this year.

Phase 1: learn LSAT fundamentals, techniques, concepts, question types, strategies, etc., get familiar with how they relate to LSAT questions, get familiar with working through question types, etc.
This = reading prep books/taking a full length class

Phase 2: learn how to apply the knowledge gained during phase 1 effectively, practice and review that a lot to get really really good at properly applying everything when you are supposed to. Basically, get good at applying everything, review thoroughly and deeply with a focused approach. Constantly evaluate strengths and weaknesses through review to guide drilling and review of fundamentals. This is the phase where the work directly translates to improving skills and abilities and is thus the most important.
This = lots of focused and organized drilling and review, almost all untimed.

Phase 3: put it all together in section/full test format with lots of practice and detailed review including implementing time management strategies and making adjustments.
This = mainly timed practice tests and review with some drilling.

In short, achieving a high score/significantly improving requires a lot of hard work and dedication spent specifically in phase 2 until skills are solid. Phase 2 is where all the magic happens! People neglect it and think phase 3 is more important due to falsely believing that timing is their main problem rather than skills due to mistaking LSAT 'knowledge' gained in phase one for LSAT skills needed to hit a high score. Plenty of low scoring students know all the facts, concepts, details, strategies in the prep books inside and out with most of it memorized but cannot achieve a high score under test conditions despite their stellar set of LSAT knowledge.

Mistaking LSAT knowledge for skills and abilities actually applying it in action to fresh questions is a common pitfall for students that is good to avoid since it makes people think their problem is just speed, which is never the real problem holding scores back.

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WaltGrace83
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby WaltGrace83 » Sat Feb 22, 2014 9:59 am

Great post ^

In addition, you must absolutely realize that getting high scores during stage 2 doesn't mean much unless you understand why you are getting high schools, why you are getting questions right, why you are getting questions wrong, etc. The most important thing is understanding - the score is just a general reflection of where you are. So once again, don't start guessing on questions by narrowing it down to two questions and picking the correct one on a whim and thinking "I got this!" You don't, but that's okay! The only score that matters is ultimately the one you get on test day.

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Jeffort
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Re: 150 diagnostic. Is 170+ attainable?

Postby Jeffort » Sat Feb 22, 2014 7:44 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:Great post ^

In addition, you must absolutely realize that getting high scores during stage 2 doesn't mean much unless you understand why you are getting high schools, why you are getting questions right, why you are getting questions wrong, etc. The most important thing is understanding - the score is just a general reflection of where you are.

So once again, don't start guessing on questions by narrowing it down to two questions and picking the correct one on a whim and thinking "I got this!" You don't, but that's okay! The only score that matters is ultimately the one you get on test day.


I'm glad you mentioned getting questions narrowed down to two answers and people thinking "I've got this!" at that point when the two contenders usually includes the correct answer and main trap answer.

Getting to the point of being able to narrow most questions (this mostly applies to LR and RC) down to two answers that usually includes the correct one is an important milestone in prep that does indicate pretty good abilities with the basics, major foundations, concepts, question types, criteria for Q types, basic methods of analysis, etc., but people frequently overestimate what that means in terms of ability level/score range.

Being able to get most questions down to two contenders that usually includes the correct answer really only indicates minimum 150s range or higher ability level, it does not establish mid/high 160s or higher ability level even though it makes it feel like you are close to that range when you evaluate 'how close' you were to selecting the correct answer on many/most missed questions. Lots of people find themselves hitting a high 150s/low 160s score plateau once they get good at being able to consistently narrow it down to two including the CR.

Breaking that 160 plateau requires building the higher level skills needed to accurately solve the higher difficulty level questions designed to separate 160+ test takers from those below. Doing that means being able to logically differentiate the trap answers from the correct answer in those situations so that you clearly identify and understand why the trap answer is in fact logically wrong even though it sounds good on first read and eliminate it for those reasons rather than making the final decision based on instinct/feel/intuition.

In short, getting questions down to two contender answers is a good step on the road of improvement but is only a high 150s/low 160 score range milestone, not a 165+/170+ ability level indicator.




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