Week 15: Finally Literate! Day1
I started watching PBS shows because they have a lot of programming that deals with topics similar to what's on RC passages.
Also read 3 Law passagesDay 2
Finished chapter 5 MLSAT RC
I found a good Youtube channel that has a lot of good videos on legal theory: https://www.youtube.com/user/mohsenalattar1
These videos gave me a better understanding of what law passages are about and make me a lot more interested in legal theory passages. I think I’m going to turn this into a habit. Whenever I read a tough passage, I’ll check Google and Youtube to see what I can dig up about it. Hopefully the process of learning more about these topics will make me more interested in them.
Drilled two passages and retook PT 48.
State of Mind: I pulled an all-nighter last night so I’m not as alert and energetic as I want to be. I’m really curious to see how I’ll perform under this condition.
The reason I want to take PT 48 over again is because PT 48 is the test that gave me the most trouble. I bottomed out with a 163 on it a few weeks ago so I want to go back and see if I’m still making the same mistakes as before.Scaled score: 175
Raw score: 97
2 wrong in RC, 1 in LR, and 1 in LG.
I felt a lot better while taking this test the second time. When I compared answer choices with my first take, I was consistently surprised by the types of questions I got wrong. The answers seem so obvious, I can't believe I picked the wrong ones a few weeks ago.Day 3
Started reading chapter 6, this chapter is about wrong RC answers.
Some highlights of wrong answer types:
1. Unsupported answer – this may be hard because it brings in outside information
2. Comparison trap – basically, this is a correct sounding answer with an unsupported comparison tacked on to it. So instead of saying the sky is blue, a comparison trap will say the sky is bluer than the ocean.
3. Incorrect degree – think of opinions as sitting on a spectrum: disgust, dislike, slight disfavor, objectivity/uncertainty, slight favor, like, love, etc. Incorrect degree answers choose the wrong part of this spectrum.
I think the strategy of this chapter works well for some question types but not for questions like Q5 of PT41-S4-P1. I also think that strengthen/weaken questions should use LR strategies.
Retook PT 47. This is another test I did poorly on, so I want to redo it to see if I’m still making the same mistakes.
State of mind: I feel pretty “average”.Scaled score: 174
Raw score: 94
RC -4, LR -2, LG -0. Well, looks like RC is still a big problem. I’m going to keep on drilling it.Day 4
Reviewing some flashcards. PT 47 has two LR questions (#16 and #18) that have the same structure. They both have two separate conditionals in the stimuli and answers that test only one or the other conditional. This structure can be used to test a number of different things like MBF and MBT. I’m going save these two questions for my test-day warmup drill.
In last week’s post, I highlighted a couple of grammatical mistakes from an LSAT passage. After confirming those mistakes with others, I think it’s now fair to discuss the implications of LSAC’s allowance of ambiguity-creating grammatical mistakes in its tests.
First, I think these mistakes were left in by accident. The LSAT is not intentionally testing our ability to resolve grammatical ambiguities through the use of contextual clues because if it were, then we would see the same types of grammatical mistakes on all LSAT tests.
This means that if we come across truly ambiguous language on the test, this ambiguity is not intentional and we have no guarantee that there will be enough contextual clues to resolve the ambiguity. It is entirely possible that we will be forced to blindly guess the meaning of some portion of the actual test.
This is a very bad thing. An established standardized testing council needs to have better quality control over its products than this. There’s no reason such glaring grammatical mistakes should have made it past proofreading, especially on the RC section which specifically tests the skills that grammatical ambiguity would hinder.
In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a big deal. There probably won’t be any grammatical mistakes on our tests, and even if there are, the mistakes likely won’t be big enough to make comprehension impossible. But this will still have a psychological impact on any discerning test taker. Maybe a test taker is having trouble answering a question because of an ambiguity in the passage. If he trusts the LSAC to never include grammatical mistakes on its tests, he may spend some extra time trying to resolve the ambiguity to ensure a correct answer. However, if he knows that the LSAC sometimes leave mistakes in its tests by accident, he may just guess and move on. This creates a degree of variance that doesn't need to exist, the LSAC should never so careless as to leave these mistakes in its tests.
Anyways, this is the end of my rant. With the recent ban of PDF sales, the lack of standardization in testing centers (table size, # of test takers per room, availability of a classroom clock, etc), and now this revelation of innate flaws on the LSAT, I’m becoming very dissatisfied with the LSAC. Law schools need to look into allowing other standardized tests to be considered for admissions. What do the Brits use for their law school admissions? Surely their law school admissions test also test for similar skills? I bet if their test came here and competed with the LSAT, we'd see some very quick improvements from the LSAC.
I’m back to reviewing flashcards.
Something about RC just clicked for me. I think I’m past the stage of “not knowing what I don’t know” and I’m now at the “knowing what I don’t know how to do yet” stage.
I used to try and remember every detail I come across while I read but now I mostly try to figure out why the author is writing what he is writing. I’m finally starting to pay attention to the scale and structure that Manhattan keeps talking about. RC is pretty simple, figure out what the arguments are, where they disagree, and whose side (if any) the author is on.
While doing this, figure out the “structure” of the passage. It will look something like this:
Paragraph 1: Point A, but, point B.
Paragraph 2: Explanation of point B and examples of it. However, critics of point B bring up these examples.
Paragraph 3: Implications of the weakened point B.
The author’s view is found in the adverbs and adjectives that describe one or more of the argument.
The part I’m not good at doing yet is eliminating bad answers. If I keep drilling, I’m hoping the answer elimination process will also click for me.Day 5
PT48-S4-Q10 I feel like the answer to this question is incorrect.
Conclusion: The proposed coal-burning electric plant should be approved
Premise: since no good arguments have been offered against it. After all, all the arguments against it have been presented by competing electricity producers.
The correct answer is (E) Arguments made by those who have a vested interest in the outcome of a proposal are not good arguments.
This answer would be correct if the question were a sufficient assumption question, but this is a necessary assumption question. The question stem asks: Which of the following is an assumption on which the reasoning above depends?
Manhattan Prep’s forum claims this answer is correct because if it is negated, the argument falls apart: “Notice what happens if we negate (E). If arguments made by those with a vested interest in the outcome ARE good arguments, the conclusion is destroyed.”https://www.manhattanprep.com/lsat/foru ... -t509.html
However, this isn’t the correct negation. The correct logical negation should be “arguments made by those with vested interests are SOMETIMES good arguments.” This doesn’t destroy the conclusion.
A necessary assumption is an assumption that at most fills 100% of the logical gap of an argument. If it goes past 100%, it’s no longer necessary.
For example, if the conclusion is "John has enough money to buy a $1 candy bar", correct necessary assumptions can say “John has at least $.01” all the way up to “John has at least $1”. However, a necessary assumption cannot go past $1. A correct answer cannot say “John has at least $2” because he may have less than $2 and still have enough to buy a $1 candy bar.
In this question, (E) is not correct because it goes too far. Even if some arguments made by those who have vested interest in the outcome of a proposal are good arguments, the conclusion may still be true. For example, what if all arguments made by competing electricity producers (who have vested interest) are not good arguments, but every other argument is good? The conclusion still holds up.
Started reading chapter 6 ¾.
After reading the third passage, I started googling poetry forms. I’ve never been interested in poetry but I’m starting to come around to it. I might reread some of the Shakespeare books I still have from high school once I’m done with the LSATs.
Finished chapter 6 ¾. The last passage was a bit tough because I misread part of the first paragraph which made it really hard to build a correct scale. This chapter is extremely useful, it’s really helpful to be walked through a passage to correct bad reading habits. I feel like I made a lot of progress but I still need more practice to cement what I learned.
Finished 4 more law passages. RC is becoming so much easier now.Day 6
Finished chapter 7. Really helpful chapter to bring all the concepts together. I think I’ve got a good grasp of the proper reading strategy to apply to RC passages so I’m going to start drilling with tighter time constraints. I loved the 2 minute passage drill, I had no idea I could go through a passage so quickly and still retain so much information. Best of all, I never felt rushed. Reading for scale is definitely an effective way to read.
The LSAT can pack so much information into its passages that I used to get stuck trying to remember every little detail. This is extremely inefficient because I will have wasted time remembering any detail that doesn’t end up being tested. Since there are only 5-8 questions per passage, the majority of my efforts to remember details will be wasted. Reading efficiently means reading for the scale and structure. I just need to worry about what the arguments are (scale) and how the passage presents them (structure).
A common scale is: traditional view vs new view. The author can take at least four positions:
1. The traditional view
2. The new view
3. No position
4. A modified version of one of the views/criticism of one of the views
A common structure looks something like this:
1. Traditional view
2. But, new view
3. Explanation of new view with examples
The main structure can vary in a few ways and include:
1. Implications of the new view
2. Drawbacks/inconsistencies of the new view
3. Wholesale criticism of the new view
The author can inject his views in a number of ways. The harder the passage, the more subtle his view. When new arguments are presented or expanded upon, look for the adjectives and adverbs attached to them. Anything that is not required for an objective presentation of an argument is likely to be an indicator of the author’s tone.Final thoughts
This is the best week of LSAT prep I’ve had in a while, I’m really happy with my progress. I’m going to start applying strategies like the 4 second preview skim to my drilling process and get more restrictive with my time constraint.
Next week, I’m going to start doing 8 section practice tests (2 tests stacked together) every other day to improve my endurance. There’s only 3 weeks left, let’s go out with a bang!