Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

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olikatz

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Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby olikatz » Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:26 pm

I'm going off of PS Bibles and I know they strongly recommend starting at the stimulus and not reading the answer choices because of the time wasted in doing this. I was wondering if there is a downside to reading the stem first and then proceeding to the stimulus. I figured this way I would know what indicators to look for in the stimulus. I'm currently drilling questions by type so I have an advantage now because I know what to look for for each question, but on test day I won't necessarily know I should have been looking for if I read the stimulus and then stem. Any opinions as to why I should or shouldn't do this?

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Thomas Hagan, ESQ.

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby Thomas Hagan, ESQ. » Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:31 pm

olikatz wrote:I'm going off of PS Bibles and I know they strongly recommend starting at the stimulus and not reading the answer choices because of the time wasted in doing this. I was wondering if there is a downside to reading the stem first and then proceeding to the stimulus. I figured this way I would know what indicators to look for in the stimulus. I'm currently drilling questions by type so I have an advantage now because I know what to look for for each question, but on test day I won't necessarily know I should have been looking for if I read the stimulus and then stem. Any opinions as to why I should or shouldn't do this?


Because you can waste a significant amount of time doing more work than you need. If you read the stem first, you can be analyzing the crap out it when all you had to do was find the main point (because it's a main point question). There's like 4-5 different "families" of questions, and each one requires a unique way of thinking. The only way you can know which way you need to think/prepare as you read the stem is by reading the stimulus. You'll soon find out that saving time is your best friend on the LSAT.

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Baby Gaga

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby Baby Gaga » Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:44 pm

I used different study guides which gave different advice so I tried both when studying for the LSAT. I found that I saved a ton of time reading the stimulus first. For the tougher questions I'd usually end up having to reread the questions anyway. That's just me though

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USayinBoalt

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby USayinBoalt » Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:53 pm

It's personal preference really. Powerscore says read the stim first while the LSAT Trainer says to read the stem first. Try both and see what works for you

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RamTitan

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby RamTitan » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:04 pm

This will sound strange, but I advocate for learning LR by stim first, and then switching back to stem first once you're able to go -5 or so per section. I felt doing this helped me achieve an LR base, but then switching back to stem first made the section go much faster.

I had a tutor say it doesn't make a big difference, and realistically he's probably right. It's probably more of a marketing tool for tutors and books than anything else.

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lymenheimer

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby lymenheimer » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:20 pm

Youre going to have to read the stimulus anyways. But it depends on your learning method. For some questions, youll know the stem when you read the stimulus. For some, you may end up focusing so hard on what the stem says, youll miss a key word in the stimulus.

Tldr: Of course there are downsides, but whether they will affect you or not depends on you.

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maybeman

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby maybeman » Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:16 am

I read stem first bc it clues me in on if I'm looking for an argument, if I should be critical of it, etc. It seems inefficient to read the stim first bc, for example, you'd be wasting time reading an argument parts question with an eye towards an unsupported conclusion when you're just trying to point out a premise. Just my opinion.

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Deardevil

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby Deardevil » Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:39 am

Exactly what maybeman said.

I used to read the stimulus first because screw PowerScore... Reading the question stem first... Scratch that;
you're not even reading the whole thing half the time; you're scanning for keywords to identify the one of 10+ question types.
Once you see you're asked for the main point, you could save time by simplying hunting down a particular sentence.
For MSS, you don't need to look for arguments, just what can be reasonably extracted from the stimulus, etc.

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Blueprint Mithun

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby Blueprint Mithun » Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:25 pm

olikatz wrote:I'm going off of PS Bibles and I know they strongly recommend starting at the stimulus and not reading the answer choices because of the time wasted in doing this. I was wondering if there is a downside to reading the stem first and then proceeding to the stimulus. I figured this way I would know what indicators to look for in the stimulus. I'm currently drilling questions by type so I have an advantage now because I know what to look for for each question, but on test day I won't necessarily know I should have been looking for if I read the stimulus and then stem. Any opinions as to why I should or shouldn't do this?



I'm going to echo what the last two posters said, and disagree with PS's recommendation here. Reading the question stem first is definitely the better method, in my opinion. For one, it clues you into what question type you're dealing with, and if you've internalized your strategies for each q. type, then you'll know exactly what to look for. Certain q. types require you to do a much different sort of analysis than others. For example, a main point question wants you to identify a conclusion that is already present in the stimulus, while a sufficient or necessary assumption question wants you to name something that isn't explicitly mentioned in the stimulus.

If you know what to look for, you can focus on the important parts and save time in a lot of cases. Many LR stimuli are surprisingly dense, and if you're just reading them without an idea of what to focus on, then you're probably just going to try and summarize it in your head, and may end up concentrating on facts that are tangential to the core of the problem. All of this takes up valuable time. Not to mention, once you read the stem, you'll probably re-read or at least scan the stimulus again anyway, to recap or look for something you may have missed. And stimuli are much longer than question stems - if you have to re-read a question stem, that's only going to take a second or two.

You mentioned that you're drilling specific question types now - that's good, because you're developing and working on internalizing your strategy for each type. But you won't have that foresight on a real test, or even a PT. Reading the stem will give you that advantage. It may seem counterintuitive for a little while, since you're not used to it, but I'd definitely advise switching over.

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Good Guy Gaud

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby Good Guy Gaud » Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:27 pm

+1 to reading the stem first

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brinicolec

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby brinicolec » Wed Aug 31, 2016 3:46 am

Like a lot of folks are saying, I read the stem first --- in LR only. It helps me know what to read for. I feel like if I read the stimulus, then read the stem, odds are I'd have to go back and reread the stimulus because I was aimlessly reading the first time around.

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Pneumonia

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby Pneumonia » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:21 am

Going stem-first is a good way to bump up your LR sections from -10 to -4 or so. However, the method is too time consuming to get you to -1/0 LR.

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olikatz

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby olikatz » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:26 pm

brinicolec wrote:Like a lot of folks are saying, I read the stem first --- in LR only. It helps me know what to read for. I feel like if I read the stimulus, then read the stem, odds are I'd have to go back and reread the stimulus because I was aimlessly reading the first time around.


I will utilize this in LR only too. I times myself today and found that when I read the stem first, I finish the question slightly faster. Since there is no time difference, I will continue to read stem first

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brinicolec

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby brinicolec » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:52 pm

Pneumonia wrote:Going stem-first is a good way to bump up your LR sections from -10 to -4 or so. However, the method is too time consuming to get you to -1/0 LR.


Don't agree. I can go -1/0 in LR and I read the stem first.

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brinicolec

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby brinicolec » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:53 pm

I have no idea why I double-posted. Ignore this lol
Last edited by brinicolec on Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Barack O'Drama

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby Barack O'Drama » Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:58 pm

Good Guy Gaud wrote:+1 to reading the stem first



^^^
Last edited by Barack O'Drama on Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Pneumonia

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby Pneumonia » Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:13 pm

brinicolec wrote:
Pneumonia wrote:Going stem-first is a good way to bump up your LR sections from -10 to -4 or so. However, the method is too time consuming to get you to -1/0 LR.


Don't agree. I can go -1/0 in LR and I read the stem first.

Finishing with a few minutes left over is impressive, no matter how you do it. But since you responded, I'll expand on my original comment. I did well on the LSAT, and I taught for one of the top-tier prep companies for multiple administrations (BP/Manhattan). I had several students hit 99.5th+, and one that got a 180.

I think test prep companies push stem-first because it is a quick way to get low-scoring enrollees to improve. There's nothing wrong with that. It's an effective method. Most enrollees have no idea what they're reading in the stimulus, then they read the stem, then they go back hunt-and-pecking for whatever it is that the stem calls for. So stem-first is an effective method for them.

In my experience, those that hit consistent -1/0 under test-day conditions know exactly what they're reading as they read the stimulus. They're naturally identifying conclusion, premises, strengths, and weaknesses as they read the stimulus. They're taking it all in. For that kind of reader, stem-first is an impediment because it takes up a lot of time. It takes time because it slows down the reading of the stimulus by putting a roadblock in the thought process. Instead of just reading the stimulus and taking it in, the reader has to keep in their mind the stem while they're reading. For people who are going to completely grasp the stimulus on one, quick read, reading the stem first will slow them down.

LR is the same thing as LG, just with smaller "games" and less readily-identifiable rules (i.e. the rules are obfuscated; RC is just a further itineration of the same idea).

If you're method is working for you, then stick with it. I suspect you'd be faster if you read the stimulus first, but obviously you know yourself better than I do. So to answer the thread title – for the vast majority of test takers, there's nothing wrong with reading the stem first. But for those that are shooting for 173+, I'd recommend sticking with stimulus first. Congrats again on your -1/0's btw.

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby GreenEggs » Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:36 pm

I always felt that once you got used to LR, you come to realize what most questions are going to end up being based on what the stim is. So I didn't read the stem first, but there's definitely nothing wrong with it.
Last edited by GreenEggs on Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Clearly

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby Clearly » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:18 pm

Pneumonia wrote:
brinicolec wrote:
Pneumonia wrote:Going stem-first is a good way to bump up your LR sections from -10 to -4 or so. However, the method is too time consuming to get you to -1/0 LR.


Don't agree. I can go -1/0 in LR and I read the stem first.

Finishing with a few minutes left over is impressive, no matter how you do it. But since you responded, I'll expand on my original comment. I did well on the LSAT, and I taught for one of the top-tier prep companies for multiple administrations (BP/Manhattan). I had several students hit 99.5th+, and one that got a 180.

I think test prep companies push stem-first because it is a quick way to get low-scoring enrollees to improve. There's nothing wrong with that. It's an effective method. Most enrollees have no idea what they're reading in the stimulus, then they read the stem, then they go back hunt-and-pecking for whatever it is that the stem calls for. So stem-first is an effective method for them.

In my experience, those that hit consistent -1/0 under test-day conditions know exactly what they're reading as they read the stimulus. They're naturally identifying conclusion, premises, strengths, and weaknesses as they read the stimulus. They're taking it all in. For that kind of reader, stem-first is an impediment because it takes up a lot of time. It takes time because it slows down the reading of the stimulus by putting a roadblock in the thought process. Instead of just reading the stimulus and taking it in, the reader has to keep in their mind the stem while they're reading. For people who are going to completely grasp the stimulus on one, quick read, reading the stem first will slow them down.

LR is the same thing as LG, just with smaller "games" and less readily-identifiable rules (i.e. the rules are obfuscated; RC is just a further itineration of the same idea).

If you're method is working for you, then stick with it. I suspect you'd be faster if you read the stimulus first, but obviously you know yourself better than I do. So to answer the thread title – for the vast majority of test takers, there's nothing wrong with reading the stem first. But for those that are shooting for 173+, I'd recommend sticking with stimulus first. Congrats again on your -1/0's btw.

Yesss thissss. I'm strictly stimulus first, by the second sentence I usually know what the question will be anyway. For me my goal is to live in the stimulus, I uproot my life and move there, I look around in that world, I look for things that are wrong, things that are missing, other ways things could turn out, things that are supported and things that aren't. Then I come back to reality and evaluate my task via the stem. I don't look back to the stimulus unless it's role of a statement basically. I shudder in horror at the idea of going into a stimulus with tunnel vision hunting for a particular thing because I read the stem first, I'd never get the level of stimulus understanding I want that way and I'd be way more prone to curve balls tripping me up. I went -0 on both LR btw.

But as always different strokes for different folks, people are free to approach things there own way always with this test.

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Re: Is anything wrong with reading the stem first?

Postby proteinshake » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:25 pm

Clearly put it perfectly. I also read the stimulus first.



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