How to progress from here...

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foodlaw

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How to progress from here...

Postby foodlaw » Thu Sep 15, 2016 4:22 am

Hey TLS! I've been a long time lurker and I wanted some advice regarding my LSAT studies. I'm consistently getting around -10 for RC (horrible) and -6 for each LR (the level 4-5 questions + parallel questions). How would you go about studying in my situation? I'm planning on taking the December or February LSAT--though, time really isn't an issue for me since I've decided to take the LSAT when I am consistently PT-ing 170+.

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galeatus

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Re: How to progress from here...

Postby galeatus » Thu Sep 15, 2016 5:17 am

First things first, are you answering questions from intuition or using a systematic approach? If it's the former you should probably consider switching to the latter. Yes there are people who can get 175+ on intuition alone but for us mortals using a systematic approach is much more consistent.

Get the Manhattan LR and RC books, and the Cambridge Drilling pack or companion book and use the drills to really practice how you approach the questions (using the methods in the books) and you should find your score improving, then you can do a few PTs and find what weaknesses you have and, again, drill accordingly to improve further.

3 months should be more than enough for you to get up to 170+ :D

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Blueprint Mithun

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Re: How to progress from here...

Postby Blueprint Mithun » Thu Sep 15, 2016 2:19 pm

foodlaw wrote:Hey TLS! I've been a long time lurker and I wanted some advice regarding my LSAT studies. I'm consistently getting around -10 for RC (horrible) and -6 for each LR (the level 4-5 questions + parallel questions). How would you go about studying in my situation? I'm planning on taking the December or February LSAT--though, time really isn't an issue for me since I've decided to take the LSAT when I am consistently PT-ing 170+.


RC is your biggest weakness right now - what can you tell us about your RC approach? With that section, the key is to have a strong core strategy that you've practiced to the point where it has become second nature. I guess you could say that about any question type/section on the LSAT, but if you tell us about your experience with RC I can help point you in the right direction.

For LR, parallel questions are tough, there's no question about it. In particular, they tend to take up a lot of time, and since all questions are worth the same amount, you're better off focusing on q.types that you can solve relatively quickly. That being said, getting better at parallel questions is definitely doable and is probably worth your time if you're aiming for 170+.

With regular parallel questions, your first question should be - is this diagrammable (conditional statements), or is isn't it. If it is, diagram out the stimulus - you now know that the answer has to have the exact same chain of conditional logic. Don't diagram out every single answer choice (on the actual test, doing so can be good practice for diagramming during prep), instead, try and scan the answers for similar qualifiers like most and some, and look for a similar number of statements.

If you can't diagram the question, try and come up with a motto - a simplified way of describing the logic used to get to the conclusion. This will save you time, as the full stimulus can often be unwieldy and hard to compare to answer choices quickly.

With parallel flaw questions, focus on finding the flaw in the argument. The most important thing is that the answer has the same type of flaw, and that it arrives at it in a similar way. So if you have an argument with a whole-to-parts flaw, make sure the answer choice you pick also mistakes the whole for the parts, and not the other way around.

Level 4-5 questions are very similar to their easier counterparts, in that there are no special tricks to doing them. They are just denser, tend to have trickier answer choices, and require more concentration. I'd suggest save a lot of those difficult LR questions that you get wrong and returning to them in the future for practice. You can also redo sections of preptests that you've already completed, and focus on drilling the last 10 LR questions in each section, since those are typically the hardest. i found myself doing this a lot in my last few weeks of prep, and it helped with being able to handle those complicated stimuli/questions.

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Barack O'Drama

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Re: How to progress from here...

Postby Barack O'Drama » Thu Sep 15, 2016 2:33 pm

Blueprint Mithun wrote:
foodlaw wrote:Hey TLS! I've been a long time lurker and I wanted some advice regarding my LSAT studies. I'm consistently getting around -10 for RC (horrible) and -6 for each LR (the level 4-5 questions + parallel questions). How would you go about studying in my situation? I'm planning on taking the December or February LSAT--though, time really isn't an issue for me since I've decided to take the LSAT when I am consistently PT-ing 170+.


RC is your biggest weakness right now - what can you tell us about your RC approach? With that section, the key is to have a strong core strategy that you've practiced to the point where it has become second nature. I guess you could say that about any question type/section on the LSAT, but if you tell us about your experience with RC I can help point you in the right direction.

For LR, parallel questions are tough, there's no question about it. In particular, they tend to take up a lot of time, and since all questions are worth the same amount, you're better off focusing on q.types that you can solve relatively quickly. That being said, getting better at parallel questions is definitely doable and is probably worth your time if you're aiming for 170+.

With regular parallel questions, your first question should be - is this diagrammable (conditional statements), or is isn't it. If it is, diagram out the stimulus - you now know that the answer has to have the exact same chain of conditional logic. Don't diagram out every single answer choice (on the actual test, doing so can be good practice for diagramming during prep), instead, try and scan the answers for similar qualifiers like most and some, and look for a similar number of statements.

If you can't diagram the question, try and come up with a motto - a simplified way of describing the logic used to get to the conclusion. This will save you time, as the full stimulus can often be unwieldy and hard to compare to answer choices quickly.

With parallel flaw questions, focus on finding the flaw in the argument. The most important thing is that the answer has the same type of flaw, and that it arrives at it in a similar way. So if you have an argument with a whole-to-parts flaw, make sure the answer choice you pick also mistakes the whole for the parts, and not the other way around.

Level 4-5 questions are very similar to their easier counterparts, in that there are no special tricks to doing them. They are just denser, tend to have trickier answer choices, and require more concentration. I'd suggest save a lot of those difficult LR questions that you get wrong and returning to them in the future for practice. You can also redo sections of preptests that you've already completed, and focus on drilling the last 10 LR questions in each section, since those are typically the hardest. i found myself doing this a lot in my last few weeks of prep, and it helped with being able to handle those complicated stimuli/questions.


Blueprint is the man - heed this advice!
Last edited by Barack O'Drama on Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

foodlaw

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Re: How to progress from here...

Postby foodlaw » Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:44 am

galeatus wrote:First things first, are you answering questions from intuition or using a systematic approach? If it's the former you should probably consider switching to the latter. Yes there are people who can get 175+ on intuition alone but for us mortals using a systematic approach is much more consistent.


I try to read for the structure of the argument: main points, opinions, etc. Closely reading the passages takes me ~4 minutes and answering the questions also takes me quite a bit of time.

foodlaw

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Re: How to progress from here...

Postby foodlaw » Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:47 am

Blueprint Mithun wrote:Level 4-5 questions are very similar to their easier counterparts, in that there are no special tricks to doing them. They are just denser, tend to have trickier answer choices, and require more concentration. I'd suggest save a lot of those difficult LR questions that you get wrong and returning to them in the future for practice. You can also redo sections of preptests that you've already completed, and focus on drilling the last 10 LR questions in each section, since those are typically the hardest. i found myself doing this a lot in my last few weeks of prep, and it helped with being able to handle those complicated stimuli/questions.


This seems like a great idea. I'll try it out!

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galeatus

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Re: How to progress from here...

Postby galeatus » Fri Sep 16, 2016 4:40 am

foodlaw wrote:
galeatus wrote:First things first, are you answering questions from intuition or using a systematic approach? If it's the former you should probably consider switching to the latter. Yes there are people who can get 175+ on intuition alone but for us mortals using a systematic approach is much more consistent.


I try to read for the structure of the argument: main points, opinions, etc. Closely reading the passages takes me ~4 minutes and answering the questions also takes me quite a bit of time.


That sounds fair. So what do you usually get wrong in the questions? Is there a particular type of RC question that you tend to get wrong (Manhattan's book break the questions into 3 types: Identification - "According to the Passage..."/ Inference - "What can you infer..." / Synthesis - "The purpose of..." or "The author would most likely agree with...")? Do you often end up with 2 answer choices that look equally attractive and you can't pick between the two?

foodlaw

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Re: How to progress from here...

Postby foodlaw » Fri Sep 16, 2016 5:26 am

galeatus wrote:Do you often end up with 2 answer choices that look equally attractive and you can't pick between the two?


Yes, exactly! It's oftentimes a toss-up between 2 answer choices and I tend to choose the incorrect one (obviously). But even when I do blind-review, I still get the questions wrong. I'm probably missing something fundamental here :|

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galeatus

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Re: How to progress from here...

Postby galeatus » Fri Sep 16, 2016 9:05 am

foodlaw wrote:
galeatus wrote:Do you often end up with 2 answer choices that look equally attractive and you can't pick between the two?


Yes, exactly! It's oftentimes a toss-up between 2 answer choices and I tend to choose the incorrect one (obviously). But even when I do blind-review, I still get the questions wrong. I'm probably missing something fundamental here :|


You need to see what the difference between the answer choices are, it'll be extremely subtle but the passage will support one more than the other.

An example (from PT72 S1 P2):
[+] Spoiler
Q14. The discussion of......serves which one of the following purposes
Taking all the obviously wrong ones away, B and E both look pretty attractive:

B. It introduces a contrast the author uses in characterizing the peculiar nature of our response to Cameron's fancy-subject pictures.
E. It draws a contrast between narrative painting and drama to support the author's conclusion that Cameron's fancy subject pictures are more like the former

Both look attractive, there is a contrast involved so the contrast part is correct in both but you can see that B and E differ in their description of the author's point, and B ties in with the passage's argument way better than E.


There are differences more subtle than this - two attractive answer choices might both get the author's point correct-ish but one will say that the author "fully agrees that..." while the other says that the author "approves..." - and again, the passage will support one more than the other. Say, if the passage endorses a view in the first few paragraphs but criticises some aspects of it, then it will support "approve" more than "fully agree".

The mindset that helped me a lot is to treat most of the RC questions as Most Strongly Supported questions, where the correct answer is always the most provable one.
Last edited by galeatus on Fri Sep 16, 2016 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mikey

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Re: How to progress from here...

Postby Mikey » Fri Sep 16, 2016 9:07 am

foodlaw wrote:
galeatus wrote:Do you often end up with 2 answer choices that look equally attractive and you can't pick between the two?


Yes, exactly! It's oftentimes a toss-up between 2 answer choices and I tend to choose the incorrect one (obviously). But even when I do blind-review, I still get the questions wrong. I'm probably missing something fundamental here :|

When stuck between 2 answer choices, try to prove them wrong, instead of looking for the right answer.

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Blueprint Mithun

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Re: How to progress from here...

Postby Blueprint Mithun » Fri Sep 16, 2016 1:46 pm

galeatus wrote:
foodlaw wrote:
galeatus wrote:Do you often end up with 2 answer choices that look equally attractive and you can't pick between the two?


Yes, exactly! It's oftentimes a toss-up between 2 answer choices and I tend to choose the incorrect one (obviously). But even when I do blind-review, I still get the questions wrong. I'm probably missing something fundamental here :|


You need to see what the difference between the answer choices are, it'll be extremely subtle but the passage will support one more than the other.

An example (from PT72 S1 P2):
[+] Spoiler
Q14. The discussion of......serves which one of the following purposes
Taking all the obviously wrong ones away, B and E both look pretty attractive:

B. It introduces a contrast the author uses in characterizing the peculiar nature of our response to Cameron's fancy-subject pictures.
E. It draws a contrast between narrative painting and drama to support the author's conclusion that Cameron's fancy subject pictures are more like the former

Both look attractive, there is a contrast involved so the contrast part is correct in both but you can see that B and E differ in their description of the author's point, and B ties in with the passage's argument way better than E.


There are differences more subtle than this - two attractive answer choices might both get the author's point correct-ish but one will say that the author "fully agrees that..." while the other says that the author "approves..." - and again, the passage will support one more than the other. Say, if the passage endorses a view in the first few paragraphs but criticises some aspects of it, then it will support "approve" more than "fully agree".

The mindset that helped me a lot is to treat most of the RC questions as Most Strongly Supported questions, where the correct answer is always the most provable one.



This is an excellent example of how RC answer choices can be subtle. The best way to deal with these situations is to isolate those two (or three) remaining answers and read them extremely closely, searching for any differences between them. These differences can be so subtle that you won't notice them until you do this, but once you make this a habit, you'll start noticing them sooner and with less effort.

Another thing to be aware of while reading RC passages is that many of them are not as clear cut as they might seem. For example, an author might be, for the most part, against a particular point of view, but perhaps there is one point on which they agree with the other side.



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