How to read closer and think more carefully when PT-ing?

mtn1995
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How to read closer and think more carefully when PT-ing?

Postby mtn1995 » Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:11 pm

Hi, all,

I've recently finished reading the Powerscore's LR Bible and am beginning to work through timed LR sections. When I scored the timed section, I noticed that the majority of my incorrect answers were a product of my not having read the stimulus carefully enough or not having thought deeply enough about the answer choices. I mean, I understand the question types and how to answer them accordingly; I just think that, under time constraints, thinking through the questions becomes much more difficult for me.

That being said, does thinking through the questions enough become easier simply through repeated PT-ing?

I'd appreciate any insight. Thanks!

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Mikey
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Re: How to read closer and think more carefully when PT-ing?

Postby Mikey » Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:24 pm

Just PTing won't make things click for you. You have to do a very thorough review as well, or else that PT (unless you consistently get a 180) would be pointless because you wouldn't learn anything. Do you do blind review?

make note of keywords and indicators in the stimulus such as some, many, most only, only if.. always focus on the premise and conclusion structure for LR arguments..

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LesPaul1995
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Re: How to read closer and think more carefully when PT-ing?

Postby LesPaul1995 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:15 pm

It's a good question, and it has to do with mental discipline. Mental discipline is something you can't just switch on during a test, and while I don't know what your life is like (relationships, work, etc.) or where you spend your time (are you not focusing elsewhere in your life?), it's likely an overall discipline you have to hone while thinking. Can you read more than 5 pages in a dense work without having to reread it and understand it? If not, Chances are then, that you won't be able to selectively do it on an LSAT passage. The reason I don't think you hear more people mention this is because of the sampling size on this site as many people who have an amptitude for test taking already practice this discipline without knowing it.

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Platopus
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Re: How to read closer and think more carefully when PT-ing?

Postby Platopus » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:34 pm

mtn1995 wrote:When I scored the timed section, I noticed that the majority of my incorrect answers were a product of my not having read the stimulus carefully enough or not having thought deeply enough about the answer choices.


I hate to be blunt, but this is the whole point of the test... Which is to say, the test is designed to test how carefully you pay attention to specific language, argument structure, how carefully you can evaluate arguments.

This is good news, not only because through repetition you'll get better, because once you know what to look for you know how to prepare. At this point, I would go through the LR bible or maybe the Manhattan book again. This time, pay extra special attention to the details including how terms like "only", "unless", ect. are used. The LSAT is in many ways a test of precision. The words that are used are precise. Arguments are precise; anything you infer must be directly inferable from the argument presented.

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Jeffort
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Re: How to read closer and think more carefully when PT-ing?

Postby Jeffort » Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:32 pm

mtn1995 wrote:Hi, all,

I've recently finished reading the Powerscore's LR Bible and am beginning to work through timed LR sections. When I scored the timed section, I noticed that the majority of my incorrect answers were a product of my not having read the stimulus carefully enough or not having thought deeply enough about the answer choices. I mean, I understand the question types and how to answer them accordingly; I just think that, under time constraints, thinking through the questions becomes much more difficult for me.

That being said, does thinking through the questions enough become easier simply through repeated PT-ing?

I'd appreciate any insight. Thanks!


No, since you're at the beginning of your prep journey (having just recently finished reading the LR Bible) just doing more timed practice with full sections and/or full PT's will not do much to improve your critical reading, analysis and reasoning skills that the LSAT questions are designed to test.

What you are experiencing is VERY common and is a challenge that almost all LSAT test takers face while working to improve performance, accuracy and ultimately increased PT and test day scores.

By jumping right into doing timed practice after having finished reading the LR Bible, you're skipping over the MOST important phase of effective LSAT skills building (and therefore score improving) prep: getting good at APPLYING the knowledge you gained from reading the prep book through non-timed drilling along with deep and thorough review of each question attempted (whether or not you got it correct- people get questions correct for the wrong reasons all the time!).

Going right from learning the basics (from a prep book or prep class) into doing timed practice (sections and/or full PT's) is what I call doing "Churn and Burn" prep, during which you use-up/waste a LOT of fresh LSAT materials, don't typically see much improvement, and get really frustrated banging your head against the wall not seeing good results (hence the Burn!).

The LSAT is mainly a skills based test, not a test of knowledge except that logical reasoning skills are in part based on an accurate understanding of certain commonly tested logical concepts including conditional reasoning (sufficient and necessary conditions), cause and effect logic, flawed methods of reasoning vs valid/non flawed methods of reasoning, application of general principles to specific facts, etc. (the basics that the LR Bible, other good quality prep books and LSAT prep courses contain/teach).

Getting better at critically reading (and therefore properly comprehending) the stimulus, analyzing it properly (and deeply enough) and then thinking through/analyzing the answer choices deeply enough to answer the questions (especially the higher difficulty ones) accurately under timed conditions is accomplished largely through improving your LSAT specific reading and analysis skills (and filling in any knowledge gaps, correcting any possible conceptual misunderstandings/weaknesses, etc.) by doing a lot of non timed drilling along with deep thorough review of each question after attempting it. This includes carefully analyzing the substance and underlying logic of the stimulus, the logic of each answer choice (why each one is logically correct or incorrect), as well as reviewing your approach, entire thought process, decision making 'behaviors' when you attempted each question, identifying ALL mistakes you made as well as things you struggled with (including but not limited to understanding the substance, underlying logic, language/grammar/vocabulary used- they test RC skills in LR Q's too! -, logical structure(s) in the stimulus as well as in answer choices, types of logical relationships, etc.).

Since the LSAT is a standardized test, even though each PT contains different/new questions, it repeats the same patterns OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER from test to test in terms of the underlying logical reasoning structures, flawed methods of reasoning (not just for describe the flaw LR questions!, nearly all LR arguments contain flawed reasoning regardless of question type asked), assumptions, types of attractive incorrect trap answers (in terms of how they logically relate to the stimulus), types of correct answers (how the correct answer logically accomplishes the task of the question type). It also repeats OVER and OVER the same devious methods of formatting/organizing the info (as well as devious ways of phrasing the substance presented to make it easy to misinterpret when reading fast under timed pressure) in the stimulus and answer choices to increase the difficulty level of the many of the harder questions that could/would otherwise have been easier if the substance had been organized and/or phrased in more accessible/easier to quickly understand ways.

Because of this 'pattern' nature with how LSAT questions/sections/PT's are constructed, drilling LR questions by question type (with deep thorough review) for a while is EXTREMELY helpful to not only improve your skills/abilities at APPLYING the LSAT knowledge, concepts, strategies, techniques, etc., you learned from the prep book so that you'll get better (and therefore faster) at doing it, but also so that you'll be able to notice and learn from the commonly repeated 'patterns' within each question type and within LR questions as a whole.

By doing a lot of non timed drilling with proper review, as well as improving your skills, you'll also improve your pattern recognition abilities, both of which will improve your speed when you then transition to doing questions timed.

Proper effective skills and score improving prep should follow a basic three phase process. What you're doing is essentially skipping from phase 1 to phase 3.

The basic three phase prep process:
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.

It's important to point out that phase 2 never really ends until you're done prepping/not going to take the LSAT again (if you end up re-taking). Once you enter phase 3, after doing deep thorough review of what went wrong/identified weaknesses as well as strengths in timed PT's/sections you take, you then go back and do more phase 2 type drilling and review to address weaknesses you identified from timed practice in order to further improve your skills/abilities that have room for improvement.

The more familiar you get with the patterns within the test and question types by doing non timed phase 2 drilling and review, including exactly which aspects of any given question gave you trouble/made the question more difficult/more prone to mistakes-misinterpretations (such as adverbs/qualifying words or phrases or pronouns you need to track properly)/more likely to fall in love with a trap answer and not give much analysis attention to the correct answer due to bias/more likely to overlook what turns out to be an important detail (often buried at the top of the stimulus in what many people mistakenly consider to be unimportant 'background info' they ignore or treat with low priority, especially when analyzing answer choices), the better trained your mind will become to recognize such things in fresh questions so that you'll be able to much more quickly and efficiently understand and analyze the substance of fresh questions when you attempt them timed!

In short, the more familiar you get with the many commonly repeated patterns of the test and the better you get at applying good LSAT 'knowledge' to questions through non-timed drilling with proper review in order to improve your LSAT skills, the faster you'll then be able to read, analyze and solve questions accurately under timed conditions!

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PS:

I've written and posted a LOT about this and many other detailed aspects of the LSAT and prepping effectively on this forum over many years, so here is a search link (link only works when logged in with a TLS account) that will take you to many of my other posts about this and related topics you'll likely find helpful for improving your score and prepping more efficiently and effectively, including descriptions of many common prep pit-falls to avoid:

search.php?keywords=drilling+phase+2&terms=all&author=jeffort&sc=1&sf=all&sk=t&sd=d&sr=posts&st=0&ch=-1&t=0&submit=Search

In addition to the posts the search link pulls up, over the years I've addressed in detail many other very specific topics and questions that pop up a lot that can help you improve your score, so I encourage you to use the search feature and/or just browse my post history. Almost all of my posts here on TLS are direct on-topic LSAT prep advice, very few are not (and most of those few are just me quoting and agreeing with good advice somebody else had posted).

I hope this helps you prep better to hopefully achieve your target score whenever you 'officially' take the LSAT. :)




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