Is the PowerScore trilogy outdated for LSAT prep?

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TheEngineer

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Is the PowerScore trilogy outdated for LSAT prep?

Postby TheEngineer » Thu Apr 05, 2018 12:11 pm

In addition, for someone who strongly prefers self-study, is there something else I should be including besides PowerScore Bibles + PTs?

A little bit about me: I took the LSAT in 2008 while I was in college. I remember the PowerScore bibles being extremely useful at the time (I completed/reviewed almost 30 practice tests before sitting for the actual exam). I was looking to follow the same approach until I stumbled upon this review of the PowerScore trilogy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-revi ... 0990893405

Thanks in advance

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Jeffort

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Re: Is the PowerScore trilogy outdated for LSAT prep?

Postby Jeffort » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:54 pm

TheEngineer wrote:In addition, for someone who strongly prefers self-study, is there something else I should be including besides PowerScore Bibles + PTs?

A little bit about me: I took the LSAT in 2008 while I was in college. I remember the PowerScore bibles being extremely useful at the time (I completed/reviewed almost 30 practice tests before sitting for the actual exam). I was looking to follow the same approach until I stumbled upon this review of the PowerScore trilogy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-revi ... 0990893405

Thanks in advance


That Amazon review is hilariously wrong in many significant ways. You shouldn't take it seriously. There is nothing 'old and outdated' about the Powerscore LSAT bibles.

The LSAT is a standardized test that has been constructed and administered in its present form since June of 1991. Being a standardized test means that each test-form has to test the same skills and abilities in pretty much the same ways so that scores from different test-forms/administrations are comparable to one another over any given 5 year time window. The 5 year time window is always a continuously sliding time-frame as time goes by so they could NEVER make any overall difficulty level changes to the individual test-forms or substantive changes that would alter the objective difficulty level of any individual test-forms. Correspondingly, it means that different test-forms (different versions of the test administered on different dates using different sets of questions) must be constructed and conform to the same test specifications over time to maintain continuity of the test and comparability of scores from different test-forms taken at different times within the sliding 5 year time window.

The only content changes to the test since 1991 that could accurately be construed as being significant (even though they really aren't very big/significant changes) are the addition of one comparative reading passage in the reading comprehension sections that began in the June 2007 LSAT, and the addition of ONE new type of question in the logic games/analytical reasoning sections (the equivalent effects rule substitution question type that replaced the rule change/replacement question type starting in the June 2009 LSAT).

Other than those minor changes, LSAC certainly has NOT introduced MANY new question types to the LSAT as that silly Amazon review claims. The test writers have come up with various new different ways of PHRASING question stems to ask the same ole question types, requiring one to apply some critical reading and thinking skills to properly identify the question type being asked, giving the SUPERFICIAL appearance that it's a 'new'/different question type, but in reality it's still the same ole question types being asked as before. New/different unfamiliar phrasings to ask the same question types is probably something the person that wrote that Amazon review got thrown off by on test day that lead him/her to falsely believe there are a bunch of new question types on the test when in fact there are NOT.

Granted, since the June 1991 LSAT until now there have been some minor evolutionary changes that have occurred slowly over long periods of time. Such things like shifts in the prevalence of certain logical reasoning question types that typically appear. That shift has mainly been an increase (that evolved very slowly over many many years of tests) in the amount of principle based LR questions (which are principle based variations of already existing LR question types). In short, the amounts on average (it's always been different from each test-form to the next) of each of the different LR question types that typically appear per test-form/administration has slowly changed over time, but still isn't drastically different that it was in the much older tests except with principle based LR questions.

The logic games/analytical reasoning section has ALWAYS had some inherent unpredictability from test to test regarding which specific types/variations of logic games appear in each particular test/administrations LG section. That's one of the main things that makes the LG section challenging! Part of the main skill sets being tested in that section are ones abilities to figure out how each logic game works/what type of underlying logical relationships control the interactions of the given variable sets, and ones abilities to properly interpret, understand the implications of and logically apply each of the supplied rules within the context of the logical framework of the game type/framework/context established in the LG stimulus paragraph the precedes the indented rules.

Even though the exact types and variations of types (sub types/hybrid game types, etc.) of LG's that appear varies from test to test, almost all of them that have been administered fall within a small set of different major game types/game type categories (sequencing, grouping, matching and linear games!). Sure, there have been a small amount of odd-ball LG's that have occasionally appeared over the years that are significantly different than most other games in terms of the how the overall logical framework and interaction of the variables sets works and/or ones that have unusual types of rules (meaning types of rules that haven't appeared a bunch of times in other games, so they are unfamiliar to test takers and thus require quickly figuring out how the rule works in order to properly apply to the questions on the fly under timed conditions) to apply within a conventional game framework environment. Even though the so-called 'odd-ball' games that have appeared are significantly different in some ways than conventional commonly repeated game types, almost all of them still do actually fit into the main game type categories like sequencing, grouping, matching, linear.

Regardless of LG types, the types of questions asked has not changed (except the fairly new equivalent effects rule substitution question type) and are still the same old could be true, cannot be true, must be true, could be false, list question, maximum/minimum, complete and accurate list, etc. types.

Contrary to what that review claims, there are NOT many new question types in ANY of the section types!

Since the LSAT is a standardized test, logic itself and the LSAT test specifications and question types asked has NOT changed since June of 1991 (with the exception of the comparative RC passage type and the LG equivalent effects rule substitution question type), the claim that the Powerscore bibles are outdated is absurd.

Yes, many of the LSAT questions/materials the books use are from older tests and you will not find questions in the books from the most recently administered tests, but there are many good reasons for that. The most recently administered tests from recent years are best kept 'fresh' to be used as timed practice tests leading up to test day, so it would be foolish to spoil those tests by including questions from them in books meant to first introduce one to and then teach you how to get good at the LSAT from the ground up. Since the logic itself the LSAT revolves around, the ways the various question types and common games types work is the same as it's been since 1991, it's wise to use some of the older LSAT materials to introduce people to the format of the LSAT, to teach people the basics, fundamentals, methods, commonly tested logical concepts, effective logical based strategies, etc. rather than spoiling more recent tests to use as 'training wheels' when those PrepTests are better used as practice tests once one has learned the basics and built some proficiency with the various different logical concepts, question types, game types, effective methods, etc.

As for them being 'overly long winded and drawn out', that's pretty dumb criticism since the LSAT is a rather complex test with many different in's and out's that are important to cover, learn and master regarding the various types of logic, question types, 'how to' methods, etc. that are essential to master to be able to achieve a high score. Such criticism is kinda like "OMGerd! Too detailed, too much information! I only want simple easy to remember really basic stuff, I don't wanna know all that detailed stuff that could help me get a high score! Too much to read, I don't want to spend a lot of time reading all that stuff and doing a lot of work straining my brain that hard to try to get into a good law school to try to get a good paying career going." lol

The claim that "The tests get harder and harder as the years progress" is simply wrong. Again as described above, it's a standardized test and scores earned at different times have to be comparable to one another. Sure, the difficulty levels of LG sections has fluctuated back and forth over time (correspondingly, individual RC and LR sections also fluctuate in overall difficulty from test to test), but all difficulty variations in particular sections of any particular test form are taken into account and equalized by the raw points to scaled score conversion scales individualized for each particular administered LSAT test-form. Sure, there are also some stylistic changes and slow evolutions that have happened in the tests over the years that make many of the much older tests 'feel' different from the recent ones as well as some slight shifts in the emphasis of particular skills that are tested a bit more now than before and vice versa, but the overall objective difficulty levels of the tests is pretty close to the same even though the older ones may feel different and have content/questions that may superficially appear to be different in various ways.

The main notable difference between newer vs old/older tests that causes many people to think the newer tests are harder relates to the LR sections and the test writers getting a bit better with making high difficulty questions harder to get correct via process of elimination when one cannot/doesn't/isn't able to recognize why the correct answer is correct and also cannot quickly figure out why attractive trap answer(s) are logically wrong/flawed. Similar evolution has occurred with high difficulty RC questions. In essence, the test writers have simply gotten better at making sure people are less likely to get high difficulty level questions correct without having the requisite skills and skill level those questions are designed to test for, meaning that the newer tests are better at making sure less people get the harder questions correct due to luck or guessing strategy 'tricks' rather than because of having the proper skills to get them correct for the right logical reasons.

IDK if the person that wrote that review is just somebody that didn't put in enough prep to get a good enough understanding of the LSAT to be able to perform well and is just blaming the books for a low score/poor performance or if they have an ulterior motive for writing out such incorrect disparaging information, but almost everything in it is just plain false.

The only good info in it, which is also stated in the Powerscore books, is that to get good at the LSAT and improve ones score range, in addition to the bible books, you do need to get copies of many official LSAT PrepTests to drill and practice with. The LSAT questions contained in the bibles aren't meant to be a sufficient amount to get oneself fully prepared for test day. That's something that should be and is pretty obvious to most people serious about prepping for the LSAT and going to law school. Good Prep books give/teach you tools and information for how to perform well/better on the LSAT, but like anything else in life that's skills based, you still then need to practice doing that stuff a bunch to get really good at it, and with the LSAT that certainly includes doing a good amount of full timed practice tests.

In case anybody wonders, given how long my post about this is, NO, I don't work for Powerscore.

As a long time LSAT prep teacher and tutor I hear and see various nonsense including stuff like this getting spread around all the time from people that know very little about the LSAT and it drives me nuts since it's information that can mislead/misguide people just starting to prep and influence them into getting and using crappy LSAT prep books/info. Unlike the overwhelming majority of different LSAT prep books available on Amazon (and many other prep resources on the web from various non-experienced/non-expert sources), the PS LSAT bibles are excellent comprehensive LSAT prep resources written by a very experienced LSAT expert that's been teaching LSAT prep and carefully analyzing every administered LSAT for well over 20 years.

TheEngineer

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Re: Is the PowerScore trilogy outdated for LSAT prep?

Postby TheEngineer » Fri Apr 06, 2018 2:07 am

Wow... that settles it my friend! Thanks!

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blackmamba8

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Re: Is the PowerScore trilogy outdated for LSAT prep?

Postby blackmamba8 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:23 pm

I didn't particularly like PowerScore because I felt like there were better options, but their materials shouldn't be out of date at all. I can give you other options if you'd like, but if you're sold on PowerScore then good luck!



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