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Voyager's LSAT Prep Plan

Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 3:03 pm
by Voyager
While I'm at it, I thought I would submit the below as well....

What follows if VOYAGER'S LSAT PREP PLAN (tm?). I have a couple of assumptions that we need to discuss before kicking this off.

First, I am assuming you have 3 months to study. You can adjust the below for less time, but 3 months really is the ideal time period.

Second, you are not using a prep course. If you are, you need to adjust the below to match the course.

Third, you have the discipline, resources, and drive to carry out my plan and to study in an effective way (i.e. NOT while watching Grey's Anatomy).

Fourth, as a result of my previous statement, you are ready to put in 20 hours per week of studying (or a little over 12 a week if you are in a prep class). Less than that will not get you into the high 160s.

I am breaking this plan into 4 sections by time period (pre-plan, and months 1, 2 and 3) which are, in turn subsectioned with the goals for that month.

Pre-study Prep: in which you acquire all the materials you need to carry out what follows. This will probably take you a few days. Here is what you need:

A. KAPLAN MASTERY PRACTICE BOOK. I didn't realize you can get it through amazon. That book breaks up all three sections into their individual problem types AND ranks the difficulty of the questions. Awesome resource. BUY IT.

B. Logic Games Bible (by powerscore... I think).
C. Logical Reasoning Bible.
D. A Kaplan prep guide which covers their reading comprehension strategy in detail.
E. Lots of practice tests. By this I mean AT LEAST 10 REAL (as in, actually given) LSATS. You are best off with 15-20. You also need to explanations for them. This is absolutely critical. I was prepping with Kaplan and they provided me with every test every given along with the explanations.
F. LOTS of number 2 pencils. These are the ones you will use on the real thing. Remember, we want to mimic the real test when we practice as much as possible.
G. A large eraser. You are best off with those soft white ones. The regular pink ones are garbage.
H. An analog watch. LSAC no longer allows digital timers. You need an analog watch to time yourself.
I. (optional) A comprehensive prep guide (if you don't like the rest of Kaplan's.

Total cost: I am guessing around $150.

Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 3:03 pm
by Voyager
Month 1: in which our hero gains exposure to the 3 main sections of the test (NOT including the writing sample... yet): Logical Reasoning (hereafter referred to as LR), Logical Games (LG) and Reading Comprehension. What follows are the problem types you need to learn in the first month. They are the most common types and will the base upon which we build in month 2. Remember that, in order to learn a new skill, you MUST focus your efforts on that skill alone for a bit. A "shotgun" approach to studying is doom.

*IMPORTANT NOTE*: spend no more than 3.5-4 hours studying in one sitting. That is your limit. You CAN study 7-8 hours on the weekend IF you give yourself a 3-4 hour break in between.

A. Logical Reasoning. This part of the test covers over half the questions and is difficult to master. So don't try to learn it all at once! In month one just worry about learning the following types. These types make up almost 1/2 of the LR sections!
1. Types to Learn:
a) Assumption
b) Strengthen/Weaken
c) Flaw

2. Reason for focusing on them: All of them tend to revolve around the following concept: evidence+assumption=conclusion. Further, the skills for these three are very useful for the other sections.

3. Study Tips:
a) review the relevant chapters in the logical reasoning bible as well as the comprehensive book.
b) When you first begin DO NOT time yourself and DO NOT do entire tests or even sections. ONLY do individual problems.
c) When you miss problems, be sure to go back and read the explanation, then REDO the problem with the explanation in mind. I will tell you to do this over and over again in this guide. It is a critical part of the plan. Yes, you will sometimes remember the answer. But you are not just trying to get it right on the second go around, you are trying to correctly articulate to yourself WHY that choice is correct. This exercise is HOW you learn to solve NEW problems correctly.
d) When you sit down to study, spend your time on 1 problem type at a time. An hour completely devoted to Assumption questions, for instance is going to see much better results than an hour spread among all 3. Again, this is a critical study concept that applies to ALL I present here.

B. Logic Games. Right. We want to start with the most common ones first.
1. Types to Learn:
a) Strict Sequencing (7 race horses finish 1-7 with no ties)
b) Loose Sequencing (bill is taller than meg and jan, etc...)
c) Matching (each of these cars can have the following options). Matching is normally difficult for students!

2. Reason for focusing on them now: sequencing is easy and is a great way to ease into games and achieve success early. Matching and sequence are also very common as components of hybrid games.

3. Study Tips: Same as previous. Learn each type individually.

C. Reading Comp. This month your goal is to begin learning how to diagram an RC passage, identify critical pieces of info and get used to the RC strategy I have outlined elsewhere. I am not going to get into detail as I have done so elsewhere... just be sure to NOT time yourself yet. You need time to learn how to do this appropriately. Your goal, by the end of the month is to have your own shorthand notation worked out and to be able to approach RC with a strategy. You also need to know how to find the Topic, Purpose, Main point and Scope as well as how to research detail questions.

D. MONTH 1 Study Schedule: You can write this up on your own. Just be sure you are doing loads of problems focusing on the above. By Week 3.5 or so you should begin timing yourself... just to see how quickly you are getting through stuff. This is about the right time to start doing entire sections of the test in practice. You need to take a practice test at the end of the month to see how you are doing! That should give you enough work to occupy 20 or so hours per week. Your focus on the practice test is ensuring that the areas you have worked on have improved... don't worry about strange problems you haven't prepped yet (principle questions, for example).

Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 3:04 pm
by Voyager
MONTH 2: in which we continue practice of our month 1 skills and add the following:

A. Logical Reasoning: Now we add some new problem types.
1. Types to Learn:
(a) Inference. This is THE key one to master in month 2. Between you month 1 LR stuff and inference, you have covered OVER 2/3 of the LR section.
(b) Principle. This problem type is becoming much more common on the recent tests (Dec06 and Sep06).
(c) Parallel Reasoning. These are often rough for most people. Better get started on them now.

2. Study tips: same as before. HOWEVER, we now are going to add a couple of things:
(a) Include all points made in month 1.
(b) Now you MUST add section practice daily. That is: every day you must do 1 section of LR, LG OR RC. Timed. If you run out of time, make note of it and finish the section. Review section as I have outlined above. I woulod prefer if you did 2 sections per day... but you have to mix this with specific problem practice... you need to fidure out the right ratio for your current skill level.
(c) Go back and review assmpt, str/wkn and flaw questions periodically. Keep those skills sharp! Section practice will help this a bit.
(d) Constantly be aware of your LR weaknesses. Adjust study plan to shore them up.

B. Logic Games: More new problems!
1. Types to Learn:
(a) Distribution (putting people into boats...)
(b) Selection (rules are a series of formal logic statemets)

2. Reasons: you now have learned the 5 basic LG problems. We will save the 6th, the hybrid games, for later.

3. Study tips:
(a) include month 1 tips when learning new stuff.
(b) Try to do a timed LG section regularly (see point 2.(b) above).
(c) continue to review the LGs we learned in month 1.
(d) be aware of your weaknesses. shore them up.

C. Reading Comp: Continued improvement of your approach.
1. You need to add inference questions to the types that you can handle on RC.

2. You need to start timing yourself. Your passage prep time should be less than 4 minutes (target is 3.5 minutes) which will leave you 4.5 minutes to answer questions... which is plenty.

3. Conduct section practice as discussed previously.

D. Practice Tests: during month 2 you will begin doing regular practice tests. You need to do 1 per week. What follows are instructions on how to make the best use of your practice tests.
1. ALWAYS take the test in the exact way you will take the test in real life... or as close as you can get it. NO fvcking TV, significant others, cats etc should be around. Use all the real stuff you have on the test. Choose a quiet area.

2. After you are done, grade the test. Check you score. Your score will bounce up and down as you study... but it should always generally progress upwards (I went like this: 163, 168, 166, 169, 173, 171, 176, 174, 176, 179!.... 174 on the real thing) so don't be discouraged if this test is slightly lower than the previous one. It is the overall trend we care about.

3. Give yourself an hour break. Now come back to the test and read ALL the explanations of the problems you missed. UNDERSTAND how to solve them correctly. For LG I actually REDO the problem with from scratch with the explanation in mind... that is FROM MEMORY. Recopying from the book is not helpful.

4. The next day go back and reread the problems you missed. Can you now explain to yourself why the answers are the way the are? If so, you have learned some new stuff! Yay.

Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 3:04 pm
by Voyager
Month 3: Oh sh1t, son... we're in the chute! You now have a couple of great things going for your relative to your peers. At one month out you (a) know what your score will probably be AT THIS POINt, (b) you know your weaknesses and (c) you have been exposed and have studied for the vast majority of the test. While you do have a couple of final things to learn you have, like Luke Skywalker in the Return of the Jedi, been given all the tools you need to do well. You just need to kill a Sith Lord. Just kidding. Actually, you need to spend the next month constantly honing your skills. How? Glad you asked...

A. Logical Reasoning: Add all the infrequent problem types. Master the section.
1. There are a bunch of problem types that occur in small numbers. Paradox, Point At Issue, Method of Arguement, Main Point (I think those are the only ones left... (a) I am writing this off the top of my head and (b) I am hungry for lunch... I will probably come back and edit this if I missed something). Same process as before. Just be sure to complete it WITHIN THE FIRST 2 weeks of this month.

2. Same section practice as above.

3. Implement VOYAGER'S RECURSIVE STUDY PLAN (tm and see below).

B. Logic Games: Only 1 left. Learn that one. Continue to master previous.
1. New Types: Hybrid games. Really just a combination of the previous. They are not so tricky after you practice them a bit. I should add that there are 2 other LG types that have appeared on previous tests: process games and mapping games. They appear very infrequently on the tests, but it is nice to know how to do them. I assume the LG bible presents them. If not, PM me.

2. Section practice as discussed previously.

3. Recursive studying.

C. Reading Comp: Keep working this. By now, you should be truly rocking RC sections.

Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 3:05 pm
by Voyager
D. VOYAGER'S RECURSIVE STUDY PLAN. This is a great way to refine your skills (also, it means that I am almost done writing this post... are you as excited about that as I am? I doubt it...). Here are the step by step instructions. This plan needs to be implemented at the beginning of month 3.

1. Take a Practice Test.

2. Review test as outlined above.

3. Now, take your test and analyze it to ID the sections and problem types you are doing the worst in. Steps 1-3 will take you a full weekend day.

4. Spend 2-3 days attacking those problem areas with the same ferocity that Rosie O'Donnel exhibits when confronted with a mayonaise sandwhich.

5. Take a new practice test.

6. Repeat 4.

Over the course of month 3 you will be able to perform this cycle 6 times and should see some dramatic improvement. If you try to do this too early (in month 1 for example) there will be too much for you to review and you will be overwhelmed.

Summary: So that is the plan. I am not saying it is the only way to go or even the best way to go. What I can say is that it is a damn GOOD way to go that will not steer you wrong. I can get into specifics of any section, month or part of the plan if you like.

Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 3:17 pm
by Voyager
Mods: I don't suppose this might be worth a sticky?

Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 4:30 pm
by ig1983
Voyager, thanks for the plan, however doesnt one need much more than 15 practice tests for this plan?

Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 4:45 pm
by Slash2049
Mods: I don't suppose this might be worth a sticky?

we're pretty slick around here

Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 4:50 pm
by Voyager
IG: Yes, you will need something like 25 tests or so. Couple of points, though-
1) There are enough work books out there to occupy most of the practice.

2) You can retake tests you have taken previously. I doubt that, after taking 15 tests over 7 weeks that you will remember the first test very well.

3) Bitorrent is your friend. They have every LSAT ever administered on that site.

SLASH: That is too bad. Luckily, I have a solution...

Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 4:54 pm
by Slash2049
what's that good buddy?

Posted: Mon May 07, 2007 7:11 pm
by AfriCanyon
Charting the differences between Voyager and Homeless' studyplans: minimal.

Posted: Mon May 07, 2007 7:14 pm
by nonunique
And how do the homeless (TM) and Voyager (TM) study plans measure up to the Kaplan (TM) plan?

Posted: Tue May 08, 2007 11:30 am
by Voyager
Obviously I am the same poster.

Also, this is much much more detailed than what Kaplan presents.

Posted: Tue May 08, 2007 11:42 am
by scherzo

Posted: Tue May 08, 2007 11:44 am
by Voyager
Heh. Nice.

So you found it helpful?

Not helpful at all?

Posted: Fri May 11, 2007 6:46 pm
by apriorius
I found this helpful Voyager, and will plan my studies around it as it makes sense. One question though. Here you say to "d) When you sit down to study, spend your time on 1 problem type at a time". How do I implement that? I have a buttload of prep tests...should I just skim through the test explanations and cherry pick the questions to focus on?

Posted: Fri May 11, 2007 6:53 pm
by Voyager
If you do not have materials that already segregate materials... then you need to find some.

I am sure there are work books out there you can acquire.

Next, you can certainly pull out prep tests and cherry pick problems to work on.

This is the most efficient way to master problem types.

Posted: Sun May 13, 2007 4:16 pm
by monkban
Voyager -- nice prep plan.

I'm just starting the study for the Sept LSAT. Question about your Month 1 schedule... How would you recommend scheduling games v LR v RC during that first month? Study these things sequentially or in parallel? Two weeks doing nothing but games, then over to LR and RC? Spend an entire 4 hour session on one subject, then next night another topic?


Posted: Sun May 13, 2007 8:28 pm
by kiki
apriorius: Powerscore categorizes the question types.

Posted: Mon May 14, 2007 4:52 pm
by Voyager
Monk: I studied in 3 hour blocks spending 1.5 hours on a specific problem type.

You will quickly see where your strengths and weaknesses are and can balance your time accordingly.

I highly recommend you master sequencing games first. It is easy to do so and will help build your game confidence.

Posted: Mon May 14, 2007 9:55 pm
by monkban
Thanks, voyager. Further to that, how would you recommend studying all types of sections (LR, LG, RC) during those first few weeks, or concentrate on LG exclusively if this is the weakest area? My feeling is that I should concentrate on the LG Bible for a couple of weeks, then moving onto breaking up some of the prep tests to have more LG problems to work on. Then move onto the LR Bible. Comments/suggestions?

Posted: Tue May 15, 2007 3:13 pm
by Voyager
Well.... I would rotate sections if only to keep from getting bored.

Also: as you study you do not want to spend several days only working one section type. The risk is that your skills in the other sections will atrophe.

You will be fine if you can follow the guide. You will be surprised how quickly and easily you can pick games up.

Posted: Tue May 15, 2007 4:53 pm
by dreday3223
Voyager I know I should probably take the test in September but I am already registered for June and I dont trust myself enough to be focused throughout the summer. I am in a class already so there is still hope. But would it be possible if you could come up with a revised plan for just the next few weeks for only the LR section. That is the section which is the death of me. Please help!!!

Thank you so much in advance.

Posted: Tue May 15, 2007 4:59 pm
by Voyager

Hmmmm... the more specific you can be about what gives you the most trouble, the better I can help you.

1) What question types do you do the worst on?

2) Do you understand the importance of ev + assumption = conclusion?

3) When reading LR, do you break the stimulus into little chunks. That is to say, do you read the first sentence, make sure you understand what it is saying and then move on?

4) Are you able to accurately summarize the stimulus when you are done reading it?

5) Have you learned the basics of formal logic?

6) How many are you missing in the LR sections?

Posted: Tue May 15, 2007 10:18 pm
by dreday3223
1) What question types do you do the worst on?
I do pretty bad on all of them but parallel reasoning and flaw questions really give me a problem
2) Do you understand the importance of ev + assumption = conclusion?
I understand it but when I am going thru the tests I never really figure it out. I only get the conclusion.
3) When reading LR, do you break the stimulus into little chunks. That is to say, do you read the first sentence, make sure you understand what it is saying and then move on? Not really. If I do I take too much time.

4) Are you able to accurately summarize the stimulus when you are done reading it? Not as well as I should.

5) Have you learned the basics of formal logic?
I learned about it thru powerscore but I probably need to learn it a LOT better
6) How many are you missing in the LR sections?
I am getting between 16-18 right tops. As a matter of fact I just did one and I got like 15 wrong.

I am really starting to believe that I cant do this test anymore. Please can I get an effective strategy that I can use to at least boost my confidence a little in this section. I need help badly