Baby_Got_Feuerbach wrote:Mike, I've just hit the pages with the "good" v "great" solutions. Thus far, I fall into the former camp. My diagrams and initial inferences are only good enough that I can get each problem right but it takes me significantly more time than 'allotted' (especially on the tougher ones). As I posted in the Feb. '14 thread, if I want to go (-0) - (-3) then it takes me, on average, 40 minutes. What do you suggest for shaving that down to 33-35 minutes? [Broken down even further: some games will take 7:30 while another might take close to 15:30.] Of course, there's still a lot left for me to read in your book -- but only 5 1/2 weeks left 'til Test Day. I hope it's not a problem with my habits.
You are on the cusp of mastery -- let’s get that timing down! --
You can get richer in one of two ways -- by making more or spending less --
You can get faster in one of two ways -- by getting rid of the weaknesses that are slowing you down or by utilizing tools that help you go faster -- let’s try to use both --
Get rid of weaknesses slowing you down:
See if one or more of these ring a bell --
1) You sometimes have trouble “seeing” the design of the game.
Playing logic games is kind of like playing a bizarro version of chess where each time you sit down the shape of the board is different, and the rules for how the pieces move are different. It’s tremendously important that you be able to clearly “picture,” both on paper and in your head, exactly what each of these situations looks like. If you don’t have a clear picture, it makes it markedly more difficult to visualize elements going into positions, moving around, and so on.
Check up: go through old games you’ve done, only reading scenario and rules; see if you can easily picture each situation, and see if you clearly understand how you would lay out the base for each game. If you have trouble doing this, it’s a sign that picturing is holding you back.
(BTW, I think the two recent infographics on my website categorizing games can help you, once you recognize a game you have trouble categorizing/visualizing, relate that game to others most like it.)
2) Your notations are not automatic.
Diagramming is like shorthand -- you want it to be so habitual that you don’t think about how you diagram -- so that you are free to just think about the actual game. This has huge timing ramifications not only during the setup, but also (and even more so) during the q’s -- over and over again you have to move elements around, and if your diagramming isn’t automatic, you’ll have a lot of trouble going through these thought processes fast enough.
Check up: go through those same old games again -- look at your diagram for each game, say to yourself what your notations mean, and check them against the original rules. Take note of any situations where your notation isn’t a perfect match for the rule as stated.
3) You don’t use efficient systems for solving questions.
Do you always try to attack a “could be true” by eliminating four wrongs? Do you always try to attack a “must be false” by identifying the one answer that must be false? Are you consistent and correct in following chains of inferences off of conditional q stems? Consistently aligning strategies with the way questions are designed will help limit the likelihood you waste time thinking about things that aren’t necessary (like wasting time eliminating wrong choices in a situation where it’s far easier to spot the right choice).
A big part of not having efficient systems is not having backup systems/not knowing when to stop and move on -- make sure your strategies include plans for what to do when you struggle.
For almost every student I know in your situation, propping up one or more of those three areas can be a huge benefit in terms of improving timing.
Take advantage of ways to speed up
1) Make sure you are really good at seeing the “crux” of a game.
A strong majority of games have one rule, or a combination of rules, that is most impactful in terms of determining all assignments. Most of the time, you should be able to recognize it during your initial read of the scenario and rules.
Being able to see the crux of a game has a huge impact on overall “flow” -- when you prioritize the key rules, it’s easier to relate the other rules, and the process of diagramming, and answering questions, tends to go more smoothly / as you expect. On the flip side, if you were to evaluate all those games that take you 15 minutes, and where you have to seemingly use hypos to solve every q, chances are very likely that for a great many of them, you missed the crux.
Check up: go through old games reading just scenario and rules, and see if you can easily see this crux.
Tip for improvement: I think awareness and focus go a long way here -- keep reminding yourself to prioritize key rules for every game you face, and to start your diagram with the key rule(s). Then, when it comes time to review your performance, see if your assessment was indeed correct.
2) Split up a game into multiple diagrams (frames) should the need or opportunity arise.
Creating multiple diagrams can be a bit more work and can open you up to more opportunities for error or misunderstanding; also, if you aren’t adept at recognizing when you should set up these frames vs not, they could end up costing you a lot of wasted time and energy. However, when used appropriately and in the right situations, frames can seriously cut down on your time -- for some games, an extra :20 setting up multiple diagrams during your prep can save you 3:00+ when it comes time to answer questions.
For a variety of reasons, I am a minimalist when it comes to framing -- for a look at how it’s done well on the flip side -- with tons of frames -- check out the 7sage explanations.
3) Utilize work done on previous questions.
Going back to “flow,” you will notice that when you play certain games really well, it’ll often be true than an inference you ID’d for one question, or a thought you needed to eliminate an answer for one question, will then become relevant to another question. I think that there is a very careful organization to the questions (which is why I do not suggest solving questions out of order, though occasionally it does make sense to hold off certain q’s you get stuck on until you have more info), and if you are mindful about doing so you can take great advantage of previous work.
4) Don’t be too precious on easier games
-- one thing you mentioned that stood out to me was 7:30 as a benchmark for slowest games. With your level of command, there should be some games that, if you really push yourself, you should be able to solve in 6 minutes or less. Sometimes we have a tendency to be too deliberate when we face easier situations -- never cut corners, but always practice going as fast as you are comfortable going.
Having said that, the last thing I’ll say is to make sure you give yourself enough time to understand a game really well before moving on to the questions. Go as fast as you can, especially when you feel in control of a game, but don’t rush steps, and don’t put the cart before the horse (examples would be drawing a diagram right after reading just the scenario, or notating rules in the exact order in which they are given -- these are actions that really hurt you in terms of seeing / taking advantage of the big picture/key priorities). Give yourself time to read the scenario and rules and think about the situation carefully before setting pen to paper. And give yourself time to pause before going into the questions to make sure your notations are crystal clear to you, and that you’ve caught all the key inferences that you can -- keep in mind that spending an extra :30 in your setup can save you many minutes in the questions, as long as you are using that extra time to strengthen your understanding of the game. (Again, sorry if #4 and this paragraph seem to contrast -- you want a very quick overall pace--especially when you are comfortable, but also a careful, planned, multi-step process, and time given to thinking when thinking is required).
For most top students (and I would consider you a top student for the level you’ve already achieved) -- getting rid of things that slow them down is really the key to speeding up -- however, per the information you mentioned (accurate but slow, 7:30 on fastest games) I wonder if the speed up issues are more relevant. In any case, I strongly suggest you attack it from both angles.
Hope that helps -- if you have any follow up, let me know, and if you don't mind, please let me know how you progress! --