I took the Oct test and received my score. I improved 5 points on my retake but I'm disappointed because my score is below my PT scores and still not where I want to be (have a 3.9+LSAC GPA and I just need to kick some LSAT butt). So I analyzed what happened during the test based on my answer sheet, what I wrote down after I took the test "man Game 3 kicked my butt, etc." and then scored my blind review and I was even more disappointed when my BR score was a freakin' 175!
My first take was: LG -12, LR1 -7, LR2 -11, RC -3.
My breakdown on this retake was: RC -8, LR1 -4, LG -9, LR2 -6. (-27 total)
Blind Review of this retake was: RC -1, LR1 -2, LG -2, LR2 -2. (-7 total)
LG: I know technically this is improved from my first test (-9 vs -12), but I was going -0 to -2 on LG during PTs and on my first take I guessed D.) for 12 questions in a row because I had no idea what to do. This time around with LG I could at least set everything up, the section just got away from me. And again on blind review it was clear I made foolish mistakes. RC: I tend to go between -3 and -5 on PT’s so scoring -8 is definitely underperforming.
I've asked my questions at the bottom and bolded them, and what follows is me breaking down the October test as best I can without posting any content/breaking any rules, so that you can hopefully at least somewhat understand where my head was when I was solving questions and why I got questions wrong, etc. and let that guide what you suggest I do going forward.
The big thing that caught my attention was similar to my first take, on this retake there were two instances where I basically “lost it” and in the moment I didn’t really know what to do or how to solve anything— one was the comparative passage in RC and one was the third game in LG.
I got to the comparative RC passage with roughly 5 minutes left in the section and I basically froze up when I got to it, I typically don't have issues with comparative passages (or RC in general, like I said I usually go around -3). I ended up using the remaining time in the section trying to re-read it/analyze it just to end up guessing on questions 23-27.
With LG, on game 3 I got tripped up and it took me a while to figured out how to translate the rules into a game board but it didn’t occur to me to split things in terms of possibilities until after I was out of time…of course had I done so the game would have been a no-brainer but hindsight is 20/20. I ended up just attempting the rules question and picking a guess letter and guessing that letter answer choice for the other questions in the game.
Of course I ended up answering more questions than just those incorrectly, likely due to what I think is just mismanaging my time, though I could be wrong. Similar to my first take I think I spent too much time on the earlier questions in order to try to really make sure I got them right, didn’t make any stupid mistakes, etc.…spent too much time double checking my answer before moving on, or picking an answer I think is correct and still going through and eliminating the other four answer choices before moving on, or eliminating three answer choices and being down to the last two and going back & forth between them for way too long, or just getting tripped up by an early question and spending more time than I should on that question and then letting that disruption in my timing/pacing sort of snowball through the rest of the section.
On the October test I didn’t finish any sections in time—when I say that I mean when the proctor called out there was 5 minutes left I was usually near the end of the section but not on the last page, and at 33/34 minutes in I was basically quickly picking a guess answer for the last 3-4 questions in the section, bubbling them in, and quickly scanning my answer sheet to make sure I didn’t leave anything blank or misbubble. While I was actually working through the section I skipped certain questions, selected a guess answer, and starred/circled them intending to go back and actually attempt to solve them once I made it all the way through the section, but I didn’t have time for that either so the guess answers mostly ended up unchanged.
Here's a list of the questions I got wrong. Initially I actually typed out my thought process for each one the same way you see on the Manhattan forums, “Answer choice A.) no because blah blah blah; Answer choice B.) no because blah blah, etc.” but as I said I didn't want to break any rules and post any content I'm not supposed to. If that's allowed then I’ll edit this post and add that in.
RC: Passage 1:Question 3 and 4; Passage 4:Question 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27
Question 3: I didn’t really understand what one word meant and once you do it basically makes perfect sense, still having an issue with verbalizing why one particular answer choice is wrong, but I can see why the correct answer choice is correct and better than the other choice.
Question 4: I have line #’s for each of the incorrect answers, not sure how/why I picked the wrong answer.
Question 20: I don’t know why I picked this answer because in looking back at the passage I can see where the correct answer is mentioned at length but the answer I picked isn’t mentioned at all.
Question 21: changed my answer from the correct one to incorrect (can see the erasure on my answer sheet). Even so, like Q20.) I can see where the correct answer is mentioned at length but the answer I picked isn’t mentioned at all.
Ran out of time and picked a guess answer on 23-27, but when I went back over it I could answer all the questions and some were actually really easy/a “gimme” question like question 25 where out of the five answer choices only one is really mentioned in the part of the passage that corresponds to this question.
LR1: Question 1, 18, 24, 25.
Question 1: I misread one word at the end of the stimulus…frankly that shouldn’t have impacted me getting the correct answer because the correct answer was one that was very likely to be pre-phrased based on the argument, but if you take that word I misread into consideration with the answer choice I selected, then the answer choice I picked would actually go along with the stimulus quite nicely (it isn’t supposed to).
Question 18: To be honest I still don’t quite get this one, like I can say why 4 answers are wrong but I can’t really say why the correct answer is correct. So I may have gotten this correct based on process of elimination (i.e., I know it isn’t one of these four, so it must be the fifth choice) but I’m not sure. I also remember getting tripped up by this question on test day because I kept going through the answers after I had already gone through them and I don’t usually do that.
*I got the 5 minutes remaining warning when I was around question 22 so I rushed through the rest of the section to make sure I had things bubbled in.*
Question 24: Like question 18 I might have gotten this wrong regardless of how much time I spent on it. I can see why the correct answer is correct but having trouble verbalizing why all the other answers are incorrect.
Question 25: No idea how/why I picked the answer I did other than just being rushed and filling in an answer. Upon review it took me two seconds to follow the chain and say well if I plug in this answer choice to the stimulus, then bingo.
LG: Game 2:Question 7, 8, 10; Game 3: 15, 17; Game 4: 20, 21, 22, 23
Game 2: I reviewed Game 2 and 4 and I don’t know how/why I got any of these wrong. Like the answers I selected on test day make no sense.
Question 7: missed a very obvious rule
Question 8: read the question, turned it into a hypothetical, followed the rules, got the correct answer in two seconds so not sure why I answered incorrectly.
Question 10: same thing as question 8,, I was concerned I would have to solve the question by going through each answer choice one at a time and make a hypothetical, but even if that’s the case I still should have gotten this right from my hypothetical.
Game 3: This did catch me up, I got the diagram right then froze and moved on and tried to come back to it. For whatever reason I didn’t split the main board into solving for the possibilities, had I done that up front it would’ve been fairly straightforward. As it went, I ended up just solving the first question for this game and then picking a guess answer and guessing that letter for the other questions in this game. My guess letter was fortunate as I only got two wrong.
Game 4: Again, like Game 2 I don’t know how/why I got any of these wrong.
Question 20: read the question, made a hypothetical and just applied the rules/followed along, solved this correctly in two seconds.
Question 21: same thing as question 20.
Question 22: had potential to be really time consuming but I did hypos and it was straightforward
Question 23: same thing as question 22, had potential to be really time consuming but when I wrote out the rules at the beginning of the game I actually accounted for this when I made an inference and added that to my visual representation one of the rules
LR2: Question 3, 11, 21, 22, 23, 25.
Question 3: This was a dumb mistake on my part, in my head I basically added in an additional unstated assumption to the answer I picked…like if my answer choice is true, then that could lead to xyz because of abc, and if it does lead to xyz because of abc then maybe this answer choice is correct. Aside from the fact that I can’t add something in like that, if the reasoning behind that was true, that it could lead to xyz because of abc, well then that same reasoning basically says why another answer choice (the correct answer) is the correct answer.
Question 11: I picked a guess answer because I thought it would take me too long to solve and then just moved on hoping to come back and actually attempt to solve it for real once I made it through the other questions and reached the end of the section. On review it turns out it both wasn’t too difficult and wouldn’t have taken me too long to solve.
Question 21: I don’t see how I picked the incorrect answer that I chose, I can clearly see why it is incorrect and why it actually is out of scope (stimulus is concerned about a certain group that did behavior abc but the answer choice references a different group that did behavior xyz)…in the stimulus we’re not even talking about the group that did behavior xyz so how could that be correct? The correct answer is the only one that really does what the question stem asks, the others are either out of scope or off-task.
Question 22: I can see why the correct answer is correct but I’m still having trouble verbalizing why all of the wrong answers are wrong. I may have gotten this wrong regardless of how much time I spent attempting it.
Question 23: I definitely still don’t see how this question’s right answer is correct, to me it seemed like you had to add in an extra assumption to the correct answer choice in order to really get there (i.e., answer choice wording + if that’s the case and then you do this then yeah that would work) and I thought you can’t do that. I may have gotten this just because of process of elimination, i.e., four answer choices don’t do what the stem asks so even if the last answer choice “sucks” but still does what the stem asks then it’s correct, but again I just keep going back to it seems like you really need to add an extra assumption to the correct answer to really make it the correct answer and that just doesn’t seem kosher.
Question 25: The answer I picked doesn’t do what the question stem asks you to do and doesn’t really impact the argument. I don’t know why I picked it considering yet again on review the correct answer jumped off the page.
So the big thing seems to be that there are certain questions I may have gotten wrong no matter how much time I used in attempting to solve them. On the other hand, there are other questions I should have gotten right and can’t really account for why I screwed them up other than being rushed for time—like in LR when I’d be near the end of the section with 5 minutes left and would attempt to solve a few more questions before I just guessed answers and bubbled them in, or jumping around the section haphazardly like on LG when I started and finished G1, then basically flipped through the remaining games and their rules/setups, saw 3 and freaked out a bit, jumped back to G2 and started it, then jumped ahead to G4, then jumped back to G2, etc. just trying to get questions solved and bubbled in before I ran out of time when I should have just picked one, worked through the whole game, then moved on to the next game, etc.
I feel like I’m getting “extra” questions wrong because I’m not making it all the way through the section and not getting a chance to attempt to solve all of the question. Meaning for example, that at worst I should be getting -3 or -4 in a LR section by cutting my losses on the 3 or 4 questions that I know I don’t know, or don’t really “get” how to solve. Instead, I’m wasting time trying to solve those 3 or 4 questions, going through answer choices again and again, and then with the time I wasted for those questions that I wasn’t going to get correct anyway, I end up throwing away time I could have used on another 3 or 4 questions to get those questions right—like when I’m on Q21/22 and the 5 minutes remaining call comes and I only have 5 minutes to finish the question I’m on, attempt to solve Q23-26, and go back and make sure I didn’t misbubble. So instead of just getting -3 or -4 from the questions I didn’t know, I end up getting -3 or -4 from those I didn't know, and then another -3 or -4 from the questions at the end of the section I had to rush through, and so I end up with a total of -6/-7/-8, etc. for a section I could’ve and probably should’ve gone -3/-4 on.
If I can make it through a full section/test with enough time to actually attempt all of the questions and not have to rush at the end to make a guess and fill in bubbles, then I feel like I should be able to say “okay I’ve seen the whole section...I attempted and answered Q1-Q26, now there are still 3/4 questions I just totally don’t “get” at all, even with extra time added I probably wouldn’t get them correct, so I'm going to let it go and just be okay with getting those questions wrong, I felt comfortable enough with my answers on all the other questions in the section” and just in doing that consistently and making it the rule not the exception, that will result in my score jumping significantly (if not to the 175 BR, at least 170+).
I figure that's also easier said than done, which is why I had to come back and ask you guys for advice on where to go from here/how to attack this. I know that I can improve on a third take because I underperformed again compared to my practice scores, but I need help in figuring out how to address these timing/pacing issues so that it doesn’t hurt me on the real thing again.
I also want to note upfront that when I took PTs during prep, I took 4 and 5 section PTs at the library with other people in the room making noise, used the 7sage proctor app for timing and a bubble sheet, etc. basically tried to simulate test day conditions as well as I could.
So where do I go from here?
- Is it simply drilling more sections (Cambridge packets untimed, and especially timed sections) and making sure I have that "down" and that I'm consistently scoring between -x and -y on sections before I go back to taking full PTs?
- Do I need to play around with my timing markers (i.e., instead of trying to do the first 10 in 10 and 15 in 15 on LR, do the first 10 in 8 and the first 15 in 12, etc.)?
- Do I need to do a count down timer where I figure out how long it takes me to get through the whole section where I can actually attempt to answer each question (say 40 mins) and then keep taking timed sections but shave time off that until I can consistently do a section in 30 mins or at least <35 mins?
I was also wondering:
- What are your thoughts on the idea that the content is different on these newer LSATs?
- What does the process look like when you're actually taking a section?
- In terms of timing/pacing, do you take the entire 35 minutes to finish a section or do you get through a section with time to spare and then have time to go back (like finishing in 30'ish minutes and having 5 minutes to go back and work on stuff, double-check that you bubbled correctly, etc.)?
4. I felt a shift once I got to the 70s, especially the most recent 70s PTs. Even just the language/how the LR questions were written on the Oct LSAT kind of made me pause a few times.
5. For me with RC it's reading the passage quickly and not getting too bogged down in details. I actually don't take notes, I just try to read it and get an idea of the point, what's going on, etc. Then move on to the questions, let them drive how I answer things. Try to aim to answer a question in under a minute. If it's a main point question or something general I just think back to what I read and may try to verify by going back to the passage. If it's a question about a specific line or paragraph, etc. then I go back to that part of the passage and answer the question after I've read that portion. Again, the comparative passage on the Oct LSAT really tripped me up and that doesn't usually happen.
With LG I basically do it 7sage style, and if I get -1 on a game or it takes me too long or just doesn't seem right I look up the explanation on 7sage. I guess I just don't split game boards nearly as enough as I should...for instance Game 3 on the Oct LSAT.
With LR I read the question stem to get an idea of what I'm supposed to do, then read the stimulus and try to figure out what's the hole, etc. and then finally go into the answer choices. If it's earlier in the section and I pre-phrased well then a lot of the time the answer I expected is right there and I just take a quick glance at the other answers and quickly cross them off. Later on in the section is where things tend to get tricky for me and sometimes I'll have to eliminate 4 answer choices to get to the correct one, or I'll see a long parallel question somewhere between Q15 and Q20 and figure I might as well circle the question, pick a "random" answer, and hopefully come back to it and attempt to solve it for real once I've made it through to the end of the LR section and answered everything else. Unfortunately as previously mentioned it seems like instead what happens is I "skip" that long parallel question, still end up taking the full 35 minutes, and then don't have time to go back to it.
6. I bubble in answers while I go—after each game/each passage/each LR page flip—and the goal is always to get through a section with time to review a few questions, but again that rarely happens. What usually happens is that when the *5 minutes remaining* call comes I'm usually somewhere around question 20-22 in LR, and usually working on the last passage/last game. Of course there were a few times where that 5 minute call would come and I wouldn't even be that far along so I'd have to like jump back and forth between two games or two passages or a page of LR and try to answer whatever I think takes the least time.