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Messages - totaltest.milan

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The general market leaders are TestMasters, PowerScore, BluePrint, and Manhattan LSAT.  They vary in price and approach, look into them and see if you can talk to people who've taken classes.  It also depends on the instructor that you end up getting.  Tutoring is generally considered a better option because of the one-on-one aspect (full disclosure: I'm a tutor) but it tends to be more expensive, in particular if you get a tutor directly from a company.  You can check craigslist for tutors for generally less money then getting one directly from the company. 

Studying for the LSAT / Re: LSAT COURSES
« on: May 28, 2011, 05:48:27 PM »
Hi pinkberry7, I posted a reply to another question that might be helpful for you. 

But specifically for what you wrote, if you did well in the course and improved on the preptests then it might be more important to try and figure out why you performed poorly on the actual test.

If you're consistently scoring 161 - 165 then that might be because of problem areas - certain question types that you're having problems with more so than others.  If that's the case then I recommend singling out those question types and drilling them along with a preptest as opposed to doing two preptests.  Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.  If your errors have more of a random distribution then the issue might be that you simply need to develop your focus and endurance, in which case your strategy seems reasonable. 

I took an LSAT a day up to the day of the test, though always with just four sections.  I was scoring in the high 170s with a couple of 180s the week before the test and got a 172 on the real thing. 

Studying for the LSAT / Re: Improving on a 165
« on: May 28, 2011, 05:29:14 PM »
"these lsat couple weeks!"

i see what you did there   :) 

Studying for the LSAT / Re: LSAT Score
« on: May 28, 2011, 05:17:35 PM »
Ok, I didn't have this kind of drastic improvement but I have taught people who have, it's perfectly feasible.  The basic thing that this exam tests is your reasoning ability (verbal and analytical) and to prepare for it you have to train like you would train any other ability - intelligent practice.  What that essentially means is figuring out/learning the best approach for each of the different question types, practicing the approaches until they become second nature and you can do the questions with reasonable accuracy, and then doing practice tests under test conditions.  There's more to it than that but those are the essentials.  And it takes time. 

In terms of preparing for it, you have several options that, depending on your specific situation, any one of which can be useful. 

The first is getting a tutor.  In general this is the best approach since you'll get individual attention from someone who's, ideally, experienced and competent.  The downside is that it's of course more expensive.  But a good tutor will know the test, will have mastered the strategies for doing well on it, and will be a good teacher - they'll be able to communicate all that to you in a way that makes sense.  Obviously I think my company is the best or else I wouldn't be doing this, but getting private tutors from the major companies or from someone on craigslist/etc can work out as well.  Of the prep companies the ones that are the market leaders in terms of quality, in my opinion, are Testmasters and Powerscore, followed by Kaplan at a distant third.  If going for a private tutor what you need to be looking for is someone with experience and teaching ability.  I can't stress enough that just getting in the 99%ile doesn't make someone a good teacher.  Don't bother with people who don't have introductory sessions where they explain their approach and what you'll be doing and who don't have a free lesson.

The second option is a prep course.  If you go with the big national companies, the ones I mentioned above are considered the best.  There might be small local companies where you're at that offer a quality product.  Check in with them and ask for details, referrals, etc.  Prep courses are cheaper than tutors with the downside being lack of individual attention.  That may not necessarily be a problem, it depends on your learning style. 

The third is studying on your own.  Though this is generally discouraged it can have very positive results for certain people who have an independent attitude and confidence in their abilities.  To study on your own the best way is to find strong prep material and work from it.  And then do as many prep tests under test conditions as possible.  Once again, I think my material is the best but in terms of the books out there the Powerscore books are by far the highest-quality.  Though I personally don't recommend their approach to logic games - a better approach in my opinion is found in a book called "The Big Fat Genius Guide to Logic Games".  And then I'd recommend buying all of the prep tests and having all of them done at least a week before the actual test. 

Hope that helps, let me know if you have any questions.

Great advice.  I especially like where you pointed out that developing an intuitive understanding is really important and comes from a lot of practice.

Yeah the reading comprehension is somewhat particular.  The basic thing to remember with it is that you need to train yourself to read for structure, not content - though judging by your scores I'd guess you're doing that to some extent, at least intuitively.  Before giving some specific advice there's one thing I suggest to all of my students in terms of long-term preparation.  You should definitely take the time to read something dense and challenging on a daily basis, but I respectfully disagree with those who suggest that that includes magazines or newspapers like the WSJ, the Economist, the NYT, etc.  As sophisticated as that might be the main problem with magazines and newspapers is that they're designed for a somewhat generalized audience and they're designed to be read for content.  Instead what I've found helps my students a lot is reading from the following book: A Companion to Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory.  Reading a section at a time can be very useful if you've got months to go before the test.

Other than that, I teach my students what I've termed the POTS system.
P = Perspective
O = Oppositions
T = Tone
S = Structure

Each passage is going to have several different perspectives or points of view about a particular subject matter.  These perspectives are generally going to be in opposition or conflict with one another and the author's tone or word choice will articulate their evaluation.  The structure is a manifestation of these three other things in the paragraph as a whole.  I find that this is a conceptual framework that has really helped my students map out and understand the passage as they're going through it. 

Don't take the test.  For two reasons.

1)  You'll certainly do better with more preparation.  The LSAT's not the kind of test that you can cram for, it's more of a skill test, and like any other skill better performance is a product of time spent practicing. 
2)  There's no reason to go to law school right after college and can in fact be a bad idea.  A typical lawyer has to interact with clients who generally feel more comfortable around people they perceive to be older and more experienced.  Waiting 1 or even 2 - 5 years before going to law school will not be a setback for getting hired and will actually be something in your favor.  Doing something in between college and law school will look good on your application, but it will also give you a better idea of what you want to do with your life/career and my recommendation would be to work at the kind of law firm that you'd most likely work for after graduation and use that to figure out if that's something that sits with you. 

Studying for the LSAT / Re: Struggling with Logical Reasoning
« on: May 27, 2011, 05:40:47 PM »
Ok, first the obvious: 

unless you absolutely have to don't take the test in June.

One thing I emphasize to all my students is that the LSAT is a skills/performance test, not a knowledge test.  As with any other skill the only way to improve is through practice.  If you put in enough intelligent practice you'll definitely do better.  The key word there is enough.  That varies from person to person but is generally measured in months not weeks.  Judging from what you said, that you've only taken 11 practice tests, that's not nearly enough to reach your potential.  An optimal approach is one where you isolate and practice the different question types for each of the sections enough that you feel comfortable with the correct approach for each one, then isolate and do the sections so that you're comfortable with the sections, then do a group of tests with no time constraints, and finally have about 20-30 tests that you do under actual test conditions.

That being said, if you're committed to the June date and want to improve your logical reasoning score I'd recommend seeing which question types are giving you a hard time (if there are any others in addition to the ones you mentioned) and isolating and practicing those.  Find an approach for them that yields good results, figure out why correct answers are correct and incorrect answers incorrect, and see if there's anything in particular that's causing you to get them wrong.  Once you get comfortable with them then go back to doing full tests. 

The basic approach to the arguments section is to have a very good understanding of what the premises and conclusion are (what exactly the argument's saying) before you go on to the choices.  Judging by your error distribution (ie you're doing well on the reading comp) my guess is you're doing ok with that and the problem is most likely the specific types you mentioned plus the more difficult arguments questions that come towards the end of the passage and for which it doesn't seem to make sense why the correct choice is correct.  Because of space constraints there isn't much that any of us tutors could write here regarding doing the assumption or parallel reasoning that isn't in the various prep materials out there.  Obviously I recommend taking a look at my site:, I have over 15 hours of video for the arguments section alone.  In addition, the powerscore logical reasoning bible is pretty comprehensive and useful. 

That's my .02, the other posts have good info so hopefully we've managed to help you a bit.

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