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Studying for the LSAT / Stuck at 165
« on: March 16, 2013, 08:13:14 PM »
Hi guys,

So I just picked up my LSAT study from a year and a half ago. (I studied on and off while I was in graduate school and then picked it back up while working a few weeks ago).

I've been pretty stuck in the low-mid 160s for the past few weeks and would appreciate some perspective...

Background Info: I have been studying quite a bit so far - I've gone through all the Kaplan, Princeton Review, PowerScore and LSAC (SuperPrep) prep books a few times. I got to the point where I was consistently getting 177+ in Untimed tests.

Prep Method Now: For the past three weeks now I have been tackling two sections a day under strict timed, loose timed and un-timed conditions. Strict = go until 35 min per section then guess on remaining questions; Loose = after 35 min. are up and you "guessed" on remaining questions, keep going to see how long it takes to finish the section at the same pace; Un-timed = before grading each section, review each question and answer choice, categorizing why a response is 100% correct and why each response is 100% incorrect. For the past three weeks, however, I have not been able to improve much. I am maintaining between a 163-166 Strict Timed score, 170 Loose Timed Score and a 177 Untimed Score.

What has improved has been my time. Before my times were LR: 45 min.; RC: 45 min.; LG: 45 min.; now my times are LR: 40 min.; RC: 42 min.; LG 35 min.. Also note that I started with PT 7 and am planning on going through all published PTs between now and the June test with the most recent closer to June.

Not sure if there is anything you guys recommend? Should I just keep what I'm doing up and eventually progress will show itself or what? I've debated dropping doing each section over again un-timed before checking my work so I could use that time doing more timed practice, but I feel like I could still benefit from the untimed work.

Thanks!

 

122
I'm currently in the low 170s UN-TIMED and low 160s TIMED. I'm in the early-mid stages of my fundamentals study. So that being said, give more weight to what others with more experience say.

I went through the Princeton Review (Cracking the LSAT... which I detested) and all three Kaplan books (which I am loving). I have also been using the Question Stem First method. I'm currently getting around 90% accuracy at around 1.5-2.5 min. (sometimes more, sometimes way less) in the LR section.

I think if you honestly followed the Stem 1st - Stimulus 2nd - Prediction - Evaluate Answers method exactly and efficiently you may be better off but ONLY if you follow it exactly. If you find you are reading everything twice, that rotation/method is breaking down and causing inefficiency. If this is your nature then it may be better to read Stimulus 1st. Note that just because your time is not currently ideal doesn't mean you won't bring it down - with more untimed practice and exposure to all things LSAT and your given method your time will naturally go down.

If you want I can share some examples where I really do think Stem first is, without a shadow a doubt, more efficient than reading stimulus first.

Regardless, if you do Stem first I would highly recommend the following (these things were not mentioned in the Kaplan books however I have found they are very helpful).

- When you ID the question, write a shorthand letter that helps remind you of what your task is. That is, if you ID the question to a Strengthen question I will write "S" next to the stem. This may help avoid re-reading the stem again and will also remind you of your task when reviewing answer choices. This should take less than 1 second of you time and may give back several seconds - especially if you tend to forget/get lost in the answer choices of your task.

- Depending on the question type (I usually do this only for questions types I tend to get wrong or are convoluted) I will write a shorthand of what the Correct answer will be AND what the Wrong answers MAY be (you should always be on the look out for common wrong answers so I don't bother writing those here). For instance, if you are in a "LEAST Strengthens" question type, I will shorthand by writing a Check Mark (for correct answer) and "W or Null Set" next to it  (W for Weakening and Null set, a 0 with a slash through it, to indicate it has no affect on the argument). I will also write "X" (for incorrect answer) and "S" next to it. This, again, should not take more than 5 seconds to complete and will definitely pay off.

123
Studying for the LSAT / Re: Timed/untimed tests
« on: August 17, 2011, 09:16:27 PM »
I'd probably question the way you approach un-timed sections though. You shouldn't treat them as "extended" timed sections. Lingering in not good timed or un-timed. You should be 200% sure that the answer is right AND 200% sure the other 4 answers are wrong. You should have reasons for each (why the answer is wrong and why the answer is right). In un-timed work you should, especially early on, write down these reasons. I normally do shorthand (if an answer is Weakening a Strengthen question I'll write W and then underline the word(s) that weaken it.) You should never guess in un-timed work. If you honestly cannot figure out the answer and you do guess in un-timed work its the same as having a wrong answer. Not having the same reasons for an answer being right/wrong (as compared to your study material) is, in most cases, the same as having a wrong answer. That means even if you answered correctly you may not have answered efficiently and may have to re-evaluate that particular question. Be methodical and efficient - even in un-timed work.

If you work like this early on then it will take you a long time to get through questions (which is why it is un-timed). The whole point of un-timed is so you can get so accustomed and familiar with this type of rigorous scrutiny that it becomes second nature. Your time will then naturally come down. By the time you really master un-timed work you should already have a pretty good time. The only new skills you should practice by the time you get to timed practice are question/game/passage ordering, bubbling techniques and section management.

Hopefully that helps?

124
My confusion still lies within timed vs. untimed. When do I move to timed? How much time is TOO MUCH TIME on untimed tests? I'm thinking about taking untimed tests once a week, since I don't have class on Tuesdays.

Also, where can I find full, legitimate practice tests for free as opposed to PR's? I noticed it wasn't full as soon as I started it, but I went with it anyway, figuring it would be a good benchmark. I really hope working through the PR book at all is worth it - I'm giving myself three weeks to get through the whole book (1 week per section). Then, it's moving on to Powerscore.

This may be best answered by someone with more experience, however, from my research it seems that early on there is no such thing as too much time. Of course, this is in an ideal world when you have all the time to devout to master the LSAT - which may not be realistic. Still, if you are using an EFFICIENT method do not worry that much. If the method really is efficient then with more exposure to that method and the LSAT your time will go down and your score will go up. Timing will come.

The point of untimed is so you get extremely familiar with the test and how it looks/is set up (all the different question types and each one of their problems) AS WELL as with the method you are using. So long as you are actively thinking and don't stop that train of thought and are working diligently through the method - take as long as you need to to be 200% sure the answer is right AND the 4 others are wrong.

You will soon begin to realize how the test really repeats a lot of similar ways of thinking throughout the three sections. Ways of finding deductions in LGs will, oddly, begin to somehow creep into your LR section and inferences will get easier to spot. Its at this point when you will begin to realize the LSAT is not so much a test to get into law school as it is a self prep course for law school (year 0 of law school). The skills you are learning will help you later (at least I tell myself that - hah).

Once you are getting around a 175+ on your complete untimed section then you can start worrying about bringing your time down. You will notice, however, that your time will naturally go down as you work through untimed sections.

As for the real tests - I don't know of any legitimate ways of obtaining all the real tests for free. Heres a link that lists where to find all the tests and where to buy them. I would shop around on amazon for the different books.

http://www.powerscore.com/lsat/help/pub_ident.cfm

125
Thanks... but it is important to note its still un-timed. The numbers I gave have been general averages (some have been lower some have been higher). My current avg. stats would, at best, allow for mid 160s timed. That is not taking into account fatigue and what not. Realistically I am probably high 150s low 160s. I have yet to take a full timed test so that is just speculation.

I completely agree with the worry of mixing methods. I am making my own as I go anyways though. There are, surprisingly, some things from Princeton Review that I like better than Kaplan.

The Kaplan books are not that thin at all - RC and LR books are about 450 page each and the LG is about 600. That makes the Kaplan set about 1500 pages worth of material to cover. Of course the majority of that is practice questions and review. That being said my outline (which just covers methodology) is about 75 pages.

Also, as a side note, I really like how the RC book is written. Its very positive and semi-motivational - its subtle how they sneak it in but its uplifting. The other two try to match that tone, but aren't quite AS successful.

126
For the record - I am still in the midst of studying for the LSAT myself. So if others with more experience feel that, comparatively, the Kaplan books are not as good as Powerscore then take that with more weight. I can only compare Kaplan to Princeton Review and it is night and day better.

After Princeton Reivew book whenever I timed myself I was getting about: LG 80% at 15 minutes per game. LR 70% at 2-5 min. per question. and RC 60% at 10-15 min. per passage.

After Kaplan I'm getting: LG 100% at 5-11 min. per game. LR 90% at around 1.5-2.5 min. per question. and RC at 80% at around 10 min.

I still need a lot of work to get where I want but there certainly is a lot of improvement in a short amount of time. But who knows - maybe that would have been even better with powerscore?

As for Kaplan books, they are not so much "tip" or "trick" based as they are "method" based. They occasionally will make a "tip"/"note" on particular question/game types, such as common wrong answers, how to spot them etc. but they are really obsessed about tying everything back to their "method." I'll PM you my outlines.

Once you have a strong foundation with the fundamentals I would take as many real tests as you can. Julie Ferm mentioned this:

that fake test.  take real one.

Thats because the Princeton Review is one of the few, if not only, major prep companies that make up their own test questions. Though these are okay for further drilling (often they may actually me harder then the real test) you should spend the bulk of your time on real LSAT tests/questions. After you get really comfortable (some say around 165) then you can use PR material for further drilling, but still understand those are fake and you should still base your practice scores on real LSAT tests.

Currently there are around 60 real LSAT tests out there you can buy. Once you are in that 175+ range, hit those hard - at least 1 or 2 a week. If you only have time for 10 or so tests I would start with test #52 which is when they added Comparative Reading and will be the test most resembling the one you will take. If you have time for more I would set it up so the last practice tests you take are after test 52 and ends with the most recent one.

127
I'm planning on spending 4 hours a day, 4-5 days a week in the library working on homework, and once I'm finished it's LSAT time. I've scheduled a few lessons out of the Princeton Review book a day, and between now and December I will have taken between 4 and 6 practice tests.

...

Can someone either tell me if I'm on the right track or suggest alternative methods?

If you can get in around 30+ hours a week between now and test day just on LSAT stuff you will be golden. At minimum it should be 20-25 on an off week. There are many reasons why but here is possibly the most practical reason why...

Whatever study method you use you should break things up between Timed and Un-timed practice. Timed practice should really only come when you are in the Un-timed 175+ range. Why? If you can't answer the questions without the clock, there is no way you can answer it with the clock. If you as using a proven method (like those taught in powerscore/kaplan, etc.) then you are practicing an efficient way of tackling the test. This way you will never feel the need to go faster and the only real timing skills that will come into play are game/passage/question ordering and bubbling techniques.

How do you get to the Un-Timed 175+ range? First, as I said, you MUST be using an efficient method - which you will learn once you start powerscore/kaplan. Second, when you are studying the method - answer the questions actively, not passively. Be 150% sure that the answer you pick is without a shadow of a doubt the correct answer AND (important AND) understand why the other 4 answers are without a shadow of a doubt the wrong answers. Write notes as to why the answers are wrong (i.e. "Out of scope because of ____" or "Faulty formal logic" or "Strengthens the argument (presuming you need to weaken it)") .. of course don't do this in the actual test/timed test but it is important at this stage. If you do this correctly, when you are checking your answers you will either be exceptionally annoyed at the fact you even had to check it because you got it right OR your entire world implodes as the ground beneath you crumbles because you got it wrong. Nonchalant v. Depression.

If you are studying like that, it will take you hours to get through a certain game type/question type etc.

This practice is crucial early on when you are working the fundamentals. With more exposure it will become easier to see why an answer it right or wrong and your efficient method will become quicker - making predictions, deductions etc.

One more thing - outline all the LSAT books you use. Use the outline when you are practicing to make sure you are doing everything right and remembering any tricks. If you want I can send you my Kaplan Outline?

Good luck.

128
BU refers to Boston University, at least in my experience.

Is Boston well known for those programs - just out of curiosity?

129
I did the princeton review book (Cracking the LSAT) and would really advise against. Its ok if you are just going to go through it quickly and get a fundamental understanding of what is going on - but don't waste your time understanding how Princeton tackles problems. There are a lot of methods that are ok if you are just shooting for mid 150s maybe 160 but is NOT the best way (doubtful you'll get mid 160s+ with it). The book seems more like a crash course if you only have a few weeks to study. There are a LOT of bad habits that the Princeton Review gave me that I am still breaking using the Kaplan Method. Also, I was almost insulted by the lack of attention given to the Reading Comprehension section - it just gives you like 2 or 3 examples and says "Don't forget to circle important words ... good luck."

That being said, Powerscore seems to be the best out there. Once I am done with Kaplan I am going to move on to Powerscore.

130
LSAT horror stories / Re: lsat study tips
« on: August 06, 2011, 01:39:41 AM »
I'm planning a long term study for LSAT as well...

No matter what you do you have to get your fundamentals down tight. If you can't answer questions un-timed theres no way you can answer them timed. Spend the majority of your time early on on getting a good handle on all those things (understanding question, game, passage types and all the strategies to tackle them).

I would recommend getting a book course like Kaplan (what I am using) or Powerscore (what I will be shortly starting) and follow it. Outline all the methods/steps and tricks. Use your outline when you are practicing each section - make sure you stick to the methods. If you are looking for a 160 then be able to at least get a 170 untimed before working on your timing (if not 175). At this point you shouldn't have much of an issue to get 160 and will just need to work on bubbling techniques and game/passage/question ordering.

One more thing - even though you have time on your side, don't think you can just spend 5-6 hours a week. If you have 10 months then put in at least 20 hours a week from now until you take the test - and the last few months you should bump that up to 30 hours a week.

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