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Messages - Jeffort

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11
Studying for the LSAT / Re: How can I improve my reading?
« on: March 26, 2012, 05:39:02 PM »
Since English is your second language, amongst other things, I suggest that you brush up on grammar and parts of speech.  Stuff about nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, compound-complex sentences, etc.  It makes it hard to know what the heck is being presented if you get mixed up in those and misinterpret the substance of what the author is conveying with the text.

LSAT reading comprehension passages typically include sentences of the compound, complex and compound-complex variety that also use pronouns and all other parts of speech in much more complicated ways than simple sentences and the way magazines and news articles and other consumer publications are written. 

Also, vocabulary.  Whenever you come across a word you are unsure about, look it up in a dictionary.  Don't worry about the big $20 word specialized scientific terms (they will be defined in context), but for words not tied to a particular specialized field or topic, look it up, and maybe write it down on a flashcard and the definition on the back. 

One of many good free web sites with tutorials about English grammar, parts of speech and sentence structures is:
 http://www.englishclub.com/

With various searches you can find youtube videos that provide a good refresher as well.  I typed search term "english grammar sentence diagramming" and found several good youtube video lessons. 


 


12
Studying for the LSAT / Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?
« on: March 23, 2012, 10:38:52 AM »
Yeah that helps, thanks. But my concern is that if I read the question, and then only halfway through it I decide to diagram, I will lose valuable time rereading the question. I was wondering if there's some type of clue (perhaps by the type of question) that would make this decision easier and/or quicker. I think by reading the question stem before the stimulus may help on that.

Your question is about an issue many students commonly face early into preparing for the LSAT and one worth asking.

Diagramming is useful for some question types and not for others when you are taking a timed test. 

You must keep in mind that many of the various diagrams in LSAT prep books and the ones instructors write on the white board during prep classes are meant for educational/illustration purposes and not always meant as an example of what/how much you should diagram on test day.  Many of them are meant to illustrate, teach and drill in the concepts and relationships that exist in a given LR question.

For instance, on test day/under timed conditions, it is not very useful to diagram Main Point/Main conclusion questions because your task is simply to identify the main conclusion of the argument and find the answer choice that restates/paraphrases it.  Same thing with role in the argument questions.  Even if there are conditional statements, diagramming them out is not a very efficient way to determine if a given statement is a premise, counter premise, sub-conclusion, or main conclusion.   

The LR question types that diagramming sufficient and necessary condition relationships when presented in the stimulus and/or answer choices is most useful for include:

must be true/most strongly supported
Must be false
sufficient assumption/justify the conclusion
parallel reasoning (non flawed ones, but sometimes with parallel the flawed reasoning ones if the flaw is based on conditional logic)
Principle questions (there are several variations of these)
Flawed method of reasoning (Not all, only when the argument is based on conditional logic)
Strengthen and weaken questions occasionally, but not that often.

Regarding wasting time re-reading the stimulus to make your final selection between two answer choices, that is mostly a mythical fear.  In reality, most students that have trouble finishing LR sections in time waste a lot of time debating answer choices BECAUSE they didn't fully comprehend the stimulus and/or overlooked/forgot some crucial details that make the difference between the correct answer and the most attractive trap answer. 

This is especially true with the higher difficulty rated questions that many test takers answer incorrectly.  A quick re-read of the stimulus once you have it narrowed to two (sometimes three) contender answer choices should take no more than a few seconds since you have already read it and are already familiar with it.  Refreshing your memory of the finer details and nuances of the stimulus can make the difference between getting the point or selecting a trap answer and typically takes less time than people spend debating answering choices on hard questions they get stuck on.

First, thanks a lot for the help. Second, let me be a little bit clearer. Should I read the question stem before the stimulus? At least your point that some question should not be diagrammed supports the reading of the question stem upfront. This way a person can identify that a question type need no diagram, no matter how hard the stimulus may be. That is personally what I think is better to do, unlike the PowerScore LR Bible.

Finally, when I was talking about re-reading a question I was referring to questions that sometimes need to be diagrammed. For example, by reading a question stem upfront I know that the question is a Must Be True question, which sometimes makes diagramming recommended. However, how do I know I indeed need to diagram that specific question? Ultimately, what I'm trying to avoid is to read the stimulus and only then realize that I need to diagram it. And if the question is complex enough to require diagramming, it is likely that I'll need to re-read the question because I wont remember the statement that need to be diagrammed.

Regarding re-reading the stimulus before picking the "winner" choice, in my little experience I've already learned that it is well worth it and takes little time.

When beginning prep in a class or by self study with a book like the LRB, it is a good idea to start with reading the stimulus first for several reasons.  Right from the start you need to learn how to and get good at breaking down arguments and it takes time to learn all the different question types.

One of the first important things you need to learn and get good at for LR is to be able to differentiate whether the stimulus is an argument or just a set of facts/information, and then how to break down arguments into their components such as main conclusion supporting premises, counter premises, sub conclusions.  Focusing on getting good at doing that from day one of prep is a crucial foundation building block everything else you learn in progression about the LR section rests on.  It is important to read the stimulus first in the early and mid stages of learning about the LR section while getting all the other basics and concepts down.

The other important part early into LSAT prep is learning all the different LR question types, their respective characteristics, and becoming familiar with the various different ways the question stem can be phrased for each given question type.  It takes time to learn what all the different question types are and get familiar with them.  Early to mid-way in the process you will not know all the question types since good books and classes teach them one at a time and it should take at least several weeks to be exposed to, learn the basic ins and outs of each type, practice some of each type before moving to the next, etc. 

Once you have learned all the basics of each type and how to identify them, strategies and relevant concepts to apply to each, have worked many of each time slowl and then move more into the mainly practice and drilling phase, it then becomes a matter of what works better for you in terms of whether to read the stem or stimulus first.  It only takes one second at most to glance at a question stem to identify the type once you have covered and become familiar with them all. Some people perform better reading the stem first, while others prefer reading the stimulus first, which is why there are conflicting positions about which part you should read first.

Regarding diagramming, knowing when to do it or consider doing it not only depends on the question type, it also depends on the substance of the stimulus.  If you see conditional premises, conclusion, or conditional answer choices (usually by noticing commonly repeated sufficient or necessary indicator words and phrases), then you know that diagramming things out can be helpful.  If you do not see conditional statements in the question, then you should not try to force diagramming (arrow diagrams A--> B) onto the problem.  Diagramming things out is not efficient for all questions, not even all must be true ones. 


13
Studying for the LSAT / Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?
« on: March 21, 2012, 03:56:12 PM »
Yeah that helps, thanks. But my concern is that if I read the question, and then only halfway through it I decide to diagram, I will lose valuable time rereading the question. I was wondering if there's some type of clue (perhaps by the type of question) that would make this decision easier and/or quicker. I think by reading the question stem before the stimulus may help on that.

Your question is about an issue many students commonly face early into preparing for the LSAT and one worth asking.

Diagramming is useful for some question types and not for others when you are taking a timed test. 

You must keep in mind that many of the various diagrams in LSAT prep books and the ones instructors write on the white board during prep classes are meant for educational/illustration purposes and not always meant as an example of what/how much you should diagram on test day.  Many of them are meant to illustrate, teach and drill in the concepts and relationships that exist in a given LR question.

For instance, on test day/under timed conditions, it is not very useful to diagram Main Point/Main conclusion questions because your task is simply to identify the main conclusion of the argument and find the answer choice that restates/paraphrases it.  Same thing with role in the argument questions.  Even if there are conditional statements, diagramming them out is not a very efficient way to determine if a given statement is a premise, counter premise, sub-conclusion, or main conclusion.   

The LR question types that diagramming sufficient and necessary condition relationships when presented in the stimulus and/or answer choices is most useful for include:

must be true/most strongly supported
Must be false
sufficient assumption/justify the conclusion
parallel reasoning (non flawed ones, but sometimes with parallel the flawed reasoning ones if the flaw is based on conditional logic)
Principle questions (there are several variations of these)
Flawed method of reasoning (Not all, only when the argument is based on conditional logic)
Strengthen and weaken questions occasionally, but not that often.

Regarding wasting time re-reading the stimulus to make your final selection between two answer choices, that is mostly a mythical fear.  In reality, most students that have trouble finishing LR sections in time waste a lot of time debating answer choices BECAUSE they didn't fully comprehend the stimulus and/or overlooked/forgot some crucial details that make the difference between the correct answer and the most attractive trap answer. 

This is especially true with the higher difficulty rated questions that many test takers answer incorrectly.  A quick re-read of the stimulus once you have it narrowed to two (sometimes three) contender answer choices should take no more than a few seconds since you have already read it and are already familiar with it.  Refreshing your memory of the finer details and nuances of the stimulus can make the difference between getting the point or selecting a trap answer and typically takes less time than people spend debating answering choices on hard questions they get stuck on. 

14
I am registered to take the LSAT June 11 at Univ of west LA and I know these LSAT test venues vary on whether or not they allow students to go outside and smoke. Was wondering if anyone who has taken the test at UWLA Law knows if they do let you go outside and smoke or if I should bring some other kind of nicotine supplement.

Thanks!

LSAC policy is that you are not allowed to exit the test facility/building during the break and the proctors are instructed to enforce the rule (though not all of them always do).  Don't try to sneak out, if you get caught you get written up and possibly dismissed from the test, which is a really bad thing to have on your record when you apply.  Just get the patch or some nicotine gum or lozenges.

 


15
General Off-Topic Board / Re: Study abroad before law school?
« on: March 18, 2012, 08:24:43 PM »
I am starting law school in August at USF. I am currently a UCI student and was thinking about doing a travel study program in Cambridge England. It is a 5 week program with 2 classes. I'll be gone from June 24-July 28. Right when I get back I will have to move into my new place (once I find one) and will have orientation August 13th and start classes August 20th. Do you think this is a good way to spend my summer before law school? Or would you recommend just staying home and cooling my brain off?

As long as the finances of going are not going to be a huge burden, I say go for it. 

Two classes over five weeks isn't bad.  It should leave you with plenty of time to play around, explore the area and enjoy the culture with everything there you decide to check out.

It sounds like a fun educational and adventurous vacation.

When you have the time, opportunity and finances to explore the world, learn more and have fun in the process, DO IT!

FYI travel tip:
In England the cultural norm is to use a fork and a knife to eat pizza.
They don't eat it the way Americans typically do by just picking up a slice and gobbling it down.  ;)


16
Studying for the LSAT / Re: Maryland Test Centers
« on: March 08, 2012, 07:38:26 AM »
Do you work for Kaplan?  Has anyone taken the LSAT on a flip top desk?  Ever?  I have never seen a test center (regardless of whether I was taking it or not) that used flip top desks.  All had desk tops- All.

Focusing on something like this is a waste of time and effort and will drive you crazy.  Focus on the questions man, not whether the test center has florescent light or not.  Do not worry about the test center- you have enough to worry about- frickin Kaplan.

I've been insulted and accused of many things in the years I've been providing LSAT prep and law school advice on the discussion forums, but never before have I received such a bad insult as being accused of working for Kaplan.   

You are obviously new, relatively uniformed and inexperienced. 

Yes, people have had to take the LSAT on flip-up desks as well as on other crappy desks and also in test centers where the facilities were not great in ways that can and did impair the performance of some test takers.  Not all test centers provide equal testing conditions.

Doing a little research to select a good test center is not crazy.  It is a responsible and reasonable thing to do in order to help insure sure you don't face any conditions that might impair your performance on test day. 

You are giving bad advice bro.




17
Studying for the LSAT / Re: Maryland Test Centers
« on: March 06, 2012, 07:41:59 AM »
Best?  They should all be almost exactly the same.  Almost all are at community colleges or universities.  Pick the one closest to you. 

Did Kaplan actually tell you it matters? Their focus on the irrelevant boarders on incompetence. There are no tricks or quick fixes.  I have heard about bad test centers people have gotten stuck with, but it was the proctors (and they are not constant) and rarely happens.

This ^above advice is flat out incorrect.  Should is different from what is true in reality.

The quality of the test center does matter regarding desk top space.  Proctors vary from one administration to the next but the desk size and physical space per location you have available to use in each facility does not. 

Juggling the test book, answer sheet, pencils and an erasure can be very difficult in a test room with the tiny flip-up desks that are only slightly larger than a single 8 1/2 X 11 inch piece of paper and also on several other small desk types that are attached to the chair. 

Simaba, I am not familiar with specific test facilities in Maryland since I don't live near their.  If there is one available where the test will be administered in a law school classroom that is convenient to get to from where you live, go with it.  Law school classrooms all have big wide desks with plenty of desk space to spread things out on. 

The desk conditions can make a difference in how well you perform.  You certainly do not want to have to waste valuable time per section shuffling the test-book and answer sheet back and forth due to limited desk-top space since that subtracts from time you have available to analyze and solve the questions correctly.

18
Studying for the LSAT / Re: Take the exam again?
« on: February 27, 2012, 11:34:09 PM »
What specific information would be needed to better evaluate my chances?

I am more than willing to provide them given they're not too intrusive.

I appreciate your honesty! Thank you!

Which law schools are you interested in applying to?
Have you only taken the LSAT once and only have 158 on your LSAC record?
When are you planning to apply and subsequently start law school?
How much time did you spend preparing before taking the December test and how did you prepare?

Since most, but not all, law schools now focus on the highest reported LSAT score rather than average score when evaluating applications from people with multiple reported scores, if you can score significantly higher than 158 on a future administration you should re-take the test. Of course the decision depends in large part on the admission numbers ranges of the schools you are aiming for since your current numbers qualify you for admission to many lower ranked schools, so knowing the admission statistics of your target schools is critical to your question.

19
Studying for the LSAT / Re: Take the exam again?
« on: February 27, 2012, 12:38:38 AM »
It depends on what your target schools are and what you consider to be a decent law school that would fit well with your goals.

158 LSAT with 3.3 UG GPA is not likely to get you into a tier one or even most tier two law schools.  Your other soft factors matter and could help if they are really good.

Additional information would be helpful in order for you to get input that is more specific.


20
Studying for the LSAT / Re: Sincere Inquiry from a Starter
« on: February 19, 2012, 12:30:13 AM »
More sadness: TLS is moderated by a few serious deuch.bags.  Populated by less duchy, but still slightly mean people who make them selves feel better by putting others down. 

Might not seem I feel that way with the meanness of some of my post on LSD, but TLS is too harsh for even me and I'm probably not the only person that feels this way- a small glimmer of hope for LSD, TLS is a creepy stereotypically arrogantly mean law student forum (inferiority complexes get old).

I agree for the most part with your observations. 

I got temporarily banned by one of the TLS moderators the other week for posting something totally benign in a thread a mod decided to censor, told people to stop posting in, but did not simply just lock. 

EarlCat, a friend of mine, LSAT expert, etc. that has also been posting great advice for free here, on TLS, and on other boards for years also got temporarily banned for posting in the same TLS thread with a civilized criticism of a few things and posing a few questions.  A number of other posters that regularly post quality advice for free that are not promoting/selling a product also got banned in that draconian ban wave. 

It really pissed me off because I only post helpful advice and answers to students questions there when I have the time, having been doing so for several years, and do not engage in immature $hit slinging nonsense. 

IMHO, the TLS mods did it to protect a certain guy that recently started his own online LSAT prep business that they are letting advertise/promote for free on the site directly and with shill accounts in threads rather than requiring him to pay for banner ads like all the other prep companies are required to do.

If people believe the practice test and test day score claims of all or most TLS users that post on that LSAT study board, then most or almost all of the one percent of test takers that actually score 173 and above have accounts and post there.  That is an unrealistic scenario.

There are some decent regulars that are helpful and semi-humble in the mix, but they are the minority.  When I post there, if I don't get called a feminine hygiene product-bag by somebody at least once every few weeks for just giving straight up facts/information/honest answers to questions, I feel like I'm doing something wrong!

Oh well, what can you do to stop some people from being arrogant a-holes? 
 

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