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Author Topic: Improving On Difficult LR Questions  (Read 1231 times)

FrankieFlye

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Improving On Difficult LR Questions
« on: August 25, 2010, 05:08:24 PM »
Hey Guys:

Retaking the LSAT in october. I bought the Cambridge difficult questions packet, and I've taken 10 preptests so far (7-19, mixed) averaging around a 162. I know the more difficult LR questions are my problem, so I'm wondering if anyone has any hints/tips to rip through it? The smaller simpler arguments are obviously easier but once the wording gets a bit more complex I'm not sure if I get sidetracked and misled or just confused. Are there certain words I should be aware of to indicate what I need to know? I know the typical indicator words for most premises and conclusions, but should I focus on memorizing them? Also are there any additional words that are used more often on the more difficult questions?

I've gone through 60 questions in the difficult questions packet, and have scored 29/60. I feel like if I can fix this, I can easily make 170+.

I also picked up the Copi - Introduction to Logic book today to help shed extra light.

Thanks in advance.

Jeffort

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Re: Improving On Difficult LR Questions
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2010, 08:17:43 PM »
Hey Guys:

Retaking the LSAT in october. I bought the Cambridge difficult questions packet, and I've taken 10 preptests so far (7-19, mixed) averaging around a 162. I know the more difficult LR questions are my problem, so I'm wondering if anyone has any hints/tips to rip through it? The smaller simpler arguments are obviously easier but once the wording gets a bit more complex I'm not sure if I get sidetracked and misled or just confused. Are there certain words I should be aware of to indicate what I need to know? I know the typical indicator words for most premises and conclusions, but should I focus on memorizing them? Also are there any additional words that are used more often on the more difficult questions?

I've gone through 60 questions in the difficult questions packet, and have scored 29/60. I feel like if I can fix this, I can easily make 170+.

I also picked up the Copi - Introduction to Logic book today to help shed extra light.

Thanks in advance.

Given that you are scoring in a very respectable range (assuming your ~162 scores are from taking fresh PT's honestly, hence timed, no breaks, no scratch paper etc.), increasing your accuracy on the more difficult problems is clearly what you need to focus on, especially since you are losing many points on those LR problems and probably getting most of the easier ones correct. 

However, at your ability level it is not as simple as memorizing lists of keywords (that you probably already know), it's about fine tuning your critical reasoning and analysis skills, identifying your specific weak areas and commonly repeated mistakes, etc. so you can focus on and improve upon them. 

Learning and getting good at making use of familiarity with common argument structure indicator words, quantifiers, sufficient and necessary condition indicators, etc. is typically a prerequisite to be able to get into the 160's range.  Past that it is about reading more carefully and critically (careless reading/skimming errors will rob your score blind!), being fluent with the commonly repeated patterns of reasoning and flawed methods of reasoning, being able to spot assumptions, making sure you understand and are properly applying sound techniques and strategies, etc.

Are there particular LR question types that you are missing more than others?  Is it suff/necc based ones?  Cause and effect ones? etc.

If you haven't been doing this already, do a thorough slow motion review of each timed preptest you take right after doing it and make sure to identify why you got each problem wrong that you missed.  Make a list of your mistakes/reasons practice test after practice test, condense the lists to see where and why you are making most of your errors and address them from there.  It is never as simple as 'it was just a hard question', there are always more specific reasons. 

It could partially come down to a timing/time management thing.  With the long wordy stimulus questions if you tend to rush through them or don't double check details when debating two tempting answer choices you could be throwing points away that way. 

Various other things regarding some of the simple mechanics of your approach/strategy that can easily be fixed could also be costing you points.  Figure out your specific mistakes and hopefully I and others can help you fix them.


FrankieFlye

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Re: Improving On Difficult LR Questions
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2010, 11:42:11 AM »
hey Jeffort, thanks for the reply.

I've taken about 10-15 prep tests now, fully timed, 4 sections, 35 each, break between 3rd-4th section (10 minutes), and filling in the answer sheet included. Also no scratch paper. The prep tests I've taken are select ones from 7-20 (roughly 10) and then 5 from 20-30. I don't want to burn out prep tests (plannin on October 2010 official) so I want to focus in on my errors a little closer before jumpin back in and taking preps again.

I go back and review my tests, by marking the questions I get wrong (but not marking the right answer), then I review these questions and try to figure out the right answer, 2 hours or so after initially taking the test. In my review time, I usually correct 90% of my errors and score in the 175-180 range. The key however is to get those correct the first time through! lol

Often my errors are located in the advanced assumption, logical flaw, and parallel reasoning questions. I usually get down to 2 contenders (powerscore) and choose the wrong one. Then when I come back and review, it's usually the other answer that's correct.

My biggest issue is untangling those last 2 contenders, and SOLIDLY knowing with full confidence that the answer I'm choosing is correct. Usually I choose one or the other because i feel it "could be the most correct" and go with it.

Should I suspend my prep tests, go back and focus on those question types, and then do something like a Kaplan mastery book and hammer away at them? Or should I slow down, do a completely untimed prep test, and really spend as much time as needed to feel 100% correct about answers before moving on?

Also sufficient necessary diagramming I believe I'm good with, however sometimes I'll just plain diagram something wrong, when it's a more difficult question. I feel like the wording throws me off.

Jeffort

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Re: Improving On Difficult LR Questions
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2010, 02:27:32 PM »
hey Jeffort, thanks for the reply.

I've taken about 10-15 prep tests now, fully timed, 4 sections, 35 each, break between 3rd-4th section (10 minutes), and filling in the answer sheet included. Also no scratch paper. The prep tests I've taken are select ones from 7-20 (roughly 10) and then 5 from 20-30. I don't want to burn out prep tests (plannin on October 2010 official) so I want to focus in on my errors a little closer before jumpin back in and taking preps again.

I go back and review my tests, by marking the questions I get wrong (but not marking the right answer), then I review these questions and try to figure out the right answer, 2 hours or so after initially taking the test. In my review time, I usually correct 90% of my errors and score in the 175-180 range. The key however is to get those correct the first time through! lol

Often my errors are located in the advanced assumption, logical flaw, and parallel reasoning questions. I usually get down to 2 contenders (powerscore) and choose the wrong one. Then when I come back and review, it's usually the other answer that's correct.

My biggest issue is untangling those last 2 contenders, and SOLIDLY knowing with full confidence that the answer I'm choosing is correct. Usually I choose one or the other because i feel it "could be the most correct" and go with it.

Should I suspend my prep tests, go back and focus on those question types, and then do something like a Kaplan mastery book and hammer away at them? Or should I slow down, do a completely untimed prep test, and really spend as much time as needed to feel 100% correct about answers before moving on?

Also sufficient necessary diagramming I believe I'm good with, however sometimes I'll just plain diagram something wrong, when it's a more difficult question. I feel like the wording throws me off.

Ok, sounds like you have thought about and analyzed your current performance pretty well. 

Yes, relax on the churning through a bunch more preptests right away idea.  That doesn't meant totally stop, but ease it up and use that time instead to focus more on slow motion detailed study/review/analysis of the types you are consistently missing the most of as well as figuring out even more specifically what your performance errors are.  Continuing to just do the taking lots of practice tests 'churn and burn' routine without focusing on and fixing your errors is not likely to home in on and fix your current weaknesses without detailed post-test review.

Since you mentioned Powercore I'm going to assume that you got and studied from their bibles.  If so, re-read/review the chapters on the question types you mentioned.

By advanced assumption questions do you mean necessary assumption ones (The argument depends on the assumption that...) or sufficient assumption/justify the conclusion questions?  They both are referred to as assumption questions (depending on whos terminology you use) but the two types are drastically different in many ways and typically give students trouble.  Some of the hardest LR questions on each test that help separate the 160's from the 170's are the assumption questions. 

You also mentioned flawed method of reasoning and parallel reasoning questions, which like assumption questions test you on recognition of various reasoning patterns including differentiating flawed from sound reasoning.  Based on that I would suggest that you go through a bunch of the hard questions that you missed and really dissect the argument structure and identify the method of reasoning (whether flawed or sound) used.  Take the time to break each argument into its pieces and carefully analyze the pattern of reasoning used to go from each of the pieces to the conclusion.  Try to come up with your own descriptions of the reasoning patterns and why each one is flawed or why not. 

Once you do that with a bunch of problems you should notice the pattern of repetition of the same set of common methods/flawed methods of reasoning that are staple on the LSAT.  Once you are clear on them you are better able to spot each one a mile away and the harder questions based on them become much easier.

The staple list of super commonly repeated patterns of reasoning that appear in some form over and over on pretty much every LSAT is not super huge.