Law School Discussion

Help! LR Question Stem - Read BEFORE stimulus or AFTER?

Help! LR Question Stem - Read BEFORE stimulus or AFTER?
« on: August 18, 2011, 06:22:39 PM »
Hello! I'm new to this forum, and I have an important question that's been boggling my mind lately.

I've completed the Princeton Review and Kaplan courses (thanks to waivers), and each told me to read the stem before the stimulus. I then did a Testmaster's course (again, thanks to a waiver), which instructed me to read the stimulus first. I've experimented with both, and I seem to be able to finish the LR sections quicker by reading the stimulus first but at the expense of accuracy. My test is in October, and I still can't decide which to use. To be honest, it's making me panic a bit since the exact order in which you tackle each question will dictate your performance on them.

For anyone who is scoring in the >160s: which approach do you use, and why?

Thanks again for any help - I appreciate it.

Re: Help! LR Question Stem - Read BEFORE stimulus or AFTER?
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2011, 09:17:16 PM »
I trust the powerscore bibles when they say its never a good idea to read the stem first. They give five good reasons why to always read the stimulus first. One is simply time management. They say that studies indicate that if you read the stem first, you read the stimulus second, and often times you go ahead and read the stem another time. Which is just wasting time you dont have to waste. The second reason is that some stimuli have two questions which each have their own question stems. Then you will be concentating on finding the answer to the first question stem while reading the stimulus, and not concentrating on understanding the stimulus as a whole, which causes you to have to read the stimulus again to answer the second question stem. There are 3 other reasons for why you should read the stimulus first, but I dont have my lr bible with me to explain them properly. But, those two reasons by themselves should be convincing enough.

Re: Help! LR Question Stem - Read BEFORE stimulus or AFTER?
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2011, 10:13:35 AM »
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.