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The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 179 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:32 pm
by NoodleyOne
Alright, a few people asked me to put together my study plan for October since my confidence after the test. I will contend that this will leave me with a ton of egg on my face if my confidence is ill-founded and I ended up with a mediocre score, but I love seeing my name as a topic creator, so I’ll do it anyway. Besides, after all of my talk I deserve the egg on my face if I don’t do as well as I think. This study guide is also geared toward people retaking and already are scoring well. I don’t know how useful this will be for beginners, so keep that in mind. I also am not in favor of a strict study schedule. As a retaker, you have the basics down, so this is going to be geared more toward fixing your weaknesses, which will show up organically through the course of your prep. With that being said, here we go.

Materials Needed:

Manhattan LSAT Bundle: Logical Reasoning, Logic Games, and Reading Comprehension Strategy Guide
Powerscore Logic Games Bible (still relevant, folks)
Cambridge LSAT Logical Reasoning and Logic Games organized by type for tests 1-38
LSAT Prep Tests 40-66
Number Two Pencils
LSAT Answer sheets (regular scantron I guess will work, but you want to control everything you can, and familiarity will not hurt you)
An account at lsatqa.com
Strategy:
One issue a lot of people will have is the lack of materials. Sadly, there isn’t terribly much you can do if you exhausted everything for a previous test except reuse them. It’s going to be tough to get an accurate representation of your progress, but hopefully the tests are old enough for you that they still give you an accurate gauge. And anyway, more familiarity is never a bad thing.

First thing is first. If you’re studying for a retake, that means you believe you did poorly on your previous test, or at least not where you wanted to be. Maybe you were below your average, or maybe you took the test before you were ready just to see what the experience would be like. Either way, the first thing you should do is take another prep test in comfortable, stress free conditions. You need to establish a new baseline, and you need to rebuild your confidence after getting rocked in the previous administration.

The key to my strategy is two-fold: First is familiarity with the test, and the second is preparing in a way that leads to a high level of confidence in your abilities. The way you’ll do this is first doing book-work and drilling mercilessly, and second by taking PTs in a variety of environments so you’re prepared for whatever comes your way.
So, after your first PT, which you then log into Lsatqa, what do you do? That’s when the bookwork begins. Depending on where you feel you were rocked on your previous administration and whether you experienced similar problems on your first PT, I would recommend you start back at the beginning: The Logic Games Bible.
While going through the Bible focus more on diagramming and less on their definitions of games categories. I’m of the opinion that their focus on sub-categories is more distracting than helpful, but other than that I like a lot of their diagramming strategies. While going through, remember this, however… you have to be fluid. When a game like Zones or Stained Glass comes up, they can’t be diagrammed very easily. If you become too mechanical in your technique an odd game can throw you off and really hurt you on game day. The diagram should be a tool, not a crutch.

While you’re going through, obviously drill some games. You want to focus on accuracy at first, and build up your speed. The key to this test is efficiency. The more efficient you are with your time, the more time you’ll have when things turn south. The worst thing you can do on Games is just sit there and think. A game like Zones punished you for trying to force a diagram into such an open-ended stim, so if something doesn’t seem readily available, it probably isn’t. Trust yourself and start tackling the questions. If some questions seem abnormally difficult, check the rules again to make sure you didn’t miss inferences.
Look, these things are standard, but the basic thing you have to do is trust the process. You’ve probably taken around 20 PTs so far, and you’re going to end up taking 15 to 20 more. There’s always a right answer, you just have to find it.

Anyway, keep working on your Games throughout. You don’t want to be -0 with some -1s and -2s thrown in. You want Games to be a guaranteed -0 with some extra time to resharpen your pencils. That’s your goal. Get the timing down by familiarity with the material and trust in the process. With Games especially, don’t second guess yourself. Unlike LR and RC, there won’t be two “attractive” answer choices that you have to decide between. There will be one right answer. When you find it, move on.

After you finish your Bible, take another PT. You want to reinforce what you’ve learned and keep sharp on the other sections. After the PT, log it into lsatqa and see where you’re improving and where you’re slipping. You will always want to keep track of this.

What happens next will depend more on where your weaknesses are. If you’re cruising at -0/-1 on either LR or RC, keep practicing it and focus your attentions on improving the other. For either, I recommend the Manhattan Guides. They are simply, for the money, the best books on the subjects you can buy. RC is a bit harder to improve, but it’s not impossible. Your personal strategy will reign here, but go through the Manhattan RC guide and drill full sections from PTs 1-39 regularly. RC is probably the one section that has seen the fewest changes since PT 1 (Comparative passages notwithstanding), so the old PTs will still be very relevant on this subject. As you go through RC passages, make a note of where in the passage you found the justification for each answer choice. The exercise is to reinforce to you that the information for RC is in the passage, and you just have to find it. Read for structure, don’t commit too much to remembering details, as detail oriented questions will send you where you need to be in the passage.

For LR, also use the Manhattan Guide. Spend a lot of time internalizing the first 6 chapters. If you get those down, the test just becomes cake. Supplement each section with heavy, heavy drilling from the LR packets. I can’t stress the drilling enough. The goal is to become so familiar with the question types that you’re aware of the common tricks they throw at you. Have a reason for eliminating every answer, and know why you’re selecting the correct one. Drill, drill, and then when you’re done drilling, drill some more. Your goal here is complete familiarity with the LR section. You want to be able to teach the first time takers for your administration why question X isn’t B, because B is a premise booster, while D may seem out of scope it actually provides a correlation that a similar situation could produce a similar result, thereby strengthening the reasoning.

The goal as a retaker is to know the test, but also to know how you react to the test. After you finish the LR and RC sections, you’re going to start on a heavy PT cycle of 2 to 3 per week. Group review is helpful, but don’t let that substitute for individual review. As your scores get higher, you’ll have less to review because you’re going to know the test more. Don’t let that make you cocky, keep working on your weaknesses. LSATQA will keep track of your weakest areas. Refer back to the Manhattan guides for reinforcing the strategies to the questions, and keep drilling your weaknesses until they become your strengths. A little anecdote: Parallel reasoning and flaw used to be my bane. Those around long enough will remember me whining for days about how they would trip me up. I focused on drilling them for a week and a half, and now I count a parallel question as a guaranteed point. You can improve, even at the 170+ level, you just have to keep working at it.

For the last few weeks before the test, hopefully your PTing around your target (and your target should hopefully be 180). This isn’t the time to get lazy. STAY DILIGENT! PT in weird places. PT in the group study floor of your library, PT in the quietest place you can find, PT with construction going on. Always use #2s and an answer sheet. PTing at your test site is nice if you have the luxury, but don’t only do it there. Get used to distraction. PT on little sleep in case you have a hard time sleeping the night before the test. Be ready to perform in any situation. And take each PT seriously. The test you are taking is just another PT, so don’t slack off just because the one you’re taking isn’t being scored.

The hardest thing for a retaker is staying diligent. You feel like you know it and you just underperformed on test day. That may be true, but there is a reason you underperformed. You either didn’t know the test as well as you thought, or you didn’t know yourself as well as you thought. As a retaker you are fixing flaws, whether they are test related or self related. I don’t know if this is what you guys were expecting. I don’t think a retaker can follow a Pithypike-like study guide, as their needs are going to all be different. The key is strategy and attitude. Anyway, this was long-winded and probably of only moderate help, but I wish you all good luck on the next LSAT and if you have any questions at any time, feel free to shoot me a PM. I’m not the smartest guy on these forums, but I would love to help in any way I can.

Addendum:

Just giving a bit of an update after my experience tutoring. It won't be long, but I don't plan on adding to much at a later date.

First, and this is something I kind of ignored, is RC. You need to have a consistent strategy for each passage and each question type. The Manhattan RC book does well to reinforce this. Beware of over-notating, but the goal here is to understand what each question is asking. Don't neglect RC, either, since it is harder to see immediate results in. Getting confident in RC, even if you can't -0 it regularly like LR and LG, is key to a successful exam.

Other than that, what I've seen the most is students tend to have a lot of confidence issues. I've had students blaze through LGs practicing, doing them quickly and perfectly, but still not be confident in it. Why not? The important thing to keep in your head is that you've taken this test numerous times. Have a healthy mindset. Confidence will go a long way into making sure you're happy on score release day.

Keep up the work but don't let it consume you, either. This is an important thing to realize. You have to have a life outside of the LSAT. The goal is to walk into and out of the test knowing you prepared as best you could, and performed at your best on the test day. I hope this guide is helping people, and I wish all of you successes on future LSAT administrations. Also, do your best to forget the questions as you go through, at least by the end of the section. Don't carry a bad RC section into the LR. Don't get shaken... after a section, you can't go back and change it, so just do your best on what's ahead.

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:35 pm
by Clarity
Thank you for this! I just ordered the three Manhattan Guides. They will be here Wednesday.

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:38 pm
by Jredelman15
180

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:49 pm
by CalAlumni
This is GOLD. I'm starting up again tomorrow in case I need to retake December. I really want to thank you for writing this up and spending time on this, which you didn't have to do, and could have spent doing something else.

Much love bro.

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:51 pm
by applemaroon
Wow.....

Thanks!

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:53 pm
by CardozoLaw09
you da man Noodley. Good stuff bruh

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:53 pm
by vegso
is this proofed against those of us that arent fools!?

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:54 pm
by NoodleyOne
No problem peeps. Hope it provides some help.

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:05 pm
by Poo-T
thanks!

IT'S TIME

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:11 pm
by patienunderstanding
If You ever run for the president of TLS, You got my vote!!! Thank You so much!

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:40 pm
by M.M.
Hey NoodleyOne, I like this guide, but here's the thing for me: I bought the MLSAT books a while ago and for a short time tried to implement their strategies ... but I think the initial dip I experienced in scores scared me away from doing so. As someone who currently uses the PowerScore strategies for LG, and really just intuition and a few barebones strategies (e.g. the negation test for necessary assumption questions) do you think I have time to start using MLSAT's strategies and truly internalize them such that they are intuitive on test day - or do you think I should take a course between now and December to help me do so? I did a few chapters in the LR strategy guide, but it seriously seems to take me SO long to do even a chapter, and then drilling, getting it down, etc... I just don't know if I have enough time, and I don't think I'm a very good self teacher. But if I take a course, it seems like I won't have enough time to eliminate weaknesses.

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:44 pm
by naillsat
wow, this is sufficient for me to get a 180 next time. :mrgreen: thank you!

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:05 pm
by NoodleyOne
M.M. wrote:Hey NoodleyOne, I like this guide, but here's the thing for me: I bought the MLSAT books a while ago and for a short time tried to implement their strategies ... but I think the initial dip I experienced in scores scared me away from doing so. As someone who currently uses the PowerScore strategies for LG, and really just intuition and a few barebones strategies (e.g. the negation test for necessary assumption questions) do you think I have time to start using MLSAT's strategies and truly internalize them such that they are intuitive on test day - or do you think I should take a course between now and December to help me do so? I did a few chapters in the LR strategy guide, but it seriously seems to take me SO long to do even a chapter, and then drilling, getting it down, etc... I just don't know if I have enough time, and I don't think I'm a very good self teacher. But if I take a course, it seems like I won't have enough time to eliminate weaknesses.

The key to Manhattan is their focus on looking at argument structure. Looking at the argument core is the most effective way to "get" the test. Powerscore's family is in my opinion unintuitive and unnecessary while being of little practical use. Basically, if you don't have the time, you have to make the time. There are no shortcuts.

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:07 pm
by SumStalwart
Noodley is awesome. You know what's funny, when I first started creeping on TLS, I almost thought that he was a mod xD (then I looked at the color of his name).

Thanks for this guide! I guess that I'll be sure to pick up MLSAT.

Edit: gender confusion*

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:08 pm
by NoodleyOne
She is a he...

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:16 pm
by Poo-T
NoodleyOne wrote:She is a he...


--ImageRemoved--

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:18 pm
by FlanAl
didn't read through the whole thing but I would add in the powerscore logical reasoning bible. Other than that I used your materials and the manhattan and retook a couple of decembers ago and scored 170+.

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:21 pm
by sinfiery
Makes me wish I had read a bible other than Powerscore LG..

such is life

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:24 pm
by SumStalwart
My bad, Noodley. Sorry about that.

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:25 pm
by facile princeps
Awesome! Thanks.

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:50 pm
by desiballa21
Picking up MLSAT LR guide tonight. I used Velocity for LG and am usually perfect but zones killed me. Maybe I choked idk but thanks for this. Hopefully getting started on it this week. Do you think the 5-6 weeks is enough time to get the LR stuff down?

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:54 pm
by jdip514
nice write up noodley! Your definately one of the "good guys" of the TLS community.

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:55 pm
by relevantfactor
oh boy u couldnt wait for the official scores could you lol. Anyways, always a good post Noodley!Btw, hows tutoring going?

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:55 pm
by M.M.
NoodleyOne wrote:
M.M. wrote:Hey NoodleyOne, I like this guide, but here's the thing for me: I bought the MLSAT books a while ago and for a short time tried to implement their strategies ... but I think the initial dip I experienced in scores scared me away from doing so. As someone who currently uses the PowerScore strategies for LG, and really just intuition and a few barebones strategies (e.g. the negation test for necessary assumption questions) do you think I have time to start using MLSAT's strategies and truly internalize them such that they are intuitive on test day - or do you think I should take a course between now and December to help me do so? I did a few chapters in the LR strategy guide, but it seriously seems to take me SO long to do even a chapter, and then drilling, getting it down, etc... I just don't know if I have enough time, and I don't think I'm a very good self teacher. But if I take a course, it seems like I won't have enough time to eliminate weaknesses.

The key to Manhattan is their focus on looking at argument structure. Looking at the argument core is the most effective way to "get" the test. Powerscore's family is in my opinion unintuitive and unnecessary while being of little practical use. Basically, if you don't have the time, you have to make the time. There are no shortcuts.



I know you can't really answer this, but I'm just worried whether I'll have time to reverse the 6 months or so of habits I've built on (e.g. reading the stimulus first) and incorporate MLSAT's method. I really don't know if I can :/ but I also don't know if just using intuition to answer choices will and has proved fruitful in say, eliminating weaknesses.

Re: The NoodleyOne's Foolproof Guide to a 180 for Retakers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:07 pm
by relevantfactor
M.M. wrote:
NoodleyOne wrote:
M.M. wrote:Hey NoodleyOne, I like this guide, but here's the thing for me: I bought the MLSAT books a while ago and for a short time tried to implement their strategies ... but I think the initial dip I experienced in scores scared me away from doing so. As someone who currently uses the PowerScore strategies for LG, and really just intuition and a few barebones strategies (e.g. the negation test for necessary assumption questions) do you think I have time to start using MLSAT's strategies and truly internalize them such that they are intuitive on test day - or do you think I should take a course between now and December to help me do so? I did a few chapters in the LR strategy guide, but it seriously seems to take me SO long to do even a chapter, and then drilling, getting it down, etc... I just don't know if I have enough time, and I don't think I'm a very good self teacher. But if I take a course, it seems like I won't have enough time to eliminate weaknesses.

The key to Manhattan is their focus on looking at argument structure. Looking at the argument core is the most effective way to "get" the test. Powerscore's family is in my opinion unintuitive and unnecessary while being of little practical use. Basically, if you don't have the time, you have to make the time. There are no shortcuts.



I know you can't really answer this, but I'm just worried whether I'll have time to reverse the 6 months or so of habits I've built on (e.g. reading the stimulus first) and incorporate MLSAT's method. I really don't know if I can :/ but I also don't know if just using intuition to answer choices will and has proved fruitful in say, eliminating weaknesses.


You can totally do it. I used to be one of those stimulus-first-fools. Took me about 2 weeks to change that habit (drill baby drill). And oh my god, does it make a huge difference.