can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

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aniston958

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can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

Postby aniston958 » Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:51 pm

aptitude is defined as natural ability, and that is exactly what the lsat seeks to test. so i wanted to ask can aptitude really be taught?? I mean yes i know that new skills can be taught differently ,,and for undergrad ive always relied on studying the material so hard to where it does become natural..but learning information to where it becomes natural is a much different and easier task for me(scored 140 on diagnostic) than learning to change the way HOW you naturally think..kind of one of the reasons why lots of ppl dont succeed in therapy to begin with lol.

i actually like studying and learning this test....its kind of fun because i like thinking logically and learning to evaluate arguments..so the hard work seems worthwhile to me considering that im not a stranger to it.

my sole question relates to whether hard work would pay off? for instance, i find it hard to be able to study for the "right answer" if the only material you have to study are previous tests. but if each different exam tests the same logic skills but in different ways rather the only difference among each exam being the content of the questions rather the structure of the questions, it becomes significantly harder to study for.

however , i feel as if the only way the hard work will pay off is if the same concepts are applied from one test to the next; for instance, if i completely understood which each answer was right and each wrong answer was wrong for a single few tests, would that guarantee i would be able to understand each question on the other exams? i am sure it will, but i just wanted to ask because i know many of you who have aced the lsat probably have seen many tests, and would be more experienced in answering this question.

i am just asking because for instance, i feel that a math exam that is given with the same exact problems but just different numbers substituted is far more easier to study for than test that expects you to solve new problems that you see for the first time on actual exams instead of prior assignments. not that easier is better as i understand that part of being a competent lawyer is being able to solve new problems, i am just curious as i want to see what im getting myself into.

thx

AJordan

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Re: can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

Postby AJordan » Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:46 am

So, first things first, you ask great questions about the LSAT and its applicability. Your questions leave out crucial information, however. Your bottom line question needs to be considered against some sort of goal. Can someone who did well in undergrad, who learns material well in one way, improve from a 140 diag to a score that will allow her to attend a local/regional law school on a significant scholarship? I believe so. More specifically, I think that the person who wrote this email, with enough time and energy, would be a favorite to score a 160. Is that a pay off for you?

To your question about understanding a single few tests leading to an understanding of the hypothetical next test, that's actually the premise of at least one set of LSAT books (Nathan Fox's earliest books) and I find merit in the idea. After being in the weeds with this thing for over a few years I find that I see MAYBE two or three things that surprise me on each new test. Everything else is a rehash of something I already know. The same concepts are tested, especially up to the ~160 level, over and over again. All it really takes is a realization of what's going on to find the answer. For example, after the NOV test there was significant bellyaching done about "the mining game" which was, at its core, a fairly simple sequencing game disguised in a moderately difficult way. Nothing new. Just a different presentation.

Some students have problems learning that cannot be overcome with just standard LSAT study. The biggest one I see is a general unfamiliarity with the level of English at which the test is written. Some students just don't have the experience reading at that level and, in my opinion, it takes longer than a few months to get comfortable with it.

This is always a personal decision. Set attainable goals. For instance, when I first started studying I read enough opinion that basically told me that if I couldn't master logic games I wouldn't hit the score I needed to achieve my goals. I set out to master them as a sort of necessary step in the process. I told myself if I didn't master them then my goals weren't attainable. Once I did that, I moved on to the next goal. I set no time limit on myself. Spacing it out like that eventually led to my success. Maybe a smaller goal-oriented process would help you as well.

nixy

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Re: can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

Postby nixy » Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:04 am

I think this is an overly complicated way to look at the test. Whatever it calls itself, it’s learnable; there are a gazillion success stories on this site of people improving their scores. There are also lots of suggestions here about the best resources for study. But yes, in a nutshell, enough study shows that the test is testing the same concepts over again. The wording varies, but the basic principles that are being tested don’t. If you learn how to handle (say) sequencing games, you recognize sequencing games, whether the question is about movie schedules or conference seating or whatever.

Npret

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Re: can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

Postby Npret » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:02 am

The same question types are used over and over. People can learn to recognize the question type. People can learn to solve logic games quickly by understanding them, for example.

So yes the test is learnable. Some people have to work harder than others.

Not everyone can get a 180 obviously but everyone can improve if they study correctly.

You will also benefit from the hundreds of takers who refuse to study or won’t study correctly or refuse to retake the exam for a better score.

Kaziende

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Re: can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

Postby Kaziende » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:35 am

Yes, you can absolutely train yourself to think the way the LSAT requires you to think. You can train reasoning skills. You can train focus, mental stamina, and efficiency. You can even train yourself to be less anxious under testing conditions.

Source: Someone who self-studied from a mid-140s diag into the upper 170s on the actual LSAT with about 15 months of hardcore prep.

The reason almost nobody makes real progress on this test is because almost nobody studies enough, studies the right way, or approaches it with the right mindset.

You're not cramming for your high school history final. You are not memorizing and regurgitating. This is not a spelling bee. It's a 10k.
This is not a content-based test. It is a performance based test. Train like an elite athlete.

QContinuum

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Re: can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

Postby QContinuum » Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:34 pm

Kaziende wrote:The reason almost nobody makes real progress on this test is because almost nobody studies enough, studies the right way, or approaches it with the right mindset.

You're not cramming for your high school history final. You are not memorizing and regurgitating. This is not a spelling bee. It's a 10k.
This is not a content-based test. It is a performance based test. Train like an elite athlete.

The above is one of the best LSAT posts I've ever seen. The LSAT is unlike any typical final exam or even any other standardized admissions exam. It's not about cramming - there is nothing to cram. It's not about brute force memorization - there is nothing to memorize. It's not even about regurgitating - there is no information to regurgitate. Prepping for it should differ accordingly. Someone taking the GRE might very well benefit from one last session of cramming obscure vocabulary the night before. There's nothing similar that'd help with the LSAT.

aniston958

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Re: can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

Postby aniston958 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:04 am

Kaziende wrote:Yes, you can absolutely train yourself to think the way the LSAT requires you to think. You can train reasoning skills. You can train focus, mental stamina, and efficiency. You can even train yourself to be less anxious under testing conditions.

Source: Someone who self-studied from a mid-140s diag into the upper 170s on the actual LSAT with about 15 months of hardcore prep.

The reason almost nobody makes real progress on this test is because almost nobody studies enough, studies the right way, or approaches it with the right mindset.

You're not cramming for your high school history final. You are not memorizing and regurgitating. This is not a spelling bee. It's a 10k.
This is not a content-based test. It is a performance based test. Train like an elite athlete.



what a great improvement !! i was just asking because while i know that the question types for each section such as LG and LR appear on each test, i feel as if a similar question type does is not necessarily equivalent to a similar reasoning type.. there's like a pattern of reasoning that a person has to follow to arrive to the correct answer. my question was more geared towards asking if the reasoning patterns are the same for each test, which makes studying and drilling from previous practice tests much more useful than if the reasoning patterns are different despite the question types being the same.

firstmatepokey

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Re: can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

Postby firstmatepokey » Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:30 pm

I know i am real late on this thread but i wanted to give my two cents.

First its obvious from all the stories here that it is possible to learn for the test, improve your score through studying and to some extent change the way you think to improve your ability to excel on the test.

I just wanted to touch on something that never gets brought up in these forums. That is the immense selection bias that is present here. The people who score 140 on a prep test but dont improve most likely dont come to a forum called "toplawschool" to brag about not improving. by the nature of this forum we only really hear from the people who either were always doing well or those who initially had practice tests in the 40's or 50's and then improved. so take everything with a grain of salt on this forum when it comes to how much someone can improve. Remember roughly 50% of people score below 150, no matter what they do they will most likely still score below that mark. if it was possible through hard work and determination for anyone to improve their score to the 160 or 170+ range then the test would be useless.

Mini rant over sorry. I just get tired of the "positive attitude and hard work" talking point, unfortunately the world doesnt work that way, some people will never do well no matter what and that is just the way it is.

nixy

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Re: can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

Postby nixy » Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:56 pm

Do you think all the people who scored below 150 actually put in the game work/training though? I would imagine there are lots of people uneducated about how the test works or how much what school you go to matters who don’t know to study/improve on the test. (It’s scaled, not curved.) I’m sure some of those people can’t score higher but not all of them.

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Re: can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

Postby objctnyrhnr » Thu Mar 07, 2019 1:09 pm

Hendrix is a great guitar player...but do you really think he could play the equivalent of his all along the watchtower solo the very first moment he picked up a guitar (or the second or the tenth, etc.)? Of course not.

He had aptitude, clearly. But he still had to learn to be good at the guitar.

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LSATWiz.com

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Re: can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

Postby LSATWiz.com » Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:05 pm

As someone who has taught the LSAT for nearly a decade and has had some students make 30 point improvements and some make only 2 point improvements, I can safely say it depends on what kind of aptitude you're speaking about. Unless someone has an underlying cognitive impairment, any kind of aptitude can be improved but there are types that LSAT prep and an LSAT tutor can improve more easily.

Although you can use the LSAT to qualify for Mensa, it's not an IQ test. It tests some very specific skills - namely, your ability to critically read and analyze information, draw logical deductions, apply rules to fact and make statements that are supported by statutory/textual evidence. LSAC goes about testing whether you have the skills to succeed in law school in a very creative way.

The issue is that the average test-taker has no experience thinking this way. While college rewards one's ability to read and regurgitate information, the LSAT wants you to be able to critically evaluate information: to either deduce conclusions from that information or to dispute someone's opinion based on that information. It is not a test that rewards you for thinking in the "Yes, sir", "Of course, ma'am" sort of way that we're trained to think in when we're young.

That being said, students, even those of lower aptitude can quickly be taught argumentative structure and how to distinguish facts from conclusions. This is very simple material, but not something most laypeople have a ton of exposure to. Further, logic games that require students to apply rules to random scenarios and reward students who can combine different rules are also novel, but also easily learnable.

Nevertheless, there are things that cannot be greatly improved by LSAT prep alone. The main thing is reading. A lot of those sitting for the test either speak English as a second language or read at a 9th or 10th-grade level. Consequently, you can have someone who had an 800 verbal SAT score and someone with a 450 start at the same starting score, but 9 times out of 10, the former has much greater potential to improve because it's much easier to learn how to think for the LSAT than it is to learn how to read. As an LSAT tutor, a student's starting score carries some predictive value, but not nearly as much value as knowing why they got a question wrong. Did they get it wrong because they didn't understand what they read or did they get it wrong because they didn't understand what they were supposed to do? The latter is much easier to fix than the former.

In addition, you can have someone who is great at teaching the LSAT, but would make a terrible high school English teacher. In fact, this is very common. Although I think I'm a legitimately good teacher, I do think many students would be better served working with someone with elementary or high school teaching experience and LSAT prep than working with someone who has only taught the LSAT and bar exams.

Another thing that cannot really be taught is work ethic. This will not be a popular statement, but is something other LSAT tutors would agree with. Work ethic is a skill and not something everyone is capable of developing. Some test-takers are simply psychologically incapable of being able to study consistently for even an hour or so a day. It doesn't mean they're lazy. It's just not something they are capable of doing. I have never heard of anyone who signed up for a course, tutor or plan of self-study and slacked that was never able to turn it around and get their shit together for a period of more than a month. This may be enough to get them into an ABA accredited law school, but in my experience they tend to revert to these same tendencies in law school and never wind up passing the bar. Contrarily, some are incapable of not giving 100% when they work and obviously make much larger improvements.

The reality is that law school and the bar exam don't require you to work like a dog to succeed, but they do require you to be able to study as though it was your full-time job. My belief is one of the reasons why LSAC makes their test so different from other standardized tests is they are trying to test applicants for this ability on a lower level. They know that everyone will have their "what the fuck is this shit" moment the first time they take a practice test, and are trying to distinguish those who are able to put in the work to figure it out from those who can't. The reality is that there tend to be several questions that are legitimately difficult even for someone with a 180 per test, the vast majority of the test is very easy and doesn't require an average IQ. I worked with adults with developmental disabilities about a decade ago, and I'd venture to say most of those with IQ's hovering around 60 would be able to crack a 150. What makes the test challenging is they are testing for skills students have not had to develop before.

Regardless of which LSAT tutor or prep course you use, the reality is that the LSAT tests you for skills. Unless you have someone with you full time, you can't make significant gains relying on a course or tutor much like how you can't expect to get into shape solely based on your one hour/week fitness class or personal trainer. What you can do is learn new skills that you can hone on your own throughout the week. Now, many students just need guidance and someone to tell them what to do each day and they will then do it. Others, however, are incapable of doing such work simply because they aren't capable of working. Unfortunately, the test is designed to discriminate against the latter group.

To some extent, I would say that IQ does factor in insofar as there are individuals who are just slower than others but the reality is that the vast majority of test-takers probably have IQ's between 105-115, which is not that large of a range. In fact, psychologists say that spouses with an IQ within 10-points of each other have the greatest likelihood of being happily married so we are speaking about a range of students who are intellectually similar to each other. Yet, the range of outcomes with the same prep materials significantly differs.

So to make a long story short, yes, LSAT aptitude can be taught but reading level and work ethic cannot really be learned or at least cannot be adequately learned through LSAT prep alone.

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CardozoLaw09

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Re: can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

Postby CardozoLaw09 » Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:38 pm

It's great that you actually enjoy studying for this test - I think that's huge in terms putting in the work and effort to get where you want to be score-wise.

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Re: can aptitude really be taught????? (LSAT)

Postby LSATWiz.com » Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:40 pm

nixy wrote:Do you think all the people who scored below 150 actually put in the game work/training though? I would imagine there are lots of people uneducated about how the test works or how much what school you go to matters who don’t know to study/improve on the test. (It’s scaled, not curved.) I’m sure some of those people can’t score higher but not all of them.

In relation to this question, people who start with lower scores tend to study less because they don’t feel great about themselves studying. We are predisposed to do that which makes us feel good about ourselves, particularly if we have a choice. Much like how it is very difficult to start going to the gym when you are out of shape, it is hard to stay committed to the test for the first few months so I’d say those starting with a higher score have a dual advantage. This is just what generally happens, not fate and those starting with lower scores have the ability to turn it around. In my experience, those starting with higher scores also tend to improve more despite the fact it’s more difficult to go from a 160 to a 170 than a 145 to a 155.



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