Need a 4-month plan - Retaking

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supdawg212

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Need a 4-month plan - Retaking

Postby supdawg212 » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:12 pm

Hey all,

So I've taken the LSAT twice already – first was in November and the 2nd was in January. Both abysmal scores.
I got a 147 on the first and a 151 on the second..
I had been studying for a number of months and had seen an upward trend on every PT that I took. Starting from 140 all the way to 154. I took in total around 6 fully timed 4-section practice tests. I've been practicing on games a lot and that is my strongest section, getting -1 to -3 every time I take it.

When it comes to reviewing each test, I do a blind review and always get above 160 – the highest being 168. So I know that there is potential for me to get a much higher score than what I got in the official tests.

I'm really looking for advice from experienced test takers to see what I might be able to do in order to significantly improve.
What kind of plan would you recommend??
I'm looking at taking the test in July of this year for the third time.

Any help would be appreciated!

Blueprint LSAT

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Re: Need a 4-month plan - Retaking

Postby Blueprint LSAT » Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:15 pm

It sounds like your room for improvement is on LR and RC.

I would take your first few weeks to a month, find some materials that go over the types of LR questions, and focus on learning what is actually relevant to finding the correct answer. There is more crossover than you would imagine between LG and LR. A lot of times in LR your are also just trying to figure out what rules you are being given and how they interact, then using that to answer what has been asked. The ball is just hidden a bit more, so just pure exposure/practice isn't probably going to get you there on its own.

Once you can start identifying from the question-prompt what is likely to be relevant, you will get better at sorting through things efficiently in the way you probably already do in games. Then you will be able to come up with criteria that the correct answer choice must meet and you can start eliminating the bulk of the red-herring answers quickly and focusing your attention on finding the small details in the remaining contenders that help you get to the correct answer more often.

Once you get more comfortable with breaking LR down this way you can switch from slower, more conceptual study/practice to drilling practice sections. Since you have four months and you probably only need to devote a small portion of your study time to maintaining your skill at games this should be doable.

Learning LR should also prime you to pick up whatever points you can on RC. With LR you very often care about arguments. What is the conclusion? What evidence is being given? How do they interact. Once you are comfortable paring down LR questions to those relevant elements you will start to see that you can do the same thing in RC, so up the practice you are doing there.

It is really hard to skim RC, but when you realize that those three complex science sentences are really just there to support the scientist's theory (argument) that a certain sciency thing works a certain sciency way you can kind of just note that and worry about the specifics later if you need to. You should be asking yourself the same questions you do in LR. What is being argued? Once you know that, what is the evidence? If you get a bunch of information you aren't sure about, keep reading until you can answer "why am I being told that?" If you can break the passage down into arguments and supporting evidence it will be MUCH easier to answer a lot of the questions and you can wait until you know you have to to focus on other fine details.

As you get closer to your retake and more comfortable with your approach to LR and RC, just keep drilling practice sections (you don't need to do entire tests at a time, though you should do some just to make sure you understand the stamina involved). Experiment with your timing strategy. At a week or two out, stop worrying about getting better substantively and focus on using the talent/skill you have to eke out the maximum points in the time. By the test, have a plan for where you are going to spend your time and practice it enough that you can adapt it when things inevitably go sideways :)

supdawg212

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Re: Need a 4-month plan - Retaking

Postby supdawg212 » Wed Feb 20, 2019 9:29 pm

Blueprint LSAT wrote:It sounds like your room for improvement is on LR and RC.

I would take your first few weeks to a month, find some materials that go over the types of LR questions, and focus on learning what is actually relevant to finding the correct answer. There is more crossover than you would imagine between LG and LR. A lot of times in LR your are also just trying to figure out what rules you are being given and how they interact, then using that to answer what has been asked. The ball is just hidden a bit more, so just pure exposure/practice isn't probably going to get you there on its own.

Once you can start identifying from the question-prompt what is likely to be relevant, you will get better at sorting through things efficiently in the way you probably already do in games. Then you will be able to come up with criteria that the correct answer choice must meet and you can start eliminating the bulk of the red-herring answers quickly and focusing your attention on finding the small details in the remaining contenders that help you get to the correct answer more often.

Once you get more comfortable with breaking LR down this way you can switch from slower, more conceptual study/practice to drilling practice sections. Since you have four months and you probably only need to devote a small portion of your study time to maintaining your skill at games this should be doable.

Learning LR should also prime you to pick up whatever points you can on RC. With LR you very often care about arguments. What is the conclusion? What evidence is being given? How do they interact. Once you are comfortable paring down LR questions to those relevant elements you will start to see that you can do the same thing in RC, so up the practice you are doing there.

It is really hard to skim RC, but when you realize that those three complex science sentences are really just there to support the scientist's theory (argument) that a certain sciency thing works a certain sciency way you can kind of just note that and worry about the specifics later if you need to. You should be asking yourself the same questions you do in LR. What is being argued? Once you know that, what is the evidence? If you get a bunch of information you aren't sure about, keep reading until you can answer "why am I being told that?" If you can break the passage down into arguments and supporting evidence it will be MUCH easier to answer a lot of the questions and you can wait until you know you have to to focus on other fine details.

As you get closer to your retake and more comfortable with your approach to LR and RC, just keep drilling practice sections (you don't need to do entire tests at a time, though you should do some just to make sure you understand the stamina involved). Experiment with your timing strategy. At a week or two out, stop worrying about getting better substantively and focus on using the talent/skill you have to eke out the maximum points in the time. By the test, have a plan for where you are going to spend your time and practice it enough that you can adapt it when things inevitably go sideways :)


Hey, thanks for the thorough reply. I appreciate it!

One of the books I have is Fox's Disrespecting the LSAT which orders LR questions by type and difficulty level. I used that for specific studying before the Jan test and it definitely helped me out. The thing is, that was the primary studying I did for that test, meaning I didn't supplement it with many LR sections.

For the July test,I was thinking about doing this:

1st month: 2 untimed practice tests per week breaking it down to 2 sections on Monday and Tuesday; and Thursday and Friday. Wednesday would be doing LG solely.
Alternatively, maybe I should practice 10 questions per question type, 2 question types per day (so 20 questions total per day) from the Fox LSAT book, rotating different question types everyday. I do that for 4 days of the week and then on the 5th day take an LR section. I do that during the first month.

2nd month: 1 full PT timed per week and review take a couple of days to review it. Thursday and Friday would be focusing on LG.

3rd month: Trying to do 2 full PT timed per week and doing that all throughout the last week before the test.

I'm not sure if this is a great schedule, but some input on that would be appreciated!

Blueprint LSAT

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Posts: 44
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:43 pm

Re: Need a 4-month plan - Retaking

Postby Blueprint LSAT » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:53 pm

supdawg212 wrote:For the July test,I was thinking about doing this:

1st month: 2 untimed practice tests per week breaking it down to 2 sections on Monday and Tuesday; and Thursday and Friday. Wednesday would be doing LG solely.
Alternatively, maybe I should practice 10 questions per question type, 2 question types per day (so 20 questions total per day) from the Fox LSAT book, rotating different question types everyday. I do that for 4 days of the week and then on the 5th day take an LR section. I do that during the first month.

2nd month: 1 full PT timed per week and review take a couple of days to review it. Thursday and Friday would be focusing on LG.

3rd month: Trying to do 2 full PT timed per week and doing that all throughout the last week before the test.

I'm not sure if this is a great schedule, but some input on that would be appreciated!


I am unfamiliar with that particular book, but here is how I see it:

Untimed practice is useful to learn about how the LSAT is put together and what you are supposed to be doing. If you don't get what you are being asked to do, no amount of timed practice will help. It is really hard to learn something when you are also worried about speed. So given what you have laid out, if you find a question type you aren't so great at during the PTs you are doing the first month, switch to breaking down questions of that type and doing a bunch of them for a few days until you get what you were missing.

However, you also don't want to learn methods of answering questions that won't work under timed conditions. So when deciding how long to spend on untimed practice, ask yourself whether you are struggling to get what is going on even with all the time in the world, or struggling to reach the answers reliably in the time limit? It is good to have an overall schedule like you propose, but don't hesitate to move on to practicing timing early if you are comfortable and don't hesitate to take a step back later on if you realize a problem you are having is more fundamental. You have to be particularly careful with this issue in Logic Games. Feel free to play around with some games and learn the ropes, but be extra careful you don't start to rely on the extra time.

I know you were hoping for help coming up with a specific schedule. As far as quantity of studying and general pacing, I don't see anything wrong with what you have laid out. I would just urge you to be flexible and make sure you are regularly re-assessing whether what you are doing is working. When you review your tests, use what you've learned, even if that means taking a step back for a couple of days and focusing on picking up a concept you missed. Also, don't hesitate to break those timed PTs up into sections and really drill one type of section over and over. It will help your timing instincts more than doing full PTs (though you should still do some of those too).

Make sure to give yourself days off and be careful not to burn yourself out in the last couple of days before the test. Just like a physical workout, if you take a day or so to rest after a long marathon of training, your performance will be better. You want to be sharp on test day.

-Andrew McDonald
Blueprint Instructor

supdawg212

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Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:28 am

Re: Need a 4-month plan - Retaking

Postby supdawg212 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:19 am

Blueprint LSAT wrote:
supdawg212 wrote:For the July test,I was thinking about doing this:

1st month: 2 untimed practice tests per week breaking it down to 2 sections on Monday and Tuesday; and Thursday and Friday. Wednesday would be doing LG solely.
Alternatively, maybe I should practice 10 questions per question type, 2 question types per day (so 20 questions total per day) from the Fox LSAT book, rotating different question types everyday. I do that for 4 days of the week and then on the 5th day take an LR section. I do that during the first month.

2nd month: 1 full PT timed per week and review take a couple of days to review it. Thursday and Friday would be focusing on LG.

3rd month: Trying to do 2 full PT timed per week and doing that all throughout the last week before the test.

I'm not sure if this is a great schedule, but some input on that would be appreciated!


I am unfamiliar with that particular book, but here is how I see it:

Untimed practice is useful to learn about how the LSAT is put together and what you are supposed to be doing. If you don't get what you are being asked to do, no amount of timed practice will help. It is really hard to learn something when you are also worried about speed. So given what you have laid out, if you find a question type you aren't so great at during the PTs you are doing the first month, switch to breaking down questions of that type and doing a bunch of them for a few days until you get what you were missing.

However, you also don't want to learn methods of answering questions that won't work under timed conditions. So when deciding how long to spend on untimed practice, ask yourself whether you are struggling to get what is going on even with all the time in the world, or struggling to reach the answers reliably in the time limit? It is good to have an overall schedule like you propose, but don't hesitate to move on to practicing timing early if you are comfortable and don't hesitate to take a step back later on if you realize a problem you are having is more fundamental. You have to be particularly careful with this issue in Logic Games. Feel free to play around with some games and learn the ropes, but be extra careful you don't start to rely on the extra time.

I know you were hoping for help coming up with a specific schedule. As far as quantity of studying and general pacing, I don't see anything wrong with what you have laid out. I would just urge you to be flexible and make sure you are regularly re-assessing whether what you are doing is working. When you review your tests, use what you've learned, even if that means taking a step back for a couple of days and focusing on picking up a concept you missed. Also, don't hesitate to break those timed PTs up into sections and really drill one type of section over and over. It will help your timing instincts more than doing full PTs (though you should still do some of those too).

Make sure to give yourself days off and be careful not to burn yourself out in the last couple of days before the test. Just like a physical workout, if you take a day or so to rest after a long marathon of training, your performance will be better. You want to be sharp on test day.

-Andrew McDonald
Blueprint Instructor




Thank you Andrew – your advice is very much appreciated!

AJordan

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Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:48 am

Re: Need a 4-month plan - Retaking

Postby AJordan » Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:31 am

OP, I like that Fox book and have worked through it. I think it's especially valuable to someone in your score range with the specific utility coming from the way it teaches you to approach the questions. There are more to the question types than that book covers, though, and, as such, I would echo that you need to get into the weeds of exactly what the question types are asking and the methodology of attacking them. That will probably improve you 5 points within a month. Focus especially on the ideas behind Must Be True and Most Strongly Supported questions as those have serious utility in the RC section as well.



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