I am a Chemistry PhD student preparing for the July LSAT. I've been preparing for the exam since January, finishing the 3 Powerscore bible series around March (full time graduate student so was only spending ~15 - 20 hrs/week but now more like 20 - 30 hrs/week). My goal is to achieve a 175.
I would appreciate some guidance on the best way to get to my goal by July, or in worst case scenario, by September of this year.
I have been doing completely untimed preptests/book problems until April, which is when I started doing timed sections and timed 2 sections (2 sections timed without break). No full timed LSAT yet. The reasons are below.
The highest untimed preptest was SuperPrep II Preptest C, which was 170. I would say that approximately 3 other preptests were taken untimed. But, as I transitioned into timing the preptests (timed 2 sections), my score fell down to around 156! This was not an anomaly; taking 3 preptests that were recently published confirmed this. Basically, I've used up 6 preptests so far.
Since then, I have been blind reviewing the preptests that I took, making a daily quiz sheet with LG, LR, and RC questions that I got wrong, and just began to fall back to untimed exams. But I don't know whether I should just continue doing the timed exams and power through them with blind review afterwards or solely dedicate myself to untimed exams until my score comes back up.
The plan going forward is for me to see how long it takes for me to achieve ~90% accuracy on every section untimed, and slowly inch my way to average ~90% while maintaining 35 minutes per section. But, I fear that this could take a really long time and cut into simulating the full timed practices.
Also, I'm considering how I will actually do these untimed exams. Should I focus on taking the untimed exams section by section? Or should I try and group the problems that I have difficulty with, such as the LR parallel reasoning and drill them? This is confusing because in sections like LR, the question types can be grouped and I can go through those. But doing the same for RC would be much more difficult. Another issue here is that my LR, RC, and LG sections are very similar and I don't have any section-specific deficiencies, so I don't think it makes sense to solely focus on one section.
Also, any other additional advice would be appreciated.
Questions regarding untimed practice and timed practice
6 posts • Page 1 of 1
From your description, you have worked through our Bible series, and I assume that you focused on learning the techniques needed for performance. Now, you are trying to develop speed and also to increase your score beyond your untimed high score.
Without going through the questions with you, it will be very difficult to be certain about a study strategy. However, usually what you describe (overall decrease in accuracy when you do sections timed) would indicate that you are able to work your way through to correct choices but are not using technique efficiently. What you need to determine is whether there is an overall inefficiency or whether it is more pronounced on certain question types. It's not really about whether you can get a question type correct--you already know that you can. I would go through the questions you've been missing while the tests are still fresh in your mind and look for which techniques you could have focused on to maintain speed and accuracy, and see if there are any themes in technique.
In my experience, people who have score drop offs of your magnitude when the test is timed are usually missing opportunities to eliminate based on scope, relevance, and the question stem's goal, and are sometimes engaging in overkill; e.g., using a conditional diagramming technique in a time consuming fashion, or using an Assumption Negation technique prior to last resort. This makes them frenzied and unfocused on more difficult questions and drives error, when efficient technique would make time for harder questions while also making those harder questions easier.
Thank you for the reply! You're right, I took an exam without a time constraint, and was able to get 90% of the problems correct but had to spend nearly an hour. I noted the problems that a) I got wrong and b) took me more than 1:30 seconds to solve. I plan on doing this for preptests 1-35, and trying to gradually lower the time required while maintaining this score.
I will corroborate the specific problem types (parallel reasoning seems to take me nearly 5 minutes!) with the Bible but I wonder if there is a better way to drill question type-specific questions? For example, is it better to do the preptests for drilling one by one from 1 to 35, or should I focus on doing one section constantly, i.e. focus on logical reasoning from 1 to 35 and then logic games and etc...?
Once I feel that the 35 min per section can be obtained, then I will be doing 1 section timed, and then 2 consecutive sections timed, and then 3, until the full exam with the experimental section.
What do you think about the plan? Also, I've been feeling burnt out trying to get my top score before July, but I may decide to forgo this year's cycle and take the December LSAT instead. That would mean that I spend nearly a year for the LSAT prep, but given that I have a full time job as a graduate student, it's probably not unheard of.
Thanks for your feedback and I would really appreciate additional comments!
I'd say you need to mix it up, hlee18 - you need to include in your plan both timed practice tests (full ones, including a fifth section to act as the experimental section) in order to build stamina for the real thing and to give you a realistic measure of how you are doing and the extent of your progress, and also untimed practice that is focused on improving your use of specific question strategies to get more efficient and better at recognizing which strategies to apply in different situations. Your focus should not be on how quickly you can finish a section, but on what you can accomplish in the time you will be allowed to use, which is 35 minutes per section. If you can only complete 17 questions in that time, but you get them all correct, that's better than answering 22 questions and getting only 14 correct, right? As you continue to get better at the strategies you will find yourself completing more questions, and getting more of them right, in the time allotted.
Full tests should be followed by blind reviews, as you already know, but there will also be a growing bank of questions you didn't get to in the time limit, and those will be there for you to do untimed for additional practice. There are 86 practice tests out there for you to use, and that should be plenty to get through the year if you use them wisely! It's also okay to retake tests you have already done, to practice those techniques that you may not have used, or may not have used efficiently, the first time around.
So, full timed tests, followed by blind review, followed by untimed practice focused on specific weak areas that those reviews uncover.
One last thing: you mentioned Parallel Reasoning questions as a particular sore spot. There are a lot of good resources for dealing with those, but I thought I would share just this one with you for now:
https://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/the-po ... questions/
Check out that episode of the podcast and see if it makes those questions both easier and faster for you. Good luck!
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LSATadam
Thanks for your feedback. I want to probe a bit more about the methodology you suggest, with full timed exam, followed by BR, and then focusing on my weak areas untimed.
Let's say that the 7sage analytics tells me to prioritize parallel reasoning questions as an example. So I take a PT 35+ exam timed, do blind review and a few parallel reasoning questions are BRed and solved untimed along with other questions that I got wrong. What then? Do I A) look for similar problems from PT 1-35 and solve those in series? Or is there a different way to drill and solve question type specific problems?
Or do I B) take another PT untimed, hope that the few parallel reasoning questions that are in those sections are useful for practice, and eventually get to them by going from beginning to end on the new PT?
I can sort of see pros and cons for both A) and B) but wanted to hear your thoughts on which would provide the most value for the time being. Or C), which would be to do A) and B)?
There are several options for drilling by question type. One option is to track what questions you are missing, and review those questions untimed after the test is complete. I think that was your option A. If you do it this way, make sure you have a fresh copy of the question to look at. You don't want to be influenced by how you answered the question when timed. Untimed you should focus on finding the BEST way to the correct answer. Can you eliminate answer choices quickly? If it's a parallel reasoning question, for example, you can often eliminate an answer choice in multiple ways. Is it more efficient to eliminate a choice based on the conclusion test or the test of abstraction? Which did you use on the timed test? Was it the more efficient one? If not, what can you do next time to find the more efficient route the first time?
A second option is to pick up a book that has questions by type. PowerScore has one, and it pulls from tests 1-20. It's called the Logical Reasoning Question Type Training. This has the advantage of pulling questions you haven't seen before, from a clear set of tests. It will leave the other tests available for you to use as timed practice tests, while allowing you to practice and refine your techniques.
Ideally, you'd do both. This would help you see how you translate techniques into a timed environment, while focusing on a specific question type at one time. It's always the analysis of the question that is the most valuable for improvement. To really succeed, you need to know the most efficient way to get the correct answer, not just a way to get the correct answer. Efficiency is how you combine accuracy and speed to get the highest score you can.
Hope that helps!
6 posts • Page 1 of 1