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June Taker, Score Plateau

lsat_ndoda
LSAT Novice
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2019 11:03 am
Points: 2

Hi, all. Longtime lurker, first-time poster.

I’m sitting for the June test and aiming to score over 170. I have been prepping since the end of January and began doing PT’s just over 3 weeks ago, starting out with 162 and 165 on my first two tests (June 2017 and Dec 2015 respectively). Since then I have jumped all over the place (as low as 157 on Sep 2009 two weeks ago and as high as 166 on June 2012 just two days ago) but am shaking out a 162 average.

The trajectory doesn’t look as I had hoped (especially after pulling a 165 on just my second PT), although I have read progress is often not linear. I have a little tutoring assistance that’s so far focused on shoring up LG (I am missing 9 on average, although the initial average was much higher—I am going through foolproofing now). I am missing 8.5 LR on average and 5 RC on average.

With just over 5 weeks to go, I am becoming a bit worried. I am unsure how much my performance is a matter of focus and recognition being below where I need it and how much reflects comprehension/ability (not that these are necessarily mutually exclusive). At this stage I think I have probably gotten most of the meat out of the major guides and would potentially be wasting valuable time poring through them for info that may not add anything.

Does anyone have any specific recommendations or suggestions on “quick” strategies for shoring things up? For LR, I keep reading about pre-phrasing but have not tried it intently. With RC (legendary for being almost impossible to improve) I have gotten the basic advice to read paragraphs twice, remember that most answers are not really inferences but are actually in the text, etc. but I think this alone is too basic.

Any suggestions anyone might have would be greatly appreciated!
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 3172
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:18 pm
Points: 3,168

lsat_ndoda wrote:Hi, all. Longtime lurker, first-time poster.

I’m sitting for the June test and aiming to score over 170. I have been prepping since the end of January and began doing PT’s just over 3 weeks ago, starting out with 162 and 165 on my first two tests (June 2017 and Dec 2015 respectively). Since then I have jumped all over the place (as low as 157 on Sep 2009 two weeks ago and as high as 166 on June 2012 just two days ago) but am shaking out a 162 average.

The trajectory doesn’t look as I had hoped (especially after pulling a 165 on just my second PT), although I have read progress is often not linear. I have a little tutoring assistance that’s so far focused on shoring up LG (I am missing 9 on average, although the initial average was much higher—I am going through foolproofing now). I am missing 8.5 LR on average and 5 RC on average.

With just over 5 weeks to go, I am becoming a bit worried. I am unsure how much my performance is a matter of focus and recognition being below where I need it and how much reflects comprehension/ability (not that these are necessarily mutually exclusive). At this stage I think I have probably gotten most of the meat out of the major guides and would potentially be wasting valuable time poring through them for info that may not add anything.

Does anyone have any specific recommendations or suggestions on “quick” strategies for shoring things up? For LR, I keep reading about pre-phrasing but have not tried it intently. With RC (legendary for being almost impossible to improve) I have gotten the basic advice to read paragraphs twice, remember that most answers are not really inferences but are actually in the text, etc. but I think this alone is too basic.

Any suggestions anyone might have would be greatly appreciated!


Hi ndoda,

Thanks for the message! There are a lot of points in your message that are worth addressing, so I'm just going to take it piece by piece, which may make this reply a bit scattered at times. Please forgive that! Here we go:


"...and began doing PT’s just over 3 weeks ago..." — This has a lot do do with your score variation, and it's the first reason I would tell you to relax about your scores. You've only just begun taking tests, and it's not something you will just slot into and suddenly see instant score increases! There are multiple reasons for this, and I've written about them on our blog:


Read both of those, and then take a step back mentally. You are pressuring yourself and worrying over something that is in fact quite natural :-D For now, worry less about scores and worry more about what you learn each time you take a test—what takeaways do you get that you can apply the next time? And so on.




"With just over 5 weeks to go, I am becoming a bit worried." — This is understandable, but you can't focus on this aspect right now. Anxiety does you no favors, and takes energy away from what is most important: increasing your test knowledge every day.




"I am unsure how much my performance is a matter of focus and recognition being below where I need it and how much reflects comprehension/ability (not that these are necessarily mutually exclusive)." — There's no way to tell that at this point, although only you know your comfort level. That said, you've already posted a 165 early in your full testing stream, which suggests you have the ability to get into the 170s. Your score variation, however, suggests your knowledge base is still developing.




"At this stage I think I have probably gotten most of the meat out of the major guides and would potentially be wasting valuable time poring through them for info that may not add anything." — This is definitely possible! Although, let's do a test just to check you :-D Without referring to any text and off the top of your head, explain to me the connection between Sufficient Assumption (Justify) questions and Necessary Assumption questions. How are they similar, and how are the different, and how does that affect how you solve them? Feel free to throw in any subtle/nuanced points you feel are high-level insights (which is what I expect from 170s scorers!). Note: if the thought of this question gives you any pause, that's a sign right there that your absorption of the ideas in at least the LSAT Bibles wasn't perfect (and there would be no criticism there from me—there is so much in those books that no one gets every point in the first read-through).




"Does anyone have any specific recommendations or suggestions on “quick” strategies for shoring things up?" — As mentioned in the second link above, the LSAT isn't this kind of test. There really aren't too many shortcuts to learning logic and analysis, and you need these things to become muscle memory in order to move quickly and confidently. That said, I've posted a ton of tips for improving here: What to Do Differently to Raise Your Score. The bottom line there is that there are no shortcuts, but hard work in analyzing and understanding questions (such as repeating games until you know them cold) is essential.




"For LR, I keep reading about pre-phrasing but have not tried it intently." — You should try it! Every high scorer uses it in some form or another (regardless of what they call it), because anticipating what's coming is a natural extension of sound analysis. You do it when driving, you do it when you play sports, you do it when talking to other people, and so doing it on the LSAT is and should be second nature. However, many people kind of freeze up on it about the LSAT because they think they need to be so "technical" and cold in their analytical approach. That's not the case, and so you can and should practice with this idea—it will help.




"With RC (legendary for being almost impossible to improve) I have gotten the basic advice to read paragraphs twice, remember that most answers are not really inferences but are actually in the text, etc. but I think this alone is too basic." — Huh, I don't think it is almost impossible to improve. I'd say it's the hardest of the three sections to improve upon due to reading speed being hard to change, but being hardest is certainly not the same as almost impossible to improve. The key is to read better, and not necessarily faster (it would be great to read faster, but that's honestly not realistic for most people in short prep windows that are typically less than 6 months). I also do not like the advice of reading paragraphs twice for someone already scoring where you are. Too much time wasted! Instead, focus more on how you retain the key points of what you've read. You can't retain very detail (nor should you), so instead create a mental map of the salient points and where they are (this is what we advise students to do with Viewstamp, which is a memory/focus tool of sorts).


That covers most of what you asked about I think, so please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Test Preparation

Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DaveKilloran
My LSAT Articles: http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/author/dave-killoran
PowerScore PodCast: http://www.powerscore.com/lsat/podcast/
lsat_ndoda
LSAT Novice
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2019 11:03 am
Points: 2

Dave Killoran wrote:
lsat_ndoda wrote:
Hi ndoda,

Thanks for the message! There are a lot of points in your message that are worth addressing, so I'm just going to take it piece by piece, which may make this reply a bit scattered at times. Please forgive that! Here we go:


"...and began doing PT’s just over 3 weeks ago..." — This has a lot do do with your score variation, and it's the first reason I would tell you to relax about your scores. You've only just begun taking tests, and it's not something you will just slot into and suddenly see instant score increases! There are multiple reasons for this, and I've written about them on our blog:


Read both of those, and then take a step back mentally. You are pressuring yourself and worrying over something that is in fact quite natural :-D For now, worry less about scores and worry more about what you learn each time you take a test—what takeaways do you get that you can apply the next time? And so on.




"With just over 5 weeks to go, I am becoming a bit worried." — This is understandable, but you can't focus on this aspect right now. Anxiety does you no favors, and takes energy away from what is most important: increasing your test knowledge every day.




"I am unsure how much my performance is a matter of focus and recognition being below where I need it and how much reflects comprehension/ability (not that these are necessarily mutually exclusive)." — There's no way to tell that at this point, although only you know your comfort level. That said, you've already posted a 165 early in your full testing stream, which suggests you have the ability to get into the 170s. Your score variation, however, suggests your knowledge base is still developing.




"At this stage I think I have probably gotten most of the meat out of the major guides and would potentially be wasting valuable time poring through them for info that may not add anything." — This is definitely possible! Although, let's do a test just to check you :-D Without referring to any text and off the top of your head, explain to me the connection between Sufficient Assumption (Justify) questions and Necessary Assumption questions. How are they similar, and how are the different, and how does that affect how you solve them? Feel free to throw in any subtle/nuanced points you feel are high-level insights (which is what I expect from 170s scorers!). Note: if the thought of this question gives you any pause, that's a sign right there that your absorption of the ideas in at least the LSAT Bibles wasn't perfect (and there would be no criticism there from me—there is so much in those books that no one gets every point in the first read-through).




"Does anyone have any specific recommendations or suggestions on “quick” strategies for shoring things up?" — As mentioned in the second link above, the LSAT isn't this kind of test. There really aren't too many shortcuts to learning logic and analysis, and you need these things to become muscle memory in order to move quickly and confidently. That said, I've posted a ton of tips for improving here: What to Do Differently to Raise Your Score. The bottom line there is that there are no shortcuts, but hard work in analyzing and understanding questions (such as repeating games until you know them cold) is essential.




"For LR, I keep reading about pre-phrasing but have not tried it intently." — You should try it! Every high scorer uses it in some form or another (regardless of what they call it), because anticipating what's coming is a natural extension of sound analysis. You do it when driving, you do it when you play sports, you do it when talking to other people, and so doing it on the LSAT is and should be second nature. However, many people kind of freeze up on it about the LSAT because they think they need to be so "technical" and cold in their analytical approach. That's not the case, and so you can and should practice with this idea—it will help.




"With RC (legendary for being almost impossible to improve) I have gotten the basic advice to read paragraphs twice, remember that most answers are not really inferences but are actually in the text, etc. but I think this alone is too basic." — Huh, I don't think it is almost impossible to improve. I'd say it's the hardest of the three sections to improve upon due to reading speed being hard to change, but being hardest is certainly not the same as almost impossible to improve. The key is to read better, and not necessarily faster (it would be great to read faster, but that's honestly not realistic for most people in short prep windows that are typically less than 6 months). I also do not like the advice of reading paragraphs twice for someone already scoring where you are. Too much time wasted! Instead, focus more on how you retain the key points of what you've read. You can't retain very detail (nor should you), so instead create a mental map of the salient points and where they are (this is what we advise students to do with Viewstamp, which is a memory/focus tool of sorts).


That covers most of what you asked about I think, so please let me know if that helps. Thanks!


Dave, this is great, thanks so much.

I'll give this a go: Sufficient assumption questions prompt a detail or hypothetical that by itself would be enough to make the scenario in the stimulus true and necessary assumption questions prompt a detail or hypothetical that may not be enough to make the scenario true but which the scenario cannot be true without. Additionally, they are part of the same family (of the four families) and it's useful to understand it in terms of the answer choices "acting" on the stimulus. Let me know if that makes sense!

First off, thanks for generally putting my performance into perspective. As you said, worry and anxiety only detract from development and you also corroborated the point I raised about score progress not necessarily being linear. Thanks for citing the Casino post, I have read it before and will re-read it and keep that in mind!

A few questions/points:

1) I'm thinking of taking the PT's I did and just doing an assessment of missed questions by type. Assuming there's a greater representation of certain types, I will then revisit the Bible and target these sections. Is this sound or is there a better way to do it? (Some tutors say it's unhelpful to overly focus on question type.)

2) I guess what I was getting at with my "quick fix" question is not that there's a sort of "cheat sheet" that will help magically boost my score but rather some sort of an approach or measure that might yield greater short-term dividends. In keeping with that analogy, I know if I invest $10,000 in the S&P today that in 5 years I'm almost undoubtedly going to get a respectable return. But my time horizon isn't 5 years. Similarly, with this I know if I pore through the Bibles and other materials again fully, I'm guaranteed to still learn a good amount (as you said, going through it once or twice surely leaves tidbits on the table). But it may not yield any return in the short-term; it may even yield a negative return (from the standpoint of time cost.) In other words, as opposed to trying to get around the logic I'm seeking methods or strategies that, with consideration to my short time horizon, might more effectively ingrain the understanding, if that makes sense.

With this, I think this weekend I'll keep my focus on attempting pre-phrasing (I viewed the PS blog post on this), applying VIEWSTAMP (I do not have any materials that exclusively cover RC but may go ahead and order the Bible even if I only may have time to parse it), and just going back on some of the PT's I have done to deconstruct and assess more deeply.

3) I know this sounds basic, but can you explain BR in some detail (or offer an article)?

4) Also, any advice on study-life balance? The biggest challenge is getting sufficient sleep while at once needing to practice and drill sufficiently to see progress. I work full-time, so it's a balancing act. There's not much recreation these days and there's a little gym time (which I know is important), but the biggest challenging is balancing studying with sleep.

Thanks again, Dave!
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 3172
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:18 pm
Points: 3,168

Thanks for the reply! A few additional comments:

lsat_ndoda wrote:I'll give this a go: Sufficient assumption questions prompt a detail or hypothetical that by itself would be enough to make the scenario in the stimulus true and necessary assumption questions prompt a detail or hypothetical that may not be enough to make the scenario true but which the scenario cannot be true without. Additionally, they are part of the same family (of the four families) and it's useful to understand it in terms of the answer choices "acting" on the stimulus. Let me know if that makes sense!

Yes, this is accurate, but let me ask you this: if you explained this to a room full of people who didn't know these question types all that well, would this make it entirely clear to them? And where's the nuance of the overlap between the possible correct answers in each type, or even how these two questions relate conditionally? You might have all that info and went for the shorter answer, but ask yourself if there's a lot more for you to say here or not. If not, it's a good indication your conceptual foundations aren't strong enough. Right now, with no further contextual info, I'm concerned they need to be stronger.





lsat_ndoda wrote:1) I'm thinking of taking the PT's I did and just doing an assessment of missed questions by type. Assuming there's a greater representation of certain types, I will then revisit the Bible and target these sections. Is this sound or is there a better way to do it? (Some tutors say it's unhelpful to overly focus on question type.)

It will take some time, but if you haven't already, score your tests using a broad analyzer, such as the one here: PowerScore Self-Study Site. And honestly, I've never heard someone say that isolating individual question types is a problem, or shouldn't be done, and I disagree with the thinking there. Think of each question type (and reasoning type, at least in LR) as individual skill moves. If this was karate, you'd do a thousand fist punches, then a thousand leg kicks etc as practice to get good muscle memory. Strengthen each part, but don't focus just on that obviously, go beyond as well and start integrating other elements until it all mixes together. As Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Idea and question Isolation is a central part of prep—especially when you are learning—but it's not the only thing you do!





lsat_ndoda wrote:2) I guess what I was getting at with my "quick fix" question is not that there's a sort of "cheat sheet" that will help magically boost my score but rather some sort of an approach or measure that might yield greater short-term dividends. In keeping with that analogy, I know if I invest $10,000 in the S&P today that in 5 years I'm almost undoubtedly going to get a respectable return. But my time horizon isn't 5 years. Similarly, with this I know if I pore through the Bibles and other materials again fully, I'm guaranteed to still learn a good amount (as you said, going through it once or twice surely leaves tidbits on the table). But it may not yield any return in the short-term; it may even yield a negative return (from the standpoint of time cost.) In other words, as opposed to trying to get around the logic I'm seeking methods or strategies that, with consideration to my short time horizon, might more effectively ingrain the understanding, if that makes sense.

With this, I think this weekend I'll keep my focus on attempting pre-phrasing (I viewed the PS blog post on this), applying VIEWSTAMP (I do not have any materials that exclusively cover RC but may go ahead and order the Bible even if I only may have time to parse it), and just going back on some of the PT's I have done to deconstruct and assess more deeply.

Isolation of weaknesses, repetition on those topics (such as doing a game over and over until you can do it blindfolded), The Teaching Test, and connecting concept are your friends here. The problem is that, unlike the stock market, we don't have any exploding stocks that provide max value in a short time. Instead, the best we can do is find those stocks that give us the best short-term growth. It won't be explosive, but it will return better than the average we hope.





lsat_ndoda wrote:3) I know this sounds basic, but can you explain BR in some detail (or offer an article)?

Sure! What is the Best Way to Review LSAT Practice Tests?





lsat_ndoda wrote:4) Also, any advice on study-life balance? The biggest challenge is getting sufficient sleep while at once needing to practice and drill sufficiently to see progress. I work full-time, so it's a balancing act. There's not much recreation these days and there's a little gym time (which I know is important), but the biggest challenging is balancing studying with sleep.

I agree 100%. In fact, when people tell me they are doing just LSAT, I advise them against it. you will be better able to learn and more prone to focus if you get sufficient sleep, get to workout regularly, and eat well. It's not how to make life balance, but rather that it's necessary to have balance. The key is to cut non-essentials. Minimize Netflix, try to go out less (although some still), avoid those last call drinks on Friday night that make you extra slow on Saturday, and so on. It's only for a few more months, so make the sacrifice (which is good practice for law school anyway, which forces so many people to live like an ascetic).

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Test Preparation

Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DaveKilloran
My LSAT Articles: http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/author/dave-killoran
PowerScore PodCast: http://www.powerscore.com/lsat/podcast/