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June Test - Final Month Suggestions

Michael Z.
LSAT Novice
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon May 06, 2019 11:22 am
Points: 2


I am scheduled to take the June LSAT (best around a heavy work schedule) but feel like I am spinning my wheels. I wouldn't call it burnout because I am starting to enjoy the challenge, but that enjoyment has not translated to tangible score or skill increases. Following the 4-month PS self-study plan for 8-10 hours/week, I am through the bibles and focus mostly on practice tests. A refresher of key concepts might be beneficial but I haven't nailed down an efficient way to do that.

My goal is to break the 170s (started at 157) and my practice scores are usually in the low to mid 160s. I typically miss 3-6 per LR section, 5-9 on LG, and 6-8 on RC. For LR, I miss strengthen, weaken, and flaw questions most often. Time is a bigger issue on RC and LG. I consistently only get to three passages in RC. My timing on LG is streakier - I either crush it or cannot get to a game.

I spend time reviewing my practice tests but don't feel like I properly apply the review to my knowledge base and future tests. I go through each question and examine the right answer, my answer, and any popular wrong answers. However, I find myself thinking, "this question makes sense" and moving on, without retaining any broader insight.

How do you suggest I attack this final month?

Thanks for your help!
James Finch
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
Posts: 711
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:06 pm
Points: 708

Hi Michael,

Unfortunately I can't be definitive in what will aid you, but I can give you some pointers based on what you've told us. On a more general note, it's important to understand that the PowerScore methods are based around active reading and an understanding of the stimulus, passage or game setup and rules before attempting to tackle the questions. The goal is always to know as much as possible on the front end so as to avoid confusion on the back end.

On the first read of an LR question, for example, you should be able to identify whether an argument is present (and if yes, identify the constituent parts), the validity of an argument, the type of reasoning (if any) and any flaws or holes in it. Use that information to consider what sorts of question types the stem could offer, and then Prephrase based on the actual stem. This requires detailed knowledge of how the types of questions and types of reasoning operate, as well as the numerous potential flaws. For your specific weaknesses, make sure to memorize the various flaw types and review the section on causal reasoning, as causal reasoning is strongly correlated with Strengthen and Weaken questions and understanding how causality works on those questions will also help you understand causal reasoning flaws.

For LG, the big keys are understanding game type, keeping track of numerical distributions, linking rules to make inferences (especially where the knowledge of one variable's placement creates an inference about others) and understanding when to make templates to essentially do the work ahead of time (ie before the questions). Always give yourself a few extra seconds to look over your diagram before moving onto the questions to make sure you've gotten all the inferences, and keep track of any work done for the questions that gives you more information going forward, especially with local questions.

RC requires an even more rigorous approach, especially for people with less-than-stellar short-term memory. You have to know where all of the ViewSTAMP information is, in order to be able to efficiently return back to it to answer the questions. Critical to this is keeping track of the structure; if a question refers back to a specific term/concept, or even a line reference, you need to know the general area where it is to understand its use in context. Unlike the LR questions, these passages from real-world writing, so they tend to be more straightforward in organization/layout as they're designed to impart information clearly. Use this to your advantage by keeping track of the relevant parts and using good, consistent notation. The biggest time-killer is re-reading.

The best way to review a test is do so "blind," where you look over all the questions (with no time limit in place) and try to answer the question again based on application of best practices, such as those described above. Always make sure that you're doing as much work as you can before getting to the answer choices, Prephrasing whenever possible. Lastly, reviewing your process is key, so always take the time to thoroughly review a practice test before moving on to the next one.

Hope this helps!
Michael Z.
LSAT Novice
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon May 06, 2019 11:22 am
Points: 2

Thank you, James! To get a feel for a more recent test, I have since taken PT86 and aced LG. However, LR was pretty tough. I know Dave and Jon have mentioned that the LR sections on PTs 85 and 86 have some nuances that are useful to test-takers. What makes these LR sections so interesting and what exactly should I look for while reviewing them?

On a related note, the PS self-study plan uses PTs 61-77, but should I shift my focus from practice tests in the 70s to more recent ones in the 80s?

Thanks as always for your help!
Zach Foreman
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:18 am
Points: 32

I can't address the features of PT 85-86, but have a couple words of prep advice to offer as you are in your final month that some of my students have found effective.

1. Address the psychological side of the test. It is not unusual to go down from your Practice Test average on the day of the real test, due to stress, fatigue, etc. It's the real thing. One thing I do to address this is have students take the test under as real conditions as possible: one 15 minute break, no food or water, no headphones or music, score sheet with number 2 pencil, etc.
2. Another way to simulate the stress is to take 34 minutes for each section instead of 35. Knowing that one of your precious minutes is gone is a good way to simulate the stress of a real test. And when you take the real test knowing that you have 35 minutes instead of 34 will make you more confident.
3. Have milestones that you want to hit in each section. For example, I strive to get the first three pages in LR at one minute per question (usually 11-13 questions on those pages) then I slow down deliberately, knowing I have, say, 23 minutes to do 13 questions. For the games, I try to do the first game in 6 minutes, leaving me 9 minutes or so for two other games and a full 11 minutes for the final game (not necessarily the fourth game).
4. Make sure you do the last ten published tests. Add an extra "experimental section" to simulate the fatigue of the length of test and try to take it at the same time of day as the real test.
5. I would spend at least as much time reviewing the test as taking it. Could you have done a more complete game set up? Did you miss an inference? Did you get the globals right in RC? Did yo correctly approach the dual passage questions (do all of the questions from the passage with the most questions, then do the questions from the other passage, then do the questions about both passages)? Did you skip the right number of questions so that you were the one who chose what to answer and not the test? Did you diagram too much? Not enough? Did you follow your plan of attack? Do you need to change your plan to improve your score?
Now is the time to optimize your test. Very often there is a single question in a section that takes 3-4 minutes that, if skipped, could have allowed you to answer 2-3 other questions and increased your score. At this point you want to make sure you are using your resources efficiently. Remember, you can guess randomly at 20 questions (5 in each section) and do very well (high 160s), which is pretty remarkable considering that means you don't even need to look at 1/5th of the test to do well, as long as you maximize your time.