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LR score is tanking

Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 10:33 am
by justpeachy
On my diagnostic, I got 8 and 9 questions wrong on each LR section. Over the past month, I had been able to reduce my number of wrong questions down to 4 to 5 on LR. I decided to start trying to do timed LR sections and my score tanked. I started getting 9 or 10 wrong per LR section. I went back to doing untimely LR but am still hovering at 9 to 10 questions wrong per section which is really disheartening. I read the entire LR bible and did all the exercises. I'm not certain what I should do. I just feel really defeated and don't know what to do. Should I get the lr games training book, or do the online course?

Re: LR score is tanking

Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 9:30 pm
by Jon Denning
Hey peachy,

Thanks for the question, and I'm sorry to hear about your LR difficulties.

I should probably start with some encouragement before I get too deep into your situation and a likely diagnosis, so I want you to keep a few crucial truths in mind to hopefully bolster your spirits. First, the LSAT is a remarkably challenging exam--something I'm sure you know, but it's worth noting aloud no matter how obvious--likely the hardest you've ever encountered in academia, and many people, smart people, spend months and months (or longer) struggling mightily to improve to a satisfactory level. What the people who reach that level, whatever it may be for them individually, have in common, aside from their initial struggles, is a willingness to soldier on. An unbreakable diligence. Enthusiasm no matter the toll. And an almost unnerving (occasionally annoying :-D ) ability to celebrate small victories wherever they can be found. You've shown the conceptual command necessary to answer 20 questions right; don't ignore that! Treat it as a benchmark of your potential, and let's work to reestablish and surpass it, and to do so under timed conditions.

The fact is this: you're on a journey, and while it's hard to predict the exact hurdles you'll face or how long the trip will take (or even the precise destination) you're guaranteed to stumble now and again en route to victory. Sometimes those stumbles are a stubbed toe, sometimes they're a crevasse, a skydive, but take heart in the knowledge that on the other side of every single one is a lesson learned and, if properly understood, a greater likelihood of success the next time that particular hurdle appears. Few things teach as well as failure. And while that sucks to hear (and to type, frankly), it's undeniable. So again feel whatever small measure of comfort you can in knowing this is hard, but both worth it and beatable, and the more you can view bumps in the road as part of the adventure the better equipped you'll be to navigate around them. Or straight through them, as the case may be.

Make no mistake you're in a battle with the test makers, but it's a fight you can win with the right tools. Just commit to giving as good as you get, yeah? Besides, and to paraphrase Tyler Durden, who wants to die without any scars? 8-)

And that's all fine and good and I'm sure, aside from the Palahniuk bit, Oprah-approved, but this isn't a purely psychological problem. Let's see if we can figure out what ails you. You note that untimed you reached around 20 correct, but timed that number dropped to more like 16 (similar to your original untimed performance). I find that really encouraging! It means that with the clock running you still only suffered about a 4 question decline, and managed to match your starting, timer-free numbers after only, unless I've misread, about a month. That's genuine progress! Don't be so quick to dismiss the gains.

But why the untimed drop of late? I'd need more details to answer. Is it truly untimed or are you, with the timed experience fresh, trying to move more quickly? Is there a particular question type, or question Family, that seems to be a (possibly newfound) source of trouble? I know self-diagnosis is difficult, but what would you say is different about your efforts now compared to the previous untimed 20?

Certainly you haven't unlearned anything, so my suspicion is that (1) you're trying to go faster (totally understandable, and ultimately required, but a cause of misses to be sure). And (2) you've gotten too casual with your process. Go back to the fundamentals--even if that means rereading a few early chapters and reworking content/examples therein--and focus on being exceedingly deliberate with how you work through every single question: find a conclusion (if there is one), weigh the validity, note the strength and nature of language, correctly identify the question type, consider what you know of that question type and form an effective and accurate prephrase, work hyper-critically through the answers sorting them into contenders and losers and constantly attempting to discern reasons to eliminate choices...over and over and over again to reform the good habits that can get lost or muddied as time goes on.

And finally, as for what's next, I think the Reasoning Bible Workbook could be a great, and affordable, resource, especially as you work to rebuild a reliable process of recognition and attack. The courses are amazing as well, particularly if you feel you have points to gain in the other sections too, and unlike a book are highly adaptive, with instructors adjusting presentation and content to your unique needs. Often that's the exact thing students need to overcome the final challenges that self-study may not entirely remedy. But consider the questions above and your mindset about moving forward, and rededicating yourself with genuine enthusiasm, before deciding your next step. It's a big decision and you want it to be the right, and final, one.

Thanks and I hope this helps!


Re: LR score is tanking

Posted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 11:18 am
by justpeachy
Thank you so much Jon!

My reply is a bit delayed because I needed to regroup and take some time away from what I perceived as an LR catastrophe. I also decided to push my exam back to December to give myself some additional time to study. Thank you for helping me to see that I am making progress and that all is not lost. It's sometimes difficult to recognize especially when I get questions wrong that I felt confident about at the time. I also have set my expectations pretty high (perhaps unrealistically high, as in, I want a score in the 99th percentile high) so any LR question I get wrong feels like a bit of a defeat.

It seems my biggest problem is that once I start timing myself, my anxiety skyrockets to the point where I rush through questions and don't read the answer options carefully. My anxiety also causes me to have difficulty actually processing the question stem. Under timed conditions, sometimes I have to re-read the stimulus like 3 or 4 times for some of the information to sink in. That derails my confidence for the next question and so on and so forth.

When I do untimed questions I feel totally relaxed and confident, and as a result I score WAY better. For example, I did the October 97 preptest under timed conditions:
-35mins for the first LR and I got 10 wrong (so 11 correct)
-Because of that blunder I did the next LR section from October 97 untimed but my confidence was already low and anxiety was high from my poor score on the 1st section. Because of this even though it was untimed, I got 8 wrong (so 16 correct).

That was a low point for me. So I took a day or two off from questions, exercised, meditated and came back to questions a few days later. I took the December 97 preptest untimed about 2 days after the October 97 and only missed 1 question on the 1st LR section and only 2 on the second LR section. My total score for the whole preptest was 178 (untimed), which I was stoked about! But, also, I haven't been able to recreate that score (I've also been randomly adding timed elements here and there and not in a consistent manner. Some days I won't time myself then if I do really well I'll think "you're ready for the clock now!" Then I bring out the clock and my score plummets. Then it takes me a few days to recover my confidence so my accuracy decreases for a bit even if I do untimed tests.

In subsequent preptests, after the December 97 pretest I've ranged from 2 to 5 questions wrong per LR section. But true to form whenever I try to add the timer element, I still am getting anywhere from 5 to 10 wrong. It doesn't matter if I set my timer to the actual 35 minute limit, or give myself more time, like 50 minutes or 60 minutes or even 70 minutes. If a timer is involved I'm screwed.

I have noticed that there are some questions, like assumption questions and justify questions that tend to take me longer to figure out, some I'm going to re-read those chapters and go over all the assumption and justify questions I've gotten wrong on the preptests I've done so far.

I'm worried that if I keep doing untimed tests I'll get too comfortable and won't be able to ever transition over to timed tests. I'd like to add some timed element now but don't know the best way to go about it. Do you recommend I just keep doing untimed tests for the next month and then maybe add in timed tests starting in like October? My concern is that yeah it's great I got a 178 on that prpetest but it is essentially meaningless because it was untimed and does not at all guarantee what will happen to me on test day under timed conditions.

Thanks so much!

Re: LR score is tanking

Posted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:09 pm
by Jon Denning
Hey again peachy! Thanks so much for the detailed reply, and I'm glad to hear you're back in the game :)

The untimed :arrow: timed transition always comes at the cost of accuracy, so don't beat yourself up too much for suffering the same as everyone else. As I said before, this is a long, often frustrating journey, and struggling to retain precision as you go faster is a big part of it.

It's also an unavoidable transition, so the longer you put off committing to it the less time you'll have to get comfortable at full speed. I'm not saying that everything should be strictly timed from here on out, no exceptions; I'm simply suggesting that you've already proven your ability to answer questions correctly (a 178, even untimed, is a feat to be celebrated!), so your focus now becomes pace. Ten questions in 20 minutes. Then 18 minutes. 16...15...and so on. Pushing yourself always. Trust your training, stick to a strict and repeatable process, and be ever-confident that with time and practice improvements will continue to come.

I want to point you to two resources that are both fresh in my mind and applicable to your situation. The first is a brief forum discussion another user began about timing: ... 538#p19538. Give it a quick read.

The second is actually a collection of information, most of which deal with what I think the real sticking point is for you: mentality. My colleague Dave Killoran (of PowerScore Bible fame) wrote a fantastic blog post this week about the psychology of performance: ... -your-nose. I know, on the surface it seems to be about improved error recognition in the presence of nasty smells, but what it's really about is how our minds affect our physical abilities, and how we can train the former to improve the latter. There are also a several links at the end of his article, each providing further insight and advice into test mentality. Do yourself a favor and check those out! I think you'll find them extremely helpful :)

Keep at it and don't ever let your fear of momentary struggles stand in the way of your goals!