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 Dustin
  • Posts: 8
  • Joined: Jul 20, 2015
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#19395
Does anyone have any suggestions for increasing my speed while taking the LSAT. Routinely, I am coming up short on each section and am having to guess at some of the questions. I need to increase my score by about 10 points. Does anyone have any ideas? I am taking the October exam.
 Clay Cooper
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#19406
Hi Dustin,

Thanks for your question - it is a good one, and one I hear a lot.

My answer is always the same: the primary way to improve your speed within any one section is to improve your technical skill in answering each question type. In other words: you can improve your speed by getting better at the concepts that underlie the questions (for instance conditional reasoning, logical opposition, causal conclusiions, etc) and especially by honing and practicing your approach to each individual question type, for every section.

I always encourage my students to keep faith when they are in the beginning or the middle of their prep efforts, because in learning more about how these questions work and how they should be attacked, our approach almost always becomes more complicated than it was before we began intensive prep.

For instance, in an assumption questions, a superficial reading of the question will enable you to take a stab at it, but it will probably remain difficult and you are unlikely to improve much on your baseline ability with assumption questions. By learning the Negation Technique, however, you can greatly increase your understanding of and accuracy on assumptions questions. Crucially, though, the Negation Technique is confusing and difficult to apply in the beginning, and it will almost certainly slow you down in attacking these questions.

Keep faith, though! As your understanding of the Negation Technique improves, your comfort level while using it will as well, and your speed will almost certainly increase.

This example is just one illustration of the broader concept that I encourage students to remember and apply: that your speed will increase as your understanding of the various concepts and question types improves and you become more efficient and effective in applying them.

Does your concern over timing apply more to any one specific section, or does it apply about equally to all three?
 Dustin
  • Posts: 8
  • Joined: Jul 20, 2015
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#19412
Thanks for your response. Normally with each section I am guessing at about 5 questions. LR I can get through about 20 questions. LG I can complete 3 of the four games. RC is probably my worst section. Some of the passages are a nightmare to try to read and furthermore try to comprehend what you are reading. On the other hand some of the passages I can blow right through and nail just about every question. I guess the type of passages I get on test day will dictate how I do on the RC section.

It is pretty standard for me to guess on at least one passage, one game or 5 questions just about every time I take a timed test. It is typical for me to score low 150's but I am wanting at least a 160. The one option I have for my school has a median score of 161 so I would like to be as close to 161 as possible.

I just think if I could get through more of the questions I would be there because when I do answer the remaining LR and LG questions I normally get them correct.
 Jon Denning
PowerScore Staff
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#19538
Hey Dustin,

I know you didn't really ask a question in response to Clay's comments, but I figured I'd jump in anyway and echo the points above, as well as hopefully provide some encouragement.

Clay's absolutely right about speed being a product of comprehension, where the more you know, the better you're able to react efficiently and appropriately, and the faster you can go. So keep at it!

I'd also suggest you look back over your practice sections and see if you can determine not only why you're moving slower than you'd like, but where it is that speed is suffering the most. Is there an LR question or two early that are taking so long that skipping them would've given you time to do 3-4 more? A game, perhaps, that took 15 minutes and fowled up your whole section? An RC passage you spent 5 minutes reading? If you can identify moments of particular sluggishness it might help you better avoid similar missteps on test day.

But mostly keep your chin up and stay positive and focused. It's a journey you're on and, like the most rewarding ones, it can take a while to reach your destination. One step at a time though and you'll get there.
 Dustin
  • Posts: 8
  • Joined: Jul 20, 2015
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#19586
Thank you Jon. We just covered Section 7 of our class being the Flaw section. I was a bit unsure of myself with the flaw questions and am still not completely confident with them. Flaw questions I know are one of my weaknesses. Also, I have read online about getting burned-out. After working on my homework and some sample questions earlier today I am starting to think maybe I have a case of burn-out.

I have become a bit disinterested. Since June I have been going at it pretty hard. So I think maybe this is playing a role in my struggles. Any advice to get over the huddle besides stepping away for a few days to rejuvenate? Thanks.
 Clay Cooper
PowerScore Staff
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  • Joined: Jul 03, 2015
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#19590
Hi again Dustin,

Great, great question. Burnout is an all-too-real thing, and it can absolutely keep you from doing as well as you otherwise would. I have seen it happen repeatedly, and it seems like in the run-up to every test I have at least one student who overdoes it and suffers for having done so. I have two main suggestions:

1. Take time off. By time, I mean entire days, and regularly. I am very confident that at least 1-2 entirely LSAT-free days per week are crucial to prepare as well as you can. Play golf, go swimming, do nothing all day - whatever, it doesn't matter, just make sure you build at least 1-2 days a week into your schedule to not study at all.

Studies show that employees who take regular and long vacations are significantly more productive during the time they spend at work than those who do not. These breaks will be crucial in law school as well, so you may as well begin applying the idea now. I am confident you'll be happy with your increased focus and energy after the breaks.

2. Focus your practice - make every hour count. Don't just blindly take practice tests with no breaks - take at most one or two a week and spend the time in between working on the types of questions you missed most and the sections in which you were weakest.

Improving your efficiency during the time you do spend studying will make it easier to be motivated to study as well.

Hope those help - they are both from direct observation and experience.

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