Thanks for the questions, and thanks also for the detailed info on how you have been performing—it really helps! A few thoughts for you:
I think you do have room for improvement, and from what you told us, you have a solid base. You also recognize that there are limitations in how you are approaching things right now, which is essential for improving.
Let's start by talking about LR, which is one of the two areas I think you should focus on (LG being the other). Your LR performance (no particular question type being a problem) suggests that the issues you have aren't in any specific area, but stem from a more generalized fault. That usually means that somewhere in your process you are glossing over a step, or not really locking down something important. It's hard for me to know for sure without actually seeing you do questions. Regardless, the LR approach we use has two main parts to it: first, there is a general but systematic approach we use to attack any question, and second, there are additional strategies and techniques that come into play when certain ideas and concepts appear. So the first part is always there and consists of things like determining if it's a fact set or argument, recognizing premises and conclusions, eliminating answers using Contender/Loser, etc. You may be doing all that to some extent already, but if you aren't, then review the steps (which I call the Primary Objectives) and make sure you aren't missing anything obvious. those are all what I consider to be basic elements, and if you are weak in any of those areas, it will cause you to repeatedly miss questions.
The second part of our approach is what I sometimes call the air traffic controller role, where it's incumbent on you to recognize when a concept is in play. Conditionality is a good example of this idea: when conditional reasoning is present, you have to recognize it and often account for it. When it's not there, you never even have to think about it. My suspicion is that it's this phase that you are referencing when you mention not using our techniques, but please let me know if I'm correct about that. If I am, this is one area where you can truly increase your score while at the same time not sacrifice any speed. Really good test takers recognize when advanced concepts appear, and use the knowledge to their advantage to not only move quickly but also to move decisively.
By the way, your natural speed in LR is an excellent advantage, and it will help you increase your score going forward. However, you may see a slight speed dip as you begin to implement some more structure onto your studies. This is a natural result of the learning curve, so if/when it happens, don't be concerned. As you become more comfortable with the ideas, you'll begin to get faster, and ultimately return to your natural speed but with the added benefit of being more knowledge and solid in your approach.
With LG, there's clearly an opportunity here to increase your score. -8 is not a bad score at all, and it shows that you aren't overmatched by LG. Most of LG is about creating an optimal setup and making key inferences, and since you can understand what happened after the section is over, I suspect you need more focus on game recognition, rule diagramming, and especially inference-making. That's general advice, but if you go through every LSAT game out there and then start to line them up next to each other, the patterns they use get a lot clearer. And since the past is prologue on any standardized test, if you can see what they have been doing, you will be in an improved position to attack it when they do it on the next LSAT.
Let's last talk about how to study going forward. We've had several prior questions about your preparation, and you've been in kind of this same spot for at least 6-7 weeks now. Back in mid-December, we talked about some similar things
, and at that time I mentioned to you that:
- "Especially because, as you noted, "I haven't really used much of the techniques." In a sense, you read everything, but these are tools that have to be used in order to be effective. In class, I've often said that it's like being given a 50-pound sword. Sure, it's a big strong weapon, but at first it's heavy and ungainly, and if attacked, you won't do a very good job of fighting. But, if you give yourself time, you will get better and better, and soon it becomes second nature. That's when it becomes truly effective! "
You mention not wanting to take a course because you don't want to learn the material again. I think that's a very reasonable position, but as I was reading your message and then some of the past discussions we've had, I thought to myself that a course would actually be perfect for you because it would allow you the opportunity to see these techniques in action and to understand why it is so important to have a solid, strategic approach to each section. Plus, you mention difficulty in self-diagnosis, and a class and the instructor can help with that (the Hotline too). Tutoring would achieve the same end-result, but obviously it's more of a financial commitment. Anyway, it's something to think about. you clearly are willing to do the wok and you have the desire to improve. those are essential pieces of the puzzle. I just think that self-study has you in a rut that;s hard to break out of. I usually am not the guy who is pushing taking a course or tutoring on anyone, but in your case I think it's exactly what would help.
Anyway, that's lot to think about
If you have questions about anything, let me know. And if the course does interest you, I'm sure we can make it work out for you. Thanks!