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Vinny Gambini
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18 days till Exam--170+ trying to break 175

by JackC564 Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:35 pm

As the title suggests, I am taking the October in fewer than three weeks (I'm not in the US). For the past few weeks, I have been consistently scoring in the low 170s range and broke into high 175+ a few times. However, I had been somewhat complacent because LG was usually my worst section and my raw score breakdowns indicated that as long as I improve my LG, I have a very good shot of scoring above 175. So last week I finally got around to drill Cambridge by type and finished games in pt 1-20.

However, as I took pt 69 and 70, even though I did well on games, my score still remained in the 170-5 range, because RC and LR got noticeably harder. On pt 70 for instance, I got -6 on one LR section (the last two questions I didnt even have time to finish), which had never happened since my earliest prepping days.

This new development really threw me off my study plan. I didnt think pt 60-68 was all that much different from much older tests (1-40), but I as learned through experience, PT from 70 on get quite a bit more difficult on the margins. That is to say, wrong answers choices are less straightforwardly wrong and the harder questions can cost you a good extra 1-2 minutes and these added together make a world of difference in realtime condition.

Here's my prep situation: I have taken 37 prep tests so far (1-8, 22-38, 59-70). I broke down pt 9-21 to drill individual LR and LG sections. I have lately done Cambridge by type LG 1-20.

What I have NOT done is RC specific practice. Nor have I read any books on RC (I did read the LR and LG bibles.) I felt like my RC improved less than I would like since I started. Right now, -2 is a normal day, with some 0/-1's here and there. -3+ if some lapse of focus happens and a passage takes too long. Compared to the early days, I have much fewer -5+'s now but still far from perfect.

Another common drill that I have not done is the Q1-10/15 under 10/15 minutes LR drill.

With fewer than three weeks until test day, what should I do to improve my score? I still have not taken pt 71-84. And I plan to finish them before my exam. My self-diagnosis is that I already have a solid base at this point and I should get back to the fundamentals but with a specific focus on timing.

Any suggestions on what I can do moving forward would be much appreciated.
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Atticus Finch
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Re: 18 days till Exam--170+ trying to break 175

by ohthatpatrick Fri Sep 28, 2018 1:01 am

Hey, Jack.

I wish I had better advice for you, but the difference between low 170s and mid 170s is so marginal, it’s impossible to generalize about what you should do differently.

At that end of the scoring scale, it’s not like people are deficient in any ‘type’ of problem. They just miss the 10 hardest problems on the test (or the 5 hardest and then make a handful of regrettable mistakes due to timing or a temporary mental blindspot).

The fact that I still get questions wrong on LSAT amazes me, with my depth of familiarity with the test (and the fact that I got a 172 on the first test I ever looked at). It’s just a tough test, especially when they give you a question with no good answers (or two answers that are hard to rank against each other).

You mainly practice being GREAT, not just good, at easier stuff so that you always have a time cushion for thinking harder through the tricky stuff. So do timing drills in LR as you suggested (1st 12 Q’s in 12mins, or something like that). Time yourself on easier games (give yourself ambitious deadlines like 5-6 mins for a normal ordering game). Time yourself on individual RC passages (give yourself 7.5 – 9 mins, depending on whether it’s 6/7/8 questions), so that you force yourself to keep moving and live with your best guesses.

As you’ve noticed, the challenge with tests in the 70+ range seems to partly be the language used (question types don’t always seem familiar ... correct answers don’t align as much with the language we might predict), partly with the difficulty of individual Games or RC passages, and partly with the prevalence of questions for which all the answers are a bit crappy.

Two things I’ve had to remind myself of, in adjusting to the modern style, on RC:
1. Main Point correct answers will often be gist-y, and they might feel incomplete, but they at least capture the author’s main takeaway.

2. Correct answers aren’t always adequately supported by the passage any more. Sometimes you might have to use common sense, or you might have to say to yourself, “at least there’s SOME support for this answer. There’s NO support for the other answers”, even if you feel like the support that exists historically wouldn’t have been good enough.

I would work through at least a handful of the modern tests, review them, and set redo appointments to revisit the material you found challenging or surprising. Since you only have a few weeks, these redo appointments will probably just be 3 days later. Revisiting those challenges/surprises and reminding yourself what the takeaway was will help you preserve a more long lasting memory.

Good luck!
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Vinny Gambini
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Re: 18 days till Exam--170+ trying to break 175

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