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Vinny Gambini
Vinny Gambini
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How to Read Stimuli

by BogdanC356 Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:40 pm

After months of studying my score has bumped up from 146 to 154, which is at most average. I took the September test and am trying to do better for the November test.

All my problems with LR (and maybe RC) probably boil down to one thing. I have trouble reading past all the word salad. It's like I have a certain block or ceiling. When the questions become too convoluted and abstract I can no longer accurately read them under time pressure. I have too little time to carefully make sense of it.

I have great trouble in passages about:
figures (%s versus #s etc.)
(things that deal with abstractions and rules)

Passages where I do well:
(things that deal with valuation, concrete things, and what you could call the human condition or liberal arts)

I wish there were ways that could help me. Doing the usual routing of spotting the conclusion and finding the argument core certainly helps, but only so much. Any advice on how to not get swamped by "legalese" and other such jargon would really help.
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Atticus Finch
Atticus Finch
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Re: How to Read Stimuli

by ohthatpatrick Tue Oct 02, 2018 4:45 pm

Well, first of all, make sure you missing 0 - 2 points in Logic Games (through routinely doing and re-doing logic games until you're very fast at them). If you have a weakness with dense wording, you want to compensate by making the clean math of Games a super-strength.

Ultimately, there IS no helping anyone with some challenging aspects of the test.

Lawyers are paid tons of money because they are the best readers around. They can process the most difficult to read legalese / they can be operationally knowledgeable at a wide range of topics (since their clients and cases may vary a great deal. They see nuance and loopholes where normal people would miss it. They see strength of wording where others might miss it. They are experts at when the law applies / when it doesn't.

So it shouldn't surprise us that LSAT is testing us on whether we're one of the best readers around. We need to be able to handle sophisticated vocabulary, a wide range of often complex topics, and convoluted syntax and sentence structure.

For people taking LSAT in a 2nd language, it's a particularly steep challenge.

When it comes to science-y stuff, we have to remind ourselves that LSAT is mainly testing our ability to decipher the logic structure / big picture. So for RC, you don't get lost in the detail paragraphs; you constantly remind yourself of the overall Purpose / Main Point of the passage.

For LR, you try to see a more generic reasoning structure that happens to be wearing scientific details.

In both cases, you try to dumb down the technical wording and give your brain much easier concepts to use. (f.e. instead of thinking of something as hydrophilangeas syringae you think "The bad-guy bacteria")

My suspicion is that you might be able to improve your LR abilities by making sure you're a master of Causal arguments and Conditional language.

Causal arguments are very common, and they often contain some of the more science heavy language, but they ultimately boil down to the same two pressure points:

1. Is there some OTHER WAY to causally interpret the background evidence (besides the way the author did)?
2. How could we add/subtract plausibility to the AUTHOR'S WAY of explaining?

For #1, you should be familiar with concepts like Reverse Causality and Third Factor
For #2, you should be familiar with concepts like Covariation (i.e. "no cause, no effect" = STR vs. "cause, no effect" = WEAK)

Conditional logic is frequently found in paragraphs that have lots of technical details about science or politics. If you're not noticing conditional logic when it appears, you have to learn to sensitize your brain to the familiar conditional logic trigger words (if, when, all, each, any, every, no, the only, only, only if, must, unless, requires, without, etc.)

Most problems testing conditional logic are much easier if you're simply looking at whether conditionals chain together, whether they can be applied to any provided facts, and whether answer choices are attempting an illegal reversal or negation.

In terms of the question testing mathematical concepts, there's no replacement for that other than to get stronger at the underlying mathematical concepts.

Sorry there aren't any easy answers here. This is the part of training for LSAT that can help us get a sneak preview of the reading challenges we'll be facing in law school.

Good luck.