Monday, August 31, 2009

LSAT Books and Materials - Reading Comprehension Focus

At Zen of 180, we only advocate using the Official LSAT PrepTests, which are published by the Law School Admissions Council, for LSAT prep. These are the best and cheapest way to ensure that you are only dealing with real LSAT material in your self-study.

While the books are perfectly aligned to the actual LSAT--they are the LSAT, after all--that makes them somewhat unsuited for targeted practice based on your individual weaknesses; each PrepTest is only segmented by section type, not individual tasks or even by difficulty, as GMAT preparation books are.

At Zen of 180, we overcame this issue by analyzing all the older PrepTests and comparing them to the task point distribution on the modern LSATs given after June 2007. While our online store has these annotations for the individual PrepTests after 38, we will be posting the resources for the Official 10 series this week, and today for the Reading Comprehension section. We will not annotate the modern PrepTests because they are the benchmark to which we set our scale.

To use this chart to focus your LSAT practice without sacrificing quality of material:

  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses by organizing your missed questions into these Zen task strands (our students use the much more specific Zen task standards, which will be made fully available once our LSAT analyzer tool is live)
For example, if you miss a variant of "according to the passage/author," then that is an error in the task strand of explicit evidence and task standard of citing explicit evidence from the author.
  • Count the number of missed questions for each strand, and note which tasks seem to give you the most difficulty and which ones seem easy
For example, if you miss at least three questions from every reading comprehension section on passage structure, that would be a weakness.
  • Reference the chart, and note to target the "higher than average" PrepTests for your weaknesses and avoid the "lower than average"
For example, if you have reliably missed those three passage structure questions, your best practice would be in the reading comprehension sections of PrepTests 24, 25, 29, 30, 33, 36, 37, and 45; conversely, your time might be better spent than on PrepTest 43
  • Reference the chart, and note to avoid the "higher than average" PrepTests for your strengths and target the "lower than average" (so you don't waste your time on material on which you already excel)
For example, if you have never missed an opinion or tone question, you might be wasting time by taking the reading comprehension sections for PrepTests 19, 27, 29, 35, 37, 43, 44, and 50; whereas, the sections on PrepTests 38 and 49 will allow you to focus more on your weaknesses