Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Don't Thrash in the Dark

The following post is part of a series from one of our LSAT tutoring clients. You can read about their experiences by clicking on the "Zen Journal" label above.
I have only dabbled in other methods of LSAT training, and in fact, I'm not sure if they deserve to be called "methods" at all. It became clear upon starting my program of self-study with Zen of 180, that most other courses of study would prefer to have me thrash around in the dark, my confusion only leading to the purchase of more materials. They fall in two distinct categories of failure. First, some systems will either under-test or not require you to test at all--a criminal misalignment between ends and means. The second failure is an opposite of sorts. In this option, you take several practice tests without ever analyzing weaknesses. From a person who has been in education, either of these choices is equally mad and, as I said, nothing of a method.

By breaking down LSAT questions into Content Stands and Zen Task Standards and then using these to analyze individuals' data from actual tests, Zen of 180 does nothing revolutionary. Instead, it models itself on the best principles of understanding--principles, I should add, that have been utilized by the best teachers, professors, and tutors for years. No matter what you are trying to learn, Testing-Analyzing-Adjusting, Testing-Analyzing-Adjusting is the only way to learn it.

The analysis of each prep test leads to data. The data is simple and instructive. For example, 2 weeks ago, I realized that I missed some variant of 'the flawed logic in the argument most closely resembles' stubs 50 percent of the time. Digging into the questions, I discovered that I was mostly thrown off by a single good distraction choice that bore resemblance to the original flaw in some way other than actual argument--language, topic etc. By distilling the original, flawed argument, and then doing the same to my top two choices, I quickly unearthed the fundamental flaw in logic, and matched it to the correct choice.

You'll recognize a blissful simplicity to Zen even after going through only one cycle of testing-analyzing-adjusting. I know that when I put my data into a spreadsheet I have a moment of clarity. For instance, "Well its no wonder I'm stalling at 165, I'm still missing main point questions and you can count on several of those in any given test." Then I train my sights in on main point questions.

After using Zen of 180, I cannot imagine approaching the LSAT any other way. I cannot, actually, imagine learning anything any other way.