Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Zen Data Student Journal - LSAT Logical Reasoning Focus

The following is the first entry from one of our new online LSAT tutoring clients. We thought his experience might help our readers decide how to approach your own LSAT practice.
I originally started studying in December, 2009 for the February, 2010 LSAT. Since I had taken plenty of other standardized and grad school entry tests in the past I decided to self-study. After a Google search I stumbled on the Zen of 180 website. I quickly fell in love with its use of data analysis and what seemed like unorthodox approaches when compared to most other resources online. A perfect example is the emphasis on the Logical Reasoning sections over the Logic Games section most other sites/tutors concentrate on: LR accounts for 50% of your score, versus only 25% for LG.

After finding the site I did not initially contact Mr. Bennett for tutoring, and instead used it only as a side resource. I should never have hesitated. While my average score rose from the mid-150s to the mid-160s during my two months of studying, it got harder and harder to add an extra average point to it as time went on. I specially had a hard time with Logical Reasoning. While I was able to reduce the number of wrong answers in the games and reading sections to 2 or 3 per test, the results on the LR section kept hovering above 4 per section. At this point the test was days away and I hoped for a 165-169 score, which would presumably be good enough for my preferred school: UT-Austin. Alas, tragedy (luck?) struck, and due to an illness I was not able to take the February 2010 test.

At first I was disappointed. I was glad to be done with all the studying and I believed I was prepared enough for a score that would get me to the school I wanted. As I began to contemplate re-starting my studying and taking the test in June 2010 I decided to make the best of the cards I was dealt. I would aim for an even higher score and contemplate more prestigious schools.

I decided to re-start my studying from scratch. I choose to follow the Zen of 180 calendar because it was one of the most rigorous and the only one that based your studying on quantitative analysis: take 10 timed tests, break them down, and concentrate on your weaknesses. However, I still needed to contend with the issue that my LR score had not improved as much as I wanted during the past 2 months of studying. I concluded that I was concentrating too much of my energy on the overall section and had not done the work to break it down, dissect the question types, and then systematically attack my weaknesses. At this point I could do this myself or use the frameworks used by Kaplan or PowerScore. However, I found a much better value in the Zen of 180 Task Standards system. Unlike the alternatives, I can get an actual analysis of my weaknesses and track their improvement over time. Also, instead of breaking the sections into 5 or 6 question categories it allowed me to drill down and identify the 3 or 4 question tasks I needed to improve.

Purchasing the data analysis has allowed me to gain a sense of control over the LR sections and given me the structure to, hopefully, score in the 170s. I would highly recommend it, and just wished I had contacted Mr. Bennett when I first found the site during my first preparation for the LSAT.