Friday, July 23, 2010

Contrapositive: Wall O' Data

The Zen of 180 LSAT PrepTest Score Analysis demo goes into beta today... pretty soon we'll offer you the chance to input your mistakes and have them categorized by the Zen Task Standards.

The problem we're currently facing is both a blessing and a curse.  The standard system we developed is comprehensive; so comprehensive that it has proven better able to predict LSAT mistakes based on past performance than any test prep company's material we've seen.  That includes Powerscore, Kaplan, Knewton, etc.


... it starts to get a little overwhelming for a user who doesn't fully understand to the system.  A reader recently asked, "Do people actually memorize all 23 tasks?"  I responded that the system is built so you only have to learn the tasks that are your weaknesses; that's the beauty of where we're headed with Zen of 180, you only spend time, money, and effort on the tasks you've shown you need to.  Unfortunately, separating the wheat from the weaknesses in LSAT prep is more difficult than "double return."

Even the most accurate and relevant LSAT prep data can't overcome a confusing display. The infamous PowerPoint of our military's continued presence in Afghanistan is a perfect example: even if everything is accurate and relevant, how are we supposed to use the damn thing?

But we're working towards a solution and have quite a few leads.  The overall approach is guided by Edward R. Tufte's seminal work, "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information."  While we've tried to incorporate many of the suggestions in the book for our series on LSAT statistics, we don't have anybody in house with the web development skills to produce something close to our ultimate vision.

Currently we're hoping to take the data gathered from our limited release beta--thanks if you're taking part!--and see if we can quickly move to a user interface that's as intuitive and helpful as mint.com.

If you have any suggestions for another website that has tackled a similar problem and has a great user interface, we'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.