Friday, August 13, 2010

LSAT Prep Experience: Timing Difficulties

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.
A few hours ago I had my trust in Mr. Bennett as my LSAT tutor reaffirmed.

That’s not to say my trust in his value as a tutor or LSAT guru had waned. Indeed, over the three weeks that I’ve been under his tutelage, I honestly feel I’ve done nothing but improve. I’m more comfortable with the parameters of the test and more confident in my approach to its demands. I actually find some of the reading passages enjoyable – 3 out of 4 on my last reading comp section, as a matter of fact. Where I used to fear the murky maze of a logic game, many have become what in another context they could easily be: simply a game; a puzzle that, somewhere in my brain, I hold the key to unlocking. Almost…fun.

Of course, I’m still working out the kinks. There are, after all, still 8 weeks before my October 9th test date, so many kinks still remain. I have yet to master the variety of logic game diagrams at my disposal, nor do I consistently use the good diagrams I make to their utmost effectiveness (I’m occasionally lost trying to keep up with my own shorthand). My stamina must improve – not only do I struggle on a full test in one sitting, but I occasionally find myself fading midway through a section, sometimes totally blanking for a few logical reasoning stimuli before I bring my focus back to active reading. I must overcome my tendency to take mental holidays on the more mundane reading selections, realizing in attempting to answer the first few questions that my brain hasn’t registered what my eyes have just glossed over.

However, I’m beginning to see just how it should all come together. Which brings me back to the importance of Mr. Bennett to my LSAT preparation.

My biggest problem, my most bothersome kink, is speed. I was (I am) creeping. Typically accurate, yes; but always creeping. As of a few hours ago – when I was reminded of why I work with Mr. Bennett – I hadn’t brought myself within the 35-minute time constraint, but I had renewed my confidence that I’d be able to.
Instead of setting my timer to 35 minutes and then setting out on a ramble through a section of enigmatic logical reasoning or mind-numbing reading comp, I pace myself, resetting the timer to 1:40 seconds for each question. Now, if you do the math, answering each question at a pace of 1 minute, 40 seconds does not put me across the finish line of a 25-question logical reasoning section under 35 minutes quite yet. It does put me considerably closer, though. It is a good start.

Although it’s not necessarily a ground-breaking approach, it makes perfect sense. Something, perhaps, that should already have occurred to me on my own. It didn’t. Thankfully, though, it did occur to my tutor – yet another personal touch; yet another example of Mr. Bennett tailoring his approach to an individual client’s needs. He is, if you will, differentiating his instruction. And by so doing, he is providing me with the scaffolding I need to approach mastery of this test – to reach LSAT Zen.

Thank you Carol Ann Tomlinson.

Below is a chart Mr. Bennett created while working towards his masters degree in teaching. It shows the relative importance he places on the various components of Dr. Tomlinson’s theory on curricular modification. The darker the arrow, the more often and extensively he employs a given reason or means of modification to create a new curricular element.