Monday, August 2, 2010

Two Months to LSAT, Start Self-Correction of Mistakes

Not only do people rarely meaningfully differentiate their practice based on time-to-test, they even more rarely meaningfully adapt their practice to their individual LSAT weaknesses. This is mainly due to a problem of classification; while everyone can say, “I have the most trouble with logic games,” it’s another story entirely to accurately say, “I have difficulty diagramming hybrid sequencing/grouping games.” Not only can LSAT self-studiers not jump the classification hurdle, another two lay beyond: finding material to practice solely those logic games, and accurate instruction or explanation in order to improve strategies.

The question becomes, “I have two months of time-to-test before the October 2010 LSAT (or five months of t-t-t for December), how should I be changing my LSAT study?” The answer is going to be different based on what practice you have already done, so we’ll lay out the ideal Zen study calendar, and the talk about how to adapt it based on your personal needs. As we said earlier, merging your personal Google calendar to our public one is the first step to making your you’re on track for the LSAT, and that you’re differentiating your practice to fit your time-to-test and individual LSAT weaknesses.

    Ideally, the pre-study and diagnostic phases for LSAT study should be complete or nearing completion for LSAT self-studiers with about two months left until the LSAT.  Now you should be starting to analyze your weaknesses and strengths; find and practice strategies to address those weaknesses; and track your progress to your LSAT goal.

    Self-correcting (time-to-test: 2 months)

    • Use this upcoming weekend to review the LSATs and analyze all of the questions you missed, grouping them by section and then whatever system makes the most sense to you
    • If you don’t have access to a complete classification system--here are the Zen ones for AR, LR, and RC--the best way to group LR and RC questions is by question stem. For instance, group all the “follows if assumed” questions into one pile, and so on
    • We currently use an excel spreadsheet for this, but if you’re not computer savvy, simple tally marks will do, and the best way may be to physically cut out the questions and group them into piles
    • Identify your LSAT strengths and weaknesses, celebrating the former and considering explanations for the latter
    • Search for your LSAT weaknesses by question stem and you’ll find advice on how to tackle that kind of problem
    • Go into a bookstore and browse through the various LSAT prep-books and see which ones, if any, offer solid strategies for the question types you identified as weaknesses
    • Develop an action plan for your weaknesses
    • Write, in your own words, a list of action steps you will take whenever you encounter one of your weaknesses
    • Do not allow these action plans to interfere with your LSAT strengths
    • Examples
    • “When I see a ‘follows if assumed’ question, I’m looking for one of the four types of assumptions that causes a gap between the evidence and conclusion”
    • “If the rules say the pieces go one after another and all must be used, it’s a simple tree sequencing game”
    Practice your action steps (time-to-test: 2 months to 1 month)

    • Take 2 to 3 concentrated study sessions of only one type of section for 3-5 weeks, alternating within the week between two section types
    • For example, if you have the most trouble with LR and RC, each week create an LSAT made up of three LR sections and another of three RC sections by combining different PrepTests
    • As you come to your weaknesses, consciously recognize them and employ your action steps
    • At the end of each section, spend 5-10 minutes analyzing your mistakes and evaluating your action steps
    If you follow the Zen calendar, not only will you differentiate your LSAT practice by your personal needs and time-to-test, you will also focus your efforts where they are needed most and build enough endurance to prevent fatigue on the test day. If you need help adjusting your personal situation to our LSAT schedule, please don’t hesitate to check out our online tutoring services.