Friday, July 8, 2011

October LSAT Grind

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.
The good news is that I haven’t had another LSAT nightmare since the first one I wrote about. The bad news is that last week, while I was in that twilight place between awake and asleep, I made up a logic game in my head! I was earnestly trying to diagram it (I remember drawing little slots) before I realized what I was doing and nearly fell off my bed. As I remember, it was a linear sequencing game –because, clearly my subconscious mind isn’t sophisticated enough to make up other types yet. Maybe in a few months, I will start making up games with sequencing, grouping and assignment elements involving 5 tiered-matrix and 12 conditionals.

I can’t wait.

Last week I passed an important tutoring milestone – I’ve finished all my official Logic Game lessons with Mr. Bennett. I’ve gotten to the point where I can (usually) get 3 out of 4 games right, which is definitely progress. Unfortunately, however, this is the where the slow, hard work kicks back in. Causal chains (for example: if Liam eats oranges, Kelly does not eat melon) are still very problematic for me. Mr. Bennett wants me to practice reading chains forward and backwards instead of drawing out the contrapositives, which, according to him, not only shaves away precious time but also are not helpful in most cases. Still, the habit of drawing contrapositives is hard to break after Testmasters and the LG Bible stamped it into my poor head.

In addition to the weekly assigned practice tests, I have also started doing individual LGs by category. When I run into LGs that are particularly hard to diagram, I write down what the necessary deductions were and do the game again over on a rotating basis until I’m comfortable with the diagramming and the deductions. If I have trouble diagramming a game from the beginning, I go over the game with Mr. Bennett, who first looks at my diagram and comments on how I could improve it. If my diagram proves to be completely scatterbrained, he diplomatically suggests a new one which I then attempt to incorporate into my mental filing cabinet of diagrams.

It’s impossible to study for the LSAT using memory alone (if only the LSATs were the SATs – alas), but memorizing certain things, such as how to diagram conditionals and remembering what deduction I didn’t make the first time, does help me solidify the permutations of LG question patterns in my mind. My policy school friend, who will be going to Columbia Law School as part of her concurrent degree in the fall, told me that it was really helpful for her to summarize all the LG LSAT tips on a Google Doc and refer back to it once in a while. My goal for this week is to go back over the games Mr. Bennett and I completed during our tutoring sessions and write down as much of his wisdom as I can recall.

Now that my LG skills are no longer shameful, I’ve only started to realize that I need up my Logical Reasoning score as well. The word on the street is that it is harder to improve in the LR section than the LG because the tricks of the difficult questions are that much more subtle. Luckily, Mr. Bennett has categorized the LR into types and most of these types are linked to explanations on how to attack them. I’ll have more on that in my next journal entry.

This weekend I’ll be taking a small mental vacation from the LSAT in New York City where my partner and I will be visiting his friend, who landed a professorship at Columbia straight out of his PhD (how cool is that?!). I thought about taking a prep test with me (and I probably will just out of guilt), but ended up running over to my lovely local public library just before it closed and getting some books (glorious, non-LSAT/work related books!). I’m taking “The Adderall Diaries”, “Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses” and - I couldn’t resist because I was raised by one and will most likely morph into one – “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” for the road.

Editors note: we are aware this isn't the subject matter of Amy Chua's book, but we couldn't resist.
 This long-awaited weekend will be a good detox session my humming-LG-creating mind.