168

I’m getting closer!

I figure I need to get to at least a 175 to make things happen, so I’m definitely on my way. And while I am feeling pretty great about myself for getting to this point, I have to temper the excitement because this is still an untimed score. I can’t really say that it reflects what my actual performance would be if I were to take the test today. In fact, I can say with certainty that there’s no way I’d come close to finishing any of the sections in 35 minutes today.

The current plan is to take as many practice tests as it takes to get to a consistent untimed 175ish, and then start speeding it up. I hope to start the speeding up process by September or so, so that I can take at least a half dozen timed full tests before the real thing.

161

Having finished both of my PowerScore books, it was time to take a new preptest. I took preptest B out of my first book and ended up with a 161, which is a pretty good improvement over my initial diagnostic score of 156. It’s not stellar and it won’t get me what I need, but it’s a great start. If I can continue with this progress, I should be doing ok by December (or February if I’m a weenie).

As I checked the answers, I made sure to mark what I need to look up in my PowerScore books. Ideally, this will help me improve on those types of questions. I did feel good that even though I wasn’t able to come up with the right answers I was able to identify the question types. This seems to be a step in a positive direction.

The logic games are going well now and I’ve even started to look forward to them. What I’m frustrated with now is the reading comprehension. Even though reading is my thing, I haven’t read in this way or for this purpose in a long time and it’s more challenging than I expected. It’s been difficult to get into that sort of analysis. Hopefully I can pick up on it. I need that section to go well to compensate for the logical reasoning one, which I still don’t have a lot of faith in.

Distraction Management

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One of the friends I contacted about my pursuits said that one of the hardest parts of the LSAT was the mental endurance. It’s hard to sustain that kind of focus and intensity for hours, especially when the weight of the outcome is so significant.

I haven’t even gotten to that problem yet. I’m finding that I can barely focus on reading the logical reasoning text or doing a game for more than a few minutes or sentences at a time. This is not good, not just for LSAT purposes, but in general, so I’ve decided to fix it.

Now I use a timer, a free app on my phone (see picture above). I set a timer for 20-30 minutes and read nonstop during that time. I fight all urges to look around, skip ahead in the book, check the time, look at my phone, or think about anything else at all. These 20-30 minutes have already been set aside for this one thing and nothing else matters during this time; nothing else is as important or allowed to intrude. After some reading or studying time I give myself time to do something else, usually read whatever book I’m reading (currently Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir), facebook, pinterest, or lawschoolnumbers.com. I get these breaks and indulgences for exactly 20 minutes, and then it’s time to study some more.

I’m planning to increase the time on work and decrease the treats as time passes, slowly working toward full, timed preptests by the end of summer. For now, I only time the logical reasoning reading and my “free” time, but not the practice logic “games,” which I still try to do daily. I’m not ready for those to be under time constraint yet; I need to be good at doing them period before I try to get good at doing them fast. Hopefully I’ll be ready in time.

I’ve been doing it for about a week and it seems to be working. At first I had a hard time ceding control to the timer and trusting it, but I’m slowly giving over to it. I think I was afraid that I’d get too involved in studying and too much time would pass. The library would close and I’d be stranded in the middle of a difficult section, forcing me to start the whole section over again next time because there’s no way I’d adequately remember or understand the section doing it piecemeal. But I always make sure that I have plenty of time, so I’m learning to let go.

So that’s my new strategy, my new discipline. I hope it works not just for the LSAT, but for school, work, and other things in general.

 

 

Finished!

 

I finished my logic games book on Sunday, and it was just as satisfying as I’d hoped it would be. Before I got the book, I could barely guess at the questions, and now I feel like I can tackle many of them. It’s given me tools and confidence to approach that quarter of the LSAT and I’m grateful to have found the site and friend to recommend the series to me.  I ordered the logical reasoning book last Tuesday and am hoping it can help me just as much. That section of the test doesn’t intimidate me nearly as much as the “games” one, but it’s 50% of my score, so I’ll take all the help I can afford (about $40 worth).

Since I had finished the book, I wanted a way to quantify my improvement, so I decided to re-take the preptest I took before I ordered the book. I started with the “games” section, which went much, much better than the first time. I could only kind of remember some of the games and none of the questions, so it wasn’t like I had prepared in any sort of cheating way. I was more or less attacking the test cold. Some of the themes of the questions were familiar, but no approaches. I was able to improve my score from a 13/24 to a 20/24. I am thrilled! Since I can’t really afford law school, I need to get the 20 up to a 24 and I need to work in the timing element eventually, but this gives me hope, which I need.

After scoring that section, I had planned to start the whole test from the beginning again, but decided that would be foolish. Why would I do two sections of logical reasoning before studying if there’s a pretty great risk that I’ll inadvertently teach myself bad techniques or approaches? All that would do is double the work I’ll have to do when the book arrives. I’d have to first un-learn the bad things I taught myself and then learn the better methods, all while trying not to confuse myself. Better to just wait until the book comes. So that’s what I did.

I did tackle the reading comprehension section, and I did well enough. The main problem with this section for me is that even though I read a lot and quite a bit of what I read now and have read for college and grad school is dense, academic stuff, I haven’t read this type of material for this purpose in a long time. I’m capable, but out of practice. I don’t think I’ll need the book for this section, but I will need to get a lot of practice tests in order to improve this section, both in terms of doing it correctly and getting timing under control. I think I spent around 45 minutes on it at the library, and that’s not going to work. Timing will come later though, after I can get my untimed scores on each section to at least 90%.