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.

Panic

I’ve reached a point now where I’m starting to get more and more questions right per “game.” There have been a few games now that I’ve scored perfectly on, and several others where I’ve missed only one or two.

The ones I fail miserably at, though, are standing out most in my mind. There’s celebration when I “win,” but it’s nothing compared to the panic when I “lose.”

I’m seized immediately by fear that I’m too stupid for this. That I’m wasting not only my time, but my family’s time as well. All the time and energy I’m putting into this project is time and energy I am necessarily not spending with them. That little voice in the back of my mind nags that I’m a selfish fool, so If I’m going to do this, I had better do it well. “Failures” like this make me doubt that I can.

It’s ridiculous, I know, that such small failures (if they can even really be called that) cause me such dramatic doubt, but they do. I’m horribly insecure about my intellect. I’ve been a slightly-above-mediocre student my whole life (top half of everything except math and gym), though I’ve always known that if I had put in more effort I could’ve been a top student.

Or so I’ve always let myself believe. I don’t think I ever didn’t really try that hard because I was afraid that if I tried and failed it would prove I really was as mediocre as my actual performance indicated, but that I didn’t put in the extra effort because I am lazy. I will admit that: I am lazy, and it more than likely is the root of my mediocrity.

But what if I’m wrong about that? WHAT IF I’m not mediocre because I’m lazy, but because I really am mediocre or less?

So I’m nervous for that reason (in addition to others) about this whole endeavor, and any setback feeds that insecurity. When I “fail” I feel like I’m “caught” pretending to be something I’m not, where the thing I am not is “smart” and the thing I’m “caught” at is being “stupid.” A wolf in sheep’s clothing, who, to mix metaphors, discovers the clothes never existed. (Does that make any sense? I’m not sure anymore.)

The big problem is now that the games are starting to click, I’m starting to expect more of myself. In the beginning I knew I would get most of the questions wrong because these things are hard for me, but now I know I can get them right. When I go back to the explanations of the ones I get wrong, more often than not now the right answer is obvious. This was not always the case, and that progress both thrills and frightens me. If they’re so obvious, why am I getting them wrong? If I’m going to get these things wrong, then why am I doing all this work and making these sacrifices (and putting them on my family as well)?

And now I’m into the logical reasoning. This is harder for me than I thought it would be. In the initial practice test, I did fine on it. Not a stellar score, but better than 60%, so I didn’t worry much. Now that I know more about them but haven’t worked as extensively with this new understanding, I think I’m overapplying too much of my new arsenal of help and sinking my own ship. As I progress through more and more of these questions, I think I’ll be able to scale back what I bring to each question and not overwhelm myself into failure. It happened with the “games” so I think it can happen here.

Honestly, though, I’m not entirely sure. As I said, I’ve never really put this much effort into anything like this before. I didn’t have to; since I could do well enough to suit myself without it, why bother? So I didn’t. The one other thing I studied for, though not nearly to the extent to which I’m studying for this, was the math portion of the GRE, which I did horribly on twice, though my final score was satisfactory.

But that didn’t work, so how much can this? Stupid question, since evidence from the “games” is that it can work very well for me. But I’ve never really done this before, so I’m nervous.

Hell, I’m scared.

Distraction Management

Screenshot_2015-04-22-18-28-32

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.

 

 

Building excitement

I’ve read and worked through most of the first real chapter of the Logic Games Bible (chapter 3, the first two are more introductory (though definitely recommended reading)), and now that I’m only a few pages from the final exercises of the chapter I’m excited.

I looked ahead a few pages yesterday afternoon while I was reading and saw that the end of the chapter is several pages of “games” and their solutions and instead of fear and dread, I felt excitement. I know I won’t be able to answer all or even most of the questions and that most of them I do answer will probably be very wrong, but I can approach it with a little more calm now. I’m eager to try this time, to test what I’ve learned and see if I’ve actually learned anything. I want to conquer the “games” and my own stupidity.

In other news, I’ve solicited advice from three lawyers now, and the third, the one I was most intimidated by because of her impressive accomplishments and my personal relationship with her, asked me flat-out why I wanted to be a lawyer. I waited a few days before responding, not so I could come up with a clear answer, but because I was afraid I’d say something stupid and she’d think I’m stupid. Basically, I feel about this interaction the way I used to feel about the “games.”

When I did email her back, I think I got in most of the ideas, thought processes, and reasons for pursuing this, but they came out so jumbled and rambling I’m not sure I did myself any favors. We’ll see. She hasn’t gotten back to me yet. Though, honestly, I don’t know how I’d respond to someone who sent me what I sent her.

The Book

The Logic Games Bible I mentioned before has finally arrived, and three days earlier than they said it would! Oh boy, I am ever so excited.

I’ve read through the first two brief, introductory chapters, and I think I can do this. I think if I take it slowly and deliberately and sometimes ask for help, I can do this. It’s just going to be slow, painful work, at lots of it.