Reply To: 6 Months with The Trainer

December 21, 2015 at 11:45 am #1082
Mike Kim

Hey —

So, in terms of timing, you can think about your concerns as being two distinct ones:

1 – you want to get good at utilizing the time you have in a section efficiently — you want to get better and better at getting more and more points out of 35 minutes worth of work &

2 – you want to get faster and faster at solving individual q’s —

If you prepare for the test in the right way, the amount of time problems/games/passages take you should change drastically (mostly because your process will change drastically) — and the great news is that improved mastery and improved timing coincide — you get better in large part by focusing better on the right concerns, and this will be the most significant factor that cuts down your time —

And so I believe it makes sense to focus as much as you can on timing concern #2 first (and do so in terms of improving time by improving focus/process, rather than trying to “think faster,” which you can’t do) — and then, closer to test day, when you basically “are” the test taker you are going to be on test day, shift to also focusing on timing concern #1 —

So with all that said, more specifically, I suggest —

1 – in the back of your mind, remember that you want to end up at about 1:20 per LR (or less if possible) and 8:30 per LG and RC (or less is possible) — but keep in mind that individual q’s and games and passages can vary drastically from this — a tough game, even when played well, might take over 10 mins, and an easy game you played in 7 minutes perhaps could have been played in 5 — so, do make sure your overall averages aren’t extreme, but beyond that, keep working to get as fast as  you possibly can on each individual q or game type, or RC passage, again, fully recognizing that there can be a significant amount of variation. As an added bonus, keep in mind that if you can get crazy fast at a few common q types that happen to be your strengths — for example, if you can solve flaw questions, on average, in well less than 1 minute, or if, on average, you can finish basic ordering games in 6 or 7 minutes (or even less), it gives you a great cushion for the tougher q’s.

2 – Time everything drill you do, keep track of your time, expect your average times to improve, and, once you are deep into your learning, focus on knowing well when you are about to spend too much time on a q and practice systems for mitigating potential damage (I’ll discuss this type of stuff more in later chapters) — generally speaking, I recommend that you develop certain habits for retracing steps, re-evaluating answers, and whatnot, and that you rely on this habits to tell you when to move on from a problem so that you don’t end up spending too much time — I believe this is better than, for example, simply telling yourself something like “I have at most 30 extra seconds when I get stuck on an LR” — this type of thought can be useful, but again, I think it’s better to tie timing strategies to habits (so that you aren’t fighting yourself) and you can do that by aligning your timing strategies to the strategies you have for solving q’s (that is, you come up with efficient strategies, and focus on using them effectively, and use that as your way of getting faster and faster) —

3 — however, for the most part, other than trying to get better at cutting loose on a problem where you are clearly wasting time, don’t limit yourself because of time — that is, don’t stop work on an RC section because you hit the 35 minute mark, and so on — instead, go as fast as you can, but go beyond that time (for now) if necessary — if, in order to implement the strategies you want to employ effectively, it takes you 45 minutes now, no matter how fast you try to go, well, you want to know that, and you want to improve it, so keep timing yourself but not being limited by it, and make it your goal that as you get better and better your timing goes down to 42, 40, 38, 35, 32, and so on —

4 — to summarize — don’t every be lazy about timing (your ultimate goal is to get really fast at taking a time-pressurized exam) but don’t beat yourself up over it — not yet 🙂 — you have plenty of time for that later — for now, try to assess it accurately, try to use it to see where you need to get better, and try to improve it as you get better and better at solving q’s —

Keep in mind that I do have a lot more about timing strategies and whatnot deeper into the book, but if you have any concerns for now that I haven’t addressed, just let me know and I’ll be happy to continue talking about it —

Next, in terms of setting up efficient diagrams — I definitely think it’s hugely important to work on this — and this will be a big focus of the latter LG chapters, so, it might be best to hold off on q’s about this for now (though I’m more than happy to help with anything if it’s blocking your path at this moment), and, if those chapters don’t take care of everything for you, we can tie up any loose ends together here — MK