Reply To: TIMING HELP!!!!

April 19, 2016 at 8:43 am #1744
Mike Kim

Hey Bryce —

I recently wrote up some general thoughts on timing strategies / practice with timing, and you might find some of them helpful — you can find them here —

(scroll down to “Suggestions For Timing Your Practice Exams”)

In terms of your specific situation, I definitely agree w/Blake that you want to take measures to try and instill a greater and greater sense of urgency into your practice —

And the reason why is illustrated by the following question —

What do cows drink?

(if you happened to answer anything other than milk I realize the above illustration does nothing but confuse and I apologize for that) —


The most important thing that is happening during your practice exams is that you are setting mental habits for how you approach questions — so, when you read a certain type of question stem, what sort of thoughts come to mind, when you see a certain LG rule, what sort of plans pop into your head, and so on —

If you don’t have enough time pressure, you may end up dependent on problem-solving habits that are, while effective, unnecessarily exhaustive —

The more time pressure you put on yourself, the more your mind has opportunities to practice being as efficiently effective as possible —

So again, I definitely encourage you to instill as much of a sense of urgency into your prep as possible, and I encourage you to keep working to get better and better at the test by getting more and more accurate in terms of knowing what exactly you are supposed to focus on — this is what will help you simultaneously improve both your timing and accuracy.

Here are a few more-specific tips — please feel free to utilize whatever you find helpful and to discard the rest.

1) For LR and LG, if you aren’t doing so already, consider focusing more on drilling than on practice exams. In my opinion, drilling is more effective for setting the more significant habits that will get your timing down.

2) Consider drilling sets of easier problems, and doing so with artificial challenges that force you to push the pace — it’s also great to use problems you’ve solved before for this exercise — see if you can solve them again, and set ambitious goals for yourself — something like 10 easier q’s in 10 minutes, or something like that — or trying to solve easier games you feel very, very comfortable with in 7 minutes or less, etc. These drills of easier sets help your mind to develop a “baseline” for how things are supposed to go/what it feels like when things are going well/what is most important to focus on for every q.

3) For LR, make sure you are indeed putting enough emphasis on finding and focusing in on just the argument, and concerning yourself with just those actions (like underlining, diagramming conditionals, etc.) that you know are important to you.

The flip side of having the right focus is treating the entire stimulus with more or less equal importance, which will cause incorrect answers to be far more attractive, and in general cause the elimination / confirmation process to take longer / feel far less absolute.

4) For LG, decide on simple, efficient diagramming strategies that you know you can depend on under pressure, and then make sure you are utilizing your practice to make these diagramming systems as second nature as possible — your comfort with diagramming impacts your pace at every part of the problem-solving process — if you are better at diagramming, you will be far faster at answering all types of q’s. Again, to me, drilling sets of like-games is the most efficient way to habitualize diagramming techniques.

5) During your LG review, try to see, for each q, the “linear chain of thought” (similar to what I discussed w/the process of solving LR q’s) that you should have used for each q — LG does not test your ability to “brainstorm” a million different types of inferences — instead, it tests your ability to get on certain “chains” of inferences —

To illustrate with a more specific example — if given a conditional q stem —

“If X is third, it could be true that…”

What I know is that, should I play this problem correctly, what will most likely happen is that —

Adding X in the third slot into my diagram will —
Lead to me knowing something else, which will
Lead me to knowing something else, which will
Lead me to knowing something else.

And these 3 (sometimes more, sometimes less) additional inferences that I derived, in a chain, one by one, from adding the condition to what I already knew about the game, will then become the information that allows me to be able know with certainty that 4 of the answer choices must be false.

When you see these chains of thought correctly and stay on the right path of thought, you can answer LG problems very, very, quickly (leaving you time for all those other games/q’s where you have more trouble seeing what you ought to focus on/what chain you ought to follow).

So, know this to be true, and see if focusing on trying to see the chain of thought correctly can help you become both faster and more effective at the same exact time.

That’s it — great to see that you are at such a high accuracy level, and I hope some of the advice above is helpful in getting your timing down — as always, if you need anything else or have any follow-up just let me know —