Reply To: 2 Weeks before the test in desperation

May 25, 2016 at 11:17 am #1913
Mike Kim

Hey Marcos —

Sorry, but I don’t have anything magical to say — here are some thoughts though —

1) You’ve probably heard me say this elsewhere, but this close to the test, I recommend that you consider the general improvement phase of your prep done, and switch the focus of your prep to ensuring that you score at the high end of your range of possible scores — basically practicing specifically to make sure that, per where you are at, you score as well as you can.

I understand it’s tougher to think about things that way when your range of results isn’t where you want it to be, but that is what I think is best for helping you get as high a score as you can on test day. On a practical level, this means really making sure to focus on practicing efficient test day strategies, and making sure you do well what you know you can do well (as opposed to trying to change things up, which is what you’d be doing if your focus is on improving drastically in some way).

For more tips on this, please check out the final chapters of the Trainer, and these posts on drilling and practice exams — especially #7 about taking your final pt’s.

2) Having said that, in terms of one area where you can perhaps hope to try and improve and see a tangible benefit from that, I’m willing to bet, per what you’ve written, that you are having trouble focusing in on the argument in a stimulus, and on benefitting from that focus when it comes time to evaluate answers — being better able to focus in on the argument (or the equivalent areas of importance on non-argument based q’s) is the biggest key to making both timing and accuracy improvements, and again, I have a feeling that that’s an area where you might be able to see some gains.

So, here’s a suggestion — as always, you know yourself best so please feel free to ignore me if you think this doesn’t apply to you/won’t help —

a) Think of LR as a test of reading ability and mental discipline. You said yourself that you are already strong at the reasoning, so, considering that success requires you to bring reading, reasoning, and mental discipline together, it makes sense to try and manipulate the situation to make up for the reading/habit issues that you are having —

More specifically, think of the stimulus as representing a general reading challenge — which is to see how different parts of the stimulus relate to one another and which parts make up the argument — and a general challenge of mental discipline — which is to focus in on the argument (and, related to that, the ability to allow everything else to fade into the background).

And you can use this general understanding to get rid of most answers during your first glance through them, but, when it comes time to evaluate the most attractive right and wrong answers —

At this point it’s time to shift gears —

And you want to think of the reading challenge as specifically being about matching up and comparing exact words in the answer choices with the exact words used in the stimulus, and, in terms of focus — your job is to evaluate whether the answer matches the specific argument (again, as opposed to the other information in the stimulus) and the specific task (given in the q stem). —

To me, it’s very much like RC, in that a huge challenge is that you are expected to see both the big picture and specifics, and the best way to do both well is to start by focusing first on big picture concerns and then to get more and more focused on specific concerns (such as exact wording) as you get closer and closer to zeroing in on a right answer.

Hope that all makes sense — again, your brain will naturally want to spend the majority of its energy thinking about the reasoning — that’s what it’s designed to do and that’s what it’s used to doing — it’s not used to thinking about how you are reading something, etc. — by telling yourself it’s a test of reading and mental discipline, you can help give those areas more of the attention they require.

3) You can always retake, and schools only care about your top score.

4) The last point I’ll make is that 140 to 158 is a huge improvement — I know that you want higher, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if at the end of it all you end up with a 170+ score — but a) you can’t beat yourself up for “only” coming this far and b) looking back at how far you’ve come should be some of the best proof your confidence needs for knowing there is still plenty of room to continue improving.

Hope you found at least some of that helpful — good luck to both u and Carmen! — MK