Hey Bryce —
Thanks for your patience —
First off, congrats on the 164 —
a) as we discussed before, it’s great to have that in your pocket as you study for another go-around
b) I think it can help you go into your next exam with a greater sense of confidence about your ability to score at the high end of your score range when it matters.
c) going from 148 to 164 is a huge achievement, one that totally changes your law school options — I know you still want to go even higher, and I definitely support that, but, at the same time, there are a ton of students on this site who would love to make the type of improvements you have (and if you have any suggestions for them/want to give others some thoughts on how you’ve done it thus far, I encourage you to post your thoughts in a separate thread) — so, a huge congrats from me — I know how hard it is to make such improvement, and I know what type of effort and commitment it takes — you should feel very proud of how far you’ve come thus far, and I certainly feel proud for you —
Alright, so with all that out of the way — let’s get to the good stuff —
First, you probably saw this already, but please check out this response I recently wrote to another student in a similar situation — in particular, you may find the links provided at the bottom to be useful/interesting — http://thelsattrainer.academy/forums/topic/retaking-the-lsat-how-to-study/
In addition to all that, when it comes to getting a top, top score — 99%+ — here are some characteristics / issues for you to chew on —
1) You need to have an absolute and correct sense of right and wrong for every common challenge you can expect to face on test day — at lower score levels, you can get away from slightly vague understanding / tricks to get around totally understanding (for example, using tricks to translate conditional statements, etc.), but to get every q correct or almost every q correct, you really can’t be dependent on such things.
Study Tip: When reviewing your work, make sure you hold yourself up to an extreme standard — make sure you understand, absolutely, what makes every right answer right and every wrong answer wrong.
Pay careful attention to areas where you feel you can’t do this and make sure to address them ASAP.
2) You need to have extreme confidence and a sense of personal authority — you don’t have time to doubt yourself and commonly you won’t have time to double-check your work. And a test taker who performs steps because he/she was told to by a teacher, or who understands argument flaws only in terms of technical categorizations, etc. cannot compete at the highest levels with those students who have internalized and personalized their strategies and who understand the reasoning and reading issues in earnest.
Study Tip 1: Purposely design your prep to develop your own sense of authority. This includes, as much as possible, not looking up answers to problems that you try, and, instead, relying on your own sense to grade practice problems. Ideally, you want to get to a point where you are absolutely stunned that the answer key says something different from what you concluded during your own review of your work.
Study Tip 2: Imagine having to teach a problem to students who missed it — more specifically, imagine that you have a different student picking each of the wrong answer choices — try to explain why those wrong answers are wrong and the right one right. Use your own words (as opposed to formal terminology) to describe reasoning issues, problems with the answers, and so on — when you can’t understand problems clearly enough to do this, and when you have trouble putting things into your own words, use these as gauges of possible weak points in your understanding or sense of authority.
3) It really helps to be very, very fast at the easier or standard problems.
Most top 1% scorers I know have a significant advantage over other top 10% scorers when it comes to timing — they are able to get through the easier or more standard problems, games, and passages much, much faster, allowing them to spend more time on those most difficult problems, games, and passages.
So, you want to set a goal of trying to get very, very fast — and know that you aren’t going to get faster by thinking faster or reading faster or anything like that, but rather by becoming more efficient in your processes — so make sure that you are working to develop efficient strategies (be weary of over-diagramming etc. and doing things that will unnecessarily waste time), and set an expectation for yourself that these strategies, absolute understanding, and increasing sense of authority should help you get faster and faster.
Prep Tip: Always push the pace for your drills, and, when taking practice tests and sections, try setting a goal of working toward an average of 30 mins per section.
And here’s some advice that’s more specific to your situation
1) How to allocate your time and practice work
An issue for you is the fact that you’ve already seen over 50 exams, so your study material is going to be more limited this time around.
1) Make sure to save as many fresh, recent exams as possible to try as PT’s toward the end of your prep.
2) I think you should, for the most part, reuse the tests you’ve already tried for developing the three characteristics I mentioned above: to increase understanding, sense of authority, and pace.
3) Still think of your prep as having four components: learning, drilling, pt’s, and review — but, for the retake, expect that the drilling/review should take up a greater proportion of your time.
4) One thing you may want to do to get yourself going again is to re-do a couple of pt’s (maybe 2 or 3) — review the hell out of them until you feel you have as much mastery, sense of authority, and pace as you can possibly have, then, based on how you feel about those areas, plan out the rest of your re-study — if you feel your understanding of the problems just isn’t where it ought to be, consider investing more time going back through the Trainer or other study products; if you find that you do, for the most part, understand every q, you can do more spot-review of concepts, and focus more on your strategies, skills, and habits — if you find that your sense of authority is holding you back, doing more practice where you don’t look up answers; expect to be able to put things in your own words, etc. can strengthen that, and so on.
2) Improving RC
Just as with everything else, I’d love for you to be able to utilize the guidance I provide, but, at the same time, I understand that it’s very important, at the end of the day, for you to develop your own systems —
No matter how smart a reading system a teacher might suggest, if you are thinking about how you are supposed to be reading as you are reading, and, more specifically, if you are trying to read the way someone else has told you to read, you will invariably end up being distracted and your reading ability will suffer.
So keep that in mind, and do know that the RC instruction is a means to an end — ultimately, your goal is to develop reading habits that you don’t have to think about on test day —
Three big keys I want to suggest for this include –
1) Studying every single problem carefully to understand what determines right and wrong, and what the test writers care/don’t care about. The clearer a sense your brain has about which reading concerns are rewarded and which ones are not, the better it will just naturally be at reading in a way that best fits the challenges.
2) Knowing that a key challenge of RC is to have to think about both the forest and the trees — the big picture of passages as a whole and specific details such as the actual wording used. I strongly, strongly suggest that you develop a habit of trying to understand the big picture as correctly as possible during the initial read of the passage, then accounting for all specific details as necessary when you get to the problems.
In my experience, this is what the vast majority of top scorers actually do —
And, in my opinion, the very worst RC strategies suggested by bad prep companies are those that often require you to try and pay attention to too many details as you read the first time through.
3) Knowing that, again, at the end of the day, your goal is to develop reading habits that you don’t have to think about on test day, so that you can just focus on the passage in front of you — you have plenty of time to develop such habits — and again, I encourage you to think about your RC drilling/practice on these terms — what you are doing is training your brain to read passages with a certain mindset.
That’s all that comes to mind for now — as always, feel free to ignore anything that you think doesn’t apply, and if you have any follow-up or if I wasn’t clear about anything just let me know —
Congrats again, and excited to see how the retake works out for you — MK