Reply To: It's not the game type, it's the rules

July 4, 2016 at 5:23 pm #2220

When I teach classes, the one thing I analogize the LSAT to is like learning to play a musical instrument. Because you’re not learning information, like you would in an academic class, you’re learning a *process*. And the music analogy reveals a lot about LSAT success; for instance, you have to repeat and practice the techniques you learn. It’s not like you’re learning a bunch of facts that you can put on flashcards and score 100% the next day.

The analogy also holds when it comes to timing. If you’re a beginning-intermediate pianist, for instance, and you get a new song to work on, you have two main choices when you practice the song – you can play it correctly, much more slowly than the song actually is; or you can play it at speed, and make a bunch of mistakes. There’s an inherent trade-off between speed and accuracy.

So which should you do? It’s no context. If you keep playing the song in the correct tempo, you’ll keep making mistakes, and all you’ll ever do is play the song badly and quickly. But if you play it correctly, then over time, your speed will improve organically. Because you’re gaining muscle memory; your fingers are learning where to go without your thinking about it. Which means that if you can only play the song at, say, 50% of the actual tempo originally, eventually you’ll be able to play it at 2/3 the tempo. Then 3/4. And so on.

So to sort of go back to your last paragraph, while I wouldn’t say it’s *just* a matter of repetition, it IS *mostly* a matter of repetition. There’s no real magic trick to improving timing. You get faster when you learn more about how the games work, because that leads to the thing that improves your timing the most – mental muscle memory. You figure out sooner what’s important and what isn’t. Your brain focuses your attention in the most relevant places sooner and more reliably. So don’t just repeat, but yes, repeat. The other thing you should be doing is periodically (and often) asking yourself, “What should I be thinking about now?” The more you focus on that question, the more quickly and accurately you’ll be able to answer it, and that’s where timing improvement comes from.

As an aside, I cannot agree more strongly with Mike’s points #6 and #7 in his post above. And when he says “efficient” in #7, for all intents and purposes, he means “fast.” Because this post is really just my long-winded way of saying that the key to speed, on the games section, is efficiency.