Nice to meet you online and thanks so much for the nice comments — great to hear that you are finding the Trainer useful (and fun (!) — tried my best) —
So, real quick, the black and white explanation for falsely equates subject matter vs falsely equates characteristics:
1) Falsely equates subject matter:
Premise: “A are X.”
Conclusion: “Therefore, B are X.”
2) Falsely equates characteristic:
Premise: “A are X.”
Conclusion: “Therefore, A are Y.”
Hope that makes things a bit clearer —
In terms of your bigger (and related) concerns:
1) You certainly don’t have to think about flaws in exactly the ways I suggest — one thing to consider is that I (not the makers of the LSAT) came up with these categories, and I was good at the LSAT before I came up with them — so, again, thinking about flaws on these terms is certainly not necessary.
2) What is much, much more important is that you use these early chapters to develop a clearer and clearer sense of what your task is (which is to understand as clearly as possible why the reasoning given for an argument doesn’t justify the conclusion), as well as a clearer and clear sense of where to find this flaw (in the relationship between the conclusion and the support).
3) Just as importantly, what I want to happen for you is that you start developing habits that will, often seemingly by magic, suddenly make questions easier for you and, more specifically, help you focus in on what you are supposed to think about.
4) I can’t stress enough the importance of understanding that your task is to focus in on the argument within a stimulus, and that developing the habit of doing so makes Logical Reasoning 1000% times easier across the board.
5) In terms of the “too slow” I can guarantee you that getting better and better at correctly recognizing and separating out the argument, and developing stronger and stronger habits for focusing in on that argument, will help your speed tremendously.
For one, you won’t have to spend as much time trying to organize everything in the stimulus. Two, you won’t have to waste as much mental energy trying to hold on to too much info from the stimulus (most of which is not necessary for you to hold on to). And three, each time you evaluate an answer, if you are able to do so against a focused understanding of the argument (as opposed to a complex understanding of the entire stimulus) you will go much faster and be far more accurate.
6) So again, in terms of both your question about whether these initial chapters are important for building essential skills and in terms of your quest to get faster — the most significant skills and habits that these initial chapters are meant to help you develop are
a) the ability to recognize and focus in on the argument &
b) the mindset of doing so with the intent of explaining why the support doesn’t guarantee the conclusion
c) the ability to understand the reasoning flaw as clearly as possible.
I have absolutely no doubt that getting better and better at the above is the very best way to get better at Logical Reasoning as a whole.
7) In the intro of the book, I mention that a fundamental aspect of the LSAT is that they cannot design a problem around anything that requires specialized knowledge — and that includes the reasoning — (I’m living proof of that — I have no specialized knowledge of anything other than the LSAT) —
What that means is that every single reasoning flaw, no matter how difficult the problem may seem, is one that can be understood and explained simply, again with no specialized knowledge.
This is really your end goal — to be able to understand reasoning flaws simply and correctly.
8) In terms of the categorizes I give — basically, what I do on my end is reverse engineer past LSAT’s and categorize the flaws so that I can better understand and explain the test, and so I can help students focus on what is most important to study (the proportion of space I spend teaching a certain flaw is roughly equivalent to some combination of how prevalent the issue is multiplied by how hard that issue happens to be for students to master) —
So, the categorizes can be helpful for thinking about flaws, and for wrangling up, for yourself, the full range of flaw possibilities, but again, you certainly don’t have to think of flaws in exactly the ways that I suggest.
9) Unfortunately, we are all sometimes blind to our own reasoning challenges (because we are, well, using our own reasoning to think about it) —
There are two great ways to verify that your understanding of reasoning issues is indeed correct:
a) you ought to be able to explain it simply and in your own words
b) (more advanced) you ought to be able to describe the flaw in a variety of ways (of course, you want to prioritize the wording commonly used on the LSAT).
There is a more formal method of studying known as the Feynman technique (named after one of my favorite people ever — Richard Feynman) — that really works perfectly for the LSAT and particularly issues such as this —
If you aren’t familiar with it here’s a quick tutorial —
10) Lastly, knowing very little about you, I absolutely believe that you can get to 160 and beyond before Dec —
Check out this post I recently made on Reddit here — https://www.reddit.com/r/LSAT/comments/5bonl1/a_collection_of_tips_for_december_test_takers/ – as well as the Readiness Self-Assessment Checklist — for some final month suggestions — make sure to balance your remaining time so that you combine your studies with as much drill work and pt work as you can, and if you can put in the time I think you can get there —
Sorry for the length — as often happens, got a bit away from me — as I always say, you know yourself best so please feel free to utilize what you’d like and ignore the rest, and if you have any follow-up or need anything else just let me know —
Wish you the best — Mike