Easily Confused by answer choices

    • November 29, 2016 at 2:55 pm #2891

      Hi Mike,

      I have completed the LSAT Trainer and every exercise (and recommended drills from the 10 Actuals) in the book.

      Unfortunately, my score has not improved at all. Which is really bizarre, because my Logic Games score has significantly improved, and when I was working on the exercises in the book, I was under the impression that my score was improving significantly. But now that I am focused on practice tests, I am getting worse on both Reading Comprehension and Logical Reasoning.

      The trainer has helped me to improve my timing, and I can now comfortably finish all sections within the 35 minutes.

      But I consistently score a 161-162.

      I have spent quite a bit of time on review trying to identify exactly is wrong with my process. I have tried adjustments in reading speed, time spent verifying the correct answer, and detailed question specific methods on a 3×5 card like you recommend. I tried splitting the questions I get incorrect into question type to see if there was a specific question that I get wrong, and surprisingly my incorrect answers are spread pretty evenly among all question types.

      I then tried to evaluate my habits to see if I am missing something.

      I believe where I make the majority of my mistakes is on the answers. I seem to understand the stimulus and the question stem correctly, but I have a difficult time determining which answers are wrong and WHY they are wrong. I am easily tripped up by language (many vs most etc) and abstract wording.

      Do you have any advice for me? More specifically is there something in the book that I might have missed that I should re-do? (I know the entire book covers “identifying incorrect answers” but I thought it might be worth asking.

      For now I have decided all I can do is continue to practice so that hopefully I become more comfortable with this type of reading.

      I hope you have a magic trick for me that can just magically fix everything, but I imagine it will be a lot more work than that.

    • November 30, 2016 at 8:19 am #2892
      Mike Kim

      Hi Kara —

      Happy to try and help — as I often say, you know yourself best, so please feel free to use what you want and discard the rest — especially this close to the exam, it’s best to focus on just a couple of key concerns, as opposed to trying to think about too much — so, again, please feel free to pick and choose whatever you might find useful —

      1) In terms of evaluating answer choices

      (and I’m talking here most specifically about LR and RC) —

      It’s really a matching game where, during the process of elimination, you are looking for mismatches — the mismatch can occur in one of three ways —

      a) the answer doesn’t match the content of the stimulus. For example, the stimulus talks about being happy and the answer choices about being gigglish.

      b) for LR — the answer doesn’t match the reasoning of the stimulus. So, even if the subject matter matches, what the answer discusses doesn’t directly relate to the support-conclusion relationship.

      c) for RC — the answer choice misrepresents the reasoning structure — it says incorrect things about why the author wrote the passage, what role a part is meant to play, etc.

      c) the answer doesn’t match the task presented in the question stem.

      Every single wrong answer can be eliminated based on at least one of the above characteristics, and if you are struggling with eliminating answers, I think the above rubric can be helpful for assessing why.

      2) In terms of reviewing your performance

      Again, keep the above rubric in mind — as I often say in the Trainer, the vast majority of the time students have trouble with answer choices, it is a consequence rather than a cause of trouble — that is, the trouble stems not directly from the answer choices themselves — it’s that the student’s understanding/control of the stimulus and task isn’t as strong as it could be. Not saying this is your situation, but, for problems where you do struggle with the answers, in your review, I encourage you to go as “upstream” as you possibly can in thinking about why — think very carefully and critically about the understanding / anticipation you took into the evaluation of the answer choice, and make sure your understanding of the stimulus is correct and strong — and then try to see which of the “matching” issues I mentioned above can be used to knock the answer choice off.

      3) On a practical level —

      I don’t have any magic tricks — but — if I could just give one tip for your next pt, it would be this:

      Think of the LSAT entirely as a test of your reading ability (rather than your reasoning ability) and try your best to remind yourself of this and think about the test on these terms —

      The two reading issues most important are for you to a) prioritize and focus in on reasoning structure and b) understand and retain the specific tasks presented in question stems.

      I think if you lead with those two priorities, it can help put everything else into place — your brain is made for reasoning (and by nature can often overlook reading challenges/make reading mistakes in order to focus on the reasoning), so, it won’t skimp on that regardless, and so prioritizing, on a conscious level, the reading issues can, for a lot of students, help ensure that you see what you are supposed to see and that you cover your bases as best you can.

      But of course, as I said above, it’s really different for everyone, and, especially this close to the exam, you don’t want to mess with your process too much — so, please pick and choose in terms of what tips you want to focus on —

      Lastly, here’s a post with some more last minute tips — thought you might find these useful as well —

      Good luck Kara! — Take care — Mike

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