How to Get the Most Out of Your Diagnostic Test

    • May 24, 2017 at 3:10 pm #3101
      Mike Kim

      Hey everyone —

      I’ve recently gotten several emails from students asking for advice about taking and reviewing their initial PT’s — figured I’d write something up — hope you find it useful — MK

      How to Get the Most Out of Your Diagnostic Test

      A practice test taken at the beginning of your studies can be of great benefit to you in a variety of ways. Three specific benefits include:

      1) Giving you actual experience with the exam
      2) Helping you assess your own strengths and weaknesses
      3) Serving as a benchmark for future prep

      Here are some suggestions for how maximize the benefit that you get from your first diagnostic. Of course, you certainly don’t have to follow my suggestions to a T — as I always say, you know yourself best, and so please feel free to utilize whatever you think will be helpful and to ignore whatever you think won’t.

      Tips for Taking the Test

      1) Take it as realistically as possible

      Don’t give yourself breaks, don’t watch TV while you are doing it, etc.

      2) Time yourself and work to go fast but don’t be beholden to time.

      More specifically, what I recommend is that you time each section, go as fast you feel comfortable going, mark where you were at the 35 minute mark (and score yourself based on that), finish the section out, and note how long the entire thing takes you.

      3) Along the way, take note of, and mark up in some way, problems for which you weren’t certain of your answer, and problems for which you had no idea what the right answer was.

      Tips for Review

      1) After you are done with the test, review all problems that you marked and, with no time pressure, try your best to understand and solve them.

      2) Go back to each game and each reading passage, and, again, with no time pressure, think about how you could have understood and set up games best or understood passages best.

      3) After that, go ahead and look up what the right answers were, and score yourself based on where you were in each section at the 35 min mark.

      4) Now that you know right/wrong, go back and review your work again.

      Pay particular attention to problems that you didn’t mark at all but ended up getting wrong (or problems you thought you clearly understood after personal review but still got wrong) — these q’s can be very useful for tipping you off on where your thinking process / understanding differs from how the LSAT is designed.

      5) For whatever problems you’d like to see explained in more detail, look up explanations / solutions.

      Three great free online resources are:

      The Manhattan LSAT Forums
      LSAT Hacks (Graeme Blake’s site)

      Later On in Your Studies

      Finally, that first test can be very useful as a benchmark against which can evaluate your LSAT prep / improvement.

      Periodically, when you feel the time is right (after you’ve covered the relevant chapter, for example, or drilled similar q’s) you may want to return to the problems that initially caused you trouble and see how much better you are this time around.

      I also encourage you to consider retaking that diagnostic later on in your studies (as many times as time permits/ you find useful) to assess improvement and firm up positive habits —

      And, when you reach a point in your studies where you feel confident in your ability to understand and answer nearly all or all of the q’s from that first diagnostic — that’s going to be really satisfying, and that’s going to be a great sign that your studies are working out for you —

      That’s it. I hope you all found that helpful — Mike

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