August 12, 2016 at 6:12 pm #2388zach7691Participant
I’ve began working on my first set of drills in the lesson plan (PT 52, S 2, G 1,3,4; PT 53, S 2, G 2,3; PT 54, S 3, G 3, 4). I have a few questions:
Are these supposed to be timed, or are these just where we work through the problems to build comprehension? If they ARE supposed to be timed, are we trying to work with a certain time constraint, or are we supposed to just keep track of how long these are taking us?
When I ran through them, I timed them in the second way – I just started a timer and tried to see how long it took me to get through an entire game. I’ve missed three questions total on all 7 games, which is good I think, as I’m at like 38/41 total questions. Here’s my issue: My timing is terrible. I spend anywhere between 11 minutes on a game to 22 minutes – I even spent 35 minutes on one (I soon realized that I was confusing answer selections across questions, but still). I know I need to get this down, seriously – so what am I doing wrong?
While working through the diagramming sets, I killed it. I loved it and it made sense to me. But when I start actually answering questions, I rack up time. When I come across a “must be false” or “must be true”, for example, I can’t picture it in my head based on the diagramming rules I’ve made – so I end up drawing ten or so variations of the possible boards before I can visualize it. I’m diagramming correctly, I’m sure of it – but why are the questions so hard to read? By the time I’m finished with a game, the entire top half of my paper is a mess of diagrams. Also, on a tangent – I use blank notebook paper for diagramming, and I understand that scratch paper isn’t allowed on the LSAT, so this is another thing I need to figure out – but I can’t fathom how I could fit my work in a smaller space, if I can’t even visualize it on a blank paper.
TL,DR: In terms of comprehension, I GET logic games. I can confidently answer them – but I take WAY too much time, and my rule diagramming doesn’t seem to help all that much. Does anyone have any advice on how to address this? I know it’s my first drill set, but it’s really got me worried. I know this can make or break my test. What do I do? Is this normal?
August 16, 2016 at 6:01 pm #2422
Hey Zach —
Sorry to hear about your timing issues — just so you know, and I’m sure you may have figured this already, pretty much everyone is slow with timing when they first start playing Logic Games — your brain is not used to thinking about these types of rules, interpreting diagrams, and so on, and so it’s just got a lot to process and get used to —
It’s good news that you are understanding the games and getting the questions right, and I expect that with further experience your speed will naturally increase, even without you consciously focusing on it — having said that, here are a few macro-considerations that might help you speed up the process (of speeding up) and help you stay on the right path to eventual mastery —
To me, these are the three key factors that will help you improve your speed.
1) A Big-Picture Understanding of All That Can Happen In a Game
Imagine learning to play a video game for the first time, and each new challenge in the game requires you to think about the game works, figure out which buttons to push, and, of course, how to overcome that challenge.
At some point, you will have played enough of the game to have seen every type of challenge that exists, and, even as you go to new levels and have to face new situations, every challenge will be some variation on something you’ve already mastered — and when you get to that point and when you’ve built up automatic muscle memory for the common challenges, you will have obviously become much better at playing the game —
Expect the same thing to happen with Logic Games — they can seem very unique at first, but they are all very closely related to one another, and the smarter you are about your studying, the easier it is to transfer skills gained from one game to the playing of the next.
So, always, of course, study the specific nuances of individual games, but also always try to pay attention to how games relate to one another, and try to take active steps to connect various games together, think about how different games you tried required the same skills, and so on.
2) Diagramming Ability
The ability to diagram games is roughly equivalent to the ability to do math on paper (as opposed to just doing it in your head) — you get good at using your diagram and it can grow your computing power exponentially —
You mention how the diagramming didn’t seem to help too much — I assume this means that over and over again you had to go back to the rules as written and use them — this is completely understandable (because you haven’t had a chance to develop diagramming habits yet) but, at the same time, it’s likely a very big reason why you couldn’t go as fast as you wanted —
There are very, very few students who can get a top score without internalizing and habitualizing diagramming strategies — it’s almost impossible to figure out everything you need, as quickly and accurately as you need to figure it out, unless are good at writing out these situations.
So, one suggestion for now is to really be strict on yourself about trying to diagram every single rule as correctly as you possibly can, and doing your best not to go back to the rules as written when solving questions (well, for all but one type of question, the “Rules” question type, which I’ll discuss later in the book).
Again, it’s going to take some time, but once you get your diagramming strategies internalized and habitualized, you will go markedly faster at games, and all of the inferences and such will be much easier to see and will feel much more automatic.
3) The ability to see the “chains” of inferences
It’s very difficult to explain what I mean by this exactly —
Imagine two different types of word games —
Game 1: Your job is to think of the name of a vegetable, take the last letter of that name and think of another vegetable that starts with that letter, then take that last letter and find another vegetable, and so on.
Game 2: Think of all the vegetables that start with a certain, such as “B.”
The first game is about thinking a series of related thoughts, whereas the second is more akin to brainstorming based on a set of characteristics.
LSAT Logic Games are designed for you to go on a linear path of thought — and the path is defined by the inferences, or deductions, that the games are set up for you to make —
When you play games well and play them correctly, the vast majority of the time, it doesn’t feel like you are having a million competing thoughts at once — instead, it feels like you one deduction, then another, then another — each new inference triggered by the one before it.
So know that, ultimately, this is what you want for yourself, and, when you play games, try to develop instincts about getting on the right inference paths, and, during your review, think carefully about the chains of thought necessary for solving various problems.
Keep in mind that the way the Trainer is designed, I hardly discuss any strategy in the first batch of Logic Games lessons — those lessons are primarily designed to get you comfortable with the various situations that can happen in games and to get you started in terms of developing effective diagramming habits — the Logic Games lessons to come will get into much more specific detail about various strategies —
But one specific tip I have for now is to start games with the mindset that your job is to make deductions, and, with that in mind —
1) Don’t start your diagram after reading just the scenario
2) Don’t think about and diagram the rules in the order they are given
1) Read the entire scenario and all rules before setting pencil to paper
2) Think carefully about which rule, or combination of rules, seems most important for determining the design of the game, and start your diagram with this most important of rules/combination of rules.(Sometimes this will lead you to set up multiple diagrams instead of just one — more on this later in the Trainer).
2b) You will get and want to develop a better and better sense of the most important rules as you keep playing games, but keep in mind that typically the most important rules are the ones that have the biggest impact on where elements can go (duh) — so, you want to look for rules that discuss lots of elements (a rule that discusses 3 elements almost surely will be very, very important to the design of any game that it’s a part of ) and you want to look for elements that appear in multiple rules (for example, if the element “M” appears in two different rules, chances are highly, highly likely you can bring these two rules together to make an inference).
3) Then, after that initial stage, add on to your diagram one rule at a time, but try to do so in an order that provides as many deductions as possible — for example, maybe the first rule you diagram has to do with the fact that “N” can only go two places, the second rule tells you a relationship between N and another letter “O” and so you diagram that rule, then another rule relates O with “Q” and so you move on to that.
Not all rules will relate in this way, but a lot will, and starting your diagram in this fashion will naturally help you get onto the right inference paths.
Finally, in terms of how to actually time your games — I recommend continuing to do what you’ve been doing — time yourself, try to go as fast as you can, and keep track of your times, but don’t be beholden to the time — don’t force yourself to guess on problems, cut yourself off on games, rush, etc. — you don’t need to think about that stuff right now, and, again, you can trust that you’ll be getting naturally faster (in “healthy” ways) as you get in more prep —
Whew! As always, ended up writing more than I planned — I hope that at least of that is helpful, and if you have any follow-up, just let me know — Mike
August 17, 2016 at 9:49 am #2432zach7691Participant
Mike – thank you for getting back to me!
You’ve definitely addressed a few concerns of mine. I understand that I’m only a little ways into the book – I just wanted to know if the progress that I’ve made, and the issues I’m experiencing, are common for someone this soon.
You mentioned the issue I shared about how I feel diagramming is not working – and your analogy hit the nail on the head. I am confident in the diagramming abilities in your book, and I get them – but like you said, there are just times in which I come across a question and I don’t know what it means for my board without trying to write that new info down. I spoke with someone who used the terms “local” and “global”, and that helped me understand – if I diagram properly, the basic rules (and inherent inferences) themselves will help me see the answer more clearly, without requiring me to draw a new hypothetical board every single time. I think this is where I have issues – when I come across a question, it’s difficult for me to understand the implications of that new condition in terms of the rules I have written down. When a question presents a new condition, I have trouble pinpointing what that condition means among the others. I hope this helps you understand my issue more!
Thank you so much for your help, Mike – I appreciate your advice!
August 22, 2016 at 9:07 am #2473
Hey Zach — figuring out those first steps on a q — whether to draw a new diagram, where to put in the new info, and so on, is both important and challenging, and there will definitely be a lot of advice about it in the q-specific sections of the book, but just some quick highlights for now —
1) The vast majority of q’s, what I think of as pretty much the “standard” q’s, will
a) either give you a new condition or not &
b) ask what must be true, could be true, could be false, or must be false
There are other types of q’s, but again, most of the q’s u see will fit the above description, and they are your “bread and butter” q’s —
When you are given a new condition, you are right that you ought to connect it to previous information —
In general, you want to look for matches in terms of the elements discussed (that is, try to connect first to rules discussing same elements) or the positions discussed —
As I mentioned in the first message, you should expect the condition to set off a chain of inferences — it always will —
Sometimes this chain will be very short, and, if you are in control of a game, there will be no need to write it all out /draw a new diagram–
However, other times, and I think this should be your default action to start, you’ll want to draw out a new diagram for that q with the original info you had, then add to it the new condition and additional inferences —
When you are not given a new condition, sometimes getting the right answer will depend on
a) just directly using inferences you may have / should have gotten up front (easiest)
b) thinking of things that you never would have thought of / didn’t need to think of initially but that nonetheless easy to see per what you know of a game
c) making unexpected or advanced inferences that are very difficult to see unless you specifically seek them out.
Situations a) and b) typically will not require you to draw out a new diagram(s), though you may want to quickly jot down some notes and such as you do your work —
Situation c) may very well require you to draw out a new diagram(s) and push you to think about the game in ways you didn’t need to during your setup — these can sometimes be the toughest/ longest to solve q’s in a games section.
So that’s the general experience to expect for standard q’s — hope that helps somewhat — I promise everything will become much clearer when the Trainer goes into more specific instruction about problem-solving / shows more detailed explanations of problem-solving —
In the meantime, one final tip is to know that, in general, though you can often expect to make new diagrams/quick notes per the given question stems, you should rarely have to make new diagrams or try out various hypotheticals and so on to evaluate individual answer choices — maybe just a few q’s a section at most —
I often recommend students use that as a gauge of their LG progress — the better and better you get at games, you should expect to have to do less and less work with the answers —
Hope that helps and hope the studying goes well — let me know if things don’t progress as you’d like and I’ll be happy to try and help —
September 4, 2016 at 8:07 am #2664bevh9901Participant
I appreciate this conversation. It has helped me to realize a few things I didn’t before. However, I have a couple of additional questions as I’m re-reviewing Lesson 10-15 because my first attempts seemed to be not where I need to be getting closer to fully understanding/nearly mastering the fundamentals of diagramming. Plus, I’m not seeing much improvement in my timing and inference chains between reviews. This is worrisome for me.
I trust that later lessons reveal detailed strategy suggestions, but I’m concerned about my lack of fundamentals mastery now, so that I can build additional skill on good fundamentals. I’m so close, but need some sort of extra “umph” to get to where I need to be, and not sure where from, or when, that push comes.
I understand the lesson, but by the time I get to the drills in the lesson, the timing anxiety creeps back in. I know I shouldn’t be as worried about timing, but it’s eating at the back of my mind while I’m trying to remember everything about the diagramming. Any helpful hints to combat timing anxiety?
Also, my ability to see the chain of inferences is lacking. I know I should know something about a rule’s implications, but I can’t think of what it is (I think it is because timing is eating at me). I have made a note to refer back to Mike’s helpful hint list above.
One of Zach’s questions was not addressed: allowable scratch paper on the LSAT. As I understand it, we will be given scratch paper. Is that understanding incorrect? I believe we will be given scratch paper for an essay outline, but is that scratch paper meant for other q’s too? And, how big is the scratch paper?
Or (and), are we allowed to write in the test booklet as often as we like?
I imagine we take the test with a trailing piece of scratch paper, along side the answer sheet. Is this the case?
September 5, 2016 at 10:40 am #2677
Hey Bev —
Glad to hear that you are finding the thread useful — here are some thoughts and answers I hope you find helpful —
1) You are not given scratch paper, and, instead, you are allowed to write in the LSAT booklet. Not sure if you have any copies of official exams laying around, but what you see in the LSAC books is exactly what the actual test will look like. A fairly recent change is that each game is presented on two pages (as opposed to just one), leaving you plenty of space to diagram as you’d like.
2) In terms of timing, absolutely the most important things for now are developing your big picture sense of how games are designed / work and habitualizing effective diagramming methods. As you get deeper into your studies, as you stated, you will naturally get faster and faster at solving problems. But if you worry too much about quick ways to solve problems before you’ve had a chance to develop your big picture/diagramming abilities, I think you expose yourself to a lot of inefficiency and unnecessary trouble — it makes more sense to develop your fundamental big picture / diagramming skills first, then devote yourself to getting better and better at applying that to solving problems.
3) Having said that, of course it helps to have a strong sense of how games ought to go, how inference chains ought to work, and so on, and I think one of the very best ways to do that is to play the same games over and over again. I suggest you start with basic ordering and grouping games that you didn’t find particularly difficult — play them again and again on separate days, with the goal of doing so just a bit more efficiently and quickly. I think doing so will really help give your brain a visceral sense of how to order things along a line and make inferences about order, and how to place things into groups and make inferences about those groups — and I think that can help get your own juices flowing better in terms of creating/sensing the right types of instincts for how to approach and solve games.
Hope some of that helps and good luck — if you have any follow-up now or down the line just let me know —
September 8, 2016 at 8:55 am #2713bevh9901Participant
THANK YOU for the detailed advisement!
1) – AHA! I just received PT#74 and there certainly is TONS of room! YAY! Now I won’t have to worry about erasing so much and ripping my test booklet.
3) Excellent advice since PT#52 gave me particularly worrisome results. I’ll make a plan for extra homework, and as I work on the other lessons, to revisit past drills that I did not perform well on again and again. I know I have multiple subset/grouping issues, so I’ll need to be diligent with this fundamental study.
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