DeLoggio Education Consulting
Taking the Test
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How to Take the Test
Every one of the standardized tests used for college or graduate school shares question types with some other test. Sometimes the material is virtually identical, like the reading sections of the LSAT and the MCAT. At other times, the same word covers different materials; the SAT and GRE, for instance, have some grammar questions, as well as reading passages in the verbal score; other tests include the writing sample within the verbal score, while the LSAT writing sample is not graded.
Because of these differences, the approach we start with – the one for the LSAT – will not be the complete approach to another test; as the new SAT evolves, and other test formats are confirmed, we will add information unique to each kind of test.
The commonest question on every chat board I've looked at is "How do I prepare for the reading?" As I mentioned in the section on preparing for the test , the best way to prepare for the reading is to make sure you know the content of the test; you can answer questions about material you don't understand.
If you're reading critically and interactively, you should be marking important text in the passage as well as keywords in the answer choices as you go. You should also make tentative judgments about whether an answer is probably right, probably wrong, certain or uncertain. Here's what my test booklet looks like when I'm finished with a reading passage:
You can see that when I first read question 21, I wasn't
sure about A; I gave it a question mark. I didn't like B or C very much,
and I marked the reasons why I didn't like them. I liked D and E even less,
so I went back and chose A.
If you can't see the reasons why you chose or discarded each
answer when you go back to review your answers, you're not engaging with
the passage and the questions sufficiently yet.
When I find an extraordinarily intelligent client who is having serious trouble with the reading section of the test, I generally find that her range of knowledge outside of her chosen studies is very limited. It’s difficult to answer a question about Papal authority if you don’t know what a Pope is. Similarly, it is very difficult to answer questions about the changes technology has effected on art if you’ve never studied paintings.
You might find this post helpful: How to Ace the Reading on LSAT Notes, Tips and Practice ,
as well as How and When Do I Prepare for the LSAT"?
learning how to read actively is a prerequisite to getting a good score on the verbal section of any test. Developing the vocabulary as well as the kind of "working knowledge" that YouTube can give you will not only help youimprove your understanding of the topic, but will also help you answer questions about the subject matter.
Law Services calls one section of the LSAT "Analytical Reasoning," and another section "Logical Reasoning." Since I could never see a rational distinction between the two, I refer to them by the content involved: arguments and logic games.
Along with "Asking the right Questions ," linked above, the other book I routinely recommend for arguments and analytical reading is
Because arguments are based more on structure than on content, my approach might differ slightly in analyzing the question. In particular, I read the question itself (but not the answer choices) before I read the argument (sometimes called "the prompt.") But the markings in my book look exactly the same as they did for the reading that I should you above, in my own genuine bad handwriting.
The "Games" section of the test, whether on the LSAT or GRE,
involves approximately the same kind of problems. (The games on the LSAT
tend to be more difficult than those on the GRE.). Either way, they require
you to take a set of logical statements and decide what reasonable inferences
can be made from those statements. This is usually best done by drawing
a diagram of some sort:
The Writing Section
Since the writing sections on the LSAT, the GMAT, and the SAT are fairly different from each other, I'm not trying to give a particular format here. Instead, I will recommend the only three books I've ever found particularly helpful.
Each of these books is available in multiple editions. I prefer that my clients get the 18th edition of the Harbrace Manual simply because it's the one I own; this way, we can refer to the same page and question numbers. The only reason I can think of to get a newer addition would be to learn the rules of citing webpages, graphic novels, and other more modern forms of communication.
"On Writing Well" is the best book I've ever read for teaching
you (and me) not to be repetitive, how to make sure our sentence structure
is clear, and that any reader should be able to comprehend the sentence. "Writing
to Learn" goes a step further, showing you how to include clear descriptive
language that elucidates without cluttering your writing. This will be
even more important when you're writing essays to go with your applications
than it will be for the short paragraph on your standardized test; readers
are often more forgiving when they know that you did not have the time
to review, clarify, and proofread thoroughly.