Data Intelligence – LSAT Study Strategy Part I
Data Intelligence –  LSAT Study Strategy Part I
The takeaways
  • Our data found that: (1) our algorithm helped users improve faster by reducing the number of LR questions required for an increase in their LR timed section score; (2) Breadth drilling (discussed in our previous blog) is more beneficial at the beginning stages of LSAT prep while Depth drilling is more beneficial in the later stages; and (3) for LR, regularly taking timed sections in between drilling is more effective than taking timed sections only.

Our data offers insights into users’ study patterns and strategies. In this blog post and the next, we will share some common study strategies and tips:

1) Can our adaptive algorithm help improve your LR score faster?

This question is frequently asked and our answer is that our adaptive algorithm enables efficient drilling by minimizing the number of questions a user needs to drill to achieve a certain improvement in LR score.

In deriving our answer, we compared changes in LR timed sections scores with vs. without AdeptLR drilling. In particular, we asked the question “how many LR questions do users need to drill to achieve a 3+ points improvement with AdeptLR compared to without it?” 

We found that without AdeptLR, a user typically needs to practice 1,053 questions in order to improve at least 3 points in timed sections. In contrast, with AdeptLR drilling, to improve at least 3 points, users on average would need to drill only 486 questions. However, there are two data interpretation caveats to note. First, the number ‘486’ is an average across users–some users drill more and some drill less, so it is not a guaranteed threshold that once you cross 486 questions, your score will automatically jump up by at least 3 points. Second, users' performance in timed sections can fluctuate. On a good day, a user may score 0, and on a bad day a user may score -8. To reduce data noise, we measure improvement by averaging the change in scores from baseline score (i.e. calibration score) over time. This enables us to detect users whose improvement is “stabilized” and consistent.

For someone just starting their studies, we recommend drilling at least 500 (assuming you are practicing across categories). Remember that your practice data is important for our algorithm to personalize the questions fed back to you. The more you practice, the more tailored the algorithm gets. 

Average number of questions users need to answer to increase their LR timed section by +3 points

2) Breadth or Depth?

In our last post, we talked about two user groups – Breadth-First Drillers and Depth-First Drillers – who have been successful at leveraging AdeptLR to improve their LR performance. So, is one strategy better than the other? Should you be going for breadth or depth when drilling? The answer, as our data shows, depends on your preparation stage. Breadth-First Drillers typically subscribe to AdeptLR early in their LSAT preparation stage, at which point they’re still figuring out their own strengths and weaknesses and require comprehensive exposure to different questions types. As these drillers mature, we observe them switching to more targeted drilling of specific categories. In other words, drillers can switch from Breadth-First to Depth-First (and vice versa!). It all depends on the user’s test preparation stage and personal needs.  

Sixty-one percent of our users adopt Breadth-First strategy, drilling all 17 categories. A subset of users do Depth-First drilling, targeting 1-5 categories.

Among all categories, Parallel Reasoning and Paradox are most commonly selected for drilling

3) Should I also take timed sections when practicing?

Adaptive drilling is not the only feature on AdeptLR. We also offer LR timed sections as a practice option. Practicing LR timed sections is important and we’ve observed that drillers who regularly take timed sections have more robust improvement in their performance than those who take timed sections irregularly. Comparing users with similar numbers of questions drilled but different numbers of timed sections practiced (more than 25 timed sections vs. less than 25 timed sections), we’ve observed that users who drill and practice more timed sections showed improvement more consistently than those who didn’t. 

We have two hypotheses as to why:

i. Flexing brain muscles in different categories:
As noted previously, drillers often will target categories of weakness. However, on the actual LSAT, questions are never presented in systematic categories. Test takers need to be able to dissect and analyze different question types in real-time. Timed sections offer opportunities to actively train that brain muscle. 

ii. Speed:
Regular drilling sections provide opportunities to learn, understand and improve accuracy of LR without time pressure. However, succeeding in LR requires not only accuracy but also speed. Practicing with timed sections is important for improving time management and helping a user better prepare for the actual exam.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that practicing just with timed sections does not seem to be the best strategy. Users who only practiced with timed sections showed the least overall improvement. 

AdeptLR users who drill and practice with timed sections regularly show the most robust improvement 

We hope that you find these study pattern insights interesting. In the next blog post, we’ll discuss other study patterns observed including length of practice, study hiatus and reaching a plateau. Stay tuned!

Got any questions or feedback? Contact us!

Chief Data Scientist

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