Tuesday, March 31, 2009

he had a way with baked goods endearments

I was saddened to hear about the death of Andy Hallett. I'd never heard of him before or since his role as Krevlornswath of the Deathwork Clan*, but I didn't care. I loved Angel and it's going to be a little sadder to watch now.

*After hearing Landok refer to him as that, I could never think of him as The Host or Lorne ever again. He was always KrevlornswathoftheDeathworkClan to me.

back to blogging

Well, I started at blogspot.com and I'm back to blogspot.com.

I need a place to write. I write notes on Facebook, but it's not the same. I'm going to be posting "the lsat chronicles" here but will continue them on FB. We'll see how it goes.

the last chronicles - fundamentals of logic games, sessions 7 and 8

Fundamentals of Logic Games was a terrific workshop. The tutor, not mine this time, has been teaching at Kaplan for years and it showed. He could recall every logic game ever. It was a little intimidating but the guy was so engaging and charming and funny that, by the end, I felt I could recall every game if I really put my mind to it.

Only 6 people showed up to this class. I like the small sessions but I wish more people would show up because Kaplan might cut back on workshops if attendance is low. Well, at least I am enjoying them as they are being offered.

I really found the session very helpful. The tutor broke everything down into small words. He took apart the elements and put them back together so we knew the whys and wherefores. It came in very useful later on.

At the beginning of Session 7, we had a practice Logic Games session and I did very well. I find I can crack the harder games but am having an issue with simple sequencing. We spent most of Session 8 doing sequencing Logic Games and then had a practice test at the end. Again, the easiest question had me crashing and burning but the more difficult questions I got through with more ease. I even find success with the Kaplan method and managed my time very well in the section. But I was so at sea with that one easy question that I wound up guessing and got all wrong. I had to stay after class so Tutor could go through the question with me.

So I guess I am on my way. I usually get a chance to talk to Tutor before class and he tells me I am doing the right thing. I am looking forward to having Pie and the husband go back out so I can get back to 4-hour study days. I am behind in a lot of the homework and need the practice to catch up. Plus I like the idea of getting into that 4-hour mindset.

Now, onto my class gripes. I do like this class a lot. Everyone is very serious about the work, even if not everyone is writing the exam in June. There is one young woman, a junior in college, who is a bit irritating. She uses "like" after every other work. She says things like: "So, like, should I, like, do, like, this question, before, like, another, or is, like, sequencing before matching? Do you know what I'm asking? Ok. Nevermind." I shit you not. All in one breath. I have no idea how Tutor manages to extract an actual question from between all those "likes". Sometimes I want to smack her.

Also, the habitual latecomers. There are 4 people who show up every session at least 10 minutes late and it's really off-putting. And the one woman who HAS to talk during a test. Does she really think that is all right to do in a test. She sat next to me in one and I very purposefully ignored her. She never sat next to me again.

But, all in all, there are so good people. I think everyone realizes that questions asked are very helpful to the entire class. There are 2 women I have very productive chats with about the work. One of them is around my age and we commiserate together.

the lsat chronicles - formal logic

Yesterday I had a workshop in Formal Logic, a concept which is kicking my butt six ways from Sunday. And not in a good way. Tutor was teaching this particular workshop and I thought there would be lots of people, especially from my own class. Also, we didn't know if the class would be offered in April (which I now know it isn't) or even again before June 9. Tutor said that if people felt they saw too much of him as it is, then they might want to take the workshop with another tutor.

Well, I cannot see enough of him, but, that aside, I was more concerned with mastering this thing and that who knows when another workshop would be offered. I didn't care if Mr Snuffleupagus was teaching it, once I could understand it.

Oddly, only 3 people, including myself, from my class showed up. I asked Tutor if he expected many people and he said, "I have very low expectations." There were about 10 people in all and Tutor gave the non-students a real workout.

Somehow, I found that I grasped the concepts a lot better in the workshop. The one thing that was giving me real hell was translating "unless" rules into Formal Logic language. Like, you get no dessert unless you ate your salad. It has to translate into: I ate dessert, therefore I had salad. And then further, If dessert, then salad.

It sounds simple, but there are Xs and Ys and arrows. Disturbing stuff.

What I found impressive was how Kaplan came up with these methods to attack questions and how effectively they train their tutors and teachers to impart these methods. I initially scoffed at the idea of technique, thinking practice will help me master. Now, that might be true (as lots of people still don't take Kaplan courses and still get into law school), but even I have to admit that the methods I am paying for are really paying off.

the lsat chronicles

So I signed up to take the LSAT Extreme prep course offered by Kaplan and my first class was March 3. Before that, I had begun prepping on my own. After the class started, I realized that it was a good idea to have familiarized myself with the work. I also was able to identify some weak spots and even notice a strength. I didn't feel like I was swimming in a sea of unrecognizable phrases when the teaching began.

I knew I needed major help with Logic Games. I was bombing spectacularly in very unfamiliar territory. Strengthen and weaken questions in the Logical Reasoning were also giving me issues. Clearly, I am not cut out for Logic. Reading Comprehension was proving the easiest. I was using Kaplan resources, plus everything I could find at the library, but progress was a slow go. Progress, yes. Ready by June? Narp.

So John and I bit the bullet and paid for a course. There were cheaper ones but I felt the Extreme was best suited to me. I explored a few other prep sites and Princeton Review, but Kaplan was where it was at. After that, I took a break from doing work and just perused theory so I would remain familiar with the terms.

The first class was a diagnostic test: a full-length LSAT minus the writing section, which isn't scored anyway. Kaplan sent us to the wrong building, five blocks away from where the class was actually being held. I was very upset. I got to the new site and was sent to the wrong room.

I finally got to the right place. Thank goodness I get everywhere early and I still had enough time to compose myself before the test started. And oogle my tutor. He is A BABE. How the heck am I supposed to keep my mind on the test with something so scrumptious sitting in front of me?

(Now Tutor is on FB and I plan to add him as a friend when the course is over. We both know the other is on FB but I find it odd to have him reading me as I am updating about the class. I am hoping I will have enough nonsense between now and when I do add him for him to get to reading this convoluted mess!)

I get my shit together and roll on. Tutor makes a small speech and promises to get into brass tacks the next day and we get on with the test. I manage to finish all the sections and opt out of staying to write the writing section. Just a small handful of people stay back. Everyone looks well and truly knackered from the long test. Tutor says something about reading something for the next day but I ent really take he on.

I barely remember the rest of the Saturday. We do get our scores that night and I'm not surprised by mine. I've taken 2 full-length tests already and got almost the exact same score. I do get a breakdown of what my strengths and weaknesses are, which are exactly what I thought.

The next day's class is a blur. We learn Formal Logic and it's like learning a new language. Class 3 goes into Assumptions in the Logical Reasoning passages and I am at sea. Tutor sends out his personal tutoring schedule. We get 4 hours of one-on-one time as part of the Extreme package and I decide it's time to use 2 of them to work on Assumptions.

Tutor is great. At no point does he make me feel like the fool that I already feel like. I actually learn shit and it's reinforced by a class workshop of Logical Reasoning last Saturday. Sunday, there was another full-length test and I felt really great about the LR sections.

There are 2 LR sections on the LSAT, making up half the questions. Don't get that and forget about law school. Anywhere. So I took that shit seriously and went after it. I learned the methods, used the methods and got more LR questions right than I had before. A very good step forward. I still did good in the RC but crashed and burned in the Logic Games. Tutor was nice and said everyone crashes and burns in the LG at this stage. I figure if I can do it with the LR, I can do it with the LG.

Extreme students also get to go to these free workshops. I had hoped to go to a LG challenge workshop on Monday, but I nearly blinded myself. Today I am going to a Formal Logic workshop that is actually being taught by Tutor: 3 hours of reasoning, contrapostives and more.

I can't wait till Pie goes back out to school because it has been hard studying when he is home. He's really great about leaving me once he knows I'm doing my homework but I feel bad knowing he is home and I am not taking him on. I thought it wold be great that John is home this week, but I just feel worse that John is home and I am not spending any time with him.

John and Pie having fun, though. John took him to see Joe his daughter Elyse and I hear they had a good time. Today, John took Pie to Chuck E Cheese's and they just left to go have a picnic in the park. We're going to try to see "Monsters and Aliens" together on Friday and take John's mom out to dinner to celebrate her birthday. It's today, actually, and I had to ask her to change our original plan, which was going out tonight. I felt so bad but everyone was so great about it.

So on Friday I will put the LSAT out of my mind for a few hours and enjoy my family.