The Standard Info
The Logic Games section – or, the formal name "Analytical Reasoning" – includes four logic games, each of which has 5 or 6 questions. Each game begins with a scenario, followed by 3 to 6 rules or "constraints." The questions are based on the scenario and rules, and generally become progressively difficult.
There are three large families of logic game types – ordering, assignment, and grouping. Within each of those there are sub-types. To master the LSAT, one must learn the characteristics of these game-types, as well as diagramming techniques specific to each.
About half of the questions in the logic games section are conditional, meaning that they introduce a new rule that applies only for that question. Conditional questions almost always begin with the word "If." Unconditional questions are based solely on the original scenario and rules.
The Mastery Info
As mentioned above, it’s crucial to be able to categorize a game and choose an appropriate diagram. However, in at least half of the games you'll face, the LSAT introduces some twist to the game – or blends two types – making it difficult to apply your standard diagram. That’s why it's crucial to become flexible with your diagramming. In fact, some games can be successfully completed using completely different diagram types.
When comparing the work that 170+ scorers and the average LSAT test-taker, we notice some distinct differences:
|Average Test-Takers||170+ Test-Taker|
|Rigidly applies diagrams, or approaches each game uniquely||Identifies trends in game types and flexibly adapts diagrams to account for twists|
|Wastes time with trial and error||Follows the inference chain|
|Is intimidated by logic games||Finds the games fun!|
Perhaps the most tangible difference between average test-takers and high-scorers is the way that each treats conditional questions. Let's take a very simple example:
Lori, Mary, Noel, Otie, and Pedro are the only five competitors in a sack race. Because of space constraints, the racers must start consecutively, adhering to the following rules:
- Mary must start at some time before Pedro.
- Otie must start first or last.
- Noel must start immediately before Lori.
A basic diagram for this game would be:
(You may need to take a moment to think about the reason behind each of the restrictions noted below the number line.)
Now, let’s imagine a question: If Pedro starts immediately after Lori, which of the following could be true?
The high-scorer would create a small diagram to represent this new rule:
Then she would go on to consider what this new rule means in terms of when the racers could start. Since M-NLP takes up a lot of room, we can infer that NLP can either go in slots 1-3, 2-4 or 3-5.
For each of those possibilities, we can infer the position of all the other racers. It turns out that NLP cannot be in slots 1-3 as there would be no room for M, which must come before P. If NLP were in slots 2-5, M would have to go first, and O last. And in the final case, we know that O would go first, and that M would go second. So we end up with two possibilities:
With this knowledge in hand, it will be quite easy to evaluate the answer choices:
(A) Noel is fourth
(B) Pedro is third
(C) Mary is second
(D) Lori is second
(E) Otie is third
(Yes, the answer is C!)
The average test-taker would probably only write out the new rule, and then test out each answer choice. This would surely work if done carefully, but would take way too much time.
Another, more subtle move that high-scorers utilize is predicting answers. To give another simple example, let’s use the same scenario as before. And use the following question:
If Otie starts at some point before Pedro, which of the following must be false?
The advanced test-taker would consider this new rule and infer that O must start first, leaving the NL "chunk" and M – P to fall somewhere afterwards. The diagram for this question might look something like this:
The circle indicates that we're not sure of where the NL chunk and M-P fall. Perhaps an average test-taker would figure this out as well, however the difference lies in whether the test-taker uses this information to predict the answer. If this question is later in the game, we would expect it to be more difficult, and so the answer would probably not be "P starts first," as that is the first and easiest inference to make. Similarly, it probably would not be about N or L, as placing that chunk is rather easy. Instead, the answer would probably be about M starting third, as this would prevent us from placing the NL chunk.
While this example may be quite easy, when facing real LSAT questions, predicting answers, or at least knowing which elements the correct answer will probably involve, can save precious minutes.