Big Pauses and Little Pauses: LSAT Logic Games Strategy


blog-pausesThe Big Pause is a huge part of Manhattan Prep’s LSAT strategy. Without taking stock of the game and rules, there’s a good chance you could miss something that would help you in the game.

During the Big Pause, you should consider:

1. Strays

2. Frames/Inferences

3. Important Rules

First thing to note is that it’s easy to forget to check for strays. This can really cause problems in certain games – if you neglect a stray in a Relative Ordering or In/Out Grouping game, for instance, everything you’re doing will be thrown off. If you see yourself continually forgetting to check for strays, use the dot method.

What’s the dot method? Well, when you’re writing out the rules, put a dot next to a letter each time it shows up in a rule. If a rule has no dots, it’s a stray – simple as that. And if a rule has several dots, then it showed up a few times and is probably involved in an inference.

The second and third considerations are harder. For frames, we’re looking for a 2-3 way divide with consequences. For inferences, we’re essentially looking for rules that overlap. And we have a ton of posts on different inferences.

But what do you do when there aren’t frames? And there aren’t inferences?

It’s time to take a Little Pause.

For some games, there just won’t be a lot you can do during this step. These games tend to be dangerous – despite the lack of inferences, and the inability to frame, it’s common for students to sit there, assured that they missed something.

That’s not always the case.

We’ve previously talked about using the questions to guide this decision, but we want to take this time to talk about timing. Making the call to move to the questions when you don’t see any inferences is one of the hardest things to do, but it’s also one of the best for your timing.

After all, if you missed an inference, you can always go back. But if you sit there, staring, failing to make an inference that doesn’t exist, you can’t raise your hand and ask the proctor for that time back.

So if you’re just not seeing anything, give yourself 5-10 seconds. And if you still have nothing, it’s time to end your Little Pause and tackle the questions.

matt-shinnersMatt Shinners is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York City. After receiving a science degree from Boston College, Matt scored a 180 on his LSAT and enrolled in Harvard Law School. There’s nothing that makes him happier than seeing his students receive the scores they want to get into the schools of their choice. Check out Matt’s upcoming LSAT courses here!

  1. aandrews January 29, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Hi, Neil.

    Most people actually find the older ones to be harder, as they tend to have more non-standard elements! Since you’re finding them easier, it might be that you have a great skill for LG – flexibility. If you’re not flexible, some of those older games throw twists at you that are hard to deal with.

    From our end, we think that more-recent games are, on average, harder, but there are fewer extreme outliers. So while old tests might have an average difficulty of 3, and today we’re at 3.5 (made up numbers to show the general trend), older tests will have more 1s and 5s, while recent tests tend to stick between 2 and 4.5.

    Matt Shinners
    Instructor and Senior Manager of Product Strategy – LSAT
    Manhattan Prep

  2. Neil January 22, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    I was doing older logic games and found them to be significantly easier. I just did the logic game section from the Oct. 2015 LSAT and found it to be MUCH more challenging. Does anyone else see this? I’m taking the LSAT in February and now I am not sure what to expect.