The Key to Logic Games is Not Diagrams

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Manhattan Prep LSAT Blog - The Key to Logic Games is Not Diagrams by Chris Gentry

I taught a class yesterday, and while we were working through a particular game in the Logic Games section (this one had ordering rules nested inside conditional logic), many people had questions about the best way to draw those rules.

Which is a natural question. And one you should address.

And throughout our discussion, I kept re-asking, “How would you picture this? What does this look like?”

All of these things are necessary to good gamesmanship on the LSAT. But, if you will permit me a small LSAT nerd moment, I would argue those things are not sufficient for good gamesmanship.

In my opinion, the biggest obstacle to people mastering Logic Games is a failure to ask questions. It’s less about the diagrams, and more about taking a moment to explore the potentials.

Take, for example, the fourth game from practice test 51.

“A courier delivers exactly eight parcels: G, H, J, K, L, M, N, O.”

Just from that sentence…is there an “out” group? Is it possible that some items will not show up “in” the list? How would you know?

Is it possible that some of the letters will appear more than once in the game? If it’s an ordering game, could some of the items appear at the same “time”?

Think about the phrasing of the sentence. The verb “delivers” as used in the sentence appears definitive. It’s doubtful there will be an “out” group; otherwise, the sentence would probably have said “a courier will deliver at least some of the following…”

And it’s doubtful anything shows up more than once. Setting the game as parcel deliveries strongly implies that each of these is intended to represent a single physical item that, once delivered, is gone from the courier’s inventory.

But could some of them happen at the same time? It’s certainly possible that two parcels could need to be delivered to the same address!

Now, as you read the rest of the setup, you’ll find out that these concerns are not an issue in this game. It is a straight one-to-one ordering game, with no out group and no repeats. But my suggestion is that you learn to ask these questions soon and often, so you will address them effectively when needed. Learning to quickly test those ‘edge’ cases can be the key to helpful deductions.

For example, if you try the fourth game in practice test 40 (“For a behavioral study, a researcher will select exactly six individual animals…”), you’ll notice that the animals are grouped into sub-groups: monkeys, pandas, and raccoons. You read through the game, see it’s an “in out” game, with specific rules governing which specific animals can and cannot be a part of the study. But none of the rules really address how many pandas, how many raccoons, and how many monkeys could be involved in the study. So ask that question. Could all the monkeys be involved? Could none of the monkeys be involved? And so on for pandas and raccoons. Then try question 23 in that game.

In my experience, learning to test the ‘edge’ cases quickly has been the most helpful habit on LSAT Logic Games. It takes the ‘weird’ games and makes them manageable. It leads to deductions. And it makes the easy games seem even easier!

Good luck! 📝


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Chris Gentry is a Manhattan Prep LSAT, GMAT, and GRE instructor who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Chris received his Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Clemson and JD from Emory University School of Law before realizing that he genuinely enjoys the challenge of standardized tests, and his true passion is teaching. Chris’ dual-pronged approach to understanding each test question has helped countless of his students to achieve their goal scores. What are you waiting for? Check out Chris’ upcoming LSAT courses here.

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