You Derive Me Crazy: Inference Gut Check (LSAT Logic Games Series)


Blog-Derive-Inference Gut CheckNo matter how good you get at Logic Games, finding those difficult inferences will always be a challenge! In our “You Derive Me Crazy” blog series, we’ll take a look at some of the higher-level inferences that repeat on the LSAT, ensuring that you have all the tools necessary to tackle anything the LSAT throws at you on test day. 🎓💼

Let’s talk about something that we haven’t really brought up before in this crazy, Britney Spears-inspired blog series:


But wait – aren’t most of our inferences going to happen before we get to the questions? Sure – we’ll have to follow an inference chain in conditional questions based on the new information, but the BIG, GLOBAL inferences could be made up front.

So why talk about the questions here?

Because the questions can give you hints as to the type of game you’re in: front-end or back-end.

A front-end game is one that has a lot of inferences and/or frames. Most of the work is done up-front, hence the name.

Back-end games, conversely, don’t feature many inferences, if they have any at all. You’ll be doing most of your work on the questions.

So…questions. Seems like talking about them first is a bit backwards.

However, let’s think about what each question type is testing:

  1. Orientation – Can you read the rules?
  2. Conditional – Can you take a new piece of information and follow the inference chain?
  3. Unconditional – Did you figure out the global inferences up front?

And that’s why the questions are relevant to inferences! Unconditional questions are explicitly testing your ability to make them up front. If you have several of them, but no inferences, you’re missing something. If you have no inferences, but all your questions are conditional, you’re probably in good shape.

This should serve more as a gut-check than as a primary consideration. Work through the rules and make inferences. If you found some, great! No need to check the questions.

However, if you don’t have any inferences, that can be a scary feeling: “What if I missed some? Are there any? There have to be. I need to look at these rules until I see something.”

That moment is dangerous, as you can spend a couple minutes looking without coming up with something new. If, however, you scan your questions and see they’re all conditional, you should feel comfortable moving on without inferences.

If, however, you have mostly unconditional questions, you’re probably missing something. Take another look, but not too long. After all, you can always use prior work to help yourself through those questions. For tips on that, tune in next week. 📝

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!


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