Welcome to LSAT Logic Games 101, where we will discuss what is more formally known as the Analytical Reasoning section of the LSAT. Whether you are just starting your LSAT prep, or you've been at it for a while, you've come to the right place. In this brief article, we will discuss basic details about Logic Games, highlight effective practice methods, and more. Let's get started.
Here’s what we’ll be covering:
- Logic Games Basics
- Sample Logic Game and Questions
- The Challenges Logic Games Present
- Keys to Logic Games Mastery
1. Logic Games Basics
Here are some key things to know about the Logic Games section:
- Exactly one of your three scored sections will be a Logic Games section.
- Each Logic Games section has four games, and generally twenty-three total questions.
- Each game will have between five and seven questions associated with it.
- Every game that has appeared on the LSAT over the past decade can be thought of in terms of elements to be assigned, and positions to be filled.
- For two or three games in every four-game set, the positions are organized in some sort of order.
- For approximately half of all Logic Games, the positions are organized in groups.
- Some games have positions organized by group and order. Almost no games have positions organized by neither group nor order.
- Games are further complicated due to subgroups, or mismatching numbers issues.
- For almost all test takers, a diagram is necessary for organizing the information given, and the ability to diagram well is a big key to success.
- The purpose of a diagram is to represent what you know about a game in a clear and usable way, and to help facilitate bringing information together.
- Of the twenty-three questions, all but two to four of them will come from a small bucket of basic, consistent, and predictable question types.
- The remaining few will also come from an equally small bucket of minor question types.
- All questions test your ability to differentiate between what we can know about a situation, and what remains uncertain. A minority of questions also test your ability to consider a range of possibilities.
An infographic that breaks down the design of all LSAT Logic Games. Please click on image to open full screen.
2. Sample Logic Game
Here is the third Logic Game that appeared on the June ’07 LSAT, along with a question that accompanied it. For a full explanation of this game, and for additional sample Logic Games and questions, please click on the link that follows.
A cruise line is scheduling seven week-long voyages for the ship Freedom. Each voyage will occur in exactly one of the first seven weeks of the season: weeks 1 through 7. Each voyage will be to exactly one of four destinations: Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique, or Trinidad. Each destination will be scheduled for at least one of the weeks. The following conditions apply to Freedom’s schedule:
- Jamaica will not be its destination in week 4.
- Trinidad will be its destination in week 7.
- Freedom will make exactly two voyages to Martinique, and at least one voyage to
- Guadeloupe will occur in some week between those two voyages.
- Guadeloupe will be its destination in the week preceding any voyage it makes to Jamaica.
- No destination will be scheduled for consecutive weeks.
13. If Freedom makes a voyage to Trinidad in week 5, which one of the following could be true?
(A) Freedom makes a voyage to Trinidad in week 1.
(B) Freedom makes a voyage to Martinique in week 2.
(C) Freedom makes a voyage to Guadeloupe in week 3.
(D) Freedom makes a voyage to Martinique in week 4.
(E) Freedom makes a voyage to Jamaica in week 6.
All actual LSAT content (June 2007 LSAT) used within this work are used with the permission of Law School Admission Council, Inc., Box 2000, Newtown, PA 18940, the copyright owner. LSAC does not review or endorse specific test preparation materials or services and inclusion of LSAC content within this work does not imply the endorsement of LSAC. LSAT is a registered trademark of LSAC.
Want to see more sample Logic Games? Here’s a link to the four official games from the June ’07 exam, along with full video solutions.
3. The Challenges that Logic Games Present
When we face a Logic Game during the exam, in order to have success, we have to be able to
- Take in the given scenario, and understand and visualize it correctly.
- Correctly understand the meaning and implications of each of the given rules.
- Figure out key inferences by thinking about how the rules relate to one another and to the given scenario.
- Somehow organize and manage all of this information as we try and accomplish the tasks presented by the various questions.
- And we need to all of this very quickly and accurately under extreme pressure.
Whew! Let’s talk about how to gain mastery over it all.
An infographic that categorizes all games from tests 29–69. Includes a list of the strangest games to appear during that period. Please click on image to open full screen.
Another infographic that categorizes all games from tests 29–69. Includes a list of the most difficult games to appear during that period. Please click on image to open full screen.
Characteristics of Top Scorers
And if we want to figure out the best path forward, it makes sense to first talk about where we want to arrive. A good way to do that is to discuss some of the common characteristics of top scorers. We can then move on to talking about how to ensure that you develop these very same qualities.
One thing that I think it’s helpful to keep in mind is that top scorers do not all play games in exactly the same way—for example, if you were to look at the scratch work done by ten top test takers who all get perfect scores on the Logic Games section, it is highly unlikely that you will find any two who diagrammed all four games in the same way. I mention this because I think it’s helpful to know that there isn’t one “right” way you have to identify and imitate.
At the same time, if we take an aggregate look at those who score very high on the Logic Games section, and if we compare them to the rest of the test taking population, there are some common characteristics that stand out as being essential for Logic Games success.
- Are consistently able to correctly visualize the given scenarios
- Have effective and practiced methods for notating rules
- Know when and where (as well as how) to look for inferences
- Rarely make mistakes, and are able to recover when they do so
- Have effective and practiced methods for approaching all the different types of questions.
Okay, let’s finish up with some tips on how to get there.
4. Tips for How to Study Logic Games
1) Work to develop a comprehensive view of how all games relate to one another
If you think of each game as an individual challenge unrelated to every other game, no matter how many games you master, you won’t go into the test feeling prepared for the games you are about to see.
However, if you develop a system of understanding that helps your mind see how all games are related to one another, then it’s much easier for you to know for sure that you are indeed prepared for all that can happen in games. The LSAT Trainer Questions By Type Tool can help you see which games are related to one another.
2) Utilize high quality study resources that fit you best
There is a vast range in the quality and effectiveness of LSAT learning products and the quality and effectiveness often does not correlate well with either reputation or price.
The LSAT is not like Algebra or Chemistry in that there aren’t set, tried, and true methods and standards for how to teach it. Each LSAT learning product is unique, and, even when choosing from amongst quality products, different students will find different products more effective, largely based on fit.
So, you most definitely want to make sure that to spend plenty of time and care in researching and trying out different study methods, and you want to make sure to choose the study resources that you think will work best for you.
3) Master diagramming
As you are putting your time and your effort into your studies and your practice, one goal you want to make sure to accomplish is to get very, very good at diagramming games.
Being able to diagram games well is the equivalent of being able to do arithmetic on paper as opposed to just in your head -- it increases your capacities exponentially. Your diagram will be the main tool you use to solve questions, and so you want to make sure to carefully develop effective diagramming methods (again, utilizing high-quality learning resources is key here) and just as importantly, you want to make sure to practice enough to habitualize those methods through practice.
An infographic that highlights the different issues that can appear in games, and offers notational strategies for the most common types of rules. Please click to open full screen.
4) Drill, drill, and drill some more.
Drilling refers to bringing together a set of games that share common characteristics and playing them all together. Drilling can have tremendous benefits and, as long as the student has a firm understanding of games and solid strategies, drilling is, in my view, the fastest and most effective way to get really good at Logic Games.
Bringing together and focusing on a batch of games that all involve ordering rules, or that all involve conditional rules, and so can be of tremendous benefit for helping you
a) get better at recognizing the games that have such issues
b) get better at diagramming such games
c) get better at seeing inferences for such games
If you are utilizing one of the free Trainer Study Schedules, you will find that they already have drill sets assigned for you. Otherwise, if you’d like some help making these drill sets for yourself, the Questions by Type Tool can help you with that.
The Trainer study schedules, offered in 1, 2, 3, and 4 month versions, help you organize your learning, drilling, and practice test work.
Of course, there are a million other suggestions I could mention and discuss, such as the importance of taking full exams and the importance of careful review, but I’ll stop myself here.
I hope you found that helpful, and for more in-depth tips and information, please check out the links below.