The analytical reasoning section – better known as “logic games” – is the hardest for many LSAT takers (although the reading comprehension and logical reasoning sections certainly aren’t a cakewalk). Achieving a high score on this part of the test can be the upper hand you need to gain admission and financial aid to top law schools.
With an in-depth understanding of this section and a customized strategy for tackling it, you can overcome this challenging section of the test.
The good news: you only have to do one logic games section on the LSAT.
The bad news: this section is incredibly challenging.
However, you can implement different strategies to improve your score on this section.
The logic games section consists of four games. Each game has 5-7 accompanying questions for a total of 23 questions.
These questions test your ability to differentiate between various options when given a set of rules. The games can usually be organized in different orders, some being groups and others being elements. Additionally, some of the games may consist of more complicated aspects, such as subgroups or mismatching issues.
These games include the following elements:
- a central scheme that describes the task you must complete
- a set of rules that limit or expand different options
To successfully tackle logic games, you must be able to do the following:
- Understand the given scenario
- Visualize the question
- Understand the meaning and implications of the rules
- Make necessary inferences by understanding how the rules relate to each other
- Organize the information in an efficient manner
Accomplishing these tasks first requires that you understand the major types of questions in this section.
Types of LSAT Logic Game Questions
If you learn to identify the type of logic game quickly, you can then use the strategy described below to handle it. This will put you well above the curve for the average test taker.
The major types of logic game questions can be grouped in the following categories:
Sequencing games represent the most common type of LSAT logical game. Therefore, it’s best to start here with your studies for this section of the test. That’s perfect because these games are often the easiest for test takers.
Sequencing games require you to put selections in order. These questions only involve one set of variables and one set of ordered spaces for you place the answers. Sequencing questions may contain names you need to place in a certain order, based on criteria such as:
- Days of the week
- Months of the year
- Seats in a classroom or movie theater
You can spot these games by looking for just one set of variables and set of ordered spaces. For example, the question may state that there are 7 cars arriving at 7 different times.
Grouping games are the second most popular type of LSAT logic game. These games are similar to sequencing games in that they only have one set of variables. However, they do not have a 1:1 ratio of variables to spaces. In these games, you may have to place variables in multiple categories. The setup of this question may ask for you to place individuals in different groups, categories or teams. Alternatively, this type of question may ask you to make payments or have people arrive at different times or days.
Matching games consist of two or more categories that you have to match together. However, you don’t have to arrange them in a particular order.
You can spot these games by seeing two or more different variables: commercial establishments and private residences, or tops and shorts. They do not have any ordered spaces that correspond with them. Because many of these games are time-consuming, it may take you longer to handle them. Hence, you might want to skip them at first.
Distribution games are similar to matching games in that there are different groups. However, once you have established the groups, you then have to make sub-groups in these games. Spot these games by looking for directions that tell you to separate items into at least two groups.
Selection is a subcategory of grouping games. However, in this type of logic game, you have to take a larger number of groups and then select only some of them to create a subgroup. This category of games requires you to consider the rules when selecting or rejecting options as part of the subgroup.
Hybrid games contain two or more of the game classifications described above. For example, you may encounter a grouping/sequencing hybrid game or a matching/sequencing game. You can spot these games by seeing characteristics that match at least two of the categories described above. These games are often more complex and involve more rules than the other games, so you might want to save them for last.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty, you should be aware of the best approaches to the logic games section of the LSAT. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
- Tackle the easy questions first – You have a limited amount of time and each question carries the same weight, so it makes sense to answer the easiest questions first. This also helps prepare your brain and builds confidence. For many people, sequencing and matching games are the easiest games to answer.
- Read everything – Every word provided in this section is important, so read each word carefully. Be sure that you understand the words and how the rules affect each option.
- Make a diagram – See more specific information on this step below.
- Write the rules – Use shorthand to write out all the rules by your diagram so that you don’t have to read through the game each time.
- Use the process of elimination – This will narrow down which question is right and improve your chances of selecting the right answer even if you didn’t finish solving the problem.
- Move on – If you’re stuck, pick the best answer from the choices you have remaining and move on. You can circle the question and come back to it if time allows.
- Answer the tough questions last – Since you’ve already tackled the easier questions, now you can go after the more difficult ones. You might even be able to use information you learned in earlier questions to more quickly answer these later questions.
- Don’t make assumptions – Don’t assume something goes together unless a rule specifically says it does.
- Draw inferences – However, make connections between the rules to establish a master rule.
- Read the questions – Before you begin sketching out your answer, read over each of the questions under the game so that you know what information to look for. Answer any questions that change any of the rules to last.
If you have worked through a problem but haven’t come down to a specific answer, eliminate the answers that don’t work.
Diagramming Strategies for the LSAT’s Logic Games
For most test takers, a clear diagram is necessary to organize the information given to them in this section. Consequently, creating a diagram can help you chart out what you know about a game and draw important connections. Condense each option so that the diagram is as small as possible and you don’t wind up writing out full words. For example, many games consist of names or places that have starting sequential letters like “A, B, C and D” or “W, X, Y and Z.” Here are some diagramming strategies for each question type:
Sequencing games require you to put information in order. A diagram for a sequencing game may consist of different slots that you fill out, such as:
You may then place a letter for each person’s name, building or other information in each slot. Some sequencing games may not have relationships that are this rigid and may be better constructed through a relationship tree or web.
This type of diagram is usually created in chart form. You can then create dashes for each number of items, people or places that fall under each column. This chart may look like:
In some grouping games, you may just list each option and circle the ones that can be part of the group and x out those that can’t.
Grouping games are set up similarly to diagram games. However, in grouping games, you may not always know the specific number of options that fall under a heading. Consequently, you may make an extra dash for another possibility followed by a ? sign.
The matching games require you to make a basic table. You then place a mark when a pairing is selected. For example, your chart might look like:
Some of these games may allow you to have more than one match. So, if G matched up to B and C, you might place an X under both the B and C categories.
Hybrid games are more difficult to graph because of more possibilities. They usually are not well represented in a grid, since many of them also involve sequencing. The diagram you make should include all of the necessary labels and relationships.
A sequencing/matching hybrid may look like this:
You will then chart your answers by placing the items in the necessary row.
A grouping/sequencing hybrid game may require you to list various options, using a combination of rows, columns and slots. For example, your chart may look like:
An easy way to build up time is to create a shorthand that explains different relationships between different items. Here’s a cheat sheet:
Creating The Ultimate LSAT Logic Games Study Plan
You should plan on spending at least 100 hours on studying for the logic games section alone. However, don’t begrudge this time because logic games are the area where many test takers see the biggest improvement. Include the following in your study plan:
- Devote 2-3 hours a day to study – Aim for about three hours per day of studying on the logic games section.
- Take previous LSAT tests – Take previous LSAT tests to determine your baseline score and your improved score. Take a practice logic games LSAT test portion at least once a week out of a LSAT study guide book. Read over the correct answers and description on finding the right answer.
- Practice – Keep practicing. Don’t lose faith!
- Perform drills – Drills are a group of the same category of logic games. Focus on each type of game separately as part of your study. For example, one day you might tackle sequencing games and another day you might tackle matching games. Ultimately, completing drills can help you recognize the game type more quickly, work with certain types of rules, make different inferences and improve your diagramming skills.
- Use flashcards – Some LSAT prep courses let you create flashcards to help with this section.
- Try different study techniques – Try out different study techniques and forms of studying to find a good fit for you.
- Master diagramming – Since diagramming is such an important part of LSAT studying, it is important to try to master this skill. Practice until diagramming becomes second nature to you.
So, there you have it – your complete guide to LSAT logic games. Just think – in a few weeks you’ll be able to master these onerous logic games. Heck, you might even start to like them!
Valerie Keene is an experienced lawyer and legal writer. Valerie’s litigation successes have included wins for cases involving contract disputes, real property disputes, and consumer issues. She has also assisted countless families with estate planning, guardianship issues, divorce and other family law matters. She provides clients with solid legal advice and representation.