LSAT Overview: Logic Games

The logic games section of the LSAT is...something else, for lack of a better phrase.

When I took my first ever preptest, even before I began studying (just to see where I landed on the scope of things), I was immediately overwhelmed by the logic games section. How was I supposed to figure this all out? And in only 35 minutes? Absolutely no way.

Eventually, the logic games section became my favorite part of the LSAT. After practicing and learning what to expect from the different types of questions, everything seemed straightforward. One of my favorite things I read about logic games when early in my LSAT study sessions is that it's the most easily-learned of the test sections, which I wholeheartedly agree with.

Practice Makes Perfect

Honestly, there's no secret way to suddenly make you understand how to breeze through logic games (if only!). It's just going to take a lot of practice. So sit down, grab some coffee or tea, and get out some practice sets. You can time yourself to see how long each game takes to finish, and then you can set a timer for 35 minutes to learn how to solve games under the LSAT's time restraints.

It's also important to practice diagramming and making inferences. Spending time at the beginning of each game to make a fully fleshed-out main diagram, along with enough inferences, will save you time later on, especially when it comes to creating diagrams for different questions in the game.

More on Diagrams

I mentioned above creating both a main diagram and individual diagrams for questions. You want to make sure that you aren't writing and erasing on your main diagram for each question; not only will you waste time erasing on your main diagram, but you can also use individual question diagrams to help solve future questions.

Of course, you don't have to make an individual diagram for each question; there's the chance that will waste time, too. For example, there is pretty much always one question that asks which of five options could be a potential ordering/grouping/whatever for the circumstances given. Drawing five different diagrams would take up too much time. You can solve problems like these by using the list of conditions as a checklist, crossing off incorrect answers as you go.

A Look At Some Games

As much as I can write about tips that may help you out, a lot of what I'm trying to explain doesn't make sense without examples. I drew out some diagrams for different types of questions you'll commonly see on the LSAT--by the way, I have reached a new level of nerdy because I enjoy drawing diagrams--along with my explanations for how I diagrammed and how I came to my inferences, which are included in the diagrams as well.

Also, here's a quick disclaimer, too: while the methods I use in these examples work for me, they might not work for you! I studied for my first LSAT for six months straight, and there was a lot of trial and error involved in that preparation. Use my work as a diving point--you'll find your own way with practice!

Sequencing: Dec. 2000 LSAT

"Each of seven television programs--H, J, L, P, Q, S, V--is assigned a different rank: from first through seventh (from most popular to least popular). The ranking is consistent with the following conditions:
  • J and L are each less popular than H. 
  • J is more popular than Q. 
  • S and V are each less popular than L. 
  • P and S are each less popular than Q. 
  • S is not seventh."

Honestly, sequencing games are probably my favorite, although they didn't start out that way. No matter how many times I looked over examples, I couldn't wrap my brain around how the diagrams worked or how to move the variables around without breaking any of the stated conditions.

However, like I mentioned above, logic games are something you can learn, and I eventually figured out the best way for me to get through those games.

One of the biggest issues I struggled with was that, in the notation my LSAT prep books used, the order of the variables was important only if they were directly connected. If you look at my diagram above, you'll see that H has lines connecting it to J and L. So, this means that H is more popular than both J and L, but the order of those three variables could be either J-L-H or L-J-H. As long as H is before both J and L, you're good! J and L aren't connected, so there isn't any particular order they have to be in. 

On the left side of the diagram is where I documented the conditions. The first bullet correlates to the first rule, and so on. The fourth condition can be seen as the "S" with a slash through it under slot 7. After writing out all the conditions, I connect them where I can, which, for this game, included all of the variables. With this, I can infer that H has to be in the first slot, as well as where other variables are unable to be placed based on how many variables need to go behind them. 

Grouping + Linear: via Logic Games Bible pg. 375

"A television executive must schedule exactly three of six television programs--Priceless, Quest, Reckoning, SingOff, Trauma, and Unspeakable for Saturday evening programming that runs consecutively from 8 P.M. until 11 P.M. Each program is exactly one hour in length, and no program is shown more than once. The following conditions must apply:
  • SingOff must be scheduled earlier than Unspeakable if both are scheduled. 
  • If Reckoning is scheduled, then Trauma is scheduled. 
  • Either Priceless or Quest is scheduled for 8 P.M., but both cannot be scheduled for the evening program."

These games combine elements from both grouping and linear games, so it's important to get a hold on the basics of those games before delving into these ones. The grouping aspect can be seen in dividing the shows between those that will be on air ("In") and those that won't be ("Out"); the linear aspect is under the "In" group, where the times of the shows are important. 

Even though I didn't write down the conditions in order on my diagram (oops!), I'll explain them in the order they appear in the question. First off, if S and U are both scheduled--the "S + U" portion, lacking any slashes through the variables--then S is before U--"S-U." In my notations, I use the written out "if," but then use an arrow to represent "then" for quicker diagramming. 

The second condition states that if R is scheduled, then T is scheduled as well. The last rule isn't written as a bullet point in my diagram because it was easier to put it directly into the diagram, since it's always going to be true. Either P or Q is scheduled for 8 P.M., but both can't be scheduled together. Therefore, either P or Q can be placed in the 8 P.M. slot, and nowhere else. Whichever show isn't scheduled for 8 P.M. will be placed in the "out" column. 

Linear: Feb. 1993 LSAT

"An official is assigning five runners--Larry, Ned, Olivia, Patricia, and Sonja--to parallel lanes numbered consecutively 1 through 5. The official will also assign each runner to represent a different charity--F, G, H, J, and K--not necessarily in order of the runner's names as given. The following ordering restrictions apply:
  • The runner representing K is assigned to lane 4. 
  • Patricia is assigned to the only lane between the lanes of the runners representing F and G.
  • There are exactly two lanes between Olivia's lane and the lane of the runner representing G. 
  • Sonja is assigned to a higher-numbered lane than the lane to which Ned is assigned."

Although this is a more advanced linear logic game, the principles apply to simpler games, too. In my diagram, the top row is reserved for the runners--L, N, O, P, and S--and the second row is for the charities--F, G, H, J, and K. 

The first condition states that the runner who represents charity K has to be in lane 4. Therefore, K is placed in lane 4. Next, we learn that P is in the only lane between charities F and G--so the order of the lanes these three variables are in are either F-P-G or G-P-F. Underneath that bullet point in my diagram, I listed my inferences from this: P doesn't represent charity F or charity G.

Runner N has to be in a lane before runner S. From this, I can infer that N can't be in lane five and that S can't be in lane 1. 

Last, there are exactly two lanes between runner O and the runner who represents charity G. Because there isn't any order associated with those two variables, they can be laid out with O before G or G before O. In addition, we can infer O cannot represent charity G. 

Grouping: Dec. 1994 LSAT

"Exactly eight consumers--F, G, H, J, K, L, M, and N--will be interviewed by market researchers. The eight will be divided into exactly two 4-person groups-group 1 and group 2--before interviews begin. Each person is assigned to exactly one of the two groups according to the following conditions:
  • F must be in the same group as J.
  • G must be in a different group from M.
  • If H is in group 1, then L must be in group 1. 
  • If N is in group 2, then G must be in group 1."

Grouping logic games are probably my second-favorite type of logic game to solve. I really enjoy all the moving parts and different combinations that can be made based on the additional conditions given.

Here's a breakdown of my diagram: the conditions are written in my diagram as they are given in the question. First, we learn F and J must be in the same group. To note this, I boxed F and J together. Similar to this, the second rule states that G and M cannot be in the same group; I did the same thing as I did for F and J, but placed an "x" over the box.

The last two rules are conditional rules, which means they can only be satisfied if the first part is true. The third rule states that L has to be in group 1 if H is in group 1. Lastly, G has to be in group 1 if N is in group 2. Underneath this bullet point in my diagram, I made a note that I could infer that if N is in group 2, then M is in group 2 because G and M cannot be in the same group.

Good luck with your studying!




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