Students who took the October 2012 LSAT (PrepTest 67) ran into a tough game at the end of the section, and for many students, that colored their test experience negatively. Let’s take a brief look at that Logic Games section, and review what occurred:
Game #1: Student Speeches, a Grouping Game
This game is not that difficult, as long as you realize that the rules set up five distinct vertical blocks: GF, HF, GL, HL, and JL. Those five blocks, along with the rules that place some variables and create Not Laws for others, make the game quite manageable. The big downside is that there are only five questions, and thus this game, while relatively easy, doesn’t give you back much. Overall, this game provided a good start to the Logic Games section, and is one that most students should have dominated.
Game #2: Professor Lectures, a Basic Linear Game
The first three rules make this game appear that it might be a Sequencing game, but the remaining rules firmly establish this as a Basic Linear game. Some key inferences include that T must lecture first or second, S must lecture second or third, only W or Z can lecture seventh, and Y cannot lecture first. The last rule also features the infrequently appearing “if, but only if” double-arrow construction, and so students who understood how that conditional relationship functions had a distinct advantage here. Overall, this game isn’t that high on the difficulty scale, so through the first two games most people were feeling good.
Game #3: Store Aisles, an Advanced Linear Game
This game features three Numerical Distributions, but fortunately most of the questions limit the range of possible solutions, and using the sequencing rules then makes most of the questions relatively straightforward. The last rule is tricky, however, because it invokes the possibility of a “tie” in that S and H can be located in the same aisle (aisle 1 or 2). The most difficult question is probably #16, the only Global question in the game. Again, this game is not extremely difficult, and so the first three games should have gone well for most students.
Game #4: Zones and Subzones, a Grouping Game
After three reasonable games, savvy test takers had to expect that something difficult was looming at the end. And indeed, after the exam many people were lamenting the appearance of the Zones game and extremely worried about how it affected their test performance. This is clearly the most difficult game on this test, and there are two points of difficulty in this game: first, the rules aren’t very clear about how many subzones can exist, and some students misread the scenario to imply that three subzones of each type were possible within each zone; second, there are a lot of numerical combinations for the subzones (that is, there are a lot of possible Numerical Distributions of subzones). However, students who really focused in on the third and fourth rules found that they helped knock out a number of incorrect answers, and made this game more acceptable (not easy, but acceptable).
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The good news here was that the section opened with three very doable games, and many students felt they were on their way to a record performance after completing the third game. The last game is confusing, and it is understandable as to why people would feel that this game was very hard. But unfortunately, the fact that this game appeared last made the game take on an outsized importance compared to the other games, and a lot of students walked away feeling that the whole section was tough just because the ending note was tough. That skewed their perceptions of their whole performance on the section, and caused some students to prematurely cancel. As a comparison, consider how much more difficult this section would actually have been if the fourth game had been placed first. Then, the negative echoes of that game would have carried through for the remaining three games, making them automatically seem harder. So, while the last game is hard and may be the thing people remembered, don’t forget that the game was offset by three easy preceding games. The takeaway is to never let just one game color your perceptions, and always consider overall difficulty when analyzing a section.