Since there is no penalty for guessing on the LSAT, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t leave any bubbles blank. Precisely how you guess, however, depends on a number of factors: Are you a strong test-taker? Can you at least narrow down your possible choices? Which questions do you need to guess on?
Let’s break it down:
1. Do you need to resort to blind guessing?
According to our Guessing Strategy and Probability Tables, you would be best served by always guessing answer choice (B) when guessing on the LSAT Logic Games section. Do not choose random answer choices; do not put in a pattern such as A-B-C-D-E etcetera. Although guessing answer choice (B) obviously does not guarantee you will get the questions correct, if history is any indicator then guessing answer choice (B) gives you a better chance than guessing randomly.
2. Are you running out of time on the last game?
The percentage appearance of correct answer choices in the last five questions of the LG section (June 1991 – June 2016) is as follows:
- A: 22.1%
- B: 21.2%
- C: 18.6%
- D: 19.0%
- E: 19.0%
As this breakdown indicates, if you need to guess on any of the last five questions of the LG section, you should guess answer choice (A). Notice the significant statistical deviation of answer choice (C). Answer choice (C) is not a good answer choice to guess in the last five questions!
3. Are you able to finish your LG section, but need to guess on the last question of each game?
Many students, when faced with the prospect of not getting to the last game at all, choose a slightly different approach: instead of forfeiting an entire game, they choose to skip the last question of each game in order to finish all four games. This strategy makes perfect sense, for two reasons: 1) many games – even the “easy” ones – contain a difficult question or two, and these questions tend to be the last ones in the game. This is not a given, obviously, but it happens more often than not; and 2) Guessing on a total of 4 questions – one question per game – has a much more favorable outcome than guessing on an entire game, because even the shortest games have 5 questions. Most games have 6 questions, and some have 7! So, the decision to skip the last question of each game makes perfect sense, as long as it allows you to finish your section without rushing.
If you decide to give this a try, it would be nice to know the percentage appearance of the correct answer of the last question in each game over the years. Well, here it is:
- Game 1: Choose either C or D (each have a 24.4% probability of being correct)
- Game 2: Choose B (24.4%)
- Game 3: Choose B (24.4%)
- Game 4: Choose C (23.2%)
4. Can you at least narrow down your possible choices?
Keep in mind that the advice above holds only for pure guessing. If you can narrow down your possible choices, by eliminating even one of the five answer choices, do not make your decision on the basis of statistics alone! You’re making an educated guess, so choose one of the answer choices you have selected as possible contenders. Assuming your logic is solid, you’d have a 25% chance of getting the question right if you were able to eliminate just one answer choice. If you can eliminate two, your chances jump to 33%. If you can eliminate three, and need to decide between two possible contenders, you have a 50-50 chance of getting the question right! These percentages give you a far higher probability of scoring a point than answering on the basis of statistics alone.
5. Are you a strong test-taker?
Assuming your accuracy is fairly high (above 90%) on the questions you do answer, but occasionally fail to answer all the questions in your section, the following strategy would be your best bet: quickly review the answer choices you have already selected, and use the answer that appears least frequently as your guessing answer choice. For example, if you have completed twenty questions in a section, and your answers contain a majority of (A)s, (C)s, (D)s, and (E)s, then guess answer choice (B) for all of the remaining questions.
While we obviously hope that you won’t ever have to resort to any of these strategies, realistically speaking almost everyone needs to guess on at least a few questions. The LSAT is a deliberately speeded exam, designed so that the majority of students do not finish. Here’s something else to keep in mind: you can miss between 9 and 12 questions and still score above 170.