June 2015 LSAT Logic Games - What Really Happened?

    LSAT Prep

    4657231941_54e8c1c9ba_mThe June 2015 LSAT scores were released on July 1st, a full week before the official release date of July 7th,2015. In fact, the LSAC even beat our (very optimistic) prediction by 2 full days. Those Scantron machines are getting faster and faster every time.

    If only robots could take the LSAT for you. (They would do very poorly in Reading Comprehension).

    Unlike RC, the Logic Games section was cake. OK, not really: it was really easy to misunderstand the scenario of the fourth game, especially if you were rushing through it. In retrospect, the game was pretty straightforward and not overly challenging. It just looks odd, by design. The LSAT seeks to measure skills that are considered essential for success in law school, among which is the skill of thinking well on your feet. Nobody wants an attorney who can lose it at the drop of a hat.

    So, let's take a look at each Logic Game:

    Game #1: Annual Bonuses, a Linear/Grouping Combination Game

    The first game of the section was unusually challenging, corroborating our theory that test makers just love throwing curve balls at you. They key was to realize that this was primarily a grouping game, with seven variables (the employees) being assigned to one of three groups (the bonuses). Because of the order inherent in the bonus amounts ($1,000, $3,000, and $5,000), the game also had a linear component to it. However, it was not until the second rule that we receive any indication as to how this linear idea will play out - some employees are rated Highly Effective and others are not, which affects the bonuses they can (and cannot) receive. The stipulation itself was not unusual; what was unusual was the manner in which they presented it: as part of the rule set, and not the initial scenario.

    We rarely witness rules introducing entirely new conceptual elements into the game, so this was definitely a curve ball. They key was to read the entire rule set before making your diagram, which - not coincidentally - is the first thing I tell my students when we start talking about logic games. Regardless of the manner in which they presented the information, the first game was not overly complicated. You just had to make the inference that V and Z receive the $3,000 bonus, and X - the $5,000.

    Game #2: Planting Trees in Lots, a Balanced, Defined-Moving Grouping Game. 

    The second game was a pure grouping game, requiring you to assign each of seven trees to one of three lots. Although the lots were numbered, that order was not addressed by the rules, and so the game had no linear or sequencing component to it. The key was to identify the two Fixed Numerical Distributions governing the assignment of trees to lots (1-3-3) and (2-2-3), and create Templates based on these distributions. Indeed, Numerical Distributions - especially when Fixed - often restrict the solution set sufficiently to allow for a Templates-based approach. Failing to recognize that probably cost you an extra minute or two.

    Game #3: Librarians' Workweek, a Sequencing Game.

    This was a garden-variety Sequencing Game, with each rule presenting a sequencing relationship between two or more of the seven variables in the game. The key was to combine all the rules into a sequencing chain. There were two somewhat unusual elements here. First, since two of the librarians must work on Saturday, it was imperative to identify the variables that can occupy the Saturday slot (two of L, G, Z). Second, it was important to examine carefully the conditional relationship suggested by the last rule. Combining sequencing and conditional rules is par for the course in modern-day Logic Games, to the point where we actually included a special chapter on that very topic in the new edition of the Logic Games Bible and the corresponding Workbook.

    Game #4: Newsletter with Slots and Features, a Basic Linear Game.

    At first glance, this game seemed awfully confusing. We are asked to figure out what features go into 5 slots of a newsletter, with each feature occupying one or more of the slots. If you missed the modifier "or more," you might have assumed that each feature would go into a single, separate slot, with multiple features of the same type potentially occupying consecutive slots (in compliance with the first rule). However, the scenario clearly states that a single feature can occupy more than one of the slots, which is also apparent in the wording of the answer choices to Question 19. (When in doubt about your understanding of the game, check the possible solutions to the List question). The other bizarre element was the fact that each feature can be one of four types, but we are given no indication as to how many different types of features must be included: all we know is that at most one Industry feature can (but does not have to be) be included. Just because the newsletter must have at least three features does not mean that it must have at least three different types of features!

    Essentially, the last game required - and prohibited - very little. There were no Blocks or Not-Blocks, no Not-Laws, and virtually nothing in terms of set-up. You just had to understand the rules and move onto the questions. In a sense, it reminded me of the zones and sub zones game from the October 2012 LSAT. Although they are technically very different, both games were quite vague in their scenario, and in both games it was exceptionally easy to misunderstand how the rules operate. They key in both games was to read carefully and internalize the rules as much as you can.

    If you walked away thinking that this was a brutal test Game-wise, it was probably because of the last game. However, the first three games were not terribly challenging, and the tight curve bears this out - this test was not a killer.

    Smoking is.

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    Photo courtesy of jamieanne.