October 2015 LSAT scores have just been released (a full six days earlier than LSAC’s official date, no less), and test takers are now getting the opportunity to analyze their results. With that in mind we’ve gone through the exam and put together summaries of the Logic Games, Logical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension sections, so you can compare your analysis to ours. We’ve even got a post on the October 2015 scoring scale (spoiler alert: it was a pretty average LSAT, games included as we’ll see below).
Of course, if you’re anything like me then the Logic Games section is the first thing you’ll review, so let’s take a look at each game and see exactly what happened:
Game #1: Criminal Accomplices, a Basic Linear Game
This is a Balanced Linear game, with seven variables ordered into seven spaces. As such, three of the four rules are sequential in nature, and the game setup as a whole is extremely straightforward. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a more desirable start to the section!
The only “tricky” (less than immediately obvious, perhaps) inferences here are the two Not Laws for the VW block at 3 and 5, where the presence of P in 4 means V cannot be 3, and W cannot be 5. Aside from that the diagram is as basic and recognizable as they come.
Two things did catch my eye in working through this game, however, as both played a key role in success here:
First, the presence of both the initial VW block–a powerful feature in any Linear game, since blocks are inherently limited in their placement options–as well as the creation of new/additional blocks by a few Local questions played a vital role in over half of the questions (3, 4, 5, and 6).
Second, the Not Block with S and T, a rule normally relegated to the lower rungs of significance, was tested on multiple occasions (briefly in 2, then directly in 3, 4, 5, and 6). Thus, staying mindful of the separation requirement conveyed a huge advantage here.
In short, a surprisingly simple game, made even easier for those conscious of the power of blocks and the need to keep certain variables apart.
Game #2: Newspaper Photographs, a Grouping Game
Next we find ourselves facing an Unbalanced (Underfunded) Grouping game, where three photographers are contributing a total of six photographs to three sections of a newspaper (two per section). That creates a base of L, M, and S with two spaces above each, and the photographers F, G, and H to be placed within those spaces. What makes this game slightly tricky is the numerical uncertainty, as we’re told that each photographer must submit between one and three photos, but the exact number for each is unknown.
In typical fashion then we are left with two unfixed distributions of photographers’ pics: 3-2-1 and 2-2-2. The rules do little to narrow it down further, so we’re forced to consider both as we work through the setup and questions.
In fact, the rules don’t really give us much of consequence elsewhere either. We’re told that L and M must share at least one photographer, that the number of H in L matches the number of F in S (note that could be a total of 0, 1, or 2), and that only H or F can be in S. And that’s it.
So in attacking this game I found it imperative to recognize the high degree of uncertainty and, rather than hunt and hunt for inferences or attempt to use templates (an idea I toyed with briefly and abandoned), move quickly to the questions and see what they tell you. And given the fact that there are seven questions here, time, and time management, is especially important!
And sure enough, aside from the common List question to start, every question but number 10 is Local…and easily solved if you gave yourself the time to do them by moving from setup to questions quickly!
Of note here, and it’s little surprise, is how frequently the numerical distributions controlled the groups, particularly the 0, 1, or 2 in common for H(L) and F(S). Literally every question but 7 (the List) revolved around that concept! So focusing on the numbers and that rule in particular dominated the questions, and made quick work of an otherwise tricky game.
At this point in the section, most students were feeling good: two games of somewhat staggered difficulty, but nothing a prepared test taker should’ve been caught off guard by. The first game in particular was such a golden opportunity to gain some easy points and stockpile time that, barring some sort of serious miscalculation, people should be cruising. Looking ahead, and knowing we’ve seen a Basic Linear and a Grouping, the expectation should be that an Advanced Linear is on the horizon…and sure enough, game 3.
Game #3: Art Gallery Shifts, an Advanced Linear Game
The scenario for game 3 is a common one: 5 people working over a five-day week, with two shifts per day and exactly two shifts per person. That creates a one-to-one, balanced arrangement, where ten spaces are filled by “ten” people (each of the five used twice). So unlike the last game the distribution here is clear, and aside from keeping to the 2-2-2-2-2 format, numbers shouldn’t be much of a factor.
Sadly for most people that was about the only compliment they could pay this game. And I can see why!
Inferences were hard to come by here, as the rules were straightforward enough (some Not Laws for G and L on shifts, some Not Laws for K on days) but revealed nothing terribly obvious on a Global scale. The amount of potential movement seemed daunting, especially given that all six rules were in play and were often confusing. And the interactions between those rules were far from clear at times.
Ahhh but a well-trained test taker should see through it and recognize a profound opportunity: templates!
Consider the LL block in shift 2, and the fact that not only does G have to avoid those Ls, but G also has to avoid itself on consecutive days. Further, we always have to keep an entire day wide open to accommodate H and J working together, and with K taking spaces on Tuesday and Friday we’re even further limited.
So here’s how I created my templates, and, with luck, how you created yours. It all starts with the LL block, and the four placement options for it (soon to be just three, as I’ll show):
(1) LL Mon/Tues: To keep our Gs away from L and separated, we need G on Wednesday and Friday. So K goes with L on Tuesday and with G on Friday, and the HJ day is Thursday (the only open day here). We have 8 of 10 spaces filled, with only Monday shift 1 and Wednesday shift 2 open, and only H and J to fill them.
(2) LL Tues/Wed: That puts Gs on Monday and Friday. It can’t be Thursday because K is Friday and there would be no open day for HJ (G on Thursday means there’s something taking a spot from HJ every single day). K goes Tuesday with L and Friday with G. HJ is Thursday. We again have 8 of 10 spaces filled, with only Monday shift 2 and Wednesday shift 1 open, and only H and J to fill them.
(3) LL Wed/Thurs: That puts Gs on Friday and Tuesday. Like (2) above, G can’t be Monday because we need that day for HJ, since K is already taking a Tuesday spot (G on Monday would mean there’s something taking a spot from HJ every single day). K goes with G on Tuesday and Friday. We again have 8 of 10 spaces filled, with only Wednesday shift 1 and Thursday shift 1 open, and only H and J to fill them.
(4) LL Thurs/Fri: That puts Gs on Monday and Wednesday, and here we have a problem. The HJ block needs an empty day, and this leaves none. G is Monday, K is Tuesday, G is Wednesday, L is Thursday, and L and K are Friday. So this fourth option is out!
Those three, just THREE, templates absolutely destroy this game, taking it from what would have been the hardest game on this LSAT to what is arguably the easiest.
Go on, try them out! They’re devastating.
Game #4: Six Cookbooks, a Grouping Game
The last game is another Grouping game, making this a fairly typical LG section: Linear, Adv. Linear, two Grouping. So at the very least students should’ve been grateful for the predictability of the section as a whole.
Unlike a lot of Grouping games, including the second game in this section, game 4 only deals with two groups, allowing for more powerful contrapositives, and thus inferences, as you work through the rules and their connections. That is, with a binary construction, determining that one thing will not happen immediately tells you that the other thing will: if a book is not released in the fall, for instance, then instead of “not fall” you can show it as the more powerful “spring.” And vice versa.
So with that in mind, combined with the KN block and M/P split, you can make some extremely useful deductions. Consider, for example, the final rule:
M in fall tells you N in spring. That also means K in spring, since K and N are together, and P in spring since M and P are split. And the contrapositive? N in fall then M in spring, which also means K in fall (with N), P in fall (away from M), and O in fall from the third rule. Aside from L, your wildcard variable, that determines every book!
Speaking of L and a full determination, question 22 asks for a statement that would allow the placement of all six books to be known. First, we have to account for L, since so far there are no rules about it. Next, consider what would give you the other five: K or N in the fall, as described above. Answer choice A tells us both L and K fall, so it’s correct.
Finally, the game ends with a Rule Substitution question, where you are asked to replace the final rule (discussed above) with something equivalent. Fortunately, knowing that M in one season is perfectly synonymous with P in the other season meant that swapping in P for the original M wasn’t too tough to recognize.
All in all not a bad game to finish an otherwise medium-to-low-level-difficulty section of LG.
Ultimately, October 2015’s Logic Games weren’t overly demanding, and the “hardest” game, game 3, could be absolutely crushed with the right knowledge and approach. So I see this as another example of both the test makers’ predictability–every game concept here has been employed countless times before–and the incredible power a well-informed test taker has when facing a challenge most find insurmountable.
Questions? Comments? Let us know below!