9 Steps For Making Perfect LSAT Logic Games Diagrams
Are you struggling with the Logic Games section of the LSAT? Does the process of writing out game boards confuse you? Or do you understand the basics of the Analytical Reasoning section but want to score even higher? Whichever of these categories you are in, this article will point you in the right direction. Simply practice the LSAT Logic Games diagrams strategies listed below, and you will be scoring better on Logic Games in no time!
9 Steps For Making Perfect LSAT Logic Games Diagrams
1. Read the setup paragraph as well as the rule list
It can be tempting to jump straight to the list of rules and start copying them down on paper. Stop yourself, and make sure you have read the fact scenario carefully. You don’t just need to know the variables and rules at play, you first need to know what you are doing with the variables and rules! Are the variables going to be ordered/sequenced (e.g., runners finishing a race in a certain order)? Are the variables going to be grouped (e.g., group projects that employees will be assigned to)? Is this a game where variables will be both grouped and sequenced? Understanding the scenario is critical to understanding the game itself!
2. Write down and understand this game’s variables
Almost every logic game will have a set of variables that you will have to place in a sequence, in groups, or both. These variables commonly consist of names, places, or animals (or really, any other noun) and will often start with sequential letters of the alphabet. It is easiest to abbreviate and write down the first letter of each variable when working your way through the fact pattern. Also, it is often helpful to take note of the number of variables in the scenario. Are there more, fewer, or the same number of variables as there are available slots? Are the variables equivalent, such as runners in a race, or are they categorically different, with some variables students and other variables tutors? Understanding the game’s variables is the next step when approaching a logic game.
3. Write each of the rules in a shorthand system
Getting the rules down on paper is an essential step of efficiently completing logic games. If you do not re-write the rules, you will waste time looking back at the original rule list. It is also important to make sure that you write the rules with the variable abbreviations so it is easier to manipulate the variables in your mind. Sometimes, students don’t know whether to symbolize variable relationships with a line, arrow, or dots – there are many good systems to use, but what is most important is to be consistent. Switching back and forth between notation systems is a sure way to confuse yourself! Pick one that works best for you and stick with it.
4. Diagram each game into a board
Students who have studied for the LSAT with almost any prep material will be familiar with the need to write out a diagram. This is sometimes called a “game board,” but no matter how you refer to it, this step is an essential part of Logic Games. Make sure that you pay careful attention to the setup. If the scenario is about a 6 month period, are the months January through June, March through August, or simply 1 through 6? Are you trying to determine apartments 1 through 6, or 32 through 37? Be sure to adhere to the rules given! A quick tip: using lined or graphed scratch paper is a good way to keep your game boards neat, organized, and easier to read.
5. Read the scenario and rules – AGAIN!
It may be difficult to slow down and re-read the rules when you can feel the pressure of the time left in the section ticking away. However, taking the time to re-read the rules can save you from making errors that will result in you getting the wrong answers, or wasting a lot of time fixing a chain of mistakes. Re-reading feels counterintuitive when the clock is running, but it is a critical step. Using one minute to re-read can save 5 or more minutes later from making a mistake!
6. Make deductions BEFORE doing any of the questions
While carefully following the rules of the scenario is certainly important, you need to do more than simply apply the rules provided. A critical skill tested by the Logic Games section is the ability to make deductions. In fact, some questions seem to directly test whether or not a student has successfully made certain deductions the test writers expect a student to find!
Consider a simple ordering scenario, with variables A, B, C, D, and the rule “D must come before B”. We can deduce that D will never be in the last slot and that B will never be in the first slot.
When your deductions interact with other rules, you can deduce even more information! Take the previous rule that “D must come before B”, along with our deduction that B can never be in the first slot, and combine this information with a second rule that says “B must be in the first or second slot”. By combining this rule and what we previously deduced, we know that D must be in the first slot! Such a deduction would solidify two variables in our game scenario. Chaining together deductions is a great help when answering questions later.
Deductions can be difficult for many students but are an essential part of the logic games process. If you find that you are having trouble with this part of logic games, consider JD Advising’s LSAT tutoring services for additional assistance.
7. Represent the final rules and deductions directly on your game board
Having the rules represented on your game board itself is a critical step to using the information quickly. Being able to see the information represented visually will help you answer questions quickly as well as assist you in making deductions. Whenever you can easily represent a rule on the game board setup, it is best to write it directly on the board instead of having to refer back and forth to the list of rules.
8. SITUATIONAL: Build scenarios
This final advanced tip can often make or break your performance on complex Logic Games. Sometimes, a variable or slot is heavily restricted, such that there are only 2 or 3 possible versions of the game that remain possible from that restriction. In this situation, it can be extremely helpful to create multiple base game boards, sometimes called “scenarios” or “worlds.” For example, if variables W, X, Y, and Z are in a simple ordering game, and we are given the rule “X must be in the first or last slot” as well as the rule “W must be next to X”, we can build two possible scenarios: “ X W _ _” and “ _ _ W X.” This will make answering future questions easier. As mentioned above, when combined with other rules, even more information can be added to the worlds, making the game even easier as you move through the questions.
9. Write out a new sub-game board for each question
It is important to use your scratch paper carefully and keep it neat and easy to read. Instead of erasing and re-drawing each scenario on your mainboard, write the number of the question nearby on your paper and draw the game board (or relevant scenario board), adding in any new information from “if…” type questions. From there, you can more easily solve the question – and importantly, not make a mess on your main game board(s) which might be confusing to you later on.
If you follow and practice these tips, you should see your Analytical Reasoning LSAT scores improving in no time with these LSAT Logic Games diagrams tips!
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