Many students have remarked on the recent trend towards less familiar LSAT games in the last few administrations. The June 2014 and September 2016 LSATs both had games not commonly tested. Why might this change be happening?
Why Have LSAT Games Changed Recently?
NOTE: These are my opinions on the change in LSAT testing. I am not privy to any inside information, nor do I seek to speak on LSAC’s part.
1. LSAC knows how prep courses teach, and might want to change the LSAT slightly.
The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) does not live in a bubble. They are well aware of the plethora of prep courses, books, and seminars devoted to the LSAT. All these resources focus on fitting LSAT games into a specific paradigms. Following commonly taught techniques, students identify games, and then use preset strategies to solve them. For example, if a student figures out a game is linear, they have a pretty clear idea how to deal with it. Also, there is a good chance they can predict the types of questions asked, just based on previous tests. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can now do a straightforward linear game in their sleep.
Now, this is not saying that the games previously tested were not tough. But it made the LSAT games section formulaic. LSAC is always looking to challenge takers, and (re)introducing different types of games allows them to move in a new direction, if they wish, on future administrations.
2. It freshens up the LSAT and challenges takers to deal with uncomfortable or new information.
Looking back, LSAT games did not change much from 2007-2014. In fact, they became fairly routine. If a student drilled themselves on linear, grouping, and ordering games, they had a good chance of scoring well on the section. However, with the examples of one game from June 2014 (Summit Company) and one from September 2016 (computer virus), these newer types of games do not fit into traditional diagramming paradigms. So what gives?
I think that LSAT realized they needed to mix up these games. Slightly changing the premise, but not the method to solving, made the games a bit stale. Introducing new types of questions, or bringing back previous question types from old LSATs, keeps test takers on their toes and make them think critically. I think these newer, different games are designed to primarily see how students adapt to new information and situations — skills that are pivotal to succeeding in law school.
3. So how do I deal with these new types of LSAT games?
The first thing to do is to not worry. Although it seems that different types of games might become more common, they have not completely replaced more traditional games. For example, of the 23 points on the June 2014 LSAT analytical reasoning section, 18 were in games that should be very familiar to students who studied enough; in September 2016, 17 points were in the well-drilled, commonly covered games. So, if you prepare well enough for the LSAT, you should have time to really spend a few extra minutes attacking new, unfamiliar games.
Beyond being prepared for the other games, really take time to solve these games on your own. Try not to look up the answer right away. Do not time yourself initially; just try to figure out the inferences. For both the aforementioned “new” games, there is one big inference in each that makes the games fairly easy to solve once you spot it. You could also spend time going through less commonly tested games, and even try to find some from before Preptest 52, when they became less common.
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