This is an explanation of the third logic game from Section III of LSAT Preptest 77, the December 2015 LSAT.
Four offices – W, X, Y, and Z are to be assigned to four employees – Jackson, Larabee, Paulson, and Torillo (J, L, P, T) via random drawing.
This is an unusual game. The best strategy is not to make diagrams. Or just to make very minimal notes as a memory aid. But there’s no sense drawing the rules.
You might consider recopying the chart on the second page, so that there’s less distance for your eyes to move. Reducing eye tracking time/effort has a surprisingly big impact. After repeating the game, I think that recopying might be a better strategy. But I’d have to test it to see, and to wait a couple weeks before I test it because the game is too fresh now. I can say that while writing the explanations for the individual questions, I recopied the diagram and it helped. I timed it: it took me 38 seconds to recopy the diagram, which is probably a good trade-off for the increased access speed.
I was actually fastest at this game when I first did this game. When repeating it, I went slower. It’s that sort of game – there are potential pitfalls if you take a wrong path.
Overall, however, this game isn’t particularly difficult. I showed this games section to my girlfriend, who has never studied for the LSAT. She completed game three easily, correctly and within the time limit. She found game four much harder.
Why does game three seem hard? It’s because, superficially, it doesn’t use the same skills you’ve been training for with other games. Your diagrams and game types are no use to you here.
However, this game does use the same kind of deduction and short term working memory skills that logic games test generally. This game is only hard because it’s unfamiliar. To someone untrained, like my girlfriend, this was actually an easier game.
Get used to these “weird” games. LSAC probably noticed that people were getting too good at logic games, and it was breaking the LSAT. So they upped the difficulty in order to make sure the section remained a useful way of differentiating people who are excellent at games from people who are merely good at games.
When you see an unusual game, don’t panic! You’re not doing anything wrong. You didn’t forget to study something. And it’s absolutely within your capability to do the game well, and on time.
Just take a deep breath, and think. A bit of time thinking about how to approach the game will pay off.
How to approach this game
Ok, that’s enough intro. How should you do this game? Just….count forwards from offices that are chosen. And use some common sense.
For example, question 14. I don’t know if most of those answers need to be true or not. But I know that C will be true. Obviously the person who gets first choice will choose their first choice office! That’s just common sense.
If you waste time testing the other answers, 14 will be hard. But if you just read them all and think, C should jump out as the obvious choice.
Question 15….answers C, D and E are hard to think about. So don’t. It seems pretty improbable that three employees would choose the same ranking level. So A or B are vastly more likely. If you just focus on them, you can solve the question quickly and move on.
Likewise, for question 16, A, B and C are hard to think about. So you shouldn’t. Just test D and E. The first time I did the game, I did this: D was pretty clearly wrong, and E was pretty clearly right.
The second time I tried the game, I tried thinking about A, B and C on 16. That was a mistake. I lost about two minutes and made no headway.
I think LSAC is starting to test your sense of whether an answer is probable or not. Some answers are meant to be skipped over. If one of the more probable answers is correct, then pick it and move on.
(You still have to judge that, say, A, B and C are improbable, D is wrong, and E is correct. You can’t say “I don’t understand whether A, B and C are wrong, but E looks good”. That’s winging it too much. I’m talking about educated guessing, not plain guessing.)
I’ll discuss the questions in more detail on their own pages. But just know that the right way to approach this game is to develop an intuition for what’s most probable, and then to use the rules to check.
Some Guiding Principles
- The first person will choose their first choice. Start from there.
- Someone going 2nd will never get worse than their second choice. Likewise, 3rd will never get worse than their third choice.
- So, on average someone chosen, say, 3rd, will get their 3rd choice or better.
There are no contradictions in this game. Everyone will always have a valid choice: everyone has four offices to choose from, and at most three offices will be taken before that person chooses.
These principles let you eliminate many wrong answers. For instance, three people will never get their third choice, because at least one of them could get their second choice.
I drew no diagrams for this game. However, in the explanations, you’ll see some diagrams. This is because you can’t see inside my head, so I need to draw something to show my thought process. However, these are not what I would use during the test.
The numbers on the left show the order of choosing. The boxes on the right show what the person chose.
I’ve written elsewhere about the benefits of repeating games, to solidify your intuition for deductions. Note that the purpose of repeating games is to prove the answers right, so it doesn’t matter if you remember the right answer.
I repeated this game about three days after I first saw it, by which time I had forgotten the answers. I’ve written how long it took me on the second attempt. That time, or a couple minutes above it, is roughly the standard you should be aspiring to – a lot of people take 8-9 minutes on a repeat attempt, get everything right, and pat themselves on the back. But that’s too slow. The faster you go when repeating, the faster you’ll learn to go the first time you see a game.
(I say “a couple minutes above” my time because, after years of teaching the LSAT, I’m really, really fast. You should be almost as fast as me, but you don’t exactly need to match my pace to score -0.)
Note that I was unusually slow on this repeat. I actually did the game faster the first time I tried it.
Time on second attempt: 8:12
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