LSAT Unplugged subscriber Jacob conducted a lengthy interview with me about the strategies of top-scoring LSAT takers.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
The logic games are probably the most feared subject on the LSAT. Yet many students are able to achieve a perfect score on the logic games. So, why are they the most feared and how does this transformation occur?
Well, it happens because logic games, for most test takers, are really the lowest hanging fruit in terms of their preparation. If students are typically unfamiliar with games, they seem very boring. Unless you went to a nerd math camp over the summer, chances are you haven’t seen many problems like this before.
The reading comprehension – well, you’ve been doing reading comprehension on the SAT and the ACT. You’ve had it in high school. Logical reasoning, while you may not have had anything to do like it, in terms of analyzing arguments, it’s really something involving lots of reading, which is familiar to most test takers. Games are a bit more mathematical and symbolic. Most test takers don’t have a background in problems of that nature. So, that’s why they are the most feared.
The transformation to a perfect section comes from realizing that although games might seem mathematical, they don’t really involve any kind of math. They involve a limited set of skills that you can refine and ultimately perfect, simply by becoming familiar with the patterns that are tested. You can become familiar with these patterns by doing lots and lots of LSAT games. So, the transformation involves doing lots of LSAT games and then learning the methods to attack those games, learning efficient diagramming techniques and the common formats and formulas that the logic game section uses.
I’ve found in my analysis that there are a number of common formats and formulas that the LSAT logic games use, in terms of how you can go about making inferences. So, I went through many of the old exams and I grouped together games that seemed similar to each other. I found that there were certain types of grouping games, specifically in-and-out games (also known as selection games) where the process by which test takers could make inferences would be extremely similar from game to game.
So, if you’ve done one of these older games, you would, then, be well-prepared to make inferences in one of the newer games without having to reinvent the wheel on the spot. So, a lot of scoring a perfect section comes from being time efficient, which, in turn, comes from recognizing those patterns from the previously administered exams.
You’re saying if one can go over a certain amount of logic games and memorize the inferences and the feel of the game, questions and the right and wrong answers and just get into the flow and into the pattern, they’ll be able to do well? Like you said, a lot of them repeat themselves – not exactly, but in some form.
On the one hand, the LSAT is lazy in that they’re simply taking old games and dressing them up with a new topic. Of course, they’re not really lazy, and these games are not completely identical to each other. They’re just incredibly similar, and I suspect that the reason the LSAT likes to use this same format over and over again is because they test the skills that the LSAT wants to test. Test takers who are more diligent in their studying may pick up on those patterns.
You’re always going to have people who do very little studying. They just walk into a bookstore, pick up the first book off the shelf, and they consider that adequate preparation without really doing thorough research beforehand in terms of what materials are best and that sort of thing. It takes a lot of work. It’s not really memorizing, though. It’s just about becoming familiar with those formats through repetition.
So, with that being said, there’s a lot of games out there. How many games would a student need to learn in order to be proficient on a new LSAT?
Well, everyone’s different, of course. Everyone has different levels of aptitude. So I can’t give a one-size-fits-all answer. I would say that, probably, the most recent 30-40 exams worth of games would be more than sufficient for the vast majority of people. But this involves not just doing them once, but doing them and redoing them. Maybe not redoing all of them, but maybe redoing some of them. I would say using maybe 20 exams worth of games builds a strong foundation, and then using another 15-20 exams worth of games to complete, either individual-timed sections or full-length timed exams.
Maybe the games are something that shouldn’t be feared?
No, I don’t think they are something that should be feared. I think it’s something that’s kind of a blessing in disguise because you are able to perfect your skills on this section since there’s a limit to the kind of format and game types that they use. So, you’re far more able to perfect your work here than on either of the other sections.