Why shouldn’t you use books containing fake (non-LSAC-written) LSAT questions?
- Real LSAT questions are written by people with backgrounds in philosophy. As a result, the questions are written with a degree of tightness that is extremely difficult to match. Real questions are heavily-vetted before test-takers even see them. They’re also administered as part of the exam’s experimental section before they are administered as scored questions. They’re simply held to a higher standard than those written for the typical retail prep book.
- Fake questions can be constructed to demonstrate the “effectiveness” of techniques that would be ineffective on real questions.
- Fake questions can actually be real questions in disguise (tainting recent PrepTests).
- Depending on the source, these “fake questions” might actually expose you to real LSAT questions from recent exams.
How is this possible if the questions are fake?
The Princeton Review’s new LSAT Logic Games Workout book fails to mention that, in a way, it does use real LSAT questions. In fact, it implies that it doesn’t at the end of the second paragraph on page 1.
However, this book contains games that appear to be slightly-altered versions of several real LSAT Logic Games from recent PrepTests.
I see three major possibilities here:
1. This is just a big coincidence.
2. Earlier this decade, LSAC test-writers used a time machine, traveled forward in time to 2009, saw this book’s Logic Games, loved them, and decided to alter them for use in real exams over the next few years. (Reminds me of Biff and the sports almanac in Back to the Future II.)
3. The authors took real LSAT Logic Games written by LSAC and changed the Logic Games’ topics and variables. In many cases, they also changed the presentation and order of the rules, as well as the order in which the questions are presented. In some cases, they added a question of their own to the game.
The 3rd possibility appears to be the most likely, so I’ll go forward on the assumption that the 3rd possibility is the correct one.
Why is this bad?
Consider the following:
Joe Bloggs, your average uninformed LSAT-taker (who doesn’t read anything on my website, or he would’ve used this book instead):
1. sees an LSAT Logic Game for the first time and cries
2. works through the LSAT Logic Games Workout
3. does a few recent exams under timed conditions and does much better on the Logic Games than expected
4. merrily takes the LSAT, thinking his improvement was a result of using the Workout book
5. does significantly worse on the real thing than expected
Little does he know that the most recent exams he took basically contained the very same Logic Games as the ones in the Workout book.
For this reason, Joe’s practice test scores were inflated. This gave him a false sense of confidence. As a result, he wasn’t able to make an informed decision about whether he was ready to take the exam. Had he known that he wasn’t as strong in Logic Games as he’d thought, he would’ve been able to think about whether he needed to cancel his LSAT score, postpone the test, or simply be absent.
Poor Joe…we can’t really blame him for not realizing he simply did the same Logic Games twice – first in the Workout book, and then in the actual PrepTests.
1. Some time had probably passed between doing the Workout book and the full-lengths.
2. Under the pressure of a timed practice exam, he probably didn’t have the leisure to have feelings of deja vu. (“Hey, this Logic Game setup looks familiar…”)
3. The variables (letters) had been changed. The Workout version of a given Logic Game may have contained the variables A-G, while the PrepTest version may have contained a game with the variables H through N.
4. The Workout version’s topics had been changed from the actual PrepTest’s LG topics.
5. The order in which the rules were presented had been changed.
6. The order in which the questions were presented had been changed.
7. Some games had an additional question in the Workout version.
8. In general, the wording had been slightly changed.
9. Like most people, Joe probably likes to attribute any good performance to his own intelligence rather than outside factors – like being exposed to the material already.
10. As I said at the beginning of this post, the book’s introduction suggests the questions contained within the book are not real (LSAC-written) LSAT questions.
I don’t know who should be more embarrassed:
—The Princeton Review – for presenting a bunch of altered LSAC-written games as their own, rather than licensing unaltered LSAT Logic Games from LSAC
—Me – for being able to identify the origin of each “fake game” just by looking at its rules.
Luckily, the folks at The Princeton Review were kind enough to allow Google to scan and display part of their Logic Games Workout book.
Below, I’ve linked to the 8 Logic Games from the Workout book available for viewing in Google Books. Along with each game, I’ve included the actual PrepTest # and Game # so those of you interested in the details can compare the two.
Of course, don’t look at any game you plan to complete in the future as part of a full-length practice test. We don’t want your practice test score to be skewed.
Some Logic Games in the LG Workout Book based on real LSAT Logic Games:
1. Solar Panels (page 14 in Workout)
PrepTest 42 (December 2003), Game 2 – Loading dock – fuel, grain, livestock, machinery, produce, and textiles
2. Mother’s Day Bouquets (page 19 in Workout)
PrepTest 43 (June 2004), Game 1 – Civic parade – ﬁreﬁghters, gymnasts, jugglers, musicians, puppeteers, and veterans
3. Blog Rater (page 36 in Workout)
PrepTest 51 (December 2006), Game 2 – Six hotel suites – most expensive to least – F, G, H, J, K, and L
4. Great Bank Bailout (page 40 in Workout)
PrepTest 52 (September 2007), Game 1 – Water treatment plant – G, H, I, K, L, N, O, and P
5. Lounge Crawl (page 50 in Workout)
PrepTest 52 (September 2007), Game 4 – Bread truck / delivery – Figueroa, Ginsberg, Harris, Kanzaki, Leacock, and Malpighi
6. Mixed Nuts (page 59 in Workout)
PrepTest 46 (June 2005), Game 4 – Secret committee – French, Ghauri, Hsia, Irving, Magnus, and Pinsky
7. Six Blind Mice (page 64 in Workout)
PrepTest 52 (September 2007), Game 2 – Field trip to Museum of Natural History – Juana, Kyle, Lucita, Salim, Thanh, Veronica, and Margoles, O’Connell, and Podorski
8. Coalition of Conservationists (page 69 in Workout)
PrepTest 45 (December 2004), Game 4 – Nations X, Y, and Z – Export Alliance – oranges, rice, soybeans, tea, and wheat.
(The LSAC versions of games numbered 2, 3, 7, and 8 above contain only 5 questions each. The Princeton Review added a 6th question to each of these games.)
As you can see, these games are primarily from exams test-takers are likely to use for full-length timed practice.
Moral of the story: Don’t use The Princeton Review’s Logic Games Workout book. Its typos (described in detail in its reviews on Amazon) clearly aren’t the only problem.