A technique worth 2-10 points on the Logic Games section
Before I started tutoring LSAT students one-on-one, I didn’t see a particular barrier that many if not most students have while working through Logic Games. This is a problem in mechanics that seems to afflict students from across the score range. You’ll probably be surprised — it’s nothing as sexy as an esoteric diagramming technique or inference strategy. (You know you’ve been looking at the LSAT too long when those things become sexy).
It’s quite simple — students don’t write enough. They physically don’t put pencil to paper as much as they should be.
I’ve taught this to dozens of students, and I make sure our instructors are always on the lookout for students making this mistake. It’s not unusual for a student to improve by several points if they faithfully implement this advice. What do we mean?
When working through an individual problem, most of the time you’ll want to create a new diagram (with the exception of the “list” question). Then, after doing some strategic eliminating, you’ll work through 2-5 of the options to quickly eliminate until you find the right answer. This is where students often get caught up. Instead of quickly plotting out the options in their diagram, they try to fit it all into their head and process mentally. It’s just not possible — the problems are too hard to do mentally. Fundamentally, working through logic games involves making smart deductions and eliminations — but then using process of elimination as quickly as possible on whatever is left.
That’s why we have diagrams in the first place!
Particularly for lower scoring students, logic games is daunting because it seems like there’s so much you’ll need to do at once. The secret is breaking down not only each game but each question into several small operations rather than one big one. The test is designed so that you can’t work these problems in your head, though that’s exactly what students tend to do — and the tell-tale sign is a student looking at a problem without writing for more than about 10 seconds.
There are a few exceptions to this rule — as someone who has hired tons of 175+ scorers, I’m well aware that there are a few LSAT-takers who can just look at a problem and deduce the answer. I’m here to tell you that if you aren’t regularly scoring into the 170’s on practice tests, you are not one of them.
Bottom Line: As you work through a logic games question, you should be constantly writing. It takes training to do this. As a rule of thumb, if you find yourself with your pencil in the air for more than 10 seconds working through a problem, you aren’t writing enough!
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