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How to Diagram Common LSAT Logic Games

Timing on the LSAT test is meant to be challenging, and nowhere is it more so than in the Logic Games (Analytical Reasoning) section. You have to complete four games in 35 minutes, which means that before you can even begin answering the 23 associated LSAT questions, you have to read each game, interpret the rules, draw everything out neatly, and make inferences. This is probably the single place where the most time is wasted on the LSAT. Nonetheless, if you can identify the common LSAT Logic Games and learn the basic diagrams associated with each of the logic game types, you don’t have to fall victim to this time-suck.
 

Sequencing Games

Sequencing games are the most common LSAT Logic Games, and they are also usually the easiest. Because of this, you may want to start each Logic Games section by flipping through the four games and trying to spot a Sequencing game among them. If you see one, do it first. That’s a nice way to pick up 5-7 points quickly while building your confidence.

How to spot a Sequencing game

Sequencing games have only one set of variables and one set of ordered spaces in which to place them. By variables, I mean objects with made-up names that all start with a different letter and aren’t inherently ordered. By inherently ordered, I mean that they don’t have a natural order in which they must occur. Numbers, days of the week, or months of the year are inherently ordered. People, events, and most objects are not inherently ordered.

And as a quick side note, it’s technically possible that two of your variables will start with the same letter, but it’s uncommon. Maybe you’ll see Psychology and Political Science as two courses that you must put in order. They both start with P, but you can call one Ps and the other one Po, or whatever makes sense to you.

A great way to identify a Sequencing game quickly is to look for the ratio of spaces to variables. Anything with a 1:1 ratio of variables to spaces is Sequencing. For example, if you have 6 trains arriving at 6 different times, it’s a Sequencing game. Rarely, there will be one extra variable and you’ll be required to assign two variables to one space. That’s still Sequencing, and you can just treat that space as divided into two sub-spaces.

How to Diagram a Sequencing game

Since all you’re doing is putting things in order, you just need to draw out your spaces in a line and label them clearly. Clearly list out your variables somewhere nearby, and you’re ready to start working through the rules. Here’s an example of how to diagram a student’s class schedule if we know the student is taking 7 courses, and they’re Algebra, Biology, English, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Water Polo.

LSAT Sequencing Game Basic Diagram -magoosh
 

Grouping Games

Grouping games are the second most common LSAT Logic Games, and they can vary in difficulty from very easy to very difficult. However, diagramming a Grouping game is usually fairly easy, so I recommend trying to complete these games early in the section.

How to spot a Grouping game

Like Sequencing games, Grouping games have only one set of variables. Unlike Sequencing games, Grouping games do not have a 1:1 ratio of variables to available spaces. Instead, they provide you with only 2 or 3 “bins” in which your variables will be placed. Most of the time these bins are very obvious. They’ll ask you to place people on 2-3 different teams or pay bills on 2-3 different days of the week. On rare occasions, though, they’ll give you a scenario in which you have to select some variables but not others. Don’t be fooled! This is just a Grouping game with 2 bins: the “IN” bin and the “OUT” bin.

How to Diagram a Grouping game

All Grouping games have the same basic diagram, which is just a set of labeled bins just like the one below.

LSAT Grouping Game Basic Diagram -magoosh

But you’ll never really stop there, since the game will always provide you with more information that can be incorporated into your diagram before you even get to the rules. There are two common types of Grouping games, each with its own special details in the diagram.

In a Fixed Grouping game, the setup tells you exactly how many variables will be assigned to each group. In this case, you represent those variables by drawing the appropriate number of slots in each bin.

LSAT Fixed Grouping Game Basic Diagram -magoosh

In a Floating Grouping game, you won’t necessarily know how many variables go in each bin. However, there are usually some hints as to the minimum or maximum number that can be assigned to any given bin. Therefore, you can draw slots where appropriate and use question marks to represent places where variables may or may not be assigned.

LSAT Floating Grouping Game Basic Diagram -magoosh
 

Matching Games

Matching games are not very common LSAT Logic Games, but they appear just often enough and cause test-takers so much trouble that it’s worth it to know how to identify and diagram them. If you spot a Matching game, it might be a good one to skip initially and return to once you’ve gotten the Sequencing and Grouping games out of the way. While some Matching games can be quick and easy once you’ve mastered the basic diagram, most of them tend to be time-consuming if only for the fact that the diagram takes more time to draw.

How to spot a Matching game

Matching Games always contain two different sets of variables (for example, people and pets, or shirts and pants, or cars and paint colors), but they do not contain any ordered spaces. In other words, you’ll be asked to pair the sets of variables with each other, but you won’t be required to arrange them in a particular order. For games that require you to match sets of variables and arrange them in order, see the diagram for Sequencing/Matching Hybrid games below.

How to Diagram a Matching game

The key to diagramming a Matching game is setting up a table. List one set of variables vertically and list the other set horizontally, creating a grid of boxes in which you can place Xes or check marks to indicate whether are particular pairing is or is not selected. That’s about all there is to it!

LSAT Matching Game Basic Diagram -magoosh

The trick with mastering Matching games is not in setting up the basic diagram, but in building rules and inferences into it. A valuable piece of advice: pay attention to whether each variable can be used once or more than once. If a variable can only be used once, then you can places Xes in its entire row or column as soon as you’ve placed at least one check mark in that row or column. However, if the variable can be used multiple times, you lose that advantage.
 

Sequencing/Matching Hybrid Games

Lots of people shudder at the thought of hybrid games, but remember two things about them. First, at least one of them appears on every exam, so you’ll have to face them eventually. Second, once you’re familiar with their common forms, they’re really not that difficult. Sequencing/Matching hybrids are relatively common LSAT Logic Games, and while they can vary in difficulty, they’re easy to set up.

How to spot a Sequencing/Matching Hybrid game

Sequencing/Matching hybrids will have two sets of variables just like Matching games, but they will also require you to place the sets of variables in order. For example, they might ask you to schedule speakers in a lecture series, and then assign each speaker an auditorium in which to present. Oftentimes, one set of variables will contain fewer items than the other set, meaning that at least some items in the smaller set will have to be used multiple times.

How to Diagram a Sequencing/Matching Hybrid game

A common mistake test-takers make is to attempt to set these up as regular Matching games using a grid. That’s a problem because the grid doesn’t really allow you to represent order, so you end up struggling more than is necessary.

In a Sequencing/Matching hybrid, the Sequencing action is always the dominant action. Therefore, you want to start with a Sequencing diagram, and then build off of that. You set out your row of spaces to house the first set of variables (this should be the larger set if they are different sizes; otherwise, it probably doesn’t matter which one goes first). Then, you simply duplicate that with another row of spaces directly beneath it, where you’ll place the second set of variables. If two variables from different sets are paired together, then they should occupy spaces directly above/below one another.

LSAT Sequencing-Matching Basic Diagram -magoosh; diagram LSAT logic games

Once you have this basic setup, you can start working through the rules. The rules may refer to either set of variables, but you’re prepared to handle that because you can place members from each set in their respective row, wherever the rule stipulates they should go.
 

Grouping/Sequencing Hybrid Games

This is the other common LSAT Logic Games hybrid. Like the previous hybrid, Grouping/Sequencing hybrids can vary widely in difficulty. They can also be a little tricky to set up at times, so this might be the kind of game you want to leave for the end.

How to spot a Grouping/Sequencing Hybrid game

Grouping/Sequencing hybrids will contain only one set of variables, but you will be asked to place those variables into groups, some or all of which may have internal order. For example, you may have to schedule which movies play at a theater on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (so you have 3 bins), and then determine when each movie will play (at 7pm, 9pm, or 11pm). As with regular Grouping games, it’s possible to have either a fixed or floating element, meaning you may or may not know how many variables are assigned to each bin. That’s why these games can be tricky to diagram.

How to Diagram a Grouping/Sequencing Hybrid game

The Grouping action will almost always be the dominant action in a Grouping/Sequencing game. It’s possible that you could be asked to arrange items and then group them (an example would be determining the order of lectures and then deciding how many are scheduled in the morning and how many in the evening), but that’s uncommon. When Grouping is dominant, you start with a standard Grouping diagram of bins. Then, you build internal order vertically or horizontally (whichever you prefer) in each bin.

LSAT Grouping-Sequencing Basic Diagram -magoosh; common LSAT logic games

When it’s a fixed grouping game, it’s pretty easy to draw the exact number of slots you need and label each clearly. If it’s a floating grouping game, you may need to use some question marks again to denote what you do and don’t know.

Diagramming LSAT Logic Games: A Quick Recap

There are really only 5 common LSAT Logic Games for which you need to be prepared. Of course LSAC can throw us a curveball now and then in the form of a rare game type, but the chances are slim and the time it would take to prepare for all of those possibilities is probably not worth the investment. To best prepare for a rare game type, your best bet is just regular practice. Check out Rare LSAT Logic Games and Where to Find Them for a list of games you can find in the official LSAT PrepTests. The more comfortable you are with the principles of organizing data, the better you’ll perform when you have to come up with your own organizational strategy.

Now that you’re familiar with the Logic Games basics, learn some basic strategies for the other two sections of the LSAT exam: Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension.

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