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LSAT Logic Games: Complete Guide

Here’s your complete guide to all things LSAT Logic Games.  We’re going to start with the basics of how the Logic Games section is structured and then move on to how to best diagram and attack the common Logic Games. We’ll also get into some top tips and strategies to get your best LSAT score.

What are you waiting for? Let’s crush some Logic Games and get you more points on the LSAT!

Table of Contents

In this post, we’re going to go over:

  1. LSAT Logic Games basics
  2. How to diagram an LSAT Logic Game
  3. How to best approach Logic Game questions
  4. Logic Game types
  5. Logic Game strategies

lsat-logic-games
Let’s get started!

 

LSAT Logic Games basics

The LSAT Logic Games (or Analytical Reasoning) section contains four “games,” each with three main components:

  1. a central setup describing some task that must be completed,
  2. a set of rules to follow when completing that task, and
  3. 5-7 accompanying questions.

The setup, rules, and questions vary in complexity and difficulty, but a Logic Games section typically contains one or two easier games and one or two harder games. So, you’ll want to think about the order in which you approach the games—more on that later!

On the LSAT, there is only one scored Logic Games section with 23 questions. So, Logic Games will account for about 23% of your total LSAT score. Now that you know the basics and the importance of Logic Games to your LSAT score, let’s jump into how to tackle each game!

 

How to diagram an LSAT Logic Game

A few common game types appear over and over again on the LSAT:

  • Sequencing games,
  • Grouping games, and
  • Matching games.

Each of these game types has a standard diagram that will allow you to keep track of rules and possible solutions. Any LSAT prep book, course, or tutor will introduce you to some version of these diagrams because they are critical to your success.

Find diagrams that you’re comfortable with, and memorize them. As soon as you understand what a game is asking you to do, start drawing the appropriate diagram clearly and neatly on the page beneath the game setup. Always try to keep your diagram as simple as possible!

Separate your master diagram from your question diagrams

Your master diagram should be built exclusively from information provided in the game setup and the rules. Label it clearly as “Master Diagram” and keep it separated from the individual question diagrams.

Many questions will provide additional information that can be drawn into a question-specific diagram. Question-specific diagrams are simply master diagrams with new information added. Label them clearly with the question number they represent, and try to draw them as close to the applicable question as possible.

Separating your diagrams and labeling them clearly is helpful for two reasons. First, it prevents you from accidentally applying information from one question to another question where it doesn’t belong. Second, it allows you keep track of deductions you’ve made in previous questions, and then use those same deductions to answer later questions more quickly. (You don’t want to miss a point because you looked at the wrong diagram!)

Now, let’s jump to another fun part of Logic Games – Formal Logic!

Know your formal logic

Formal logic appears in most, if not all, Logic Games—most often in the form of if/then, only if, if and only if, or unless statements. Knowing the nuanced differences between these types of statements will help you interpret rules and draw diagrams more accurately.

In fact, familiarity with formal logic is probably the single most valuable tool on the LSAT Logic Games section. Also, knowing formal logic will improve not only your Logic Games score, but also, your Logical Reasoning score. And who doesn’t want that? So, be sure to review Magoosh’s posts on formal logic: If, Only if, and If and Only If on the LSAT, and If/Then Statements and Contrapositives.

Draw out limited options

If you notice a particular rule or piece of information introduced in a question restricts the number of possible solutions to only 2 or 3, draw each one out completely. For example, if your task is to arrange guests around a table, and a rule tells you that Bob must sit next to Francine, that leaves only two possibilities. In the first, Bob sits immediately to the left of Francine. In the second, Bob sits immediately to the right of Francine. Rather than trying to remember that fact, draw two tables and place Bob and Francine at each based on the two possibilities. This simple step will save you a lot of time and help you get more points!

Once you’ve drawn out these limited options, make sure to incorporate all the other rules into each option. You’ll often find you now have enough information to fill in most—if not all—of at least one of the options. As a result, the related questions will likely be very easy to answer. And who doesn’t want a few easy LSAT questions?

Types of LSAT Logic Games

Identifying the most common LSAT Logic Games right off the bat and learning the basic diagrams associated with each will put you way ahead of the competition on test day. So, let’s dig into the different games and help you take your skills to the next level!

LSAT Sequencing games

Sequencing games are the most common LSAT Logic Games. The good news? They are often the easiest! You might want to start each Logic Games section by searching through the four games and trying to spot a Sequencing game. If you see one, do it first. That’s a nice way to pick up 5-7 points quickly while building your confidence!

Sequencing games have only one set of variables and one set of ordered spaces in which to place them. Variables refers to the made-up names that all start with a different letter and aren’t inherently ordered. For example, numbers, days of the week, or months of the year are inherently ordered, while people and events are not inherently ordered.

A great way to quickly identify a Sequencing game 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 there are 6 trains arriving at 6 different times, it’s a Sequencing game. Rarely, there’ll 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 simply need to draw out your spaces in a line and label them 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 that they’re Algebra, Biology, English, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Water Polo.

Looking to practice your new Sequencing game skills? As always, we’ve got you covered. Check out Where to Find Logic Games Sequencing Practice.

LSAT Grouping Games

Grouping games are the second most common LSAT Logic Games. Like the other game types, they vary in difficulty from very easy to very difficult. However, diagramming a Grouping game is fairly easy, so try to complete these games early to pick up a few points!

How to spot an LSAT 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 categories where your variables will be placed.

Most of the time these categories are obvious. You’re asked to place people on 2 or 3 different teams or pay bills on 2 or 3 different days of the week. On rare occasions, though, you’re given a scenario where you have to select some variables but not others. Don’t be fooled! This is just a Grouping game with 2 categories: one that includes the variables and one that doesn’t.

How to Diagram a Grouping game

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

But you won’t 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, Fixed and Floating, and each has 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 category. Your sketch will look something like this:

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

A ton of information, right? Always a good thing. Check out Where to Find Logic Games Fixed Grouping Practice and Where to Find Logic Games Floating Grouping Practice.

LSAT Matching Games

Matching games are not very common on the LSAT, but they appear often enough that it’s worth knowing how to identify and diagram them. While some Matching games can be quick and easy once you’ve mastered the basic diagram, most of them tend to be time-consuming since the diagram usually takes more time to draw.

If you spot a Matching game, it might be a good one to skip and return to once you’ve picked up some points on the Sequencing and Grouping games. But let’s make sure you get some points on Matching games, too!

How to spot an LSAT Matching game

Matching Games always contain two different sets of variables (for example, people and pets, or shirts and pants), but they do not contain any ordered spaces. 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.

How to diagram a Matching game

The key to diagramming a Matching game is to set 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 an “X” or a check mark to indicate whether or not a particular pairing is selected. That’s about all there is to it!

lsat-logic-games-matching-diagram

The trick with mastering Matching games is not in setting up the basic diagram, but in building rules and inferences into it.

Quick tip: 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.

Be sure to practice Matching games so you can grab these points on test day!

LSAT Hybrid Games

Now that you’ve got the basic Logic Game types down, let’s dive into the hybrid game types. Hybrid games incorporate two of the tasks discussed above, like matching and sequencing, into one game.

LSAT Sequencing/Matching Hybrid Games

Lots of people shudder at the thought of hybrid games, but remember, once you’re familiar with their common forms, they’re not too 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

Like Matching games, Sequencing/Matching hybrids will have two sets of variables. But they 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. Often 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. But because the grid doesn’t allow you to represent order, you end up struggling more than you have to.

In a Sequencing/Matching hybrid, I’d recommend representing the sequencing component horizontally, like you would a timeline. In other words, start with a Sequencing diagram, and build from there.

First, 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-logic-games-sequencing-matching-diagram

Once you have this basic setup, you can start working through the rules. The rules may refer to either set of variables. But don’t worry—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.

Great job with your first hybrid game type!

Let’s take a look at another hybrid game you’re likely to see on the LSAT.

LSAT 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 would be a game you’d 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 categories), 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 category. That’s why these games can be tricky to diagram. But don’t worry. We’ve got you covered—read on for tips on diagramming this game type.

How to Diagram a Grouping/Sequencing Hybrid game

The Grouping action will almost always be the first action in a Grouping/Sequencing game. 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. In a grouping/sequencing game, start with a standard Grouping diagram of categories. Then, you can build internal order vertically or horizontally (whichever you prefer) in each category.

Whew, that’s a lot of information. But you can see from the sketch below that the diagram will still be pretty simple!

lsat-logic-games-sequencing-diagram

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. Either way, practice makes perfect so be sure to practice lots of hybrid games.

Now, let’s look switch gears a bit and look at uncommon LSAT games.

Rare Logic Games

For the most part, you’re only going to see the most common Logic Games on the day of the LSAT. However, some uncommon games have been making an appearance on recent exams.

In the event you find yourself looking at a totally different type of game, don’t worry! We’re going to walk through one of these uncommon Logic Game types, so you know how to approach this game type and any other game the LSAC throws at you on test day.

Mapping Games

These tough games made an appearance in 2014 after more than a decade in hiding. A mapping game will give you information about a subway system or train schedule, and you have to design the map based on the information given.

The trick, as always, is to stay calm and remember what you know. You already have a tried and true method for approaching Logic Games, so stick with it. Use your formal logic and diagramming skills to work through the information presented.

And remember, your goal is still to turn the information presented into a solid sketch to tackle the problems, pick up points, and move on!

You’ve got to be prepared for anything on the day of the LSAT. If you see a game setup you’ve never seen before, don’t panic. Save the uncommon game for last; go get those other points on the games you know well. Then, go back and work through the uncommon game just like you would any other game. Organize the information using the formal logic you’ve learned and move on to the questions.

Now that we’ve covered all the Logic Game types, let’s dive into the questions in more detail.

 

How to best approach questions for a Logic Game

If you’ve drawn a clear, accurate master diagram, and you incorporate question-specific rules into new diagrams, you’ll easily find answers to many LSAT Logic Games questions. However, there will always be a few very difficult problems. The trick is to choose when to tackle these harder problems.

First, leave tough questions for the end of the game. Sometimes you can use information you’ve learned in earlier questions to determine the answer to a difficult question more quickly.

Second, use the process of elimination. Even if your answers to other questions don’t provide a definitive solution to a difficult question, they may tell you which answer choices are wrong. Eliminate as many answer choices as you can, and then, if you’re running out of time, make an educated guess between the remaining options.

Finally, if you can’t rule anything out and the clock is ticking, circle the question and move on to the next game. The worst thing you can do in LSAT Logic Games is steal time from easier games or questions. Make sure you leave enough time to answer every easy and medium question in the section. Once that’s done, you can go back and use any remaining time to tackle a couple of the most difficult questions in the section.

Wondering about some tried-and-true methods to use on all Logic Game questions? Keep reading!

 

LSAT Logic Game strategies

Last, but certainly not least, let’s run through a few key strategies you can use to succeed on LSAT Logic Games.

  1. Tackle the easiest games first. Many students feel more time pressure on the Logic Games section than they do on any other section of the exam. So, the very first thing you need to do when you start the Logic Games section, is to look at all of the games, and figure out which ones will be the easiest for you to do.You have no time to waste! This approach will give you some needed confidence and tackling the easiest games first will give you ample time to answer the questions you have the best chance at answering correctly.
  2. Read every word. The Logic Games section is different from other sections on the LSAT because every word provided is critical. Your job is to decipher what’s important. For the games, you absolutely need to review the rules and ensure you understand them. If you miss just one, you’ll likely get several questions incorrect.
  3. Don’t make illogical assumptions that aren’t in the text. If a rule tells you that Arnold beat Jane and Karl in the race, all you know is Arnold was ahead of both Jane and Karl. You don’t know the order of Jane and Karl relative to each other—the fact that Jane’s name is before Karl’s in the rule doesn’t tell you anything about her placement in the race.
  4. Make inferences. Simply committing all the rules provided to memory and working off those given rules is not sufficient to score well. You must be able to link two rules together to produce a more powerful and useful rule. For example: Ben sits ahead of John. John sits ahead of Laurie. Since Ben > John and John > Laurie, you can infer a new rule—Ben sits ahead of Laurie. Looking at you, making inferences and picking up points!
  5. Practice, practice, practice. Of all the sections on the LSAT, Logic Games is where students often see the biggest improvement. Take your time in the beginning of your studying to get past your frustrations with Logic Games. Keep diagramming and practicing your formal logic and making inferences—you’re bound to see a jump in your score. And who doesn’t want a better LSAT score?

For more on getting started with Logic Games and to learn some key strategies, watch this Magoosh LSAT lesson:

lsat-logic-games-general-strategy

Takeaway

There’s a lot to keep track of when you work on LSAT Logic Games, from understanding Formal Logic to diagramming various game types. Remember to work quickly but methodically through the rules and spend time setting up your master sketch. By practicing these steps over and over, you’ll be ready to tackle anything the LSAT throws at you.

If you’re a Magoosh premium student, remember you can contact our tutors with questions at anytime during your LSAT prep.  Haven’t signed up yet? Start Magoosh LSAT Prep today!

Thank you to Travis, Randall, and Catherine for their contributions to this post!

By the way, improve your LSAT score with Magoosh online test prep!

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