A couple days ago, we covered how to work on Reading Comprehension as you shift from learning the basics to reviewing and working on timing. Yesterday, we took a look at Logical Reasoning. So, you guessed it, today’s all about those games.
The first step is similar: identify your weaknesses and address them. If there are any types of games that you just don’t feel comfortable with, now’s your time to go over them. You should be confident in how to set up all the common types of games and how to symbolize all the common rules. If you’re not, every time you take a test you’re wasting time and energy thinking about those things, time and energy that could be better spent, you know, actually solving the game.
Your next step is to turn to your strengths. Your goal is to turn those strengths into impenetrable fortresses of games awesomeness. The relatively easy and predictable game types need to be just that: easy and predictable. You may look at some of the brutal games that have come up and wonder how you’re supposed to do a game like that in a reasonable amount of time. One answer is that you don’t have to, if you can knock the easy stuff out of the way without much stress. If one game takes you five minutes and another seven minutes, that leaves you with 23 minutes for the other two. So, Blueprint students, review those basic 1:1 ordering games from Lesson One. You might see one, and if you do, you want it to be easy.
Another thing to review at this point is when to do scenarios. When there’s something in a game that’s limited to two, three, or four possible options, it often makes sense to try those options out upfront. That’s scenarios. Not every game submits to scenarios. But for lots of games, it’s a strategy that can pay off tremendously. A little extra work upfront can save you loads and loads of time on the questions.
As you practice, if you’re on the fence about whether to do scenarios for a particular game, do them. If you do them and they’re useful, you’ll see why, and that’s informative. If you do them and they’re not helpful, that’s informative, too, and you’ll end up doing the same work you would have had to do to solve the game without the scenarios. But if you don’t set up the scenarios, you won’t learn whether they would have been useful.
Now for the really hard stuff. There have been some weird and hard games on recent LSATs, though you can rest assured that most of the games have been perfectly normal. Even the weird and hard ones haven’t been totally out of nowhere — they’ve all fit somehow or another into a normal game type. But to figure that out, you can’t expect to just stare at the game and have it come to you. The important thing is to build your understanding of the game from wherever you can. Start by asking: is there ordering? Is there grouping? Then, if things are still weird, start with whatever’s normal. If you’re not sure about the setup but you recognize some of the rules, start with those rules and figure out how the rest of the game relates. Or maybe the setup is normal but the rules are weird — that would mean looking at the setup, reading the rules carefully, and figuring out how they relate. All of this is easier if you have enough time, which is why the easy games are so important.
Finally, it’s time to start thinking about a section strategy. For some, it can make sense to skip a game. And even if you’re planning on doing all four games, you don’t have to do them in order. When I take the LSAT, I give myself the option of skipping one game at first, no sweat. So suppose that the first and second games are fine, but then as I read the third it inspires deep-seated feelings of revulsion — I’ll just go to the fourth. This can be helpful even if you expect a perfect score on the games section. It’s helpful to know that everything else is out of the way before you dive into the hardest game. And in the worst-case scenario that the game kills you, doing it last means that your performance on the other games will be unaffected. Another approach is to take a quick glance at the third and fourth games (typically the harder games) before deciding which one to do first.
Good luck, and don’t forget to review your games sections carefully. If something goes wrong, the most helpful thing at this point is figuring it out for yourself as you review. If you can do that, there’s a good chance the next similar game you see will go much better.