Here we go, yo. What’s the scenario(s)?

Scenarios are the dragons of the LSAT prep world: Often discussed in harsh whispers, but hard to find unless you know where to look. However, they’re also a powerful tool that can help you achieve your goal with a little strategizing (and a hint of brute force). The below guide will help you demystify scenarios faster than you can say “Daenerys Stormborn, of House Targaryen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons.”

What are scenarios?

In some cases, there are a limited number of ways that a game could work. For instance, you might figure out that a bunch of people need to be next to each other, and there are only a couple places where those people could fit. Or, perhaps there are only two people who could occupy the first spot in a game, and determining who goes first would help you determine where some other people go too.

In those cases, it’s worthwhile to write out each of those possibilities – it helps you see the various ways that the game might work and it usually leads to additional deductions. In most cases, you’d have to do the same work to answer the questions anyway – so although it might feel frustrating to take the time to write out scenarios before starting in on the questions, you’re probably saving yourself time in the long run.

When should I use scenarios?

When there are a finite number of ways a game could work – typically, four way or fewer. As mentioned above, this usually happens when there’s one rule that is especially restrictive. Also, although it’s almost always worth your while to jot down some scenarios, keep in mind that they’re most helpful when they lead to additional deductions. For example, knowing that Sansa and Arya are either both in King’s Landing or both at Winterfell is cool and all, but your scenarios will be most helpful if knowing Sansa and Arya’s location also tells you where, say, Jon Snow needs to be.

How do I build scenarios?

You should focus on one rule as the starting point for your scenarios. For instance, if you know that Cersei, Jaime, and Joffrey need to be next to each other in line, and there are only three potential combinations that allow those Lannisters to be next to each other, start by writing down each of those three possibilities separately. Then fill in the rest of each scenario as much as you can.

How do I use the scenarios to complete the questions?

Once you’ve built your scenarios and deduced accordingly, it’s time to tackle the questions. Your exact approach will vary depending on the specific question, but in general, step one is to figure out which of your scenarios apply to that specific question. From there, use the scenarios to find the correct answer more quickly – if the question asks where someone could go, look for spaces that would work in all of the applicable scenarios; if it asks you where someone must go, figure out what needs to be true in all of the applicable scenarios.

How do I know when I should’ve used scenarios?

It can be tough to figure out when scenarios will work well for a game, and when they’re less helpful. Like everything else on the LSAT, your scenario-detector will improve over time and with practice. In general, I recommend erring on the side of using scenarios when you think it might be helpful – even if the scenarios don’t lead to additional deductions, it doesn’t take much time to jot down some possibilities, and writing down the scenarios will help your overall understanding of the game. After finishing the game, think about whether your scenarios helped you; if so, identify what rules you used to create the scenarios, and keep an eye out for similar rules in the future.

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