Logic Games: Choosing Two of Three
If you are studying for the LSAT, you are probably tiring of hearing your instructor yell at you over and over again about deductions. “Look for deductions. Find those deductions. Deduce, you damned fool.”
There are good intentions behind such sentiments, but noting specific and repetitive deductions can be much more helpful. There is one deduction in particular that has come up on a number of recent tests and it will be the subject of this week’s post.
When you are working through a game, there comes a moment when you notice something. You have two spots open and there are three options for those two spots. Here is the running dialogue that you have with yourself at this point:
Golly gee gosh darn it. There are only three players that can go in those two spots. If only there were just two options for the two spots, that would be sweet. Shoot. Three options? What to do? Screw it, I’ll just try some questions.
That, of course, is what we need to avoid.
This situation arose with the infamous mauve dinosaurs back in June 2009. Two dinosaurs must be mauve, but there were three options to fill the mauve spots. In September 2009, students had to travel back in time and construct some monuments. Two of them had to be constructed in the year 601, but there were three options. The same situation was back in June 2010. There had to be two workshops on Wednesday, but there were three options (including quilting). Finally, in October 2010, the car game forced test takers to figure out who was driving each of two cars. How many options were there? Three.
In other words, this has been happening a lot. And you should know how to handle it.
To discover the best strategy, you should think about what you do in your own life when confronted with these situations. Let me give you two examples that come to mind.
- I have always felt that staring at a buffet is one of the most intimidating moments in life. I always fail. Always. I end up with a plate full of macaroni salad and squash. You really have to plan your attack and think about how to use whatever precious real estate you have left on your plate. You have undoubtedly confronted a situation where there are three items that look tasty, but you only have space for two of them. What do you do? You don’t just move on, rather, you think through the combinations. Apple cobbler and mashed potatoes, apple cobbler and meatballs, or mashed potatoes and meatballs? You think through the three possible combinations and then make a decision.
- In the dating world, this can be a very dangerous circumstance. You are out with your two buddies and there are two cute girls at the bar. Trying to approach with three on two is destined for failure. What do you do? Again, you think through the possibilities. Marco and Steve, Marco and Raoul, or Steve and Raoul? Once you discuss the various chances of success, you decide on a plan of attack.
The LSAT is no different than a buffet or hitting on girls at a bar. You have to work through your options. When you are confronted with a game in which two open spots must be assigned to some combination of three players, you should immediately create three scenarios (options 1 and 2, options 1 and 3, or options 2 and 3). Working through the three scenarios before you hit the questions will lead to lots of additional deductions and the questions will be a breeze.
Until next time, study hard. And stay away from the macaroni salad.