Recent LSAC Trends to Watch For On the October LSAT

The October LSAT is little more than a week away, so it’s a good time to look at some trends on recent LSATs. Keep in mind that we at Blueprint LSAT Prep don’t have ESP, nor do we have spies at LSAC, and therefore we can’t know which trends will continue on October’s LSAT and which ones won’t. Take everything below with a grain of salt.

First, the big one: In case you haven’t heard, LSAT test takers this June were surprised to find that each LSAT logic game was spread over two pages rather than one. This leaves much more room to write out scratch work. LSAC has confirmed that this will continue. If you haven’t done so yet, take a look at this June’s LSAT so you can see how the new format looks.

Otherwise, in LSAT logic games, nothing seems terribly new, strange, or different. LSAC has been fairly consistent over the last seven released LSATs (starting with June 2010). On each one, three of the games have involved ordering in some way – they’ve been ordering games or combo games (which combine elements of ordering and grouping).

At least one game on each of these LSATs has been 1:1 ordering; most of the LSATs had two of these. Keep in mind that 1:1 ordering doesn’t have to be easy. The authors of the LSAT have spiced some of these games up with trickier rules such as conditional statements and exclusive disjunctions (“but not both” rules). If you’re not sure how to deal with these rules in ordering games, now’s the time to review. Other 1:1 ordering games were more straightforward.

The remaining game on each of the seven most recently released LSATs has been some kind of grouping game. There have been stable and unstable grouping games, in and out games, and profiling games. The grouping game has been the easiest game on some of the LSATs, and one of the harder games on others. There’s no telling what kind of grouping they’ll do next.

All but one LSAT since June 2009 has had a rule substitution question. These questions ask for an answer choice that, if substituted for a given rule in the game, would have the same effect on the game. If you’re not familiar with this kind of question, check one out.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that this distribution of games will continue. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see two grouping games and two ordering games. But ordering and grouping have been the processes that have ruled the day.

I think it’s a misconception that recent LSAT logic games rely more on writing out lots of hypotheticals than on making deductions. It’s true that a few recent games have lacked for useful deductions and have required some grunt work in attacking the questions. But this has always been true of some games. Other recent games have had major deductions without which they’d be very difficult. Others, still, have had a few minor deductions that have been very useful if not earth shattering. Looking for deductions is still an important part of an effective games strategy.

In the logical reasoning sections of the LSAT, questions that ask you to weaken or strengthen arguments, to identify their flaws or to identify their assumptions have always been very common. These questions all have in common that they give you an invalid, or flawed, argument, and that the correct answer is going to have something to do with the flaws in the argument. These kinds of questions may, if anything, be becoming even slightly more common; they comprised nearly two thirds of the logical reasoning questions on one recent LSAT. Sharpen up your logical-fallacy-identifying skills.

If the word “principle” gives you the chills, do your best to work on LSAT questions that involve principles in the next week. Trust me on this. (And a principle is just a general rule, often a conditional statement, that can be applied to specific cases. Don’t let the official-sounding language scare you.)

Reading comp on the LSAT is carrying along as usual. There hasn’t been any big change since comparative reading came along in June 2007. If anything, reading comp is becoming more like logical reasoning. It’s more important than ever to read the passage for the way its argument is structured. Also, some of the processes that may have become a tiny bit less common in logical reasoning (for example, making inferences from a passage) are still common in the LSAT reading comp section. And these questions look and feel more like logical reasoning questions. There have even been some reading comp questions involving principles.

The bottom line is, there’s no telling exactly what’s going to show up on this October’s LSAT. And while the trends I described above may or may not continue, keep in mind that the only big surprise on the LSAT in the last couple years was getting two pages for each logic game. And that was a pleasant surprise. Otherwise, while there have been easy questions and there have been hard questions, there hasn’t been anything fundamentally weird or unexpected. That’s one trend that’s likely to continue: if you’ve practiced on recent LSATs, whatever you see on LSAT test day October 6 will likely seem familiar to you.

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