Unwrapping the Tricks and Treats of the 2013 October LSAT

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The 2013 October LSAT was another one for the ages, dear readers.

Yesterday, LSAC released October LSAT scores, not mention the test itself. So now we can check our LSAT blog predictions and our 2013 October LSAT Instant Recap to see how well they captured the feel of the test.

First off, the 2013 October LSAT curve:

170 = -12
160 = -27
152 = -41

A pretty standard LSAT curve for a pretty standard LSAT. Our predictions were almost dead-on here; that’s what happens when you go with the average! This LSAT curve definitely reflects a relatively difficult first LSAT Reading Comprehension passage and a killer LSAT Logic Game, with an otherwise-standard difficulty.

In the spirit of Halloween, here are the Tricks and Treats from the Logical Reasoning section of the 2013 October LSAT:

TRICKS OF 2013 OCTOBER LSAT LOGICAL REASONING

1) The first 2013 October LSAT Logical Reasoning question was a Sufficient Assumption fill-in-the-blank question. Normally, this question structure is relegated to Soft Must Be True questions. Not so this time. However, once you figured out the question type, the question itself was fairly predictable.

2) We get yet another crazy astronomy question related to the origins of life on Earth. The answer this time? Space spores. These questions are arguing things so foreign to most test takers that it’s hard to just parse what’s going on. Difficult question.

3) As is seen from Trick #1, the prompts continue to get more difficult. While we didn’t see any new question types, we certainly saw some of the old stand-bys phrased in different ways. For instance, there was a doozy of a Parallel Flaw question that was phrased as a reduction ad absurdum argument.

4) Juarez and the Journals? Time-consuming and difficult. Definitely a hard Parallel question.

5) While diagramming is normal in Sufficient Assumption questions, the LSAT threw a question about dairy inspectors that involved quantified formal logic. That type of logic usually shows up in a Must Be True question, so it was tricky to deal with here. Combining “most” statements is difficult enough when they give you the premises; here, you had to work backwards and come up with the premise that would let you draw the conclusion.

TREATS OF 2013 OCTOBER LSAT LOGICAL REASONING

1) This was a treat for me, at least. Using a flaw question, the LSAT took Geico and Progressive ads down a peg or two. Of course the people who switch to Geico save money – they wouldn’t switch if they didn’t! That doesn’t mean everyone will be in that group. Thanks, LSAT, for making future lawyers more savvy consumers!

2) There were a couple softball Main Point questions, where the main point was just an opinion on the views of another group (“…but surely they must be wrong.”). This is a common question construct, and it’s good to see that it’s still worth a couple points.

3) After the killer Parallel question that was Juarez and the Journals, the 2013 October LSAT tossed an easy Parallel question at you in the second section. That halogen lamps stimulus had a bevy of quantifiers that could be used to quickly eliminate the wrong answer choices.

That sums up the good and the bad of the Logical Reasoning section on the 2013 October LSAT, but what about the overall trends?

First, Strengthen Principle questions (“Justification” questions to those of you who are using subpar, i.e. non-Blueprint LSAT Prep, study materials) were out in full force. I view this as a good thing. Once you get the strategy for them down, they’re extremely easy. Just find the answer that says, “If the premises of the argument are true, then the conclusion is true.”

Second, Must Be True questions made a strong comeback, taking top spot over Most Strongly Supported questions in the Implication Family. The trend towards Soft Must Be True questions seems to be breaking; most students prefer the certainty of MBT questions, so this is a good thing.

Third, hopping on the zombie trend, Agree/Disagree questions are coming back from the grave. There were a statistically-significant (I assume – I don’t know how to run those numbers) increase in these questions compared to recent LSATs.

Finally, the LSAT has been going full-on science mode with their topics for Logical Reasoning questions. Medicine, origin-of-life, and astronomy questions made up a ton of the section.

TRICKS AND TREATS OF 2013 OCTOBER LSAT LOGIC GAMES

1) This sounds like the worst line-up of all time (Vegemite is a sandwich, not a band. And if you’re playing Australian rock, you better be Men at Work). However, the game itself was a very easy Ordering Game. The rule-replacement question at the end kicked it up a notch, but that’s about it.

2) This second game was a pretty easy In-and-Out Grouping game.

3) The killer game of the section, this combo game involved breaking the movies into different screens, then arranging them in order, with a few empty slots. Setting up each screen to have slots for 7, 8, and 9 (with some slots Xed out as empty) was important to track the ordering rules. Definitely the game most likely to trip people up.

4) This last game was a Tiered Ordering Game. If you tried to do it as a combo game, you probably had a lot of difficulty with it. However, once you set it up correctly, it’s not too difficult of a game.

TRICKS AND TREATS OF 2013 OCTOBER LSAT READING COMPREHENSION

1) Wow. This is how you’re going to start the Reading Comprehension section off, LSAC? Really? I’m going to refer to this as the Killer Tofu passage.

This prion passage is definitely one of the hardest passages on the LSAT. Focusing on the shift in the scientific community was important. Also, the causality in the third paragraph should have been tracked to answer any question about the way the prions work. The first paragraph was largely background info on another area of study.

To me, the weirdest part of this passage is that recent science grads definitely had an advantage. Prion disease is a relatively new area of study, and, as such, is frequently taught in biology classes. And this passage covered the basics. I think a lot of science majors would have felt comfortable answering the questions without the passage.

2) Ah, a passage on twerking. After the killer first passage, this should have felt like a walk in the park. As long as you didn’t spend eight minutes day-dreaming about Miley Cyrus moving parts of her body while others stayed still.

3) This relative income Comparative Passage had some subtlety to it, and neither passage made a particularly convincing argument. However, the questions themselves shouldn’t have been too bad if you focused on the main point of each passage. A solid understanding of the study also helped.

4) The final passage had an extremely strong structure, so it should have been very straightforward. There wasn’t much subtlety to the main point, and any specific question clearly fell into one of the paragraphs.

So, overall, the 2013 October LSAT was pretty standard. A killer Game, a rough Passage, but a whole lot of normality to the rest of it. We’ll check the trends mentioned against the next test when it comes out, but it seems like the status quo is more or less maintained on the LSAT.

5 Responses

  1. Claudia says:

    Great overview! LG games killed me. I misinterpreted a rule on game 3 and went on a downward spiral from there. When I finally got the chance to go through the LG section this morning, I actually managed to solve it at a decent pace. A good lesson to SLOW DOWN when I set up the game and squeeze as many inferences / deductions out of it as possible. December will be better :)

  2. Joan says:

    I have a quick question b/c I’m in a bit of a predicament. So February 2013, I took the LSAT, but I cancelled it – largely because a lot of personal things were going on (my uncle and my aunt passed away).

    Then, I took this past LSAT in October – and due to being sick and not having any sleep, I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, and my score was a lot lower than my practice test scores.

    Should I take the December LSAT then? I strongly believe I can do a lot better, and I read that I could write an addendum to explain the score history.

    • Matt Shinners says:

      If you can earn a higher score, it’s always the right decision to retake the exam. And it sounds like December would go better, so I would definitely look into taking it then.

      For the addendum, the explanations will definitely help. However, there will be the question of why you didn’t decide to cancel/postpone the second LSAT since you were sick. A quick line in the essay can take care of that; but when you’re explaining two scores (or a score and a cancel), it increases the chances you’ll come across as whiny. Definitely be sure to mitigate that as much as possible; you might even consider only explaining the first Cancel, depending on how your December score comes out.

      • Joan says:

        Thank you for the advice!

        There are around 5 weeks until this next LSAT. Do you have any advice or tips on how to study for a retake? I’m thinking of doing a mix of drilling questions and taking practice tests, and really working on my weaknesses.

  3. Michelle says:

    Question related to retaking the December LSAT and submitting applications. I’ve read your post from a few years back about how to go about submitting applications early if the December will be a retake. I’m thinking about taking what was referred to as the Mel approach and submitting in Nov while notifying schools that a second Dec LSAT score will be coming in. Do you think it’s possible some top schools will toss the application even before the second score comes in? Essentially, I’m wondering if just waiting for my Dec. score could present a better impression than submitting as is (assuming the score comes out a lot better)?

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