We’ve written before about how to use scenarios to defeat certain Logic Games – essentially, when one rule leads to a limited number of possibilities for how that game can work, you’ll want to jot down each of those possibilities. But just how “limited” are we talking here?
The general rule of thumb is that if there are four or fewer possible scenarios, it’s worth your while to write ‘em out. In fact, I’d argue that – when you’re preparing for the LSAT – you should go ahead and try out scenarios if you have even the slightest suspicion that they might be useful. After all, there’s very little downside to completing scenarios, and sometimes it can lead to huge deductions. Even if you find that most or all of the scenarios are still pretty incomplete, you’d likely have to do the same work once you hit the questions, so it’s not like your wasting your time by doing that work up front.
So, now we’ve established that if there are four or fewer possibilities, you should probably whip up some quick scenarios. However, there are also certain exceptions to the “four or fewer” rule of thumb. For instance, in Game 4 of the October 1994 LSAT, the evil geniuses at LSAC have you combining flasks to create a new solution of a different color. To make a long story short, there are nine possible ways in which the flasks can be combined. Although we normally wouldn’t bother writing out nine possibilities, in this particular game, jotting out the scenarios is very quick (since you just have to write down what color would result from each combination). The questions would require you to do the same work at some point, so writing out the scenarios is definitely worth taking a little extra time before diving into the questions.
Ultimately, as with everything else on the LSAT, use your best judgment. If, for instance, a certain block can only fit in three spots, you probably have nothing to lose and everything to gain by writing out those three possibilities. If there are more than four scenarios, but those scenarios will be extremely complete, go for it. And if you’re studying and you think that scenarios might be helpful, but you’re not sure, just give it a shot – even if you end up feeling that you didn’t need the scenarios, at least you’ll be able to apply that lesson going forward, and by test day you’ll have fine-tuned your spider sense for what conditions make scenarios truly useful.