Throughout this week, we’ve been sharing our thoughts on the recently released June 2018 LSAT. Today, we’re finishing our breakdown with a check in on the Logic Games section and a discussion of the curve. Check out Thursday’s discussion of Reading Comp here, Tuesday’s discussion of the score release and Logical Reasoning here, and Monday’s discussion of the truly wackadoodle parts of the exam here.
And we’re finishing up our fantastic voyage through the June 2018 LSAT today with Logic Games and “the curve.” In many ways, these are the easiest parts of the LSAT to predict. And yet, in my experience, these are the two sections students freak out about the most. The chance of getting a completely novel game tends to worry a lot of test takers. And yet, pretty much every games section features one basic ordering game, one tiered ordering game, a grouping game of some sort, and then either a second grouping game or a game that combines ordering and grouping. People worry about whether they’re going to get a hard test or an easy test, and then if it’s an easy test, they worry that the curve will be totally unforgiving. But, not for nothing, our resident LSAT soothsayer has been nailing the curve for awhile now.
Did the June 2018 test veer wildly from the expected course in these regards? The suspense is almost definitely killing you at this point. So let’s get to it.
• For Logic Games, not really! The first game, about scheduling eight shipments of flowers, was as basic of an ordering game that is ever on the LSAT. So basic that it probably enjoys mimosas at brunch and binge watching Netflix at night. The next game, about assigning four architects to certain projects and scheduling those projects from first to fourth, was a tiered ordering game with a very typical deductions.
The third and fourth games were both grouping games — stable grouping games, as we call them, in fact. The one twist was that in both, you a discrepancy between the number of players given and the number of slots you had to fill. In the third game — which was about selecting nominees to run for mayor, treasurer, and counselor in an election — we had four slots to fill but we had six potential nominees. That meant this game was overbooked, and we had to keep track of the two players who would not get nominated in an “out” group. In the fourth game, we had two groups: a group of four corporations that would offer 5-year bonds, and a group of four corporations that would offer 10-year bonds. Except there were only six groups in total, making this an underbooked game. Which meant that some corporations would offer both 5- and 10-year bonds. These overbooked and underbooked stable grouping games are getting more common. Although they almost never appear back to back in a Logic Games section like they did here, they’re common enough that they shouldn’t throw any test taker for a huge loop.
• In addition to getting set of games one should reasonably expect to see, games two through four should have been solved using a very common method: making scenarios. For whatever reason, making scenarios has been the way to go on nearly all of the recent games, and June’s set was no exception.
In fact, you should have made scenarios using the same principle for games two through four. In each of these games, we were presented with “or” rules: rules that say there are two mutually exclusive ways the game can play out.
For the second game, about the architects, we learned that the architects Fredericks and Guerrero could only go in the first and second or the second and third spots, respectively. We also learned that either Fredereicks or Guerrero would be assigned to this one project. Using those two mutually exclusive “or” rules created four scenarios that answered every question in just a few minutes.
In the third game, about the nominees, we got two more “or” rules. One was that only Frost or Hu could be nominated to run for treasurer. The other was that Kuno could only be nominated to run for mayor — so Kuno was either nominated for mayo or Kuno wasn’t nominated for anything. As on the second game, if you (ahem) elected to make four scenarios by combining these two “or” rules, you would have sped through the questions.
The last game, about the 5- and 10-year bonds, also had an “or” rule, although this was a little bit hidden. We learned that two companies, HCN and Lorilou, could not offer the same bond. So one had to offer a 5-year bond, and the other had to offer the 10-year bond. So either HCN or Lorilou offered a 5-year bond. Although things were a little more open ended with these two scenarios, they still would have given you a head start on the questions.
Making scenarios with rules that present two mutually exclusive options is generally a good idea. In fact, this was a technique that should have been employed for a few games on the December 2017 exam as well, so it seems like this an increasingly common way to solve games.
• The fourth game was the only of this bunch that I would classify as difficult, so let’s chat about it. There were a lot of annoying things in this game, starting with the unnecessarily convoluted names of the players themselves. We had six corporations, named “Goh Industrials, HCN, Lorilou, RST, SamsonGonzales, and VELSOR,” all of which sound like they were named by some alien life form operating with a vague understanding of what a corporation is and maybe having seen half of Office Space. Obviously, these should have been abbreviated to “G, H, L, R, S, and V” in your set-up, but even doing that didn’t solve all trouble these tortuous names presented. Processing “HCN” as just H, “RST” as just R, and “VELSOR” as just V when the rules made reference to those was a little more difficult than I wanted it to be.
I guess a game being made complicated by intricate names is better than a game being made complicated by impossible deductions. And this game, as long as you were organized and methodical (like a good corporate drone), you would have gotten through the questions easily enough. For this game, I found two strategies particularly helpful: (1) starting off with the aforementioned scenarios (which saved a little bit of time on some of the questions), and (2) realizing that when you have to form a group of four from six potential players, once you find out that two players can’t join a group, the remaining four must join that group. For four of the six questions, strategy (2) answered the question for you, more or less.
• In all, I thought this was a particularly mild game section, which is of a piece of the last year or so of LSATs. These games featured straightforward set-ups, consistent ways to make scenarios, and didn’t ask especially difficult questions, with only one dreaded “substitute a rule” question thrown in. Of course, easy games have their drawbacks. When a lot of people are able to earn a lot of points on the Games section, the curve will be a lot more unforgiving …
• … Which is precisely what this curve was. Here, take a look:
• When most people who talk about LSAT curves talk about LSAT curves, they refer to the number of questions that you can miss on that exam and still earn a 170. Which on this exam was ten questions. So you’ll hear people refer to this exam as a “-10” curve (this is what we predicted for this exam). Generally speaking, the more questions you can miss and earn a 170, the more difficult that exam. By that metric alone, the December 2017 test was the hardest of the last four, and June 2017 was the easiest.
However, if you look at the rest of the chart, you’ll realize that the 170 metric doesn’t tell the entire story. While you could miss a few more questions than you could in the June 2017 exam to earn scores of 165 and higher, to earn anything lower, you had less room to work with. While things got slightly more forgiving on the edges of the bell curve, things were pretty dodgy in the middle, which is where most test takers end up.
• What I’m trying to say: the June 2018 curve was rough. If I got to choose which one of these four exams to take based on the curve alone, June 2018 is my last choice, no question.
And I bring this up for all of you who are still dwelling on the June exam and are debating taking the test again. The severity of June’s curve could have negatively impacted your score. Now, the curve does change a fair amount in the middle from test to test, and it’s impossible to know what the curve will look like in July, September, or November (in large part because LSAC can’t set the curve until people actually take the exam). That said, odds are that the curves in June, September, and November will be a bit more forgiving than this one was. If you’re thinking about retaking the LSAT, this should be a consideration, I think.
• And that will wrap up our coverage of the June 2018 exam. In all, it was a pretty easy test (in relative terms of course … nothing is easy about the LSAT). But, as would be expected with an easier test, the curve was brutal. Although I wouldn’t expect to see anything drastically different in July, September, or November, I would count on getting some more difficult passages or games, but accompanied by a kinder, gentler curve.