…guaranteed to be correct, unless they’re not!
The November LSAT fast approaches, and the time has come for us to brush off our crystal ball and peer into its murky depths in order to bring you some predictions about what you’ll see on the November 2018 LSAT.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty for each section, let’s talk about general trends. Over the past decade or so, the LSAT has been fairly predictable, and students got really good at preparing for the types of things they knew they could expect to see on their LSAT (thanks in part to test prep companies’ refining the way they teach those skills).
So for a while, things were trucking along fairly normally — there were some big shifts, like the addition of the comparative Reading Comprehension passage in June 2007, but mostly people went into their LSAT having a pretty good idea of what to expect.
However, from LSAC’s perspective, that’s a bad thing: Part of the goal of the LSAT is to show who really knows their stuff, and if the LSAT becomes too easy or predictable, it’s harder to bring out distinctions among the broad spectrum of LSAT-takers.
So recent years have seen a decided shift back toward making the LSAT more unpredictable. The rules of thumb that served test takers so well for many years are now being subverted. At face value, the LSAT looks the same as it has for the past decade — but once you start diving into the details, you’ll find that the tough questions have been made even tougher because they are based on subtle distinctions that no rule of thumb can prepare you for.
In other words, it’s not enough to memorize the common fallacies or how to use conditional logic; you’ll need to be able to think a little outside the box to identify things that don’t fall neatly into any category.
For Logical Reasoning questions, the effect of the aforementioned general trend is that many of the tricky questions rely on more subtle distinctions or word choices. In Implication questions of years past, there were many questions where the various statements seemed to be pointing in a specific and clear direction; nowadays, you’re likely to see more Soft Must Be True questions where the statements don’t fit together in a predictable way. In Flaw questions, the flaws are less likely to fall into the common categories, and more likely to be based on specific flawed assumptions (“the argument takes for granted that…”).
So those are my real predictions. But it also wouldn’t be a Blueprint prediction post without some shooting-the-moon, overly-specific predictions; for Logical Reasoning, my off-the-wall prediction is that there will be precisely three questions based on the thoughts and arguments of philosophers. Philosophy is so hot right now, y’all.
Consistent with the trends we’re seeing in other sections of the LSAT, recent test administrations have included fewer questions that rely on cut-and-dry “what does the passage state as an example of this,” and have shifted more toward asking you to make inferences (such as “which of the following would the author be most likely to agree with”).
My off-the-wall prediction: One of the passages will be about an obscure jazz musician. Also, there will be at least one passage with one of those questions that asks “which of the following could most logically be added to the end of the final paragraph.”
For many years, you pretty much knew what you were getting on the Logic Games section of the LSAT; there might have been some tricky deductions (I’m looking at you, mauve dinosaurs), but for the most part, you didn’t need to worry that you’d see any particularly off-the-wall game types. However, from 2014 through 2016, the test makers reintroduced unusual game types (including a Circular game, in the February 2014 exam that got recycled on the July 2018 test).
The trend of weird games has mostly gone away since 2016. All the games on the new, non-recycled tests in 2017 and 2018 have been normal ordering, grouping, or combo games. But still, the million-dollar question on test takers’ minds is whether there will be a strange game on their test. If I had to guess — which of course, is the entire point of this post — I’d say that you have a better-than-average chance of seeing an unusual game type on the November 2018 LSAT. It’s been a while since a strange game has appeared, and the test makers have an incentive to make the exam unpredictable to test takers. I therefore recommend that you spend some time brushing up on as many Neither games as you can get your paws on.
My off-the-wall prediction: There will be a Mapping game related to islands in the Caribbean.
People preparing for the LSAT tend to latch onto predictions like Velcro. That’s a completely understandable impulse. Part of what makes the LSAT scary is that you walk into your test center having no idea what’s coming, and if someone can give you a better idea of what you might see on your test, it offers a significant degree of peace of mind.
But it’s important to remember that no one other than the test makers can be absolutely sure what’s coming on upcoming test administrations.
Predictions like these might nudge you to brush up on a certain question type or topic, but you should never focus on predictions to the exclusion of other skills and concepts. I can make my best guess as to what you’ll see on your test, but there is a very good chance that I’m wrong — so use predictions (mine, and all others) as a reminder not to forget to study certain skills or topics, but make sure you can still competently handle things that weren’t mentioned in the predictions as well.