Recently, we went over how to get faster on the Reading Comp section of the LSAT. Now, it’s time to go over Logic Games. Finishing the Games section in time was my biggest struggle when I first took the LSAT, but you can improve your speed on the games section greatly. Here are some tips:
Don’t rush through the setup.
You get points for answering questions. Everybody knows that. There’s no partial credit for having a beautiful setup in your test booklet. So when you’re taking a test and the clock is ticking, it can be really tempting to give a cursory glance at each rule and then go into the questions.
Or, my personal version of the problem was something like this: I knew how to symbolize rules pretty well, so I could g through that part quickly and easily. But then even if I made myself stop to look for deductions, I just had a list of rules on my page, that didn’t really mean anything to me. Either way, the problem is that when you go to the questions without really understanding what you’re dealing with, those questions can take oh-so-much longer.
The solution: think as you go. Let yourself notice how each rule might affect the previous ones. If a rule mentions the same players a previous rule mentioned, think about the consequences. When you approach the rules like this, you’re much more likely to notice the deductions as they come up. Even if the game has few deductions, the questions become much easier when you approach them with an understanding of how the rules fit together. A little more time spent on the rules can save you a lot of time overall.
When you can break a game down into a small handful of possibilities up front, it makes everything else so much easier. In recent years, lots and lots of games have lent themselves to scenarios. So make sure you’re studied up on how to do scenarios and the signs that maybe you should do scenarios for different kinds of games.
Also, make sure you actively look for a chance to do scenarios. Many students miss out on scenarios because they just don’t think of it. Don’t count on yourself to automatically spot the thing about the game that makes scenarios a good idea. For each game, make it part of your process to ask yourself whether scenarios might be a good idea. The answer will often be “no,” but it pays to ask.
Perceived time spent and actual time spent aren’t the same thing. Writing out hypotheticals? Feels like it takes a long time but it really doesn’t. Staring at the page waiting for the brilliant inspiration to come your way? Suddenly, minutes have gone by. It’s worth giving yourself a quick second to think about a question before you dive in, because if you think of the easy way to do it you’ll save time. But after that, just start working.
If it’s a conditional question and you’re stuck, make sure you’ve symbolized the info the question gives you and then just start checking the rules one by one for further inferences. If it’s an absolute question and you find yourself staring, either just start trying answers or save it for later when you have more scratch work to look at. It’ll take less time. One note: on any absolute question that asks what must be true, the answer is a deduction in the game. So I’m a bit less likely to skip those.
Make the easy games really easy.
Many students think that since there are four games in 35 minutes, that leaves them 8:45 per game and so all games should be done in under 9 minutes or so. That’s true on average, but most games aren’t average. I got fast on games with practice, but I’m still not all that fast on the hardest games. I buy myself time for the hard games by destroying the easy ones.
Some tests have a really easy game, whereas others only have moderately easy games, so I’m not going to give you a definite timing goal for the easiest game. I’ll just say this: there are lots of games for which a reasonable time goal is something like 5 minutes. Maybe 4 minutes. If you can, say, do one game in 5 and another in 7, that leaves you a total of 23 minutes for the other two games. Makes those hard games seem more manageable, doesn’t it?
The way to do this isn’t to rush through the easy stuff. That leads to disaster. You get through the easy games quickly by knowing exactly what you’re doing and doing it. Ruthlessly. No hesitation.
Make review work for you.
Finally, the process of reviewing the practice questions and tests you do is always really important. In the world of logic games, you should review not only to understand why things are wrong or right but also to refine your strategy. Maybe there was a game you got through, but in the moment it took you a lot of brute force. Now that you’re not on the clock anymore, is there an easier way? As you review, strive to find the most efficient way to approach a game. The more you do this, the better the odds you’ll be able to apply a similar strategy on test day.