Two Predictions and Tips for the June 2019 LSAT

BPPross-lsat-blog-sep-2017-predictions

We are ten days away from the June LSAT, a distressingly low number of days, to be sure. And though the realization that there is only a week-and-change left before test day may fill you with dread of the deepest and most existential kind, you shouldn’t despair. In fact, there’s a lot to celebrate.

For one, it’ll be a holiday! No, not Memorial Day the week before the test. The June LSAT is actually going to be New Year’s Day, at least according to LSAC. LSAC, for reasons I could never determine, uses a June-May calendar. So the made-up year 2019-2020 commences with the June LSAT. And LSAC is clearly in a celebratory mood, as they’ve given all test takes a great gift. They’ve dropped the writing sample from test day, and now will let test takers do the writing sample on their own time, from the comfort of their own homes. Plus, repeat test takers who already did a writing sample on a past exam don’t even have to do the writing sample again.

But new years bring changes. New year, new you … and also new LSAT. The June LSAT has historically been the test in which LSAC has introduced changes to the test — like the introduction of the comparative Reading Comprehension passage in June 2007. Now, any major change like that gets announced before the test — there have been no big announcements about changes to the content of the exam, so there won’t be any major changes (and if you just noticed I took the contrapositive of a conditional statement, you’re super prepared to take the June exam).

But June tests have also augured more minor, unannounced changes — like the introduction of the rule substitution question in June 2009. So to maybe help you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the upcoming exam, we’re using today’s post as an opportunity to make some predictions about the June test, and to offer some tips on how to prepare yourself for those potential changes.

As always, these predictions aren’t based on any inside information. We pay attention to these exam as closely as anyone, and we always try to make our guesses based on the available evidence, but they’re still guesses. And, truthfully, I’m wrong all the time. But it’s better to be overprepared than under-; in that spirit, here’s what we’re predicting for the June test.

Prediction Number 1: We’ll See Multiple Questions About the Same Argument on Some Logical Reasoning Stimuli

I think we’re going to see a return of common feature of old exams. Before I clarify what that is, know that this is admittedly a pretty wild prediction. I might be spectacularly wrong about it. But this is a hill I’m prepared to die on (or, less melodramatically, a statement I’m prepared to look a little silly for making).

OK, here’s what I predict: I think there are going to be a couple of times on this June test where they’ll ask two questions about the same Logical Reasoning stimulus.

This used to be fairly common on old exams. In the exam’s early days, they’d sometimes ask you multiple questions about the same stimulus. You’d get an argument in the stimulus, and they’d ask you to identify the flaw in the argument, and then the next question would ask you to strengthen the same argument. Or you’d get a stimulus that featured two speakers in heated debate, and you’d get one question that asked you to identify what the point of disagreement between the speakers was, and then the next question would ask you to determine how the second speaker responded to the first.

These multiple-questions-about-the-same-stimulus would show up at least once or twice on the LSATs in the 90s and early 2000s. But starting in June 2003, they stopped showing up. And they haven’t been seen — at least on the real, scored LR sections — since. Like the white walkers who took an 8000-year sabbatical from terrorizing northern Westeros, the multiple-questions-about the same-stimulus format is gone and largely forgotten.

But, like the reports of white walkers’ reemergence form terrified brothers of the Night’s Watch, we’ve been hearing whispers of these multiple-questions-about-the-same-stimulus showing up on experimental sections of recent exams (and, also like Ned Stark, we were forced to reluctantly behead these sources for betraying their oath to remain silent about the contents of the exam). The people who write these exams (and, yes, actual people write these exams — these questions are not generated by an algorithm that hates you) use the experimental sections to try out questions they’ll eventually deploy on future exams. In fact, the March 2019 exam was apparently just a compilation of past experimental sections, ripped whole cloth from earlier exams. So it was clear the test writers are priming us to see a return of multiple-questions-about the same-stimulus.

Why do I predict they’re going to return on *this* exam? Again, the June test is the start of the new LSAT year, according to LSAC. It’s the test in which they introduce new features. Recall, it was a June exam in which they introduced the comparative passage. It was a June exam when they stopped featuring multiple-questions-about-the-same-stimulus. So I think it’s going to be a June exam in which they start featuring multiple-questions-about-the-same-stimulus again. And since so much is already changing with the LSAT this year — no more test-day writing sample, the crazy-ass July exam, the switch to a digital exam in September — it seems like they’d be willing to make at least one more somewhat minor change.

How to deal: First of all, a lot of recent test takers I spoke saw these multiple-questions-about-the-same-stimulus appear on their exams, and immediately surmised that they were doing the experimental section. They were correct, but they were assuming that the test writers wouldn’t put these multiple-questions-about-the-same-stimulus on a real, scored section. I don’t think this assumption is warranted anymore, so I wouldn’t recommend assuming that any LR section with multiple-questions-about the same-stimulus is the experimental section.

But if multiple-questions-about-the-same-stimulus do reappear on the scored sections of the June 2019 exam, that’s actually pretty good news for you. On recent exams, if there were 26 questions in an LR section, there’d be 26 stimuli you had to read. If this old question format returns, there may be 26 questions but only 24 or 25 stimuli you have to read. Obviously, that’s less reading. Which will make it a little easier to finish the section.

That said, it’s worthwhile to prepare a reliable approach to this type of question. I think it’s a good idea to read both prompts first. Get a feel for both tasks you have to do. That should give you a sense of how to best approach the stimulus. For instance, sometimes these stimuli would feature two speakers, but one of the questions would only pertain to the first speaker’s argument. It would make sense to answer that question first, since you can read just the first speaker’s argument, focus on that, and not worry about what the second speaker said. And then, when it comes time to do the second question, you can just read the second speakers’ argument and add that to your understanding of the first speaker’s statements.

Most of the time though, these two questions were complimentary. Sometimes they would ask you to identify a flaw in an argument and how to strengthen the argument. Or a flaw and a necessary assumption in the argument. Since the first steps for both Strengthen and Necessary questions is to identify why the argument is flawed, do the Flaw question first, and then that will allow you to quickly answer the accompanying Strengthen or Necessary question.

If you want to practice this approach, try to get a hold of an old practice exam. Pretty much any exam before PT40 will feature at least a one or two examples of these multiple-questions-about-the-same-stimulus question format.

Prediction Number 2: There’s Going to Be a Really Hard Logic Game

This is related to the above prediction — if they do bring back multiple-questions-about-the-same-stimulus, that makes Logical Reasoning just a little bit easier. But if the LSAT gods giveth, they must also taketh away. If one part of the exam becomes a little bit easier, another typically become a little bit more difficult. And I predict we will see the logic games section become a little bit more difficult.

Besides, it’s been a while since we’ve had a truly back-breaking, demoralizing game. Not to engage in a temporal fallacy or anything, but it sort of feels like we’re due. The closest thing we’ve had to a really tough game on recent years was the air quality examiner game from the December 2017 test. Although that one was complicated, it was a fairly standard game. You have to look all the way back to waning days of the Obama administration to find the last truly crazy game — the trading building game from the December 2016 exam.

It’s been a minute, so I think we’ll see a really tough game on the June test. It’ll probably be the fourth game, and I’m going to predict that it’s going to be a tiered ordering game. If only we had a blog post, for you to consult, about how to make complicated tiered ordering games much easier. Or a post about how making scenarios can make any ordering game much less complicated. If only.

How to Deal: Well, read the above posts, for one. Then put your feet to the proverbial fire, and start to challenge yourself with really tough games. Even if I’m wrong about the presence of a really tough game on this exam (and I very well may be!), tangling with very tough games will make the rest of the games seem all the easier by comparison. As a self-proclaimed logic games sommelier (wow, where did my life go wrong to the point that I would willingly say that about myself), enjoy this choice selection of tough tiered ordering games: game three from December 1997, about reviewing introductory and advanced textbooks, game two from the December 2002 exam, about conferences attended by employees of the totally real-sounding company Capital Enterprises, game four from the October 2008 exam, in which shuttle van passengers exit one at a time at each stop, game four from the December 2012 exam, about finance, nutrition, and wildlife magazine articles, and game three from the October 2013 exam, about movies shown on three screens at a theater.

But don’t forget about some of the other notoriously difficult games: the lizards and snakes game two from the December 1998 test; the new and used CDs game two from the June 2000 test (a game forever enshrined in movie history thanks to its appearance in Legally Blonde); the mauve dinosaur game three from the June 2009 exam; and the computer virus game four from the September 2016 test.

But here’s the thing with tough games: You’re spending your day reading an LSAT blog about the test you’re about to take (and we appreciate your readership!). You clearly take your studies seriously. In all likelihood, you’re taking your studies more seriously than 90% of the people taking the exam. Seriously, start chatting with a stranger before your test, and you may be shocked about how underprepared some people are. If you’re well-prepared, you should want — nay, crave — a difficult games section. With the right practice — the practice that you’re going to get in these final ten days — difficult games are the most conquerable “difficult” part of the LSAT. So you’ll be better equipped to handle more complex or unusual games than your fellow test takers. Difficult games are almost always accompanied by a more forgiving curve. Which will give you more room for error to earn your target score, or perhaps even allow you to exceed your target score. So, I’m predicting a hard game, and for your benefit, I hope I’m right.

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