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A Frustrating New Type of Question on Logic Games

Dirty, New Type of Question on Logic Games

By its very nature, the Logic Games section of the LSAT is very frightening for students. When acceptance to the law school of your dreams rides on your ability to decipher whether Lucita is accompanied by Ms. Margoles or Ms. Podorski, stress is sure to follow.

The worst thing the test makers can do is pile stress on top of this, and yet that’s what they frequently do. The latest incarnation: a new type of question.

Students get very comfortable, as they are studying, with the common types of questions in games:

Which one of the following is a complete and accurate list…

If Penelope is assigned to the yellow team, then…

About two years ago, a new type of question popped up. It presents a much different challenge from other question types. Here is an example:

Which one of the following, if substituted for the condition that ___________________, would have the same effect on the rest of the game?

And then it came up again. And there was another one on the next test. Next LSAT, there it is again. And it has become a staple of the games section. You see, when the test makers find something that works (by ‘works’ I mean causes nightmares for a large proportion of the testing population), they stick with it.

Basically, these questions ask you for a different way to say the same thing. If you run into one of these bad boys, here are some tips.

1. Anticipate

You might think that there would be no way to know how an answer choice could use a different rule to place the same restrictions on a game. But you might be surprised to learn that you have completed this task before in your everyday life. Whether talking to a friend or spouse, you commonly have to rephrase the same claim to make your point.

“Dude, don’t put any mozzarella cheese into the tequila. No, like really, tequila and mozzarella don’t mix.”

“Baby, it is my responsibility as a friend to attend the bachelor party. No, honey, it has nothing to do with you, it’s just what I have to do as a friend.”

Utilize those skills and see if you can anticipate another rule that would be synonymous to the first. For example, say an ordering game involves that claim that Georgette must arrive before Francesca. An answer choice to this type of question must establish the same relationship, so anticipate something that says Georgette cannot arrive later or at the same time as Francesca. In a grouping game, consider a rule that claims Babar cannot be assigned to the Hellcats with either Delta Flyer or Frankenstein. What’s another way to establish the same condition? Anticipate an answer choice that outlines the only people who could join Babar on the Hellcats (leaving out Delta Flyer and Frankenstein, of course).

2. Not too hard; Not too soft

The most common mistake committed on these questions stems from confusion as to the basic task. Remember, your job on these questions is to find an answer choice that places the same restrictions on the game. No more and no less. It must be a perfect substitute.

Students generally dismiss answer choices that place different restrictions or not enough restrictions on the game. However, they are commonly tempted by answer choices that place stronger restrictions on the game than were originally present.

Pretend you are doing a game in which you are doing some party planning – you must determine the order of arrival of seven friends, four boys and three girls. Here is the big rule:

Tashika is the first girl to arrive, but not the first of the friends to arrive.

Now here’s the question:

Which one of the following, if substituted for the condition that Tashika is the first girl to arrive, but not the first of the friends to arrive, would have the same effect on the order of arrival at the party?

Here are some answer choices that are easy to eliminate.

Tashika must be either the fourth or fifth friend to arrive.

If Tashika is the second friend to arrive, then Kyle must be the sixth friend to arrive.

Both of these answer choices clearly change the original conditions. But this one might be a little more tempting.

Only boys can arrive before Tashika, and Juan must be the first friend to arrive.

Here’s what this rule establishes. First, Tashika arrives before all of the other girls. Second, Tashika cannot be the first friend to arrive. Bam. Got it… Not so fast. You see, this answer choice also establishes that Juan must be the first to arrive. That is an additional restriction that was not part of the original rule. This answer choice is incorrect because it goes too far.

The correct answer choice to this one would sound something like this:

Only boys can arrive before Tashika, and at least one of the three boys must arrive before Tashika.

Not too little, not too much, just right.