Finding Patterns in LSAT Logic Games
- Oct 04, 2023
- Advice on Logic Games
- Reviewed by: Matt Riley
Welcome to the puzzling world of block relationships in LSAT logic games, where blocks don’t just stack up; they form intricate connections that can actually help you arrive at the correct answer. We could jot down some textbook definitions of block relationships, but to truly understand their impact, it’s best to point them out as we work through a logic game together.
Clown Carpool Karaoke
It’s a tale as old as time, a task so common and familiar that we’ve all encountered it dozens of times in our daily routines: There are seven clowns getting into a car one at a time. The clowns, for reasons beyond scrutiny, are known only by their initials: F, G, H, J, K, L, and M. For equally inscrutable reasons, they are extraordinarily picky about how they get into the car:
- F must enter the car immediately before G does
- H refuses to enter immediately before or after K does
- L insists on entering the car fifth
- F is adamant about getting into the car at some time before J
On the off-chance that you personally haven’t spent years as a clown-wrangler, you’ll likely still recognize the above task as a typical logic game setup with four rules. But can you tell which of our clown car rules will be the driving force behind this game (pun unapologetically intended)?
At first glance, L enters fifth seems powerful as it limits L to only one spot in the line-up. But L isn’t connected to any other variables.
F before J is helpful in a few ways — it involves multiple variables and tells us that J can’t enter first and F can’t enter last. But, on its own, it still leaves 21 different possible ways to arrange F and J (15 if you account for L’s position).
The real star of the show here is F and G entering in that order.
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Focus on Block Rules
When evaluating rules in LSAT logic games, it’s important to focus on impact. In ordering games, block rules are almost always the most impactful because of the fixed knowledge we gain from them about multiple variables and multiple slots.
In our clown situation, FG only has six possible arrangements on their own, and since L is blocking the fifth spot, FG can’t go in either slots 4 and 5 or 5 and 6.
The four remaining options (12, 23, 34, 67) can form the basis for powerful scenarios (I’ll leave it up to you to spot which of those four scenarios is actually impossible).
Block relationships in logic games come in various sizes and two primary varieties: fixed or variable. Larger blocks are more impactful than smaller blocks, and fixed blocks are more impactful than variable blocks.
Thus, a rule that said there is exactly one clown who enters the car after F but before G would be significantly more useful than a rule that said J and K enter the car consecutively, but not necessarily in that order. F _ G not only occupies two variables and three spots, but it fixes the order of those variables.
JK (reversible) does affect two variables and two spaces, but because the order is unclear, it is far less restrictive on the overall arrangement of the clowns.
Always be on the lookout for fixed relationships between multiple variables and consider how many possible arrangements of that block exist. As you work through the game, focus on how the block’s position interacts with available spaces and the other rules.
For example, if we were told that G enters the car immediately before L, we’d know that J must come after L:
_ _ F G L ( J, )
That’s worth noting and might be enough for a point on an easy question. But more interesting (and much more likely to be part of the correct answer) is what the arrangement tells us about M—Yes, the least picky of all of our clowns.
With the middle of the diagram clogged up by F G L and J filling one of our last two spots, we need to ensure that our two clown haters don’t end up next to each other (H and K). How do we do this?
We must put one of them before our FGL block and the other one after it:
(H/K, ) F G L (J, K/H)
Now we can tell that the only remaining option for getting in the car early is M. This might be described as M could be 2nd, M must be before L, M cannot be 6th, or in several other ways.
The important takeaway for us is that paying careful attention to the block relationship helped us uncover a restriction on a variable that initially seemed completely unrelated.
The ability to notice, understand, and exploit patterns can be the key to conquering even the most perplexing LSAT logic games. Identifying block relationships within the rules is just one way to leverage patterns. Want to try this strategy on a real LSAT question? Create a Blueprint LSAT account to take a free practice LSAT with complete answers, explanations, and performance analytics.
Or if you need more help with logic games, we got you! Blueprint LSAT students increase their LSAT scores by 15 points on average and we can help you too!
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