June LSAT Takers: Spend a Little Extra Time on This Stuff
- May 29, 2018
- General LSAT Advice, LSAT
The well-prepared test taker, just like the well-coached basketball team, should be best prepared for the most likely outcome. A well-coached basketball team, like, say the Warriors of the Golden State, should have been exceedingly well-prepared for the most likely outcome playing the Rockets of Houston last night.
They should have known that for the Rockets’ game plan would involve hirsute point guard James Harden standing at the top of the three-point arc, ball in hand, engaging in his convoluted jab-step or dribble routine until he is satisfied enough to either step back and attempt a three-point shot or drive to the basket, at which point deciding to either contort his body arrhythmically to evade defenders and lay the ball into the hoop, throw the ball out back to one of his fellow Rockets deferentially arranged around the three-point arc, or — should a defender be tempted into petting Harden’s luxurious beard and instead accidentally strike one of Harden’s errant limbs — draw a foul call.
That the Warriors were so seemingly ill-prepared last night — allowing the Rockets to acquire an 11-point lead by halftime — was damning. It took a miracle of statistical variance — the Rockets missing twenty-seven three-point shots in a row, something that the more-mathematically-astute-than-I say should only happen once in 186,220 attempts — for the Warriors to win last night and advance to their fourth straight NBA Finals.
You, the (hopefully, soon-to-be) well-prepared test taker cannot count on a statistical miracle like that on the June LSAT. So while the Warriors try to ensure that they are better prepared for the Cavalier Clevelanders in the NBA Finals — perhaps by looking into whether the non-LeBron James Cavaliers are actually impressively lifelike mannequins affixed to Roombas — you need to make sure you’re prepared for what the June LSAT is most likely to throw at you.
So we’ve taken a look at the past few years of the LSAT, and have compiled a few things for each section that we think are very likely to show up on the June 2018 exam, along with some last-minute pointers for each. With the caveat that you only have to look at our past LSAT predictions to see how often we are wrong, we think that you should be especially well-prepared to handle these Logical Reasoning question types, these Logic Games, and these Reading Comp passages. In the final few weeks before the June 11th exam, make sure you have these down pat, and you’ll be able to dunk the June LSAT into oblivion.
Expect a Higher Than Usual Number of Disagree Questions
Until last year, the LSAT was always good for one or two Disagree questions — questions in which you have to characterize a particular point two speakers disagree about — per test. Then, on the September 2017 test, there were four Disagree questions, and on the December 2017, there were five. Internet scuttlebutt suggests that there were quite a few on the undisclosed February 2018 test as well.
The last few tests could be anomalous, or evidence that the LSAT is beginning to place more emphasis on Disagree questions. The latter happens from time to time — there used to be about five Strengthen questions per exam, for instance, until that number ballooned to seven or eight a few years back. In any event, you should be prepared for the chance that Disagree questions will comprise 10% of your LR questions.
Last minute tips: Disagree questions can be deceptively difficult. Your mission is simple enough: find out what two people disagree on. But doing that task that can require a bunch of skills you learn for the LSAT. You have to break down and understand arguments, just like on Describe questions. Sometimes you have to make inferences to figure out what’s at issue between the two speakers, as you do on a Soft Must Be True question. Sometimes one of the speakers accuses another speaker of committing a logical fallacy, which gives it the glint of a Flaw question. Other times the speakers disagree on whether a condition is sufficient or necessary, so diagramming can come into play.
To make your ostensibly straightforward task actually straightforward, try to anticipate the point of disagreement by narrowing in on the issues that both speakers discuss. There will many issues that only one of the two speakers discusses. Any answer choice that brings up one of those issues will be wrong — you can’t validly infer one speakers’ opinion on something if she never discussed it in the first place. So focus in on the issues both speakers discuss, and try to infer what precisely is at issue between the two speakers.
Also remember: if an answer choice expresses a statement that similar to, but stronger than the statement the speaker actually made in the stimulus, you don’t know what the speaker would say about that answer choice, and that answer choice should be eliminated.
You’ll Probably Get a Lot of Strengthen Questions, But You’ll Definitely Get a Lot of Flaw and Necessary Questions
If, say, you compiled a spreadsheet of how many times each LR question type appeared on each LSAT over the past five years or so — not saying any particular LSAT blogger was lame enough to do that, but hypothetically if one did — you’d realize something surprising: that Strengthen questions are the most prevalent question type on the LSAT. That used to be different. When I took the LSAT, Flaw questions were the most common, by far.
That said, there’s still a relatively high variance in how many Strengthen questions you could get on your exam. You could get as many as eleven, the number of Strengthen questions December 2017 test takers saw. Or you could get as few as three, which is how many Strengthen questions June 2017 test takers got just six months earlier.
There are two related question types, which are nearly as prevalent but fluctuate far less across exams: Flaw and Necessary questions. The LSAT is pretty much always good for between six and eight Flaw questions and between four and six necessary questions, and only occasionally goes a question above or below that range.
So the most likely outcome on the June 2018 exam involves a ton of Strengthen questions. So you should be prepared for that. But you should also be prepared for a ton of Flaw and Necessary questions, as well.
Last minute tips: Fortunately, you can — and should — get prepared for all three of these question types at once. You should practice Flaw, Strengthen, and Necessary questions at the same time, because all of these question types come down to identifying a problem in an argument. Getting good at each entails getting better at quickly and accurately figuring out what’s missing in an argument — and typically, that missing piece is related to a common fallacy. So if you can identify the common fallacy committed on each question type, you’ve done the hard part. The rest is typically straightforward: you look for the answer choice that accurately describes that fallacy on a Flaw question, or you look for the answer choice that shows it’s possible to fix those problems on a Strengthen or Necessary question. So do mixed practice sets of these three question types to reinforce the common skills for these common question types.
Do Scenarios, Lots
For some games, it makes sense to divide the game into the few possible ways it can play out, and figure out everything that happens in each outcome. We call doing this making scenarios, and it’s an essential tool to have in your Logic Games utility belt. Now, more than ever. Of the twelve published games from last year’s LSATs, I would have not recommended making scenarios for only one. For whatever reason, using scenarios has been the best way to complete an overwhelming majority of recent games. I would expect this to continue into the June LSAT as well.
Last minute tips: You should know, backwards and forwards, all the rules that are practically automatic scenario-makers, both for ordering and grouping games. You should also have, as part as your Standard Operating Procedure for doing a logic game, a point at which you check for any especially constrained player, slot, group, or distribution that might be good to use for scenarios.
Finally, it can help to re-do old games to help you figure out when and how to make scenarios. So try a games that didn’t go well sans scenarios again, this time making scenarios, and see if that makes the game go more smoothly the second time around. Alternatively, give games that didn’t go well with scenarios another shot, this time without the unhelpful scenarios, and see if the you can get through the questions more quickly and with fewer complications.
Repeat After Me: Ordering and Grouping, Ordering and Grouping
Games almost always involve one of two essential tasks: ordering stuff or assigning stuff to groups. And that’s it, for the most part. Ordering and grouping. In fact, there was a long stretch of the LSAT’s history — like 2003 to 2014 — when that was really all games involved. So weird, unfamiliar games that didn’t involve ordering or grouping — which we call “neither games” — didn’t really appear during this time. Then, starting in 2014, the LSAT started giving test takers a couple of odd-ball games that didn’t neatly fit into the ordering/grouping paradigm. And throughout the exams of 2014, 15, and 16, there were a few strange games that test takers had to contend with.
This era of bizarre games is still fresh enough to leave a bunch of people preparing for the LSAT — nerves already frayed by the pressures of studying for the exam — positively shook. But the thing to remember is that, even during this era of tough games, you could have approached all but one of these games using the tools and methods from a typical ordering or grouping game and been fine. For instance, the infamous computer virus game of September 2016 and the abhorred worksite trading game of June 2014 could have been approached as a normal, boring, and manageable ordering game. Only the building game from the December 2016 test was a true neither game.
So, remind yourself, before every game: “This is probably either an ordering game or a grouping game. Even if it seems like it’s something else, there’s probably some ordering or grouping going on.”
Last minute tips: Actually do these weird 2014-16 games in a timed, test-like environment. Use the exams from 2014 through 2016 as practice exams — or just use the Logic Games sections as an individual, 35-minute section. Get experience using the tools and techniques for ordering and grouping games to do these strange games. You’ll see that it’s not that bad, and that these types of games are nothing to fear. And then, if you get a weird version of an ordering or grouping game on your exam, you’ll know what to do.
For Whatever Reason, the Comparative Passage Will Probably Be About the Law
The comparative passage — the one with passage A and passage B — throws a lot of test takers for a loop. It’s hard enough to understand these dry academic articles about obscure topics in the time provided. Trying to understand two passages and how they relate to each other in the time provided can feel Sisyphean. But, fortunately (or, I suppose, unfortunately, depending on how familiar you are with the legal system), all of the recent comparative passages have been about the law.
Seriously, like, all of them. February 2018’s comparative passage? About intellectual property law. December 2017? Also about intellectual property law. September 2017? About judges and judicial candor. June 2017? Judicial research. December 2016? Insider trading law.
So the most likely outcome for your Reading Comprehension section is a comparative passage about the law. Now, we like to emphasize at Blueprint that the subject of these passages don’t matter all that much. The structure of the passage and the author’s position is what matters the most. And if you know what to look for in comparative passages, you’ll be fine. But still, it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on some aspects of the law, just to be prepared for a nearly inevitable passage about it.
Last minute tips: In case you’re not working in a legal environment and don’t have a legal background and don’t know much about the law, read some primers on the legal system. We’ve made some for you, for your convenience. Although neither the LSAT nor law schools expect you to know anything about the law before taking the exam, it wouldn’t hurt to know the basics, so you’re not confused or intimidated by the occasional piece of legal jargon that shows up. Once you’ve been primed on the legal system, do a bunch of these law-related passages.
Before sending you on your way, we should note that predicting what’s on the LSAT is a bit of a fool’s errand. There’s a not insignificant chance that there are no Disagree questions and that the comparative passage is about avant garde poetry or something. You should be prepared for anything on the LSAT, and you should be well versed on every LR question type and every LG game type, in particular. But given the finite nature of time, focusing on these things can provide the last minute push to get help you Curry a few more points and get ahead of the Kerr-ve.
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