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Making Deductions in Ordering Games


Note: As of August 2024, the LSAT will no longer have a Logic Games Section. The June 2024 exam will be the final LSAT with Logic Games. Learn more about the change here.

Even without any practice, an LSAT student could take home a section of logic games and solve it by slowly working through each question by process of elimination. The problem with the LSAT, as we all know, is that this is an exam with strict time constraints, and you just can’t master the Logic Games section in a 35 minute period without using deductions.

At first, the process of making deductions seems like something out of a Benedict Cumberbatch movie where he plays a genius trying to solve a mystery, and just at the right moment he spaces out and ends up making the key discovery in the most unlikely way (actually, that’s basically all of the Bennington Crumpetbatch movies). But the reality is, breaking down the process of making deductions can easily bring some logic back to a process that at first try looks more like: read question → make deduction? → win at logic games.

By going through the right method for making deductions in ordering games, you’ll be ready to spot the key deductions that come your way on the exam. Here are the four steps you need to start making deductions on the ordering games.

Step 1: Combine rules

Combining your existing rules is a great kind of deduction because (1) it will help you to keep all the rules of the logic game in your head by cutting down on the number of rules overall, and (2) a combined rule in an ordering game can massively constrain the possible scenarios in your game.

But first, how do you combine two rules? Check for overlap, especially players that are mentioned in two rules. For instance, in a ranking of works featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, you could have Rule 1 saying, “Dr. Strange is not as good as The Imitation Game.” Rule 2 might say, “The Sherlock series is better than all movies starring B.Cumberbatch.” But you can combine Rule 1 and Rule 2 to look like this:

(Best) Sherlock Series — The Imitation GameDr. Strange (Worst)

Now, you may not know exactly where these WSBC (Works Starring Benedict Cumberbatch) fit within a full ranking, but you do know where they fall in order in relation to each other. Additionally, for a rule as broad as Rule 2, you’ll want to pay attention to how it impacts other rules, and how this new Rule 1/2 combo will give you even more information to answer conditional questions (i.e., “If The Imitation Game is the second highest ranked WSBC, then what must be true? Answer: Sherlock is ranked #1).

Step 2: Think about what that combination of rules tells you about where certain players cannot go

At first glance, an ordering game with six spots can appear to have six spots where any one of the players in the game could be placed. But this is really never the case. Rather than unlimited options, the rules will restrict where each player can go. Let’s say that Rule 3 of our game told you, “Penguins of Madagascar (a documentary film, as narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch) was ranked one higher OR one lower than the Sherlock series.” This allows us to do two things! First, combine rules:

(Best) Sherlock, PenguinsImitation GameDr. Strange

And how did we know that Sherlock had to fall one BETTER in this ranking than Penguins? Because of Rule 2: Sherlock is better than all movies.

The other thing Rule 3 allows us to do is to find a lot of restrictions on where certain players (in this case, Cumberbatch works) can go. If this is a ranking of six things, the restrictions tell us this: you can take the six spots on this game setup and first look at where your block (Sherlock and Penguins) can fit. Going from highest to lowest, this block fits in spots 1 and 2:

S P _ _ _ _

Spots 2 and 3:

_ S P _ _ _

Or spots 3 and 4:

_ _ S P _ _

From there, you can see that there are only the places where the Sherlock Penguins block can go, and almost as few options for Imitation Game and Dr. Strange lower down in the order.

Step 3: Identify the most restricted places in your setup

If you’ve reached this step and you feel stuck, here’s a hint: the most restricted places on your setup are almost always the first and last slots. Just think about this in the Cumberbatch game. Based on just Rules 1-3, we know that Penguins, Imitation and Dr. Strange cannot go in slot 1. We also know that Sherlock, Penguins and Imitation cannot go in slot 6.

Step 4: Identify the most constrained players

Then imagine you add a fourth rule to the Cumberbatch game: Neither of the Hobbit movies are ranked #1 (that’s right, Ben C. voices Smaug in those most infamous of fantasy films, The Hobbit Parts 2 and 3). How does Rule 4 further restrict the game? Now, the only viable setup is to have Sherlock in slot 1 and Penguins in slot 2, leaving the two Hobbit movies to vie for the last four slots, and Imitation fitting somewhere before Dr. Strange. By now, it will be clear that Sherlock and Penguins are the most restricted players, while the rest are confined to just a few possible scenarios.

On your future ordering games, you can use Steps 1-4 to make similar deductions and thereby cut down on the time you spend on each of the games. Remember, making deductions doesn’t require you to be a genius who can solve impossibly complex riddles in your head — it’s all about using a strong method and taking the test step by step. Ready for practice? Get our free LSAT practice test.