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Revisiting the June 2014 LSAT

The day of reckoning has come. Scores for the June LSAT have dropped, right before this weekend’s Independence Day festivities. We’re not sure if that’s a good thing (“Now I can stop waiting and enjoy my 4th of July weekend in peace!”) or a bad thing (“Thanks for ruining my weekend, LSAC!”), but whatever your perspective, June scores are here to stay. Now that we can talk a little more openly about the exam, let’s give it a closer look – including You-Know-What in that games section. But first, the curve:

170 – 88
160 – 72
150 – 55

With a raw score out of 101 questions, these numbers just about match the monster curve of the December 2013 LSAT, though a 170 required a -13 instead of a -14. A generous curve is no surprise, as many students reported this test to be a tough one. Let’s take a look at the sections.

Logical Reasoning

We won’t venture too deeply into logical reasoning, as by all accounts it was pretty standard difficulty compared to other tests. One of the logical reasoning sections had a couple of nasty parallel/parallel flaw questions towards the end. These required having a keen sense of argument structure and being able to keep track of the different types of propositions (including a big assumption). Remember that two arguments can share the same parallel structure logically even if they differ grammatically. The other scored logical reasoning section was noteworthy for having perhaps the longest soft must-be-true principle question we have ever seen, about a judge following the doctrine of precedent.

Reading Comprehension

Students reported the reading comp section to be tougher than average, and from a quick look at the passages we can see why. Definitely not the most engaging or accessible subject material. We kick it off with a passage about firefighting, which was not as exciting as you’d think and more technical than you’d expect (Who knew that “ponderosa” was something other than a low rent steakhouse chain?). Passage two is a legal passage discussing the cultural ownership of art, which might be interesting if you fit the Art Law niche, but certainly isn’t a crowd pleaser (when you read the words “Djenne-jeno terra-cotta” in a row, you start to wonder if you’re reading in English anymore). Our third passage visits the familiar territory of medicine, which the LSAT appears to be obsessed with despite being a law school entrance exam. This one wasn’t fun and required you to keep your poise through all the abstract talk of “equipoise.” The comparative reading passage came at the end and covered the progressive vs. flat tax debate. If you’re interested in tax policy or just love a good political debate, chances are you fared all right here. If not, well. . .yeah.

Logic Games

The June 2014 logic games section had a fun game about sunken treasure and the LSAT’s version of House Hunters, but let’s cut to the chase, shall we? The You-Know-What. (Allusions to Voldemort just seem appropriate for this one.) The fourth logic game of the June 2014 LSAT is already the stuff of legend, and its high time to discuss it in more detail. Unfortunately, licensing issues prohibit me from providing a full reproduction and explanation here on the blog, so I will paint a picture with a broader brush.

So it’s a game of fours: four employees, four workdays, four projects. We can classify this as a tiered ordering game and use a setup with four tiers of four slots to represent the work log schedules for the four work projects (which I numbered 1-4 on the y-axis, though the numbering is arbitrary and which employee starts with which project is unimportant). Unlike most tiered games, where the tiers are a different variable set that describe properties of the thing being ordered (e.g., “a blue sailboat finishes second”), here we have just one variable set being ordered in four different ways. The ordering isn’t a strict one-to-one, either, since the game allows employees to work on a single project multiple days during the week (a maximum of twice, if you consider the rules).

But let’s not get too wrapped up in the setup. One reason I think this game threw most students is because the setup isn’t really important here. A good understanding of the rules is all that is needed for most of this game, and I only really built the aforementioned 4×4 setup to answer the last two questions. Let’s talk about those rules, since it seems they tripped quite a few of you up. The rules govern the way that work projects can be transferred, and have direct implications for our ordering tiers. For example, if we had employees A, B, C and D, and a rule that prohibited a project being transferred from A to B, that would mean that nowhere in the ordering setup could we have an A followed by a B. In the game in question, one key deduction revolves around how these transfer restrictions are themselves constraining: one of the four employees can only receive a work project from one other person. Also, be sure to heed the unstated rule: if work projects are all being transferred every morning, that means that no employee will work on the same project two days in a row.

If we look at the questions, 19 is an elimination question in which three of the answer choices can be easily dispatched from the rules. The remaining wrong answer choice is also easy to eliminate as long as you remember that every employee always must have a project to work on. Question 20 revolves around the key deduction mentioned earlier, and should be easy provided you saw that deduction. Question 21 revolves around this same deduction again, but requires a bit more thinking about the two workers it involves. Question 22 is where the 4×4 setup comes into play. I actually jotted out four quick partial scenarios (basically two scenarios each with two sub-scenarios) to work this one out, which sounds like a lot of work but really isn’t. Once you realize that you can cross out two of these sub-scenarios for breaking rules, the remaining two will provide the answer to this must be true question. Finally, question 23 is an easy one if you’ve done the work for question 22, since you can use the viable scenarios from that question to find an answer choice that could be true.

And that about covers it. Whether you’re happy with your June score, retaking in September, or still weighing your options, our advice is put that decision on hold for the next 72 hours. It’s Fourth of July weekend, which means you should be more focused on decisions such as “Should I have a hot dog or bratwurst?” and “Should I blow things up or go somewhere to watch things get blown up?” As the Frozen soundtrack proclaims, “Let it go” and go enjoy your holiday.