LSAT Logic Games Is a Test of Reading Comprehension

LSAT Logic Games Is a Test of Reading Comprehension

Last week I ended with a brain teaser. Seven clowns of different colors are getting out of a clown car, one at a time.

1. If the red clown gets out of the clown car before the blue clown, which one of the following must be true?

A. The orange clown gets out first.

B. The purple clown gets out last.

C. The red clown does not get out first.

D. The red clown does not get out last.

E. The blue clown does not get out last.

2. Unless the red clown gets out of the clown car after the blue clown, each of the following could be false EXCEPT

A. The orange clown gets out first.

B. The purple clown gets out last.

C. The red clown does not get out first.

D. The red clown does not get out last.

E. The blue clown does not get out last.

3. Which one of these questions is harder, and why?

Ready for the answers? Okay, here goes:

  1. D
  2. D
  3. They’re the same damn question—but the second one is worded in a more difficult way.

LSAT novices are frequently intimidated by Logic Games, perceiving them as “mathy” and therefore impenetrable for a future lawyer. In truth, the only math that appears on the LSAT—such as knowing what “more than” or “twice as many” means—is well within the range of an average second grader. My brain teaser, which contains no math whatsoever, is far more representative of a real LSAT logic game than any Sudoku puzzle.

If you’re struggling on Logic Games, there’s a very good chance that you’re just not reading carefully enough.

Students may crash and burn on a question, a full game, and even an entire section because they misread a rule. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard variations on the following:

  • “I thought it said ‘before,’ but it actually said ‘after.’”
  • “I read it as ‘X must be before Y,’ but really it said X can’t go later than Y—I didn’t realize they can go at the same time.’”
  • “I thought the scheduled days were Monday-Saturday, but now I see that it was really Monday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday, with an off day on Thursday.”
  • “I didn’t understand that line about the circuit load of the panel being equal to the number of switches that are on, so I just ignored it.”
  • “I thought we had to use all the colors of glass, but really it just said that those were the available colors.”
  • “When it said ‘Yakira appears in every photograph that Raimundo appears in,’ I thought that meant Yakira and Raimundo were always together.”
  • “I thought that question said ‘which one of the following could be true,’ but actually it said ‘which one of the following could be false.’”

Any of these mistakes has the potential to derail an entire section of games—which, in turn, can easily ruin your entire LSAT.

Read it carefully, take your time, and think it through.

Consider my brain teaser, above. Just about anyone can figure out the first one—if the red clown gets out of the clown car before the blue clown, then the red clown can’t get out last.

The second one is trickier on the surface, but it’s the same question when you take the time to parse it.

“Unless the red clown gets out after the blue clown” means “if the red clown gets out before the blue clown.” And “each of the following could be false EXCEPT” means “which one of the following must be true.”

Same shit, different box.

They do this sort of thing all the time on LSAT Logic Games. And it does make perfect, common sense—if you take the time to make sense of it.

“Unless” just means “if not.” We have an entire lesson on that at LSATdemon.com.

And as far as that “except” is concerned, one useful trick is to think about the nature of the wrong answers in contrast to the nature of the right answers. For example:

If the question says “which one of the following must be false,” that means the wrong answers do not have to be false—in other words, they could be true. If there’s one right answer that must be false, there are four wrong answers that could be true.

If the question says “each of the following could be true EXCEPT,” that means the four wrong answers could be true. The one right answer, then, cannot be true—in other words, it must be false.

Therefore, “which one of the following must be false” means the same thing as “each of the following could be true EXCEPT.”

Please do not memorize the following list.

Instead, make sure you actually understand it. Your memory will fail you. But once you understand this concept, you can reconstruct it anytime—no memorization required.

  • “Each of the following could be false EXCEPT” means “which one of the following must be true.”
  • “Each of the following must be false EXCEPT” means “which one of the following could be true.
  • “Each of the following could be true EXCEPT” means “which one of the following must be false.
  • “Each of the following must be true EXCEPT” means “which one of the following could be false.”

If the above doesn’t make perfect sense, it’s because you haven’t read it carefully enough. I know I’m a broken record on this, but please slow down.

The cardinal rule of LSAT logic games: safety first

When students struggle mightily on a single question, a full game, or an entire section of games, it’s almost always a failure of reading comprehension. When you misread or neglect to read one tiny bit of the provided information, the entire game stops making sense. This causes panic. Panic, in turn, causes a cascade failure that can ruin your day.

We can’t ever stop these incidents entirely, but we can minimize their frequency by slowing down and reading everything more carefully. We should expect each game to make sense once we’ve taken the time to make sense of it. When things start seeming murky, we can nip the panic outbreak in the bud by reminding ourselves that the LSAT always gives us all of the information we need to solve every question with certainty. If something doesn’t make sense, it’s because we haven’t read it properly, haven’t translated it into plain English, or haven’t made simple connections between the rules.

It seems like a good time to sum up my last three lessons:

  1. On Logical Reasoning, it’s all about attacking the argument.
  2. On Reading Comprehension, it’s all about comprehending the passage.
  3. On Logic Games, it’s all about understanding each rule and each question.

It’s never about speed. It’s never about arcane LSAT theory that can only be gleaned at the feet of some fancy LSAT tutor. Careful readers sometimes score 165 or 170 on their first practice test, simply by taking their time and actually understanding the words on the page.

Study with me, for free.

I love teaching the LSAT. In LSAT Demon Live, I currently teach four classes per week. My favorite class on the current schedule is our June 2021 LSAT-Flex Study Group, which is absolutely free. It happens every Thursday evening on Zoom, and I hope you’ll join us. Registration is open now.

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