I’m on a roll explaining a game when a student interrupts:
Nathan, I just really need to know: What type of game is this?!
It’s a simple question, but it gives me pause. That’s because I’m not sure game types even exist.
And even if they do exist, I’m pretty sure that learning types and labeling games doesn’t help students solve them. It can actually be counterproductive.
The purpose of this lesson is to give you permission to ignore the whole “Games Types” chapter of the traditional LSAT-prep catechism. Stop worrying about the semantics, free up a bit of your brain’s processing power, and use that power to actually solve each game.
Do Logic Games types even exist?
No, not really. Never is any sort of “type” mentioned on the actual LSAT. Nor are you required to solve any game in any particular way. Categorizing games by type seems to be an invention of the LSAT prep industry. This is obvious when you consider that every prep company specifies a different number of types and uses different names for those types.
For example, Kaplan teaches five types. Princeton Review teaches five slightly different types. Some of the funnier, more obviously heavy-handed examples of names for these types include Powerscore’s “Linear (Basic & Advanced),” “Grouping/Linear Combo,” and “Pure Sequencing.”
Prep companies disagree about game types like religious fanatics argue about how many books there are in the Bible. They even trademark the names! But none of this came down from the LSAC mountaintop on stone tablets, and I question whether any of it is real. Has the whole test prep industry adopted this fetish for “game types” just because some old white guy at the Princeton Review did it first, a hundred years ago? I have no interest in learning Kaplan and Princeton dogma or the Powerscore/Blueprint/7Sage repackagings thereof.
Same shit, different box. None of it’s real.
Okay, maybe they’re fake. But are they helpful to learn anyway?
Nope. I’ve been teaching Logic Games successfully for more than a decade, and I never talk about game types. They’re more of a distraction than anything else.
Sure, there are common operations in LSAT Logic Games. We put things in order a lot, and we put things in groups a lot. But many other times, we do other weird, one-off operations. Like maybe we’re drawing an airline map. Or maybe we’re turning switches on and off while we count the “circuit load” of a panel. Sometimes we’re mixing vials of colored chemicals. Or making nonsense “sentences” out of nonsense “words.” Or figuring out who can pass a workpiece or a computer virus to whom. The list of “weird” or “quirky” games is long.
And somewhere in each section of games, we’re guaranteed to do some combination of these operations. Big Prep blithely refers to this ginormous category of games as “Hybrid Games,” as if that label carries any meaning whatsoever. All it means, as near as I can figure, is “this doesn’t fit neatly into our fake categories.” Students commonly think they have a weakness in “hybrid games,” but that’s close to meaningless since so many games require us to do some combination of operations. When they say “I’m weak at hybrid games,” all they’re really saying is that they’re not good at games, full stop. Their problem is worrying about game types in the first place. The thing they’re missing, by focusing on types, is that every LSAT Logic Game in history contains all the information you need to perfectly solve every question.
Big Prep can keep inventing new categories, of course, in reaction to the LSAC introducing subtle twists and turns into the test. But this retroactive labeling doesn’t help anyone taking the official test. You’ll do the games on your official test before Big Prep has a chance to stroke their Gandalf-like beards and decree which old or new category each game belongs to in their fake, culty hierarchies.
You’re *still* going off about how they’re fake?
Yes, because labeling game types pisses me off! It distracts students from the real task at hand, which is reading each unique game, understanding each unique rule, and cobbling together a unique improvised solution. Games are easier than students think, and all this heavy-handed dogma interferes with what could be a natural, intuitive process. Students stuck in “game type” mode are attempting to cram square pegs into round holes. Instead, they should just read, understand, connect, and solve.
A pillar of Kaplan’s terrible Logic Games instruction offers some insight into where the “game types” fetish came from:
Kaplan doesn’t think you can be comfortable with every game! They’re explicitly telling you to waste precious time looking at all four games and deciding which ones to do “first,” so you can “go for” the one or two of them that you understand. Of course, students who allow themselves to do this are likely to run out of time before they can return to the games they were uncomfortable with. But if you don’t do the stuff you’re less comfortable with, you’re not going to score perfectly on the Logic Games.
And I say fuck that.
Logic Games is the section on which it is easiest to improve. Many LSAT Demon students start with games as their weakest section and end up scoring perfectly on it. They do this by doing all four games in order, not by skipping around. They do it by carefully reading each rule, and solving each system, not by skimming all four games and “going for” the stuff they’re “comfortable with.”
At LSAT Demon, we don’t want to help you go from 140 to 150. If you max out at 150 and apply, you’re going to end up paying too much for a shady school. We’d be doing you a disservice if we took you from bad to mediocre at games. Being mediocre at games is not how you go to law school for free. We’d be hurting you, not helping you, if we taught you to get good at some “types” but freeze up and skip the others. We want you to reach perfection on the games, even the “hybrid” or “quirky” ones.
So how do I solve the games then?
By using your normal, rational, commonsense brain! You’re not going to law school because you’re dumb, are you? No, you’re going to law school because you’re smart. Stop freaking yourself out by going into “LSAT Logic Games mode.” Instead, use common sense to think about the system they’re presenting you.
The computer viruses game from a few years ago is a perfect example of why this is so important. Students who were stuck trying to apply pre-ordained formulas to novel logic games panicked when they saw this game. I got dozens of emails from students that sounded like “Omg Nathan, you’re never going to believe this brand new game type that just came out on the most recent test.” My response, of course, was “What are you even talking about? New game type? Game types aren’t even a thing!”
This game, in case you haven’t seen it, is about a computer network getting infected with a virus. As always, the game gives you 100% of the information you need to solve every question perfectly. And the easiest way to solve the game is to ask the question that everyone in the office would ask in real life: “Okay, who is responsible for this? Who was torrenting Space Jam 2 on the office computer network and caused our whole system to crash?” When you ask this question, you immediately realize that there are only two possible culprits in the office, and the entire game unlocks.
This approach has nothing whatsoever to do with game types. Folks with half a brain and no traditional LSAT prep can actually be better at solving this game than people steeped in Big Prep. The insistence that students memorize a 9-type or 13-type or 17-type taxonomy actually interferes with students’ natural, intuitive approach to games like this.
And there are lots of “quirky” games like this—lots and lots and lots! Even games that seem traditional, like putting things in order, often have strange quirks like “two sites are visited on Saturday.” I’ve seen students completely ignore a rule like this, or add an extra day, because they’re so focused on executing a memorized recipe that they don’t even realize the ingredients on hand require a different dish.
At LSAT Demon, you might hear us sometimes talk about “ordering” or “grouping” because those operations do pop up on almost every test. But you won’t hear us over-classifying games or asking you to memorize scripted approaches. Instead, you’ll just see us ruthlessly chew through game after game with careful reading and a commonsense, natural approach.
Come talk to me at my LSAT study group. All you need is a Demon Free account. I promise I can show you how easy the LSAT can be.
What do you think about this lesson? Anyone can email me directly. I’m firstname.lastname@example.org.