Reply To: How to approach newer, more challenging LG

January 30, 2017 at 2:09 pm #2971
Mike Kim

Hi Cecily,

First off, congrats on getting yourself to such a high level already — with plenty of time until June, I think it’s an understatement to say that you are in a wonderful position LG-wise —

Here are a few suggestions — as always, feel free to use what you’d like and ignore the rest —

Tangential tips —

1) Make sure to continue to work to get faster and faster at games that you are already good at (without sacrificing accuracy, of course) — having extra time to careful handle challenging games can give you an enormous advantage.

2) Try to keep in mind that if you find a game difficult, it’s highly likely everyone else will as well, and your is ultimately based on how you do relative to other test takers — so, if you happen to run into a particularly nasty LG section that causes everyone to perform worse than they normally do — well, the scoring rubric will account for that —

So, when you see that crazy game, a natural instinct is to think “oh —-, I picked the wrong LSAT to take!” but you want to try and fight that as much as possible (I know that’s easier said than done).

General/long-term study tips —

1) Work to study/understand unusual games in terms of how they relate to more common games — your goal isn’t to get better at a variety of unusual games, but rather to get better at connecting the skill-set/habits you’ve developed to unexpected situations.

2) Related to that, recognize that no matter how unusual a game seems, it will be designed around the same types of inferences that other games are designed around.

So, in thinking about how an unusual game relates to more common ones, the first thing to think about is how the rules were meant to be connected/the types of inferences you were meant to see.

3) Keep track of all games that seem unusual and keep notes on them —

You can use the trainer notebook organizer or your own system (I recommend large sheets of paper) to do so —

4) Study older games to expose yourself to more ways that games can play out —

If you need help finding some of the more unusual games, check out some of the infographics on this page —

5) Make sure you are working to develop both frontend and backend skills/habits —

When we study, it can be easy to focus too much on the best ways to diagram games, and, when we do so, and when we utilize advanced/optimal diagrams, we can end up making the problem-solving process much easier on ourselves and thus short-change study/practice of challenging problem-solving concerns.

So, for every time you come up with that amazing framing system and practice solving a game perfectly, also practice playing the game and solving q’s with a more simple diagram that doesn’t represent as much.

Tips for in the moment:

1) As I stress in the Trainer, make sure to read the stimulus and rules and mentally try and visualize the game before starting your diagram.

Give yourself plenty of time and be patient — especially if the game seems strange or difficult.

Too many students start their diagram right after reading the scenario and don’t understand the negative repercussions of this.

Ideally, as I said, you want to give yourself a chance to mentally visualize how the game is designed to work, and you want think carefully about how the rules are meant to come together and how can most clearly/easily diagram the given rules, then layout your game based on those considerations.

2) Use the rules question to orient yourself and to make sure you are thinking about the game in the right way.

Especially if you don’t know what’s supposed to be the base and what’s supposed to be the elements, or how the positions are meant to be organized, the rules q can often offer a key clue as to how the test writer was thinking about the game/organizing it as she designed it.

3) Use trouble with q’s to reassess your understanding and to add to it —

Especially if you get two or three q’s into a game and find each one to be a grind, that can be a sign that there is some key inference you didn’t see, a way to organize the game that makes understanding it easier, and so on —

At that point, it generally takes far less time that one would imagine to rediagram/reconsider a game, and, especially if you know that solving the q’s has yielded a key inference or two, and especially if you know you have some extra time in the bank, it can certainly be worthwhile to revisit/reassess your understanding.

I recently played the virus game from the Sept 2016 exam fresh — and I was a bit out of LG shape when I played it and struggled more than I’d like — but here are some thoughts from my notes of my real-time experiences that relate to some of the points above.

1) The game definitely seemed weird to me — after I read through the rules realized that I could use lines (or arrows if you’d like) like in ordering/ conditional rules to connect virus infections, and could “link” these infections in the same way I do for linking conditionals / ordering rules.

2) I made what I thought was a fairly good initial diagram and made a couple of solid initial inferences — namely, that U or T were the only elements that could possibly go first, and that U and T are the only options for what S infected.

I also make an incorrect inference that U or T had to be the element that infected S and R (out of practice).

3) This game didn’t have a traditional rules question, but #18 was similar in that it asked for what could be a partial description — solving this q made me recognize my mistaken inference from earlier — U or T did not have to what fed into S and R — that could have also been Q or P. Fixed diagram to address.

4) Answered 19 and 20 fine, but not great.

Once I got to 21 — realized I wasn’t too comfortable answering with my diagram, and, also by this point, I had it in the back of my head that I could create frames off of the idea that either T or U has to go first, with limited options for what could follow.

So, I created those frames before/during solving 21 — didn’t take long, and ended up making 21 – 23 go much faster than they probably would have otherwise.

Overall, a bit messy, and certainly not the only way to deal with this game, but it got the job done.

Sorry for the length — I’ve got to stop drinking so much coffee! — but that’s it — hope at least some of that helps and wish you the best —