April 23, 2016 at 4:34 am #1767
I have been working on logic games for about two weeks now and my progress, it seems, is virtually nonexistent, except for learning how to set up and diagram, which is the easy part for me. (I am on lesson 15 in your book but have stopped moving forward because I am only practicing logic games right now, since I don’t see the point in moving on when I’m so lost)
I can’t seem to make hardly any of the inferences necessary, and have been spending my time combing through solutions to games just so I can understand what the heck is going on. I spend about 25-45 mins on a single game right now. It’s super embarrassing and demoralizing. I’m so discouraged right now.
My question is: how can I learn how to make the inferences? It feels to me like this is an intuitive ability that can’t be developed, which is why I’m freaking out right now. Is there anything specific I can do to just learn and practice the inferences part? I just sit there hurting my brain trying to find the connections. Sometimes I am able to, but more often than not, I am lost and have to go look at solutions to see the inferences I couldn’t make on my own so I can answer the questions. I feel like this isn’t really teaching me. I understand the rules of the games and what’s being asked, I just can’t make the inferences, so I end up doing things the very long and tedious way, when I’m thinking the entire time that this is could be easier if I could just make the inferences necessary. And sometimes I can’t even figure out the long and tedious way to answer the questions.
Any advice would be appreciated, even if that advice is that I should give up :,-(
April 25, 2016 at 4:15 am #1773blakemooreParticipant
Learning to make inferences takes time, but you absolutely can develop the ability! Clearly, you are capable of solving the games; it just takes time. Great! That’s something you can work with. I recommend that you do the following:
- Take a game section (preferably an easier one at first) and work through it. Take as long as you need!
- Once you’ve solved the games, review. At this point, you’ll probably notice a few inferences that you could have noticed up-front when you were writing the rules (and a few question-specific inferences that would have really helped!). Make a note of them, and try to think through how you know these inferences are true.
- Write down a better set-up for the game. Now that you have worked through the game, you should have a better idea of how to set it up. (Hindsight is 20/20 after all).
- Erase your work for that game, and take it again. It’s okay to repeat games; in fact, I think it helps most of my students a lot. But this time, try to make the inferences faster!
- Repeat with the other games in the section!
This is a tedious process, but it really helps. I know it helped me when I was preparing for the test. After working through these steps, it can also be good to look at a “professional” work through the game. 7Sage videos are really good more often than not, and they are free. Or if you want some one-on-one instruction, getting a tutor can be helpful. (I’d be willing to give you a free hour of tutoring if you want to work through a couple games with me.)
Just don’t get discouraged. That games are hard, but you can learn how to approach them. In fact, I’d argue that they are the most learn-able portion of the test.
April 26, 2016 at 12:01 am #1775
Thank you so much for that, Blake! I am going to try what you have suggested. I am willing to try anything if it might help.
I will let you know if I will take up your offer of a tutoring session. That is very kind of you, thanks! I will work on my own for a bit longer and see where I can get before I ask you for your time.
April 26, 2016 at 9:43 am #1776Mike KimKeymaster
Hi Yesenia —
I really like the thoughts and suggestions given by both Dan and Blake, and I hope you find them useful —
Here are some additional thoughts that come to mind —
In terms of moving forward in the book —
The next swatch of LG lessons (chapters 26-30) are packed w/strategy advice — those chapters may provide a lot of the help that you are looking for, so I encourage you to perhaps try finish going through them to see if they help you feel more comfortable w/inferences.
In terms of knowing rules and being good at diagramming —
Your ability to visualize a game and represent it in a diagram is fundamentally important to making inferences — and you want to work to keep getting better and better at creating an accurate diagram, so that you can make it as second nature as possible —
If you think of the typical student spending time/energy during a game setup on three different concerns – a) what do these rules mean? b) how should I represent them? And c) how does this information come together? —
A big goal of your prep is to make it so that you can, on test day, spend far less time on concerns a) and b) compared to other test takers, and to make it so that you are able to utilize your diagramming ability to focus as much of your energy as possible on concern c) — how information comes together — which is what inferences are all about.
Finally, the last tip is to think of inferences flowing in a linear fashion
Imagine two different types of challenges:
Challenge A: List all the words you can think of that begin with the letter Q.
Challenge B: come up with a word, take the last letter of that word and come up with a new word, take the last letter of that one and come up with a new word, and so on…
Challenge (A) involves thinking of a bunch of “one off” thoughts (brainstorming-type thinking), and (B) involves thinking of a chain of related thoughts.
The LSAT requires both types of thinking, but it requires and rewards type (B) far, far, more, and you want to put yourself in an optimal mindset to make inferences in a linear fashion.
This starts right at the beginning of a game —
Not sure how you begin/set up games, but here’s what I encourage you to try —
1) Wait to draw your diagram until you’ve read the stimulus and rules through once.
2) During your first read through, make it your goal to try to create as accurate a big picture understanding of the game as possible, while also, related to that, working to decide on the most important rule or combinations of rules for the game.
3) The most important rule or combination of rules is that which has the most impact on the placement of all elements — the most important rule will either involve 3 elements or more, or it will involve elements that also show up often in other rules.
4) Once you’ve made these determinations, then go ahead and draw out your diagram, and do so with the most important rule(s) written in —
5) Then, instead of taking the other rules in order, move on to diagram a rule that is, in some way, linked to the first rule that you diagrammed — so, for example, if the first rule you diagrammed involved elements F and G, see if you can then find another rule that mentions one of those elements and try to connect it in some way.
Every time you make a connection between rules, there will be inferences — new things known because of those rules coming together —
Working in this way will naturally help you see inferences easier; you also want to habitually remind yourself that each element you add to your diagram is meant to be a chance to uncover new inferences.
6) Move on the next rule that is somehow connected to what you’ve already set up, then the next related rule and so on. Then finish up by notating any other rules that you couldn’t link to the other rules.
7) Make sure to study your diagram (and the connection between rules) carefully before going into the q’s.
8) Lastly, I encourage you to pay extra attention to conditional q’s — they really represent well the proper “flow” one ought to feel when making LG inferences —
The new information you are given, when added to what you already know about the game, should (most of the time) lead one inference, which then leads to another, which then leads to another, and so on —
These various inferences (rather than anything you initially knew about the game) will invariably determine which answers are right and wrong.
Additionally, when you are done w/such a problem and as you review it, you can trace the “line” of inferences all the back to your setup — you might see, for example, that figuring out that something “must be true” required a linkage of 6 different inferences that you can trace all the way back to a connection you made, during your initial setup, between two different rules. Seeing it in this way — seeing the “line” of thinking that was necessary, can be extremely valuable for developing stronger instincts about how LG inferences ought to work.
That’s it — as always, feel free to use what tips you think apply to you and ignore the rest —
Also want to reiterate advice Dan and Blake gave — I encourage you to play certain “easier” games, again and again, until the way you are “supposed” to play them becomes more and more obvious to you and easier and easier to see. If you do this with several ordering games, or several grouping games, you brain will invariably develop stronger and stronger wisdom about what types of inferences it ought to look for and how/where it ought to look for them —
Hope some of that helps and wish you the best moving forward — MK
April 27, 2016 at 1:21 am #1777
Mike, thank you very much for that excellent advice. I feel much better equipped to get back to the logic games. I have been doing what Dan and Blake said and I already see progress in my understanding. I’m going to incorporate your ideas as well. I’m very excited and hopeful, thank you everyone!
May 13, 2016 at 6:46 am #1832AnonymousInactive
Hi, yjameson. I just wanted to add a student’s perspective as well. As someone who really, really, really,really struggled with games as well, i know what you’re going threw. I think I asked countless and countless amounts of people about what to do to get better, and at some point It still wasn’t helping. I followed the 7sage strategy of repeating games over and it still wasn’t clicking. Overall, i was struggling on the entire test and i was almost about to give up frankly. Then i asked Mike about what could I do to improve on the entire test, and things have begun to turn around since.I have never really had any problem with diagramming, or understanding rules. (for the most part) I ALWAYS had problems with the same thing you did, making inferences, and simply executing on games .Of course everything these guys have said is true and necessary, but if I could emphasize just a few things that Mike said it would be this.
First, I began to really focus on the one or two rules that impact the game the most. I think sometimes people who are just off the charts at taking the LSAT, or just simply folks those who give advice on the LSAT often forget students who are just beginning or asking for advice may not understand steps that would often seem common. That’s what i really like about Mike actually, he assumes you know absolutely nothing about this test. I think understanding the rules that are most important is critical to success. It’s basically what a game centers around. I like thinking of it almost like a puzzle piece or math problems. There are certain pieces to a puzzle or elements to an equation that are so important that you have to figure out what happens to them first. In other words, they help make everything else clearer and easier to understand. If you are not aware of the role that those pieces or elements play, you will probably get turned around and confused at some point. You’re essentially focusing on the biggest rule/rules that must be true.
Secondly, once you know what rules are most important, you wanna begin to visualize how they fit with the other pieces of the game. Once I have written the rules and diagrammed a structure for the game, I actually try to think about how the rules will all come together before I actually look at the first question. I just take the rules that seem to play the biggest role in the game, and i visually apply them first. Then i apply the other rules. (this is all visual) All I’m trying to do here is think about how the rules interact with each other so i can find inferences. Sometimes it really helps, and sometimes it’s still hard to see how things interact. If you’re just not seeing how the rules interact, just move on. The goal is not to exactly see how everything works all the time, it’s simply to try and make inferences that would have otherwise been harder to see.
For me these two things really helped me boost my score. The transformation in how i see games has been dramatic. I’m still not perfect, but i have improved a great deal. As far as logic games are concerned for me it’s just a matter of timing and feeling rushed. When there is no time limit, I hardly get anything wrong with this approach. I find myself not even needing to look at a video review for 90 percent of the games i do now, whereas I use to us it as a crutch lol. Games can be handled, and you can do it! I just wanted to add my 2 cents about what has worked for me recently in respect to understanding games a lot better, and feeling confident in my approach. If you think this contradicts something that you think, or something that the instructors have stated by all means ignore it lol. The last thing I would wan’t to do is confuse you. I just wanted to let you know how and why i’m improving. Maybe it can help you along the way!
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