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Note for Logical Games - LG By Placement Factory

  • Logical Games - LG
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  • Logical Reasoning
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If that game felt easy for you, then fantastic. You’ve got a head start on just about everyone else. For most people, Logic Games don’t feel as comfortable at first. As we’ve mentioned before, the good news is that for most test takers, the Logic Games section is the most learnable of all of the sections. If you do the right type of work, you will get better. If you think you can improve at Monopoly or Sudoku with some practice, there is no reason for you to think you can’t get better at Logic Games. But... Of course the truth is that a tough Logic Game is harder than your typical Sudoku game, and of course the stakes are higher, and the competition fierce. To get really good—to feel like you have mastery—it takes hard, consistent, careful work. In this lesson, we’ll discuss the basics of the Logic Games section, the common challenges many test takers face, and the skills that top scorers have. Then we’ll lay out a road map for how we’re going to ensure that you go into the test ready for any Logic Game that can come your way. In this lesson, we will discuss the common challenges that Logic Games present, the skills that top scorers have, and our plan for mastery details, details basic facts about logic games One of your four scored sections will be a Logic Games section. Games are further complicated due to subgroups, or mismatching numbers issues. Each Logic Games section has four games, and generally twenty-three questions. For almost all test takers, a diagram is necessary for organizing the information given, and the ability to diagram well is a big key to success. Each game will have between five and seven questions associated with it. Every game that has appeared on the LSAT this decade can be thought of in terms of elements to be assigned, and positions to be filled. For two or three games in every four-game set, the positions are organized in some sort of order. For approximately half of all Logic Games, the positions are organized in groups. Some games have positions organized by group and order. Almost no games have positions organized by neither group nor order. The purpose of a diagram is to represent what you know about a game in a clear and usable way, and to help facilitate bringing information together. Of the twenty-three questions, all but two to four of them will come from a small bucket of basic question types. The remaining few will also come from an equally small bucket of minor question types. For all Logic Games, there is some information that we can uncover, and some that we can’t. All questions test your ability to differentiate between what is known, and what remains uncertain. A minority of questions also test your ability to consider a range of possibilities. Lesson 3: Logic Games Basics | 45

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all games relate elements to positions No matter what the specifics are of a particular game, all games are fundamentally about assigning elements to positions. In creating our diagrams, we will always use variables to represent elements and slots to represent positions. In general, we will begin our diagrams by writing out the elements and the slots. F G H J K The Challenge of Logic Games So, why are Logic Games difficult? For people starting out, here are a few common reasons: One: Logic Games are not, in many ways, what we think they are. As we’ve discussed, these games present a unique situation for our brains. When you first play, it’s very easy to incorrectly associate Logic Games with other types of situations (e.g., other types of games, or other tests of reasoning ability), and it’s also very easy to develop misconceptions about how these games work. Considering that these games require extremely careful and correct analysis, these misconceptions can have a big impact on your learning curve. Two: Logic games require a lot from us. More specifically, Logic Games require us to juggle a lot of information. Some of this information is simple to understand, but some of it is not. Some of it is easy to diagram, and some of it is not. Regardless, when it comes time to answer questions, we have to somehow bring these disparate pieces together to make inference after inference after inference. Sometimes, a question will require that we make four or five inferences before we get to the one that’s relevant to the correct answer. It can feel like juggling a bowling ball, a plastic bucket, and a flaming log, all at once. Three: You don’t have Logic Games-specific skills yet. Logic Games are like the long division you did in school, in that in order to work at our best, we have to use tools outside of our brains—we have to be able to write things out to think about them properly. The first few times any of us play games, we don’t have any practiced strategies or skills— that means that even if we are writing things down and whatnot, we are not totally able to utilize these “outside of brain” tools. We end up overly dependent on what we can do with no tools, and these games are not designed to be solved that way. Very few of us are any good at long division without our pencil and paper methods for writing things out. The same goes for Logic Games. The good news is that there is a great similarity to all Logic Games that appear on the exam, and very soon you will have systems that make it much easier for you to think about all of these games correctly. In exactly the same way that learning to do division on paper—as opposed to in your head—increased the range of division issues over which you had mastery, your ability to diagram will have a drastic impact on your level of comfort and mastery here. 46 | Logic Games

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How Logic Games Feel for Top Scorers Top scorers find Logic Games to be challenging, just as everyone else does. Of course, the big difference is that top scorers have the skills to meet these challenges. Here are some characteristics that define Logic Games mastery: One: Top scorers have the ability to comprehend and lay out a basic setup for any Logic Games scenario. If you take soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and garlic, you can come up with hundreds of different and unique flavors. Something similar happens with Logic Games, but our first experience with them is akin to the person eating the food—what we might first notice is that there seem to be hundreds of different types of Logic Games. Okay, maybe not hundreds, but other strategy guides will divide Logic Games into dozens and dozens of different types for you to master. However, if you look at games from a slightly different perspective, you can see that there is great commonality to all of these games, and actually very little variation from the norm—they are all made of just a few basic ingredients. The simplest, and most effective way to develop a sound ability to “picture” any game is to develop a usable understanding of the fundamental issues that make up the structure of all games. To carry the analogy through, the best way to understand all of the various food dishes quickly and correctly is to develop a simple and usable understanding of the basic ingredients—soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and garlic. Top scorers have a simple and usable understanding of the fundamental issues that underlie all games. This allows them to easily picture the basics of any game situation. a note of caution When thinking about improving at Logic Games, it’s helpful to have a long-term perspective. As we’ve mentioned, it’s very natural for people to get better at Logic Games, and it’s almost expected that you will make some significant improvement fairly quickly. For a lot of people, just becoming familiar with a few basic tools for diagramming is all it takes to make the first jump. (This is different from Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension, where score improvement commonly comes a bit later in the study process.) However, it’s important to note here that the manner in which a person improves and thinks about his or her initial improvement can have a significant, often unseen, impact on how much the person can improve. Simply put, this has to do with the development of habits—you can develop sound fundamental habits that are easier to build upon, or you can develop “pretty good” patchwork habits that serve as a poor foundation for adding further knowledge, and fall apart under the stress of the exam. An analogy can be made here to tennis or golf: You can get “pretty good” while developing bad habits in your form, “trick shots,” and “shortcuts,” but these bad habits can eventually prevent you from becoming awesome. What are you meant to get out of this warning? Pay attention to your fundamentals—don’t be eager to get to the “hard stuff.” I promise that if you understand the fundamentals really well, the hard stuff is actually not going to seem that hard at all. And don’t let yourself off the hook when you don’t understand something or feel uncomfortable with a strategy, especially in the earlier lessons. You may survive one game not knowing how to do something or not understanding the difference between two very similar rules, but you don’t want to go into the test hoping you’re going to see the games you feel comfortable with. You want to go into the exam confident that you can handle any game and any issue they can throw your way. Lesson 3: Logic Games Basics | 47

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Being able to start a game with a clear, organized understanding of the game situation makes everything else you have to do far easier. Two: Top scorers have the ability to understand all rules in a specific and usable way. Imagine that you have a game for which you are splitting eight students into two different teams, A and B. Here are two different rules you could get for this game: 1. Notice, per the second rule, that if Mary is on team A, Jon will be on Team B. Also, if Jon is on team A, we know Mary can’t be, so Mary must be on team B. However, there is nothing preventing both Mary and Jon from being on team B. “Mary and Jon will be assigned to different teams.” “If Mary is assigned to team A, then Jon will be assigned to team B.” Do you notice the difference in meaning between these two rules? We won’t go into too much detail here, but notice that per the first rule, Mary and Jon have to be on separate teams. Per the second rule, they do not.1 Most of the rules that accompany Logic Games are not too difficult to understand. But when we think about the difference between the two rules above, you can see how… A. It’s a challenge to understand each and every rule exactly. B. It’s a challenge to notate the rules in such a way that you don’t confuse the meaning with your notation. C. It’s a challenge to bring together your exact and usable understanding of various rules. Again, the good news is that the same issues show up again and again in the games, and with practice you can develop the skills necessary to handle all subtleties effectively. Three: Top scorers have the ability to recognize the keys to a game. For every game, there is certain information, whether it be particular rules or particular inferences, that is most useful for thinking about the game easily and solving questions quickly. Often, prioritizing this information can mean the difference between a game and questions taking six minutes, or a game and questions taking ten minutes. Even the best game players are not able to come up with this key thought or inference every single time, but many top scorers are able to do so very frequently, and what this means is that they may be able to get through two or three of the games in a section very quickly. This leaves them a lot more time to get through the other games. Four: Top scorers rarely make diagramming mistakes, and they are able to recover when they do. As you become more familiar with Logic Games, they will feel less and less like challenges of intelligence or cleverness, and more and more like challenges of consistency and mental discipline. Most top scorers make very few diagramming errors, and if you are going to invest time in Logic Games training, you should expect that your diagramming process will, in general, be error free. 48 | Logic Games

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