LSAT Beat the Clock: Logical Reasoning
April 5, 2011
The LSAT presents a myriad of challenges for test-takers. Some find reading comprehension difficult to slug through; others find logic games particularly challenging; while other still are stymied by the complexities and variances of logical reasoning questions. But almost universally, what all test-takers agree on, the single biggest challenge of the LSAT: TIME. This month, our team of LSAT experts give you time saving tips for each section of the test in a series we call, “Beat the Clock”. For information on all our LSAT prep programs, please visit kaplanlsat.com.
No rest for the weary: here it is three weeks later, and I still haven’t adjusted to Daylight Savings Time. Never having been the morning person, losing that extra precious hour of sleep, rising in the pre-dawn dark, and watching the sun sink into the horizon merely a couple of hours before bedtime really messes with my internal clock. Not that this clock is some kind of precision machine (in my life, “on time” gives or takes… OK, OK, takes ten minutes), but it does help keep my daily rhythm rolling automatically, and setting the alarm for an hour early throws that cadence right off.
Kaplan LSAT students, too, are keenly aware of the spinning hands of the clock, as they are a constant reminder of the limited minutes- thirty-five to be exact- that each test taker has to maximize his points in each section of the test. But Kaplan students also know that, while each question on the test is worth one point (no more, no less), the questions vary significantly in difficulty. This diversity is even more challenging in the Logic Games section of the LSAT, where the analytical reasoning questions are grouped into four games, also of varying difficulty. The successful test taker must approach section management strategically in order to tackle the games and questions in the order most efficient to build points and conserve precious minutes.
Section management on the LSAT is at once a science and an art: some factors are more objective, while others lean toward intuition. The Kaplan key is to develop a balance between these two approaches- to think like the test maker to identify those challenge factors built right into the games and questions, while also giving consideration to personal strengths and preferences.
Rather than jumping into the questions first presented, in the first thirty seconds to a minute of the Logic Games section, test takers should skim the section to perform a triage of game order. One of the top factors to consider may be game type: for example, sequencing games show up on the LSAT to a greater extent than other question types- consequently, Kaplan students will have learned about sequencing games early in their prep and will have completed the most practice in this type. By contrast, hybrid games may be more time-consuming (if not more inherently difficult) to address. Another consideration may be the rule set of each game: a long list of rules does not necessarily indicate a tougher game. The savvy test taker will also weigh the concrete nature of the rules, considering the definition that more direct rules may add to a wide-open game.
Test takers may also analyze a number of additional objective factors (number of possible points per game, specificity of each game’s set-up, etc.), but the art emerges in having confidence in one’s sense of the section. One minute may not be long enough to develop a comprehensive knowledge of all four games (just as it isn’t long enough for me to shower, brush my teeth, and dash out the door when I sleep straight through the aforementioned alarm… I digress), but the minute is enough time to take a broad survey, weigh a handful of critical elements, and develop an informed strategy that feels right to the individual test taker. Kaplan affirms the wisdom of our students who have prepped extensively: by Test Day, their intuition isn’t blind but instead a subtle manifestation of the Kaplan method in action. Trust yourself, and be confident- this is your Test Day!
That first minute of section management may seem to speed by (not unlike my dwindling minutes of snooze-button time these days), but the task a strategic test taker accomplishes in that minute is well worth it if the test taker sticks to the plan. It is critical to keep a steady pace throughout the section, limiting oneself to approximately eight minutes per game- if you can bank some time on one early, lower-difficulty game, invest those precious seconds in the highest difficulty (and, hopefully, last) game in the section. Also, carefully consider the question order within each game- is the question answerable at first look, or does it include an “If” that requires additional figuring? This could make the question more time-consuming, but it might also add concreteness and certainty.
The Kaplan test taker knows that strategy will add strength to all elements of the LSAT experience, from speed to energy. And if you have a little of either to spare, send it my way: I need all of the help I can get to get in gear this morning!