Path Games: The Undead of LSAT Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games)

At Advise-In Solutions, we counsel our clients not to pay attention to the readings of tea leaves about the LSAT that are all over the internet. It’s a fool’s errand because it takes your focus away from doing what you need to do—prepare for the 20 or so question types the LSAT has used for over 25 years now. Guessing at how many assumption questions they’ll ask, whether there will be more main point questions than there were last test, etc., which some LSAT advisors talk about endlessly, doesn’t help you. You’ll be wrong as often as you’re right. You need to be prepared for each question type and be prepared for the test environment. That’s all, and it’s a lot.

That said, in the last two released LSATs, the LSAT has revived a type of logic game that had (with one prior exception) been dormant for over 20 years—the path game. Our clients were always prepared for those—because you never know when the LSAT will decide to go back to the archives. Now they have, and every one of my clients was ready, not because we called the LSAT psychic hotline but because we all did our jobs and prepared. Don’t be surprised if the LSAT decides to revive circle or formula games at some point, either.

Don’t be surprised, be prepared.

What is a path game and how do path games differ from the (still) more typical line, grouping and grid games? If you’re thinking about the LSAT properly, and many test takers and programs don’t (in my view), it is all operational. So, in analytical reasoning, if I’m going to say that path games are different, that’s because they are asking you to DO something different than they ask you to do in other game types.

The key to path games is that they ask you to move through TIME. Line games appear to but don’t. Line games ask for an order—what comes first, second, third, etc., but you can set that up in one framework (see a couple of videos on Advise-In public YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/AdviseInSolutions). You may have multiple diagrams but the skeleton—a line with a certain number of slots—is exactly the same.

Path games, however, force you to deal with various states of the world across time. So, for example, building owners own certain kinds of buildings that they can trade under specified rules (a recent path game). Then the test asks you who can own what after a number of trades. That requires you to see up a time flow chart to make the game manipulable and easier to solve. If you’ve been properly taught and paid attention—and have done some of these so you’re not surprised—you know how it’s supposed to look.

Initially, some of my clients have found path games generally easier than other kinds, some have found them a little harder. That only matters for how much effort we put into making sure that a client is prepared on test day. It’s part of the individual instruction that Advise-In does because each client is different.

But…as always, the keys are diagnosing what type of game it is and finding the cleanest, simplest way to set the game up. There are invariable rules for setting up path games, the same as there are rules for all other game and question types. Understand what those rules are, you can solve the game.

Don’t try to read LSAT tea leaves. Instead, be prepared for whatever they decide to ask on your test date. It may be another 20 years before the LSAT features another path game. On the other hand, they might put one on the next test.  Be prepared.

~ by Kyle Pasewark at Advise-in Solutions on February 27, 2017.

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