The October 2015 LSAT — Test-Day Impressions

I just returned home from taking the October LSAT, and while I’m prohibited from talking about the content of the test until after it’s released to the public in about three weeks, I can share my general impression. And that impression is…

the recent trend toward less straightforward games continues. A few years ago a reasonably competent test-taker armed with standard techniques could confidently expect to know exactly how to diagram three of the four games, and would usually have a good handle on the fourth. Not so any more. Now, at most one of the four games is entirely predictable, and there is usually one that features a new or very unusual twist.1

The net effect for the test-taker is twofold. First, it’s more critical than ever to have a good general approach to games,2 one that emphasizes understanding how to approach a game even when it doesn’t exactly fit the expected pattern. Moreover, this approach must place even more of an emphasis in speed than was once sufficient; games sections typically have only 23 questions but with so few simple, completely predictable games on today’s tests, it’s harder than ever to finish.

Second, and possibly even more importantly, it’s more important than in past years to maximize one’s score on the argument3 and reading comprehension sections. With games providing so much variance, arguments in particular (because it’s half the test) needs to be an area of strength for anyone who expects to do well. This is a great section on which to pick up points relative to the students who spend all their time working on games. It’s similar with reading comprehension, too, as good argument technique continues to work well on most of the reading comp questions.

I believe that the games trend represents LSAC’s effort to reduce the value of commercial test prep courses, and frankly, I believe it may work: If the big companies don’t adapt, their students won’t see as much improvement as they have in the past. That’s arguably good news from a social perspective, but everyone preparing for the test should think carefully about the implication for his or her own preparation.

Notes

  1. My own test featured two games sections, which means that one was real and the other experimental (though I couldn’t tell which was which); each of these sections matched the description I’m giving here, with at least one game that didn’t fit previous patterns all that well, and no game that was slam-dunk straightforward.
  2. more formally, games = analytical reasoning
  3. formally, logical reasoning