How to Identify the Types of Grouping Games on the LSAT

One way to identify grouping games on the LSAT is by recognizing the language the facts and rules don’t use. Although some grouping games may also include an element of ordering, most are noticeably bereft of ordering references, such as first/last, higher/lower, and before/after.

Instead, the facts and rules contain wording that suggests matching one set of elements to another set or two of elements. Look for words that indicate group membership, such as included, on the team, with, and together.

Another way to confirm whether a game is of the grouping variety is by reading its first question. Usually, the first question of a grouping game asks you for a possible assignment of game pieces to categories.

The answer choices often list each group name followed by a colon and a list of the game pieces included in that group. When the first question in the set exhibits this format, you’re likely dealing with a grouping game.

After you know you have a grouping game, engage in another categorization. Grouping games come in two general types:

  • In/out: The facts for this game type reference one group, to which game pieces either belong or don’t belong. If a game piece belongs, it’s in. If not, it’s out. You can designate these two options on your game board as in/out, yes/no, +/–, or whatever works for you.

  • Classification: This type’s fact pattern names two or more groups to which you assign the game pieces. Designate the groups on your game board by name.

To help you distinguish between the two grouping game types, take a look at a couple of simple sample fact patterns. An in/out type mentions just one group, like this:

A stylist has access to exactly seven accessories — belt, earrings, hat, glasses, necklace, ring, and scarf. The stylist accessorizes one outfit with exactly five of these accessories. The stylist selects the five accessories for the outfit in accordance with these specifications:

From these facts, you create one group of accessories, the group of five that beautifies the outfit. Five accessories belong on the outfit, and two don’t. To record this information on a game board, list the game pieces (first initials of the seven accessories) and create a box chart that indicates that five pieces belong and two don’t:

A classification fact pattern, like this one, specifically names two or more groups:

Exactly five zoo animals — gnu, peacock, snake, yak, and zebra — are moved into three habitats — A, B, and C. Exactly two animals are moved into A, exactly two animals are moved into B, and exactly one animal is moved into C. The assignment of animals to habitats must adhere to the following conditions:

These facts define three groups — A, B, and C — and five game pieces — g, p, s, y, and z. List the game pieces and form a box chart with the group designations as column headings. This simple scenario states exactly how many members exist in each group, so you can record the appropriate number of spaces under each group name, like this:

Most LSAT grouping games are more complex than these sample scenarios. The facts may provide additional qualifiers. (For example, the stylist scenario could also state that each accessory is colored either silver or gold.) Group assignments may be left open. (For example, the zoo animal scenario may not clarify exactly how many animals are moved into each habitat.)

Regardless of the grouping game’s complexity, the game board you construct usually follows the same general format as the ones we’ve constructed for the sample scenarios.

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