Tips for Recording Logic Game Rules on the LSAT
Most logic games on the LSAT have three, four, or five conditions or rules that restrict how you play with the pieces. For ordering games, the restrictions provide clues to how the pieces may be positioned in relation to one another. Common types of ordering rules are targets, spacers, and arrangers.
Targets give you concrete evidence about where a game piece belongs or doesn’t belong on the board. You can record a target directly on the box chart.
Clues that tell you exactly where a piece belongs are rare on the LSAT. Here’s an example:
The orchestra plays the march third.
You can record this target directly on the box chart.
More common on the LSAT are clues that narrow a piece’s options on the board or that tell you where a piece doesn’t fit. An example of the first type is this:
The third piece could be either the march or the polka.
You can indicate this restriction on the box chart by recording both options in the third column, separated by a slash to mean or:
Restrictions that tell you where a piece doesn’t belong may be simply stated, like this:
The march is not played last.
You can record that clue by writing M in the last column and striking through it, like this: M
Another way a rule may indicate that a piece doesn’t belong is by giving you a few options where it may belong, like this:
The orchestra plays the sonata first, fourth, or sixth.
Record this clue on the box chart by showing the columns where S doesn’t belong. You can keep track of where S can be by writing its options under the chart.
Some ordering rules indicate the number of spaces that separate certain pieces. Without additional information or analysis, you can’t record these spacing rules directly on the chart, so remember them by recording them next to the chart.
When there are no spaces between pieces, they’re ordered consecutively. A rule like this one tells you that one piece comes right after another:
The tango is played immediately after the rhapsody.
Record that the pieces are ordered consecutively by writing RT next to the box chart on your game board.
Read rules carefully. The rule mentions T first, but that doesn’t mean that T comes before R and the order is TR. Because the rule states that T comes after R, the order is R before T, or RT.
Spacing rules may be precise or ambiguous. The preceding rule about the relative order of R and T is precise. You know that R is always immediately before T. A spacing rule may be worded more ambiguously, like this:
The tango is played either immediately before or immediately after the rhapsody.
You can record the two options next to the box chart on your game board like this:
RT or TR
Sometimes, a rule may tell you that pieces can’t be next to each other:
The sonata is not played either immediately before or after the rhapsody.
We use strikethrough to indicate that S and R can’t be consecutive, like this:
SR and RS
Spacing rules may tell you the exact number of spaces that separate certain pieces. A rule like this one indicates the precise number of spaces between two particular pieces but is ambiguous about the order:
The orchestra plays exactly two musical pieces between its performance of the march and its performance of the polka.
Use underscores to stand for the number of spaces between the playing of the two musical pieces:
M_ _P or P_ _M
The rule doesn’t tell you whether M is before or after P, so either order is possible.
Rules that indicate the general arrangement of pieces without precisely stating how many spaces separate them are common on the LSAT. These rules tell you to order game pieces somewhere before or after other pieces. Here’s an example:
The orchestra plays both the polka and the waltz after the concerto.
You know that C precedes P and W, but you don’t know how many other pieces separate C from P and W. And you don’t know the relative order of P and W. P could be played either before or after W, as long as both are played after C. You can use a right arrow to designate arranging rules on the game board:
C → P
We use only right arrows for the arranger rule shortcut so that all the relationships go in the same left-to-right direction. So C →W is short for “C is before W” or “W is after C.