If you've been studying for the LSAT, you’ve probably heard a lot of big words for logic games: Process problems, hybrid setups, matching games, sequencing, distribution, selection…
Well, here’s the secret. I’m an LSAT tutor who scored a 180 on test day, and I still can't tell you what half those terms mean! And fortunately, you don’t have to learn them all either. Despite test prep courses, websites, blogs, and practice books churning out a whole slew of question types, almost every logic game actually comes down to just two simple tasks:
- Putting things in groups
- Putting things in an order
Really, that’s it! With the exception of rare wildcard problems (more on them later), every logic game you come across will either have you put things in groups or put things in order. Sometimes both!
Let’s look at these two tasks in a little more detail.
Task 1: Grouping
Sorting things into groups comes up a lot in logic games. At its simplest level, grouping can look like this:
“You have 9 people. Each room fits 3 people. Assign each person to a room”
And so, you’ll have to group those 9 people into 3 groups — rooms, in this case. But consider this example:
“There are 7 singers, and exactly 3 will be chosen to perform at the concert.”
Just like in the first example, this is actually a grouping problem! We separate something — singers — into multiple groups: in this case, we can call those groups “Chosen” and “Not Chosen.” It’s really the same task.
Grouping is extremely common throughout the logic games section. A game might ask you to assign students to different teachers, distribute job shifts across different days, or even specify the colors of toy dinosaurs (that last one, if you’ve ever taken PrepTest 57, is a lot harder than it sounds!). The task, however, is all the same: putting things into groups.
Don’t let a game’s specific framing confuse you. At the end of the day, a grouping task will feature both:
a.) The things you’re grouping
b.) The groups you’re putting those things into
Once you identify those, you’ll be well on your way to cracking the problem!
Task 2: Ordering
Now for the second task: putting things in order! This is often straightforward, and can look something like this:
“There are 5 speakers presenting, one at a time. Identify the order in which they speak.”
Or sometimes, you’ll see a task like this one:
“7 paintings will be arranged along a wall, one beside the other. Find the correct order.”
Whether you’re ordering things by chronological order, physical location, or some other factor, the basic problem remains the same. You’re putting things in order! This task, along with grouping things together, is extremely common in logic games, and the more you look for it, the more you’ll find it.
Once you get used to identifying these two tasks, logic games will begin to make a lot more sense. On the test, you’ll see everything from straightforward grouping and ordering to harder problems that do both simultaneously — but all those games, from the easiest to the hardest, boil down to the same two simple tasks.
As for the very rare (I promised I’d bring these up!) wildcard problems that march to their own drum and have no real precedent — I wouldn’t pay them too much attention. Armed with the understanding that almost every single logic game is a grouping or ordering task, you’ll be in a great position to tackle the rare outlier in the unlikely event you come across one.
It takes practice to internalize these two fundamental game types. So pull up a practice book or website, work through logic games sections, and try to identify what task each game asks you to perform. Afterward, go back and do it again. When identifying grouping and ordering problems becomes like second nature — and it will, in less time than you’d think — you’ll have the tools you need to approach even the hardest logic games with confidence.