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Should the LSAT Have A "Logic Games" Section?:
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a major factor in law school admissions at every law school. The test itself features three different types of questions, more or less unchanged since 1982: logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and analytical reasoning. Wikipedia offers this summary of the three types of questions:
Logical Reasoning
The test contains two logical reasoning sections, commonly known as "arguments" or "LR". Each question begins with a paragraph which presents either an argument or a short set of facts. The paragraph is followed by a prompt asking the examinee to find the argument's assumption, an alternate conclusion, logical omissions or errors in the argument, to choose another argument with parallel reasoning, or to identify a statement that would either weaken or strengthen the argument.

Reading Comprehension
The test contains one reading comprehension ("RC") section. . . . The questions ask the examinee to determine the author's main idea, find information in the passage, draw inferences from the text, and describe the structure of the passage.

Analytical Reasoning
The test has one analytical reasoning section, informally known as the "logic games" section. . . . The material generally involves grouping, matching, and ordering of elements. The examinee is presented with a setup ("there are five people who might attend this afternoon's meeting") and partial set of rules that govern the situation (e.g. "if Amy is present, then Bob is not present; if Cathy is present, then Dan is present..."), and is then asked to deduce conclusions from the statements (e.g. "What is the maximum number of people who could be present?"). Individual questions often add rules and occasionally modify existing rules, requiring the examinee to reorganize information quickly.
  To see these various types of questions "in action," check out a sample LSAT exam here.

  It's easy to see how the first two types of questions measure lawyerly potential. The logical reasoning section tests the applicant's ability to understand the nature, scope, and weaknesses of various arguments. Reading comprehension tests the applicant's ability to understand and interpret written text. Both skills are directly relevant to legal reasoning; they largely mirror the kinds of mental moves that people make when making legal arguments.

  On the other hand, I confess I don't understand why the LSAT has a "games" section (aka "analytical reasoning"). This section tests an ability to understand relationships among a handful of variables and to see the different ways that different combinations of those variables can fit different criteria. The skill set seems to be keeping a lot of variables in mind and working with how a change in the boundaries of a problem changes how the different pieces can relate to each other. That is an important skill set in many professions, to be sure; it's something that I did all the time when I was in engineering graduate school. But I wonder, how important is that skill to either the study or the practice of law? What kinds of legal tasks rely heavily on that skill?

  The Law School Admission Council's report on the history of different LSAT questions explains that the purpose of these questions is "to understand the structure of a relationship," and claims that they "represent the kind of detailed analyses necessary in solving legal problems."(p.8) But I don't see why. (The report cites a 1993 study, but I couldn't find it online.) It's not clear to me that this particular kind of reasoning is directly relevant to either the study or practice of law.

  One possibility is that perhaps the LSAT people think logic games questions are like "issue spotters," which themselves try to mimic providing advice to a client who brings you a specific set of facts and wants to know how the law might apply. The legal skill here is having a deep understanding of what a legal test means so that you can quickly see the legal terrain raised by the new facts. But that seems really different from the skills evaluated by the logic games questions. The logic games sections always have trivially easy "doctrines." For example, you might have three rows of chairs, and a "doctrine" will be something like "Sam must sit in the same row as Betty." The skill in answering the question has little to do with having a deep understanding of the rule; it's not like they're testing ambiguity in the meaning of the word "sit." Feels like a pretty different part of the brain to me.

  In light of this, I propose that the "logic games" portion of the LSAT be eliminated from the test. Do you agree?
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
There are several types of people who do well on this section.
There's people who learned how to do these from a puzzle book in 5th grade. There's people who've never seen a question like that before, but are smart enough to work it out. There's people who learned how to do these to prepare for the LSAT, by doing practice tests or Princeton Review or Kaplan. Each of these groups tends to do better in law school than those who can't do these problems. I scored 99th percentile on the LSATs, was in the middle of my class in law school, and am useless as a lawyer. But in general I suspect the tests works ok, as well as any known alternative. Of course the main thing these tests are good at measuring is, is daddy rich? The rich tend to do well in law school and as lawyers.
12.27.2007 2:29am
Elith:
I think "keeping a lot of variables in mind" is actually pretty important for law students and lawyers. That is, the logic games section may not be a good predictor of whether a lawyer will be able to apply a deep understanding of a complicated legal doctrine. But maybe it's a good predictor of whether a lawyer will be able to figure out how 15 doctrines and rules that are easy to understand on their own terms relate to each other or apply to one particular question. E.g., the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
12.27.2007 2:33am
OrinKerr:
AA,

To be clear, my question is whether the games sections test skills relevant to studying law. I take it that the LSAT is trying to measure ability to skillfully address legal problems; I just don't think the games sections do that.
12.27.2007 2:36am
David Walser:
I've always understood the first two types of questions, logical reasoning and reading comprehension, measure one's language skills; while the third primarily measures raw intellect. I'm sure that's an oversimplification, but that's the impression that sticks with me since I took the LSAT back in the '80s. The first two types of questions required attention to detail and a large vocabulary. The logical reasoning required you to think.

Having said that, I wouldn't object to changing the LSAT. Something as complex as human potential is not easily measured through a written exam, so I have little hope we can devise a test that is both fair and accurate. Still, I'd think the exam would do a better job of ranking law school candidates if it were broadened, rather than narrowed, in scope.
12.27.2007 2:42am
pedens:
I took the LSAT back in June and am taking it again in Feb. I did poorly on Logic Games but after taking a prep course found they are the most learnable to do with substantial practice, I can get whole games right and some where I can answer questions without even having to work a diagram. Since the LG section is 4 games at 24-26 questions they have tended to repeat the format for question types to where you just have a different scenario.

I'm guessing it's like you say the issue spotting is why it's on there though if I were making the test I would use only Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension, both are much more challenging, and with Reasoning the testmakers have a variety of ways to format questions to make the exam more tougher for me.
12.27.2007 2:48am
Paul Allen:
Agreed. But it should be brought back to the GRE--where is deservedly belongs for science and engineering graduate students.
12.27.2007 2:55am
pedens:
Does LSAC do any kind of annual survey of law professors asking what specific things they feel 1L's need to have an understanding of to do well in their course of study?
12.27.2007 3:01am
neurodoc:
It's not clear to me that this particular kind of reasoning is directly relevant to either the study or practice of law.
Why not go with empiric data? If one's score on "logical games" alone, or in combination with other subscores, predicts final class rank in law school as well as or better than alternative question types, that's all that matters, isn't it?
12.27.2007 3:06am
Pendulum (mail):
I'm a former LSAT teacher and current 1L. On balance, I suggest preserving the Logic Games section.

Logic Games is clearly the most teachable element of the test. Many of my students who applied themselves would improve from scoring 8/24 to scoring 16+/24 on the games section. These kinds of improvements were rare on the other sections.

Given how teachable LG is, some arguments against retaining it reveal themselves. For example, if it can be taught in prep class, it disadvantages economically bereft individuals. For another, perhaps its teachable nature means its not reflecting aptitude.

But there are good reasons for maintaining it - one being that, despite the ability to train the skill, either by prep classes or independently, aptitude still ultimately reigns. Those who are not naturally capable plateau at 16-18/24, and the truly capable *and* dedicated can score above. Meanwhile the bright but untrained student can still score 16 or 18.

Therefore, two groups are being advantaged by logic games: those willing to doggedly plow through example after example in relentless determination, and those who are naturally bright, curious and enjoy puzzles. This second group is the group that we ought be primarily concerned with, since their potential contributions are often overshadowed by low or middling GPAs, as a result of being uninspired by their undergraduate curriculum. In contrast, the scholastic abilities of the first group are usually already on full display. Thus, Logic Games serves as the great equalizer for those whose GPAs are comparatively low, but would be excellent candidates for law school. GPA and law school apparently don't correlate at all; LSAT score correlates somewhat better. Logic Games is likely to account for some of this, given the radically different nature of the thinking employed from that of most undergraduate courses.

Finally, I have at times noticed how games-type thinking can be beneficial in law school. For example, in structuring a civil procedure answer by systematically evaluating whether a traditional basis for jurisdiction exists; if not, whether there are contacts; if so, whether those contacts are sufficient to confer jurisdiction. But these instances are far from frequent - although I haven't needed to evaluate alternate theories of Jane Austen's contribution to feminism either.
12.27.2007 3:09am
Tier 2 2L:
I scored OK on the LSAT...low 160s. On practice exams I consistently bombed the games and struggled to raise my score to about 75% correct by the actual exam sitting...and that was with an immense amount of concentration.

Some of my prep-class classmates found the games very simple. I assume they went on to excellent scores....

Despite my struggles with the games, I finished the year in the top 5 pct. Law school is challenging, but nothing like those games!!

I agree with Orin's overall point but I would go further, and propose that the entire LSAT be re-engineered. Yes, I am probably biased on this point (and yes these are tired arguments), but the test is a very imperfect predictor of success in law school. The top 5% of our class has at least an 8-9 point range between high and low LSAT scores.

At the very least, the test should be awarded less weight in admission decisions.
12.27.2007 3:09am
drewsil (mail):
I'd have to disagree, as whether the logic games "feel like" or imitate legal reasoning isn't the correct question to ask. The correct questions are: Does the ability to answer such questions correlate positively with success as a lawyer? Are there other types of questions which correlate more strongly with the desired results? and How strongly do these logic games correlate with questions in the other two test sections? These questions are best answered with empirical research.

I find it plausible that the logic game questions are valuable specifically because they ask aspiring lawyers to utilize a skill which they are unlikely to have come across in any of the classes they have taken. It is even possible that these questions just test an aspiring lawyers willingness to put forth effort in satisfying a superiors irrational demands. Lack of empirical research indicating that logic games questions are useless biases me against removing them based solely upon theoretical speculation.
12.27.2007 3:12am
David Walser:
Prof. Kerr,

If your concern is that the logical reasoning questions do not measure lawyerly skills, your concern, while understandable, is misplaced. The logical reasoning questions indirectly measure one of the most important skills a lawyer can have: the ability to think beyond the four corners of a document. That skill, by itself, is not sufficient to make someone a good attorney. Without it, an attorney will be at most a highly paid paralegal. The difficulty for the test writers is measuring lawyerly ability before a student has spent one day inside a law school class. Since the skills have yet to be developed, the test cannot test the skills directly.

If we were testing potential football players, we'd want to grade their speed, quickness, coordination, and strength. For each of these areas, we could easily come up with an objective test or two for grading prospects. In addition to these areas, we'd want some measure of their ability to see the field, their ability to adapt to changing circumstances, and most importantly, some measure of their heart. It would be hard for us to measure these attributes directly, so we'd try to come up with indirect measures.

We can discuss whether the logical reasoning questions do a good job of measuring the ability to think outside the document. I don't think it would be wise to avoid measuring this attribute -- unless our indirect measures don't produce valid data.
12.27.2007 3:14am
Pendulum (mail):
To clarify one point - I think Logic Games fundamentally serves as an effective 'weed out' of those who have posted high GPAs by a mixture of easy coursework, being good at busywork but not thinking, and pleasing teachers.

My above post may have sacrificed in clarity what it gained in diplomacy.
12.27.2007 3:15am
pedens:
How much weight do you think it should get then? I don't like how much emphasis is placed on the score but then again I see it as the only workable option because with a school that gets 1,000+ applicants for 100 seats they need something to differentiate applicants.
12.27.2007 3:23am
George Weiss (mail):
i think the other sections are too easy to create the necessary bell curve to they there in the games.

my score improved from 150 (first practice several years before the real test) to 164...virtually only studied that one section.
12.27.2007 4:24am
George Weiss (mail):
crappy typing- thats i think the other sections are too easy so they threw in the logic games section.
12.27.2007 4:25am
Tier 2 2L:
pedens,

You have a great point...it's hard to differentiate applicants, certainly. But as certain commenters have mentioned, there is nothing wrong with making the test itself more robust.

Undergrad institutions have greater raw totals of applicants than law schools do, but the SAT is not now (and in my opinion never was) weighed as heavily as the LSAT as a differentiation tool. Yet somehow, undergrad institutions still can make admissions decisions via their (generally) more holistic review.

Why shouldn't law schools take things like work experience into account (business schools do this already)? I can think of very few colleagues in the top 5% who did not have some work experience between undergrad and law school. I admit my information is anecdotal of course.

Why shouldn't they take a real hard look at essays (we all know that is a poor cousin of the LSAT when it comes to reviewing applicants)?

I don't know the solution to the problem -- I'm just a lowly 2L and I'm not from the Ivy braintrust...but I think the system could use serious tweaking.
12.27.2007 4:32am
Aegis of Blogistan (mail):
I'm a genius and aced every part of the LSAT but the last logic game I came across, which made me have a panic attack. I made it into a good law school and BigLaw, but have been resentful ever since that those evil logic games (which had been my strong suit) prevented me from acceptance to Yale. I would say strike them, but I aced the logic games on the experimental section. What we need to do is get rid of bad luck.
12.27.2007 4:56am
Andrew S (mail):
On one hand I don't like that the LG section is so "teachable." I couldn't afford to take a prep class and I don't like the idea that people can gain a sizable advantage in that manner. On the other hand, I aced the LG section anyway.

The best reason I can come up with for keeping it is that the logic games section, more than any other, tests how much time and effort you put into your preparation for the LSAT. And I don't think that's such a bad thing to test - wouldn't you think that people with the ability to put however much time towards learning a "teachable" section are more likely to be the sort of people that will put however many hours into reading cases and learning black letter nuances, and down the road, more likely to put in the long hours that all lawyers are doomed to toil?
12.27.2007 5:36am
John (mail):
These a priori arguments really miss the point.

As a statistical matter, do these categories of questions predict success at law school or not?

If not, they should be discarded; otherwise, they should be kept.
12.27.2007 7:43am
SteveDK:
Kerr: "I take it that the LSAT is trying to measure ability to skillfully address legal problems..."

Why should it do that? I think the LSAT should identify people who can think under pressure in imaginative, penetrating and rigorous fashion, whether or not they'll do well in law school or make good lawyers.

Also, logic games, more than any other part of the LSAT, test something that goes beyond grades.

I've taught LSAT prep and I think logic games is the best part of the test. I'd suggest it play a larger part than it presently does.

But get rid of that writing sample.
12.27.2007 8:05am
Federal Dog:
I too wondered about the point of that section until I sat my civil procedure final. Mapping out jurisdiction problems on that test was exactly like the "logic games" part of the LSAT.
12.27.2007 8:06am
George Weiss (mail):
i sort of understand the people who are saying that fitting the joinder rules with subject matter jurisdiction in diversity when there is multiple parties and/or multiple claims was sort of like an lsat game..i guess its also a little like figuring out the estates and future interest problems.
12.27.2007 8:19am
George Weiss (mail):
John:
These a priori arguments really miss the point.

As a statistical matter, do these categories of questions predict success at law school or not?

If not, they should be discarded; otherwise, they should be kept.



well that depends. suppose a straight mathematics test predicted law school success. would that justify keeping it? or would we look for something more legal related that could perhaps predict better?
12.27.2007 8:27am
Ted Frank (www):
This is an empirical question: is there a relationship between legal analysis skill and logic games skill? It's a yes/no question that is answered by data, rather than by theorizing whether the relationship exists. LSAC claims that LSAT scores better predict law school grades than undergraduate grades. I'm not aware of any evidence to the contrary.

Speaking from my own personal experience, I couldn't afford a top-of-the-line undergraduate degree, and grade inflation makes it difficult for a transcript to stand out. If I hadn't been able to demonstrate my intellectual potential with a perfect LSAT score, I wouldn't have gotten into Yale or Harvard or Chicago. My own personal confirmation bias therefore objects to efforts to water down the LSAT.
12.27.2007 8:32am
MDJD2B (mail):

To be clear, my question is whether the games sections test skills relevant to studying law.


Prof. Kerr,

I don't think this is the relevant question.

The relevant question is whether the logic games correlate with (a) law school performance, or (b) subequent performance as a lawyer.

Testing mavens distinguish between facial validity (what you wnt to test for-- is the question related to the subject material) and construct validity (does a response to the test item predict some trait, regardless of whehter it seems to be related).

Presumably, if a question about somebody's favorite color were correlated with success in law or medicine, it would be an appropriate question for the LSAT or MCAT, respectively.

I did wretchedly on the logic games, great on the other two sections, and am doing fine in law school. I hated the logic games. This, of course, means little. If the logic games predict law school success, the belong. If not, not.
12.27.2007 8:36am
ACA:
A few people beat me to it close to the end.

Logic games are very much analogous to many of the party joinder/claim joinder and issue preclusion/claim preclusion rules you run into towards the end of civil procedure and even more salient when going through present estates and future interests in property. the mahrenholz case is a classic example. if the son sold off a reversion, x, y and z happen. if it was a remainder, a, b and c happen. it's the law student's responsibility to recognize this and trace it out and explain it on a test.

to a lesser extent, the abstract relationships you have to evaluate in the logical reasoning section pop up very consistently in all law school courses. if the tort is evaluated under negligence, you have to go down one line of reasoning/thinking. if it is strict liability, things change completely. and within the negligence chain, you have to recognize that jurisdictions have widely varying assumption of risk rules and if you want to write a more thorough, stellar answer, you need to (briefly) evaluate each of those in turn. the exact same "chain-like" logical reasoning applies in all the other 1L courses (was it a quasi-K or a K as a matter of fact? ucc or common law? void for vagueness? ambiguity? what measure of damages?)

granted, it's somewhat attenuated from the far more rigorous sort of 'games' you see on this section but i definitely can see the connection between the type of thinking it forces you to do and the type of thinking in which you're asked to engage in law school.
12.27.2007 8:38am
Zathras (mail):
OK: This section tests an ability to understand relationships among a handful of variables and to see the different ways that different combinations of those variables can fit different criteria. The skill set seems to be keeping a lot of variables in mind and working with how a change in the boundaries of a problem changes how the different pieces can relate to each other....

What kinds of legal tasks rely heavily on that skill?


This skill is extremely important in practicing patent law, but I don't think it's important for other areas. Perhaps it should be moved from the LSAT to the patent bar.
12.27.2007 8:39am
George Weiss (mail):
ted:

see my previous post
12.27.2007 8:41am
James Grimmelmann (mail) (www):
Here's a compromise theory: the logic games section measures a set of skills that it's useful, but not necessary, for lawyers to have.

Lawyers regularly have to organize significant quantities of information, but they do it in lots of different ways. Some make diagrams and slot specific issues into the diagrams. Some create detailed multi-level outlines. Some craft exquisitely careful sentences that summarize precise relationships among facts. Some memorize the details and develop an intuitive gestalt. The actual method varies by lawyer, but if you don't have some way that works for you, you'll be adrift in law school and in practice.

The logic games section is supposed to test the kind of organizational skills that underlie any of these ways of working. But the format they've chosen lines up more closely with the diagrammatic style than with the linguistically precise one. The result is that some people see the logic games section almost as a gift of points; for these people, of course it tests a useful skill, because it tests something they do constantly as lawyers. But other people see it as a bizarre distraction; for them, it tests a skill they do perfectly well as lawyers without needing to use.
12.27.2007 8:43am
DJR:
The games section should be kept for two reasons. First, it measures the ability to think under pressure. I am one of those "interested in games" people who was familiar with the type of game, but had never seen it done like the LSAT. For those who did not take the LSAT, the key phrase in the Wikipedia description is that the test taker is given a "partial set of rules that govern the situation." The word partial is important. It's not like Soduku, where given enough time you can figure out who is at the meeting. It's more like what are the possible meetings that could fit the criteria?

Second, the games section is an important compontent of the primary value of the LSAT: That it is a timed test. Given sufficient time, most candidates could score a near perfect score on the LSAT. This is particularly true on the games section. Measuring the ability to do games-like thinking under pressure serves the important goal of weeding out those who can't do that thinking as fast. Law schools need some way to determine who gets in.
12.27.2007 8:51am
Elliot Reed (mail):
Based on my experience with the games, I find it hard to believe they have much by way of useful relationship to any skill used by lawyers. I was wretched at the games at first—I was barely scoring above chance. But thanks to the power of a high-priced personal tutor, I spent hours learning and perfecting a series of extremely stylized techniques for diagramming the games. There aren't many types of games, so you only need to study a very limited set of diagrams. Nothing I've had to do in law school has called for anything remotely like those diagrams, not even the arcane property rules.

The games were eventually my best section. I got every single one of them right on the actual LSAT. What did this indicate? Mostly that I had a fair bit of spare cash before law school that I could spend on tutors and old practice questions.
12.27.2007 9:04am
UK (mail):

To be clear, my question is whether the games sections test skills relevant to studying law. I take it that the LSAT is trying to measure ability to skillfully address legal problems; I just don't think the games sections do that.


Yes, it tests something, perhaps not skills, relevant to studying law. That something is usually called intelligence. Like its more general cousin the SAT, the LSAT is an IQ test disguised as a skills test. One may certainly argue to remove (what the IQ guys call) the g-loading of the test, but then you may not like the results in the capabilities of your students.
12.27.2007 9:10am
pty04 (mail):
It's interesting to see the strengths and weaknesses of "the lawyer's approach" in the comments. Some comments, the lawyer's comments, take their personal experience or some personal intuition and use rhetoric to convince the reader that they're making a universal point. Others, using the non-lawyer's approach, ask for broad empirical evidence.

Do we know if testing mavens would say that the logic games are g-loaded? (A few of the comments above have made essentially this same point.)
12.27.2007 9:11am
pty04 (mail):
I must have been composing my comment at the same time that UK was writing that one, also about g.
12.27.2007 9:12am
Sean M:
What seems bizarre about Games is that among test takers there are only two groups of people:

Those who loved games and those who hated games. For my own part, I studied games /exclusively/ and got my games score to be a good deal higher (going from 'huh?' to 'not so bad').

But it does seem odd that no other section provokes such heated emotions as Games does. I imagine it has something to do with the 'like math'/'don't like math' divide among law students, but I cannot be certain.
12.27.2007 9:13am
Prof. S. (mail):
It seems to me that there are two camps of commentators thus far:

1.) I did well on this section, got into a good school, and think it should be kept.

2.) I did poorly on this section, thus think it's arbitrary and should be eliminated.



What does the section test? It tests your ability to maintain a set of hard rules in your head, weave in new rules that change from question to question, and play out the possibilities from there.

Do you use these skills in law? Of course you do. You've always got a given set of rules - whether a particular law, case, controlling document, etc. You also have changing rules - e.g. client demands, tax considerations, reactions by adverse parties, etc.

The logic games test one's ability to think through various permutations of these hard and soft rules, do so in a timely manner, and trust your conclusions when you reach them (instead of testing out every other possibility as well).

Are these the best predictors of success as a lawyer? Probably not. Then again, how are you going to test the ability to make a client happy, the ability to network in your area, ability to stand up before a jury, one's skill at managing difficult clients, and all of the other non-law-related skills that impact a lawyer's success.

As someone above suggested, rich and well-connected people do well as lawyers. Maybe we should just test for that.
12.27.2007 9:18am
pty04 (mail):

As someone above suggested, rich and well-connected people do well as lawyers. Maybe we should just test for that.




We already do, sadly.
12.27.2007 9:24am
Cold Warrior:
Neurodoc and John are correct.

If the logic games scores show a high correlation with law school success (and ultimately with bar passage rate), then they're a keeper. If not, dump them.

I think the LSAC is a little bit hesitant to admit what the LG section is: it is part of an IQ test. And would an old-fashioned IQ test be just as good as the LSAT itself? Other than English-language skills (perhaps the most important determinant of success in law school and success as a lawyer), I have a notion that an IQ test is just as good as the LSAT.

By the way, as someone who taught LSAT prep classes a long time ago, I disagree with those who think that the LG section is the most susceptible to improvement through teaching/practice. In fact, I think the opposite is true, and I think the LSAC knows that. As the section that most closely resembles a classic IQ test, I believe it is the most difficult to master through preparation -- at least through the typical preparation (six months, a year, even two years) that most test-takers put in. And I think the LSAC wants a basic IQ test component. Call it "thinking skills."
12.27.2007 9:28am
Jake Walker (mail):
I'm a 1L at Michigan, and have taught (and continue to teach and tutor) for one of the bigger LSAT test prep companies, TestMasters.

One of the techniques that is often possible in a logic game is where there are enough deductions that you can make so that you can create an entire set of the possibilities of the game in front of you. And one technique for getting there is to sort out the most restrictive rules in the game, (realizing, for instance, that there are only three places that this "block" can go).

As you continue to delve into the game, you continue to use that branching off until you've assembled a complete (or near complete) set of all the possibilities that the game has laid out.

It wasn't until I started law school that I could immediately see the connection. This is about arguing in the alternative. It's about being able to see where the issues are, and branch off from there. What's the most restrictive issue in this Contracts essay question I just read? Was there consideration or was it simply a gift? If you think it was supported by consideration, then you go down one track, if you think it was a gift, you go down another. But if you use the same techniques, you can map out the issues, talk about certain things once (things that are constant throughout the problem), and do a decent job of writing about the potential differences AND how they complicate other issues.

Besides this, students who master logic games typically have an understanding of sufficient and necessary conditions (either directly, because they have been taught it or at least innately, if they are the kind of people that just do well on exams). This understanding is certainly helpful in reading statutes, certain sections of Restatements, the UCC, etc., etc., etc.

To that point, it may not be that success on games is necessary for success in law school, but it certainly may be sufficient for teasing out whether someone can handle certain aspects of legal reasoning.
12.27.2007 9:35am
byomtov (mail):
If the logic games scores show a high correlation with law school success (and ultimately with bar passage rate), then they're a keeper. If not, dump them.

Of course this is the right answer. If you want to know whether something predicts law school success look at the data, for Pete's sake.
12.27.2007 9:36am
David Parsons (mail):
Here's a personal take. When I took the LSAT, as a precursor to emigrating to the US and starting a JD course (and, incidentally, marrying a Texan, the motivating factor for the move) I was a newly minted lawyer in the UK. Stopping just shy of taking the bar, I had already obtained an LLB (English law degree), a Master of Laws in International Law, and spent a year at the University of Texas as an exchange student, taking JD classes (a mixture of 1L core subjects and upperclass electives) as part of my LLB. For the year in Texas I took 28 credit hours, was graded on a curve with JD students, and attained a GPA of 3.4. I was a little pissed that I had to take a standardized test to "prove" my aptitude to study law. Surely, I thought, my year of study at the very law school to which I was applying, should suffice? But rules is rules, and I procured a practice book and started studying. In every practice test I took, the scores were the same: close to 100% correct on the reading comprehension questions, around 90% correct on the logical reasoning questions and never (NEVER) above 25% on the Analytical Reasoning. My LSAT score was sufficient (low 160s, as far as I recall) and I gained entrance and received my JD (being granted 30 hours worth of credit for my previous legal studies). I've been practicing for 5 years now. Not once in my legal career, or in my 8 years of legal education, have I ever felt the lack of being able to solve a bunch of puzzles that made my head ache and unfailingly confounded my best endeavors to solve them. I'd ditch them in a heartbeat.
12.27.2007 9:45am
Houston Lawyer:
I'm just glad I took the test in 1981, when it still had math questions. Easy math questions.

I'd like to know whether there is any empirical data correlating the subject matter of your undergraduate degree to success in law school. Did all those liberal arts majors really learn to "think" and did it help in law school?
12.27.2007 9:50am
Zathras (mail):
Completely off-topic, but in case anybody missed the news from the last hour: Bhutto has been assassinated.
12.27.2007 10:03am
Elliot Reed (mail):
Those who loved games and those who hated games. For my own part, I studied games /exclusively/ and got my games score to be a good deal higher (going from 'huh?' to 'not so bad').

But it does seem odd that no other section provokes such heated emotions as Games does. I imagine it has something to do with the 'like math'/'don't like math' divide among law students, but I cannot be certain.
I like math, and am good at it (physics undergrad), but I'm pretty thoroughly convinced the games are of little value.

Another question: how good is the traditional law school exam structure at measuring valuable lawyering skills? It seems to be driven by the desire to make grading as easy as possible on the profs. But I'll concede that it's better than the logic games.
12.27.2007 10:14am
Elliot Reed (mail):
As for those who want to look at the data: aren't the logic games going to be related to professional success almost automatically? Your professional success depends on the opportunities available to you; the opportunities available to you depend on where you went to law school; where you went to law school depends on your score on the logic games. If the parallel bars were on the LSAT, they would start predicting lawyerly success too.
12.27.2007 10:18am
Philistine (mail):
When I took the test--late '80's--it had on it arguably the only type of questions that were really directly applicable to the study and practice of law.

I forget what the section was called--but if I remember correctly they were a general fact pattern and then they would give in the potential answers additional facts and you would have to choose what facts would be most relevant in making determining an issue that was provided.

This section was taken off shortly after I took the LSAT.
12.27.2007 10:24am
gawaine (mail):
Sounds like the GRE's Analytical section, which is unfortunately ignored by many grad schools. (Unfortunate for me, since I only missed one question on that section, and I would have liked for that to count more).

IIRC, these types of things are often orthogonal to IQ tests, so the normal pro and anti IQ arguments could apply.
12.27.2007 10:24am
Wayne Jarvis:
They should replace the logic games with one of those Samuri Sodoku puzzles.

Is it just me or did the world get get 50% scarier?
12.27.2007 10:26am
Francesca:
I am a big believer in the LG section of the LSAT. My job allows me to work with recent law school graduates. Each year, I ask them how they did on the LG section. My personal observation is that the ones who did well on the LG section (and especially those who like logic games in general) are more capable of dealing with complex cases on their own.

I disagree that this section gives an advantage to those who can afford an LSAT prep course. When prospective law school students ask me what they should do to prepare for the LG section, I send them to a book store to buy a book of logic games. These books have the advantage of teaching you how to solve the various types of logic games.

Having taught LSAT prep courses (long ago), it did not seem to me that the LG section was necessarily easy to learn. Some students simply needed help figuring out the "how". But some students never did seem to improve.

My vote is for retaining the LG section.
12.27.2007 10:45am
duce:
Slightly off topic. I would appreciate any advice as to which LSAT prep class to take. I am going to take the LSAT in October. I am currently living and working in Mexico City and will have to fly back to the states to take the class and so I want to make sure I don't waste my money. I just listened to a podcast by Saul Levmore at the U of Chicago Law School on the "wisdom of groups" and so I would love to know what class/provider the wisdom of this group would suggest. Thank you.
12.27.2007 10:48am
Lior:
You can ask the same questions about the relevance of the GRE (both general and subjet tests) to success in grad school, or the SAT to success in undergraduate schools. The only thing the test directly measures is the aptitude to succeed in the test. Hopefully, this correlates with educational success later on. After years of experience, math and physics departments only care about the verbal score of the general GRE, for example, and that only for native speakers.

Assuming that the LSAT also reports scores by section and not just the aggregate score, you can see how the "LG" score correlates with success among your admitted students. That'll tell you whether it's a useful score or whether you should ignore it (which you can even if it's on the test!)
12.27.2007 10:57am
OrinKerr:
For those who say, "look at the data": Yes, obviously! I looked for the data, or even for someone who claimed to have the data, but I couldn't fit it or anyone who claimed to have it. I agree that such data would be helpful, if it exists, but unless you happen to know of it, saying "look at the data" isn't really all that helpful. Do you have links to the data that you think we should look at?
12.27.2007 11:07am
Cornellian (mail):
The logic games section is the toughest section for someone with an Arts background, i.e. the typical LSAT taker. It's on the LSAT not because it bears any logical relation to anything law students or lawyers ever do, but only as a nearly (but not quite) arbitrary way to differentiate among the great mass of people who do well on the other two sections.
12.27.2007 11:09am
kdonovan:
"As for those who want to look at the data: aren't the logic games going to be related to professional success almost automatically? Your professional success depends on the opportunities available to you; the opportunities available to you depend on where you went to law school; where you went to law school depends on your score on the logic games. If the parallel bars were on the LSAT, they would start predicting lawyerly success too."

No. You would control for these others variables.
12.27.2007 11:22am
genob:
Really? This is even a question? The "logical games" is probably the part of the exam that (at least for a litigator) is most used in day to day practice. Every claim/cause of action has elements that must exist and defenses that must not exist. Failure to clearly set out and understand the "and/or/not" relationship between the various elements of a claim is the downfall of many a brief, and the ability to clearly set out these relationships, therefore leading the reader to the only possible logical conclusion, is usually quite compelling. I think it's a very important and frequently used skill (at least in practice, if not in law school).
12.27.2007 11:26am
aneplokh:
I think the biggest issue is not whether there is a logic games section or not, but how the scores are reported. For the SAT and GRE, scores are broken down by section. A given school or graduate program can decide to weight one section more or less than others. The LSAT scores are reported to schools as a single scaled score.

To keep numbers the same as the current scoring system and to account for the fact that there are 2 logical reasoning sections, I will assume that the score range is 30-45 on each of AR and RC, and 60-90 on LR.

{Student}: AR RC LR
Student A: 40 40 80
Student B: 45 40 75
Student C: 35 40 85

Among our hypothetical 160 scorers, who do you take? The well-rounded Student A? The Logic Games genius B? The slightly stronger reading comprehension and logical reasoning C? Why not let the market (that is, the 190 or so law schools in the country) decide?
12.27.2007 11:28am
OrinKerr:
genob,

Can you give some examples?
12.27.2007 11:39am
SteveG:
Seems to me the "logic games" section is highly relevant to one of the most important things lawyers do: write laws and regulations. As one who has worked on both, I'll tell you one of the most important things to do is to take the literal words of the draft, look for various situations the words could be applied to, and see whether you know what the result will be (and whether that result is acceptable). If you do enough of this game analysis when writing the rule, then the litigators have less opportunity to play games with it later.
12.27.2007 11:42am
Cold Warrior:
David Parsons:

Excellent comment. It makes me wonder: is the LG section there in order to allow those who are not particularly proficient in English language skills or classical deductive logic skills to demonstrate that they still may have important skills to offer to law school/the legal profession? I don't know, but (like the old inclusion of math questions) it's an interesting notion.

As for the idea that what the LSAT tests should have some relation to what is learned in law school: why should that be? We have undergrad grades as one predictor of success. We have recommendations and essays and whatnot as a showing of "well-roundedness," or as an aid in assembling a diverse entering class. If the LSAT has any function, it should be to improve upon the predictive function of grades in a way that other things can't (for example, weighting GPAs from elite institutions higher than those from purely local colleges). So if performance on the LG section significantly improves our ability to predict success, it should stay. If proficiency in a foreign language is a good predictor of success, maybe we should require that. I don't really care about the content of the test because I can't see why that content is relevant. If we want to test material that resembles what we learn in law school we ought to require a standardized curriculum for undergrad applicants, kind of like the way med schools do it. If we want to draw from a larger undergrad population, then we need to use other means to predict success or failure.

Duce:

As someone who taught prep classes, I am profoundly skeptical of their value. In my opinion, the prep classes have one value and one value only: they force the otherwise unmotivated to keep a rigorous preparation schedule. (There's also the unavoidable cognitive dissonance function; you've paid out a good chunk of change for the prep course, and you want to get your money's worth. The same doesn't apply when you shell out a hundred bucks for the 3-4 leading prep manuals at your local bookstore.)

If you are the type of person who is able to keep to a self-imposed schedule, then the classes aren't worth it. If you need the externally-imposed discipline, then go for it. Simple as that.
12.27.2007 11:42am
Sarah (mail) (www):
I missed, IIRC, eight questions on the LSAT -- four in Logic Games, the others divided evenly between the other sections. I got a 170 (98th percentile.) If there hadn't been any logic games, would I have gotten a bump in my percentile? I suspect not, and therefore say "keep the logic games." ^_^

duce, my only suggestion is to get the PowerScore logic games manual. I started out missing all but four questions on the Logic Games section, and so essentially reversed my performance exactly just by working with that book. I didn't have the money for any classes, so I don't know how they work, though PowerScore does apparently pay the extra money to get "real" questions instead of making their own up (with the books, at least, I found that many other prep programs were creating harder questions than would appear on the tests.) I believe the attitude expressed in the prep books more or less tracks with the style of each program, though: Princeton tends to be a little more casual and "woot, we can beat this" than Kaplan, in my experience. Oh, and whatever you do, make sure you incorporate real past exams. in your practice schedule. Again and again on the actual test day I had an incredibly strong sense of deja vu, which was quite empowering. I think I worked through eight or nine real past exams before taking the LSAT (three with simulated test conditions,) plus a few made-up tests from Princeton and Kaplan and the entire PowerScore Logic Games book and another ten or twelve Logic Games sections alone -- I almost always got near-perfect scores on the other two sections, and so never really bothered to study them much in detail.

Regarding hard data: don't the law schools get to see the sub-scores of applicants? My sub-scores from the SAT and ACT are on my transcript at Ohio State (that's how I can verify that yes, my math ACT really was six full points lower than any other section.) Maybe you can't get the numbers from LSAC, but most of the permabloggers here are law professors, right? Call your admissions offices. This would be an entertaining senior project for some undergrad math major at UCLA.
12.27.2007 11:43am
Jake Walker (mail):
FWIW, LSAC publishes tons of data on their website, including some data on the predictive ability of the test as a whole at:

http://www.lsacnet.org
12.27.2007 11:51am
duce:
Cold Warrior and Sarah

Thank you for your advice. I have ordered the Logic Games Bible and during lunch I do a section or two from past tests. I'm thinking that should be enough but was worried I might be missing something by not taking a class.

Thanks again,

Duce
12.27.2007 11:51am
Jake Walker (mail):
Of some interest:

Discrepant LSAT Subscores.
12.27.2007 11:58am
genob:
Sure.

Take a claim for predatory pricing for example.

The plaintiff must show each element of the claim to succeed. (pricing below "cost", dangerous probability of achieving a monopoly as a result; recoupment). All the elements of the claim have an "and" releationship in this case.

Understanding and clearly setting forth the "and" releationship between each of these elements always leads to a more persuasive brief. The defendant may can quickly point out that since elements 2 or 3 don't exist (or weren't even in the pleadings maybe?), it is irrelevant that element 1 does exist (and you don't need to waste 20 pages on what the appropriate measure of cost should be). Similarly, the plaintiff who knows they are weak on elements 2 and 3 can focus their brief on the first element,and attempt to create such a sympathetic story that the reader is tempted to find a way to disregard 2 and 3. But failing to understand and deal with the relationships between the elements is a recipie for failure.

Other claims might have "or" relationships or "not" relationships. (A+B+(C or D or E); and F must not be true...

The ability to boil a claim down to a mathematical/logical relationship is a key to making your desired outcome the only "logical" one for the judge to reach.
12.27.2007 12:02pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
I know a guy who got a pefect score on this section. He has failed the bar exam twice (and counting).
12.27.2007 12:08pm
Daniel San:
OrinKerr: genob,
Can you give some examples?


I'll take a crack at that. I'm not sure the skills are frequently used by a litigator, but they are used in jury strategy. There are often multiple arguments that can be made to a jury. Argument A supports Argument B. Argument C is incompatible with Argument B. Argument D, depending on certain uncontrollable factors, may support Argument C but will weaken Argument A. Cross examination strategy involves similar types of calculations: do you attack the credibility of the witness (A)? boost her credibility (B)? push the aspects that support your position (C)?. Sometimes you go with A and C although A may undermine C and sometimes C will undermine A. Unexpected events can require that these calculations be made quickly and while doing other things.

Death penalty trials with sentencing by the jury call for more calculations. Certain arguments in the guilt phase may weaken certain sentencing arguments. Some eligibility arguments will weaken your position at the death phase.

Admittedly, in the real world, it is usually not if A then not B; it is if A then I expect the jury to be uncomfortable with B. After watching the jury and the witnesses for a bit, the expectations may change.
12.27.2007 12:16pm
Guest 202:
"The skill in answering the question has little to do with having a deep understanding of the rule; it's not like they're testing ambiguity in the meaning of the word 'sit.'"

I've only been practicing for a short while, but it seems that understanding the structure of a legal regime/the relationships among various (simple) rules (i.e., how they work together) is just as important as (if not more important than) having a 'deep understanding' of a single (ambiguous) rule or set of rules. Indeed, a keen sense of how the rules work together is generally what we mean by saying someone has a 'deep understanding' of a particular legal field. Legal reasoning is probably just as much in the form of "if fact X changes then the outcome is different because..." or "if we change the definition of X, then the affects provisions Y and Z" than "what exactly do we mean by X?"
12.27.2007 12:20pm
OrinKerr:
Daniel San,

Isn't that an optimization problem, in which the key is knowing the relationships well enough to master the scope of the tradeoffs? That seems more like the issues in an issue spotter, as discussed above.
12.27.2007 12:20pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Why not go with empiric data? If one's score on "logical games" alone, or in combination with other subscores, predicts final class rank in law school as well as or better than alternative question types, that's all that matters, isn't it?" ----> No, that's NOT all that matters.

There ARE certain anti-discrimination laws in this country that Congress has enacted applicable to such testing. I guess that is lost on the doctorly types who likely have financial investments in the lucrative APA mental standardized testing industry.

Lets just for a moment take a look at the circumstances of the present testing format applicable to the legal profession:

1. The dissenters (Scalia &Thomas, JJ) in PGA Tours characterized Bar Examinations as an employment test for entry into the legal profession. Presumably that means Titles I &II of the Americans With Disabilities Act and 42 U.S.C. Sec. 12189 all apply;

2. Orin characterizes the LSAT as a pre-offer of entry into law school medical examination to select a certain type of mental thinker and exclude all other mental thinking styles: "It's easy to see how the first two types of questions measure lawyerly potential. The logical reasoning section tests the applicant's ability to understand the nature, scope, and weaknesses of various arguments. Reading comprehension tests the applicant's ability to understand and interpret written text. Both skills are directly relevant to legal reasoning; they largely mirror the kinds of mental moves that people make when making legal arguments."

3. Orin admits the LSAT is a medical examination test directed towards different hemispheres of the brain (rigght and left hemispheres): "The logic games sections always have trivially easy 'doctrines.'... The skill in answering the question has little to do with having a deep understanding of the rule; it's not like they're testing ambiguity in the meaning of the word 'sit.' Feels like a pretty different part of the brain to me."

The LSAT, as neurodic admits, is tracked to predict the winners in the same medical examination standardized Bar Examination process, thereby implying the standardized LSAT is okay because the standardized Bar Examinations are okay.
Meaning it is okay to use standarized medical examination Bar Exam screening pre-offer of professional attorney licensure and legal employment attorney positions to evaluate the likelihood that an applicant or employee will succeed or fail in the legal profession.

Karakker v. Rent-A-Car, Inc., 2005 WL 1389443 (7th Cir. 2005), however, held that such pre-offer medical screening examinations constitute unlawful discrimination in violation of the Americans With Disabiltiies Act.

The LSAT, in particular, with its three sections (two directed to diagnosing left brain hemisphere linear language mental thinking styles vs. the other dorected to diagnosis right hemisphere visual performance thinking styles) is in fact designed and functions to separate persons with autism from those without. As such, the LSAT is a medical examination screening test by its standardized format that functions to exclude persons with autism from (1) entering law school, (2) a position in the 'top 10%-law review-clerkship' heirarchy required for good employment opportunities in the legal profession as well as a qualification criteria for the Bench, (3) passing the identically tracked medical examination standardized Bar Exams used in all 50 states, and thereby (4) attorney licensure, legal employment, and appointment as a Judge.

It is no secret to the psychologists educational groups who design these medical examination standarized mental tests that they ARE medical examinations -- even babies and toddlers with autism perseverate on objects, i.e., performance skills, rather than on social interaction and language. There could be no CLEARER example of a test that is intentionally designed to screen out and exclude persons with autism than the LSAT and Bar Examinations in their current standardized formats.

Likewise, law school and Bar Examiners all are CLEARLY using such medical examination standardized LSAT and/or Bar Exams PRE-OFFER of entry to law school and/or certification for admission to the Supreme Courts of the States for bar admission.

Thus, we have a serious Titles I, II, &III ADA violation. Orin asks, can we just get rid of the Logical Games section of the LSAT? The answer is CLEARLY no, because to do so would make the LSAT even more exclusionary of persons with autism with right brain mental thinking styles. As is is, the LSAT is biased by two parts to one against right brain autistic thinking styles, thereby unlawfully testing the impairments of autism rather than the skills and abilities to meet the essential functions of what attorneys actually do.

What do attorneys actually do? Traditionally, they lifted, moved, sorted, shuffled, wrote longhand or by manual typewriter in a linear fashipn on hard copy paper, and maintained boxes and boxes weighing hundreds of poulnds or even tons of legal documents. The linear thinker who excelled on the pre-offer linear medical examination pencil and paper standardized Bar Exam test met those essential functions of an era gone past.

Todays attorneys virtually all use computers and the Internet with databases and hyperlinks, numerous interruptions requiring 100% photographin memory abilities to efficiently get back on traack without loss of effiency, valuing a more autism (rather than linear) thinking style. In fact, numerous studies are now coming out that linear thinkers in a computerized Internet world actually cost American business almost $650 billion annually due to loss of effiency resulting from their inability to keep track of multiple 3-D items and stay on track.

I know of no real empiracle study done by the legal profession to study this growing mismatch between the 1930s linear hard paper copy mental thinking styles and the modern computer Internet era autism thinking styles dilemma to the legal profession.

BEFORE the Logical Games section of the LSAT is eliminated by left-brain mental thinkers to deliberately exclude persons with right-brain autism thinking styles from the legal profession altogether, it would seem more appropriate to conduct more empiricle research into weather the entire legal profession should instead be restructured around performance testing of only the essential functions to comply with the anti-discrimination mandates of the ADA.

And this is not just a disability issue -- African Americans, historically assigned a psychiatric illness of drapetomania by white men bent on keeping African Americans out of the legal profession, and women, who have different thinking styles than men, are ALL as disadvantaged by the current unfair 'biased in favor of white men mental thinkink styles' medical examination standardized pre-offer standardized LSAt and Bar Exams.

So, no, Orin, although I am one of your great admirers, and think you are a great legal scholar, I do not think the LSAT should *get rid* of the Logical Games section.

Rather, the LSAT, Bar Exams, clerkship hiring criteria, judicial appointment criteria, and legal employment criteria should be reformed to be inclusive of all mental thinking styles who can meet the essential functions of a lawyer.
12.27.2007 12:43pm
SeaDrive:
Logic is mathematics, and I'm a mathematician, or at least have that viewpoint. I've often said that mathematics is poor training for a lawyer since in Math, one correct arguement is definitive, whereas law is concerned with weighing competing arguements. There may be times when real life presents problems similar to logic games, but not often.

The logic games may be a proxy for an IQ test, and useful for that reason.
12.27.2007 12:48pm
Cold Warrior:
Thanks, Duce.

If you've got a little time to decide on whether to take a course, you're doing a very intelligent thing. Work through the printed materials, take a few practice exams, and know thyself. If you are disciplined and self-motivated, there's nothing some schmuck like me (when I was a Kaplan instructor) can provide that you can't do for yourself.
12.27.2007 1:19pm
CJS (mail):
It's the combination of LSAT and GPA that is supposed to be the best measure of success in law school, is it not? It seems to me that the argument for standardized tests is that they highlight those with natural intelligence that isn't captured in the GPA due to environmental or other factors, or just due to the limitations of the GPA measure such as lack of comparability among schools and majors.

If that's the case, it may be instructive to decide or determine what each of the LSAT and GPA measures best. GPA seemingly captures the ability to study, memorize and grind much better than any test ever will. The LSAT is a proxy for an IQ test. So given the games are the easiest section to improve through study, grinding and memorization of a few techniques, it would seem that their elimination would improve the combined LSAT/GPA metric by making its two components more distinct.

Also, for those who argue that the ability to do logic games is useful to lawyers, this seems a more relevant reason to have a games class in law school than a games section on the LSAT.
12.27.2007 1:21pm
genob:
Sea Drive:

I agree that logic is mathematics, but I think that's what most day to day law practice ends up being. It's not that common in the everyday practice of law that you need to weigh competing arguments. Usually it's determining the "truth" of one or two disputed facts and then determining how that "truth" fits within the mathematical equation that the law has set forth. The game is convincing the judge or jury that there is only one correct/definitive argument, and it's yours.

It's occasionally the case that you get to weigh competing arguments about what the law "should" be (maybe more than occassionally if your practice is solely in the appellate realm). And that's what much of law school is about: thinking about what the law should be or why the law is as it is. But in day to day practice, the law is usually pretty clearly spelled out for you.
12.27.2007 1:23pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Not any more. Had there been no logic games section, I would have gone to Yale, instead of Al's Academy of Legal Studies and Tree Pruning.
12.27.2007 1:28pm
happylee:
I think David Walser has it right. The logic games are an IQ test. IQ is relevant to performance and those with high IQ's should get higher scores and a better shot at attending a "top" lawskool.

As for Petrano's comments, I shudder to think what kind of horrible world we'd live in if nonconformists who consistently get crappy GPA's (no ass kissing here, buddy) but outstanding standardized test scores (wink, wink, we gots brains!) suddenly lost the one chance to prove they have what it takes to enter a selective program?
12.27.2007 2:05pm
Golly (mail):
I am also a proponent of the games. I agree with many of the comments above made by other supporters, but I wanted to make two additional related points (based on my experience, as a non-math person who did well on this part of the test, so discount accordingly).

First, about haves and have-nots: I found the games section to be highly (self-)teachable. I don't think it follows that the test necessarily favors those with more resources. I think you could get all of the materials necessary to train yourself to do as well as you possibly can on this section for $50, certainly less than $100 (as long as you also had self-discipline and some time to spend on the process).

Second, one of the things this process tests and teaches is a kind of meta-analytic skill--the ability not just to perceive and draw accurate inferences from abstract relationships among variables given certain constraints, but also (possibly more importantly) the ability to devise ad hoc methods of doing this quickly. For me, training myself to do better on this section was a matter of learning what methods of analyzing these types of problems work best and most efficiently. The ability to craft efficient analytic methods appropriate to the case at hand in a self-aware way is a valuable skill for law students and for lawyers. It is a highly abstract skill, to be sure, but all that means is that it is transferable to many situations (like reasoning skill generally).
12.27.2007 2:18pm
CJS (mail):
I want to question the assumption that the logic games are a good measure of IQ - in fact, I want to assert the opposite: of the three sections, the logic games are the most easily improved through study and application of a few simple rules, and thus are the worst measure of IQ of the three sections.
12.27.2007 2:30pm
Jason F:
This section tests an ability to understand relationships among a handful of variables and to see the different ways that different combinations of those variables can fit different criteria. The skill set seems to be keeping a lot of variables in mind and working with how a change in the boundaries of a problem changes how the different pieces can relate to each other. That is an important skill set in many professions, to be sure; it's something that I did all the time when I was in engineering graduate school. But I wonder, how important is that skill to either the study or the practice of law? What kinds of legal tasks rely heavily on that skill?


Project management. It's something that lawyers have to do each and every day, balancing various aspects within a deal or litigation and among deals and litigations. Tasks and schedules need to be coordinated within the lawyer's own calendar, with his colleagues, with his adversaries, with
the tribunal, with the regulators.

It's also a skill that law schools largely neglect, but that's a whole 'nother topic.
12.27.2007 2:41pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"As for Petrano's comments, I shudder to think what kind of horrible world we'd live in if nonconformists who consistently get crappy GPA's (no ass kissing here, buddy) but outstanding standardized test scores (wink, wink, we gots brains!) suddenly lost the one chance to prove they have what it takes to enter a selective program."

happylee, why does it need to be an either us (standardized test takers vs. or them (persons with autism) solution to the problem?

Honorable Associate Justice Samuel Alito, whom I had the great honor of meeting at the Federal Bar Gala Tampa last March, gave a very insightful speech on just this problem in explaining the job of umpires. When there are traditional players and new era players, who each play under different rules, it is not fair to say only one group gets to play in the game at the expense of the other. What IS fair is to grandfather-in the traditional rules, while recognitzing the new rules, so BOTH groups can play in the competition.
12.27.2007 2:43pm
SeaDrive:
genob: Mathematics has very little tolerance for "disputed facts."

The largest part of anyone's work gets reduced routine. A lot of legal decisions are so routine that they are decided without lawyers. Why, just yesterday I braked to let a pedestrian cross the road safely rather than running him down. The logic game have rather little to say about that.

By the way, in my experience, lawyers are better at math than MBAs. Don't know why. Maybe they are smarter, on average.
12.27.2007 2:46pm
theobromophile (www):
Agree with those who would test the validity of the logic games section by correlation to later success in law school and in practice. If it works, it doesn't necessarily matter why it works, so long as it has a good predictive value.

Second, I've often snarked that I wish the LSAT had a math section. Many people head to law school without any desire or inclination to learn mathematics, although they will encounter it in tax, accounting, or any area which requires a knowledge of statistics. The logic games probably do little to ensure that those who apply to law school at least have some grounding in math, but may be the best the LSAC can do without putting substantive questions on there.
12.27.2007 2:47pm
genob:
I think math can be all about "disputed facts." I see a variable "x" in a mathematical equation as the essence of a disputed fact in a legal case. (variable means it could be a number of different values...disputed) The trial figures out if "x" is true or false, or if "x" is equal to 1 or 0; or what the value of "x" is. Then mathematical principles determine what the legal outcome is. The statute or law is the equation. If there is no dispute about the value of x, then there usually is a summary judgment motion instead of a trial.
12.27.2007 3:10pm
A.C.:
My theory is that the logic games are there as a bonus for the techies. There has been much less grade inflation in technical fields than in liberal arts, so the engineers will tend to have lower GPAs than the history majors. Assuming we want people from a variety of educational backgrounds to become lawyers, the logic games test something that actually gives a boost to the target group that suffers the GPA disadvantage.

I found the logic games section to be the least responsive to intuition and guessing of all the LSAT sections, but I still did well because I was willing to slog through the problems. Slogging ability is certainly relevant to performance in law school.

As for the question on how to prepare, I was happy with the method I used. I bought a book that explained the diffent types of questions and suggested approaches for answering them. I worked through that book, doing all the sample questions and looking at the feedback on the answers. Then I just did practice tests, untimed at first and then with increasingly tight time limits until I was simulating the actual exam. Once I knew the techniques for answering the different kinds of questions, the main thing was to train for speed and the ability to maintain focus.

I think the total cost of my prep materials was around $100, and certainly less than $200.
12.27.2007 3:28pm
evansmj:
I'm a first year law student who took the LSAT about a year and a half ago, and personally I found that logic games were definitely the hardest part on the exam, by far. Most everybody I've talked about the LSAT with in law school agrees with me. I'm pretty confident that the logic games section is a huge factor in deciding your LSAT score, and hence in deciding what your options are in terms of law school. However, I do think that logic games are an excellent factor in helping to determine how a student will do in law school, which is the whole point of the exam, after all.
Having only just finished one semester of law school my field of experience is pretty limited, but in my opinion the ability to "think analytically," ie, the ability to think like you're solving a math problem, is very important. Although I ended up graduating with a degree in political science, I had considered majoring in math for the first two years of college and so I've got a pretty strong math background. In my opinion the math classes I took in undergrad did far more to prepare me for success in law school than any other classes I took in college. For me, and I suspect for a great deal of my peers, the big challenge of being a first year law student wasn't the workload nearly as much as it was training your brain to understand and apply the law, and I think that being able to think mathematically was a huge help for me in doing this. Again, my field of experience is very limited, but I feel that the ability to think analytically is perhaps the most important attribute (besides the capacity for hard work, which the LSAT can't measure anyway) for success in law school, and that the logic games do an excellent job of measuring this ability.
12.27.2007 3:31pm
evansmj:
I'm a first year law student who took the LSAT about a year and a half ago, and personally I found that logic games were definitely the hardest part on the exam, by far. Most everybody I've talked about the LSAT with in law school agrees with me. I'm pretty confident that the logic games section is a huge factor in deciding your LSAT score, and hence in deciding what your options are in terms of law school. However, I do think that logic games are an excellent factor in helping to determine how a student will do in law school, which is the whole point of the exam, after all.
Having only just finished one semester of law school my field of experience is pretty limited, but in my opinion the ability to "think analytically," ie, the ability to think like you're solving a math problem, is very important. Although I ended up graduating with a degree in political science, I had considered majoring in math for the first two years of college and so I've got a pretty strong math background. In my opinion the math classes I took in undergrad did far more to prepare me for success in law school than any other classes I took in college. For me, and I suspect for a great deal of my peers, the big challenge of being a first year law student wasn't the workload nearly as much as it was training your brain to understand and apply the law, and I think that being able to think mathematically was a huge help for me in doing this. Again, my field of experience is very limited, but I feel that the ability to think analytically is perhaps the most important attribute (besides the capacity for hard work, which the LSAT can't measure anyway) for success in law school, and that the logic games do an excellent job of measuring this ability.
12.27.2007 3:31pm
jvarisco (www):
I've always found that logic games test the ability to sort through a complicated muddle of facts until you find the simple solution. You are given a whole bunch of options (A likes B, B hates C, etc.) and are asked to come up with a simple result (e.g. A hates C if D likes E).

Of course, I can't remember the last time I got one of these questions wrong, so I may be a bit biased. But as the LSATs are extremely good correlated for success in law school, it seems that, for whatever reason, each section has its uses.
12.27.2007 3:40pm
Daniel San:
OrinKerr: Isn't that an optimization problem, in which the key is knowing the relationships well enough to master the scope of the tradeoffs? That seems more like the issues in an issue spotter, as discussed above.

Usually, in terms of tests, I think it is a bit of a hybrid. Usually, it is a matter of weighing trade-offs. But occasionally, when the issues are multiple and some must be sacrificed (or re-worked), I actually do map it out in a way that looks rather like those puzzles. And, sometimes the decision to change strategy in the middle of cross-examination feels like a complex logic game.
12.27.2007 3:44pm
Daniel San:
While I am at it, I should admit that I have not seen an LSAT for almost 25 years.
12.27.2007 3:45pm
CJS (mail):
Here's a link to the LSAC's information page discussing the LSAT as a predictor of law school success; it notes that the combination of undergrad GPA and LSAT is more powerful a predictor than either by itself.
12.27.2007 4:06pm
LM (mail):
OrinKerr:

To be clear, my question is whether the games sections test skills relevant to studying law. I take it that the LSAT is trying to measure ability to skillfully address legal problems; I just don't think the games sections do that.

That may reveal your bias as a public policy oriented legal academic. Ask your colleagues who teach tax or securities law, or better still, ask a practitioner in those areas. Actually, no need... I am one.

Having spent 15 years in the transactional practice at one of the major firms, I'd sooner draft a complicated royalty provision or unusual contract for which there's no analogous form by myself than give even a single pass at it to an associate I wasn't confident could (and almost certainly did) nail the logic games. It's the most relevant part of the test for the skills required to draft, review and negotiate large, complex transactional documents, i.e., the ability to imagine them spatially as almost breathing organisms of sorts, and to see the layered, rippling effect at several locations simultaneously of changing a single word. I could go on, but you get the point.

Also, for us quasi-autistic, socially awkward, misanthropic types, this is the affirmative action portion of the exam.
12.27.2007 4:08pm
Adam J:
My two cents on logic games is that they bear little relationship to how well you do in law school. Personally I butchered the section, while doing quite well in the other sections. I ended up in the 85th percentile and went to a second tier school. However I was in the top 2% of my class, so clearly my lack of "analytical reasoning" didn't hurt me too bad in school. That said, I suppose it remains to be seen just how good I am as a lawyer.
12.27.2007 4:46pm
RowerinVa (mail):
Finally, an issue on which Orin and I clearly disagree. I think it's important to keep this section for a number of reasons, in no particular order:

1. My admittedly anecdotal evidence is that scoring high on the Logic Games section correlates extremely well to being a very good legal thinker and/or public policy thinker. There are counterexamples but it's the way to bet. I'm less certain about why this is a fact, but if I'm correct that this IS a fact, then the why doesn't matter.

2. Logic Games seems to measure innate talent better than the other sections. Reasoning and Comprehension are tremendously important -- which Orin recognizes -- but I'm under the impression (again, I don't have evidence to cite) that they are skills that can be trained up to some degree over the course of a good high school and a good college. When I took the LSAT, there also was a noticeable tendency in my prep class to improve gradually on these sections the more one took the practice tests. In contrast, potential test-takers tended to have the following experience with Logic Games: improvement over the course of one or two practice tests (just getting the hang of the format) and then a brick wall of no more improvement. That's a bummer for the sweat equity crowd but a boon to those who want a test that identifies star intellects among the less privileged. I know perhaps twenty brilliant lawyers who grew up on the lowest rung of the middle class (or below) and each of them has commented that rocking the logic games section was one of the "aha" moments that made them realize that their brains had something special, and that they really should go to law school despite the cost and risk. Perhaps this is what LM means by "for us quasi-autistic, socially awkward, misanthropic types, this is the affirmative action portion of the exam."

3. LM's comment above is exactly my point #3, so no need to repeat it.

4. Logic Games success correlates highly with bloodlessness in analysis -- meaning the ability to divorce one's emotions and priors from the problem, and concentrate purely on the problem as stated. There are times when one shouldn't do this, of course, but there is a real shortage of people who can do it at all. And leaving them all as PhD mathmeticians and economists would be a real loss to the bar.
12.27.2007 4:47pm
hattio1:
I haven't read all the comments, but I notice that a lot of people asked about prep classes and/or prep books. I will just warn that when I initially started studying from a prep book (I think it was Barron's) I basically skipped the logic games portions because the first two I had taken were so incredibly easy....then I took one of the former LSAT tests and bombed the Logic Games section. My last two weeks were spent just on Logic Games, and I think I got all but one question right. However, be careful in relying on your performance from your prep book.
12.27.2007 5:03pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
How could the logic games be a good measure of intelligence or any such thing when they are so teachable? Nor do I see much similarity between them and anything lawyers do. Deductive reasoning is very different from analogical reasoning, and learning how to draw little diagrams that quickly show you what happens if A is third or fifth in line is nothing at all like "understanding how a changing a part changes the whole".

Perhaps we are seeing a difference here between those who naturally happened to be good at the logic games and those who learned how to be good at them by being taught to the test.
12.27.2007 5:14pm
Devin McCullen (mail):
My only comment on this issue is that I would like to see more puzzleblogging at the Conspiracy.
12.27.2007 5:24pm
bradley:
I don't see why they don't just put an issue spotter on there. Throw a different fairly complicated section of the law up there each year (From UCC, FCRP, FRE, etc.) and see how people do.

If people really want to learn the law before they go to lawschool - at least all that prep test time will be actually useful.

The best proxy for the real thing is the real thing.
12.27.2007 9:40pm
godelmetric (mail):

To that point, it may not be that success on games is necessary for success in law school, but it certainly may be sufficient for teasing out whether someone can handle certain aspects of legal reasoning.

First. Some people above alluded to this, but there is certainly a tangible value to the Logic Games that is applicable (at least by analogy) both to law school and practice. Though I'm also skeptical that you'll ever find empirical evidence connecting the LGs, school performance, or practice (and if anyone comes up with even a metric there, I'm sure Brian Leiter would love to hear from you), it's equally unlikely you'll find such evidence w/r/t the other sections, either. Hemming and hawing about empirical proof is disingenuous when there's no proof to be had; at least have the honesty to call a strawman a strawman.

The Logic Games test your ability to hold multiple rules and conditions in your head and to play out different possibilities based on hypothetical fact patterns and rule changes; I cannot think of a more direct application of "legal analysis" than that. To the extent that this takes many LSAT-takers by surprise -- hello! when was the last time you faced down a class full of 1Ls? This is precisely the skill that professors spend most if not all of law school attempting to hammer into their students' heads. Of course it's unfamiliar -- so is much of law school.


Second -- the notion that the Logic Games are either (a) "teachable" or (b) that this confers some sort of economic advantage simply isn't true. My experience teaching LSAT courses and helping friends study for their LSATs corroborates an observation that Logic Games are not so much "teachable" as just initially unfamiliar -- again, much like law school.

Granted, a certain level of effort is required to understand the basic mechanics, but nothing beyond taking a couple of tests or reading some prep books. Past that baseline, it's a fairly straightforward test of legal reasoning -- as much if not moreso than the other two sections. The notion that the novelty of the LG section should count against is bizarre -- should we start striking core classes that introduce too many new concepts to the poor former undergrads as well?


Finally, as a footnote -- though I'm not sure it even merits that -- the arugment that the cost of a couple Kaplan or Princeton Review books is unfairly discriminatory when compared against the price of, say, tuition, falls in a uncomfortable gray area between wrong and obtuse. Even were this (unfounded speculation) true, compared to the pantheon of financial barriers that separates students before, during, and after law school, seizing on this particular argument smacks of sour grapes in the worst way.


The LG section is fine, or at least no worse than the others, and only one of many factors schools can take into consideration in admission. The preceding litany of anecdotal evidence doesn't elevate this to the level of a contestable issue.

Tempest in a teapot.
12.27.2007 10:20pm
Aegis of Blogistan (mail):
2.) I did poorly on this section, thus think it's arbitrary and should be eliminated.

Hmm. I guess you ignored my post. I aced the experimental logic games section and aced all of the scored logic games section except one particularly complex game that gave me a panic attack.

I don't think the section is arbitrary. But I will note that I was great at complex, dry courses, like Property, Federal Courts, Admin Law, Tax, Antitrust, Civil Procedure, and Complex Litigation. I literally just had a panic attack.

I suppose I'm not the right person to complain about the test, but I sure do hate Ted Frank.
12.27.2007 11:01pm
Aegis of Blogistan (mail):

I will just warn that when I initially started studying from a prep book (I think it was Barron's) I basically skipped the logic games portions because the first two I had taken were so incredibly easy....then I took one of the former LSAT tests and bombed the Logic Games section. My last two weeks were spent just on Logic Games, and I think I got all but one question right. However, be careful in relying on your performance from your prep book.



Yes, this was the problem. The very question that shocked me was both of the type of logic game that I was worst at and also of the highest level of difficulty. I later went back through my prep books and so forth and saw there were only three logic games of this type and difficulty there.

I will note that the exact opposite thing happened on the bar exam; every single one of the obscure, rarely tested subjects I spent too much time on uncharacteristically popped up on the exam.

To determine whether to retain any element of the test, we'd need to factor out bad luck.
12.27.2007 11:18pm
Cal (mail) (www):
If I read that LSAT discrepancy report correctly, lower scoring students that have significant discrepancies do better on the Analytical Reasoning than on Reading Comp or Logical Reasoning.

Given that minorities and low income students are disproportionately represented in the low scores, my first guess is that removing logic games would result in a larger performance disparity by race and income, and a larger score spread. It would benefit low scoring students who had evenly distributed scores.

If I understood the report (I can't cope with reading stat results), that finding jibes with my experience as an LSAT instructor. Reading Comp and Logical Reasoning are by far the weakest areas for the lower half of the testing population. High-scoring students who have trouble with Logic Games invariably have trouble finishing; speed is what they need help with.

The logic games section is unquestionably the most coachable; I track my students' results and the largest gains come from logic games--with a good deal of the improvement coming from the lowest scoring students.


On test prep: I'm a part time employee of the profitable one of the Big Two, and teach all the major tests for college and graduate admissions except the MCAT. There's no question that test prep helps most students, and given that the major companies offer some form of money back guarantee if you don't improve, there's little downside in giving it a shot.

According to stats from Profitable One of the Big Two, the acceptance rate of all LSAT testers is something like 45%; the acceptance rate of their customers is close to double that. I forget the actual stats but the difference is enormous. I don't know if other test prep companies have similar numbers, and of course, the difference could reflect a selection bias of test prep customers.

The major advantage of the Profitable Test Prep Company vis a vis the LSAT is the wealth of genuine LSAT material you get as part of the course (which costs a fortune). I don't believe the others provide that. If they do, great. If they don't, and you have the money, fork it out for the PTPC's course.

In my view, the section most difficult to improve is the Logical Reasoning section, which has as many questions as the other two sections combined. If you have trouble on that section, I like the Power Book explanations, particularly the bit about direction flow (assumption questions in all its variants--up, inference and principle--down). Definitely worth the purchase, even with a course, if that's the area that gives you trouble.
12.28.2007 12:24am
Cal (mail) (www):
Whoops--make that the Power Score book on Logic Reasoning.
12.28.2007 12:29am
Tony Tutins (mail):

The logic games section is unquestionably the most coachable; I track my students' results and the largest gains come from logic games--with a good deal of the improvement coming from the lowest scoring students.

To me, this coachability shows that logic games are relatively useless for selecting the top law school candidates: After taking a prep course, the students aren't any smarter or more likely to succeed in law school; yet on paper they look like stronger candidates and thus can get into better schools. Unless the class actually makes the students smarter, somehow, in which case for best effect it should be taken much earlier in the students' careers.
12.28.2007 1:57am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I thought that the LSAT was just fine, but don't know how much it has changed in the last 20 years. I managed to do extremely well on the LSAT and MBE, but then not as well in law school. So, at least for me, the LSAT was a much better predictor of MBE performance than law school performance. But then, if you took into account my undergraduate grades too, you got a good prediction of how well I would do in law school.

My problem with multiple guess tests in general, and the LSAT and MBE in particular here, is that they reward a certain type of brain - one that can problem solve quickly. The first time I took the MBE, I was able to finish both sessions easily w/i three hours each, allowing me to check all my answers and still be one of the few to leave before the end (at that time, you couldn't leave in the last 1/2 hour). In worried that I was too fast, but ended up scoring in the top 1%.

My father tells of his two mentors in the practice of law. One would jump to the answer, and get it right most of the time. The other would chunk his way through slowly, and almost always get it right. Slow and thorough can sometimes get the better results. And yet, the first category is more likely to ace the LSAT and MBE. I am in that category, but have learned to appreciate the other over the years, esp. to double check my leaps of intuition.
12.28.2007 2:07am
theobromophile (www):
Like Cal, I also teach a lot of test prep. One of the things I've found with LSAT teaching, especially Logic Games, is that there is immediate improvement, to a point. It's pretty easy to get a student to go from 6 or 7 out of 25ish correct, to 14 or 15 correct. You teach them to target the easy games, approach them systematically, and do two games correctly while guessing on the other two. They go from slightly above random (on the low-scoring sections) to slightly above 50/50. Beyond that, it's a matter of getting up enough speed to finish the games on time.

IMHO, it's not a matter of the students who are at the lower end learning the section better, but learning how to take tests well. Good test-takers won't skip between sections (takes too much mental effort and time to reacquaint with each game upon return) and won't botch four of them for the sake of finishing on time: there is a lot of initial set-up which garners no points, so the last thing anyone should do is set up all four games but not get to the questions. (This is the exact opposite of what you would do on a multiple-question essay exam, wherein the 80/20 rule applies - you get about 80% of your points from the first effort.)
12.28.2007 2:13am
Skyler (mail) (www):
I thought Elliot Reed's point about parallel bars was best.

Seeing as how law school is the study of cases decided by judges who most decidedly do not use much in the way of logic, there really isn't much reason for any test in law school. Law school is mostly just a way to limit the people allowed to practice law. Were there any logic involved in practicing law, it would not need to be taught in any manner beyond a recitation of rules to be followed.

But it's not, so the test serves the function of allowing the bar to keep an artificial limit on the number of people practicing their profession.
12.28.2007 2:52am
Aegis of Blogistan (mail):
Skyler,

The problem with that is far too many people practice law. The hurdles are not high enough.
12.28.2007 4:02am
Siona Sthrunch (mail):
Ted Frank argues that watering down the LSAT would have harmed his ability to get into law school, as he did not attend a prestigious undergraduate school.

What Frank misses here is that his example is precisely why these tests will be weakened: it is not in the best interests of the powerful for logical thinkers to be in positions of power. Frank, for example, is a member of the American Enterprise Institute, a highly non-conformist think-tank; most people with LSAT scores and logic games section scores as high as he are similarly skeptical of statist doctrine.

So, while I agree with Frank that logic games section should be maintained, the big picture here is that people who can think logically are indeed being pushed out of the academy. If not from the LSAT, then from the extra time given to so many people on standardized and classroom tests; or through the new "handwriting" section of the SAT.

I do not actually think this movement can be prevented at this late date. The meritocratic admission process to prestigious universities in the U.S. is anomalous if not unique in history, and is extremely irritating to the upper classes. Even its vestiges will not survive much longer.
12.28.2007 6:08am
Aegis of Blogistan (mail):

Frank, for example, is a member of the American Enterprise Institute



Doesn't that make him one of the powerful?
12.28.2007 7:42am
Denny F. Crane! (mail):
Retain the "logic games!"

The ability to swiftly solve logic puzzles is an invaluable to skill for trial lawyers to have, as they closely emulate many situations encountered in trial. I've always thought there was a very close match.
12.28.2007 2:11pm
Harold R. Bruce:
Isn't the bottom line that there needs to be some method of selecting from the huge number of qualified law school applicants, arbitrary or not? Why not just go to a straight IQ test? Social Darwinism?
12.28.2007 2:19pm
byomtov (mail):
Orin,

For those who say, "look at the data": Yes, obviously! I looked for the data, or even for someone who claimed to have the data, but I couldn't fit it or anyone who claimed to have it. I agree that such data would be helpful, if it exists, but unless you happen to know of it, saying "look at the data" isn't really all that helpful. Do you have links to the data that you think we should look at?

OK. But wouldn't it make sense for law school admissions committees to ask for the data, so they can begin tracking the correlation between test sections and performance? Why don't they? If a fair number of schools started asking they would get it, I suspect.
12.28.2007 3:34pm
markm (mail):
If I got the gist of Ms. Petrano's ramblings, she claims the LSAT is an effective filter against autistics. (I also think she's complaining about the verbal sections, not the logic games.) If so, that seems to me to be a point in favor of the test; an autistic going into either courtroom practice or the business of filling out wills, contracts, etc., would be nearly as misplaced as a deaf musician, so it's a good thing if the test excludes them. Let them go into engineering and physics instead...
12.28.2007 6:17pm
markm (mail):
I think that to be a good lawyer, you have to be able to handle logic thickets well, even when working to a short time limit. However, not everyone approaches such problems by turning them into mathematical abstractions. If I understand the descriptions of the logic games correctly, by posing highly artificial problems, the logic games section favors those who do work better with mathematical abstractions over those who use other approaches.

Re teachability: there are ways to organize the information that can be taught, and that will greatly speed up ones work, but I expect that within a few days or weeks you will reach a plateau where native ability (IQ?) is the limiting factor. If you've got the brains, reading "LSAT's for Dummies" and assiduously working the problems should prepare you as well for the logic games test section as any prep course can. (I don't know if you can say the same for the other sections, but I understand the "logic game" kind of problem quite well.) So the logic games section should act to exclude two kinds of students:

- Those that didn't work hard enough on prep. (Too lazy to be good lawyers.)
- Those that lack the brainpower to solve the problems in a short time, regardless of coaching. (Too stupid to be good lawyers.)

Maybe some other sort of test would be even more effective at these goals, but until that's proven out the logic games do seem worthwhile to me.
12.28.2007 6:40pm
LM (mail):

most people with LSAT scores and logic games section scores as high as he are similarly skeptical of statist doctrine.

Links?
12.28.2007 7:02pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"If I got the gist of Ms. Petrano's ramblings, she claims the LSAT is an effective filter against autistics. (I also think she's complaining about the verbal sections, not the logic games.) If so, that seems to me to be a point in favor of the test; an autistic going into either courtroom practice or the business of filling out wills, contracts, etc., would be nearly as misplaced as a deaf musician, so it's a good thing if the test excludes them. Let them go into engineering and physics instead..." -----> Markm, I think you work for Barry Sabin, but good try at your efforts to discredit what I had to say. Moreover, it my husband a Fla. Bar member), not I, who is usually accused of "rambling;" in fact I have been directed by at least one Federal Magistrate to lead the witness (my husband) due to HIS rambling, not mine.

You also don't appear to know much about Chromosome 22 disabilities, and as such, your prejudice shows through as much as if you told Virgil Hawkins or Ruth Bader Ginsburg they should not be lawyers, either. I guess a person with autism being a lawyer is about as "misplaced" as the day he or she passes the California Bar Examination. Oh, wait, if a dummy passes a Bar Exam he or she is admitted to practice law; but if a person with high functioning autism passes a Bar Exam, he or she is a reject because .... *we just don't like him/her*

You and people like you, Markm, are the reason Congress passed the ADA.
12.28.2007 11:20pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
corr: "Moreover, it my husband a Fla. Bar member)" =Moreover, it is my husband (a Fla. Bar member)

Really, the best point in this entire discussion is the following:

"The best proxy for the real thing is the real thing."

To know why the LSAT is an unfair test biased against certain thinking styles in violation of the ADA, one only need look at the test it tracks, the Bar Examination. If a Bar Examination truly tested the "essential functions" of what lawyers actually do on a daily basis, then ANYONE with the legal experience to perform the "essential functions" of an attorney could simply come in, sit down, and take and pass the test WITHOUT ANY PREPARATION -- i.e., what you see is what you get. As if the person simply showed up at a judicial clerkship or biglaw job, rolled up the sleeves, and went to work immediately on actual work sitting in the in-basket that needed to be done, competently.

The fact Bar Examinations (and the LSAT that tracks Bar Examinations) require all this expensive, time consuming, teaching-to-the test proves these current standardized Bar Examinations (and LSAT) tests do NOT test for the essential functions. They are discriminatory proxies for the *real thing*.

"My problem with multiple guess tests in general, and the LSAT and MBE in particular here, is that they reward a certain type of brain - one that can problem solve quickly." ----> No, that is not exactly accurate; they reward a "certain type of brain" alright, but one that is memory recall defective requiring mnemonic cheating to trigger by cueing the memory recall of what is likely to be the right answer, aided and memory-prodded by the 4-5 multiple choice answers given in the hopes and wishes the test taker will recognize the right answer if it is spelled out right before his/her eyes.

A person without such memory defects can easily take a blank page with NO memory cuing cheat mechanisms like the usual mnemonics, and write the perfect answer from 100% memory recall. THAT is why a performance test both rewards those without the mental memory defects and also comes closest to simulating the *real thing* without having to function as a discriminatory proxy.

Of course, people like Markm who may need the test by proxy with mental mnemonic cheat-memory cuing in order to pass, have a self-interests in ridiculing and mocking person with autism with better memory recall because Markm and people like him know they would not be able to complete on the merits of a level playing field -- meaning he/they would be the losers and the person with autism would be the winner in the competition for legal employment, power, and prestige. And no one likes to be the loser.
12.28.2007 11:45pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
corr: "complete on the merits" = compete on the merits
12.28.2007 11:48pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
If skill in the practice of law is what you are testing for, then maybe there should be a rainmaking section on the LSAT?
12.29.2007 7:56pm