# 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.

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?