Why Review the Hardest Games?
The Logic Games section is inevitable. For many, it’s the toughest section of the test. If Logic Games are generally difficult, why then would we choose to write about the hardest games ever to appear? The short answer is that there are tremendous benefits to be gained by reviewing these games. If you understand how to recognize them and deal with them, you’ll perform better in this section. In our In Person, Live Online, and Advanced Logic Games courses, we devote lesson segments to discussing killer games. In the Advanced Course in particular, we dedicate a significant amount of discussing specific elements of these games. The goal in each is to help our students recognize that these games can be unusually challenging. If you can recognize that a game is difficult before spending too much time on it, there are undoubtedly benefits.
- You can avoid doing the game until later. By pushing back the most difficult game in a section until the very end, you get more “bang for your buck” with the time you spend because you will be working on material that is easier to answer.
- You avoid the psychological damage from getting trapped in a hard game. Students who encounter a tough game relatively early in the section often suffer a shot to their confidence. Usually these games are very frustrating, time-consuming, and demoralizing. The frustration translates into added pressure, which, on a test such as the LSAT, can lead to more missed questions. To make things worse, when a game takes longer than expected, you’re forced to work even faster on the remaining games to make up for lost time.
- You gain a confidence edge because you know that you’ve identified a game that was intended to consume time. Getting trapped by a tough game can be frustrating, knowing that you avoided an LSAT black hole often brings renewed energy and confidence. This leads to faster, more accurate performance on the remaining questions, which results in a better LSAT score.
On To The Games
So, with that in mind, let’s move on to the list of hardest LSAT games of all time, ordered chronologically. This publication identifier link will tell you where to find them.
PT2, October 1991, Game #3: Hannah
Grouping: Defined-Moving, Balanced, Numerical Distribution. This is the most difficult Numerical Distribution game to ever appear, and students without a strong grasp of distributions invariably struggle with this game.
PT2, October 1991, Game #4: Dog Show
Advanced Linear: Balanced. Not only was this game tough on its own merits, but it followed the Hannah game, leading to an unsavory double punch to end the October 1991 LSAT Games sections.
PT21, December 1996, Game #4: Product Advertising
Advanced Linear: Unbalanced: Underfunded. This game contains a key inference that is extremely difficult to deduce during the setup.
PT22, June 1997, Game #4: Juggling Teams
Grouping: Defined-Fixed, Unbalanced: Overloaded. This unusual game features 7 jugglers for six spots, with those six spots divided by group and with order assigned. Lovely. And by lovely we mean terrible.
PT25, June 1998, Game #3: Golf/Tennis Rankings
Grouping: Defined-Moving, Balanced, Identify the Templates. This game combines Grouping and Sequencing, forcing students to determine the sports played by each person, and then the ranking order of those players.
PT27, December 1998, Game #2: Snakes and Lizards
Grouping/Linear Combination, Numerical Distribution, Identify the Templates. This is a rough game, and even the Templates approach does not make the game much easier.
PT31, June 2000, Game #2: Ten CDs
Grouping: Undefined. This game is often cited as the hardest game of all time. Ten CDs are candidates for a sale, and the rules are all multi-conditionals. The game is quite time-consuming (although not necessarily intrinsically difficult), and that time factor vaults it into the ranks of the hardest games ever.
PT33, December 2000, Game #3: Jewels
Grouping: Defined-Moving, Unbalanced: Overloaded, Numerical Distribution. This game features a jeweler selecting six stones for six different rings. The distributions are open-ended, and there is a lot of information to juggle.
PT40, June 2003, Game #3: Flight Connections
Grouping: Partially Defined. This game is about flight connections between five cities and the geographical element prompts many students to map this game out. There is an excellent, helpful map that can be drawn, but it is one that many students don’t see.
PT57, June 2009, Game #3: Dinosaurs
Grouping: Defined-Fixed, Unbalanced: Overloaded. This is one of the most widely despised games of recent times. Five dinosaurs are selected from a group of seven different dinosaurs. Then, to add to the fun, the dinosaurs are also different colors, such as mauve and yellow.
PT62, December 2010, Game #2: Stained Glass Windows
Grouping: Grouping: Partially Defined, Numerical Distribution. This is a rough game, and probably in the running for the second hardest game of all time. Very involved, and without the nice Grouping inference seen in the Dinosaurs game.
PT67, October 2012, Game #4: Zones
Grouping: Grouping: Partially Defined, Balanced, Numerical Distribution. This is a confusing game involving three numbered zones and then subzones designated for various urban use, such as for housing or retail. The difficulty comes from the fact that each zone can have multiple subzones of the same type, which opens this game up significantly at the outset.
PT77, December 2015, Game #3: Employee and Offices
Pattern. This is a strange game built upon employee preferences for offices, and the game begins with a list of each employee and their office preferences in order, followed by rules governing the selection of offices. Honestly, it's not a place I would want to work.
PT79, September 2016, Game #4: Computer Virus
Linear/Mapping. This is one of the most unusual games in LSAT history, and it stumped many excellent test takers. Identifying the entry point of the virus—the first computer infected—is critical and limits the possible outcomes. But many test takers struggled to create a diagram, making this game feel nearly impossible.
PT80, December 2016, Game #4: Trading Buildings
Pattern. The game centers on real estate companies that trade buildings with one another. The buildings are categorized as one of three classes, and each company owns a different mix of buildings. when you look over the last four games in this list, you begin to see that LSAC has a bias against offices and urban areas, and this game is just another way for them to beat that thought into test takers.
PT84, June 2018, Game #4: Corporation Bonds
Grouping. Like the prior game on this list from PT80, June 2018's final game was heavily numerical: the central step to success was recognizing the overlap principle at work in six corporations offering four 5-year bonds as well as four 10-year bonds...to reconcile that mismatch there must be two of the six that offer both, leading to three pairs of two (5-only, 10-only, and both). Tracking the open-ended nature of a rule like "offers 5-year bonds," for example, as allowing that corporation to be either 5-only or 5-and-10 (both) made all the difference! But, unfortunately, this insight eludes the vast majority of students.
- PT7, February 1993, Game #3: Datalog
- PT15, June 1995, Game #2: Zendu Air Zones
- PT25, June 1998, Game #2: Tourists and Languages
- PT29, October 1999, Game #2: Mannequins
- PT37, June 2002, Game #3: Book Shelves
- PT72, June 2014, Game #4: Employee Workpieces
- PT75, June 2015, Game #4: Newsletter Slots
- PT80, December 2016, Game #3: Oil and Watercolor Paintings
One final note about the list: by definition, any list such as this one is subjective, and what is difficult for one student may not be difficult for another. We left some games off the list because with the application of the right technique, an otherwise difficult game can become quite easy (June 2002, Game #3: Book Shelves game, for example). But, regardless of your personal view, the games above are ones that students generally regard as the toughest in LSAT history. If you really want to give yourself a workout, try taking any four of these games and doing them as a complete section. It’s a challenge!
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