Predictions for the October 2019 LSAT

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The October 28th LSAT — obviously the spookiest LSAT, given its proximity to Halloween — is nigh. And that means it’s time once again for Most Strongly Supported’s LSAT prognosticator to play a little seasonally appropriate dress up; today, our in-house prognosticator will don his fortune teller costume, dust off his crystal ball, shuffle his tarot cards, do whatever it is one does with tea leaves before reading them, and predict what’s going to be on the upcoming LSAT.

But, to be honest, it’s kind of hard to get into this holiday spirit. It feels like just yesterday we predicted what’s going to be on the September LSAT. The prediction game isn’t like it used to be in the days of yore (er … a few years ago) when there were only four LSATs each year. With the current schedule of LSATs, the crystal ball barely has any time to get dusty before we must take it out and divine what will be on the test. And the frequency with which we must make these predictions ties into the most important prediction this post will make: will LSAC unveil a brand-new, never-before-seen exam on October 28, or will they simply reuse an old exam?

Now, with disclosed exams like September’s, LSAC will definitely make and release a new exam. And on the old schedule, when there was only one “nondisclosed” (or unreleased) exam in February, they would even make new exams in February to hold onto (in case they had to issue a make-up exam to some test takers who experienced a test center irregularity, or to use for exams given to international or Sabbath-observing test takers). But since LSAC increased the number of LSAT administrations twofold, it’s started to reuse some exams, at least for now. It did so in July of 2018, in fact, after making the unexpected announcement that it would be holding a July exam for the first time ever. And many speculate that one reason that LSAC re-issued limitations on the number of exams people could take was because LSAT wants to reuse exams. By limiting the number of tests people could take, the reasoning goes, LSAC will limit the number of people who might see the same exam in multiple test administrations.

Why would LSAC reuse an old exam, you (presumably) ask? Well, it takes a lot of money and man-power and time to write a single LSAT. Even if LSAC had the coin to hire the extra test writers needed to pump out twice the number of LSATs (and, since the expanded LSAT schedule hasn’t yet led to a concomitant increase in test takers, that doesn’t seem to be the case), they’d still need to subject the new questions to the rigorous process of testing the fairness of these questions through the experimental sections of real exams. While more test administrations means more experimental sections and thus more opportunities to test questions for bias, these first few years of an expanded LSAT schedule will almost certainly include a few reheated old exams, either from past February, international, or Sabbath LSATs.

So, will this October LSAT be a reused exam? Well … [adjusting the problematic feathered turban our prognosticator is donning as part of his fortune teller costume] … we think so. Full disclosure: we predicted the same thing last March and were wrong. But if they’re going to continue to reuse old exams, this October exam is their last opportunity to do so in 2019, since the disclosed November exam will definitely be new. So we think they’re going to rehash an old exam — perhaps an old February exam but, more likely, an old international or Sabbath-observing exam. They’ll probably use a recent exam, but not something too recent — they don’t want October test takers to have seen this test before. So we’re thinking they’re going to take an exam from the 2013-2016 period.

So what should you do with this information? Well, you could scour the internet for information on all these exams to guide your studies. But if you do that, you’ll find, at most, vague descriptions of the subject matter of the games and passages. You won’t find anything about what kinds of games they were, and not anything about the questions they asked. And you won’t find anything useful with respect to the Logical Reasoning section. LSAC keeps this information under pretty-strict lock and key, and sends some strongly worded messages to loose-lipped internet sources.

Instead you’re probably better off relying on what we know about the released exams from that era. In Logical Reasoning, this era saw the birth of Big Strengthen — Strengthen questions became the most prevalent question type during this time period, with tests regularly featuring nine, ten, or even eleven Strengthen questions. We saw a more balanced Characterization family section during this era — there were on average more Role and Describe questions, and fewer Disagree questions, than there are now. Flaw questions, however, dominated this family then, as they do now, with between six and nine of Flaw questions per test. And the Implication family wasn’t quite the rotting pumpkin it is now — there were a few more Must Be True, Soft Must Be True, and Must Be False questions, on average, in this era.

In Logic Games, this was the era of unstable grouping games — games in which you had to assign players into one of several groups, but the sizes of those groups are left undetermined. Those appeared on over 80% of the exams from this era, so I’d definitely expect one to show up if they reuse an old exam from that period. Basic ordering games, which showed up on 100% of the tests from this era, and tiered ordering games, which showed up on 75% of the tests, will also likely show up. Other than these three games, there were no other game types that were regular fixtures of the era, which makes predicting the last game a little difficult. So we’ll go out on a limb and say the last game will be an overbooked ordering game — one in which there are more players than spaces to put those players. Our prognosticator would be derelict in his duties, however, if he forgot to mention that there was the occasional oddball game during this era as well — such as the workstations game from June 2014, the computer virus game from September 2016, or the trading building games from December 2016.

Reading Comp was quite predictable in this era, too — you’ll be getting passages on the law, on the physical sciences, on some social science, and on the arts, in all likelihood. These passages were also predictably difficult as well. We wish you well.

Or, perhaps best of all, you can note our predictions, but trust that no matter what the October LSAT features, whether it’s an old exam or a new exam, it’ll test the same skills that every LSAT tests. If you can diagram conditional statements, break down and translate arguments, and identify common fallacies, you’ll handle your business on Logical Reasoning. If you can consistently identify the game type, make an organized set-up, and find ways to construct helpful scenarios, you’ll clean up on Logic Games. And if you can notate the structure of the passage, discern the author’s attitude, and highlight the important details, you can survive Reading Comp. If you have this skills nailed down, the October test doesn’t need to be so scary at all.

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