« on: August 19, 2006, 03:20:00 PM »
I wanted to write this post after browsing through the low-rating reviews some of the Amazon folks give to this book. A lot of what these negative reviewers say is valid and I think these negative aspects need to be addressed so that they don't turn people off of a very good prep source.
It is very true that the LG Bible primarily shines in its treatment of the two fundamental game types: linear games and grouping games. To define the terms, a linear game is a game where you have to put items, events, people etc in order. A grouping game is where you must put items, events, people etc into groups. The book excels in teaching you strategies for handling the basic versions of these types of games. You will be taught fast and efficient ways of diagramming the rules for these questions, and often these diagrams will be so complete that you can answer a few questions simply by looking at your diagrams.
The book is less good in teaching you how to handle games which are non-trivial variations on the basic types, or are one of the rare off-the-wall types that are neither linear nor grouping. While many of these variant or off-the-wall games are worked in this book, you will primarily have to learn from the explanations given. This relies on the reader having the ability to generalize from the explanation for the particular case to find out how they would handle similar problems in the future. This in turn relies on the reader to possess a certain logical insight, which is unsatisfactory because gaining this insight is why most readers buy the book.
In practice, though, most of the games you will encounter will be linear or grouping, and I believe almost any game will benefit from at least some of the strategies taught in the book.
The book does use a lot of different Capitalized Terms, which have little trademark TM symbols next to them. These terms represent specific strategies or concepts. I suppose that they do this because they want students to walk into the test able to clearly identify the strategies they are going to use when they work the problem. Looking at a problem and saying "Okay, I'll try to Identify the Templates" will likely lead to a bolder approach than saying "Okay, I guess I'll try to figure out what main types of configurations I can have for this problem". Also, if a strategy cannot be articulated and catalogued for use, it may never occur to the test-taker to use it. In my opinion Not Laws are the best example of how this capitalizing technique by the book can help the reader nail down certain concepts and keep them in the front of their mind during the test.
On the other hand, I did find the breakdown of each type of problem into subtypes to be a bit obnoxious. A few exercises ask you to classify particular problems to a very precise degree within their system, presumably on the theory that once the problem is specifically identified it will be completely clear on how to solve it. You should definitely have a grip on the nature of the problem you are solving, and the system they give will help with that, but you should not waste time trying to find the PowerScore word for something once you have the concept firmly in mind.
So overall, I think the Possible Overuse of Terminology is not that big a deal as long as you find your own comfort level with what terms you feel you need to memorize vs what terms stand for concepts you are already comfortable with.
The worst problem with the book is that the explanations for each individual game tend to over-analyze the setup and each question. In all seriousness I think if a test taker worked out each setup to the degree given in the book, that person would run out of time on the second game. The book does a pretty poor job of telling you what you should ACTUALLY THINK during the setup portion of each of their example games and questions. Even worse, a lot of times their lengthy explanations only give one specific way of answering a particular question. There are often different approaches that can be taken which are not mentioned in the explanation.
What this means is that you should concentrate on the techniques the book gives and concentrate less on the explanations for the games they give. Review those explanations if you get stuck or are just curious about their approach, but if you solved the problem through some other logical means, don't worry. However, if you find that you are mainly solving problems through some enlightened guesswork, then you should probably slow down, review the techniques and see how to use those to your advantage. The system they give is designed to reduce guesswork and fuzzy-headedness to a minimum, and you should take advantage of that.
There is some worry that because the games in the LG Bible are from real LSATs, you are spoiling yourself when you actually work through preptests. But they don't use any games past Dec 2000 (preptest 33), which leaves a lot of preptests, plus it shouldn't really matter anyway unless you have a photographic memory. Plus it's much more confidence-boosting to use real games rather than worry about the helpfulness of the simulated alternative.
I have an undergraduate and graduate degree in mathematics. I grant that I have a natural ability to see things logically. Where the LG Bible helped me was to give me a system to approach the games, and that's all I really needed. But if you're the sort of person who, for instance, doesn't understand a question even when the answer is fully explained to you, then you should consider taking a class rather than purchasing this book. However, DO NOT buy one of the other prep books because of reviews that say LG Bible is "too hard". LG Bible teaches the LG section as it is, and getting a dumbed-down prep book is probably going to send you into the real LSAT with false confidence.