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Given info: basic orientation | Quick guide

Most Analytical Reasoning setups on the LSAT start with an “orientation” question. Usually, each choice presents a complete outcome, but sometimes the choices include just part of an outcome.
Which of the following is an acceptable schedule of TV shows Nicolay streams, from first through seventh?
Which of the following could be the list of donut types included in the delivery?
Which of the following could be a complete and accurate list of the flowers in Anh-Chi’s flower crown?
Which of the following could be the list of the first through fourth stops on the tour of the museum?
These questions essentially ask you to select the one choice that doesn’t violate any of the rules of the setup.
For these questions, the most efficient approach is to take each condition in turn and check to see whether any of the choices violates it.
  • Go through the rules one by one. With each rule, look over the choices, and when you find a choice that violates that rule, eliminate that choice.
  • When you’ve gone through all of the rules once, only one choice will be left: the answer.
This method is much more efficient than going through each choice and referencing it against all of the rules to determine its viability. Imagine that the answer is (D)—if you checked each choice one by one, you would need to go through the rules four times. If you started with the rules in order to eliminate choices, on the other hand, you would only need to go through the rules once.
A professor must determine the order in which five of her students—Fernando, Ginny, Hakim, Juanita, and Kevin—will perform in an upcoming piano recital. Each student performs one piece, and no two performances overlap. The following constraints apply:
Ginny must perform earlier than Fernando.
Kevin must perform earlier than Hakim and Juanita.
Hakim must perform either immediately before or immediately after Fernando.
Which one of the following could be the order, from first to last, in which the students perform?
(A) Ginny, Fernando, Hakim, Kevin, Juanita
(B) Ginny, Juanita, Kevin, Hakim, Fernando
(C) Ginny, Kevin, Hakim, Juanita, Fernando
(D) Kevin, Ginny, Juanita, Fernando, Hakim
(E) Kevin, Juanita, Fernando, Hakim, Ginny
This setup has three rules:
  • Rule 1: Ginny is before Fernando.
  • Rule 2: Kevin is before Hakim and Juanita, and
  • Rule 3: Hakim is immediately before or immediately after Fernando. In other words, they are a pair.
Step 1: Start with Rule 1—Ginny is before Fernando.
  • Compare it to the choices: (A), (B), (C), and (D) conform to this rule.
  • In (E), Fernando is third and Ginny is fifth, which places Ginny after Fernando. So, (E) violates Rule 1. Eliminate (E).
Step 2: Now, look at Rule 2—Kevin is before Hakim and Juanita.
  • In (A), Hakim is third and Kevin is fourth, so Kevin is not before Hakim. Eliminate (A).
  • In (B), Juanita is second and Kevin is third, so Kevin is not before Juanita. Rule out (B).
  • Kevin is before Hakim and Juanita in (C) and (D).
  • We don’t need to check (E), because we already eliminated it with Rule 1. This leaves (C) and (D).
Step 3: Test Rule 3—Hakim and Fernando are next to each other in order.
  • In (C), Juanita is between them. So (C) violates Rule 3, and we can eliminate it. * (D) conforms to Rule 3, because Fernando is fourth and Hakim is fifth.
We’ve eliminated (A), (B), (C), and (E). Only (D) hasn’t been eliminated, so (D) is the answer.
  • Caution! This method of checking each condition against the answer choices is really only best for orientation questions—when applied to other questions, this approach will usually be too time-consuming, and won’t capture any deductions that should follow from the basic rules.
  • They’re always first Not every set of questions includes an orientation question, but if a set does have an orientation question, it will always be the first question in the set, after the rules.
  • Try them first Orientation questions very rarely require deductions—so even on the toughest setups, you should be able to get a fairly quick point from the orientation question.

Partial orientation questions

Some setups will also have partial orientation questions:
  • Ordering: “Which of the following choices could be an acceptable list, from first to third, of the first three students to perform?”
  • Grouping: “Which of the following could be an acceptable list of panelists chosen to speak on Monday”?
When an orientation question is partial, the approach is the same, but sometimes it can be a little more difficult. If there are two teams, for example, and the partial orientation question asks you only about Team 1, you’ll often need to think about who is implicitly on Team 2 in order to test the choice against the rules..

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