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How to approach mixed setups

Mixed setups overview

You will see at least one mixed setup on Test Day. Many students feel intimidated by them because they seem more difficult than pure ordering/grouping setups—and sometimes they are! But they’re manageable with practice and patience. In this article, we’ll examine mixed setups and share some tips to raise your game and boost your score.
Note: If you have not yet consulted the articles and overview videos on Ordering Setups and Grouping Setups, we strongly recommend that you work through those articles and videos before continuing with this one, as the foundations of ordering and grouping are critical to success in mixed setups.

How do we recognize mixed setups?

Mixed setups typically involve more than one task; for example, an ordering setup with a grouping component is a mixed setup. A setup with two sets of elements to be grouped is a mixed setup. A setup with two sets of elements to be ordered and a grouping component is a mixed setup (and sounds like a formidable one!). Note that mixed setups, in comparison to ordering setups, have quite a bit more variety in how they’re presented to you, since so many combinations are possible.
Sometimes, a mixed setup can involve some kind of relationship or relationships other than ordering and grouping—you'll hear us refer to this as an "atypical setup" since they're rarer.
A few examples of mixed tasks:
  • Determine which days 7 employees will have their annual review, and whether each employee is part-time or full-time (ordering + grouping—this is one of the most common types of mixed setups).
  • Determine which 5 students (out of 8 students) make the swim team, and in what order they will swim on Saturday (“in/out” grouping + ordering).
  • Determine which sport each of 8 children play, and we’re told what color shirt each child will wear (grouping + grouping).
  • Determine which sport each of 8 children play, and what color shirt each child will wear, and what time each child’s game is (grouping + grouping + ordering).
  • Atypical: Determine who's in the final cast of a play after 5 rounds of auditions that follow a certain process of elimination.
You may be able to see the challenge that mixed setups present: there are more types of elements and actions to keep track of! Don’t worry, though—we’ll help you stay organized and focused so that you maintain control and so that you don’t feel like you’re “guessing.”

What should we pay attention to in the passage?

  • In the passage for a mixed setup, you’ll see more information (and more complex information) than what you’d see in the passage for a typical ordering setup, for example.
  • There will be at least two types of elements—for example, students ABCDEF and sports tennis, hockey, and golf.
  • You will often see restrictions, such as, “Each sport is played by a maximum of three students”, and it’s imperative to pay close attention to such restrictions. “Exactly three students per sport” has a very different impact on the setup than “a maximum of three students per sport”, for example.

What does the sketch look like for a mixed setup?

In general, it’s good to represent what’s happening in the setup with a diagram or sketch. The diagrams of mixed setups can be quite varied, since mixed setups are much more diverse in their tasks than ordering setups, for example.
One recommendation we can give you is that if the mixed setup includes an ordering component, then it often helps to “prioritize” that ordering component in the diagram—that’s because ordering involves some kind of spatial arrangement. Another “strong” action is that of grouping elements into “in” and “out” categories—it often helps to prioritize that in your sketch as well.
We’ll show you a few different setups here, to render this somewhat abstract information more concrete!
Ordering + grouping:
  • Suppose we have a task in which employees ABCDEF will have their performance review on the 1st through 6th day of the month, and we also need to determine whether each employee is part-time or full-time. Your empty diagram (before establishing any rules or deductions) might look like this:
Two ordering diagrams. In diagram 1, the upper case letters A, B, C, D, E, F are written in blue before 6 horizontal bars. In diagram 2, the lower case letters p, f are written in blue before 6 horizontal bars. The bars are labeled as follows from left to right. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
In/Out grouping + sequencing:
  • Suppose we have a task in which 5 out of 8 students ABCDEFGH are selected to be part of a 5-person swim team. Additionally, they will each swim one at a time from 1 pm to 5 pm.
  • Here are two options that you can use. Note that the first option (if we were to remove the blank slots) would be used in a situation in which you aren’t told exactly how many students make the swim team, whereas either the first or second option could be used if you know exactly how many students make the swim team (as in the example we just gave):
An initial diagram, a grouping diagram and an ordering diagram. The initial diagram is written in blue and lists the following upper case letters vertically. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H. A grouping diagram labeled 1 includes two columns labeled in, out is crossed out. In column in are five horizontal bars labeled as follows. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. In column, out is crossed out, three horizontal bars correspond to the numbers.1, 2, 3 in column in. All of the bars are blank. An ordering diagram labeled 2 includes five horizontal bars labeled as follows from left to right. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. A vertical line separates bars 1 through 5 from 3 unnumbered horizontal bars. Under the three horizontal bars, out is crossed out.
Grouping + grouping
  • Suppose we have a task in which eight students (ABCDEFGH) will play one of three sports (Tennis, Rugby, and Soccer ). We’re also given information in the passage that students A, B, and C wear yellow shirts, students D, E, and F wear orange shirts, and students G and H wear magenta shirts.
  • Depending on how neat your handwriting is and what your preference is, you could list the colors and students in a few different ways. Your empty diagram (before establishing any rules or deductions) might look like this:
An initial diagram and a grouping diagram. The initial diagram is written in blue and lists the following. A sub y, B sub y, C sub y, D sub o, E sub o, F sub o, G sub m, H sub m. The grouping diagram includes three columns labeled from left to right as follows. t e n, r u g, s o c. Entries under each column are blank.
  • If you prefer not to use subscripts due to handwriting or clarity, you could also list the players in this way:
Three groups of letters written in blue and a grouping diagram. Group 1 is labeled yellow and lists the following upper case letters vertically. A, B, C. Group 2 is labeled orange and lists the following letters. D, E, F. Group 3 is labeled magenta and lists the following letters. G, H. The grouping diagram includes three columns labeled t e n, r u g, s o c.

What kind of rules are typical in mixed setups?

Since mixed setups involve several different actions (such as grouping + ordering), you can anticipate that some of the rules will be typical of one type of action, and other rules will be typical of the other type(s) of action. Less frequently, some rules will treat multiple actions at the same time. Review the articles on Ordering and Grouping setups if you want to refresh on what the typical rules for each type of setup are.
It’s important to manage the rules well so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. There will be a fair amount of off-to-the-side notation that you’ll be able to combine for deductions later, so be patient as you go through the rules—and make sure you get the rules right the first time!

Practice Example

Now, let’s take everything we’ve learned and apply it to an actual LSAT setup!

Beginning of reading passage.

Exactly five cars—Frank's, Marquitta's, Orlando's, Taishah's, and Vinquetta's—are washed, each exactly once. The cars are washed one at a time, with each receiving exactly one kind of wash: regular, super, or premium. The following conditions must apply:
The first car washed does not receive a super wash, though at least one car does.
Exactly one car receives a premium wash.
The second and third cars washed receive the same kind of wash as each other.
Neither Orlando's nor Taishah's is washed before Vinquetta's.
Marquitta's is washed before Frank's, but after Orlando's.
Marquitta's and the car washed immediately before Marquitta's receive regular washes.
End of reading passage.
What does the setup tell us?
We have five car owners whose cars are washed exactly once, one at a time—that indicates an ordering task. Since we’re also told that each car will receive exactly one kind of wash, then that’s a grouping task! In other words, cars are “grouped” into regular, super, or premium washes. Therefore, this is a mixed scenario—go ahead and make a basic sketch based on this information before we look at the rules!
What do the rules tell us?
Go through the rules one at a time, making sure to get the rules right the first time. Include the rule directly in the diagram if it makes sense to; otherwise, note the rule off to the side.
What can we deduce?
Now it’s time to make deductions! Can you use what we covered in the Ordering and Grouping articles in order to deduce what must be true, beyond what’s presented to us at face value?
We’re in a really great spot to move on to the questions! With our initial diagram, we won’t have to use much (if any) of the “trial and error” that would consume a ton of time on Test Day.
Which one of the following could be an accurate list of the cars in the order in which they are washed, matched with type of wash received?
(A) Orlando's: premium; Vinquetta's: regular; Taishah's: regular; Marquitta's: regular; Frank's: super
(B) Vinquetta's: premium; Orlando's: regular; Taishah's: regular; Marquitta's: regular; Frank's: super
(C) Vinquetta's: regular; Marquitta's: regular; Taishah's: regular; Orlando's: super; Frank's: premium
(D) Vinquetta's: super; Orlando's: regular; Marquitta's: regular; Frank's: regular; Taishah's: super
(E) Vinquetta's: premium; Orlando's: regular; Marquitta's: regular; Frank's: regular; Taishah's: regular
If Vinquetta's car does not receive a premium wash, which one of the following must be true?
(A) Orlando's and Vinquetta's cars receive the same kind of wash as each other.
(B) Marquitta's and Taishah's cars receive the same kind of wash as each other.
(C) The fourth car washed receives a premium wash.
(D) Orlando's car is washed third.
(E) Marquitta's car is washed fourth.
If the last two cars washed receive the same kind of wash as each other, then which one of the following could be true?
(A) Orlando's car is washed third.
(B) Taishah's car is washed fifth.
(C) Taishah's car is washed before Marquitta's car.
(D) Vinquetta's car receives a regular wash.
(E) Exactly one car receives a super wash.
Which one of the following must be true?
(A) Vinquetta's car receives a premium wash.
(B) Exactly two cars receive a super wash.
(C) The fifth car washed receives a super wash.
(D) The fourth car washed receives a super wash.
(E) The second car washed receives a regular wash.
Which one of the following is a complete and accurate list of the cars that must receive a regular wash?
(A) Frank's, Marquitta's
(B) Marquitta's, Orlando's
(C) Marquitta's, Orlando's, Taishah's
(D) Marquitta's, Taishah's
(E) Marquitta's, Vinquetta's

Takeaways

  • Keep the “actions” (grouping + ordering, for example) separate in your mind as you work through the rules and deductions. Notice which action(s) a given rule attends to.
  • There is no one “magic diagram” that is uniformly correct for mixed setups. The key is to make sure that the diagram reflects the actions of the task in a clear way.
  • Be patient and diligent! The fundamentals of pure ordering setups and pure grouping setups still apply more than ever—mixed setups are simply a way of testing your ability to stay organized.

Next steps

Then, once you've finished your diagnostics and created a practice schedule, head over to the practice area and try some mixed setups on your own!

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user naqsha.biliangady
    I have a question about timing-- what is the ideal amount of time to spend on each setup? Can it be equally divided? 8.5 minutes each setup. And how should this time be divided? How much time should be devoted to deductions and drawing?
    TIA!
    (11 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user valdezcyn
    For this question:If the last two cars washed receive the same kind of wash as each other, then which one of the following could be true?

    How was it deduced that the last two cars received super washes?? I understood everything else except for how this was derived. Could someone else explain
    TY
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • piceratops seed style avatar for user b t
      We know from the initial rules that exactly one car gets a premium wash, so that's excluded right away - neither 4 nor 5 is premium in this question. We also determined, as shown in the diagrams, that 2 and 3 MUST be regular. Since there is exactly one premium wash, and only car 1 is left, car 1 must be premium. That leaves us with 1-P, 2-R, 3-R and 4 and 5 being identical. Since we need at least one super as well, they must both be super.
      (5 votes)
  • starky ultimate style avatar for user Ryan
    When it says, "(C) must be true. In our diagram, Marquitta is 3rd and Taishah is 4th or 5th—so Taishah must be after Marquitta," I think it should actually (C) must be false, since answer choice (C) states "(C) Taishah's car is washed before Marquitta's car." I think it was just a typo, since answer choice (B) was already noted as the only could be true answer.
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user Jalah Falcher
    Can you give us an example of the Grouping + Grouping + Ordering Set Up?
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user Cassady Tercek
    Why can the second spot only be O/T?
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user