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# How to approach ordering setups

## Ordering setups overview

When you see an ordering setup on Test Day (and you'll see at least one), it may be a great opportunity to be efficient and save some time—but only if you've practiced a specific approach that works for you. In this article, we’ll examine classic ordering setups (as opposed to mixed setups that include an ordering component), and share some tips to raise your game and boost your score.

### How do we recognize ordering setups?

When the task involves the arrangement of elements—in other words, when order matters—then you’re working with an ordering setup.
A few examples of ordering tasks:
• Determine the order of interviews scheduled from 1:00 to 6:00
• Determine the seating arrangements of people around a circular table
• Determine which parking spaces cars occupy, where the parking spaces are numbered 1 through 7
• Determine what ranking (lowest to highest) six movies are given
• Determine when five different dogs are adopted (Monday through Friday)
If order doesn’t matter in any aspect of the task, then you’re looking at a grouping setup, not an ordering setup. And if order matters for some parts of the task, but there are also elements to the task in which order doesn’t matter, then you’re looking at a mixed setup.

### What should we pay attention to in the passage?

In the passage for an ordering setup, you’ll be given a certain number of elements and told that they'll be arranged in some way. Usually, the numbers will be very simple—six people and six spots, for example. Sometimes, however, the numbers won’t line up exactly that way; perhaps there are seven people interviewed over six days, where two people are interviewed on one day and one person is interviewed on each of the other days.
It's always a good idea to pay attention to how the number of elements relates to the number of spots!

### What does the sketch for an ordering setup look like?

In general, it’s good to make a diagram to represent what’s happening in the setup. So, suppose we have a task in which persons ABCDEF need to be present on days Monday through Saturday. Your empty diagram (before establishing any rules or deductions) might look like this:
Note: It can be useful to make a list of all the “players” or “elements” in the setup. In the diagram above, and in many of the diagrams in Official LSAT Practice on Khan Academy, you’ll see these “player banks”—they can help you keep track of the elements you have used as you add them to the diagram.
In some cases, it makes sense to make a vertical sketch instead of a horizontal sketch. For example, if the six people worked in six different floors of a building, it would make sense to make the sketch resemble the floors of a building:
For consistency’s sake, we use the horizontal sketch as a default in our exercises, unless it makes more sense to build the sketch vertically (as in the building example above).

### What kind of rules are typical in ordering setups?

Since ordering involves arrangement, some of the most common rules will involve how elements relate to each other. Suppose we have a task in which persons ABCDEF need to make presentations on days Monday through Saturday, one per day. We will likely see rules that resemble the following:
• A presents on an earlier day than B.
• A presents on the day immediately before B.
• A cannot present immediately before B.
• A presents sometime earlier than both B and C.
• A presents on Monday.
• A presents on either Monday or Thursday.
• A and B’s presentations are separated by exactly two presentations.
• If A presents on Thursday, then B presents earlier than F.

### What are some good ways to represent these typical rules, and what can we deduce from each one?

It’s a good idea to get into a habit of notating rules consistently. That doesn’t mean that any one notation is the “correct” one, though! As we work through these rules, we’ll give you one or two ideas for each rule, and you can either use our idea or come up with your own. We’ll also let you know if there are any
that you can usually make for each rule, so that you can start to formulate deductions quickly and easily.
For the first two examples, we’ll show you the notation for a horizontal diagram on the left, and a vertical diagram on the right. For the remaining examples, we’ll show you how we’re notating the relationship in a horizontal ordering setup, and you can infer what the corresponding vertical-diagram notation would look like.
A presents on an earlier day than B.
Deductions:
• In our setup, we could immediately deduce that A cannot present on Saturday, and B cannot present on Monday. That’s because if we tried to have A present on Saturday, there would be no room for B to be later!
• A similar conflict occurs when we try to have B present on Monday.
• Since you’re tested as much on what’s true as on what’s false, it can be helpful to make this deduction as soon as you note the rule; we can note it directly into our basic diagram:
A presents on the day immediately before B.
Deductions:
• As with the A...B relationship, we should immediately deduce that A cannot present on Saturday, and B cannot present on Monday. We can note it directly into our basic diagram in the same way.
A cannot present immediately before B.
Deductions:
• Since this rule tells us about something that can’t happen, we can’t make any useful deductions from this rule alone. What’s likely is that either:
• 1) this rule will be combinable with another rule in order to make deductions (for example, a rule that states, “B presents on Tuesday” would allow us to deduce that A can’t be on Monday), or
• 2) in the course of the questions, either A or B will be established by a new condition, and we’ll be able to deduce that the other of the illegal pair can’t be adjacent.
A is sometime earlier than both B and C.
Deductions:
• Since the rule tells us that A is sometime before at least two people, we can deduce that A can’t be Friday or Saturday.
• Since A is earlier than B, we can deduce that B is not on Monday.
• Likewise, since A is earlier than C, we can deduce that C is not on Monday.
• Again, we don’t know the relationship between B and C!
A presents on Monday.
Deductions:
• While the rule at face value may seem obvious, it’s worth noting that because we’ve established an element, one of the spots is essentially “not in play” anymore. That means that there are fewer places that the other entities can occupy.
A presents on either Monday or Thursday.
Deductions:
• Since A is either Monday or Thursday, that means A is not Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday. Some students like to “double up” on the notations and not only mark A with the arrows to Monday or Thursday but also mark the not A under the other days.
• In the questions, pay attention to A! If you’re given a new condition, for example, “F is on the day before A”, then you’ll be able to deduce that A must be on Thursday in that case.
A's presentation and B’s presentation are separated by exactly two presentations.
Deductions:
• Since we don’t know the order of A and B, we can’t make deductions about where A and B can’t go.
• If the rule had stated that A and B are separated by exactly two presentations and that A is earlier than B, then we could have deduced that A isn’t Thursday, Friday, or Saturday (so Wednesday at the latest) and that B isn’t Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday (and so Thursday at the earliest).
• Note that this relationship is very restricted in where it can go. Either A and B are Monday/Thursday, or A and B are Tuesday/Friday, or A and B are Wednesday/Saturday.
If A presents on Thursday, then B presents earlier than F.
Deductions:
• It’s important to remember that conditional rules also have logically equivalent rules built into them: if B doesn’t present earlier than F, then A doesn’t present on Thursday.
• Since there can’t be two presenters on the same day, saying that B doesn’t present earlier than F is exactly the same as saying that F presents earlier than B!
• It’s crucial to be aware that we can’t deduce anything if A doesn’t present on Thursday.
• So, underneath the original rule, you should note the equivalent rule:

### Practice Example

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

Exactly seven toy-truck models—F, G, H, J, K, M, and S—are assembled on seven assembly lines, exactly one model to a line. The seven lines are arranged side by side and numbered consecutively 1 through 7. Assignment of models to lines must meet the following conditions:
F is assembled on a lower-numbered line than J.
M is assembled on the line numbered one lower than the line on which G is assembled.
H is assembled on line 1 or else line 7.
S is assembled on line 4.
What does the setup tell us?
The passage is a typical ordering setup. There are seven toy-truck models and seven assembly lines, so the numbers line up as we would expect them to. Go ahead and make a basic sketch based on this information before we look at the rules!
What do the rules tell us?
Taking each rule one at a time, can you note each rule either directly in the diagram (if it makes sense to) or off to the side?
Now it’s time to make deductions!
What can we deduce?
Can you use what we covered in this lesson 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 this diagram, we won’t have to use so much (if any) of the “trial and error” approach that consumes a ton of time on Test Day.
Which one of the following is an acceptable assignment of toy-truck models to lines, in order from line 1 through line 7?
(A) F, J, K, S, H, M, G
(B) F, K, J, S, M, G, H
(C) F, M, K, S, G, J, H
(D) H, K, S, M, G, F, J
(E) H, M, G, S, J, F, K
It must be true that the lowest-numbered line on which
(A) F can be assembled is line 2
(B) G can be assembled is line 3
(C) J can be assembled is line 2
(D) K can be assembled is line 3
(E) M can be assembled is line 2
If K is assembled on line 5, which one of the following is a pair of models that could be assembled, not necessarily in the order given, on lines whose numbers are consecutive to each other?
(A) G, H
(B) G, J
(C) H, J
(D) J, M
(E) M, S
There can be at most how many lines between the line on which F is assembled and the line on which J is assembled?
(A) one
(B) two
(C) three
(D) four
(E) five
If K is assembled on line 2, which one of the following must be true?
(A) F is assembled on a lower-numbered line than S.
(B) H is assembled on a lower-numbered line than G.
(C) J is assembled on a lower-numbered line than H.
(D) M is assembled on a lower-numbered line than J.
(E) S is assembled on a lower-numbered line than J.
If G is assembled on the line numbered one less than the line on which F is assembled, then which one of the following must be true?
(A) F is assembled on line 3.
(B) G is assembled on line 5.
(C) H is assembled on line 1.
(D) K is assembled on line 5.
(E) M is assembled on line 6.
If M is assembled on line 1, which one of the following could be true?
(A) F is assembled on a line numbered one lower than the line on which H is assembled.
(B) F is assembled on a line numbered one lower than the line on which K is assembled.
(C) G is assembled on a line numbered one lower than the line on which J is assembled.
(D) G is assembled on a line numbered one lower than the line on which K is assembled.
(E) K is assembled on a line numbered one lower than the line on which G is assembled.

### Takeaways

• You recognize ordering setups by the fact that arrangement matters.
• Read rules carefully! "Before" and "after" are easy to transpose if you're rushing.
• Don't skimp on deductions! Every time you have an A...B rule or an AB rule, for example, you can make quick deductions as to where A and B can't go. Take the time to do so, because points come from deductions!
• Practice hard! Since you will see an ordering setup on Test Day, you can practice what you've learned in this article until it becomes second nature.
• Think twice before using trial-and-error. Trial-and-error sketching is not a time-efficient way to answer Analytical Reasoning questions. Make sure to draw a new sketch for questions that give you a new condition, and for those that don't, think hard about what the question is asking you to do.

### Next steps

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

## Want to join the conversation?

• For the examples given how would you rate their difficulty in reference to the LSAT , Basic,medium or Advanced
• re: It must be true that the lowest-numbered line on which
You stated that, order could be: MGFSHKJ
what about rule #3: H is assembled on line 1 or else line 7.
• MGFSHKJ is not an option stated or referenced in the above (and only) question prompt that fits the description "It must be true that the lowest-numbered line on which".
That is to say, as far as i can see, and as far as (ctrl + f) search of the page shows. Am I Wrong?
• On the last practice question, why cant F be in the fifth spot? The rules are that M and G are a pair and that F goes before J. Can't K just go in the third spot and the order be MGKSFJH?
• F can be in the 5th spot. As can J and K. They left it alone as all three can go there.
• For the fifth practice question, how do you decide to use the restricted element MG to build scenarios around, rather than using the restricted element H? My first thought was to use H, which led me to taking more time as it produced 3 scenarios instead of 2. Thanks!
• H is assigned on lines 1 or 7 could be written as H = 1/7
• True ones with a strong math background would think to use fractions. But it is not always the case
• Also for the question regarding K being in spot 2, it would have been easier to build scenarios around H rather than MG...the original rule forced H into spots 1 or 7, scenario#1 reads HKFSJMG and scenario #2 reads FKJSMGH...LEADS YOU TO ANSWER MUCH QUICKER AND EASIER THAN BUILDING AROUND MG SCENARIO
• Actually, there is a scenario #3... HKFSMGJ... there are three total scenarios, and one could argue that writing out 3 scenarios might more time consuming than builing around the 2 MG scenarios
• Why couldn't F go in the 6th spot?
• For the last question in the "How to approach ordering setups" article, I believe...

Position 3 could be F or K
Position 5 could be F, J or K
Position 6 could be J or K

If I am correct, why can't B be correct?