Should I cancel my LSAT Score?

Congrats on taking the October test!  Feel good about it?  Great!  Stop reading.

Not feeling so great about it? Don’t panic!

First, you should know that it is pretty normal to second-guess your performance.  Taking the LSAT is a nerve-wracking experience, and not feeling great about your performance is perfectly normal.  After a test like this, it is very easy to remember all of the things that went wrong, but harder to focus on what went right.  Did you compare answers after the test with someone?  Bad idea!  This will only freak you out.

Second, you should know the LSAC cancelation policy. If you are thinking about cancelling, you have six calendar days to let LSAC know.  They have very detailed instructions on how and what you need to do on their website.

The thought of canceling the LSAT score runs through the minds of many test-takers, but in most cases, cancelling isn’t a judicious move. The vast majority of people who  discuss this with us should not cancel their test.  But how do you know what is the best decision for you? Here are a few guidelines to help you think about it:

Reasons not to cancel

  • You are just feeling bad about the test in general, but can’t pinpoint what may have been wrong.  This is normal.
  • You feel like this test was harder than the prep tests.  This is normal.
  • You are afraid that you didn’t get the highest score that you possibly could have.  It is OK to retake!  Remember that the high score wins!
  • You feel that this was a more difficult test.  Don’t worry, the test is not scored in a vacuum;  everyone else also thinks that this test was more difficult.

Reasons to cancel

  • Your timing was really off from practice. If you normally finished a section in your practice tests easily within the time, but during the test you didn’t finish a section by a large margin.
  • You didn’t study at all for the test, and you thought it would be fun to take the test blind.  You know that you needed to study better, or differently, or at all.
  • You mis-bubbled a section.
  • You were sick.  Really, really sick and it affected your performance.
  • Poor, unacceptable test conditions.  If the marching band was practicing outside, your test proctor was using a sun dial for timing, there was a bear in the room, or if there were any other test conditions that were very bad, you should call LSAC before you cancel to see if they’ll do anything about it.  Sometimes, they will include a note in the report or pay for a retake in extreme circumstances.
  • If you have an LSAT that is decent, and you know that this test is worse. Not just* think* that it is worse, but know that it is worse, perhaps because of the above reasons.
  • You just panicked.  Really, badly, completely panicked.  A little panic is fine.

General reminders

  • Remember that you can only take 3 tests within a 2-year period.  The cancelled score counts toward that number.
  • You will never see the cancelled test score.  But the schools will see that you took the test.  It will show on the report as a cancelled test with the date of the test and a “C” where the score should be.  One of these is not a problem at all, but a pattern of cancelled test scores is not great.
  • You still have time to register for December!  It’s OK to retake the test!
  • Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do.

To sum up, it is a very small percentage of test takers who should cancel their test score.  The test results will likely be released in about 20 days.  In the meantime, focus on something else!

*Edit update after Dec. 6, 2014 LSAT administration.* **We have talked to roughly 50 people who have wanted to cancel after taking the test, and have recommended that only 1 do so. Unless you KNOW you did lower than your lowest recent practice tests, and largely due to external factors, you really shouldn’t cancel. Schools only look at the high score.

Update* after October 2015 LSAT administration. *Nothing has changed, schools still only care about your high score.  They will, for all intents and purposes, ignore a cancel or a lower score equally, hence the nature of the word “ignore” :)