First of all, congratulations to all June LSAT test takers. It's over, it's done, go crack a beer or indulge in some ice cream. Or both, who are we to tell you what to do? And above all, take a day to think about literally anything but the LSAT.
Why Shouldn't I Cancel?
Once you're done relaxing, it's time to think about the test and your next steps. Invariably after each LSAT administration we see many hundreds of versions of the question "should I cancel my score?" In the vast majority of cases the answer is emphatically no. Let's look at why.
Averaging vs. High Score
This is very important context to understand why cancellation isn't usually warranted. Law schools primarily, overwhelmingly care about your highest LSAT score. Why? Because the high score is what gets calculated into their median LSAT score, sent to the ABA, and reported to US News & World Report for the purpose of calculating their law schools ranking. If a law school averaged applicant LSAT scores when considering candidates, it would be at a tremendous disadvantage to its peer schools. No admissions dean wants to explain to the dean of the law school or president of the university why they dropped twenty points in the latest rankings. You will thus be primarily evaluated on the basis of your highest LSAT score. Schools see all of your scores, but we don't know of any that average them. So, what harm could there be in seeing how you did even if you thought it didn't go well? The answer is almost always no harm at all.
Since law schools will almost always consider you on the basis of your high score, the risk-reward calculation when considering cancelling is heavily tilted towards reward. But what if you're truly convinced you did poorly? Well, most test takers are notoriously bad at assessing their own performance, especially immediately after the test. The LSAT is a high pressure situation. The test takers write the questions to be difficult and confusing. You're stressed, you're mentally exhausted. What are you going to remember most? The bad parts. You'll remember the logic game you didn't understand, or the incomprehensible reading passage. That's going to color your perception. You won't remember the scores of questions you were able to confidently answer. In fact, you'll often start doubting those answers you got correct as memory fades, details become fuzzy, and anxiety sets in. Don't let it.
I've been there, I know how it feels. When I took my test, I left thinking I was at least 10 points below my practice average. I had to re-do an entire game, and my reading comprehension passages were gibberish. I seriously thought about cancelling. I chose not to, thanks in large part to posts like this. A few weeks later I got my score: a 179. Don't let panic take the chance to outperform your expectations away from you.
Disclosed Test Benefits
June specifically has an extra argument against cancellation. The June LSAT is what is called a "disclosed test." This means that test takers who do not cancel their score will be provided a copy of their answer sheet, testing booklet with all questions, and the list of correct answers. It's a fantastic opportunity to review areas of weakness if you plan to take the test again. If you cancel your score, you lose that opportunity, as you'll only be given a copy of the test and the credited answer sheet, not your actual answers. How are you going to learn that way? You can't!
When Should I Cancel?
Of course, there are some situations that do call for score cancellation. Here's a (non-exhaustive) list of those reasons:
- You were very ill before and during the test and reasonably believe your illness impaired your ability to perform at a functional level.
- You mis-bubbled an entire section, or most of a section. But before you cancel based on this, check online to verify the section you mis-bubbled was not an experimental section, which are not scored. The PowerScore forums are a good place to do that.
- Something happened during the test which significantly hurt your performance, such as an anxiety attack, or test center disruption like fire alarms or building evacuations (in which case you should contact LSAC).
- You took it once before, got the score you wanted for your dream school(s) above their 75ths, oddly took it again, and don't want to risk anything (some people actually like taking the LSAT).
If you decide you want to cancel your score, don't act rashly. You have up to 6 calendar days following the test to cancel. Absolutely do not rush to cancel hours after the exam, or even in the couple days following it. Talk to friends and family, trusted professors or professional mentors, browse the internet and check for advice or email/call us. If, after cooling down, you still want to cancel your score, it's a fairly simple process.
Each and every time scores come out, we talk to a steady number of students who thought about cancelling but ended up glad they didn't. I remember a year ago chatting with a student who wanted to cancel; they didn't and their score came back as a 172. The LSAT is designed to be hard, and it's incredibly difficult to assess how you performed on test day. Given how important the LSAT is for admissions, the benefits of doing well can't be overstated. And you'll never know how you did if you cancel your score. If you didn't do as well as you hoped, you can always retake, and use the information learned from your June test to do better next time! Worried about retaking? It's very common. Most applicants do!
No matter what you choose to do, we hope this helped you make the most informed decision possible!
Written by Justin Kane and Mike Spivey