Before you cancel that February LSAT score…

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Over the course of my first three semesters of law school, I have never walked out of an exam feeling like I performed well. Usually, I go home after a test, wallow in despair and self-pity, go out and get a drink (okay, fine, drinks), come back and wallow in despair and self-pity, and then wait for the sweet solace of sleep so that I can resume studying in the morning. Rinse and repeat. My experience with the LSAT was largely the same. When I walked out of the test center, I thought I had wasted months of preparation and bombed the exam; I seriously considered canceling my score.

For those of you who took the February LSAT, Friday is the deadline to make the decision on whether to cancel. LSAC only gives you six days after the test to decide whether to cancel, so you’re flying blind as far as your actual results are concerned. This post is dedicated to helping you determine whether or not canceling is the right choice for you given the uncertainty of the situation.

First and foremost, you should try to predict the range of LSAT score that you’re likely to receive. Assuming you’ve been studying and taken practice tests, you should be able to get a broad strokes idea of your score range. For further assistance in that task, Matt Riley — one of Blueprint — has prepared a very helpful video that you can check out at the bottom of this post.

Once you get some perspective on your possible score range, you should use that perspective to help inform your decision. If your likely score is outside the range for schools that you want to attend, you should probably cancel your score. If your score is within the range for schools that you want to attend, you’re golden and you shouldn’t cancel. If you’re right on the cusp for schools you want to attend, I would probably err on the side of not canceling your score for the reasons that follow.

First, many schools don’t really care about multiple LSAT scores any more. (Notice I said “many;” you should know the policies of the schools you’re interested in.) Schools are only required by the American Bar Association to report the highest score for rankings purposes, so they aren’t particularly concerned about seeing multiple scores on a student’s application.

If you end up doing worse than you anticipate, retaking won’t be an issue. Second, as I noted before, it is often difficult to ascertain whether you actually performed badly or if you’re just experiencing the stress that naturally accompanies completion of a very important test. With that said, if you bubbled a section wrong, became violently ill during the test, or experienced some other unfortunate and unforeseen circumstance, you might have a very rational basis for wanting to cancel.

Finally, given that law school admissions are handed out on a rolling basis, it is a good idea to get your application in as early as possible. If you don’t think you’ll be able to score any higher, or if you don’t have the time to really commit to taking the LSAT again, it is better to apply early in the cycle with the score you’ll receive for the February test.

In the end, I decided not to cancel my LSAT score. There were some aspects of my performance I wasn’t happy about, but I felt reasonably comfortable that I would be in my desired score range. It is hard to commit to a score that might not pan out exactly how you want it to, but I am at peace with my decision. You should take some time to reflect on your performance and your likely result, and hopefully that will give you some clarity!

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