Not so fast, ya cancel-happy nut.
The deadline to cancel your December LSAT score is this Friday. That’s coming up, so let’s talk about what it means and how to make the decision.
You can cancel your LSAT score through by going to the LSAT Status page of your LSAC account and following the instructions there. Those words feel weird to type — you’d be shocked at how recently canceling required a fax or overnight-mailed letter.
If you cancel, neither you nor law schools will ever know what you would have scored on the December LSAT. Law schools will see that you took the LSAT and canceled your score. This test will count toward LSAC’s limit of 3 LSATs within two years whether or not you cancel.
Now, how should you make the decision whether to cancel? First, a quick true story. A couple years ago, a student emailed me the day after the LSAT. She wasn’t thinking of canceling her score, but she emailed to ask about study strategies for a retake. 3 weeks later her score came back. It was a 180.
The moral of the story is that it’s hard to gauge your performance on the LSAT. The good news is that these days law schools are likely to care a lot more about your highest LSAT score if you take the LSAT multiple times. That’s the one that counts toward their numbers and, by extension, their rankings. If you’re unsure of your performance, a disappointing score will hurt you much less than it would have twelve years ago (yes, it’s that long ago, but many of the people who love to give prospective law students advice are stubbornly stuck in the past). You can effectively wipe out a low score by retaking and doing better.
Therefore, it probably makes sense to cancel only if you really really know it went poorly. If you never hit a score on practice tests you’d consider applying with, and you just took the LSAT for the experience, maybe you should cancel. If your answer sheet got all smeared up when you puked, maybe you should cancel. If you went way slower than usual, I mean waaaay slower than usual, and left tons more stuff than usual blank, maybe it makes sense to cancel.
But if you just don’t feel great about the LSAT, don’t let your doubts get you. Again, how you did is hard for you to judge. I can’t guarantee that you did better than you fear but I can tell you that the upside of pleasantly surprising score outweighs the downside of a disappointing one. Even if you went a little slower and guessed a little more than usual, that doesn’t necessarily mean all that much for your score. If your score turns out a little lower than you hoped and you end up retaking, having a “good enough” score on your record might take some pressure off.
Before we wrap things up, let’s talk about that game. A lot of people are freaking out about one of the games on the December LSAT. If you felt like that game really messed you up, consider how you normally do on the hardest game of the section. If you normally count on a perfect games score to anchor your LSAT score and you just couldn’t even start on this game, then maybe that should factor in your decision whether to cancel. But if you normally missed some questions on the hardest game anyway, and maybe you got a couple on this game anyway, then it isn’t really a big difference. Don’t let one game scare you.
Feel free to talk out your decision in the comments and good luck whatever you decide!