December LSAT: Bite the Bullet, or Cancel Your Score?

So the December 2011 LSAT is now squarely behind us. Hopefully it went stupendously. Some of you may have been taking the test for the first time, while others may have been retaking after a lackluster October performance. Either way, if you’re applying this cycle, you’ll want to apply as soon as your score is back, so letters of recommendation and personal statements should be going in to LSAC now. That way you can apply right in the middle of the application river that’s flowing into law schools.

But what if the test didn’t go well? Do you cancel? Because tomorrow is the deadline to do so.

If you cancel, you’ll never know your score, but neither will law schools. One cancellation doesn’t really look that bad, but multiple cancellations can make you look sort of flakey in the eyes of some schools. Also, if you cancel, you’d have to retake in February or later. If you’re applying next cycle for admission in Fall 2013 or later, then there’s not much of a problem. But what if you were originally planning on applying this cycle? You have some options.

You could just bite the bullet and go with whatever score you got on Saturday. This isn’t generally the best option, but if you felt as prepared as possible, then it might be best to accept your score and say come what may. But in general this is to be avoided.

You could also cancel now and retake in February, while still applying this cycle. But you’ll be late. Not all law schools will accept applications that late, and those that do will often admit that it will hurt your chances both of admission and of getting financial aid. You should check in with the individual schools to which you’re applying to see how they handle February scores.

If it’s an option, though, your best bet would be to plan on applying next cycle. You’d have tons of time to study for February or June 2012, and you could apply extremely early. The downside (or upside?) is having to wait an extra year. So it’s a big decision, but it could be for the best.

There’s no easy answer, so weigh out all your options. But make your decision soon, because that cancellation clock is winding down…

5 Responses

  1. SJ says:

    What do you recommend if I have a cancelled score for the October LSAT exam, and I think I didn’t do as well as I could have on the reading comprehension section on the December test? I am seeking to apply this cycle, but am willing to postpone applying until next year (although that is my last resort). I am afraid to cancel the Dec exam because I not only ran out of materials to study with but also since I did okay on all other sections except the RC section.

    • Gulliver says:

      I did a lot of research and talked to a few people about this because too I cancelled in October.

      Apparently, one cancel is no big deal—but two cancels raises suspicions to some schools (especially top schools). Even if it’s not the 178 that you hoped for, it may be a whole lot better than having two cancels on your report (unless you have a REALLY good excuse that you can write about in your addendum).

      • SJ says:

        Thanks for your replies, Colin and Gulliver. I didn’t totally blind guess on RC, and I did manage to finish. But I couldn’t understand the third and fourth passages well, so I struggled with the questions a lot to the point where for perhaps 5-6 questions I felt that I am basically blind guessing. Usually I feel pretty good on RC and get 0-3 wrong, but if I feel as bad as this one I tend to get 6-8 or even 10 wrong. Don’t think I’ll cancel but I’ll probably be on the lookout to see if I should take the Feb test. Thanks!

  2. Colin says:

    Well, it depends. It’s hard to tell how much worse you may have done. If it’s just a general feeling that things didn’t go too stupendously, that’s usually not a sufficient reason to cancel. It was just one section, and it may not have been as bad as you think. If it’s something more along the lines of getting to one whole fewer passages than usual and lots more blind guessing than normal, that would be a more concrete reason.

    If you cancelled the December test, you’d then have two cancellations on your record, which isn’t totally ideal, but if a third score ended up being really high, it could more than make up for that. You’d also be able to apply extremely early in next year’s cycle. So that has it’s advantages. But then you do have to wait. Also, if you cancelled a third time, that would really not look very good, and you’d also have used up your 3-tests-in-2-years. So it would be something of a do-or-die situation. As for studying materials, you could redo old tests. Your scores may be slightly inflated, but it would still be good practice. Running out of material usually ends up being less of a problem than people think.

    Hope that helps with the decision making.

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