Excited about taking the LSAT? Maybe not, if you don’t think you’ll do well.
Interesting though, more than any other standardized test, the LSAT tends to inspire a rash of cancellations whenever it’s time for someone to take the test.
Before thinking about canceling your scores, here are a few things you should consider:
If you think you performed poorly on your LSAT, know that having a bad score on your record isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be.
Before, virtually every law school would average LSAT scores if you took the test more than once. Law schools were required by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) to report the average scores for all students when divulging information about their incoming classes. LSAC had produced numerous studies showing that small variations in LSAT score were predictively meaningless. In other words, it’s no surprise that a student who got a 150 on one test can score a 153 on the next test, and that difference in scores isn’t predictive of a better performance in law school.
The LSAC changed its reporting requirements nearly a decade ago, and now only requires that schools report the highest LSAT score for each of their students. As a direct result, the policy of averaging multiple scores has been slowly changing over the course of the past few years, and many schools now take only the highest score.
If you feel like you did poorly on the test, that might not mean you actually did poorly. It’s also possible to feel great about the test, but score much lower than expected.
A good indicator that shows you many need to cancel your score is if you think you’ve bombed because, say, you normally do four games and you only got through three, then it’s probably best to cancel. Not every school takes the highest LSAT score, so canceling is a good idea if you’re sure your score is lower than normal.
If you strongly suspect you’ve bombed and you’re not in a time crunch (for example, you’re taking the December test and you’re not planning to apply until the next admissions cycle, so you have February, June, and October available for retests), you may want to cancel.
If you’ve planned ahead and have several more test dates available — and are confident that you’ll have the time to do additional, high quality preparation — it might be a good idea to cancel.
If, for example, you’re taking the October test and want to apply in the current admissions cycle, canceling becomes a riskier proposition. Most law schools work on rolling admissions (which means they evaluate applications as they receive them).
Generally speaking, getting in becomes slightly harder as rolling admissions season advances. So putting off your test until December essentially costs you a point or two to your LSAT score. Nothing huge, but still, another factor if you don’t have solid evidence that you’ve done poorly.
You are only allowed to take the LSAT three times in any two-year period. Canceling one score is, ultimately, probably not a big deal. Canceling more than once will only allow you one score that counts during those two years, and will additionally look pretty bad to most law schools. Something going wrong one test day can happen to anyone, but something going wrong two test days can start to look like a problem to law school admissions.
In the final analysis, if you have strong reason to believe you’ve done poorly, and if you have time to prepare for and take the test again, there’s nothing wrong with canceling one LSAT score.
Only cancel one LSAT score, if necessary.
Only cancel an LSAT score if you are absolutely certain you didn’t do well, and you don’t mind putting off law school for a year or more so you have time to retake with proper preparation.
Don’t forget that rolling admissions rewards earlier applications, so if you don’t have a strong reason to believe you’ve done poorly, and retaking will delay your applications, you probably shouldn’t cancel.
Don’t forget that a whole lot of schools will consider only your highest LSAT score, which makes having a single poor score on your record less of an issue than it was in the days that almost every school averaged LSAT scores. However, be sure to contact schools directly for their current policies. There are lists all over the Internet, but schools change these policies all the time.