Congratulations! After weeks and months of hard work and studying, you’ve gone through the rigors of Test Day and have lived to tell the tale. That's quite an accomplishment!
Perhaps Test Day didn’t go exactly as planned? That's alright – it rarely, if ever, does, and the LSAT does not require perfection! All of your fellow test-takers are experiencing some level of self-doubt right now, so you're in good company...
However, maybe you had a particularly unusual Test Day, and are thinking about canceling your score. If you're wondering whether that's the right decision, the information below should be helpful.
First, let's examine the benefits of not cancelling your LSAT score.
- No matter how you "feel" about how things went, you don't know for sure. You may have done better than you think, much better in fact. According to LSAC, many test-takers who cancel their score and then re-test would've been better off sticking with the first score. (While the examinee never finds out the cancelled score, the LSAC still computes it internally, and can compare the cancelled and subsequent results.)
- If you are retesting, the best way to prepare for your next exam is to review the decisions during an actual Test Day, when everything was on the line, as opposed to a practice test you took where you knew it didn’t really count for anything. Allowing your score to stay in place gives you access to not only the right answers and Kaplan's explanations, but to the answers YOU PICKED. Even weeks later, you'll be amazed as you go question by question through the sections of the exam and say, "Hmmm, now why did I find wrong answer (A) so alluring?" or "Shoot, I should've stuck with my first answer there!" A cancelled score does not offer that view of your chosen answers. (This factor does not apply to students who test in February.)
- These days, law schools are not inclined to average scores, and have, in fact, been given careful guidelines from LSAC against averaging. Even a so-so score followed by a much better score won't hurt you as it might have in the past, when averaging was the common practice. As a rule, law schools want to assess you fairly, and most agree that the fairest thing is to take the better of two or best of three scores, irrespective of the order in which tests were taken. So, even if you decide you want to re-test at the next administration, there will be less pressure next time if you don’t cancel this time. By having a score already on record, you won’t have the anxiety of thinking that you absolutely must use the re-test score.
Based on the above benefits of not cancelling, the following situations would NOT warrant a score cancellation:
- There were some minor distractions in the testing facility. Yes, it’s hard to define exactly what counts as "minor" versus "major". Pencil tapping, coughing, and the humming of an air conditioner may all have been distractions, but that’s also part of the any test environment, and you'd likely experience the same things next time. It’s highly unlikely you’ll ever have a perfectly distraction-free atmosphere!
- You didn’t get to finish or forgot to bubble in the last several questions of a section (or two), even though you usually finish those sections when you practice. Although these time management issues are not ideal, they do not warrant a cancellation. Yes, a few questions here or there can impact your overall score, but the material at the end of a section is often of a higher level of difficulty, so even if you had completed those questions, there is no guarantee they would have markedly affected your score. Also, there is always the possibility that a section you struggled with was the Experimental section.
Now, let's talk about who should consider cancellation.
- If you have already taken the real test two or three (or more) times, you probably have a much better “feel” for whether or not a particular exam has truly gone well. Also, with two or three scores already on the record, one more cancellation isn't going to significantly damage your profile. However, remember that you cannot take the LSAT more than three times in any two-year period. Those three times include any times you’ve opted to cancel your score.
- An examinee who has been consistently scoring in a certain range but became physically ill with flu, nausea, etc., may not have given their peak performance throughout the entire test, as well as students who had a very serious trouble staying focused and didn’t finish large sections of the test should consider cancellation. This may have been due to test anxiety, lack of sleep the night before, personal stress not related directly to the LSAT, etc. To be clear, the situations described above would have impacted EVERY section, not just a moment of panic during a single section.
- A student who made significant gridding mistakes for entire sections, thereby putting many questions in jeopardy of being incorrect should consider cancellation (e.g. #8 was gridded in spot #7, #9 in spot #8, etc.).
Please keep in mind, any requests for cancellation must be made in writing to the LSAC within six calendar days of the test. Full information is available on the LSAC’s website here: http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/score-cancellations.Want to speak with someone directly about your specific situation? Reach out to your LSAT course instructor to discuss your options.If you've already reached out to your instructor, or if you are in a Kaplan Self Paced program, you can email one of our Kaplan LSAT experts:
- Large-scale time issues, such as a proctor who mistakenly shorted time in a section (without having it immediately brought to their attention), or perhaps a student who didn’t have a functioning analog watch for the whole test, can significantly change test performance. Minor issues related to the location of clocks, times written on the board, or the exact precision of a 5-minute warning are all things can be prevented by using one’s own watch and only relying on the proctor for the words ”You may begin.” So, a significant loss of time covering multiple sections could warrant a cancellation, but small single-section issues would usually not.
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