Cancelling Your October LSAT Score: Smart or Dumb?

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Well, that was fun. The October 2011 LSAT is officially over. If all went according to plan, you’re hopefully still reveling in your success and waiting for that 180 to come to your inbox (give it about two and a half weeks). But things may not have gone according to plan, and maybe you’re thinking of cancelling.

If you’re thinking of doing this, there are a few things you need to know.

If you cancel, you’ll never know how it went. Which can suck. But law schools won’t know, either. Which can be good. It’ll be a secret that LSAC will take to the grave. Law schools will see, however, that you took and cancelled the test. If you decide to bail out on your October LSAT score, LSAC needs to receive the score cancellation form within six days of the test by way facsimile machine or the good old-fashioned post. So do it by Wednesday at the absolute latest. This leaves you some wiggle room if something were to go awry. Faxing in your cancellation form is the safest bet. Keep the fax verification form just in case they lose it or something. While you’re at it, call LSAC to make sure that they actually received it. You can’t be too careful with something like this.

But all of this brings up the most important question: should you cancel?

That’s a tricky question. If you cancelled you could still take the test in December. You wouldn’t be applying early anymore, but you wouldn’t necessarily be applying super late. If you feel certain that your score on the October LSAT will turn out to be unacceptable, then cancelling and retaking would be a good way to go. A major increase in your LSAT score would outweigh losing the edge that you get by applying early.

But did you get an unacceptable score? It’s hard to be sure. People often pull out based on a general feeling of impending doom, but that’s actually a fairly normal feeling. Honestly, if everyone who didn’t feel entirely confident in their LSAT performance cancelled their score, no one would ever get a law degree again. Cancellations should be based on concrete evidence. Did you only hammer out two reading comp passages when you normally do all four? Did you run to use the toilet during games, pissing away valuable time? Did you actually fall asleep? All of those would fall under the category of cancellable offense. But without such considerations, be careful. Check out Matt’s video about cancelling LSAT scores and then give it some real thought.

If you do cancel your score and shoot for December, you’re still going to have a cancellation on your file. Just one of these, though, isn’t much of a problem. More than one and it starts looking fishy, so if you do cancel your October test and shoot for December, make it count. Because more than one cancellation, and admission officers are going to be a bit wary of you.

Hopefully this is all moot for you, and you’ve already stopped reading. But if it is, and you do end up cancelling, it’s not the end of the world. This is just delaying, rather than stopping, your law school admissions.

Oct 3, 2011 - 6:53 pm - By Colin Elzie
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14 Responses to Cancelling Your October LSAT Score: Smart or Dumb?

  1. ljmoney1001 says:

    Well, I’m shooting for at least a 161. I consitently scored 165 on practice tests but the games on this last test were pretty challenging. My question is whether or not the scale will stay the same as it has over the last 4 tests. Over the last four tests the 160 cut off has not went over 75 points correct. This would mean that you could miss 28 questions out of 101 and still get a 160 if the cut off was 73 correct. I believe last December’s cut off was 72 points and last June was 73.

    -28 would allow me to bomb two games with a worst case senario – 13 in games, -5 in reading comp and -5 in each LR section. That would be a conservative estimate of my performance I would feel confident not cancelling my score.

    Does anyone have an opinion on the likely hood of the scale staying pretty consistent? What are the trends like? This probably one of the most important consideration.

  2. Colin says:

    Yeah, the scale is a very important aspect. If the test is really easy, then you can miss far fewer question to get any given score. As for what the scale was on Saturday, it’s hard to say. It’s important to note that no one will know for sure until the scores themselves are released. But usually you can at least get an idea of what the scale will be based on how large numbers of people felt on the test. Based on what I’ve been hearing from people, it seems like it was a pretty standard scale. People seemed to think it was neither terrible hard nor terribly difficult. So there’s a decent chance that the scale won’t change much. But you never know, so you do need to weigh such considerations against the possibility that the test was easier than people thought, and will thus have a less forgiving curve.

  3. seamus says:

    Canceling scores is a fraught issue for any test taker, and the takeaway seems to be that there is no cut and dried answer. For the moment, I’m leaning towards canceling. For me, the issue is a possibile bubbling error (when I got to the 5th section I noticed that the first answer was bubbled in already), which could ruin my score. On the other hand, I felt pretty solid about my performance on the test. Which really makes it that much harder. I could be canceling my dream score. Or, I could be avoiding complete catastrophe (like a whole section is bubbled in incorrectly). And, if I cancel the score I’ll never know. Oh well.

    • Colin says:

      You should call LSAC and ask them if they have any protocol about what to do in your situation. I’ve heard of them allowing correction to bubbling errors, like if all the answers are right but if they’re just offset by one. I did only hear about this, though, and haven’t had confirmation of it happening for sure, so you should check with LSAC and see if they can give you any hard answers. Good luck!

      • seamus says:

        Thanks! I called LSAC and got a pretty noncommittal answer from one of their representatives. They told me I can write in with a request and pay to have it hand graded. I’ve heard from others (not confirmed) that if you can be specific about where the bubbling error occurred, they’ll correct for it. Anyways, I’m keeping the score. I’m not in a rush to apply to law school, so I’m willing to deal with LSAC’s red tape…

  4. Stephanie says:

    I wrote the June LSAT without much studying and didn’t score what I wanted, on practice tests for the October one I was scoring consistently in the 165-167 range, however I am really worried about how the October LSAT went. I wasn’t able to finish all of the games, so I had to guess for most of the questions on the last game, which is is very unusual for me since I typically finish that section without any wrong answers, LG was my first section and I think that the stress of not finishing it carried on to the next section which was LR, neither of those were experimental. I can’t decide if it would be worth canceling or if I should just risk it and keep my score, I’m worried though that it could somehow be worse than my first score… When applying to law school, would it look bad to have written the LSAT 3 times with one cancellation?

    • lskdjf says:

      im exactly in your same situation. Scored a 158 in june, was scoring 164′s consistently on practice tests but feel like i completely bombed the october lsat. Now im too worried december might be too late to take it and apply, because at least the top schools i’m looking at, it would’ve really helped me to apply early in the cycle. but i know i can improve my score, so i’m leaning on canceling and giving it one last try in December.

      • Colin says:

        Getting a considerably higher score in December generally trumps being able to apply a bit early, so if you feel that you could definitely get a higher score this winter, then that’s definitely something to consider.

    • Colin says:

      Having three administrations isn’t the best, but if that last score was a lot higher, then that would be the biggest factor for most schools.

  5. So says:

    I’m really curious to know if there is any difference between these two:

    160 + 158 + 167

    OR

    160 + cancel + 167

    thoughts…?

    • Stephanie says:

      I’m in the same situation, I don’t know which would be better:
      157, 160 (hoping, could be even worse though…), 167
      OR 157, cancel, 167
      I’m kind of leaning towards canceling and re-writing in December, I just can’t decide.

    • Colin says:

      The latter is generally viewed as more desirable, but individual schools can have their own idiosyncrasies.

  6. ljmoney1001 says:

    Hey I feel the same way. From what I have heard everyone had a rough time with the games even people who usually finish early and get 100% on practice tests. I had LG first and it sucked but the rest of the test wasn’t to bad. LR went pretty smooth. I think RC went smoothly too but with RC you never know. I usually never miss more than 5 on RC but some of the questions were a little tricky. I hope that the cut off for a 160 is a -27/28. That seems to bet the trend on the last few LSATs. I was scoring in the 164-167 range on Ptests so I’m praying the game section didn’t drop me into the 150′s. That would be demoralizing.

  7. letsgodecember says:

    After struggling over whether to cancel or not I was able to talk about it with the dean of law school admissions of the school where I’m currently an undergrad. I’ve been really worried because I had LR LG LR LR RC and depending on which LR was my experimental, either makes or breaks my score (the first was HORRIBLE, the second was fine, and the third was great).

    She gave me this advice on canceling: if on an application she sees a bad LSAT score followed by an improved LSAT score, this is NOT a problem. She just expects an honest explanation of what went wrong the first time.

    She continued to advise that if I feel like my seeing a negative October score will really motivate me to do better on the December test then don’t cancel. If seeing a bad score will freak me out for the December test, make me lose confidence, or cause more anxiety than never seeing my score, CANCEL.

    I hope this helps other confused people!

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