Should you cancel your score?

If you walked out of the test thinking it went really badly, you may be considering cancelling your score and retaking the LSAT.  There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this big question, but here’s a quick look at some of the relevant considerations:

* Will it set you back a year in your application(s)?  Check the deadlines of the schools you’re planning to apply to.  If you can retake the LSAT and still get your score back in time to be considered by the schools you’re looking at, one of the major downsides to taking a later test is eliminated. 

* If it will set you back a year, how important is that year?  How big a hurry are you in to go to law school this year? Are there job or school opportunities for you to take advantage of if you wait a year?

* Be honest – How likely is it that your score will improve?  Are you just having post-text anxiety/remorse, or is there a real reason to expect a better score?  One of my students recently took the LSAT.  As she was checking her work on the first section, which was logic games, she noticed that she had misinterpreted one of the initial conditions, which had almost certainly caused her to mess up several questions.  Worse yet, she didn’t have time to re-solve the problems with the correct conditions.  Worse YET, because it was the first section, she was stressed about it for the rest of the exam, which resulted in her being distracted, not getting through the other sections, and missing problems.  She cancelled her score, and I think it was a good call – I’m sure her re-take will result in a markedly higher score.  But if you’re just generally beating yourself up because you’re a perfectionist, or because you’re remembering 2 or 3 questions you should have answered differently, it’s probably not worth it. 

* Do you have one or two schools that you’re just dying to get into?  If you have a huge preference for a school that’s going to be tough for you to get into, you might need every last LSAT point you can get.  If you have a number of schools you’ll be applying to, and you know they’re within your range, and you don’t really care which one you get into, it might be better to just send out your applications.  Or if you have a job lined up with your cousin Vinnie; you just need a diploma and a bar card.

Ultimately, the considerations are fairly straightforward – How likely is it that you’ll do better; how important is it that you’ll do better; will the re-take set you back a year; and if so, how critical is that year.  Bear in mind that most people who take the LSAT multiple times don’t experience dramatic increases in score.  So unless there was a specific reason you think you did poorly, you’re probably not looking at a huge difference in score.  On the other hand, if you’re a borderline candidate at School X, even a small difference can be important.  Ultimately, it’s an individual system, and your situation may dictate a different answer than someone else’s.

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