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Should you keep or cancel your February LSAT score?

Should you keep or cancel your February LSAT score?
The February 2011 LSAT has come and gone.  Hopefully it went splendidly, and you’re spending your time taking Champagne baths as you await your astronomically high score.  If you fall into this category, then congratulations.  We’re happy for you.  But this post isn’t for you.  This is for those who felt the February LSAT didn’t go very well, and who are spending their time taking long regular showers, while crying.  This is for the people thinking about canceling their February 2011 LSAT score.

First, the facts.  If you cancel your LSAT score, you’ll never know how you did.  You maybe got 120, you maybe got a 180, but you’ll never know for sure.  The good thing is that law schools will also never know how you fared on the February LSAT, either.  LSAC will simply throw your unscored test into the Cancellation Furnace.  What law schools will see is the fact that you took the test, and cancelled it.  If you want to cancel your February LSAT score, LSAC has to receive your score cancellation form within six days of the test by way of mail or fax.

If you do end up canceling, don’t wait until the final day.  Do it by Wednesday at the latest.  That way, if something goes wrong, you have a bit of a buffer.  Also, faxing your cancellation form is probably the best way to go.  You can get instant verification that it was received for your records, and you don’t have to worry about anything getting lost in the mail.  It might be worthwhile to call in after you fax your cancellation form, just to make sure they processed it.

But should you cancel at all?  That depends.  If you’re applying to enroll in law school this coming fall, then probably no.  With few exceptions, the February 2011 LSAT is the last administration that schools will accept for entrance in Fall 2011.  So if you feel the test went terribly, you have two choices.  You could either apply with what very well may turn out to be a low score, or you can wait a year to apply.  If you have the option to put it off then you should seriously consider doing that, because a substantial increase in your LSAT score would lead to far more options in terms of where you can go and how much money you can get.

If you’re not planning on applying until the next cycle (for admission in 2012), then your options are far more open.  You can cancel your score now, retake the test in June, and still apply absurdly early.  If you were certain that you did terribly on the February LSAT, and knew you could study a lot more for the June test, then canceling would be the way to go.

But how poorly did you really do on the February 2011 LSAT?  A lot of people cancel based purely on a feeling of impending doom, but that’s actually a fairly normal feeling.  If everyone who felt jittery about their performance cancelled their test, then no one would ever go to law school.  If you’re canceling, it should be based on very real reasons.  Did you only do two games, when you normally get through all four?  Did you have to run out in the middle of reading comp to use the bathroom, wasting precious time?  Did you literally pass out?  These would all be real reasons to cancel.  But if you just feel unsure, then don’t jump into it so quick.  Check out Matt’s video and think long and hard about your decision.

If you do cancel and go for June, you’ll still have a cancellation on your record.  But one of these means very little.  If you knock June out of the park, then it’s pretty much a non-issue.  Where it becomes problematic is if you end up having multiple cancellations.  So if you cancel February and go for June, make sure you’re giving it your all, because you can’t (well, shouldn’t) make the same mistake multiple times, or admission officers are going to want a pretty compelling explanation.

Hopefully this isn’t an issue for most of you, but even if it is, a cancellation is more a speed bump than a roadblock on the highway to law school.  If you do cancel, just remember to do so in time.  June awaits!