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How do law schools view (one, two, or more) LSAT cancellations?

  
  


With the February 2012 LSAT over, the waiting game for scores has begun. However, for some test-takers, the score may be the thing they want to see the least. If you're one of those students, and are considering cancelling your February 2012 LSAT score, you may also be worried about more than how you did you on the exam; you may be wondering how schools would view this cancellation, particularly if you already have one (or more) on record.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. If you miss the cancellation deadline, the score is going to show up on your report. No amount of begging and/or pleading will make LSAC cancel it if the deadline is past.
  2. The reason why you cancel a score does not appear anywhere on your LSAT Score Report. The score will simply show up as "CANCELLED," with no additional explanation given.
  3. A cancelled score does count toward the 3-LSATs-in-2-years limit. So use it wisely, particularly if you plan on taking the test again in the near future.
  4. If you cancel your score, you'll never get to see how you did, you won't get a copy of your answer sheet, and you will only get a copy of the questions if you took a standard disclosed LSAT administration (i.e., the regular June, September/October, and December tests).

So, what about those pesky multiple cancellations? How do they affect your law school application, if they affect it at all? And, is there anything you can do to ameliorate their effect, if any? Here's my take.

For those with no cancellations, who are considering cancelling now, please don't stress out. A single cancellation won't make anyone raise an eyebrow. There are so many things that could have gone wrong (you had massive test anxiety, the guy sitting next to started weeping in the middle of Section 2 and didn't stop--or leave--for the rest of the test, you found out during the break that a family emergency had occurred and you had to leave suddenly) that it is impossible for anyone to judge you for a single cancellation. Things happen. Admissions committees understand that. You don't even need to supply an explanation for the single cancellation with your application; it's common enough that, if the other score(s) on your report are well within the ranges the school is looking for, not a second thought will be spared for the single cancellation.

For those that already have one cancellation, and are considering cancelling again, your situation is a little different. At this point, the number of actual numerical scores (hopefully you only have one, which will limit the amount of speculation on the part of the AdComs) will probably be weighed with the two cancellations. If the score is within the ranges the school looks for, it won't look so bad. If it's above the range, so much the better. If it's below the range, you'll have to do some fast (and probably ineffective) talking in an addendum to explain why you have a low (or lower) LSAT score and multiple cancelled scores. The situation is not good. In this case, consider your reasons for cancellation very, very carefully, and understand that one more won't make you look good, no matter what the reason (because, at this point, reasons start looking like excuses). To see what you should consider when trying to figure out if cancelling your score makes sense, check out this blog post.

For those with two or more cancellations who are considering cancelling yet again, here's my advice: At this point, if you've thoroughly determined that your LSAT score just isn't where you want it, and you know that you may be able to do better, then cancelling again won't hurt you any more than your multiple cancellations already are. I hate to sound harsh, but here's my take on this: If I'm an AdCom looking at two (or more) cancellations, I'm already going to have some reservations about the student's ability to handle a pressured, timed test. I may already be wondering, "Wow, if s/he can't handle the LSAT,  how will s/he ever handle intense law school finals? Or the bar exam? Or delivering a summation in front of a judge or jury? How fit is this person, really, for law school?" At this point, one more cancellation won't really make or break you. You'll definitely have to explain exactly why you have all these cancellations on your record, though. You'll have to have convincing, legitimate reasons (and saying that you suffer from crippling test anxiety is, unfortunately, not a great reason, since it will simply confirm the worries the AdComs will already have). You'll also have to have a great, above-median LSAT score to prove that, once you do keep your LSAT score, you can rock it. Once you've passed into the land of the 2+ cancels, you've got a stigma that can be both difficult to overcome and must be explained (even if not explained away).

A cancellation isn't the end of the world. Neither are multiple ones (although you will have to deal with explaining what happened, which can be daunting and uncomfortable for some). If you do decide to cancel, just make sure you consider your decision carefully, and follow appropriate protocol.

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