Is LSAT Score Preview Worth It?

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Is LSAT Score Preview Worth It?

First off, let’s define terms: LSAT Score Preview is a fairly new service offered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) the people who make the LSAT. If you want to know your LSAT score before it gets reported to law schools then LSAC’s score preview option might be of interest to you.

A Brief History of Score Preview

It used to be that you could only cancel your potential test score before the score release date, and if you chose that option, you’d never be able to learn what your score was. If this seems dumb and aggravating to you, you’re not alone. There was never really any good reason for it. Why offer the ability to cancel a score, only without the important information you’d need to make that decision? Pointless cruelty is the most obvious explanation.

But there is a more cynical explanation: LSAC was hoping some test takers would cancel and pay for the opportunity to take the exam again without knowing they had achieved a score they would’ve been satisfied with the first time around. Gross? You bet, but LSAC is known across the land for putting the “profit” in “nonprofit.”

Also, when it was first rolled out, law school candidates could only use Score Preview to cancel their first score, but anyone retaking the exam couldn’t. Again, why? Well, the most charitable explanation seems to be that most people take the LSAT more than once, and so the first exam a candidate takes is more like a test run or dress rehearsal than the real thing, at least for most people.

Now, however, you can preview and (if you choose) cancel each and every LSAT score you get. Hurray! And LSAC gets more of your money without doing anything useful in return. Double hurray!

How much does LSAT Score Preview cost?

The purchase price starts at $45 but it jumps to $75 if you sign up late in the process. The early bird gets the worm! For some people applying to law school, $45 or even $75 is a drop in the bucket.

But, as you probably know, this is on top of the thousands of dollars most people spend on LSAT prep, applications fees, and purchasing score reports for those applications from LSAC. If this is cost prohibitive, LSAC has special pricing for those of you that have an approved LSAC fee waiver. There are different levels of LSAC fee waivers, so make sure to apply for the level that meets your circumstances.

So, should I cancel my LSAT score?

I happen to think there aren’t a huge number of scenarios where it really matters if you cancel your score. It really comes down to your personal situation. Let’s say you get a not-so-great score the first time you take it, but then you come back and do much better the second time. It’s perfectly okay to have that low score on your record and probably will not affect your chances much if at all. Law schools only need to report one score to the American Bar Association for the students they admit, so they’ll just focus on the higher score. Because of this, schools generally don’t average scores anymore. It’s objectively better for a school to accept someone with a 155 and a 165 than a student who only took it once and got a 163, even though the 163 is the higher average than the other student who averaged a 160 over two exams. In other words, the stakes here are *very* low, and canceling one score is likely to have little-to-no effect on your application prospects.

For this reason, the only time I think it actually matters to cancel a score is if you have taken the LSAT before and your score drops. If you take a second (or third or fourth) LSAT exam and do worse than your previous score this would result in a negative trajectory, which isn’t great. Aspiring law students don’t want their most recent score to be the low one. But, you also don’t want to miss out on a law school offer for the current school year because you cancelled a score for the last test the school will accept for that particular application period.

The option to cancel an LSAT score is not par for the course. Opting out from canceling a good score can be more valuable than canceling a bad score because it could save you from taking the exam again. 

Keep in mind is that LSAC limits you to how many LSAT exams you can take. Yes, LSAC limits the amount of times you can take the test annually and over the course of your lifetime: you can take the exam 3 times in one testing year running from July to July, 5 times in a 5-year period, and 7 times in all. Cancelling your score does not mean that you did not take the test. In other words, canceling a score with Score Preview will not cancel out the LSAT annual or lifetime test limitations.

How do I sign up for LSAT Score Preview?

The first step is to sign up for an LSAC account. Then, you can access Score Preview once you sign up for a specific LSAT exam date. But don’t wait if you’re interested because it only gets more expensive as you wait.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line comes down to you. Consider how many times you have taken the LSAT , and whether or not you have the extra cash lying around. Score Preview is not a consequence-free option but it will give you a birds eye view (and six days to make up your mind), even though it does not necessarily deliver a clear advantage. Look at it this way, you might end up being pleasantly surprised with your score if what you thought was a bad performance in the moment turns out to be a valuable part of an upward trajectory. In that case, there’s no harm no foul.

Your LSAT score is important, but it is not who you are or a limit on your dreams. Putting together a great application package is about selling yourself, and you do that in the soft parts of your application.

Give law schools as many reasons as you can to believe you’ll succeed, and doors will open that would’ve been shut otherwise. 

Branden Frankel, Esq.

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