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Another cancel or not to cancel dilemma... (applying to top tier law schools)

jennyleejhjennyleejh Alum Member
edited February 2017 in General 145 karma


I've been thinking about canceling my February test score (I took the international one on the 19th) for a couple of days now and can't seem to reach a decision by myself.

It was my first time taking the test and as feared, I ended up panicking as soon as I opened the first section (to the point of my hands shaking uncontrollably), which was usually my favorite section, the logic games. I usually finish with about 5 minutes to spare on average on my PT but on this test, due to wasting the first few minutes freaking out, I actually ended up guessing a few questions (which I've never done before). The next few sections I calmed down but the shaky start really did not help me focus on the harder RC passages, which I also ended up rushing on. In short, this test wasn't optimal for me.

On my fully 5 section timed PTs, I range from 170-174, which I know is quite a big gap. Judging from how awful LG felt for me, I predict that it will possibly be lower than 170, counting in some possibility of panic answers in the RC section too. Now I have such strong urge to cancel this score because I'm aiming for the top tier law schools, and especially with my top choice as Yale, I don't want a score below 170 to hurt my chances. I know Yale likes neither cancellation nor retakes, but I wanted to hear from you guys what looks better - a cancel and a higher score or.. a (potentially very) low score and a higher score?

I'm confident that in my next test I can reach my PT potential by doing more timed tests and working under pressure. A downside though would be that because I took the February (undisclosed) test, I'll never be able to a slight sense of what I got. So what would be best for me?! Thank you all for the help.


  • BinghamtonDaveBinghamtonDave Alum Member 🍌🍌
    edited February 2017 8699 karma

    This is difficult to call. I normally don't dispense advice on what to do after taking the exam or what to do with applications because I have yet to cross that bridge myself. So to preface my remarks, I should acknowledge that this is what I personally would do: it might not be the most strategic thing for you.

    You were scoring in an excellent range. Congrats on that. With that being said, as we get higher and higher on this exam, the margin of error gets smaller and smaller. If test day nervousness got the best of you, then that should be something you are trying to get out of your system the best you can moving forward. I would work towards this goal by rigorously timing yourself, or maybe even having a friend time you. Embedded within that advice is the consideration that you might have underperformed on this exam. With that being said, I personally would not cancel. What I would do would be to continue studying for a retake, under the presumption that I under performed: maybe you hit your range, maybe you over performed, either way, prepping in the intervening time will be valuable.

    It is my understanding that a retake does not ruin your chances at Yale, but with full disclosure, I am not 100% on this. If for instance you got a 168 on this exam and with a retake pulled a 176, I am not aware of any reason why that would be an impediment to admission at Yale. Not 100% on this, others will know better than me.

    A word on nervousness: So take this as a learning experience, as something you will adapt to the next test you sit for. What you want is for the real-deal exam to feel like just another practice test. For me, comfortability with the exam has come with the receding of a general sense of dread or panic brought on by everything from timing pressures to unclear rules on games, while taking practice tests. That panic or dread has been hammered out through practice, practice, practice. The panic that can often accompany a section that many us experience can indeed be mitigated if not entirely vanquished through our prep. I have started seeing new sections/new exams with a genuine sense of curiosity rather than a sense of nervousness or dread. Curiosity of "what are the test makers going to try to pull on this RC section?" type of curiosity. Be ready for anything: have something professionally and kindly crafted specifically lined up if the proctor calls time early, block out all surrounding noise. Prepare for the intangibles.

    I hope the above helps and I hope my experiences are a help to you.

  • jennyleejhjennyleejh Alum Member
    145 karma

    Thanks so much David for your thoughtful response. I decided to keep my score in hopes of a not-so-abysmal score... besides, as you said I'll take this as a learning experience and see what kind of improvements I need to make in the future. :)

  • nessa.k13.0nessa.k13.0 Inactive ⭐
    4141 karma

    Ooo @BinghamtonDave gave some great advice! Having a lower score on your record won't hurt your admissions chances because they care more about your higher score.

  • Colin1485Colin1485 Member
    edited February 2017 108 karma

    This was your first test attempt? Cancel the test if you are confident that you can achieve a better score next time - chalk the first test as a test run and retake it in June. In the meantime do timed pretests (simulating the actual test) on the run up to the test. Even try to do these pre tests at the same time your planning to take the test (I.e. Taking the test at noon in June, prep test it at noon on the build up!) - Do at least 20 - 30 prep tests, if not more, if possible on the build up!

    You were nervous possibly because you internally second guessed your preparation and thought about failure. Ditch the negative thoughts. In the words of billie jean king, "pressure is a privilege". Set up a vision board showing the score you want and look at it everyday. If there is a Yale Law Alum in your area or any other top law - go shadow them - NETWORK! Tell them you'll even move files in the storage room for free just for a chance to be there. Meditate everyday - especially the morning of the test, visualize winning. Wake up early, show up early to the test center; do a couple LR / LG qs in the parking lot before the test to warm up the mind and breathe like you got asthma before the test. Think of the test as just another stepping stone to eventually being the Matlock you want to be. You are a successful person, highly intelligent and can rock anything you put your mind towards! Best wishes!

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    Like others have stated above me: Some schools care Yale notably NYU as well and a couple others. However, aside from these few schools data on confirms that by and large Most schools only really give weight to your highest score. And even for the schools that claim to consider all, if you score higher there is also plenty of data on the web to show that a higher score can get you in just as easy. For example a girl was rejected from Y with a 3.8 171 in 2013 and retook got a 177 and was accepted. There's also plenty of examples of peeps on MYLSN from NYU who re-took and scored a few point higher and got admitted.

  • jennyleejhjennyleejh Alum Member
    edited February 2017 145 karma

    Thank you so much everyone for all the thoughtful feedback! It has really given me confidence and incentive to work super hard for my June test and as @Colin1485 advised - I'll visualize winning as much as possible!! :)

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