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June 12, 2009

The Dinosaur Game and Whether to Cancel Your LSAT Score

LSAT Dinosaur Logic GameFirst of all, congratulations to everyone who took the LSAT on Monday - you made it!

For the most part, it sounds like most of you did well. However, some of you had difficulty with one Logic Game in particular - the "dinosaur game." After the exam, many of you emailed me to ask my advice about whether or not you should cancel.

This post is primarily for June 2009 test-takers, but it'll apply to anyone who takes the LSAT and is stressed about a particular question.

Anyone who didn't take the June 2009 LSAT probably thinks the dinosaur on the right looks cute and cuddly. I understand your skepticism.

However, you'll know why many June test-takers were intimidated by the dinosaur game when you finally look at PrepTest 57 (June 2009 LSAT).

LSAC has rules prohibiting the discussion of LSAT questions prior to their publication. As such, I won't post any specifics about it for the next few weeks.

Until then, here are some tips for June test-takers about the decision of whether or not to cancel their scores.

Reasons to cancel your LSAT score:
If the dinosaur game threw you off for the rest of the exam, I would cancel the score to avoid blemishes.

It looks better to have a cancellation and a high score than to have a low score and a high score.

Cancellations are ambiguous. Low scores aren't.

You don't need a low score on your record to motivate yourself. You can motivate yourself with the goal of getting into the law schools you want.

It's much better to cancel than to let a low score remain on your record.

Many students canceled or were absent simply because of the early postponement deadline. If you cancel, you'll be part of the "silver lining" group I described. Enjoy.


Reasons not to cancel your LSAT score:
Most test-takers didn't like the "dinosaur game." If that game was the only thing that gave you an unusual degree of difficulty, and everything else went as usual (or better), I wouldn't cancel the score.

Keep in mind that most LSAT-takers are in your shoes. It all comes down to how LSAC makes the curve. I wouldn't be surprised if the curve (LSAC prefers to call it a "test-equating process" since the LSAT is not technically curved) were more generous than usual in order to account for the fact that so many test-takers found the dinosaur game difficult.

***
You have 6 calendar days from the exam date to cancel.

For advice on retaking the LSAT, please see Should You Retake the LSAT? and How to Study for a Retake.

If you're concerned about running out of material, please see How Many (Free) LSAT PrepTests Are There? for some exams you may have missed.



26 comments:

  1. Is there a comprehensive list anywhere of law schools that average mulitple LSAT scores and those that just take your highest or most recent?

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  2. Not that I know of. If you find one, please let us know!

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  3. Steve,

    I have also heard that many people struggled with the dinosaur game. How would you suggest we prepare for the September LSAT, incase we happen to see a similar game?

    Thanks!

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  4. Hi Steve,
    Because the dreaded dinosaur game threw me for an utter loop I was really thrown in the following (LR) section and as a result of two (to me) disastrous sections....I cancelled my score! I am devastated.....I have been preparing since February, consistently scoring in the low 160s and never expected that to happen.
    My question is this: how do I go about preparing for the September LSAT? I am utterly burnt out at this point. Moreover, I think I have done every single question EVER!!! I don't even know where to start. Any thoughts?

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  5. I am sort of in the same position. Especially concerning the Logic Games section, I have done almost every problem and I am still missing 2-4 consistently. I know that isn't bad, but I want to shoot for perfect because my LR is probably my weakest section. Should I continue recycling games, I feel like I subconsciously know the answer. I can redo games superfast, but on the real thing i get to the last couple questions left with no time to spare. any help would be appreciated..

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  6. I usually got everything in LG and have extra 3-5 minutes. I don't think Dino game was especially difficult, but it was for sure time consuming and I rushed through the last game. I know some people said they bombed because of the Dino game, but I don't think that necessarily means generous curve. (although I hope so). I'm sure there are still a lot of people who just did fine. They just didn't say so because they don't need to.

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  7. Prepare yourself for tough games by doing as many Logic Games as possible.

    In addition to How to Study for a Retake, please also see How Many (Free) LSAT PrepTests Are There? for some PrepTests you might have missed.

    Next week, I'll post more tips on studying for a retake.

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  8. Mauve dinosaurs?! REALLY!?!?

    That game was horrible.

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  9. I love LG, and I think I'm still having nightmares about Mauve dinosaurs. I'm so relieved to hear that others had trouble with it as well.

    I don't feel like the exam went nearly as well as it should have. I've been so torn on the decision to cancel my score, but I've decided to see how it turned out. I know that the schools I'm applying to do not average scores, and although having a low score on my record is certainly not ideal, I feel like I need to gain a better understanding of exactly how I did. I just hope it's the right decision.

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  10. i am still having nightmares about the Dinosaur game, I just feel, as a result of less than expected performance on LG, that I should cancel as it will be unlkely that I reached my desired score. Thoughts ?

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  11. I guess then we know for sure that one wasn't experimental, huh?

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  12. i really wonder how the game stacks up in terms of difficulty because there is quite a buzz about it. personally i didn't find it "difficult" (we'll see when the scores come out) and i felt i understood what was being asked of me, instead i found it time consuming which could be equated to being difficult i guess considering the time constraints. i didn't get to finish the 4th game, which others have said was pretty simple, which i guess goes to show that if something does take a lot of time just skip it and come back.

    i think another thing to consider when discussing the curve is the difficulty of the other sections. some people felt that the LR section wasn't too bad (i haven't been too consistent with my LR scores at all so i'm bracing myself for a worst case scenario).

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  13. I, too, had trouble with the dinosaur game. Fortunately, I saved that game for last when I saw how difficult it was, and the section that immediately followed it was experimental LR. My score will come down to accuracy on the two non-experimental LRs and the critical reading. I found the reading to be very easy (although I could have answered all the questions incorrectly for all I know) and the LR to be fairly typical.

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  14. My problem was worse than the dinosaurs. I took the LSAT at LSU in Himes Hall. The proctors went in and out of huge double doors with the big metal bars, one proctors phone went off and he proceeded to talk loud out in the hall, other proctors were whispering to each other...all right over our shoulder. I complained, didn't get better. I spoke to the head proctor and he said he'd keep the door open but didn't do that till almost ending time. Abotu 35 of us were near this commotion and all the students were very upset as it was completely distracting. I felt the test was an easier test, but due to all the commotion feel I did horrible. I couldn't concentrate on ANY of the LG because that's when phones were going off and lots of talking and whispering by proctors...if you complain to LSAC they put a hold on your score until they investigate...and I was hoping to get in in August. I felt so sorry for all the people as this truly was disastrous....

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  15. My biggest worry revolves not around the Dinosaur game but the last game. The only reason why I didn't do the last one was precisely because it was long and chock full of variables. It didn't help that there was literally no room on the page to do it as a result.

    But it was six questions long - of all the games to skip. I'm going to keep my score either way, but gosh, that LG always gets me every time - the other sections seemed to go myw ay - but you'll never know until you get the score I guess.

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  16. That Dino one was terrible for me as well. The first game was so easy, but then I got to the dino game and it pretty much ruined the section for me. I got so flustered at not being able to do the dino game quick enough that I was freaked out by the lack of diagramming space for the last one. I had to cancel my score.I'm really bummed, I need to own the sept test!

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  17. I agree that the dinosaur game was the toughest portion of the test. I skipped it and gt some easy points on the last game, then went back and guessed on the Dino game. I finished every section before the 5 minute warning and am hoping that I am not feeling a false sense of security.

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  18. Thanks for the advice, Steve. For what its worth, I'll probably keep my score. I skipped over the dino game, finished grants, and came back and solved all but one question (which I guessed on).

    Overall, I think I could definitely do better with more prep in September, but I also think that its possible I may have hit or at least come close (though not extremely confident of this) to my target score. So I won't be cancelling, but will very possibly be retaking in September.

    Your advice has been instrumental in my LSAT prep, as I'm sure it will continue to be throughout the process. That picture is horrifying, btw.

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  19. Hey Steve,

    Do you know if LSAC sets the curve of scores including people who canceled or not including people who canceled?

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  20. I had 2 logic game sections, section 1 and 3. I cannot for the life of me remember which of these sections had the dinosaur game in it. Does anyone know whether the dino game was in section 1 or 3?

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  21. Steven: I skipped the dino game in that section. I focused on the other 3 games (which I thought were easier to set up). I am not looking for a 170+ score, I just want to get into law school. I took your advice on not reading all the questions, working on the ones I know. I felt good and calm after each section. I appreciate your help and blog!!
    Jackie O.

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  22. Would you happen to know of and recommend someone of your caliber in Boston? =)

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  23. Hi Mitesh,

    I don't know of anyone in Boston, but I'm available for distance tutoring via phone, email, and IM. It's much easier than you'd think. Please feel free to email me for more information.

    Take care!
    Steve

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  24. Hi Steve,

    I, too, am wondering whether the LSAC bases the curve on all tests taken (including cancelled scores) or all recorded scores for a particular sitting. Do you happen to know?

    Also, what is your estimation of the June 09 curve, gleaning from the peanut gallery's take on the difficulty level of the latest LSAT?

    Unfortunately I did not learn of your blog until after I took the test, but now that I know you are here I will be a big fan b/t now and September!

    Thanks for all you do for LSATers :)

    Katie

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  25. Did anyone else experience their proctor's phone going off or having hallway conversations? Just curious because the same EXACT thing happened in Atlanta. In fact, we didn't even take the test until almost an hour after we were seated. Or maybe it just felt that long. Regardless, I just wonder if its all part of the "test" (to put us under more pressure).

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  26. Apologies for the delay re: whether or not the curve includes canceled scores. I've been waiting to hear back from LSAC, and they just got back to me this afternoon.

    Lynda Reese, Associate Director of Psychometric Research, says:

    "LSAC policy allows test takers to cancel their scores up to six calendar days after the test. Since we begin carrying out analyses within a couple of days of the test, we are not able to excluded canceled scores from the data."


    The curve on the June exam was slightly generous:

    11 questions wrong = 170

    Take care!
    Steve

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