LSAC recently implemented a change of policy regarding their still relatively new "Score Preview" feature, which allows you to cancel your LSAT score within 6 days of receiving it (for a $45-$75 fee). While Score Preview has been around for first-time LSAT takers since 2020, if non-first-time takers wanted to cancel their score, they had to do so within 6 days of taking the test (i.e. before seeing what the score was). Prior to 2020, that was the case for all LSAT takers.
So the idea that you can now see your LSAT score before deciding to cancel it is a relatively new one, and it makes the idea of canceling more appealing to applicants, since you no longer have to take the gamble that you might be throwing away a strong score. So if you scored well below the score range that you were hoping or expecting to, should you cancel?
This question is so specific to each individual's situation that we can't offer any universal rules—it would be akin to giving universal medical advice based on blood test results with zero individual-level context about your health or medical history. So we can't say "cancel if you got below a 155" or "if you were 5 points below your PT average you should cancel," etc. What we can do is provide you the context and insights we have gained from 250+ collective years working in law school admissions offices across our firm, plus we can provide a thought exercise that we have found gets to the heart of the question of whether or not to cancel.
First we should state that, in general, we do not recommend canceling your LSAT score. Canceling has very few benefits—the test still counts toward your allotted 3 takes per cycle (and 5 takes per 5-year period, and 7 takes total), and it doesn't remove the test administration from your record. Law schools will see that you took the test on that date, they will see that you canceled, and now with this new Score Preview program, they will likely assume that a cancelation means you did not score well. This isn't to say that the cancelation will be held against you, but it won't serve to hide the fact that you took the test and didn't do as well as you'd hoped.
Most applicants who consider canceling their LSAT score do so because they think that having the lower score on their record will hurt them, even once they have a higher score. This is, for the most part, not the case. Law schools have every incentive to consider your highest LSAT score and virtually no incentives to consider any other scores. First, it's only your highest score that gets factored into law schools' medians (and thus also the rankings), so putting strong consideration on scores other than the highest one (or looking at an average score) would automatically put any law school at a strategic disadvantage relative to its peers. Furthermore, if you scored a 170, that means you have the aptitude to score a 170, and an earlier 165 doesn't negate that.
Here's a thought exercise that might help you clarify whether you should cancel your score or not. What would you do if you were told you couldn't retake the LSAT at all for the rest of this cycle? That is, you would have to wait until next cycle to retake the LSAT and apply to law schools. Would you then accept and still apply with your LSAT score you just received, or would you wait until the following cycle to retake and apply that year?
This question really boils down to whether your current, yet-uncanceled LSAT score could possibly have the potential for you to achieve outcomes you could live with. If absolutely every law school that you would consider attending is numerically out of reach with your current score, then perhaps it does make sense for you to cancel. But you should take some time to truly consider this question—because while it probably won't be the case that you won't be able to retake until next year, it is possible that you'll retake and end up with the same score or a lower one. If that were to happen, would you still apply and just adjust your goals? Or would you truly only settle for a score higher than the one you currently have, even if that meant delaying law school?
If you're at all torn on this question, you probably should not cancel. There are some cases when it may be a minor benefit to your application to cancel your LSAT score, but even if you fall within one of those cases, it almost certainly won't be a big deal either way. If you're still leaning toward canceling your score, take some time to think seriously about your decision. You have six days to make the final call, and you shouldn't let the emotions of score release rush you into a hasty decision. Talk to friends, family, and mentors. Reflect on your score, how you studied, your likelihood of significantly improving next time, and—as we emphasized above—your possible outcomes with the score you have now.
One outlier type of situation that we should note:
If you already have a strong GRE score but no previous LSAT scores, and your new LSAT score correlates to a lower percentile than your GRE, that would be a situation where you may want to strongly consider canceling. If you have a reportable LSAT score, that is the test score that factors into law schools' medians (so it will be considered far more significantly than your GRE, which at that point becomes a feather on the scale at best), but if you do not have a reportable LSAT (i.e. you only have a cancelation), your GRE is the score that will factor into law schools' rankings. Again, the law schools will still see that you took the LSAT and canceled, and if you have a previous strong GRE score they will probably surmise that your LSAT didn't go as well. So this tactic isn't a tricky or surreptitious one—law schools will probably guess exactly what you're doing—but it still may make strategic sense for you if your GRE would numerically qualify you for admission to your target schools and your LSAT would not.