When a test is hand-scored, a person, instead of a machine, reviews your answer sheet. Since requesting hand scoring will cost you both time and money, which it’s safe to assume you’ve already spent on valuable LSAT resources, you’ll want to have a strong case for why it’s needed in your specific circumstances.
Consider having your LSAT hand scored if:
- You didn’t sufficiently erase incorrect responses. If you tried erasing a bubble for an answer, but you couldn’t get the mark to go away, the machine might pick it up. If the machine marked that bubble as your response, hand scoring can earn you back a point or two. This is also a reminder to bring a good eraser!
- You didn’t sufficiently mark correct responses. If you just ran out of time and had to bubble as fast as possible, you might not have filled in bubbles completely. First and foremost, this is a reminder of why it’s best to bubble as you go rather than waiting until the end. If you’ve followed a study schedule, it’s wise to have already practiced this and other crucial steps when learning how to study for the LSAT. But more on topic, this might be a valid reason to request hand scoring. Typically, a hand scorer won’t count answers that aren’t marked completely, but if you’re in the gray area between what a person and a machine interpret as clear marks, you may win a few extra points.
- You made unintentional marks on your answer sheet. This one’s for all you lefties out there. If smudges on your answer sheet were picked up by the scoring machine, you may have a strong case for hand scoring. Another common way this could occur is if you bubble sloppily and some marks stray into the neighboring bubble. Hand scoring will ensure that only your penciled responses are reflected in your score.
- You skipped a row on your answer sheet. It’s the worst-case scenario of all LSAT scenarios – you missed a row on your answer sheet and ended up recording your answers off by a row for every single question that followed. LSAC won’t always be forgiving of such an error, but there have been instances where an accurate description in the hand scoring request, matched with appropriate evidence on the answer sheet, worked in a student’s favor. If you skip a row and mis-bubble your sheet, there are no guarantees that LSAC will be understanding. But it’s worth a try.
How will I know if I should have my LSAT hand-scored?
Some people will walk out of their test centers and already have a sense that one of the above happened to them. After all, it can be an eye-opening experience to be almost done with the test and realize that your numbering is off on your answer sheet. If that’s you, take a look at LSAC’s page on handscoring and make the call. After all, you didn’t endure the entire length of the LSAT, just to receive an inaccurate score.
Other people only realize there might be a case for hand-scoring after they receive their machine-calculated score. For example, you might believe there’s a major discrepancy between your perception of your performance (based on practice test results) and your actual performance. If this is you, you’ll have to make a judgment call, keeping in mind that it’s possible for hand-scoring to result in a lower reported score.
The best thing you can do if you find yourself in one of these situations is to request hand-scoring as soon as possible. State your case clearly to LSAC and do so sooner, rather than later. (Hand-scoring requests received later than 60 days after the test will not be accepted.) Even if you do end up with the same score, you’ll at least be certain that it’s the correct one.
About the author - Catherine supports Magoosh’s future grad school students by unlocking tricks of the test prep and application trade. She specializes in the LSAT, but also brings her experience in test prep and higher ed admissions to Magoosh students. Catherine spends her free time checking out local farmer’s markets, reading food and lifestyle blogs, and watching Bravo. She is forever in search of the best Mexican and Italian food in any given city.
This blog post originally appeared on the Magoosh LSAT blog.