Santa Barbara, California-

You have spent long, lonely months in rigorous training for a single day, and a three hour test that may determine much of your future course in life: the day of the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT.

The LSAT is one of the major factors that decide entry into law school — whether you are able to get a seat a super elite law school, such as Stanford or University of Chicago, or will be going elsewhere, is often a matter of 5 points either way on this test.

Thousands of students are expecting their scores right now for the recently administered December LSAT. For many, it will determine whether this is a merry, relaxed, Christmas break or whether they are back to studying ferociously for the February retake. Students that took the test at University of California Santa Barbara already received some very bad news: LSAC, the makers of the test, lost a pile of completed score sheets in transit, and is forcing these students to either retake immediately or sit this year out and try again.

“It’s an extremely unfortunate accident that rarely ever happens, and we are offering the best options we can,” said Wendy Margolis, a representative from LSAC. “We are sorry for the students that took that test. We hate it. We waited as long as we could before making the decision,” she added.

The test makers generally take three full weeks to score the exam and announce student scores. Given the weight that students and school place on these scores, you would think that the completed test sheets would travel by armored car. Instead they go by UPS.

In the rest of the holiday commerce, it appears a bunch went missing. The testing center turned the answer sheets over to UPS and the package now cannot be accounted for.

Even if it is found, the test sheets will not be scored at this late date, the LSAC announced. Citing security reasons, the answer sheets are now considered null and void.

Use of the make-up date or a late retake will be free for the affected students, and this will not count to their normal limit of taking the test only three times in two years that potential law students face. Given the enormous effort that goes into the test, this is likely to be small consolation. Here is the email students received from LSAC:

From: <Lsac_alert@lsac.org>
Date: December 22, 2015 at 8:51:17 AM PST
Subject: Important Notice from LSAC regarding your December 2015 LSAT

RE: Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

Dear Test Taker:

I am writing regarding a situation relating to the December 5, 2015 Law School Admission Test administered at Test Center #13861, University of California at Santa Barbara.

As of this date, the answer sheets and test-related documents from that test center have not arrived at the Law School Admission Council. At this point, we have declared the answer sheets to be lost. To protect the integrity of the scores, we will not score these answer sheets even if they are found.

You will be receiving a full refund of your December LSAT registration fee (this does not apply to fee waivers). In addition, you have the option of taking a make-up test at no additional charge, to be administered on January 9, 2016.

If you choose not to take the make-up test, you may retake the LSAT at no additional charge on February 6, 2016. Please note that the February test administration is nondisclosed. You would have online access only to the LSAT score, score band, percentile rank, and writing sample. Submit your request by completing the attached form, then sign it and fax it to 215.968.1277 or scan and e-mail it to LSACinfo@LSAC.org for receipt at LSAC by Monday, January 11, 2016, 5:00 pm (ET).

If you wish to take the make-up test, report to the following address no later than 8:30 am on Saturday, January 9, 2016:

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT SANTA BARBARA
Buchannan Hall Room 1910
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93106

To be admitted to the make-up test, you must present this letter, proper identification (see LSAC.org), and an admission ticket containing the required passport-type photo.

If you take the make-up test and then decide to cancel your score, your score-cancellation request must be received at LSAC no later than Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 11:59 pm (ET).

If you take the make-up test, a letter will be included with all score reports sent to law schools to which you apply. The letter will explain that the score attributed to the December 2015 test administration was earned at a make-up test given on January 9, 2016. The letter will indicate that you were in no way responsible for the delay of your score report. We will make every effort to report the make-up test scores as soon as possible. Make-up test administrations are nondisclosed. You would have online access only to the LSAT score, score band, percentile rank, and writing sample.

If you do not take the make-up test, your file will reflect an LSAC cancellation for the December 2015 LSAT. An LSAC cancellation indicates that you took the December 2015 test but LSAC could not report a valid score for that administration because the answer sheets from that test center were lost in transit. A letter will be included with all reports sent to law schools to which you apply. The letter will indicate that you were in no way responsible for the cancellation of your score due to the loss of the answer sheets.

Only one make-up test is being offered so that we can process the answer sheets and provide scores as quickly as possible.

Loss of answer sheets in transit is an extremely rare occurrence. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this causes you.

Sincerely,

Daniel Bernstine
President, Law School Admission Council

LSAC customer service representatives are available by e-mail at LSACinfo@LSAC.org, or phone 215.968.1001, Monday through Friday, between 8:30 AM and 6:00 pm (ET).
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How would you react if this happened to you? Let us know in the comments!

Story by Evan Jones and Joshua Craven of lawschooli.com, a boutique LSAT prep company that makes online LSAT courses and aids in the law school admissions process.