Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

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kopper
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby kopper » Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:28 am

thanks. best post i've read so far on tls.

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RVP11
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby RVP11 » Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:39 pm

SoxyPirate wrote:
JSUVA2012 wrote:I'm not sure how any professor can claim there's no arbitrariness or luck at all in exam grading when their grading is restricted by an enforced curve.


I think you'd be right if, in fact, the exams were so similar that the difference between an A- and a B+ was negligible. This professor left A'nold under the impression that there is a "substantial gap" between the two.


I don't think you're getting my point.

Tave
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby Tave » Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:47 pm

carrowd3 wrote:Are those hourglass eyes yet?


He's introduced in Autumn Twilight w/ hourglass eyes and reveals that it happened to him during his Test.

biber
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby biber » Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:52 pm

A'nold wrote:A few more thoughts:

I once asked a property law professor at at t2 school if this myth about subjective luck was true. He pretty much laughed and told me that anyone that says that does not truly understand how law exams work. The breakdown was like this: A's were deserved and were just that much above an A-. He said that there is a substantial gap between an A- and a B+ and that there was a huge, gaping abyss between a B+ and a B-. He said the same thing about a B- to a C.

That professor broke it down something like this: A is about perfect. A- missed a few small points but was generally on topic, organized, and hit on a few bonus kinds of ideas. A B+ missed out on some really obvious scoring opportunities but was an overall good exam. A B really missed some key parts but hit the main points of each fact pattern. B- was obviously struggling but made some decent points and found some facts. C's pretty much missed the point of the fact patterns and were poorly written.



This is true for the most part. However, depending on the course and the exam, the cut off for a single grade (the lowest A and the highest A-) is OFTEN very arbitrary. Professors like to find a nice break between grades but it doesn't always happen. I agree with the professor ou quoted on writing--I think writing well and with few grammar/spelling mistakes is key. I don't care what they say (many will say they do not grade on this, others will admit it influences their grading if only because your thoughts are more clearly expressed).

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SoxyPirate
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby SoxyPirate » Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:32 pm

JSUVA2012 wrote:
SoxyPirate wrote:
JSUVA2012 wrote:I'm not sure how any professor can claim there's no arbitrariness or luck at all in exam grading when their grading is restricted by an enforced curve.


I think you'd be right if, in fact, the exams were so similar that the difference between an A- and a B+ was negligible. This professor left A'nold under the impression that there is a "substantial gap" between the two.


I don't think you're getting my point.


Then please clarify, lest I misrepresent it.

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RVP11
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby RVP11 » Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:13 pm

SoxyPirate wrote:
JSUVA2012 wrote:
SoxyPirate wrote:
JSUVA2012 wrote:I'm not sure how any professor can claim there's no arbitrariness or luck at all in exam grading when their grading is restricted by an enforced curve.


I think you'd be right if, in fact, the exams were so similar that the difference between an A- and a B+ was negligible. This professor left A'nold under the impression that there is a "substantial gap" between the two.


I don't think you're getting my point.


Then please clarify, lest I misrepresent it.


Pretty much what Biber said.

To say there's a uniform gulf between an A- and B+ exam can only make sense if there's no enforced curve. If a professor's school says he must give between 5% and 7% As, between 10% and 12% A-s, and between 15% and 18% B+s, you can't expect student exams' quality to fall neatly into those percentages. What if the prof has 100 students and 8 of them write "A" quality exams? Tough shit, one of them has to get an A-, and now the idea that there is always a "gulf" between grades and that there is no luck involved looks downright silly. There may be large gulfs between the AVERAGE A- exam and the AVERAGE B+ exam, but at the edges things probably get pretty dicey and arbitrary.

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SoxyPirate
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby SoxyPirate » Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:24 pm

I don't think there is always a gulf, nor do I think that that the grading is completely free of luck or arbitrariness (nor simply a matter of luck, for that matter)

However, I don't think that the gulf can only be possible without a uniform curve. Certainly, as you've shown, an example in the abstract can be constructed to show that.

I agree with your last statement though, that the diciness and arbitrariness gets pretty thick right at the margins.

edit: let me change "arbitrary" to "subjective" above. I don't think the professor will ever flip a coin to see which of the 8 A papers gets bumped down to an A- if he can only give out 7 A's. This would be truly arbitrary. What he does, IMO, is subjectively rank the papers. It is in this subjectivity that we can only hope that luck is on our side.

edit 2: not that "arbitrary" doesn't work, I just like "subjective" better.;)

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A'nold
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby A'nold » Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:47 pm

SoxyPirate wrote:
JSUVA2012 wrote:
SoxyPirate wrote:
JSUVA2012 wrote:
I think you'd be right if, in fact, the exams were so similar that the difference between an A- and a B+ was negligible. This professor left A'nold under the impression that there is a "substantial gap" between the two.


I don't think you're getting my point.


Then please clarify, lest I misrepresent it.


Pretty much what Biber said.

To say there's a uniform gulf between an A- and B+ exam can only make sense if there's no enforced curve. If a professor's school says he must give between 5% and 7% As, between 10% and 12% A-s, and between 15% and 18% B+s, you can't expect student exams' quality to fall neatly into those percentages. What if the prof has 100 students and 8 of them write "A" quality exams? Tough shit, one of them has to get an A-, and now the idea that there is always a "gulf" between grades and that there is no luck involved looks downright silly. There may be large gulfs between the AVERAGE A- exam and the AVERAGE B+ exam, but at the edges things probably get pretty dicey and arbitrary.


Yeah but this just seems like splitting hairs. This professor said that there is a REASON, albeit even the slightest, that someone gets that assigned A compared to an A- and it is not just throwing the papers down the stairs like in that funny example. I find it hard to believe that there could be 8 equally good papers. In fact, I'm sure you could # 100 tests from 1-100 based on best to worst. Remember, it is still a competition. All this is irrelevant though because in over 20 year's experience he told me it is very, VERY rare to ever not have obvious canyons. I think that nerves, time constraints, lack of proper studying, misreading of questions, etc. would always ensure these kinds of canyons. But eh, agree to disagree. :)

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A'nold
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby A'nold » Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:50 pm

SoxyPirate wrote:I don't think there is always a gulf, nor do I think that that the grading is completely free of luck or arbitrariness (nor simply a matter of luck, for that matter)

However, I don't think that the gulf can only be possible without a uniform curve. Certainly, as you've shown, an example in the abstract can be constructed to show that.

I agree with your last statement though, that the diciness and arbitrariness gets pretty thick right at the margins.

edit: let me change "arbitrary" to "subjective" above. I don't think the professor will ever flip a coin to see which of the 8 A papers gets bumped down to an A- if he can only give out 7 A's. This would be truly arbitrary. What he does, IMO, is subjectively rank the papers. It is in this subjectivity that we can only hope that luck is on our side.

edit 2: not that "arbitrary" doesn't work, I just like "subjective" better.;)



Oh, and you just reminded me of another point: Most schools do not enforce a curve SO strictly that an obvious "A" would be left out and even if it was because it was so strictly enforced, a series of A-'s still probably puts you in the top 2%, sooooo.........people can earn their rank like arrow did IMO.

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SoxyPirate
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby SoxyPirate » Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:55 pm

A'nold wrote:
Oh, and you just reminded me of another point: Most schools do not enforce a curve SO strictly that an obvious "A" would be left out and even if it was because it was so strictly enforced, a series of A-'s still probably puts you in the top 2%, sooooo.........people can earn their rank like arrow did IMO.


I've often wondered about this.

Anyone else care to confirm?

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A'nold
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby A'nold » Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:05 pm

SoxyPirate wrote:
A'nold wrote:
Oh, and you just reminded me of another point: Most schools do not enforce a curve SO strictly that an obvious "A" would be left out and even if it was because it was so strictly enforced, a series of A-'s still probably puts you in the top 2%, sooooo.........people can earn their rank like arrow did IMO.


I've often wondered about this.

Anyone else care to confirm?


Just to counter my future nay sayers, I'm not saying that if a professor has an alotted amount of A's to give, let's say 5, that he will give 12 A's if they deserve it. What I am saying is that it is HIGHLY improbable that 12 people would truly be tied and that it is more likely that, say 6 people deserved an A. In that case, they would probably give out 6 A's. If you look at grade distributions from previous years for different professors (at least at my future school) you will see that it is not always a perfect 5, 7, 12, etc.

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chadwick218
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby chadwick218 » Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:07 pm

Great post Arrow! I just received GTM and Delaney's in the mail today and expect to receive the rest by the end of the week. Congrats on a great first year and I'll be pulling for you as the transfer cylce progresses along.

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Zeph
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby Zeph » Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:08 pm

kudos arrow on the great read

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Joe Biden
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby Joe Biden » Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:13 pm

JSUVA2012 wrote:I'm not sure how any professor can claim there's no arbitrariness or luck at all in exam grading when their grading is restricted by an enforced curve.


I have never met anyone who said luck isn't a factor on law school exams.

Note: I haven't read this whole thread. :|

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Joe Biden
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby Joe Biden » Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:13 pm

Nice post OP, congratulations.

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A'nold
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby A'nold » Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:16 pm

Joe Biden wrote:Nice post OP, congratulations.



The dispute is what we define as "luck".

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ChattelCat
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby ChattelCat » Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:38 pm

A'nold wrote:
Joe Biden wrote:Nice post OP, congratulations.



The dispute is what we define as "luck".


I don't think "luck" has much to do with it at all (with the exception of one of my exams which was mostly multiple choice and completely ridiculous - even the prof admitted to taking the MC part of the exam every year and never getting 100% correct)

Organization is key and writing well is a close second. The issue spotters where the prof literally has a checklist will just be a pure number game - most points, highest grade etc. Exams that are graded holistically will be much more subjective and that's where organization and good writing will make the difference between an A- and an A.

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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby tome » Wed Jul 08, 2009 7:05 pm

Nice. Great to hear your perspective. (subtle tag :))

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SoxyPirate
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby SoxyPirate » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:23 pm

A'nold wrote:
SoxyPirate wrote:
A'nold wrote:
Oh, and you just reminded me of another point: Most schools do not enforce a curve SO strictly that an obvious "A" would be left out and even if it was because it was so strictly enforced, a series of A-'s still probably puts you in the top 2%, sooooo.........people can earn their rank like arrow did IMO.


I've often wondered about this.

Anyone else care to confirm?


Just to counter my future nay sayers, I'm not saying that if a professor has an alotted amount of A's to give, let's say 5, that he will give 12 A's if they deserve it. What I am saying is that it is HIGHLY improbable that 12 people would truly be tied and that it is more likely that, say 6 people deserved an A. In that case, they would probably give out 6 A's. If you look at grade distributions from previous years for different professors (at least at my future school) you will see that it is not always a perfect 5, 7, 12, etc.


What I've heard is that the curve is not so rigid as to say " X A's, Y A-'s, Z B+'s, etc."

Rather, the curve provides for a median grade of 3.0, or B. Under such schema, a professor has the latitude to allow 8 deserving A exams full credit, so long as he balances the overall distribution such that the median grade is a B.

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RVP11
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby RVP11 » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:29 pm

SoxyPirate wrote:What I've heard is that the curve is not so rigid as to say " X A's, Y A-'s, Z B+'s, etc."

Rather, the curve provides for a median grade of 3.0, or B. Under such schema, a professor has the latitude to allow 8 deserving A exams full credit, so long as he balances the overall distribution such that the median grade is a B.


That's sometimes the case, but at some schools that are prescribed percentages. Let me look for the thread...

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SoxyPirate
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby SoxyPirate » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:31 pm

JSUVA2012 wrote:
SoxyPirate wrote:What I've heard is that the curve is not so rigid as to say " X A's, Y A-'s, Z B+'s, etc."

Rather, the curve provides for a median grade of 3.0, or B. Under such schema, a professor has the latitude to allow 8 deserving A exams full credit, so long as he balances the overall distribution such that the median grade is a B.


That's sometimes the case, but at some schools that are prescribed percentages. Let me look for the thread...


That'd be great if there was a thread with the curves of each school! I'll nominate you to start such a thread if you can't find it;)

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RVP11
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby RVP11 » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:45 pm

SoxyPirate wrote:
JSUVA2012 wrote:
SoxyPirate wrote:What I've heard is that the curve is not so rigid as to say " X A's, Y A-'s, Z B+'s, etc."

Rather, the curve provides for a median grade of 3.0, or B. Under such schema, a professor has the latitude to allow 8 deserving A exams full credit, so long as he balances the overall distribution such that the median grade is a B.


That's sometimes the case, but at some schools that are prescribed percentages. Let me look for the thread...


That'd be great if there was a thread with the curves of each school! I'll nominate you to start such a thread if you can't find it;)


Found it! It's probably more informative if you know all the users' schools.

http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=49417&hilit=what's+your+curve%3F

UVA's curve is about as generous as it gets. :)

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sf87
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby sf87 » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:55 pm

awesome read thanks arrow!

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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby XxSpyKEx » Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:51 pm

JSUVA2012 wrote:UVA's curve is about as generous as it gets. :)


How do you figure that? The post shows 30% As and no A+s. NU has mandatory A+s and up to 37% As.

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Arrow
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Re: Advice for doing well in law school (at a T2)

Postby Arrow » Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:05 pm

I do not think that subjectivity/arbitrariness is a big deal. Anytime a teacher or professor grades a paper this problem arises. It has been like this since your high school English teacher graded your final paper on Hamlet.

Here is how I think our school system gives out grades. First, the professors do not give out any letter grades. They assign point values anonymously to exams, and they give those points over to the registrar. The registrar then applies the forced curve.

I guess it is possible for professors to tweek numbers a little bit so more people get A's, but I doubt this occurs.

The registrar then averages the numbers and point values from the professor and calculates a standard deviation. Now, if you are 2 standard deviations above the mean, then you get an "A". For those of you who forget, 2 standard deviations from the mean puts you within the 5 to 95 percentile (al la 68-95-99.7 rule). Thus, only about 5% of the people will score over 2 standard deviations above the mean and get the "A". In addition, if you are 3 standard deviations above the mean, you will probably get an "A+".

Somewhere along the way, it also normalizes this into an 100 point scale if there are multiple choice questions or something.

Now, what this means is (excuse the pun), the curve + subjectivity may play a factor, both of which are out of your control. For example, using this curve, in one of my classes the 6 people got "A"s and in another, 2 people got "A"s.

Thus, if the exam is easier and the average is higher, then less people get A's. You can have the 3rd highest grade in the class out of 80 people, but it can be an "A-" instead of an A because you got screwed by the curve.

Now for another example. In one of my classes, the exam was tortuously hard. The average was very low. However, two people got "A+"s and another four got A's. In addition, this hard exam led to more people failing, thus allowing more A's to be given.

Then there is my legal writing class, which is another example of an "easy" grading/bad curve. No "A"s were given and only two "A-"s were given. The scores were just too squeezed together that no one made it 2 standard deviations above the mean. In addition, no one failed or did badly enough to push the "A-"s up to "A"s.

Finally, all the sections are compared together when the school does its ranking. Thus, if you have more teachers with easier exams that give out less "A/A+"s, then you can be in the top 2-4% even if you are number 1 in your section.

This is the luck that I am thinking of (all true for my section/year). It is simply just out of your control. Can you just imagine the frustration some people (*sigh* I admit, myself included) felt when they realized their section did not give any "A"s in one class while other sections did (and even gave out "A+"s)?

By the way, all this matters little in the grand scheme of things. Who cares how they rank? Just do the best you can. If you get screwed by the curve, it ultimately should not really mess with your rankings that much. At most, my GPA could have been number 1 (top 1%) or number 9 (top 3%).

Ungenerous T2 curves for the loss? :shock:

Lawyers love math, right? :D




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