Not observationalist, but I will answer anyway...It isn't random. If you work your ass off you can get that good grade. We have people who are consistently at the top of the class because they really try. However.. the majority of us don't care than much and so the quality of the test and your writing ability make a lot of difference for us. And I could see how those in the middle of the class think that the difference between a B+ and a B- is random, but that is because we are all really smart and there is an incredibly tight curve in the middle.
I got grades ranging from B- to A last semester, but I understand why. I tried in the classes I liked and didn't in the classes I didn't like. This semester I will probably get worse grades because I had a crappy semester in my personal life and so I can't get myself to study for finals. I probably study 4 hours a day for finals, so that is maybe 12-15 hours per test. I'll let you know how it works out, but the point is.. the grades are not random. You get what you work for and if you can write well you will get great grades.
That being said - There is only 1 A+ and maybe 5-10 As in any class of around 90 (i think this is is the distribution at most schools). So they are hard to get. The key to success is staying up on your reading and starting your outlines early enough to have time to study when finals come around. Knowing everything black letter down to the detail and being to spit it out quickly on the test so that you have time for theoretical and alternative arguments is a good way to go.
I am sure others will weigh in.
Thanks I definitely appreciate that info. I'm hearing too many students saying that the grades are random, and that you have not idea what grade you will be getting. It's nice to hear that that isn't really the case.
First rule of summoning me: Don't do so just to ask a question about exams while we are actually in the tortuous process of taking exams. That's just mean!
I'll second JoJo and say the same thing... the B/B+ crowd in a given class probably overlap, and in certain courses there may just be a small difference between an A exam and a B, but the students who consistently pull off As are probably better at being a law student than the ones who consistently end up falling short. As with JoJo, my favorite class 1L year was also my best class gradewise... that's also been true for this year (so far). However, my second-favorite class as a 1L was my lowest grade. It doesn't mean I won't be incorporating what I learned in that class in my legal career, but it does mean I didn't convey what I learned on that exam as well as 40 of the other 45 students in that class. And therein lies the reason so many people with superior undergraduate grades and test scores have such a difficult time coming to terms with how the curve works.
Best bet IMHO is just to focus on knowing what the professor wants you to know and be quick enough applying it on a timed exam that you don't run out of things to say. If you do that, you can walk away at least knowing you did what you could.
Aren't there at least a hundred threads on this topic? And aren't you a 1L somewhere else?
JoJo, g'luck on that last exam... almost done.
Thanks for the reply! In response to the bolded, yes there are a lot of threads on the topic, but most of them do not offer much useful info. You'd be surprised how many threads simply say "law school is hard, studying won't really affect your grade much, and professors grade randomly" That's not really helpful. Oh and I'm definitely not a 1L, at least not until fall 2010. Unfortunately I'm graduating from undergrad a little late as a result of a major change. Thanks again!