Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

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ToTransferOrNot

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:45 pm

Ty Webb wrote:One thing that always shines through in threads about luck/grades is that I've never heard a student say he got top 10%/15% grades because of "luck". Those students always seem to feel as if their work habits/techniques/ability produced those grades.

Almost across the board, it seems that the "law school grades are arbitrary" crowd is comprised of people looking to ascribe a digestible explanation to their failures.

2 cents.


I constantly say that a big part of law school grades rely on luck. In fact, it is the majority of it.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby MrKappus » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:53 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:
Ty Webb wrote:One thing that always shines through in threads about luck/grades is that I've never heard a student say he got top 10%/15% grades because of "luck". Those students always seem to feel as if their work habits/techniques/ability produced those grades.

Almost across the board, it seems that the "law school grades are arbitrary" crowd is comprised of people looking to ascribe a digestible explanation to their failures.

2 cents.


I constantly say that a big part of law school grades rely on luck. In fact, it is the majority of it.


"I mean, why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker EVERY SINGLE YEAR? What, are they the luckiest guys in Las Vegas?"

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby vanwinkle » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:59 pm

There is some element of luck, but not in the way that people think.

I got completely hosed on one exam, which had a policy question about a concept we didn't spend that much time on and which as a result I didn't pay enough attention to studying. I'm convinced the rather terrible answer I gave on that question is part of the reason I got a (relatively) terrible grade in that class. If the policy question had been about just about anything else, I probably could've gotten a much higher grade in the class, something on par with my typical grades.

That may have made the difference in the sense of, will I or won't I make a Top X% threshold? "Luck" on things like that, how often you're stuck with something you didn't focus on despite your preparation, can mean finishing below X instead of above X. But it's not luck in the sense that you can end up anywhere on the map; if you're that good, or that bad, you're probably going to end up somewhere around X, luck will just determine whether it's above or below. You're still going to have a "normal" range you fall in, and I did, getting the same grades over and over again for the most part; luck just determines how many outliers you have and which direction they go.

It's not all luck, no, far from it. Luck may decide winners or losers, but you've got to be playing the game well enough to even get to that point.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby edcrane » Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:04 am

Anonymous User wrote:
edcrane wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Yes, I would say I worked "smart" my 1st semester. I followed all the advice I read online, had read GTM, and prepped for each prof the way you're supposed to. I studied smart, and hard, and didn't do well 1st semester.


Following advice online =/= studying smart. I did precisely that (attempted to replicate the "success in LS" methodology) and found that it simply did not work for me. In any event, what do you think explains your subsequent success? Luck?

Well, shit, if your definition of studying smart is getting straight A's, then yeah, obviously anyone that doesn't do well isn't studying smart. Of course, that's ridiculous.

As OP asked it, and everyone understands it, following the TLS advice on how to get great grades is supposed to equal studying smart. Not wasting time prepping every case and not memorizing all the facts is the advice for smart studying. Of course, someone did both of those things and still got A's, but that doesn't change the advice.


No, that's not my definition. But I also think it's patently idiotic to blindly apply online process advice (e.g., do X and Y but never Z) and think you're "studying smart." A big part of studying smart is working with your abilities and habits and learning from your mistakes.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby Always Credited » Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:12 am

Anonymous User wrote:
dood wrote:brah, i aced fluid dynamics and am at median after 1L.


Same. A+ in that class, as well as differential equations, quantum mechanics, crystal field theory, etc at a good state school. Law school? Bottom third in law school. And I didn't study in college much at all.

Although, at least at my school, the hardcore engineering and science types generally don't do all that well.


Sounds to me like law school might have been the wrong calling in life?

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby xyzbca » Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:12 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Quite frankly, I think that natural ability and intellect determines whether you're going to be top half or bottom half before the game even starts, but beyond that, hard work is what moves the needle. I have no doubt that if I'd been less lazy, I'd be top-10% and not top-25%, but I made that choice and I'm happy to live with the consequences.


I agree with this post. You'll hear some students ask questions and you know that they are on top of their game. Other students will ask questions that leave you scratching your head. They could both do the same exact things in studying but the first student will outpe the other.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby xyzbca » Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:21 am

disco_barred wrote:
Right - but what about all the people who worked hard and didn't do as well as you?

I think the scary thing isn't how much work it will be or how hard it will be, it's how many people try and 'fail' (however you define that) anyway.


This is the most interesting part to me. Enerybody works hard first semester. Everybody works harder/smarter second semester either trying to pull up their class rank or to hold onto their position. It appears to me that 2L year a certain percentage of the class figures out that the hard work isn't going to pay off and just resign themselves to not giving a shit.

Edit: posting from an iPhone sucks.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby MrKappus » Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:24 am

Always Credited wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
dood wrote:brah, i aced fluid dynamics and am at median after 1L.


Same. A+ in that class, as well as differential equations, quantum mechanics, crystal field theory, etc at a good state school. Law school? Bottom third in law school. And I didn't study in college much at all.

Although, at least at my school, the hardcore engineering and science types generally don't do all that well.


Sounds to me like law school might have been the wrong calling in life?


Haha +1.

I took math courses in college (multivariable, topography, et al.), and I did OK in them...but if I'd gotten an A+ in any of them, I don't think I'd be in LS.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:50 am

I've heard anecdotally (and I am one also an anecdote for this) that engineering/science types often do poorly in 1L Fall but then rally hard in the Spring. The big transition for me at least was being used to a system where you had homework assignments and exams throughout the year -- I had 50% or more of my grade based on the final, but leading up to it there were many opportunities to get feedback on how I was doing and figure out if I was paying attention to and studying the right things. In law school, I was totally adrift, clinging to what I could but mostly just overwhelmed with feeling like I had to know everything AND put everything I had learned on the final, somewhere, to prove that I knew it. Yes, violating every rule in Getting to Maybe and all the TLS guides BUT you have to understand, these habits and study styles are hard to break.

For Spring, I adjusted. Got a ton more focused on what I really needed to show in an exam, really doing a crisp rule explanation/application on the issues, not getting caught up in all the details. I did a lot less work and did a lot better. My engineering/science background worked to my advantage in having given me the stamina to be able to persevere, and since like most students with that background I'd been rolled on exams and whole classes before, so I was able to push through when people were burning out around me (and softening up the curve in doing so). Like I said, based on what I've heard, this isn't an uncommon story.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby doyleoil » Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:17 am

reading law students' ramblings on grades is the mental equivalent of listening to glass scraped on a chalkboard

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby rynabrius » Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:32 am

Some people are smarter than others.
Some people have more law aptitude than others.
Many people don't know what "working hard" and/or "working smart" means.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby lawgirl333 » Sat Jul 24, 2010 10:01 am

It happens. Especially when you get a prof who tests on one obscure issue.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby manutd » Sun Jul 25, 2010 3:34 pm

I would also like to note that grading law school exams is a subjective activity, one performed by human beings, aka teachers, who suffer from biases even when trying to remain as objective as possible. To that end, I think that students who appear to be "serious dedicated students" may have an advantage. I refer to those who attend every class on time, participate often, visit teacher´s offices during office hourse, look the proffesor in the eye, etc. I think that we should take in account that the perception proffesors have of students also play a role.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby 270910 » Sun Jul 25, 2010 3:45 pm

manutd wrote:I would also like to note that grading law school exams is a subjective activity, one performed by human beings, aka teachers, who suffer from biases even when trying to remain as objective as possible. To that end, I think that students who appear to be "serious dedicated students" may have an advantage. I refer to those who attend every class on time, participate often, visit teacher´s offices during office hourse, look the proffesor in the eye, etc. I think that we should take in account that the perception proffesors have of students also play a role.


All law school exams are graded blind, based on a number that professors cannot associate with student ideas. Professors grade a stack of exams with no clue as to who in their class compossed them, at every law school in the country. The policy was instituted by Mr. Christopher Langdell, along with most of the quirks of the legal curriculum.

Nice try though.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby Tenth Usher » Sun Jul 25, 2010 3:46 pm

manutd wrote:I would also like to note that grading law school exams is a subjective activity, one performed by human beings, aka teachers, who suffer from biases even when trying to remain as objective as possible. To that end, I think that students who appear to be "serious dedicated students" may have an advantage. I refer to those who attend every class on time, participate often, visit teacher´s offices during office hourse, look the proffesor in the eye, etc. I think that we should take in account that the perception proffesors have of students also play a role.


Your exams aren't graded blind?

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby 270910 » Sun Jul 25, 2010 3:53 pm

Tenth Usher wrote:
manutd wrote:I would also like to note that grading law school exams is a subjective activity, one performed by human beings, aka teachers, who suffer from biases even when trying to remain as objective as possible. To that end, I think that students who appear to be "serious dedicated students" may have an advantage. I refer to those who attend every class on time, participate often, visit teacher´s offices during office hourse, look the proffesor in the eye, etc. I think that we should take in account that the perception proffesors have of students also play a role.


Your exams aren't graded blind?


All exams are blind graded. It's universal. That poster is definitely new and probably a 0L.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby bwv812 » Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:20 pm

.
Last edited by bwv812 on Thu Nov 25, 2010 7:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby 270910 » Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:27 pm

bwv812 wrote:
disco_barred wrote:
manutd wrote:I would also like to note that grading law school exams is a subjective activity, one performed by human beings, aka teachers, who suffer from biases even when trying to remain as objective as possible. To that end, I think that students who appear to be "serious dedicated students" may have an advantage. I refer to those who attend every class on time, participate often, visit teacher´s offices during office hourse, look the proffesor in the eye, etc. I think that we should take in account that the perception proffesors have of students also play a role.


All law school exams are graded blind, based on a number that professors cannot associate with student ideas. Professors grade a stack of exams with no clue as to who in their class compossed them, at every law school in the country. The policy was instituted by Mr. Christopher Langdell, along with most of the quirks of the legal curriculum.

Nice try though.

Problem is lots of profs have a "class participation" component that is open to manipulation (and I have seen some probable upgrading based on participation, even in 1L). Even worse is when professors do not have explicit grading policies, so you don't know if it's 100% exam or a combination of exam and participation.


But even then the grading is blind.

Put simply: At every law school in the country, a professor assigns a grade to every exam without knowing who authored the exam. From there, professor's retain the discretion to adjust grades.

The person who we are responding to you made the explicit claim that the manner in which a professor awards points is subjective and could be colored by their attitude towards the student. That is literally impossible.

Whether or not professor assign bumps or dings to students after grading the exams is an entirely separate topic about which we could certainly speculate. But the blind grading system is jealously guarded - by law professors, who don't want to deal with our whining, even more than by law students afraid of prejudice.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:32 pm

disco_barred wrote:
bwv812 wrote:
disco_barred wrote:
manutd wrote:I would also like to note that grading law school exams is a subjective activity, one performed by human beings, aka teachers, who suffer from biases even when trying to remain as objective as possible. To that end, I think that students who appear to be "serious dedicated students" may have an advantage. I refer to those who attend every class on time, participate often, visit teacher´s offices during office hourse, look the proffesor in the eye, etc. I think that we should take in account that the perception proffesors have of students also play a role.


All law school exams are graded blind, based on a number that professors cannot associate with student ideas. Professors grade a stack of exams with no clue as to who in their class compossed them, at every law school in the country. The policy was instituted by Mr. Christopher Langdell, along with most of the quirks of the legal curriculum.

Nice try though.

Problem is lots of profs have a "class participation" component that is open to manipulation (and I have seen some probable upgrading based on participation, even in 1L). Even worse is when professors do not have explicit grading policies, so you don't know if it's 100% exam or a combination of exam and participation.


But even then the grading is blind.

Put simply: At every law school in the country, a professor assigns a grade to every exam without knowing who authored the exam. From there, professor's retain the discretion to adjust grades.

The person who we are responding to you made the explicit claim that the manner in which a professor awards points is subjective and could be colored by their attitude towards the student. That is literally impossible.

Whether or not professor assign bumps or dings to students after grading the exams is an entirely separate topic about which we could certainly speculate. But the blind grading system is jealously guarded - by law professors, who don't want to deal with our whining, even more than by law students afraid of prejudice.



As an aside, the blind grading starts to fall apart after 1L, if you take more than one class with a professor. They will remember the exam numbers of students who did very well, and they will begin to reognize exam writing styles.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:56 pm

A few observations from 1L and this thread:

1.) The two classes I felt the worst about the night before the exam were the two highest grades. I think as someone said earlier, if you actually like a subject or feel confident, your "intellectual curiosity" gets the better of you. I felt totally on top of Crim all semester. Loved the class, participated often, got A+ on the sample exam...then median on the real thing a few days later. Walked out of the exam feeling like I crushed it.

2.) If your prof has that "participation" element, and sees your grade before you do, then it's not blind grading, period. People who think otherwise are silly.

3.) Graded legal writing SUCKS. I can say with no hesitation or reservation that if the school you are considering attending gives letter grades for legal writing, take one of two actions: A.) Give up ALL of your free time and LIVE in your writing prof's office during office hours or B.) Change schools. There are no other options. It was unbelievably frustrating to significantly improve my grades in core courses from fall to spring and then have my GPA torpedoed by legal writing. No class is more ridden with favoritism, confusion, and inanity. Furthermore, it DOESN'T MATTER. You will learn to do legal writing exactly ONE way - the way your employer wants it. My legal writing at my summer employment is TOTALLY different from how we were taught.

4.) There are plenty of anecdotes both ways. I know people who "studied smart" who are below median, and I know people who partied all week, skipped class, and took the exam off a borrowed outline they got during exam week who got As. Incoming 0Ls should absolve themselves of the romance that your class performance, participation, or study habits really matter all that much. They don't. If you write the exam that professor is looking for on that day, you win the game. Sample exams don't matter either - one prof all but admitted in the exam review post-grades that the samples were red herrings.



The people who scoff at the notion that law school grades are largely arbitrary are either in the top 10% or the bottom 10% and both of those populations are pretty much pre-destined before you ever walk in the door. For the middle 80%, law school grades (at least 1L) are largely arbitrary. Sorry.


Me: dead median, T14. LSAT was dead median, GPA was slightly below median.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby 270910 » Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:2.) If your prof has that "participation" element, and sees your grade before you do, then it's not blind grading, period. People who think otherwise are silly.


It isn't black and white though. The professor will grade exam #A56, then see that it was an A. Then, if the person who wrote exam #A56 was a twat, he isn't going to downgrade the person to a C+, you know?

The point of the blind grading system is to eliminate subconscious bias, and it does so perfectly. It does not eliminate conscious bias, meaning a professor is more than welcome to after the fact dock or award points based on things like participation, twatitude, bribery, etc. The system attains that which is desired.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:16 pm

disco_barred wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:2.) If your prof has that "participation" element, and sees your grade before you do, then it's not blind grading, period. People who think otherwise are silly.


It isn't black and white though. The professor will grade exam #A56, then see that it was an A. Then, if the person who wrote exam #A56 was a twat, he isn't going to downgrade the person to a C+, you know?

The point of the blind grading system is to eliminate subconscious bias, and it does so perfectly. It does not eliminate conscious bias, meaning a professor is more than welcome to after the fact dock or award points based on things like participation, twatitude, bribery, etc. The system attains that which is desired.


This is true, aside from the circumstances where profs end up recognizing an exam number (exam numbers stay the same throughout your law school career) or writing style--which, admittedly, is a very small aspect.

That said, just because blind grading generally works doesn't mean that it doesn't end up with completely arbitrary results. The results are completely arbitrary.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:17 pm

disco_barred wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:2.) If your prof has that "participation" element, and sees your grade before you do, then it's not blind grading, period. People who think otherwise are silly.


It isn't black and white though. The professor will grade exam #A56, then see that it was an A. Then, if the person who wrote exam #A56 was a twat, he isn't going to downgrade the person to a C+, you know?

The point of the blind grading system is to eliminate subconscious bias, and it does so perfectly. It does not eliminate conscious bias, meaning a professor is more than welcome to after the fact dock or award points based on things like participation, twatitude, bribery, etc. The system attains that which is desired.


You are speaking incredibly authoritatively on a topic that by definition you know nothing about.

"Blind grading" to me means the professor does not know your grade in the class until it is submitted. Any other system allows for bias that makes the process not blind, and arbitrary.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby Action Jackson » Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:25 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:
disco_barred wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:2.) If your prof has that "participation" element, and sees your grade before you do, then it's not blind grading, period. People who think otherwise are silly.


It isn't black and white though. The professor will grade exam #A56, then see that it was an A. Then, if the person who wrote exam #A56 was a twat, he isn't going to downgrade the person to a C+, you know?

The point of the blind grading system is to eliminate subconscious bias, and it does so perfectly. It does not eliminate conscious bias, meaning a professor is more than welcome to after the fact dock or award points based on things like participation, twatitude, bribery, etc. The system attains that which is desired.


This is true, aside from the circumstances where profs end up recognizing an exam number (exam numbers stay the same throughout your law school career) or writing style--which, admittedly, is a very small aspect.


Not at all schools. We get new numbers each semester.

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Re: Students who work hard and smart during 1L yet don't do well

Postby Action Jackson » Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
disco_barred wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:2.) If your prof has that "participation" element, and sees your grade before you do, then it's not blind grading, period. People who think otherwise are silly.


It isn't black and white though. The professor will grade exam #A56, then see that it was an A. Then, if the person who wrote exam #A56 was a twat, he isn't going to downgrade the person to a C+, you know?

The point of the blind grading system is to eliminate subconscious bias, and it does so perfectly. It does not eliminate conscious bias, meaning a professor is more than welcome to after the fact dock or award points based on things like participation, twatitude, bribery, etc. The system attains that which is desired.


You are speaking incredibly authoritatively on a topic that by definition you know nothing about.

"Blind grading" to me means the professor does not know your grade in the class until it is submitted. Any other system allows for bias that makes the process not blind, and arbitrary.

I don't know about EVERY school, but at ours professors DO NOT know your grades until you tell them. They submit your participation score, and the registrar does the math to come up with your final grade. I would imagine most schools operate with a similar system, and that system is BLIND.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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