How To Turn Your Grades Around

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ItsAllGravy
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How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby ItsAllGravy » Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:32 pm

I'm below the median (?) at NYU (B+, B, B) after my first semester.

I had a solid grasp of the material (didn't really need to look at outlines during exams), created my own outlines, took multiple practice exams, and read all the cases/went to supplements when necessary. I have read--and had read before exams--Getting to Maybe and had read through the various How to Succeed 1L posts here at TLS. Obviously I'm disappointed.

How can I turn my grades around? What did people in the same situation do in order to get better grades second semester?

Thank you.

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sayan
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby sayan » Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:28 pm

I think a way of reconciling an apparent paradox (knowing the material inside and out yet earning average) is to look solely at your analytical skills, particularly your ability to apply the law to the issues. It's pretty maddening to be tested solely on the application and analytical aspects of the law when you don't really get any sort of practice from the professor, but I suppose that's ultimately what they look for in terms of separating the Bs from the As.

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vanwinkle
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:32 pm

Practice taking exams more.

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macattaq
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby macattaq » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:29 pm

sayan wrote:I think a way of reconciling an apparent paradox (knowing the material inside and out yet earning average) is to look solely at your analytical skills, particularly your ability to apply the law to the issues. It's pretty maddening to be tested solely on the application and analytical aspects of the law when you don't really get any sort of practice from the professor, but I suppose that's ultimately what they look for in terms of separating the Bs from the As.


This. I came in firmly at median this last semester, and after talking with a prof, he recommended a book on jurisprudence to help me sharpen my legal analysis. I'd recommend going to talk to your profs rather than try to figure it out on your own. They know best what they are looking for, and at the very least, you'll get some insight there.

Connelly
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby Connelly » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:38 am

macattaq wrote: he recommended a book on jurisprudence to help me sharpen my legal analysis.


Do you mind sharing what book?

FrankReynolds
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby FrankReynolds » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:31 am

Compare how many words you wrote on exams with those of friends. Unfortunately sometimes quantity trumps quality. Because it sounds like you put in above-average effort, my first guess would be that you type too slow, or spend too much time thinking instead of typing.

FWIW, you are probably around the 65th percentile with those grades. You will need something like A- B+ B+ next semester to hit median.

LjakW
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby LjakW » Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:28 pm

FrankReynolds wrote:FWIW, you are probably around the 65th percentile with those grades. You will need something like A- B+ B+ next semester to hit median.

Do you mean 35th percentile?
Since you're at NYU, do you think you can speak as to prospects at OCI for someone with this level of grades?

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rayiner
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby rayiner » Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:35 pm

Go over your exams with your professors, and see what you got points off for. This is the #1 best way. You might think you had the black letter law down, but frankly, most people think they do whether or not they actually do.

Beyond that, do practice exams. Look at model answers, figure out what 'A' exams look like, then emulate them.

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Nazrix
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby Nazrix » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:54 am

Recon on your classmates is important, see what the smart kids do, not the super smart ones who work hard, but the "brilliant slackers" continue working hard, but incorporate some of the gamesmanship like better EXAM writing or what profs really like, to break your scores up a bit.

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sayan
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby sayan » Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:55 pm

rayiner wrote:Go over your exams with your professors, and see what you got points off for. This is the #1 best way. You might think you had the black letter law down, but frankly, most people think they do whether or not they actually do.

Beyond that, do practice exams. Look at model answers, figure out what 'A' exams look like, then emulate them.


Besides model exam answers, is there another way to get 'A' answers? I've asked some people who did well on exams for samples of their answers but they all cite privacy concerns.

Snooker
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby Snooker » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:04 pm

I did well enough (for 1L SA@V100), but I have read actual research on the topic and virtually nothing correlates with exam performance. Practice exams, hornbooks, multiple choice questions, none of it seems to impact a students performance. The law exam really seems like a great black box into which all reason or logic completely disappears. The one thing that seems to have an impact, and it has a big impact, is analytic coaching from the professor. Unfortunately most professors do not do that.

There's 10,000 pet theories on what will improve law exam performance. Frankly, I was pretty surprised to see people who were incessantly confused, perplexed, and getting blown to pieces when on call far worse than anyone else, turning around and getting top grades. it's quite surprising to see a professor, in no few words, indicate that a student is a moron (and have done this to maybe 2 students during the term), and is failing at law, and then see that student is lining up for these OCIs (which very few people got).
Last edited by Snooker on Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ihatelaw
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby ihatelaw » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:05 pm

I think catering your answer to the prof is pretty important. Exams are essentially the same from year to year, so are answers. I didn't just try to have a similar answer substance wise as the model answer but also style wise. You can get a sense for what issues are most important to bring up by looking at answers year to year also. The classes where I was happy with my grades, I knew that I did this. Class were I was disappointed I didn't make an effort like that.


I think I'm in the minority when I say I don't think grades are arbitrary. I was able to predict the grade I would get on every exam based on how far I strayed from the style and substance of the model answer.

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sayan
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby sayan » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:12 pm

Snooker wrote:I did well enough (for 1L SA@V100), but I have read actual research on the topic and virtually nothing correlates with exam performance. Practice exams, hornbooks, multiple choice questions, none of it seems to impact a students performance. The law exam really seems like a great black box into which all reason or logic completely disappears. The one thing that seems to have an impact, and it has a big impact, is analytic coaching from the professor.


And how do you go about receiving this coaching? :o

VincentChase
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby VincentChase » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:13 pm

ihatelaw wrote:I think catering your answer to the prof is pretty important. Exams are essentially the same from year to year, so are answers. I didn't just try to have a similar answer substance wise as the model answer but also style wise. You can get a sense for what issues are most important to bring up by looking at answers year to year also. The classes where I was happy with my grades, I knew that I did this. Class were I was disappointed I didn't make an effort like that.


I think I'm in the minority when I say I don't think grades are arbitrary. I was able to predict the grade I would get on every exam based on how far I strayed from the style and substance of the model answer.


They aren't arbitrary at all.

Snooker
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby Snooker » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:21 pm

sayan wrote:
Snooker wrote:I did well enough (for 1L SA@V100), but I have read actual research on the topic and virtually nothing correlates with exam performance. Practice exams, hornbooks, multiple choice questions, none of it seems to impact a students performance. The law exam really seems like a great black box into which all reason or logic completely disappears. The one thing that seems to have an impact, and it has a big impact, is analytic coaching from the professor.


And how do you go about receiving this coaching? :o


In the studies they had students in one section get all of this feedback and coaching on how to improve - they did written exercises and such and had meetings - and the other section didn't get any of that. The improvement varied by study that I looked at, but would be as much as 50% more points. (on our exams this would probably be B- to A in improvement) Reading these things was very disconcerting for me.

My impression of law school is that a lot of different things factor into learning the BLL, but beyond this analytical skills are what law profs give grades for. Different students will have a different level of knack for making legal arguments when they enter law school. That's what makes the difference on exams. It should be no surprise that 98% of law students end up back in basically the same place after a decade of practice. You enter LS with feeble skills, and leave LS with feeble skills. They rank you, yes, law firms come to campus and say how awesome you are. But it's a ranking, not an absolute assessment.

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dbt
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby dbt » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:29 pm

sayan wrote:
rayiner wrote:Go over your exams with your professors, and see what you got points off for. This is the #1 best way. You might think you had the black letter law down, but frankly, most people think they do whether or not they actually do.

Beyond that, do practice exams. Look at model answers, figure out what 'A' exams look like, then emulate them.


Besides model exam answers, is there another way to get 'A' answers? I've asked some people who did well on exams for samples of their answers but they all cite privacy concerns.


Well, I wouldn't mind giving out my exams, but if you don't go to my school it doesn't really matter.

Really though, I think the most important things are:

(1) find out what you got counted off for (most of my profs provided model exams even for the one we just took, not just older ones). carefully compare your answer and try to break it down to see what you missed.

(2) type quickly and clearly.

i'd say each of those is necessary for an A/A- grade, where most people know the material but don't have enough practice writing an exam quickly and clearly.

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sayan
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby sayan » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:30 pm

Snooker wrote:
sayan wrote:
Snooker wrote:I did well enough (for 1L SA@V100), but I have read actual research on the topic and virtually nothing correlates with exam performance. Practice exams, hornbooks, multiple choice questions, none of it seems to impact a students performance. The law exam really seems like a great black box into which all reason or logic completely disappears. The one thing that seems to have an impact, and it has a big impact, is analytic coaching from the professor.


And how do you go about receiving this coaching? :o


In the studies they had students in one section get all of this feedback and coaching on how to improve - they did written exercises and such and had meetings - and the other section didn't get any of that. The improvement varied by study that I looked at, but would be as much as 50% more points. (on our exams this would probably be B- to A in improvement) Reading these things was very disconcerting for me.

My impression of law school is that a lot of different things factor into learning the BLL, but beyond this analytical skills are what law profs give grades for. Different students will have a different level of knack for making legal arguments when they enter law school. That's what makes the difference on exams. It should be no surprise that 98% of law students end up back in basically the same place after a decade of practice. You enter LS with feeble skills, and leave LS with feeble skills. They rank you, yes, law firms come to campus and say how awesome you are. But it's a ranking, not an absolute assessment.


Hmm... wouldn't looking at the same professor's old exams with model answers be similar to coaching? One can analyze the style and substance of the answer (as noted above) to synthesize an imitation on the actual exam but with different elements.

Snooker
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby Snooker » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:13 pm

I would think so, the research isn't terribly clear on this point. I had practice exams available for one professor, and it changed a lot of things for that specific issue. I never saw anything specifically about old exam answers. It's definitely an open theory.

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megaTTTron
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby megaTTTron » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:20 pm

I can't help but push this thread and the OP's links:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=104810

Snooker
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby Snooker » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:26 pm

What puzzles me is how people who used the most default, "wrong", strategies, didn't really understand anything through law school, are still at the top. People who respond with, "durr me no understand" to a legal question shouldn't be at the top, but there they are.

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apper123
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby apper123 » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:27 pm

Snooker wrote:What puzzles me is how people who used the most default, "wrong", strategies, didn't really understand anything through law school, are still at the top. People who respond with, "durr me no understand" to a legal question shouldn't be at the top, but there they are.


they are naturally gifted/intelligent?

Snooker
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby Snooker » Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:15 pm

That definitely can't be it. Law exams aren't an intelligence test; if you are dumb in 10 different ways, does your score on a law exam suddenly mean you are a gifted and talented person? The legal field certainly treats it that way, even though there's a very tiny correlation between law grades and career success. Even law professors who have gathered together at conferences raising the topic generally voice that their exams don't meaningfully measure anything.

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macattaq
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Re: How To Turn Your Grades Around

Postby macattaq » Thu Jan 28, 2010 6:04 pm

Connelly wrote:
macattaq wrote: he recommended a book on jurisprudence to help me sharpen my legal analysis.


Do you mind sharing what book?


Oh ahh...sorry, been busy dealing with RL.

The first book he recommended was Problems of Jurisprudence. The second was Law and Economics. Both are by Posner.

FML.




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