How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

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JohnYuu
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How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby JohnYuu » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:35 pm

When people say things like a particular class is hard (usually a 2L/3L class), do they mean that the class naturally attracts smart people/gunners and thus it is harder to get an A? Is the material itself difficult?

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MeTalkPrettyOneDay
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby MeTalkPrettyOneDay » Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:03 pm

...because the curves caps the number of As and forces the professor to give out a certain number of low grades...

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rayiner
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby rayiner » Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:05 pm

JohnYuu wrote:When people say things like a particular class is hard (usually a 2L/3L class), do they mean that the class naturally attracts smart people/gunners and thus it is harder to get an A? Is the material itself difficult?


Eg: Classes that look good on clerkship applications, eg, tend to be popular with people with high GPA's who are in the running for clerkships.

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apper123
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby apper123 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:30 pm

I hear a lot of people tell me a class is "easy" because the professor easily gives out a lot of "Bs."

This confused me, then I realized what they meant is it was a flat curve and most people get a B or a B+. Apparently to some people a B (median) is a "good grade." That's fine, but that's not what I'm looking for.

I hate those classes, because it really caps the # of As and A-s.

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Cavalier
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby Cavalier » Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:42 pm

Professors can do whatever they want with grades as long as they reach a certain average (3.3 at UVA). So, some professors may give out only 20% grades of A- and higher, and only 20% grades of B and lower, with 60% of the class getting a B+. Other professors may give out only 33% B+, 33% above B+, and 33% below B+. In the latter example you only need to be in the top third to get an A-, but in the first example you need to be in the top fifth to get an A-.

Also some classes attract more competitive students.

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rayiner
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby rayiner » Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:47 pm

Cavalier wrote:Professors can do whatever they want with grades as long as they reach a certain average (3.3 at UVA). So, some professors may give out only 20% grades of A- and higher, and only 20% grades of B and lower, with 60% of the class getting a B+. Other professors may give out only 33% B+, 33% above B+, and 33% below B+. In the latter example you only need to be in the top third to get an A-, but in the first example you need to be in the top fifth to get an A-.


I think NU's banded curve is a substantially better idea than this for students near the top of the class.

Alexandria
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby Alexandria » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:06 pm

rayiner wrote:
JohnYuu wrote:When people say things like a particular class is hard (usually a 2L/3L class), do they mean that the class naturally attracts smart people/gunners and thus it is harder to get an A? Is the material itself difficult?


Eg: Classes that look good on clerkship applications, eg, tend to be popular with people with high GPA's who are in the running for clerkships.


I second this definition. I mean, a lot of these classes do tend to have a lot of very complex material, so they can be hard in that sense too. But the thing that makes it brutal is that you've got the top of the class all competing against one another without the average and below average students to take the average and below average grades.

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Drew2010
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby Drew2010 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:12 pm

rayiner wrote:
Cavalier wrote:Professors can do whatever they want with grades as long as they reach a certain average (3.3 at UVA). So, some professors may give out only 20% grades of A- and higher, and only 20% grades of B and lower, with 60% of the class getting a B+. Other professors may give out only 33% B+, 33% above B+, and 33% below B+. In the latter example you only need to be in the top third to get an A-, but in the first example you need to be in the top fifth to get an A-.


I think NU's banded curve is a substantially better idea than this for students near the top of the class.


Oh great and mighty rayiner.. could you please explain NU's banded curve?

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chadwick218
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby chadwick218 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:16 pm

Drew2010 wrote:
rayiner wrote:
Cavalier wrote:Professors can do whatever they want with grades as long as they reach a certain average (3.3 at UVA). So, some professors may give out only 20% grades of A- and higher, and only 20% grades of B and lower, with 60% of the class getting a B+. Other professors may give out only 33% B+, 33% above B+, and 33% below B+. In the latter example you only need to be in the top third to get an A-, but in the first example you need to be in the top fifth to get an A-.


I think NU's banded curve is a substantially better idea than this for students near the top of the class.


Oh great and mighty rayiner.. could you please explain NU's banded curve?


http://www.law.northwestern.edu/academi ... olicy.html

For curved classes, the average can range range anywhere b/w a 3.18 and a 3.38 (assuming 62 person sections)
Last edited by chadwick218 on Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Alexandria
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby Alexandria » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:16 pm

I think the banded curve is like what we have at Michigan (except with different percentages, which come out to a different median). Instead of just aiming for a particular median, the profs have to give a certain percent of each grade. 0 to 3% A+, 7 to 11% A, etc.

--LinkRemoved--

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Drew2010
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby Drew2010 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:18 pm

Alexandria wrote:I think the banded curve is like what we have at Michigan (except with different percentages, which come out to a different median). Instead of just aiming for a particular median, the profs have to give a certain percent of each grade. 0 to 3% A+, 7 to 11% A, etc.

--LinkRemoved--


chadwick218 wrote:http://www.law.northwestern.edu/academics/grading_policy.html

For curved classes, the average can range range anywhere b/w a 3.23 and a 3.37 (approximately and assuming 62 person sections)


Interesting.. thank you both for the responses.. I think I can see why the banded is nicer

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chadwick218
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby chadwick218 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:19 pm

Drew2010 wrote:
Alexandria wrote:I think the banded curve is like what we have at Michigan (except with different percentages, which come out to a different median). Instead of just aiming for a particular median, the profs have to give a certain percent of each grade. 0 to 3% A+, 7 to 11% A, etc.

--LinkRemoved--


chadwick218 wrote:http://www.law.northwestern.edu/academics/grading_policy.html

For curved classes, the average can range range anywhere b/w a 3.23 and a 3.37 (approximately and assuming 62 person sections)


Interesting.. thank you both for the responses.. I think I can see why the banded is nicer


Although it can arguably give a professor less discretion at the margins.

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chadwick218
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby chadwick218 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:25 pm

From what I have seen though, curved classes at NU tend to result in an average of 3.35.

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rayiner
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby rayiner » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:35 pm

Drew2010 wrote:For curved classes, the average can range range anywhere b/w a 3.23 and a 3.37 (approximately and assuming 62 person sections)


Interesting.. thank you both for the responses.. I think I can see why the banded is nicer[/quote]

Of the grading systems used at the top schools, I think it's the best one. I don't like the P/H system because it makes it hard to distinguish the top of the class. I don't like the set mean/median because it makes a very clear demarcation in a place that doesn't matter (just above and just below median students should be treated the same), and doesn't ensure consistency at the ends of the curve. I don't like Georgetown's curve, when has precise percentages for each grade instead of bands, because it might force arbitrary choices for borderline exams.

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chadwick218
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby chadwick218 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:40 pm

Max % Max # Min % Min # Actual
A+ 7% 4 3% 2 2
A 15% 9 12% 8 9
A- 15% 9 10% 7 9
B+ 30% 18 15% 10 18
B 35% 21 20% 13 17
B- 15% 9 10% 7 7

Example from a Curve 1L Class at NU this semester. Average was a 3.34.

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kings84_wr
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby kings84_wr » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:46 pm

apper123 wrote:I hear a lot of people tell me a class is "easy" because the professor easily gives out a lot of "Bs."

This confused me, then I realized what they meant is it was a flat curve and most people get a B or a B+. Apparently to some people a B (median) is a "good grade." That's fine, but that's not what I'm looking for.

I hate those classes, because it really caps the # of As and A-s.


Yeah I hate these classes. It seems like profs that hate giving out low grades or hate conflict and confrontation seem to do this type of grading curve. It really just hurts the top end of the class.

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Wahoo1L
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby Wahoo1L » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:41 pm

rayiner wrote: Of the grading systems used at the top schools, I think it's the best one. I don't like the P/H system because it makes it hard to distinguish the top of the class. I don't like the set mean/median because it makes a very clear demarcation in a place that doesn't matter (just above and just below median students should be treated the same), and doesn't ensure consistency at the ends of the curve. I don't like Georgetown's curve, when has precise percentages for each grade instead of bands, because it might force arbitrary choices for borderline exams.


How much variation is there between professors? The problem that I see with a banded curve is if one professor's average is a 3.25 and another is a 3.35. From how you described it, I think GULC's curve seems to make the most sense given that it clearly shows what percentage band the student is at.

The one great thing about UVA's curve is that they maintain it for all three years instead of inflating GPA's after 1L year. I think this encourages people to take real classes as opposed to taking seminars to boost their GPA.

r973
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby r973 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:46 pm

Eg: Classes that look good on clerkship applications, eg, tend to be popular with people with high GPA's who are in the running for clerkships.


What classes would these be???

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RVP11
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby RVP11 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:52 pm

At UVA, Federal Courts and Legislation are known for attracting an alarming number of Law Review folks and others seeking federal clerkships.

Alexandria
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby Alexandria » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:05 pm

JSUVA2012 wrote:At UVA, Federal Courts and Legislation are known for attracting an alarming number of Law Review folks and others seeking federal clerkships.


Yeah, I think Fed Courts everywhere. At Michigan, First Amendment is another one that gets a lot of high-ranked students. Some people put Jurisdiction and Choice of Law in that category (known as Conflicts elsewhere, but with the jurisdiction part of Civ Pro thrown in... bc officially we don't learn jurisdiction in Civ Pro at Michigan, but that's not true for every prof).

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chadwick218
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby chadwick218 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:20 pm

JSUVA2012 wrote:At UVA, Federal Courts and Legislation are known for attracting an alarming number of Law Review folks and others seeking federal clerkships.


My aim is to take take uncurved classes or classes with professors that have a reputation for being very generous graders ... In all honesty, I really could care less about learning anything or feeling intellectually challanged in law school so long as I can beat the grading regime and pass the bar.

VincentChase
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby VincentChase » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:25 pm

Federal Courts is the one I always hear at Michigan.

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rayiner
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby rayiner » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:30 pm

Wahoo1L wrote:
rayiner wrote: Of the grading systems used at the top schools, I think it's the best one. I don't like the P/H system because it makes it hard to distinguish the top of the class. I don't like the set mean/median because it makes a very clear demarcation in a place that doesn't matter (just above and just below median students should be treated the same), and doesn't ensure consistency at the ends of the curve. I don't like Georgetown's curve, when has precise percentages for each grade instead of bands, because it might force arbitrary choices for borderline exams.


How much variation is there between professors? The problem that I see with a banded curve is if one professor's average is a 3.25 and another is a 3.35. From how you described it, I think GULC's curve seems to make the most sense given that it clearly shows what percentage band the student is at.


The thing is that people put a perceptual weight to precise boundaries that is unwarranted. The NU curve has a bit of fuzziness that counteracts that. Eg: if you can't tell exactly where the median is, you don't arbitrarily distinguish between people just above and below median.

VincentChase
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby VincentChase » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:39 pm

I'm curious if employers care about what classes you take. Obviously this only really applies to UM summer starters, who have some 1L flexibility in the spring.

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thesealocust
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Re: How can a particular class be "hard" if grading is curved?

Postby thesealocust » Fri Jan 29, 2010 6:58 pm

edit: never mind
Last edited by thesealocust on Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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