Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

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Brawndo86
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Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby Brawndo86 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:05 pm

That's been my experience, at least in curved classes, which are the majority of courses at the majority of law schools. I worked pretty hard my first semester of 1L year, but the only "A" I got was in my legal writing course (which was not curved) - I spent a lot of time on my memo and definitely deserved it.

Other courses have been a complete crap shoot. For example, I bombed my Crim grade, despite regular participation in class and lots of studying; I got a B+ in constitutional law, even though I was extremely bored by the material, played online poker in class, and read a commercial supplement (thank you Chemerinsky) three days before the exam. It's not just me: I have friends who were top 10% in Fall, but then got grades all over the place in Spring. I know a girl on law review with excellent Fall grades who got a D in a course I got a B on - I guarantee you she put in 10x the effort I did because I go out basically every weekend. With the exception of a few students who have remained in the top few spots, I don't know anyone whose grades have not fluctuated wildly.

I don't think I've still figured out law school, but my impression after 2 semesters and some summer classes is that grades are based on two things: 1) how well you can write tailored to a specific professor, and 2) how well/crappy your classmates can do the same.

Because of this, my motivation to read my casebooks is at an all-time low. What I do now is get good outlines from previous students who did well with that professor, and then read/update them as the semester goes on to make sure I'm not lost. Then, I will read supplements starting in November.

Bumi
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby Bumi » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:08 pm

What school?

Brawndo86
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby Brawndo86 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:09 pm

Bumi wrote:What school?


Public ranked between 40 - 60. Maybe it's different at the elite schools

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General Tso
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby General Tso » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:10 pm

same thing has happened to me in the past...the class that I studied the least for was my best grade, whereas the ones I busted tail in I got mediocre grades. I believe that fast typing, good memory and study habits, and strong, analytical writing skills are crucial, but there is a certainly a degree of luck involved in law school grades

Bumi
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby Bumi » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:14 pm

That's what I am curious about. I wonder if the very top of the spectrum has more difference between the students at 25% and 75%, so that grades are more consistent. If everyone in your school is pretty much the same in terms of their abilities, then of course grades will be a crapshoot.

Regardless, your experience shows how stupid the "i will ace the exams and transfer" plan is.

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romothesavior
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby romothesavior » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:15 pm

I'm a 1L and I've only been in class for about 5 weeks, but I've noticed that the uber-hard workers usually (notice: not always) fall into one or more of the following categories:

1. People who do 6 hours of "studying," but spend 3 of those hours on Facebook and g-chat and then bitch about how long it took them to do the reading
2. People who are flat out doing it wrong (by working ahead and having to re-read, or by studying the wrong stuff, or by getting caught up in the little stuff like briefs, etc.)
3. People who are not that bright to begin with
4. People who don't study that hard but they act like they do

Like I said, I have no idea how my grades will turn out or anything like that. But I have noticed a lot of bragging and chest-thumping with respect to hours studied coming out of people who say stupid shit in class or who I know aren't studying that hard. Doing mindless work that is unrelated to the goal (doing well on the exams) will not result in good grades. I think this is a big part of the reason that hard work and good grades do not always match up. Differences in professor styles, arbitrariness, etc. are also likely big factors.

Brawndo86
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby Brawndo86 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:22 pm

romothesavior wrote:I'm a 1L and I've only been in class for about 5 weeks, but I've noticed that the uber-hard workers usually (notice: not always) fall into one or more of the following categories:

1. People who do 6 hours of "studying," but spend 3 of those hours on Facebook and g-chat and then bitch about how long it took them to do the reading
2. People who are flat out doing it wrong (by working ahead and having to re-read, or by studying the wrong stuff, or by getting caught up in the little stuff like briefs, etc.)
3. People who are not that bright to begin with
4. People who don't study that hard but they act like they do

Like I said, I have no idea how my grades will turn out or anything like that. But I have noticed a lot of bragging and chest-thumping with respect to hours studied coming out of people who say stupid shit in class or who I know aren't studying that hard. Doing mindless work that is unrelated to the goal (doing well on the exams) will not result in good grades. I think this is a big part of the reason that hard work and good grades do not always match up. Differences in professor styles, arbitrariness, etc. are also likely big factors.


This is huge. At my school there are classes people avoid like the plague when specific professors teach them because of ridiculous exams. Some professor in 1L property class that I did not have gave an exam with one question: "Who owns the moon and why?" (dead serious). Courses should never be about the professor, they should be about your grasp of the material.

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romothesavior
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby romothesavior » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:25 pm

Brawndo86 wrote:
romothesavior wrote:Differences in professor styles, arbitrariness, etc. are also likely big factors.


This is huge. At my school there are classes people avoid like the plague when specific professors teach them because of ridiculous exams. Some professor in 1L property class that I did not have gave an exam with one question: "Who owns the moon and why?" (dead serious). Courses should never be about the professor, they should be about your grasp of the material.


You should check out my 1L section then. My profs are WILDLY different and one has already indicated his exam will be quite bizarre (short answer and multiple choice). FML

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D. H2Oman
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby D. H2Oman » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:26 pm

I really really hope there isn't.

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Kohinoor
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby Kohinoor » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:26 pm

Brawndo86 wrote:That's been my experience, at least in curved classes, which are the majority of courses at the majority of law schools. I worked pretty hard my first semester of 1L year, but the only "A" I got was in my legal writing course (which was not curved) - I spent a lot of time on my memo and definitely deserved it.

Other courses have been a complete crap shoot. For example, I bombed my Crim grade, despite regular participation in class and lots of studying; I got a B+ in constitutional law, even though I was extremely bored by the material, played online poker in class, and read a commercial supplement (thank you Chemerinsky) three days before the exam. It's not just me: I have friends who were top 10% in Fall, but then got grades all over the place in Spring. I know a girl on law review with excellent Fall grades who got a D in a course I got a B on - I guarantee you she put in 10x the effort I did because I go out basically every weekend. With the exception of a few students who have remained in the top few spots, I don't know anyone whose grades have not fluctuated wildly.

I don't think I've still figured out law school, but my impression after 2 semesters and some summer classes is that grades are based on two things: 1) how well you can write tailored to a specific professor, and 2) how well/crappy your classmates can do the same.

Because of this, my motivation to read my casebooks is at an all-time low. What I do now is get good outlines from previous students who did well with that professor, and then read/update them as the semester goes on to make sure I'm not lost. Then, I will read supplements starting in November.

I'd definitely say that my Con Law grade can only be explained by mistake, divine intervention, or a preponderance of my classmates leaving their exams blank.

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romothesavior
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby romothesavior » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:26 pm

D. H2Oman wrote:I really really hope there isn't.


+1

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Kohinoor
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby Kohinoor » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:28 pm

romothesavior wrote:I'm a 1L and I've only been in class for about 5 weeks, but I've noticed that the uber-hard workers usually (notice: not always) fall into one or more of the following categories:

1. People who do 6 hours of "studying," but spend 3 of those hours on Facebook and g-chat and then bitch about how long it took them to do the reading
2. People who are flat out doing it wrong (by working ahead and having to re-read, or by studying the wrong stuff, or by getting caught up in the little stuff like briefs, etc.)
3. People who are not that bright to begin with
4. People who don't study that hard but they act like they do

Like I said, I have no idea how my grades will turn out or anything like that. But I have noticed a lot of bragging and chest-thumping with respect to hours studied coming out of people who say stupid shit in class or who I know aren't studying that hard. Doing mindless work that is unrelated to the goal (doing well on the exams) will not result in good grades. I think this is a big part of the reason that hard work and good grades do not always match up. Differences in professor styles, arbitrariness, etc. are also likely big factors.

Be careful of category 3. Enough practice puts those guys on law review.

::edit:: That sounds more bitter than I intended. The nature of the law school exam with its testing (1) memorization; (2) practiced application; and (3) typing speed is such that someone who doesn't do well on the fly but studied X hours a day can easily outpace more complacent classmates.::

dissonance1848
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby dissonance1848 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:34 pm

Sounds like the idea is to study smart, not hard, and have in mind the notion that you are hedging your bets, cutting loses, instead of going out there and massacring.

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Kohinoor
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby Kohinoor » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:35 pm

dissonance1848 wrote:Sounds like the idea is to study smart, not hard, and have in mind the notion that you are hedging your bets, cutting loses, instead of going out there and massacring.

ITE, you should probably be studying smart and hard.

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vamedic03
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby vamedic03 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:37 pm

Several things:

1) Typing speed is over rated for the most part. On most of my exam answers, I wrote the average # or possibly below average # of words.

2) Practice exams are important, within reason.

3) The two best things you can do:

a) GO TO CLASS (and pay attention)

b) Do your reading before class, so that you can follow along in class

4) Supplements and other stuff along those lines are overrated. The key to doing well is to do your reading, pay attention in class, take good notes, and do your professor's practice exams.

* - I do not believe that law school grades are random. While there might be a small degree of chance necessary, randomness or chance doesn't explain how the top of the class consistently performs at the top of the class.

Brawndo86
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby Brawndo86 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:42 pm

vamedic03 wrote:Several things:

1) Typing speed is over rated for the most part. On most of my exam answers, I wrote the average # or possibly below average # of words.

2) Practice exams are important, within reason.

3) The two best things you can do:

a) GO TO CLASS (and pay attention)

b) Do your reading before class, so that you can follow along in class

4) Supplements and other stuff along those lines are overrated. The key to doing well is to do your reading, pay attention in class, take good notes, and do your professor's practice exams.

* - I do not believe that law school grades are random. While there might be a small degree of chance necessary, randomness or chance doesn't explain how the top of the class consistently performs at the top of the class.


Depends. Supplements have saved my ass more than once. They are helpful in classes where the exam is largely BLL application, and almost useless in classes where the exam is basically, "answer this question as if you were in the [crazed and liberal] mind of the professor"

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inchoate_con
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby inchoate_con » Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:24 pm

Brawndo86 wrote:"Who owns the moon and why?" (dead serious)

The only question on our mid-term.....

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edcrane
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby edcrane » Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:50 pm

vamedic03 wrote:Several things:

1) Typing speed is over rated for the most part. On most of my exam answers, I wrote the average # or possibly below average # of words.

2) Practice exams are important, within reason.

3) The two best things you can do:

a) GO TO CLASS (and pay attention)

b) Do your reading before class, so that you can follow along in class

4) Supplements and other stuff along those lines are overrated. The key to doing well is to do your reading, pay attention in class, take good notes, and do your professor's practice exams.

* - I do not believe that law school grades are random. While there might be a small degree of chance necessary, randomness or chance doesn't explain how the top of the class consistently performs at the top of the class.


Entirely credited.

solidsnake
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby solidsnake » Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:53 pm

edcrane wrote:
vamedic03 wrote:Several things:

1) Typing speed is over rated for the most part. On most of my exam answers, I wrote the average # or possibly below average # of words.

2) Practice exams are important, within reason.

3) The two best things you can do:

a) GO TO CLASS (and pay attention)

b) Do your reading before class, so that you can follow along in class

4) Supplements and other stuff along those lines are overrated. The key to doing well is to do your reading, pay attention in class, take good notes, and do your professor's practice exams.

* - I do not believe that law school grades are random. While there might be a small degree of chance necessary, randomness or chance doesn't explain how the top of the class consistently performs at the top of the class.


Entirely credited.


+1 to everything above

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thecilent
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby thecilent » Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:58 pm

betasteve wrote:A quote that was on my dry erase board during 1L:
Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
-Alfred A. Montapert


ha I likes this

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edcrane
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby edcrane » Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:10 pm

The other point I'd like to make is that variations in exam content and style that are attributable to taking Prof. Y's property class or Prof. Z's torts class should not be viewed as a source of randomness. As a normative matter, classes should be about learning law objectively. But they aren't. Students seeking to maximize their GPAs should use this fact to their advantage instead of blindly attempting to master TORTS or PROPERTY. If you're doing it right, nothing should come out of left field. "Who owns the moon?" should not paralyze you.

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romothesavior
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby romothesavior » Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:14 pm

edcrane wrote:The other point I'd like to make is that variations in exam content and style that are attributable to taking Prof. Y's property class or Prof. Z's torts class should not be viewed as a source of randomness. As a normative matter, classes should be about learning law objectively. But they aren't. Students seeking to maximize their GPAs should use this fact to their advantage instead of blindly attempting to master TORTS or PROPERTY. If you're doing it right, nothing should come out of left field. "Who owns the moon?" should not paralyze you.


Ehhhh... This is debatable.

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edcrane
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby edcrane » Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:17 pm

romothesavior wrote:
edcrane wrote:The other point I'd like to make is that variations in exam content and style that are attributable to taking Prof. Y's property class or Prof. Z's torts class should not be viewed as a source of randomness. As a normative matter, classes should be about learning law objectively. But they aren't. Students seeking to maximize their GPAs should use this fact to their advantage instead of blindly attempting to master TORTS or PROPERTY. If you're doing it right, nothing should come out of left field. "Who owns the moon?" should not paralyze you.


Ehhhh... This is debatable.


Perhaps I overstated my point. It's true that on occasion, prof's deviate wildly from what they've done in the past and how they teach the class. So it is possible that even the best prepared students will get surprised once in a while. But this sort of thing seems to be very rare, at least at my school.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:22 pm

On the subject of supplements, I think it depends. I've had classes where I gathered so much from just my class notes that I never needed to touch a supplement, I just made an outline from those notes and an occasional look at the casebook to reference something, and those were my highest grades. However, there were classes where I just could not understand what was going on with just the casebook and the professor, and supplements definitely helped me catch up and do well on issues where I was falling behind. It just depends on what you need.

On the subject of hard work and the correlation... Hard work is necessary, but not sufficient, to achieve consistently good grades. One aspect of it is truly learning what the professor considers most important in terms of both the law and the policy arguments behind it. But the most important aspect is learning how to take law school exams and putting your "hard work" efficiently into what will prepare you for that.

I've heard about the "Who owns the moon?" thing before. That's a question that you should be able to give some kind of answer to by the end of your Property class, and while it might not be a great answer, it just has to be better than your classmates'. If you've developed a method for taking exams by then, your answer probably will be, even if it's to a fairly left-field question.

Law school requires working hard and working right. People who do the former and don't understand the latter end up feeling like something is missing, which it is, but then mistakenly assume that missing thing is luck or something out of their control. For the most part it's not, and that's demonstrated by the fact that it's often the same people in a section who end up getting the highest grades over and over in every class. If it were just luck they wouldn't be able to do that.

pasteurizedmilk
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby pasteurizedmilk » Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:30 pm

Class by class, there might not be a correlation. Overall GPA? Definite correlation.




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