Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

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

Postby Melkaba » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:03 pm

Brawndo86 wrote: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).


I'm actually more curious about the model answer to this question more than anything.

jennyfrench87
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby jennyfrench87 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:08 pm

You are probably not doing something right if you are working hard and grades are not reflecting it. :D

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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 7:56 pm

jennyfrench87 wrote:You are probably not doing something right if you are working hard and grades are not reflecting it. :D


Not necessarily - in addition to hard work and good strategy, innate ability factors in as well. Even at top schools, there is stratification of ability. Yes, everyone is smart, but there are: (1) different levels of smart and (2) legal reasoning comes more naturally to some than others. This isn't to suggest that everyone can't be successful, but law students are not completely fungible.

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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 8:22 pm

Melkaba wrote:
Brawndo86 wrote: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).


I'm actually more curious about the model answer to this question more than anything.


America, on the law of capture. First in time, first in right. We planted the first flag there.

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

Postby goosey » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:51 pm

i think ability to write well plays a lot into it. obviously without knowledge of the law, it wont get you far. But I definitely think that if A has good knowledge of the law with amazing writing skills and B has amazing knowledge of the law with mediocre writing skills, A will do better on exams. Understanding law means nothing if you can't express your understanding properly.

Aside from that, it is a human grading it---if something is well written, organized and easy to follow arguments, it will probably appear more favorable than the next exam, even if both exam writers have the same exact understanding of the law. The person will just be more likely to prefer the well-written one. It is also easier to miss issues/points when the exam isnt well-written--the persons knowledge of law may well get lost in a sea of not so great writing

I've gotten feedback/grades in two classes so far and both were really good (like best in the class type good) and I attribute that to knowing how to analyze critically + writing skills. I work hard (have all my classes outlined so far, am up to date with all the reading, up to date with all supplements, etc) but at the same time I also waste obscene amounts of time and there are days when the only thing I do aside from class is 2 or 3 hours of reading. I "feel" like I am working hard because Im always trying to study, but reality is I waste a lot of time..so...I think its a combo of working hard + knowing how to write. But if you can write really well, then you may also be able to get by if you're just simply working

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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 10:08 pm

goosey wrote:i think ability to write well plays a lot into it. obviously without knowledge of the law, it wont get you far. But I definitely think that if A has good knowledge of the law with amazing writing skills and B has amazing knowledge of the law with mediocre writing skills, A will do better on exams. Understanding law means nothing if you can't express your understanding properly.

Aside from that, it is a human grading it---if something is well written, organized and easy to follow arguments, it will probably appear more favorable than the next exam, even if both exam writers have the same exact understanding of the law. The person will just be more likely to prefer the well-written one. It is also easier to miss issues/points when the exam isnt well-written--the persons knowledge of law may well get lost in a sea of not so great writing


I think this is correct to the extent that "writing well" means writing clear and well-organized exam answers. But I don't think beautiful, flowing prose is important or even desirable. In my experience, choppy, repetitively structured sentences that are easy to read and score = win, even when the professor indicates that writing quality will be factored into your exam grade. One needn't be a gifted writer to produce "well-written" exam answers. It's something that anyone can do.

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

Postby Action Jackson » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:14 pm

amyLAchemist wrote:This happened to me, but I am over it. I worked extremely hard, ended up below median. Honestly, I have no idea why, even after I went and talked to my profs. Maybe my classmates are smarter, maybe I don't get law school exams, maybe I need to recite some secret magical incantation that I don't know about. Guess just hoping for some improvement during 2L.

Note that this is someone that is a Ph.D. in frickin' chemistry and (as I recall) has impeccable to amazing pre-law academic credentials. Hard work and being very smart aren't enough in law school. Doing well on law school exams is a very strange skill, indeed.

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

Postby goosey » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:17 pm

edcrane wrote:
goosey wrote:i think ability to write well plays a lot into it. obviously without knowledge of the law, it wont get you far. But I definitely think that if A has good knowledge of the law with amazing writing skills and B has amazing knowledge of the law with mediocre writing skills, A will do better on exams. Understanding law means nothing if you can't express your understanding properly.

Aside from that, it is a human grading it---if something is well written, organized and easy to follow arguments, it will probably appear more favorable than the next exam, even if both exam writers have the same exact understanding of the law. The person will just be more likely to prefer the well-written one. It is also easier to miss issues/points when the exam isnt well-written--the persons knowledge of law may well get lost in a sea of not so great writing


I think this is correct to the extent that "writing well" means writing clear and well-organized exam answers. But I don't think beautiful, flowing prose is important or even desirable. In my experience, choppy, repetitively structured sentences that are easy to read and score = win, even when the professor indicates that writing quality will be factored into your exam grade. One needn't be a gifted writer to produce "well-written" exam answers. It's something that anyone can do.


i didnt mean prose, I meant shorter, choppier sentences as required by exams. And actually professors have expressed that the majority of law students are not very good writers. I dont find this hard to believe because if we ever had peer revision in undergrad (which, for a lot of people in law school is only 4 months ago) there were a surprising number of people that didnt know the difference between "your" and "you're" "their" "there" etc..short choppy sentences cant cover that up.

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

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:30 pm

Brawndo86 wrote:
Bumi wrote:What school?


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

They all teach the same law, and people vastly overstate the differences between schools' teaching styles in terms rankings. For instance, elite schools poach teachers from lower ranked schools. Do you think those teachers change their style when they switch?

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

Postby Bankhead » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:37 pm

mikeytwoshoes wrote:
Brawndo86 wrote:
Bumi wrote:What school?


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

They all teach the same law, and people vastly overstate the differences between schools' teaching styles in terms rankings. For instance, elite schools poach teachers from lower ranked schools. Do you think those teachers change their style when they switch?


Gradually, yes, I bet they do.

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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 10:39 pm

goosey wrote:i didnt mean prose, I meant shorter, choppier sentences as required by exams. And actually professors have expressed that the majority of law students are not very good writers. I dont find this hard to believe because if we ever had peer revision in undergrad (which, for a lot of people in law school is only 4 months ago) there were a surprising number of people that didnt know the difference between "your" and "you're" "their" "there" etc..short choppy sentences cant cover that up.


I doubt confusion about the difference between "you're" and "your" is a serious problem in law school. Most of the posts on TLS exhibit the level of competency required to produce solid exam answers. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if most law students simply take the "typing racing" idea too seriously and end up producing long, disorganized answers. But for almost anyone, this is something that can be remedied rather easily.

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

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:41 pm

betasteve wrote:
General Tso wrote:
Melkaba wrote:
Brawndo86 wrote: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).


I'm actually more curious about the model answer to this question more than anything.


America, on the law of capture. First in time, first in right. We planted the first flag there.

Probably have to look at space law. The origins of property law are terrestrial. Extrapolating them to the moon (literally) would probably be outside the scope of the law's intent. I hate myself.

Where humans go, so goes the law. I don't think the common law gives two shits about its terrestrial origin. That's an awesome exam question.

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

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:45 pm

Bankhead wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:
Brawndo86 wrote:
Bumi wrote:What school?


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

They all teach the same law, and people vastly overstate the differences between schools' teaching styles in terms rankings. For instance, elite schools poach teachers from lower ranked schools. Do you think those teachers change their style when they switch?


Gradually, yes, I bet they do.

Your post betrays a subjective desire to validate your prestige whore-dom.

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

Postby Grizz » Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:52 pm

General Tso wrote:
Melkaba wrote:
Brawndo86 wrote: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).


I'm actually more curious about the model answer to this question more than anything.


America, on the law of capture. First in time, first in right. We planted the first flag there.


Signatories of the Outer Space Treaty (the US, Russia, and the UK) say that the moon belongs to everyone based on the common heritage to mankind principle (thanks Wikipedia). It's the other non-signatory countries we have to worry about I guess.

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

Postby IAFG » Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:00 am

mikeytwoshoes wrote:
Bankhead wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:They all teach the same law, and people vastly overstate the differences between schools' teaching styles in terms rankings. For instance, elite schools poach teachers from lower ranked schools. Do you think those teachers change their style when they switch?


Gradually, yes, I bet they do.

Your post betrays a subjective desire to validate your prestige whore-dom.

well obviously they would have to change styles to challenge a more capable class

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prezidentv8
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby prezidentv8 » Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:57 am

IAFG wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:
Bankhead wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:They all teach the same law, and people vastly overstate the differences between schools' teaching styles in terms rankings. For instance, elite schools poach teachers from lower ranked schools. Do you think those teachers change their style when they switch?


Gradually, yes, I bet they do.

Your post betrays a subjective desire to validate your prestige whore-dom.

well obviously they would have to change styles to challenge a more capable class


LOLZ

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

Postby Auguste Estoppel » Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:54 am

vamedic03 wrote: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 don't doubt these are important, but I don't think they're sufficient either. That strategy is what got me through undergrad, but I came in below median 1L year. The reason I can't be more specific is because we do the wacky P/HP grades--perhaps for the same reason, I didn't see any improvement from first to second semester, despite outlining from day one and updating/reviewing meticulously every week. YMMV, however.

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

Postby Blindmelon » Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:03 am

vanwinkle wrote: 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.


Or you could be like me and get a mix of anything between a B and A+. Seriously, I don't understand LS, I'll get an A+ in a class I have no interest in, and a B in a class I loved and did tons of work for. At some points, its arbitrary. I actually had someone comment on my transcript on how my GPA is good, but my grades are all over the place.

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prezidentv8
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby prezidentv8 » Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:44 pm

Blindmelon wrote:
vanwinkle wrote: 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.


Or you could be like me and get a mix of anything between a B and A+. Seriously, I don't understand LS, I'll get an A+ in a class I have no interest in, and a B in a class I loved and did tons of work for. At some points, its arbitrary. I actually had someone comment on my transcript on how my GPA is good, but my grades are all over the place.


Yeah you're like me, my grades are everywhere. Against the same section, I had both my highest and lowest grade, and these were within a pretty wide band. What seems to be determinative for my exam grades is how much time I have to write em. Anyway, sure, maybe some people have a good idea about how to write an exam or pick up the material faster or slower, but that's also in an environment where the vast majority of people have no idea what they're supposed to do other than "spot the issues" on the test and where nobody is actually teaching them or giving feedback. On the grading system in general, frankly, I think it's a metric for the sake of just having a metric - because law schools really want to rank people for the convenience of employers. Which in one sense is fine, although the focus is on ranking and not actually helping people learn anything is pretty obnoxious to me, as sort of a general principle.

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

Postby Na_Swatch » Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:04 pm

Auguste Estoppel wrote:
vamedic03 wrote: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 don't doubt these are important, but I don't think they're sufficient either. That strategy is what got me through undergrad, but I came in below median 1L year. The reason I can't be more specific is because we do the wacky P/HP grades--perhaps for the same reason, I didn't see any improvement from first to second semester, despite outlining from day one and updating/reviewing meticulously every week. YMMV, however.


Any advice on how to do well? I'm at the same school, 1L year and it seems like its completely subjective with the low word limits + take home exams + P/HP grades

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

Postby Auguste Estoppel » Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:31 pm

Na_Swatch wrote:Any advice on how to do well? I'm at the same school, 1L year and it seems like its completely subjective with the low word limits + take home exams + P/HP grades


As I didn't improve from first semester to the second, I can't say with authority what helps. The best I can do is pass along the feedback I got from my professors:

1) Consider all sides of the issue, even arguments you don't find intuitive (Getting to Maybe is supposed to be good, although it didn't help in my case,) and

2) Write clearly and lay a foundation. It's often tempting to be a little vague when you're not totally clear on the facts or law yourself.

Speaking generally, I wasn't really taken by surprise by any of my exams--my analysis just wasn't deep enough. Maybe that's the challenge you're going to face, maybe not; pay attention to your TAs' comments on those silly little 2-page writing assignments.

Oh, and take-home tests are unfortunate. My Leg/Reg one was 14 pages long, of which 3-4 were a mock Presidential speech on the hypothetical legislation.

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

Postby LoriBelle » Tue Sep 28, 2010 5:03 pm

Hard work is necessary, but not sufficient, to get good grades. I'm on law review. All my fellow staff members are both intelligent and studious. They work hard, period. There are people below median who are also studious, but there is no one on law review who I would say gets by without working hard as a law student.

There are a few possible explanations for why some people work hard and land below median. One would be not working smart (e.g., working too hard on perfecting each case brief instead of drilling the BLL). Another might be less innate ability - not intelligence per se, but legal analysis and writing ability. Or maybe it's a lack of understanding about exams, what they test, and how they test it. Maybe it's focusing on the wrong principles when studying. Who really knows?

But I stand by the idea that hard work is required (or practically required) to get good grades in law school, but that it doesn't guarantee said good grades. I also stand by the idea that law school grades are not luck. Maybe it's luck whether I get a B+ or an A-, but grades as a whole are far from random.

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zeth006
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby zeth006 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:28 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.


My personal paranoia is possibly falling into #1 and/or 2. With respect to #1, I'm learning to be more productive (typing this after I finished one short crim law reading) and to structure what I accomplish in my usual 2-3 hour stints in between meals/class. I'm always aware I may not accomplish everything on my to-do list, so improvising is something I'm learning. As for #2, I'm still not sure whether I'm taking notes on the right stuff, but then again, I've learned that 2 of my 3 core profs tend to resummarize and break down the cases/readings and then leave room for policy discussion that may appear on the exam.

Relatively middling intelligence is something I learned long ago to accept. It's exactly why I intend to review a few TLS guides to doing well during the weekend and make doing the best I can humanly do my one and only goal.


But #4 is puzzling to me. First off, people in my section are relatively tame. No serious gunners except for the 1-2 people who occasionally waste about 30 seconds to a minute to provide a useless insight or commentary that the professor clearly doesn't give enough of a rat's ass to waste time discussing. But you can tell that nearly everyone if not everyone is working hard. I might occasionally run into someone who complains that one class's reading is unusually lengthy, but I have yet to meet someone who boasted about finishing the entire semester's reading last night. This could be a sign that everyone in my section is focused and serious. :shock:

Better get back to reading...

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zeth006
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby zeth006 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:55 pm

Auguste Estoppel wrote:
Na_Swatch wrote:Any advice on how to do well? I'm at the same school, 1L year and it seems like its completely subjective with the low word limits + take home exams + P/HP grades


As I didn't improve from first semester to the second, I can't say with authority what helps. The best I can do is pass along the feedback I got from my professors:

1) Consider all sides of the issue, even arguments you don't find intuitive (Getting to Maybe is supposed to be good, although it didn't help in my case,) and

2) Write clearly and lay a foundation. It's often tempting to be a little vague when you're not totally clear on the facts or law yourself.

Speaking generally, I wasn't really taken by surprise by any of my exams--my analysis just wasn't deep enough. Maybe that's the challenge you're going to face, maybe not; pay attention to your TAs' comments on those silly little 2-page writing assignments.

Oh, and take-home tests are unfortunate. My Leg/Reg one was 14 pages long, of which 3-4 were a mock Presidential speech on the hypothetical legislation.


Just got my practice memo back, not too thrilled. I was debating meeting with my TA to discuss it as the comments were a bit sparse. This pushes me over the fence.

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emorystud2010
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Re: Not a strong correlation between hard work and good grades

Postby emorystud2010 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:37 pm

Real lesson from this thread: Law school is arbitrary and 90% of us are screwed.




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