Exam-taking ability after long break from school

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
LSATNightmares
Posts: 535
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 10:29 pm

Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby LSATNightmares » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:09 am

If this has been discussed already on TLS, I apologize for asking about it (couldn't find a thread on it). But as I was browsing this forum, I came across that law professor thread where he mentioned that students that have been out of school for a while tend not to do as well on exams. I wanted to see if anyone had any perspectives on that. Did any of you who were out of school for a long time find a problem taking exams? How easy was it to get used to studying again?

My background: I've been out of school for four years. I've been working in policy analysis as a researcher, but it's likely not as mentally challenging as law school. I was already pretty mature about studying in undergrad (and my undergrad program was quite challenging with forced curves in many classes). But I was burnt out coming out of undergrad and needed time to figure out what to do with my life.

User avatar
Pizon
Posts: 138
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 2:53 am

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby Pizon » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:43 am

I think being away from school (graduated college in January 2005, started law school in August 2009) made me care less about exam performance than most of my classmates. I'm more interested in learning than impressing law professors with my skillz. While true that I'm not in the market for a job, I believe the bigger picture is older, more experienced people realize there's more to life than school.

So to answer your question more directly, it seems that it isn't about having problems taking exams as much as much as not being as paranoid about exams.

User avatar
Rock-N-Roll
Posts: 319
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:16 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby Rock-N-Roll » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:46 am

If one was a good student before it would follow that they'd be a good student years later. It is the exact same skill set.

User avatar
cinephile
Posts: 3469
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:50 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby cinephile » Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:07 pm

I had heard that some K-JDs were more likely to view law school as an extension of college and treat it as such, partying most nights, not studying until the last minute, etc. With distance from college and the responsibilities of a real world job, at least you get out of that mindset.

User avatar
rdcws000
Posts: 308
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:41 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby rdcws000 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 3:44 pm

LSATNightmares wrote:If this has been discussed already on TLS, I apologize for asking about it (couldn't find a thread on it). But as I was browsing this forum, I came across that law professor thread where he mentioned that students that have been out of school for a while tend not to do as well on exams. I wanted to see if anyone had any perspectives on that. Did any of you who were out of school for a long time find a problem taking exams? How easy was it to get used to studying again?

My background: I've been out of school for four years. I've been working in policy analysis as a researcher, but it's likely not as mentally challenging as law school. I was already pretty mature about studying in undergrad (and my undergrad program was quite challenging with forced curves in many classes). But I was burnt out coming out of undergrad and needed time to figure out what to do with my life.


I think you will be fine. Maybe that prof saw some of that but I don't think the correlation equals causation as many like to say on TLS.

Purely anecdotal - my PT section is roughly 1/2 older more experienced individuals, and 1/2 younger students fresh out of undergrad. Performance is split evenly between the two groups as far as I can tell, with the older folks maybe having a slight edge.

I think it's more a function of 1) how you think 2) how you write, and 3) how much work you put in.

studentofthelaw
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:22 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby studentofthelaw » Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:39 pm

I don't really know that I buy into this. Undergrad is many ways an extension of high school. There is really no high level of learning or even thinking for that matter. You can literally blow off the entire year and then ace the class bc you stayed up the night before either writing the take home or studying for the final. Yes, I'm talking about myself. But I know this applies to at least a few others here also. :P At least for the soft sciences, rote memorization and regurgitation can get you through your four years of undergrad.

Law school is a different beast entirely. We all know this. Which is why those who are fresh out of undergrad may be at a slight disadvantage. They have to quickly unlearn those exam taking methods from undergrad while those who are years out of school probably don't.

User avatar
Rock-N-Roll
Posts: 319
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:16 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby Rock-N-Roll » Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:59 am

studentofthelaw wrote:I don't really know that I buy into this. Undergrad is many ways an extension of high school. There is really no high level of learning or even thinking for that matter. You can literally blow off the entire year and then ace the class bc you stayed up the night before either writing the take home or studying for the final. Yes, I'm talking about myself. But I know this applies to at least a few others here also. :P At least for the soft sciences, rote memorization and regurgitation can get you through your four years of undergrad.

Law school is a different beast entirely. We all know this. Which is why those who are fresh out of undergrad may be at a slight disadvantage. They have to quickly unlearn those exam taking methods from undergrad while those who are years out of school probably don't.


What? Where the heck did you go to school and what was your major? My college experience was certainly nothing like this!

And if you just happen to be the rare bird that breezed his or her way through an undergrad like Harvard, I'm confident you will do just fine in law school even if you took time off between undergrad and law school.

nymario
Posts: 239
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby nymario » Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:22 am

I graduated undergraduate in 1999 with a 3.0. I came back and completed 1L year with a 3.9+ -- I was in a small alternate entry program with about half and half K-JD's and half with some WE. The other top student was a K-JD. Some WE students struggled first semester and then got into a groove (others struggled both semesters). I think it's very dependent on the students' individual circumstances.

schooner
Posts: 374
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby schooner » Sat Aug 13, 2011 11:17 am

...
Last edited by schooner on Sun May 03, 2015 12:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

morris248
Posts: 210
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:30 am

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby morris248 » Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:11 pm

I don't think that age has much to do with it. It is really a function of how hard you want to work. Once you graduate and pass the bar everyone is called the same, lawyer. Older students probably have less time since they usually have family, etc.

schooner
Posts: 374
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby schooner » Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:29 pm

...
Last edited by schooner on Sun May 03, 2015 12:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

studentofthelaw
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:22 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby studentofthelaw » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:45 pm

Rock-N-Roll wrote:
What? Where the heck did you go to school and what was your major? My college experience was certainly nothing like this!

And if you just happen to be the rare bird that breezed his or her way through an undergrad like Harvard, I'm confident you will do just fine in law school even if you took time off between undergrad and law school.



I was Poli-sci (though I was Psych for like 2 seconds) and I didn't go to Harvard. I didn't even waste my time or money applying to Harvard. I just thought undergrad was really easy and kinda boring. Which made me really lazy. I couldn't wait to graduate. My sole purpose for going to college was because it's a requirement for entrance into law schoool which was my ultimate goal.

User avatar
Kabuo
Posts: 1114
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:53 am

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby Kabuo » Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:13 pm

Rock-N-Roll wrote:If one was a good student before it would follow that they'd be a good student years later. It is the exact same skill set.


But you're being grouped with students of approximately equal "skill" at being students...

LSATNightmares
Posts: 535
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 10:29 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby LSATNightmares » Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:40 pm

Thanks for the feedback. Some of what you're all saying does ring true. For example, at 26 years old (older, but not that old) I've already noticed my memory getting worse and my ability to deal with grueling physical stress going down. I also have more personal distractions, as I'm married. I'm just hoping my disciplined and good study habits from undergrad will quickly come back. I went to a really competitive undergrad, so law school probably wouldn't be a huge shock.

User avatar
Rock-N-Roll
Posts: 319
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:16 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby Rock-N-Roll » Sat Aug 13, 2011 6:30 pm

Kabuo wrote:
Rock-N-Roll wrote:If one was a good student before it would follow that they'd be a good student years later. It is the exact same skill set.


But you're being grouped with students of approximately equal "skill" at being students...


I think really good students are good in an absolute sense and not just relative to others (classmates).

User avatar
zx92027xz
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2011 5:53 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby zx92027xz » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:00 pm

cinephile wrote:I had heard that some K-JDs were more likely to view law school as an extension of college and treat it as such, partying most nights, not studying until the last minute, etc. With distance from college and the responsibilities of a real world job, at least you get out of that mindset.


word.

User avatar
spleenworship
Posts: 4421
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:08 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby spleenworship » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:27 pm

schooner wrote:I remember asking that professor how well older students perform. He divided them into 2 crowds: 30 & younger and 40+, which sounds "right" to me.


What if you are in between 30 and 40? :lol:

schooner wrote:On a related note re: the LSAT, I wanted to add that adcoms people have told me they definitely see a difference in older students' scores. On average, they usually tend to do worse. I suspect the logic games section is to blame.


Why do you suspect this? I am curious because I had the hardest time with LG and had to work very hard on it (thank goodness it is the easiest to improve) to get my score. And, as I stated above, I am a little older.

schooner
Posts: 374
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby schooner » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:44 pm

...
Last edited by schooner on Sun May 03, 2015 12:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Blessedassurance
Posts: 2081
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:42 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby Blessedassurance » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:58 pm

Part of the LSAT problem has to do with timing, I believe. Older people tend to be, on average, more mature and consequently cautious so some hesitate to just pick the right answer and move on, which affects timing.

nymario
Posts: 239
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby nymario » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:59 pm

schooner wrote:LSAT - I think logic games has a lot to do with fluid intelligence - keeping lots of variables and intricate but plain rules in your head all at once and manipulating them quickly. Reading comp is a different kind of sustained comprehension that I think benefits from experience (age).


Perhaps for any given school, because older applicants tend to have work experience, they will apply to higher ranked schools than other students with the same LSAT score. Therefore it stands to reason that any given adcomm will see a lower average LSAT score in the applications they see from older students.

User avatar
TCScrutinizer
Posts: 497
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2009 11:01 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby TCScrutinizer » Tue Aug 16, 2011 10:33 am

It's definitely possible. I took only two years off from school, and my first exams were brutal -- I had a complete breakdown during the last exam as everything I had studied just seemed to leak from my brain. All I can say is, at least for your first semester back, be diligent in your outlining and practicing, and stay focused in class. While law school exam grades seem really random at times, my first semester grades showed a definite correlation between prep time/class engagement and results. Also practice your typing. While not all teachers are like this, some teachers favor high volume in their exam responses. I can only realistically type about 1,000 words per hour on an exam, but some of the more successful students were typing between 1,500 and 2,000 words per hour.

tl;dr: practice exams.

User avatar
Heartford
Posts: 430
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:02 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby Heartford » Tue Aug 16, 2011 11:50 am

I was out of school longer than you and I got really good grades during 1L. Study smart, put forth genuine effort, and don't sweat the small stuff. (This is small stuff, and you're sweating it.)

Also, this:

nymario wrote:I think it's very dependent on the students' individual circumstances.

keg411
Posts: 5935
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:10 pm

Re: Exam-taking ability after long break from school

Postby keg411 » Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:19 pm

Heartford wrote:I was out of school longer than you and I got really good grades during 1L. Study smart, put forth genuine effort, and don't sweat the small stuff. (This is small stuff, and you're sweating it.)


+1




Return to “Forum for Law School Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot] and 5 guests