Can you actually fail an exam?

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
nodummy
Posts: 179
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2009 4:20 pm

Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby nodummy » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:12 pm

I'm a 1L...just finished an exam. there were only four questions. one was probably the hardest takings questions i've ever seen before--it seemed to inlcude an element from ever takings case we read. i had no idea which direction to head and after four hours of going back and forth barely wrote anything. the other two were fairly straight-forward but still with awkward twists that were not inlcuded in any prior exams the prof made available at the library. the last question was very obscure, about a footnote in a book we were assigned over fall break.

i tried really hard this semester and it was one of my favorite classes but have no idea how ill get above a 10% on the exam. how can the entire course be based on something so irrelevant?

could i actually fail the course?

User avatar
FUBAR
Posts: 37
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:52 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby FUBAR » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:14 pm

nodummy wrote:could i actually fail the course?


Yes. Will you? Probably not.

User avatar
fathergoose
Posts: 853
Joined: Fri Dec 11, 2009 3:36 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby fathergoose » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:15 pm

nodummy wrote:I'm a 1L...just finished an exam. there were only four questions. one was probably the hardest takings questions i've ever seen before--it seemed to inlcude an element from ever takings case we read. i had no idea which direction to head and after four hours of going back and forth barely wrote anything. the other two were fairly straight-forward but still with awkward twists that were not inlcuded in any prior exams the prof made available at the library. the last question was very obscure, about a footnote in a book we were assigned over fall break.

i tried really hard this semester and it was one of my favorite classes but have no idea how ill get above a 10% on the exam. how can the entire course be based on something so irrelevant?

could i actually fail the course?

Yes. Someone got a 9 out of a 100 on an exam in one of my classes and failed it I believe, although I'm not sure because I think they dropped out after that semester.

That being said, its very hard, you probably did much better than you think

User avatar
bk1
Posts: 18422
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:06 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby bk1 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:17 pm

Depends on where you go. At most schools F's are discretionary and I'd imagine that you'd have to really fuck up to merit a discretionary F. Some practice exams I have taken have median scores in the 20-30 percent range.

User avatar
ben4847
Posts: 789
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:38 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby ben4847 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:18 pm

You probably didn't fail. Don't sweat it. I obsessed the entire winter break, and it was for no good reason.

1Ls: You should make sure you write something. If you have no idea what to write, make sure you at least write something. Nothing is certainly no credit.

pillowpet
Posts: 61
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2011 6:08 am

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby pillowpet » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:32 pm

if you prepared and worked hard then you should be okay. exams are going to be hard, that's how the professor gets the curve. if you thought it was hard, im sure everyone else thougth the same. So it's really hard to completely fail a test, you would have to purposely try to fail a test. if you put in the effort and wrote something reasonable down then you shouldn't end up with anything worse than a C.

03121202698008
Posts: 3002
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:07 am

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby 03121202698008 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:34 pm

Beauty of the curve. 15 points could be an A and 7 points could be a B+. If it was hard for you, it was likely hard for everyone.
Last edited by 03121202698008 on Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

c3pO4
Posts: 835
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:34 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby c3pO4 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:34 pm

nodummy wrote:I'm a 1L...just finished an exam. there were only four questions. one was probably the hardest takings questions i've ever seen before--it seemed to inlcude an element from ever takings case we read. i had no idea which direction to head and after four hours of going back and forth barely wrote anything. the other two were fairly straight-forward but still with awkward twists that were not inlcuded in any prior exams the prof made available at the library. the last question was very obscure, about a footnote in a book we were assigned over fall break.

i tried really hard this semester and it was one of my favorite classes but have no idea how ill get above a 10% on the exam. how can the entire course be based on something so irrelevant?

could i actually fail the course?


that is why they call it a curve. if you worked hard and this is how you feel, imagine how others feel. you definitely won't get below a B, and you might even have an A.

09042014
Posts: 18282
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby 09042014 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:43 pm

c3pO4 wrote:
nodummy wrote:I'm a 1L...just finished an exam. there were only four questions. one was probably the hardest takings questions i've ever seen before--it seemed to inlcude an element from ever takings case we read. i had no idea which direction to head and after four hours of going back and forth barely wrote anything. the other two were fairly straight-forward but still with awkward twists that were not inlcuded in any prior exams the prof made available at the library. the last question was very obscure, about a footnote in a book we were assigned over fall break.

i tried really hard this semester and it was one of my favorite classes but have no idea how ill get above a 10% on the exam. how can the entire course be based on something so irrelevant?

could i actually fail the course?


that is why they call it a curve. if you worked hard and this is how you feel, imagine how others feel. you definitely won't get below a B, and you might even have an A.


I dunno. If he panicked and didn't write much he could have turned in the worst test in his class.

It sounds like the OP just doesn't understand what a law exam is supposed to be. It's supposed to be something you've never seen, and you have to try to apply the law to it. There is no "right" answer.

That last answer might have been based on a footnote, but you probably could have answered it with an A+ answer not having ever read it.

OP needs to get used to ambiguity.

User avatar
fathergoose
Posts: 853
Joined: Fri Dec 11, 2009 3:36 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby fathergoose » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:45 pm

Desert Fox wrote:OP needs to get used to ambiguity.

credited

User avatar
Grizz
Posts: 10583
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:31 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby Grizz » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:58 pm

nodummy wrote:i had no idea which direction to head and after four hours of going back and forth barely wrote anything.

Next time, write all that on your test. That's probably what the prof. wanted.

random5483
Posts: 684
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:17 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby random5483 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:13 am

The short answer is yes.


The long answer is probably not. A C or C- is much more likely than an F if you perform badly. Most law school professors give a discretionary C (or C-) and can fill most of the class with B-s or above. Unless you completely screwed up the exam you won't fail the exam. Also, don't freak out yet. The exams are curved. If the exam is as hard as you thought, chances are everyone did poorly, meaning you just might come out on top.

kaplowstein
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:30 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby kaplowstein » Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:46 am

Yeah seriously, have the same question, except a 2L speaking here who struck out at OCI, spent pretty much the majority of the semester on the job search unsuccessfully and now have three exams and basically taught or am currently teaching myself most of the material. Go to a T10 school, while I'd love to get a grade with a 3 or higher in each class, my situation doesn't make that likely and at this point, I just don't want to fail one or all of them, not that I guess the discretionary C/C- is much better. Will a T10 school a student out and if so, how epically bad would they have to perform on the exams? I know, I'm a 2L shouldn't be freaking out like this but..yeah

User avatar
romothesavior
Posts: 14772
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:29 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby romothesavior » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:01 am

I'll let you know tomorrow.

User avatar
Grizz
Posts: 10583
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:31 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby Grizz » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:07 am

romothesavior wrote:I'll let you know tomorrow. Friday

FTFM

User avatar
rayiner
Posts: 6184
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:43 am

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby rayiner » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:25 am

I'm a 1L...just finished an exam. there were only four questions. one was probably the hardest takings questions i've ever seen before--it seemed to inlcude an element from ever takings case we read. i had no idea which direction to head and after four hours of going back and forth barely wrote anything. the other two were fairly straight-forward but still with awkward twists that were not inlcuded in any prior exams the prof made available at the library. the last question was very obscure, about a footnote in a book we were assigned over fall break.


So warning to other 1L's who can still avoid this guy's mistake: the whole point of law school exams is to analyze a situation which contains 50-90% of all of the issues that you encountered in the whole semester.

1) Your exam contained an element from every taking's case you read because you were supposed to argue all the sides of each of the elements in all the cases.

2) You were supposed to write down all the back and forth. That analysis is what you get points for. It shows that you know what the contours of the rules are in cases that aren't clear-cut.

3) Professors will generally not test you on how well you read a footnote. You're supposed to analyze the situation using the law you learned in the rest of the course.

In law school, material is presented to you one issue at a time, but you need to synthesize all that and be prepared to analyze a situation that implicates lots of issues. Like in a math class, what's important is all your intermediate work, not the final answer.

User avatar
worldtraveler
Posts: 7667
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:47 am

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby worldtraveler » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:01 am

nodummy wrote:I'm a 1L...just finished an exam. there were only four questions. one was probably the hardest takings questions i've ever seen before--it seemed to inlcude an element from ever takings case we read. i had no idea which direction to head and after four hours of going back and forth barely wrote anything. the other two were fairly straight-forward but still with awkward twists that were not inlcuded in any prior exams the prof made available at the library. the last question was very obscure, about a footnote in a book we were assigned over fall break.

i tried really hard this semester and it was one of my favorite classes but have no idea how ill get above a 10% on the exam. how can the entire course be based on something so irrelevant?

could i actually fail the course?


It kinda depends on the school to some degree. Some schools fail out way more people than others. Some even have a rule that professors have to write a justification for why they failed someone.

It also isn't that common to think you failed and end up doing fine. Everyone else might have screwed up more than you did.

During my evidence final, I really struggled with a policy question and I ended up writing very little as it was only about one case and I barely even remembered that case. I thought I was screwed. After the test I overheard a conversation in which 5 people said they had the same problem and had to go read the case for the first time. Just because you screwed up doesn't mean other people didn't screw up more.

User avatar
crEEp
Posts: 116
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:15 am

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby crEEp » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:15 pm

Would any professor be sadistic enough to fail a 3L? Let's just say that today's exam was not one of my prouder moments in law school...and I mean that quite sincerely. This is, by far, the worst I have ever done on an exam in my life.

User avatar
swc65
Posts: 1003
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:27 am

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby swc65 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:39 pm

nodummy wrote:I'm a 1L...just finished an exam. there were only four questions. one was probably the hardest takings questions i've ever seen before--it seemed to inlcude an element from ever takings case we read. i had no idea which direction to head and after four hours of going back and forth barely wrote anything. the other two were fairly straight-forward but still with awkward twists that were not inlcuded in any prior exams the prof made available at the library. the last question was very obscure, about a footnote in a book we were assigned over fall break.

i tried really hard this semester and it was one of my favorite classes but have no idea how ill get above a 10% on the exam. how can the entire course be based on something so irrelevant?

could i actually fail the course?



It sounds like you spotted a ton of issues and how they relate to the course material. You probably would have done better if you would have written down all of those thoughts that were "going back and forth" in your head. You can't get points if you don't write it down.

User avatar
IAFG
Posts: 6665
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:26 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby IAFG » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:43 pm

As long as you wrote 15 pages or so I'm sure you're fine

nickwar
Posts: 145
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 1:03 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby nickwar » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:57 pm

nodummy wrote:I'm a 1L...just finished an exam. there were only four questions. one was probably the hardest takings questions i've ever seen before--it seemed to inlcude an element from ever takings case we read. i had no idea which direction to head and after four hours of going back and forth barely wrote anything. the other two were fairly straight-forward but still with awkward twists that were not inlcuded in any prior exams the prof made available at the library. the last question was very obscure, about a footnote in a book we were assigned over fall break.

i tried really hard this semester and it was one of my favorite classes but have no idea how ill get above a 10% on the exam. how can the entire course be based on something so irrelevant?

could i actually fail the course?



If it was hard for you it was hard for everyone else. You'll likely be surprised by your grade. Or you will fail.

User avatar
deebs
Posts: 221
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:52 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby deebs » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:56 pm

Can you learn the entire tax code in 2 days? Another way to frame it...

User avatar
fathergoose
Posts: 853
Joined: Fri Dec 11, 2009 3:36 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby fathergoose » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:06 pm

deebs wrote:Can you learn the entire tax code in 2 days? Another way to frame it...

I'm going to find out one way or another

User avatar
deebs
Posts: 221
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:52 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby deebs » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:12 pm

fathergoose wrote:
deebs wrote:Can you learn the entire tax code in 2 days? Another way to frame it...

I'm going to find out one way or another

You and me both. By this time tomorrow, I may have to drop out

User avatar
DrGuano
Posts: 192
Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2009 1:13 pm

Re: Can you actually fail an exam?

Postby DrGuano » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:29 pm

Let me use a little anecdote from my 1L year to hopefully better prepare 1Ls taking their first exam now...

my torts professor last spring gave us an open book final. she told us in advance to bring our casebook in case she references a specific opinion on the exam. what she didn't tell us was that we should also bring the handouts for the semester that were "updates" to the casebook. one of the questions, worth 10% of the exam, asked us to compare our analysis in the preceding question with the court in a case in the update that we covered for all of 30 seconds in class.

First lesson here - anything and everything in class is fair game.

I could not for the life of me remember what this case was about. I could only guess that the case had some similarity to the big issues in the preceding question, so I strung together two paragraphs of BS talking about the same issues all over again and how a court would differ or maybe stay the same. it was complete rubbish. when we met up for drinks later that evening to celebrate the end of 1L, a fair number of students said they freaked out when they realized they didn't remember/bring the update with them, and just left this blank. Those students forfeited all 10 points.

Second lesson here - ALWAYS WRITE SOMETHING. Show some semblance of legal analysis and you'll get SOME credit. Some credit is obviously way better than none.

I figured I couldn't have done better than a B+ because I didn't reach a conclusion for the biggest question in the test. I descriptively laid out why a court could go each way, but didn't finish in time to reach a conclusion. Time was a big factor on this test and a few of my friends worrying they'd run out of time just listed the rules and jumped to a conclusion.

Third lesson - Legal analysis without coming out one way or the other is better than simply regurgitating information.

The moral of the story is show the teacher you not only learned something in class, but you know how to apply what you learned. If you can't, at least throw down something. A professor is unlikely to fail anybody, unless you make it easy for them by handing back nothing.

I ended up with an A- on the exam, which works out to about top 15% in the class.




Return to “Forum for Law School Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot] and 5 guests