Below median and bewildered

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
rogermurdoch
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 2:07 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby rogermurdoch » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:06 pm

Read your supplement, then read the canned briefs, and THEN read the cases. Do it in that order. That way you learn the black letter law first from the supplement. The canned brief gives you a big picture summary of the case. Then when you read the case itself you learn the court's reasoning. IMO, canned briefs do a horrible job of explaining the reasoning in an opinion. I think this method lets you get the most out of class because most of the profs examples will be your casebook readings. Do some E&E's and CALI lessons to learn how to apply the law on your own. Switch to practice exams towards the end of the semester.

User avatar
NYC Law
Posts: 1569
Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 3:33 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby NYC Law » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:14 pm

You need to read the casebook. Read it all (Don't need to brief, I'd say you don't even need to take notes, but it's important you're at least exposed to everything in the assigned reading). Supplements may not even be necessary depending on the course, the professor, and how clear the casebook is. I still haven't gotten where it comes from that the casebook/professor doesn't give the BLL. I've found those two do tend to give it clearly enough to the extent you need it on an exam. If you come across an issue that you don't have enough BLL for on an exam/practice exam just say so, that it's an ambiguity or unsettled law, then use the reasoning from cases to state which way you think the law would go (and what the other side will say about it). Supplements should really be used when you're confused about something or when you need practice problems.

The most important thing is just understanding your profs testing style. You can't get this from a LR article. If you know there's going to be a checklist then I wouldn't even bother with supplements, and don't even think of looking into a hornbook/treatise. Pretty much everything on the checklist will probably have been covered in lecture. If they like outside stuff and are more hollistic then you may want to look in a hornbook for some outside material, but even then they'll probably hint in class what sort of creative things they want.

User avatar
Ludo!
Posts: 4764
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:22 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Ludo! » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:30 pm

Peg wrote:So let me explain my casebook approach, and then why I put emphasis on "creative arguments" rather than number of issues.

1) Casebook approach - the first week of 1L (god, that seems like it was another lifetime ago) I did the classic method of meticulously briefing each case. By Friday of that week I realized that this was a huge time sink and that I wasn't learning anything from it - I kept thinking of my end goal, the issue spotter, and how to prepare for that final fact pattern. So I switched to book-briefing for a couple of weeks, and still found it a frustrating waste of time. I wasn't learning the BLL effectively. I also began to notice that, while we would be assigned to read a certain number of pages, our professors didn't always talk about the entire reading in class. So for the rest of the semester, I would usually read after class, not before. And I wouldn't read the casebook, I would use canned briefs of the cases that the professor discussed in class. Then I would think about the case from the perspective of what the professor talked about.

I admit, sometimes I wouldn't even bother with this when I thought my professor was using way too many cases to explain a set of nuances that I had already read about in a supplement.


2) Creative Arguments - two of my professors talked to the class about what they want to see in an exam, and they said that the analysis is more important the naming the issue and garnered more points. I interpreted this to mean I should sacrifice the number of issues spotted in favor of more detailed analysis. This doesn't mean I like spotted five issues per exam and decided to stop there, but in all my practice exams and in the real exams, I allocated more time in my planning stage for issue analysis than for issue spotting. In my real exams, I knew I had missed some issues, but I felt confident that I had hit all the main ones and analyzed the hell out of them.

Then again, some people say professors aren't good at telling students what they want to see. When I see the grading checklist, the sample answer and my answer, I will know if actually hitting a high number of issues was better than analyzing fewer issues in more depth.


I think your approach to cases was a little off. I never briefed and I didn't read the cases that in depth. But I did read them before class and figure out what was important. I think it's a skill to be able to quickly read a case and figure out on your own what the take away is. If you just focused on learning what the professor told you was important, you never built up that skill.

But it sounds like your exam approach was probably the reason you didn't do so well. You sacrificed number of issues spotted for more in depth analysis. Not only does this not work when you have professors just using a checklist system (and it seems like a lot do, whether they admit it or not), but the students at the top of the class probably didn't have to sacrifice anything. They spotted more issues than you and had the same amount of analysis. This "allocated time in the planning stage" is worrying. You shouldn't really have a planning stage. You should read and immediately begin typing and be able to type as fast as you can think.

User avatar
kalvano
Posts: 11722
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby kalvano » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:58 pm

Disagree on planning. I think 5 minutes to sketch a quick outline of what you want to say and headings is a good idea. It seemed to work for me. It makes it more organized and easier to read. Plus, more than once, I jotted down an issue that I spotted that I completely missed when I started typing, but had the outline to remind me.

Don't spend 20-30 minutes outlining, but a few at the beginning helps a lot, in my opinion.

hurldes
Posts: 138
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:32 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby hurldes » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:41 pm

Always Credited wrote:-How closely did you follow LEEWS? There have been seriously mixed reactions to it. I took it, and following it to the letter (fortunately on just a midterm) led to a really bad exam. It was legitimately stupid. However, applying the broader principles in my own style - a mix of LEEWS, GTM, and IRAC - led to a much better result. There's a lot of people who found this with LEEWS.


What do people mean when they say 'don't follow LEEWs too closely'? How does it hurt people's exams?

To me, following LEEWs means to set up conflict pairings, identify the relevant issues/premises, begin each paragraph with a statement of law, and nitpick the facts. Is there something wrong with this? Where do some students take this too far?

smittytron3k
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 4:32 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby smittytron3k » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:42 pm

There's a really good post by traydeuce somewhere on this site where he talks about how to take law school exams, and I think it's the single best thing that I've seen about how to approach them. In a nutshell, I think that the key to good exam taking is to talk a lot about the facts, and to draw persuasive analogies between the facts presented in the fact pattern and the facts that the court found to be relevant in the cases that you read. I tried a BLL-centric approach first semester and didn't do awesome (median or slightly below). I found that my answers were sort of tone-deaf to the factual nuances that the professors put in the exam, and your ability to sort out those nuances is what's going to tip the balance on most exams. I changed up my approach, spent way more time talking about facts and details of individual cases on my exams 2d semester, and did way better. I don't think the problem is that you didn't spot enough issues--I suspect that the problem is that your analysis focused on the wrong things.

Also, my general opinion is that supplements are largely useless (the BLL is not that hard, generally) and that detailed class notes are incredibly, incredibly important (especially to the extent that they signal the issues that the professors consider to be most important), but that clearly is not received wisdom on this site and YMMV.

User avatar
Helmholtz
Posts: 4394
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:48 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Helmholtz » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:46 pm

Peg wrote:I did not deserve to be below median


Unfortunately, not how law school works.

User avatar
johansantana21
Posts: 855
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:11 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby johansantana21 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:47 pm

Helmholtz wrote:
Peg wrote:I did not deserve to be below median


Unfortunately, not how law school works.


+1

Also if anything, you sound like you were looking for shortcuts. Even as a slacker, I read all the cases for almost all my classes...in depth.

meg5096
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:52 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby meg5096 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:57 pm

Always Credited wrote:
Peg wrote:I worked really, really hard last semester, but I thought I was working "smart". Instead of focusing on the casebook readings, I focused on the BLL. I read my professors' law review articles to pick their mind, figure out what they were interested in, and learn their biases. I took good notes in class. I used supplements like LEEWS and GTM. I didn't go out and socialize - didn't attend a single bar review. Pretty sure half my section doesn't know who I am, in fact. I looked at past exams and sample responses to those exams. I did practice exams and compared my responses.

I even used a supplement that very few others in my class knew about, which had been recommended to me by a 2L in the top 10%, and I felt like I aced my exams. Almost nothing in those exams surprised me or seemed impossible. I was very calm and focused during my exams (beta-blockers), and I thought my answers were creative and showed sophisticated application of basic doctrine, like Glannon preaches.

But I also got my 7 hours of sleep each night. I didn't feel burned out. I felt invigorated, and I felt I was using my time efficiently.

I ended up below median. Not even at median, below median.

I have appointments to meet my professors today and on Monday and go over the exams, but I have spent the last few days full of grief. Grief is the only word that can describe what I'm going through. I did not deserve to be below median with the way I worked, I did everything right. I have been crying so much that my eyes hurt. It does not make sense. I've been going over my study method last semester in detail and I just don't know where I went wrong. My study plan seemed savvy and not the sort of mindless grinding that most hard-working 1Ls go through.

None of my mentors or my friends know what kind of grades I got. I am too ashamed to face them. I cannot talk about this with anyone in real life. Just thinking of the words "below median" is still unbelievable to me right now. In my worst nightmares I did not expect that.

Am I stupid? Is law school just not for me?


I can't find a single thing, based on what you say, that you should've done differently to change this outcome. Just a few questions:




-Do you go to a school ranked lower than a T30? I know this sounds odd...but from talking with a good amount of people I find that after the T30, professors seem to really value simple, straightforward exam answers much more than the creative, argument-counterargument style we teach ourselves to write.



wat

User avatar
DMBFan
Posts: 53
Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2011 4:44 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby DMBFan » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:58 pm

Sounds like you did most of what you should have been doing. If I could offer a recommendation, give the casebook a little more weight. I realize people will disagree with this, but I do the casebook reading first. Then I read hornbooks to fill in gaps in my outline and make sure I understand the material. If you can ascertain the law from the casebook alone, you know you have gotten the point of the assignment. When you later read the hornbook, 90% of the material should already make sense to you. Anything additional goes in your outline to give you a slight edge over people who never cracked open the hornbooks. Some will say I did it backwards, but this system worked for me.

The professor assigned the casebook, so you need to respect that choice. When grading, they probably don't want to see a lot of cases he or she never assigned. Make sure you are structuring your exams around the material the professor used in teaching.

Good luck this semester!

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

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby IAFG » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:59 pm

meg5096 wrote:
Always Credited wrote:
-Do you go to a school ranked lower than a T30? I know this sounds odd...but from talking with a good amount of people I find that after the T30, professors seem to really value simple, straightforward exam answers much more than the creative, argument-counterargument style we teach ourselves to write.



wat

My friend at a TTT's exams are pure regurgitation. He doesn't even know what an issue spotter is.

User avatar
NoleinNY
Posts: 1031
Joined: Mon Sep 14, 2009 4:58 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby NoleinNY » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:13 pm

meg5096 wrote:
Always Credited wrote:I can't find a single thing, based on what you say, that you should've done differently to change this outcome. Just a few questions:




-Do you go to a school ranked lower than a T30? I know this sounds odd...but from talking with a good amount of people I find that after the T30, professors seem to really value simple, straightforward exam answers much more than the creative, argument-counterargument style we teach ourselves to write.



wat


At my T2, 9/10 professors seem to want both. C's know the law and apply it broadly. B's apply law to facts and argue both sides. A's know the law, apply it, argue both sides, and spray some policy whipped cream on top. A+* sprinkle some creative argument chips on top of that... Also, everything is closed book; you have to have it all down-pat.

tl; dr: professors placed most value on you giving them both.

Peg
Posts: 331
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:32 am

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Peg » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:16 pm

Just got back from a post mortem with my professor. Some major problems that jumped out to me were 1) irrelevant analysis that wasn't strictly important, 2) talking about conflict pairs that he didn't ask for in the question :( 3) uneven organization, i.e. some parts were well organized, other parts were not, 4) failure to spot enough issues.

Someone asked upthread about what exactly I meant when I said I wrote about extra conflict pairs. Basically, the issue-spotter had three questions, e.g. A v. B; A v. C; B v. C. I answered all those and then went ahead and wrote about A v. D as well - which was not asked for. But I thought it would impress him that I'd made that insight - after all, I'm trying to be the best lawyer for A that I can be. Wrong. He didn't even look at it, he just dragged a red pen over it and flipped over to the next section.

And this is how I see how pitiful my word count looks without that A v. D bit thrown in there. My total word count for this issue spotter was 2,800, which was average-ish for the class (exam was 3 hours, two essays) but not very high to begin with, but if you remove A v. D from the essay, I have like 300 words less. And I obviously didn't spot enough issues on the questions the professor actually asked for. Some easy points would've been racked up on the most obvious shit ever, stuff that shouldn't even be an issue because it is common sense, and I missed it.

The only thing that saved me from dropping to a lower grade was that in one essay, I wrote policy arguments that were directly from his law review articles. He praised me for being a good thinker and I was amazed that anyone could accept blatant sycophancy so easily...but I'm not complaining.

User avatar
thesealocust
Posts: 8445
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby thesealocust » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:21 pm

Peg wrote:I didn't go out and socialize - didn't attend a single bar review. Pretty sure half my section doesn't know who I am, in fact.

. . .

Grief is the only word that can describe what I'm going through. I did not deserve to be below median with the way I worked, I did everything right. I have been crying so much that my eyes hurt. It does not make sense.


Welcome to law school!

Tuition is non-refundable.

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

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby romothesavior » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:21 pm

I am a big believer that class prep is of marginal value compared to exam taking when it comes to grades. Trying to fine tune the little shit you do in January and February isn't going to affect your grades as much as your exam taking and studying. You should be focusing on what you did wrong in the weeks leading up to the exam. More practice tests, and less creative answers on your exams will probably help.

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

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby romothesavior » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:23 pm

Also, lighten up a little and don't be such an insufferable gunner. Law school doesn't have to be so miserable. I'll bet you'd do better if you had a little more fun.

User avatar
thesealocust
Posts: 8445
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby thesealocust » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:26 pm

Peg wrote:@AlwaysCredited: I didn't memorize my outlines. I had to look at them a few times during the exam. I'm starting to wonder if this slowed down my typing speed compared to everyone else...but then, when I compared word counts, I was more or less at par with people? (Maybe "at par" is the problem here.)

Yeah, I'm bitter about LEEWS. I did that LEEWS trick of writing about conflict pairs that aren't explicitly asked for in the question, and that might have fucked me over.

@Supremo Skelator: My school is T20-T25 range.

@ BaiAilian: yeah, I was big on creative arguments all through my practice exams because I figured, how else can you distinguish yourself from the herd? Plus it was another LEEWS thing. I really hope that is not what got me ass-raped.


Holy red-flags batman. It sounds like you wrote about a lot of material on your exam that you wouldn't get any points for ("conflict pairs that aren't . . . in the question" and "creative arguments") which is a great way to not only get bad grades but to piss off the grader in the process.

Also the part where you didn't do the reading because you're too smart to fall for the trap of doing the reading. That may have had something to do with it.

romothesavior wrote:Also, lighten up a little and don't be such an insufferable gunner.


HERETIC! OP IS LEARNING TO LOVE THE LAW AND NOT YOU AND YOUR PETTY 'HUMAN' EMOTIONS!

User avatar
NYC Law
Posts: 1569
Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 3:33 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby NYC Law » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:29 pm

Didn't see that extra conflict pairs part. Yeah, never ever ever do what isn't asked in the question. You can get creative with that stuff when it asks to 'address all claims', but always look at and closely follow the directions.

nStiver
Posts: 388
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:15 am

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby nStiver » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:44 pm

Peg wrote:I worked really, really hard last semester, but I thought I was working "smart". Instead of focusing on the casebook readings, I focused on the BLL. I read my professors' law review articles to pick their mind, figure out what they were interested in, and learn their biases. I took good notes in class. I used supplements like LEEWS and GTM. I didn't go out and socialize - didn't attend a single bar review. Pretty sure half my section doesn't know who I am, in fact. I looked at past exams and sample responses to those exams. I did practice exams and compared my responses.

I even used a supplement that very few others in my class knew about, which had been recommended to me by a 2L in the top 10%, and I felt like I aced my exams. Almost nothing in those exams surprised me or seemed impossible. I was very calm and focused during my exams (beta-blockers), and I thought my answers were creative and showed sophisticated application of basic doctrine, like Glannon preaches.

But I also got my 7 hours of sleep each night. I didn't feel burned out. I felt invigorated, and I felt I was using my time efficiently.

I ended up below median. Not even at median, below median.

I have appointments to meet my professors today and on Monday and go over the exams, but I have spent the last few days full of grief. Grief is the only word that can describe what I'm going through. I did not deserve to be below median with the way I worked, I did everything right. I have been crying so much that my eyes hurt. It does not make sense. I've been going over my study method last semester in detail and I just don't know where I went wrong. My study plan seemed savvy and not the sort of mindless grinding that most hard-working 1Ls go through.

None of my mentors or my friends know what kind of grades I got. I am too ashamed to face them. I cannot talk about this with anyone in real life. Just thinking of the words "below median" is still unbelievable to me right now. In my worst nightmares I did not expect that.

Am I stupid? Is law school just not for me?


My guess is that you probably didn't take enough practice exams. Some of us just need a little extra help to get that stellar result, but if you got in to law school, I would tend to think that it is a tactical mistake on your part rather than innate stupidity.

Ask yourself...did you REALLY do all of those things you said you did? Be honest with yourself. My guess is that you didn't. Maybe you tried too hard; you could have been burned out and not known it. Seek a fresh perspective.

nStiver
Posts: 388
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:15 am

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby nStiver » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:51 pm

The fact that this had such a blow to your ego indicates that you had your self-worth wrapped up in it. Below median happens to half of the class. It's not that big a deal, life will go on, (unless you want biglaw or something).

I remember when I retook the LSAT. I had a 164 on my first try, but after MONTHS of studing multiple hours a day I was testing in the mid to high 170s every time, only giving myself 30 minutes per section. Then, the night before the test I was too nervous to sleep and only got two hours. I got a 163 on that test, one point below my last score. I was really hard on myself, I would just sit around hating on myself for hours at a time. Then, I realized that it was my reaction to the test score that was the problem. And you know what? I got into my target school anyway. I just had to find another way. Don't listen to the nay-sayers. I am sure you are fully aware of the risks that getting a legal education these days entails, and you are capable of making adult decisions on whether to stay in or not. I bet, judging by how hard you worked, that you will be able to find a way around those 1st semester grades. Remember, no matter how much effort you sink into your school work, you are not your grades; they should not dictate your self-worth.

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

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby romothesavior » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:55 pm

But they've do dictate your job prospects. So cool story bro.

User avatar
AVBucks4239
Posts: 870
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby AVBucks4239 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:00 pm

Never, ever, write about something you professor isn't asking. There are two good reasons for this:

1) If it's not something the professor has asked for, there are no points allocated for it. You can make the most brilliant argument in the world but it won't matter--you'll get no points for it. You're way better off using your time to write about all the issues in the question presented than going off on an irrelevant tangent.

2) Your professor likely has to grade about 100 exams. Writing about something h didn't ask you to write about will more than likely piss him off. He wrote the facts and asked the particular question for a specific reason. Straying from that is a bad, bad idea because you essentially just said, "I didn't read the question."

User avatar
traehekat
Posts: 3195
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:00 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby traehekat » Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:02 pm

i certainly feel for you, you seemed to do everything "right" during the semester but made a few crucial mistakes come exam time and it hurt you. as others have said and as im sure you now know, never talk about a conflict pairing that isn't asked for. the whole conflict pairing part of LEEWS is only useful for open-ended questions like "examine all potential liabilities" or something like that. there is just too much to talk about in any given exam question to start going on about something that isn't asked for. your analysis may have been sound, it may have been creative, but it wasn't asked for and the time you spent on it surely could have been used to rack up some more points in the other questions.

and that is the other thing - "points." when i was preparing exam strategy, one of the things i thought about was how a professor would grade an exam. i imagined professors hate grading exams (especially ones they have to curve) and just have a simple system to distinguish everyone. that system is simple - issue spotting. talk about more issues, get more points. simple. as you go along spotting these issues, determine which ones are obviously the ones the professor wants you to talk about and make sure you do that thoroughly. this is where analysis comes in. with the smaller side issues, don't bother with a super in depth analysis because you probably don't have time.

last thing - how "flowery" were your answers? you obviously did LEEWS so you should know that writing like a 10 year old is acceptable on a law school exam as long as you are spotting issues and have sufficient analysis.

it sounds to me like you can definitely turn things around. i mean really, you could be in top 10% next semester which would hopefully put you near top 1/3 by the end of the year.

nStiver
Posts: 388
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:15 am

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby nStiver » Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:24 pm

romothesavior wrote:But they've do dictate your job prospects. So cool story bro.


I never said that they weren't the major factor in dictating job prospects. I just said it's not worth the self-hate that OP is piling on because of them.

User avatar
AVBucks4239
Posts: 870
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby AVBucks4239 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:34 pm

Also, "getting inside your professor's head" does not mean reading his law review articles. Yes, that can be part of it, but I think you can gain a lot more from looking at the syllabus. If your property professor has four weeks allocated to adverse possession, he probably thinks that it's important.

Overall, it just seems that you are out-thinking yourself and just making everything way too complicated.




Return to “Forum for Law School Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests