Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

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LSL
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Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby LSL » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:00 pm

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Last edited by LSL on Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ph14
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby ph14 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:04 pm

LSL wrote:Trying to see if I understand this correctly:

1) If I'm in section where the professors shoot for giving middle of the road grades (lots of B's, a few A's, a few C's) am I in a better position than those in a section where the professors might give out more divided grades? (more A's and C's, fewer middle of the road B's) (assuming a B curve here).


2) If I am in a more prepared section where my classmates seem to understand what is going on, does it hurt my chances for good grades because my answers are compared against them first before the entire class? It seems like one might be screwed a bit by being in a section that 'get's it' and knows how to apply the law to the exam. Or is that incorrect?

I'm asking because it seems less daunting when I think of having to compete against the class as a whole as compared to my section. Trying to get an idea of the big picture. Thanks.


1) Who cares? You can't switch sections and you don't get to pick it. Just focus on doing well on your exams.
2) You have absolutely no way to tell how well your section will do on exams.

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LSL
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby LSL » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:11 pm

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ph14
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby ph14 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:24 pm

LSL wrote:I know the truth of your words ph14, but begrudge me for funzies. I'm trying to dissect this a bit. Obviously, I'll be working hard.


Okay.

1) You would be in a better position if you were in the lower end of the class. You have a better chance of getting sucked into the median, rather than falling below median. But you would be in a worse position if you are on the higher end of the class. It is more difficult to differentiate yourself, and you again have a better chance of getting sucked into the median.
2) Yes. If you end up in a section where your classmates are better law school exam takers (because that's what matters in determining grades, not your ability to respond to a cold call or anything else), then that hurts you. But since sections are distributed randomly (at least at my school), your section should not be too different from other sections.

MinEMorris
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby MinEMorris » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:31 pm

I don't think professors go through exams trying to compare and rank each one. Instead, most seem to simply use an "objective" system where they give points for every point the student makes. In the end, you rank the papers in terms of who got the most points, then apply the curve. E.g. in a class of 100 students, and a 20/60/20 curve, the 20 students with exams that had the highest amount of points got As, the middle 60 Bs, etc.

In answer to your first question, then, what kind of curve you want to be on depends on where you scored. Imagine that in a class of 100 all scores from 1 to 100 were represented. If you scored 99, you would rather be in the section that excluded more people from the As (e.g., a 10/80/10 split) because it would result in you having a higher GPA than more people. If you scored and 85, you would rather be in the more inclusive section (e.g. 20/60/20 split) because again you would have a higher GPA than more people, and be tied with the top of the class instead of below it (assuming no A/A- distinction, which is unrealistic).

In response to your second question, if I understand it correctly, not really. Imagine a class of 100 where the top 15 students got scores of 216, 938, 781, 375, etc., and the bottom 85 students got all scores represented from 1 to 85. In a 20/60/20 split, the student with an 85 would still get an A. Needless to say, however, the smarter your class in general, the smarter you're going to need to be to be in the top part of a curve.

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LSL
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby LSL » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:53 pm

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dingbat
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby dingbat » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:53 pm

LSL wrote:I know the truth of your words ph14, but begrudge me for funzies. I'm trying to dissect this a bit. Obviously, I'll be working hard.

Rather than trying to dissect this, try studying.

To answer your questions:
1) if you're a cut above everyone else in your section, it's better to have a professor that gives out more divided grades. If you're middling, or worse, you're better off with a professor who gives more middle of the road grades.
Keep in mind that many professors use a (relatively) objective method of scoring exams, so this might not apply.

2) Yes, it sucks if you're in a section with lots of hard-working students who "get it". It's great if you're in a section with retards. Your exam is scored against everyone else in your section and no one outside thereof. That's why some TTTs do section-stacking for scholarships with stips.

Don't worry about all that crap. Work your butt off and make sure you do the best you can do (and hope everyone else does worse). Only focus on what you can control, not on what you can't.

MinEMorris
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby MinEMorris » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:42 pm

yeah and I'll just second your intuition that you really can't discern people's preparedness for the exam based on class performance. For sure, some people who did awesome in class apparently also got great grades, but there was definitely a good chunk of people who did awesome in class and apparently didn't, and vice versa. I consider myself a careful observer of people and good at assessing things like who actually gets the material, and I really found that it's pretty possible to assess.

The same thing goes with assessment of self-performance after an exam, so don't let that psych you out. Three of the four exams I thought I did the absolute best on were my worst grades, and two of the four I thought I did the worst on were my two best grades. You really have no idea how you've done until you get your grade back. Pacing outside the building after the exam, dreaming about the exam you just took, having epiphanies about some "huge issue" you didn't spot while you're in the shower, all of that is a waste of time. Second semester I hung out with a group that had a no-talk-about-previous-exam policy, and I actually felt it benefitted me in terms of moving on to worry about the next exam.

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Blessedassurance
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby Blessedassurance » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:45 pm

Aren't grades by section as opposed to the whole class?

Ph14 can you explain how it works at H? Is it by section or whole class?

MinEMorris
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby MinEMorris » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:08 pm

grades are by section, ranking is by class AFAIK. This can suck in some situations. For example when you are fighting to be at the top of the section but there is a handful of students in the section who match you pretty equally, it's unlikely to be able to keep up a 4.0 average. If, however, another section has a weaker top group of students and one student is of similar level to the top students in your section, they should be able to clean up and get a 4.0 average, meaning they will be higher ranked than you and all of the top students in your section (assuming none of you managed to keep up the 4.0). It obviously benefits you if you're the student in the weaker section. Not to mention, because you'll never get to be in another section, you'll never get to know which case you were in.

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dextermorgan
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby dextermorgan » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:36 pm

At my school the professors get together and compare grades to make sure all the sections mesh right. At least that's what they claim.

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ScottRiqui
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby ScottRiqui » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:52 pm

I'd be curious to know how often there's a significant performance difference between the various sections of a class (assuming no section-stacking or anything like that).

My wife teaches five sections of high school World History. As far as we know, her 160 kids are placed into the five sections randomly. Every year, by the time the students are 3-4 weeks into the first semester, there are some sections that, as a whole, are clearly outperforming others.

But, I suspect that law school classes are a much more homogeneous group compared to ~160 high school students. You're not likely to have LS students who flat-out refuse to do any work, but that's fairly common in high school. As such, there's no random distribution of LS students that's likely to favor one section over another by a wide margin.

MinEMorris
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby MinEMorris » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:08 pm

Although I think ultimately it's not something to worry about, I imagine a good amount of the time that there's a considerable disparity between the generally "worst" section and generally "best" section. Part of it I think is just a sourt of group think phenomenon. Throughout lawschool people look to each other to set the standard for what a solid amount of effort is. By the end of a semester, I think you will have a section that probably puts in ~45 hours a week average, and a section that puts in more like ~60 just by subtle peer pressures.

One things I know for sure from talking to people who sat in the back of class in different sections is that there was at least a pretty considerable disparity in the sections in terms of how much browsing vs notetaking was going on in class.

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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage? Law School Grades

Postby acrossthelake » Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:40 am

Blessedassurance wrote:Aren't grades by section as opposed to the whole class?

Ph14 can you explain how it works at H? Is it by section or whole class?


The course, which in 1L first semester is your section. For your 1L international elective, you're obv. just up against whoever else signed up for that course.




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