Trying to figure out what went wrong in exam

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
User avatar
greenchair
Posts: 150
Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 1:04 am

Trying to figure out what went wrong in exam

Postby greenchair » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:37 am

I am very fortunate to have gotten good grades in Civ Pro and Property last semseter (both As), but I am confused as to why I got median pwned (B) in Torts. I *thought* I wrote all my exams in the exact same way. I used headings and made sure I made it clear to the prof what I was talking about at all points of the exam.

But when I went to my Torts prof. to discuss my exam, he told me my answers were disorganized. He said my exam answer was all over the place, and I was not telling a story. He said I needed a beginning, middle, and end to my exam, which I didn't have. He said I needed to transition more smoothly between issues. (Since when do I have to tell a story on the exam? What the heck does that mean? Also, I didn't realize I had to worry about smooth transitions on a timed, word-vomit, issue spotter Torts exam) He said my answers just didn't pop off the page for that reason. He basically said that my content was fine -- just the organization distracted him.

This is helpful to know, but I am still stuck on how to improve. I may have taken LEEWS or Delaney too literally and it made the exam too choppy? But I find it hard to believe that the rest of my classmates wrote beautiful essays. I am trying not to make the same mistake second semester, but I don't know how to fix it.

Any help would be appreciated...

User avatar
dextermorgan
Posts: 1138
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:37 am

Re: Trying to figure out what went wrong in exam

Postby dextermorgan » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:58 am

You may very well have wrote all your exams the same way. Your problem seems to be that not all your professors are the same. You didn't write the way this professor wanted you to, and ultimately that is all that matters for that exam.

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

Re: Trying to figure out what went wrong in exam

Postby 09042014 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:09 am

Sounds like your professor graded more on writing ability than issue spotting. Happens sometimes. Professors aren't going to all grade the same. I'd hesitate to totally change up your plan based on an outlier.

Too bad you only have 3 classes. It's hard to tell if you are an A student who got a random B. Or a B+/A- student who got lucky on two exams and unlucky on another.

TheGreatFish
Posts: 89
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:16 am

Re: Trying to figure out what went wrong in exam

Postby TheGreatFish » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:51 am

Sometimes a good exam answer gets thrown in with the median answers. It's inevitable. Professors have to make sure grades adhere to a curve, their method for dividing up points isn't always consistent, and they can overlook things when they're rushing to get through a few hundred exams before the holidays.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22824
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Trying to figure out what went wrong in exam

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:35 am

It may also be that the torts material wasn't that hard or everyone knew it to basically the same level, so everyone got the same basic points, so the prof could afford to be picky about writing, since there wasn't much else to distinguish between answers. My impression from my profs was that good writing doesn't make up for missing issues/lacking analysis, so it may be that in your other classes, there was a wider range of answers and you were on the high end of the content, not that your writing was objectively good on those exams. (People here tend to say that people get medianpwned in Torts because the material's not hard.)

MinEMorris
Posts: 228
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:26 am

Re: Trying to figure out what went wrong in exam

Postby MinEMorris » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:23 am

sorry to hear about the outlier grade, but it's definitely something you can recover from.

I think dextermorgan pretty much nailed it. I think the takeaway from this exam experience for you should be to fully recognize and embrace that your grade is whatever the professor thinks it is. It may seem unfair to be at the mercy of one person's peculiar disposition and preferences, but it's probably going to be a major theme throughout your legal career. Your memo is only as good as the partner thinks it is, your motion is only as compelling as the judge finds it, and even your Supreme Court brief is only as dispositive as the justices care for it to be. A really important part of what good grades in law school demonstrate is simply an ability to figure out what someone wants and give it to them.

That said, having a professor like yours where what gets you an A in most classes gets you a C in his is certainly rare. But all professors are somewhere on the spectrum of strong and weak arbitrary preferences, and it behooves you as someone who wants to get good grades to make a concerted effort to figure out what those preferences are. Model exam answers are usually the best proxy, but if that's not available, talking directly to your professor is usually the next best. Go in during office hours as the exam approaches and ask him or her things like: do you find that good student answers usually analogize the facts of cases we've read to the facts of the hypo, or is it usually better to simply use the abstract principles derived frm those cases? How do you feel about organization methods like IRAC? Do you feel it's more important to get out some analysis in a very clear, organized, and flowing way, or is it better to shoot to get out as much analysis as possible even if it leads to a messier exam? Generally, what are some qualities you feel the top exams in your class typically possess? etc.
It may feel awkward and like you're being a gunner pest to ask these things, but trust me, employers' opinions about your grades are going to mean a lot more to you in the long run than your professors' opinions about you.

User avatar
greenchair
Posts: 150
Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 1:04 am

Re: Trying to figure out what went wrong in exam

Postby greenchair » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:40 am

Thank you for all the responses guys. It is very helpful. I will keep my head up and really try to figure out what each of my profs want in the spring semester classes. CSWS




Return to “Forum for Law School Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Hikikomorist and 14 guests