What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

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Power_of_Facing
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What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby Power_of_Facing » Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:51 pm

Just took a practice exam that seemed to go terribly awry. I barely started one of the three questions.

For reference, how pwned am I? What does a B- exam look like, in practice? How intelligible is it? How much law does it discuss?
What can I do in the next few days to learn how to turn general knowledge of the law into decent application to new fact patterns quickly. These exams are taking me too long.

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KD35
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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby KD35 » Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:53 pm

There are so many variables that go into this. Mainly, what is a median grade at your school? If B- is the median vs. below median, that will make a difference.

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BankruptMe
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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby BankruptMe » Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:54 pm

Power_of_Facing wrote:Just took a practice exam that seemed to go terribly awry. I barely started one of the three questions.

For reference, how pwned am I? What does a B- exam look like, in practice? How intelligible is it? How much law does it discuss?
What can I do in the next few days to learn how to turn general knowledge of the law into decent application to new fact patterns quickly. These exams are taking me too long.


From the PT's i have seen, and profs I have talked to, you do not need to overflood them with law. You state the pertinent law, but it is the analysis that takes you from a C to a B to a A, sprinkled in with some policy arguments.

Hope that helps. Fellow 1L

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Power_of_Facing
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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby Power_of_Facing » Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:57 pm

KD35 wrote:There are so many variables that go into this. Mainly, what is a median grade at your school? If B- is the median vs. below median, that will make a difference.


B- is like the lowest grade one can achieve. I'm at CCN, not sure exactly what median is, but probably something in between B and B+?

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby 071816 » Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:58 pm

Depends on what everyone else in the class wrote, friend. Also depends on what the professor is looking for/has emphasized. Impossible to know without knowing something about your professor.

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Power_of_Facing
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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby Power_of_Facing » Sat Dec 06, 2014 4:04 pm

chimp wrote:Depends on what everyone else in the class wrote, friend. Also depends on what the professor is looking for/has emphasized. Impossible to know without knowing something about your professor.


That's fair.

Let me try to rephrase my question...

How much different from the model A+ juggernaut exams have your B or B- exams been (assuming you've ever received such grades)? Is it a night and day difference? Or are your B exams pretty close to the A+/model answer/whatever?

I have no sense for how badly I'm actually doing, and it's really frustrating.

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Dec 06, 2014 4:08 pm

Again, it totally depends on the course. In an easy course/easy exam, the curve is really tight, and only a few points/few extra identified issues will mark the difference between A+ and B-. In a hard course/exam, the curve spreads out further, and you probably have some people who catch almost everything at the top, some people who get almost nothing at the bottom, and a wide range in between.

Your question can't really be answered. You probably need to take a bunch more practice exams. You don't need actually to write everything out if you don't have time, just outline each essay - ID the issues and do bullet point analysis.

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby 071816 » Sat Dec 06, 2014 4:12 pm

Power_of_Facing wrote:
chimp wrote:Depends on what everyone else in the class wrote, friend. Also depends on what the professor is looking for/has emphasized. Impossible to know without knowing something about your professor.


That's fair.

Let me try to rephrase my question...

How much different from the model A+ juggernaut exams have your B or B- exams been (assuming you've ever received such grades)? Is it a night and day difference? Or are your B exams pretty close to the A+/model answer/whatever?

I have no sense for how badly I'm actually doing, and it's really frustrating.

I hear ya. To be honest (and this may not be typical), I noticed little to no difference in what I wrote in classes where I got a B vs. classes where I got an A. Obviously if you totally fail to even address a certain section of the test, you can't get any points for it, but for exams where I wrote a good amount and addressed each question, I really was never able to figure out why I got a good grade vs. a not-so-good grade.

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby minnbills » Sat Dec 06, 2014 4:27 pm

Make sure to answer each question. Spot the issues and IRAC.

Also, do a checklist of all the issues you think will be on the exam. If the professor didn't tip his/her hand on this, just take the syllabus and turn that into a checklist.

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby JustHawkin » Sat Dec 06, 2014 5:50 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Again, it totally depends on the course. In an easy course/easy exam, the curve is really tight, and only a few points/few extra identified issues will mark the difference between A+ and B-. In a hard course/exam, the curve spreads out further, and you probably have some people who catch almost everything at the top, some people who get almost nothing at the bottom, and a wide range in between.

Your question can't really be answered. You probably need to take a bunch more practice exams. You don't need actually to write everything out if you don't have time, just outline each essay - ID the issues and do bullet point analysis.

Hijacking this a little:

I've been writing everything out thus far. Is a recommended way to outline your answers if you're in a time crunch? Just outline the IRAC? Example?

Thanks!

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Dec 06, 2014 6:23 pm

Personally, yeah, I found that when I was in a time crunch, it was more helpful to outline answers to more questions than to write out in full answers to fewer questions. My examples such because 1L was a while ago and I'm out of exam practice, but something like:

D's liability to P
- battery: no - no intent; no contact
(in IRAC terms, this is shorthand for: I = was there battery? R = battery requires intent, contact, and damages; A = no intent, no contact; C = not battery)
- negligence: maybe - definitely damages because D ended up in hospital with broken leg; possible duty to P because [list relevant facts], maybe not because [list relevant facts]; if duty, breach because [list relevant facts]; biggest issue = causation because proximate cause of [intervening whatever relevant facts].

Or for Ks - did D breach contract with P?
- was there contract? probably
• K requires offer, consideration, acceptance
• offer: letter from D to P probably offer because clear, definite terms [etc.]
• consideration: yes because D will decline to bid on item at auction in return for P's payment, thus giving up some beneft, but no because [whatever]
• acceptance: yes because [list facts suggesting acceptance]
- was contract breached?
• breach requires [whatever]

and so on.

This is mostly helpful for issue-spotters - walk through and write down as many possible issues as you can and at least ID which part of the black letter law they relate to (offer, terms, breach; duty, causation; etc.). Just remember that usually, every fact that's included in a fact pattern is there for a reason, to trigger some kind of analysis (barring the occasional red herring), so try to make sure you've addressed something for every fact you can find.

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby jbagelboy » Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:54 pm

Somehow I doubt this is Chicago since there is no B-.

If you're at Columbia, B- is a discretionary low grade off the curve. Some professors just won't ever give them; the ones that still do will restrict them to exams that are either irrelevant/unrelated to the issues presented, offensive, or so terribly written that they are incomprehensible to the extent the reasoning or language is impossible to follow. If you have taken practice tests and cared enough to ask TLS, you are not in B- territory.

At NYU, my understanding is that a B- is still on the curve, so a set of the worst students in the class will receive them. Theoretically then, if everyone wrote an incredible exam and yours was just good not great, you could get a B-. This is unlikely. There will almost inevitably be some people who for whatever reason did not prepare, truly did not understand the course, or just missed the major issue on the test as a result of stress, nausea, ect. -- for example, completing a Civ Pro exam without discussing Erie or personal jurisdiction. I would take Nony's advise and try to write clearly, concisely, and formulaically with each issue addressed in sequence if you are truly worried about a particular question or test. Your outline should provide for this as best as possible.

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:58 pm

JustHawkin wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Again, it totally depends on the course. In an easy course/easy exam, the curve is really tight, and only a few points/few extra identified issues will mark the difference between A+ and B-. In a hard course/exam, the curve spreads out further, and you probably have some people who catch almost everything at the top, some people who get almost nothing at the bottom, and a wide range in between.

Your question can't really be answered. You probably need to take a bunch more practice exams. You don't need actually to write everything out if you don't have time, just outline each essay - ID the issues and do bullet point analysis.

Hijacking this a little:

I've been writing everything out thus far. Is a recommended way to outline your answers if you're in a time crunch? Just outline the IRAC? Example?

Thanks!


You should be outlining every answer every time, regardless of time crunch. Like if my exam were just two huge issue spotting essays, I would first outline each issue I spotted in the first essay, then go back and flush out each outlined answer. Them move onto the second essay, outline each issue I spotted, them flush it out.

If you have short answer questions, outline the answer. And if you are running up against the time despite everything (which you shouldn't be because you used a timer and strictly rationed your time for each question based in its relative worth), them at least outline as many answers as you can.

You want to minimize the time you spend having to actually think. So if you're not outlining your answers, you're going to waste time pausing during your writing to think about whether you've hit every issue or if your answer is organized.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:11 pm

Just to be clear - I was talking about outlining practice exams as a study technique, not about outlining on the exam itself (which I agree is a good idea, that's just not what I was talking about).

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby andythefir » Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:46 pm

A great prof gave us examples of B- and C+ exams to calm our nerves at ND. One seemed ok but was only 50 words on a 500+ word answer. One was actually more like a C-, and the person wrote "this is a 4-part test" and gave 4 different iterations of the same test.

In my experience, B+ (median) exams tend to spot all of the important issues that a court would actually decide. They tend to apply correct law and come to very reasonable conclusions. They argue both sides in the sense that they bring up important or obvious exceptions. A- and A exams, by contrast, spot obscure and intentionally hidden issues that may or may not have any law you can squarely apply to them. They argue both sides in the sense that they completely develop sides, most importantly sides that look like losers initially. They use law creatively to get around dead ends.

There are obviously lots of exceptions. Property is almost always a dead sprint to just rack up as many issues you can physically type out-there's no point to digging deeply into 1 issue when there are 20 more you will actually struggle to type out in time. Con law requires much more history and justice-specific knowledge. Civ pro and evidence are mostly like math, do you get the rules or not, with a few opportunities to stretch your creativity.

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby GOATlawman » Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:01 pm

jbagelboy wrote:Somehow I doubt this is Chicago since there is no B-.

If you're at Columbia, B- is a discretionary low grade off the curve. Some professors just won't ever give them; the ones that still do will restrict them to exams that are either irrelevant/unrelated to the issues presented, offensive, or so terribly written that they are incomprehensible to the extent the reasoning or language is impossible to follow. If you have taken practice tests and cared enough to ask TLS, you are not in B- territory.


wtf? I had NO idea grade inflation was this ridiculous at some schools

at my t14, B- is on the curve (I forget how much, 10% maybe?)

Idk who gets all of them, but the slackers will get at least some of them (e.g., me). Pretty much all of my friends had at least one of them, definitely not the Law Review type of person which seems to be most ppl around here

I got mine my very 1st semester of law school. I thought I had written a good, but not amazing, exam. Turned out that I missed one prong of one little issue in Civ Pro. I have forgotten 99% of CivPro by now, but think it was something like USC statute, I applied (a) and (b)(1), but glossed over (b)(2). This was the only thing I really missed, but ended up being a big enough chunk of points to send me to the bottom. 1L curves are pretty tight, and the difference between a B+ and a B- exam is not that much, because even the bottom 10% at these schools is still pretty intelligent or hard working. Probably not both, but either slacker or significantly less intelligent than average.

Just do your best though, and IME the slacker bros with a B- all ended up doing fine b/c we're busy making fun stories to tell in interviews when everyone else was studying personal jurisdiction for 100th time

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby jbagelboy » Mon Dec 08, 2014 11:36 pm

GOATlawman wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:Somehow I doubt this is Chicago since there is no B-.

If you're at Columbia, B- is a discretionary low grade off the curve. Some professors just won't ever give them; the ones that still do will restrict them to exams that are either irrelevant/unrelated to the issues presented, offensive, or so terribly written that they are incomprehensible to the extent the reasoning or language is impossible to follow. If you have taken practice tests and cared enough to ask TLS, you are not in B- territory.


wtf? I had NO idea grade inflation was this ridiculous at some schools

at my t14, B- is on the curve (I forget how much, 10% maybe?)


It's not "Grade Inflation," since the median grade is the same and it's just as difficult to get an "A" or "A-" note (A and A- are often referred to as "Honors" grades, and its capped at 20-25% in that range). It's just a restriction of the number of grades available, which is an increasingly common practice at top schools over the past decade. Columbia awards only A, A-, B+, B; Harvard awards only DS, H, P, LP; Berkeley awards only HH, H, P, LP; ect. Some schools retain discretionary low grades but at CLS for example they are less and less commonly used.

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby GOATlawman » Mon Dec 08, 2014 11:42 pm

jbagelboy wrote:It's not "Grade Inflation," since the median grade is the same and it's just as difficult to get an "A" or "A-" note (A and A- are often referred to as "Honors" grades, and its capped at 20-25% in that range). It's just a restriction of the number of grades available, which is an increasingly common practice at top schools over the past decade. Columbia awards only A, A-, B+, B; Harvard awards only DS, H, P, LP; Berkeley awards only HH, H, P, LP; ect. Some schools retain discretionary low grades but at CLS for example they are less and less commonly used.


That's like...the definition of grade inflation

All of the T14s (I think?) do it relative to the TTTs but I didn't know Colombia took it to that extreme


It's smart b/c really who the fuck would know unless you went there, or they're seeing dozens of transcripts from your school, at something like OCI...
I'm really just jealous :cry:

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby jbagelboy » Mon Dec 08, 2014 11:58 pm

GOATlawman wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:It's not "Grade Inflation," since the median grade is the same and it's just as difficult to get an "A" or "A-" note (A and A- are often referred to as "Honors" grades, and its capped at 20-25% in that range). It's just a restriction of the number of grades available, which is an increasingly common practice at top schools over the past decade. Columbia awards only A, A-, B+, B; Harvard awards only DS, H, P, LP; Berkeley awards only HH, H, P, LP; ect. Some schools retain discretionary low grades but at CLS for example they are less and less commonly used.


That's like...the definition of grade inflation

Where a Colombia 3.3 is like a Duke 3.0 (maybe not actually, just picking a school randomly)

All of the T14s (I think?) do it relative to the TTTs but I didn't know Colombia took it to that extreme


To the extent that the literal notes on your transcript are different letters, yes, it appears from the outside observer as grade inflation. But remember (1) GPA figures are not computed/released and (2) the changes in grade structure don't confer any distinct advantage to placement in the class, since everyone is on the same curve and that curve is still very tight. Law school grades are basically just instrumental for signaling, they have very little intrinsic value, and legal employers have sophisticated hiring practices that take relative placement within the school into account; in other words, judges and law firms are knowledgeable about the curves at different schools and won't be looking at your transcript side by side with one from a different school.

Therefore, in the context of law school grades and hiring I would dispute characterizing those kinds of changes to the grading structure as traditional "grade inflation" since whatever benefit it grants is largely psychological unless you actually make major statistical changes to the distribution of high and low grades.

Conversely, when Brown gives out 70% A grades one semester and increases the median GPA of the class well over 3.4, that inequitably benefits all of the students relative to peers at other schools since the numerical figure matters in an absolute sense (employers, graduate programs, LSAC, medical schools, ect. compare undergraduate GPAs by number between schools and don't adjust nearly enough for grade inflation). So that's what I see as problematic grade inflation. But I can understand how someone with C+'s and C's on their law school curve would look at the grading structure of berkeley or harvard or columbia and be like wtf.

ETA: for example, I think Northwestern gives out the "highest" GPAs in the sense that their median is like 3.6+, but that doesn't really make any difference

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby GOATlawman » Tue Dec 09, 2014 12:12 am

jbagelboy wrote:
GOATlawman wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:It's not "Grade Inflation," since the median grade is the same and it's just as difficult to get an "A" or "A-" note (A and A- are often referred to as "Honors" grades, and its capped at 20-25% in that range). It's just a restriction of the number of grades available, which is an increasingly common practice at top schools over the past decade. Columbia awards only A, A-, B+, B; Harvard awards only DS, H, P, LP; Berkeley awards only HH, H, P, LP; ect. Some schools retain discretionary low grades but at CLS for example they are less and less commonly used.


That's like...the definition of grade inflation

Where a Colombia 3.3 is like a Duke 3.0 (maybe not actually, just picking a school randomly)

All of the T14s (I think?) do it relative to the TTTs but I didn't know Colombia took it to that extreme


To the extent that the literal notes on your transcript are different letters, yes, it appears from the outside observer as grade inflation. But remember (1) GPA figures are not computed/released and (2) the changes in grade structure don't confer any distinct advantage to placement in the class, since everyone is on the same curve and that curve is still very tight. Law school grades are basically just instrumental for signaling, they have very little intrinsic value, and legal employers have sophisticated hiring practices that take relative placement within the school into account; in other words, judges and law firms are knowledgeable about the curves at different schools and won't be looking at your transcript side by side with one from a different school.

Therefore, in the context of law school grades and hiring I would dispute characterizing those kinds of changes to the grading structure as traditional "grade inflation" since whatever benefit it grants is largely psychological unless you actually make major statistical changes to the distribution of high and low grades.

Conversely, when Brown gives out 70% A grades one semester and increases the median GPA of the class well over 3.4, that inequitably benefits all of the students relative to peers at other schools since the numerical figure matters in an absolute sense (employers, graduate programs, LSAC, medical schools, ect. compare undergraduate GPAs by number between schools and don't adjust nearly enough for grade inflation). So that's what I see as problematic grade inflation. But I can understand how someone with C+'s and C's on their law school curve would look at the grading structure of berkeley or harvard or columbia and be like wtf.

ETA: for example, I think Northwestern gives out the "highest" GPAs in the sense that their median is like 3.6+, but that doesn't really make any difference


lol @ defending it so hard

LOTS of employers don't do some arcane adjusting to compare a Colombia or NU 3.6 to a Temple 2.9

I would bet that outside of NYC entry level hiring, the vast majority of employers have no idea this happens, or if they do have no way to quantify it relative to others

I'd much rather have the 3.75 from NU than a 3.4 from Duke, even if they are both median

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Re: What Does a B- Exam Look Like?

Postby AReasonableMan » Tue Dec 09, 2014 12:29 am

What school rank is this? If this is on a B or B+ curve then you're speaking about one or two deviations from median. Discounting the different curves, different ranked schools are going to have different preferences:

At a t-14, the presumption is that the majority of your class will have jobs. Many professors prefer to not give a grade that makes it difficult to come back from if the student made a good faith effort. This generally holds true no matter how terrible the exam is. At a TTT, the presumption is the majority of the class will not have jobs. As students generally need stellar grades to get the same job, professors are more liberal with A+'s and D's. With the exception of LRW or a paper, it's very unlikely a student will go A, D, A, D. In addition, the D's mess up bar passage rates so TTT's like to fail them out so they look like good educators.

The difference between a B- and B+ and B+ and A is pretty apparent. People who say the big fluctuations are random either are bitter or don't get it. It's normally related to thinking they sounded smart in cold calls, and someone who sounded dumb did better than them. Between any two grades there is some randomness like how many of X grade the professor chooses to give, and a feeling that one test is superior or inferior to yours. But these kind of things will be a B+ vs. a B at most. How the test is graded matters a great deal, but even where there's not a strict rubric it's pretty easy to tell if you can analyze your work objectively.

Most points generally come from how you apply the law to the facts, which takes a very proficient but not necessarily very complex understanding of the law. At a t-14, everyone will know the law and most will spot the obvious issues. The deviations normally lay in the volume of issues, depth of discussion, and perhaps less objectively, the writing style. The B- on a B+ curve is going to either get too many fewer issues, have less discussion on those issues or have shitty discussions on those issues. When someone showed me a test they got an A on, on a test I got a B+ on, the difference was very obvious very quickly. I'm sure it's the same vice versa. In all honesty, I have never saw an exam two deviations below a median, and never studied with anyone this happened to. Presumably, if you're doing practice tests with a group who gets it, and your tests don't really stand out as inferior then you won't get one.

The biggest mistake that everyone makes to an extent is either failing to realize or failing to adapt to the fact that you don't have to know the most to get the best grade, or the least to get the worst grade. The difference between knowing the general principles and every judge's opinion in every case is generally the difference between a B+ and A-. People who do poorly tend to respond by amping up how intensely they do the shit that led to them doing poorly. Applying lolz is not the same as learning lolz, and you really need to have both skills independently to put together a good exam. Hope this is helpful.




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