Who is at the bottom of the class?

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kwwill3
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Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby kwwill3 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:54 am

For the folk in law school or grads:

Who is at the bottom of the class, i.e. what did they do that causes them to perform worse than nearly all of their peers? Are these people not as bright or do they not work hard to perform well? I am curious because it seems like in theory nearly everyone would be intelligent and hard working. Are they simply poor test takers? Very interested to hear the insights of you all.

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northwood
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby northwood » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:00 pm

Ones that don't learn how to take law school exams and perform well on them generally are

AC Vegas
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby AC Vegas » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:10 pm

Forced curve means the people at the bottom of the class are comparatively bad at taking law
school exams. Thats pretty much all you can say. Although I'm sure each class probably has a few dumbs that don't care about grades.

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bernaldiaz
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby bernaldiaz » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:20 pm

AC Vegas wrote:Forced curve means the people at the bottom of the class are comparatively bad at taking law
school exams. Thats pretty much all you can say. Although I'm sure each class probably has a few dumbs that don't care about grades.


What percent of people do you think don't really care or are dumbs? Like what part of the curve is actually easy to avoid?

lesananas
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby lesananas » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:36 pm

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Last edited by lesananas on Fri Sep 14, 2012 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

lesananas
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby lesananas » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:39 pm

bernaldiaz wrote:
AC Vegas wrote:Forced curve means the people at the bottom of the class are comparatively bad at taking law
school exams. Thats pretty much all you can say. Although I'm sure each class probably has a few dumbs that don't care about grades.


What percent of people do you think don't really care or are dumbs? Like what part of the curve is actually easy to avoid?


you really can't "avoid" any of a forced curve. Grades are often surprises - both good and bad. The best you can do is avoid discretionary grades, which generally aren't given out unless you write off-subject incoherent nonsense.

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rayiner
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby rayiner » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:45 pm

lesananas wrote:I was in the bottom of my class because I didn't work quickly enough - I was overly cautious on exams and wanted to write perfect essays. Consequently I often didn't finish the exam (more so than other people who didn't finish the exam). In classes where the prof gave the exam breakdown,I would score in the A- range on the essays I did finish. So no, I'm not 'dumber.' I also finished 2nd year with honors. Yes, the 2L curve is easier, but honors amounts to about top 1/3, which means I did relatively better. I did not get any smarter. I just stopped correcting typos on exams.


On the flip side, I misspelled "possession" 17 times on my crim exam and did well. Am I smarter for guessing the professor would care more about the word count than spelling or grammar? Of course not.

I know people who did poorly because they answered the question they were asked in the classic persuasive writing format you learned in high school and college. There are people who took LRW too seriously and tried to use a rigorous LRW format on exams instead of the fast-and-loose style that gets you the most points. None of these people are dumb, they just didn't realize how the game was played until too late.

I'd say most of the bottom 20% of the class is composed of people like this. That said, on any given exam its easily possible to be bottom 1/3 even if you end up top 1/3 overall. The curve is much tighter than you think.

AC Vegas
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby AC Vegas » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:45 pm

bernaldiaz wrote:
AC Vegas wrote:Forced curve means the people at the bottom of the class are comparatively bad at taking law
school exams. Thats pretty much all you can say. Although I'm sure each class probably has a few dumbs that don't care about grades.


What percent of people do you think don't really care or are dumbs? Like what part of the curve is actually easy to avoid?


Pretty low at top schools and a bit higher as you go down the rankings. It's almost definitely not enough to be of any help to anyone meaning that it should be easy to avoid being in the bottoms 5% if you try but being bottom 20% is just as bad.

swimmer11
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby swimmer11 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:54 pm

rayiner wrote:
lesananas wrote:I was in the bottom of my class because I didn't work quickly enough - I was overly cautious on exams and wanted to write perfect essays. Consequently I often didn't finish the exam (more so than other people who didn't finish the exam). In classes where the prof gave the exam breakdown,I would score in the A- range on the essays I did finish. So no, I'm not 'dumber.' I also finished 2nd year with honors. Yes, the 2L curve is easier, but honors amounts to about top 1/3, which means I did relatively better. I did not get any smarter. I just stopped correcting typos on exams.


On the flip side, I misspelled "possession" 17 times on my crim exam and did well. Am I smarter for guessing the professor would care more about the word count than spelling or grammar? Of course not.

I know people who did poorly because they answered the question they were asked in the classic persuasive writing format you learned in high school and college. There are people who took LRW too seriously and tried to use a rigorous LRW format on exams instead of the fast-and-loose style that gets you the most points. None of these people are dumb, they just didn't realize how the game was played until too late.

I'd say most of the bottom 20% of the class is composed of people like this. That said, on any given exam its easily possible to be bottom 1/3 even if you end up top 1/3 overall. The curve is much tighter than you think.


How did you write your exams? In particular, specific sections i.e: battery?

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rayiner
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby rayiner » Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:06 pm

swimmer11 wrote:
rayiner wrote:
lesananas wrote:I was in the bottom of my class because I didn't work quickly enough - I was overly cautious on exams and wanted to write perfect essays. Consequently I often didn't finish the exam (more so than other people who didn't finish the exam). In classes where the prof gave the exam breakdown,I would score in the A- range on the essays I did finish. So no, I'm not 'dumber.' I also finished 2nd year with honors. Yes, the 2L curve is easier, but honors amounts to about top 1/3, which means I did relatively better. I did not get any smarter. I just stopped correcting typos on exams.


On the flip side, I misspelled "possession" 17 times on my crim exam and did well. Am I smarter for guessing the professor would care more about the word count than spelling or grammar? Of course not.

I know people who did poorly because they answered the question they were asked in the classic persuasive writing format you learned in high school and college. There are people who took LRW too seriously and tried to use a rigorous LRW format on exams instead of the fast-and-loose style that gets you the most points. None of these people are dumb, they just didn't realize how the game was played until too late.

I'd say most of the bottom 20% of the class is composed of people like this. That said, on any given exam its easily possible to be bottom 1/3 even if you end up top 1/3 overall. The curve is much tighter than you think.


How did you write your exams? In particular, specific sections i.e: battery?


I organize by issue, then by rule (when there are multiple applicable rules), then by element. Exams are graded using a checklist with precisely this organization.

ksllaw
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby ksllaw » Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:55 pm

rayiner wrote:I organize by issue, then by rule (when there are multiple applicable rules), then by element. Exams are graded using a checklist with precisely this organization.



Is there a source for this grading format, rayiner? Do the profs tell you how they grade and what they expect beforehand? Is there at least some guidance? Are there ever situations where you have a class where you don't know what's going to be on the exam and/or how it's going to be graded?

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BruceWayne
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby BruceWayne » Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:11 pm

Slow typing will destroy you. And I mean destroy--even if you know the subject and comprehend it just as well as your peers. This is because you maybe saying the same thing, but you are saying less of the same thing, which automatically means lower grades.

Not being able to remember all the facts from an incredibly long (I'm talking 3-4 full pages of nothing but fact pattern) will also destroy you. In fact this is something that I've never quite understood. If people who have done well on exams could explain how they handle this problem I think it would be very helpful to a lot of people. By the time I've read 3-4 pages of fact I don't necessarily remember what party a did to party b but didn't do to party c and d--and I have to go back and look for those specific facts before I can answer the question. And FYI I know about LEEWS but even it's not that helpful once you get past a certain number of parties and scenarios that all cause changes in how the law works.

People who have a natural tendency to look for a specific answer to a question are also going to have trouble. I have a bad habit of just answering the question asked by the exam and that's it--that will kill you. I've noticed when reading over high scoring exams that they will give my specific answer, but then they will say things like "But if the facts were this or this, or you interpreted the question this way then..." and they will go on a 5 page spiel about what things would be like under alternate circumstances ON TOP of what I said. They're getting all the points I'm getting from my brief answer and then loading the exam up with extra and getting points for that too.


OP, I think you are looking at what causes people to get low grades in the wrong light. Notice how you focused on knowledge of the subject or "intellect". I think that burns a lot of people. Coming out at the bottom has a lot more to do with one thing--NOT BEING GOOD AT TAKING LAW SCHOOL EXAMS. It's like Rayiner says--it's learning how to play a game. The problem is that the professor, nor anyone else, ever explains the rules of the game. Imagine playing chess against someone who doesn't know that the queen can go in all directions and just moves her like a pawn. That's what those of us who don't do well are basically doing. We have no idea how to play the game while there are those who know every rule in the book and practice playing the game on a regular basis with those rules. The other problem is that the rules are really never revealed. That's how some people consistently stay at the top and others stay consistently at the bottom.

ksllaw wrote:
rayiner wrote:I organize by issue, then by rule (when there are multiple applicable rules), then by element. Exams are graded using a checklist with precisely this organization.



Is there a source for this grading format, rayiner? Do the profs tell you how they grade and what they expect beforehand? Is there at least some guidance? Are there ever situations where you have a class where you don't know what's going to be on the exam and/or how it's going to be graded?


LOL hell no. That's part of the problem. They don't really view that as their concern. They're trying to teach you what interests them and what they feel is important--particularly the theory behind it.

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rayiner
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby rayiner » Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:27 pm

ksllaw wrote:
rayiner wrote:I organize by issue, then by rule (when there are multiple applicable rules), then by element. Exams are graded using a checklist with precisely this organization.



Is there a source for this grading format, rayiner? Do the profs tell you how they grade and what they expect beforehand? Is there at least some guidance? Are there ever situations where you have a class where you don't know what's going to be on the exam and/or how it's going to be graded?


Professors generally will not tell you this information, no. I actually got lucky. I had a torts professor who graded our practice midterm and released a model answer that showed where all the points were allocated. I practiced doing the same midterm several times to get a feel for how to structure my answer to get the most points. I tied out different ways of phrasing things to maximize my typing speed.

For example, some people recommend starting with a conclusion up front: "X is probably liable for battery... someone is liable for battery when... in this case X did..." I started out writing in this format, but then realized it was very slow. You need to think through the elements to determine your conclusion, but if you write your conclusion first you need to think through the elements in your head, write your conclusion, then write about the elements. If you use the format: "there is a question whether X is liable for battery... battery is when... in this case X did..." then you can write about each part as you're thinking about it, in a stream of consciousness sort of way. This maximizes your writing speed.

So I did the same thing with my other exams as I did for torts, and it worked out really well. Except in Con Law, which isn't about elements at all, and in which I did pretty badly. Nobody will teach you this stuff, you just kind of have to figure it out. The only thing I can say is that you need to be in the mindset of "how do I game the system?" Figure out what sort of testing the material lends itself to. If you were trying to be an objective teacher, how would you grade things?

BruceWayne's points are spot-on, particularly the part about "answering the question" versus "going on a long meandering analysis of the question without necessarily reaching a firm conclusion" as well as about remembering the fact pattern. People who have a good memory for stories have a marked advantage. Though, you can compensate by just typing up facts as you read the fact pattern. Then, as you're writing your answer, make sure you "use" all of the relevant facts. Usually, facts you'll discuss together on the exam will be clustered together on the fact pattern.

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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby Gorki » Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:29 pm

BruceWayne wrote:
I've noticed when reading over high scoring exams that they will give my specific answer, but then they will say things like "But if the facts were this or this, or you interpreted the question this way then..." and they will go on a 5 page spiel about what things would be like under alternate circumstances ON TOP of what I said. They're getting all the points I'm getting from my brief answer and then loading the exam up with extra and getting points for that too.


Word to the wise, but this is definitely not a golden standard. At my school profs fucking hated it when students started adding facts. I can see their point, its easy to add shit to make the problem easier for yourself. But the prof worded the exam in a certain way to see how well you understood specific issues. Reinterpreting the question can be credited though, unless you write a 6 page argument as to why an accidental collision is an assault or something stupid.

071816
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby 071816 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:41 pm

Image

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iMisto
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby iMisto » Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:12 pm

I tried out different ways of phrasing things to maximize my typing speed.


This stuff is serious...

I know that people get mixed responses about prepping before 1L actually starts, but is it at least an OK idea to learn how to take a law school exam? I can't imagine trying to learn how to take one while your boat is loaded with a ton of required reading for class.. And since 1L grades are KING, why would anybody in their right mind risk going into finals without any idea how to take the test????

Help me. :cry:

Gorki
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby Gorki » Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:16 pm

iMisto wrote:
I tried out different ways of phrasing things to maximize my typing speed.


This stuff is serious...

I know that people get mixed responses about prepping before 1L actually starts, but is it at least an OK idea to learn how to take a law school exam? I can't imagine trying to learn how to take one while your boat is loaded with a ton of required reading for class.. And since 1L grades are KING, why would anybody in their right mind risk going into finals without any idea how to take the test????

Help me. :cry:


The only downside to this is you will probably not know which textbook you will have, and what areas your prof will emphasize, making it really tough if you need to relearn a ton of rules you have down. If you can get a hold of an old syllabus of a class from a past student, try it out. Ideally you want to not only know "how" to take a law school exam, but know what you need to put into it.

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spleenworship
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby spleenworship » Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:40 pm

IMO if you have been reading any success guides and/or TLS it is impossible to score in the bottom 10% without mitigating factors (appendicitis during exam, dog died just before exam, etc.). Other than that? No really much to say. Those people will be very similar to the middle 80% of the class.

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rayiner
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby rayiner » Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:59 pm

iMisto wrote:
I tried out different ways of phrasing things to maximize my typing speed.


This stuff is serious...

I know that people get mixed responses about prepping before 1L actually starts, but is it at least an OK idea to learn how to take a law school exam? I can't imagine trying to learn how to take one while your boat is loaded with a ton of required reading for class.. And since 1L grades are KING, why would anybody in their right mind risk going into finals without any idea how to take the test????

Help me. :cry:


You can't learn how to take an exam without knowing the law. You can't learn the law until you figure out what exams look like. Practice exams are bewildering when you don't know the law, but to properly learn the law you need to have some idea of how it will be tested.

This is what makes 1L such a bitch and why 0L prep is so questionanly useful. Only in November when you've covered a lot of law, and are sitting doing your outlines and practice exams, can you really synthesize everything. You know enough law to start approaching the practice exams, and can then figure out enough about the exam to go back and relearn the law properly, paying attention to the things you need on the exam.

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HBBJohnStamos
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby HBBJohnStamos » Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:42 pm

chimp wrote:Image

LOL

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iMisto
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby iMisto » Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:45 pm

I get that one cannot know which parts the professor will emphasize, but I don't even know what parts/elements/whatever exists. I have absolutely no idea what these things look like. I'm not looking to go in expecting to ace all my exams, but I don't think it's in my best interest to go in blind either.

With that said, do books like Getting to Maybe and Open Book help? Not necessarily to extract any particular strategy, but to get an idea of what to prepare for..?

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rayiner
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby rayiner » Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:47 pm

iMisto wrote:I get that one cannot know which parts the professor will emphasize, but I don't even know what parts/elements/whatever exists. I have absolutely no idea what these things look like. I'm not looking to go in expecting to ace all my exams, but I don't think it's in my best interest to go in blind either.

With that said, do books like Getting to Maybe and Open Book help? Not necessarily to extract any particular strategy, but to get an idea of what to prepare for..?


Getting to Maybe does help.

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iMisto
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby iMisto » Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:56 pm

Alright, then I'll definitely pick that up.

Rayiner is secretly a TLS god, huh?

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emkay625
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby emkay625 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:03 pm

spleenworship wrote:IMO if you have been reading any success guides and/or TLS it is impossible to score in the bottom 10% without mitigating factors (appendicitis during exam, dog died just before exam, etc.). Other than that? No really much to say. Those people will be very similar to the middle 80% of the class.


Can you be more specific? What pieces of advice/TLS dogma did you find to be true - about either exams or about studying for law school in general.

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northwood
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Re: Who is at the bottom of the class?

Postby northwood » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:08 pm

remember its still very early in the semester. most law school students in their first semester feel like they dont know whats going on, let alone have an idea as to how a proper exam answer will look like

relax.




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