Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

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PeanutsNJam
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Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby PeanutsNJam » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:02 am

Generally, when you do things, your success in doing said thing is a function of the work you put in, your innate talent for said thing, and luck.

I've read all the "how to succeed in law school" posts for TLS. They all say similar things (which is a good sign I suppose). Basically, "luck" becomes a factors in the margins. They suggest it'll affect your class rank +/- 3%, or something like that. Luck will get you an A when it most likely would have been an A-, or vice versa. Talent also comes secondary to preparation. The articles talk about reading books such as Getting to Maybe and Law School Confidential as a 0L, and then starting to lightly read E&E's to get a feel for the material. They've outlined the best ways to prepare for the final exam that is 100% of your grade, such as taking practice tests and starting your outline early, and making your outline concise.

It seems if one does the preparation correctly and puts in the time, you can dictate where on the class rank spectrum you lie by how much work you put in. Too lazy to read the hornbooks? Too bad, lower rank. Decided to read the hornbooks, E&E's, do questions, visit office hours, take practice tests, cross reference outlines with high-scoring upperclassmen, etc? Higher rank. Yeah, if you're striving for top 5% at a T20 to transfer or something, luck and talent are probably necessary.

But why the "yeah it doesn't matter how hard you work, you might as well roll a dice to find out what your 1L grade will be"/"assume median outcomes" rhetoric?

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runinthefront
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby runinthefront » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:09 am

PeanutsNJam wrote:
It seems if one does the preparation correctly and puts in the time, you can dictate where on the class rank spectrum you lie by how much work you put in.


imagine you're at a school

and at this school, most students have an undergraduate GPA with .4 of each other

and most students have an LSAT within 2-3 points of each other

actually, forget LSAT/GPA and just assume that everyone is relatively of the same intelligence

what happens if everyone prepares correctly and puts in the time? Surely you're not the only TLS user going to your school
Last edited by runinthefront on Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:12 am, edited 1 time in total.


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Mullens
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby Mullens » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:12 am

It's very hard to predict how good you will be at law school exams before you start. They are much more of a learned skill than talent. Everyone you go to school with will be intelligent and hard-working, especially at T14 schools. Your performance is based on how your peers do and the difference between grades can really be just how close of attention your professor was paying when they graded your exam.

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ymmv
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby ymmv » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:14 am

Please no. We literally just had this fucking thread, and your hopeless 0L naïveté in no way adds to all the hopeless 0L naïveté already on display.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=242896#p8342153

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PeanutsNJam
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby PeanutsNJam » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:17 am

Sooo... is this bullshit?

http://www.top-law-schools.com/success- ... chool.html

srs question

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ymmv
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby ymmv » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:19 am

PeanutsNJam wrote:Sooo... is this bullshit?

http://www.top-law-schools.com/success- ... chool.html

srs question


Working hard and following some of the study advice there (just skimmed 2 seconds of it, looks reasonable) is not bullshit. Expecting to be able to predict your class ranking accurately is complete bullshit.

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UnicornHunter
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby UnicornHunter » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:21 am

PeanutsNJam wrote:Generally, when you do things, your success in doing said thing is a function of the work you put in, your innate talent for said thing, and luck.

I've read all the "how to succeed in law school" posts for TLS. They all say similar things (which is a good sign I suppose). Basically, "luck" becomes a factors in the margins. They suggest it'll affect your class rank +/- 3%, or something like that. Luck will get you an A when it most likely would have been an A-, or vice versa. Talent also comes secondary to preparation. The articles talk about reading books such as Getting to Maybe and Law School Confidential as a 0L, and then starting to lightly read E&E's to get a feel for the material. They've outlined the best ways to prepare for the final exam that is 100% of your grade, such as taking practice tests and starting your outline early, and making your outline concise.

It seems if one does the preparation correctly and puts in the time, you can dictate where on the class rank spectrum you lie by how much work you put in. Too lazy to read the hornbooks? Too bad, lower rank. Decided to read the hornbooks, E&E's, do questions, visit office hours, take practice tests, cross reference outlines with high-scoring upperclassmen, etc? Higher rank. Yeah, if you're striving for top 5% at a T20 to transfer or something, luck and talent are probably necessary.

But why the "yeah it doesn't matter how hard you work, you might as well roll a dice to find out what your 1L grade will be"/"assume median outcomes" rhetoric?


Yea, this is pretty much all wrong. The people who write guides happen to be the super neurotic gunner types (otherwise, why devote hours and hours to documenting "how you did law school"), but they are by no means the only super neurotic types nor are they the only ones to get good grades. Some try-hards bottom out the curve. Some slackers populate the top. The Law is not complicated, figuring out exactly what your professor wants to see written on a three hour exam can be.

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Ron Don Volante
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby Ron Don Volante » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:26 am

PeanutsNJam wrote:Sooo... is this bullshit?

http://www.top-law-schools.com/success- ... chool.html

srs question

it's not bullshit. But it's not what's going to set you apart -- it's the baseline. Essentially everyone has similar intellectual ability, similar resources, and puts in similar levels of effort. What sets people apart? Great question.

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fats provolone
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby fats provolone » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:31 am

even if you could theoretically examine each student and determine their Law School Aptitude Quotient and sort them from high to low, your list would still probably not reflect the curve after 1 set of exams

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ymmv
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable

Postby ymmv » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:33 am

To paraphrase DF (because I can't find his post), the brutality of the curve is not because law school is hard; it's because it's easy. A law exam is like a math exam where the goal is to see who can solve the highest number of simple math problems in 3 hours. Except sometimes the professor might prefer you spend more time adding 2+2 than subtracting 1 from 3, so you'd better hope you guess right and get more of the 2+2 problems written in.

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ManoftheHour
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby ManoftheHour » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:39 am

1L here. In all my classes, I did all the readings, went to every class, and took good notes. Did E&E supplements, talked to TAs, did like 5+ PTs for each exam.

I felt good about all my exams and I felt like I was as prepped as I could be for all of them.

Class 1: Booked.
Class 2: Median.
Class 3: Above median.

Not sure what happened. I would say there's definitely some "randomness" factor there. Maybe I had a bad day in class 2 but didn't realize it. Might have missed one big issue and didn't know it. Or, it's because that class was so easy that the margin of error was literally one or two small issue. For last year, the Property professor said that the margin between an A and B grade was razor thin.

The point is, it's fallacy to believe that just because you worked hard you're going to be top 10% or higher. Everyone around me is doing the same thing. Some people are lazier but are naturally smarter (or at least better at applying facts and law on the exam).
Last edited by ManoftheHour on Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PeanutsNJam
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby PeanutsNJam » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:40 am

But are all law students within a class really equal?

The weaknesses in the typical student’s approach are numerous. I would estimate, based on the law students I know, that 75% or more of the first-year students in my class followed the road outlined above. Some extremely bright students follow this road and get A’s. This is a measure of their brilliance, not a justification for their study system. I would wager that using a smarter system would allow them to fare even better.

The first major issue here is failure to respect an exam worth 100% of your grade. It is essential that you always budget enough time in your schedule for exam preparation. You should not be spending time doing things that do not contribute to an increase in your exam score until you have completed all of those things that do increase your exam score.

A professor may open a class and welcome you to law school and to her class. She may inform you about the lengthy readings and level of preparation she expects from you. She may inform you of the test at the end worth 100% of your grade, but tell you not to worry about it because it is too early. She may tell you to brief every case and not to read study guides.

You need to hear beyond her words, into the reality and implications of what she is saying. This is what I hear:

“Welcome to Contracts; I am Professor Smith. I am going to talk about what I am interested in because this is my class and I am going to teach the way I want to. I am not going to advise you on how to play tricky games to maximize your grades because when the end of the semester comes I am going to give out a fixed number of A’s, B’s, and C’s anyway. I care about my research, not about how you guys fight it out amongst yourself for the 5 A and 15 A- grades I will be awarding. I don’t want you to read study guides or for you to practice tests all year long, even though doing so will get the select few of you that do it better test grades. Reading these books and practicing sample tests may get you great at taking tests, but you are short-cutting past all of the hard work that will make you better suited for a career in legal academia in the long run.”

Or sometimes this:

“Welcome to Contracts; I am Professor Smith. I am completely out of touch with what it is like to be an average law school student with typical abilities relative to my peers. When I was at Harvard Law School in 1972 we used the Socratic Method, and I stand by that tradition. It doesn’t matter that I was a 178 LSAT and 3.98 student in undergrad, with a 172 I.Q. and that I could have only studied ten hours a week and still have made Harvard Law Review. I am completely out of touch with what it would take for the typical law student to read or practice in order to do well on my exam.”


This is at NYU, fyi.

ymmv wrote:To paraphrase DF (because I can't find his post), the brutality of the curve is not because law school is hard; it's because it's easy. A law exam is like a math exam where the goal is to see who can solve the highest number of simple math problems in 3 hours. Except sometimes the professor might prefer you spend more time adding 2+2 than subtracting 1 from 3, so you'd better hope you guess right and get more of the 2+2 problems written in.


Then can't you give yourself and edge by sitting at home practicing speed-math all day, instead of studying the calculus the teacher is teaching, which isn't even on the test? Guessing what the professor wants is fine, but if you can answer 2x more questions than the "average" student (because while they were learning theoretical math, you sat home doing 2+2 as fast as you can), then aren't you setting yourself apart?

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UnicornHunter
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby UnicornHunter » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:44 am

PeanutsNJam wrote:But are all law students within a class really equal?

The weaknesses in the typical student’s approach are numerous. I would estimate, based on the law students I know, that 75% or more of the first-year students in my class followed the road outlined above. Some extremely bright students follow this road and get A’s. This is a measure of their brilliance, not a justification for their study system. I would wager that using a smarter system would allow them to fare even better.

The first major issue here is failure to respect an exam worth 100% of your grade. It is essential that you always budget enough time in your schedule for exam preparation. You should not be spending time doing things that do not contribute to an increase in your exam score until you have completed all of those things that do increase your exam score.

A professor may open a class and welcome you to law school and to her class. She may inform you about the lengthy readings and level of preparation she expects from you. She may inform you of the test at the end worth 100% of your grade, but tell you not to worry about it because it is too early. She may tell you to brief every case and not to read study guides.

You need to hear beyond her words, into the reality and implications of what she is saying. This is what I hear:

“Welcome to Contracts; I am Professor Smith. I am going to talk about what I am interested in because this is my class and I am going to teach the way I want to. I am not going to advise you on how to play tricky games to maximize your grades because when the end of the semester comes I am going to give out a fixed number of A’s, B’s, and C’s anyway. I care about my research, not about how you guys fight it out amongst yourself for the 5 A and 15 A- grades I will be awarding. I don’t want you to read study guides or for you to practice tests all year long, even though doing so will get the select few of you that do it better test grades. Reading these books and practicing sample tests may get you great at taking tests, but you are short-cutting past all of the hard work that will make you better suited for a career in legal academia in the long run.”

Or sometimes this:

“Welcome to Contracts; I am Professor Smith. I am completely out of touch with what it is like to be an average law school student with typical abilities relative to my peers. When I was at Harvard Law School in 1972 we used the Socratic Method, and I stand by that tradition. It doesn’t matter that I was a 178 LSAT and 3.98 student in undergrad, with a 172 I.Q. and that I could have only studied ten hours a week and still have made Harvard Law Review. I am completely out of touch with what it would take for the typical law student to read or practice in order to do well on my exam.”


This is at NYU, fyi.

ymmv wrote:To paraphrase DF (because I can't find his post), the brutality of the curve is not because law school is hard; it's because it's easy. A law exam is like a math exam where the goal is to see who can solve the highest number of simple math problems in 3 hours. Except sometimes the professor might prefer you spend more time adding 2+2 than subtracting 1 from 3, so you'd better hope you guess right and get more of the 2+2 problems written in.


Then can't you give yourself and edge by sitting at home practicing speed-math all day, instead of studying the calculus the teacher is teaching, which isn't even on the test? Guessing what the professor wants is fine, but if you can answer 2x more questions than the "average" student (because while they were learning theoretical math, you sat home doing 2+2 as fast as you can), then aren't you setting yourself apart?


Are you familiar with google? Even if the advice in that article was as life changing as the author acts like it was, now that articles like that are all over the internet, people have adjusted. Everybody's read getting to maybe (or been exposed to the basic concept). Everyone knows what supps work best with a teacher's style. The edge is gone, all that author describes is how to keep up with the pack.

Mal Reynolds
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby Mal Reynolds » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:45 am

If you put in the work then you'll be fine OP. Don't let these h8trs get you down.

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Ron Don Volante
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby Ron Don Volante » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:46 am

i think at this point you're not really going to get it until you're there.

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ymmv
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby ymmv » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:52 am

PeanutsNJam wrote:
ymmv wrote:To paraphrase DF (because I can't find his post), the brutality of the curve is not because law school is hard; it's because it's easy. A law exam is like a math exam where the goal is to see who can solve the highest number of simple math problems in 3 hours. Except sometimes the professor might prefer you spend more time adding 2+2 than subtracting 1 from 3, so you'd better hope you guess right and get more of the 2+2 problems written in.


Then can't you give yourself and edge by sitting at home practicing speed-math all day, instead of studying the calculus the teacher is teaching, which isn't even on the test? Guessing what the professor wants is fine, but if you can answer 2x more questions than the "average" student (because while they were learning theoretical math, you sat home doing 2+2 as fast as you can), then aren't you setting yourself apart?


First off, it's an analogy, dude. You can't stretch it to the extreme and expect it to hold.
Second, there are finite hours in the day, and you can bet your ass most of your classmates are going to be using them for study come the weeks leading up to exams.

I don't understand why it's so difficult for you to comprehend that most of your classmates are going to be just as fucking keen on getting A's as you will, they'll have read TLS study tips and hunted down outlines, they're all going to have the same or similar academic credentials, and for the most part they're all going to work their asses off 1L to hit top of the class. And yet the very nature of the curve is that most of them will be forced to fail at that regardless of how fucking talented and hardworking they are.

I mean, what do you think an enforced curve IS, exactly?

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PeanutsNJam
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby PeanutsNJam » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:59 am

Yeah, it's obvious that is you force a normal distribution on an idiosyncratic population, it's going to be random. My question the is how idiosyncratic the population really is.

If you said LSAT was at all representative of the 1L experience, you'd be laughed out of the room. So LSAT score apparently doesn't mean anything.

You have your GPA, but that's even more variable. All you know is your classmates have around the same GPA (save for splitters), but they could have majored in Business in University of New Mexico, or Electrical Engineering at Princeton.

Outside of T6, (and even in CCN), are the students really shoulder-to-shoulder? Both in intelligence and work ethic?
Last edited by PeanutsNJam on Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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runinthefront
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby runinthefront » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:00 am

dude go to sleep

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fats provolone
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby fats provolone » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:00 am

PeanutsNJam wrote:Outside of T6, (and even in CCN), are the students really shoulder-to-shoulder? Both in intelligence and work ethic?

why does that matter

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Clearly
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby Clearly » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:08 am

fats provolone wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:Outside of T6, (and even in CCN), are the students really shoulder-to-shoulder? Both in intelligence and work ethic?

why does that matter

and yes.

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PeanutsNJam
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby PeanutsNJam » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:10 am

Ok well I guess if I'm going to be curved against 199 clones of myself then I'll go ask the fortune teller down the street how I'll do in law school.

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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby Mal Reynolds » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:10 am

PeanutsNJam wrote:Ok well I guess if I'm going to be curved against 199 clones of myself then I'll go ask the fortune teller down the street how I'll do in law school.


I think this is supposed to be a straw man but it's really accurate.

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PeanutsNJam
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby PeanutsNJam » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:16 am

It's a concession

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NYC2012
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Re: Why do people say 1L performance is unpredictable?

Postby NYC2012 » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:19 am

There was just someone on here the other day who ended up with a 3.1 who did LEEWS, read GTM, read the E&Es, used other supplements, did practice exams, etc. I don't know why it's unpredictable, but it is. I didn't believe it when I was a 0L either!




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