AReasonableMan wrote:The inability to predict doesn't make it random. If this was the case then a law student who gets 4.0 1st semester would have an equal shot of getting a 3.0 second semester as would a student who got a 3.0 1st semester. However, this isn't the case. When I read exams that got a better grade than mine it was pretty evident a page in that it was a superior product. Maybe there's some randomness on what an A- vs. a B+ is, but over 8 exams this is likely to even itself out.
There's some critical skills or set of skills that people who score A/H exams have - and I'm trying to explain what I think those skills might be. I think there's a critical difference b/t what's advocated on this thread (just do the work, read all EEs etc.) and what those actual skills are. You can certainly do all the work/follow all the guides and end up with all Ps/Bs - I'm not denying that.
But writing these skills off as "brilliance" or "some people are just smart" instead of developable skills is not very useful in my opinion and is not a good attitude to have. You can easily keep an open mind to both sides of an issue. You can easily try and articulate/justify court reasoning in your head outside of the canned arguments given in the book/class.
I agree that A exams usually have something better going for them than B exams. And I agree that people can learn to write better exams, because exam-taking is a skill. Critical thinking and looking at both sides is probably helpful (as Getting to Maybe has been suggesting for a long time).
But since it's all on a curve where you're graded against your classmates' performance, however much you develop your skills, your grades still depend on how all the rest of your class does. I had a classmate who got 95/100 on her (multiple choice) evidence exam. Her 95 worked out to be a B, because the exam was easy enough, and enough people got above a 95, that a 95 was a B. The difference between getting a 95 and a 96, or a 97, isn't about a measurable difference in critical thinking skills, IMO. It's a random function of whether you happened to study the material in the pertinent 2-3 questions to the same degree as the next person. Forget one hearsay exception and you have a B. Sure, there's a difference between the A exam and the B exam, but it's not a worthwhile distinction between students' abilities.