Are Grades Based on Luck?

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JetstoRJC
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Are Grades Based on Luck?

Postby JetstoRJC » Thu Apr 15, 2010 6:50 pm

So a couple of recent threads indirectly bring up this idea, but i am intrigued by some of the thoughts towards Law School grades. Many seem to think that grades are predominantly based on luck; put all student names in a hat and where you are drawn determines your class rank. So how much of a factor is luck when it comes to grades?

Probably my biggest worry about law school is putting in all the time and effort and finishing towards the bottom of the class. I would hope to have good enough grades to compete for clerkships/Biglaw, but I at least want to make sure I finish above median.

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Captain Jack
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Re: Are Grades Based on Luck?

Postby Captain Jack » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:01 am

While grades are certainly based on how much time and effort that one puts in his or her studying and understanding of what's taught in class, class rank is based on how well your classmates perform. Class rank affects your grade because while one may do well and attain, say, a 3.5 in his 1L, that may actually be median if the student's school has a very high curve, thus, making your GPA (or in this case, 3.5) not as impressive. Conversely, if there is a low curve, that 3.5 could put you into the higher deciles of your class. It's all relative as to how you and your classmates perform.

Hope that helped.

FeuerFrei
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Re: Are Grades Based on Luck?

Postby FeuerFrei » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:03 am

.
Last edited by FeuerFrei on Fri Feb 04, 2011 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Captain Jack
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Re: Are Grades Based on Luck?

Postby Captain Jack » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:14 am

FeuerFrei wrote:
Captain Jack wrote:While grades are certainly based on how much time and effort that one puts in his or her studying and understanding of what's taught in class, class rank is based on how well your classmates perform. Class rank affects your grade because while one may do well and attain, say, a 3.5 in his 1L, that may actually be median if the student's school has a very high curve, thus, making your GPA (or in this case, 3.5) not as impressive. Conversely, if there is a low curve, that 3.5 could put you into the higher deciles of your class. It's all relative as to how you and your classmates perform.

Hope that helped.


What does this have to do with luck



It's luck in the sense that one cannot control how each one of his or her classmates performs in law school. Durr!

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underachiever
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Re: Are Grades Based on Luck?

Postby underachiever » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:16 am

Yes, and No. It depends on the class, the test, the teacher and the school (tons of variables). IF you work extremely hard, and do the right things its not all luck. But I have seen others tests/grades (small group) and the difference b/t a B and an A- was not as big as I thought it would be, but on your transcript its huge! Study right, write a lot on the test and you will be fine (my motto). With only 8 1L grades at my LS it is tough, b/c getting lucky twice (A-s instead of B+s) is huge in terms of getting a job at OCR.

This all said the kids in the Top 10-25% they aren't lucky, they are smart, they study smart and they know how to take a law school exam.
But b/t 25% and 75% (the middle 50%) I would say there is a lot of luck at play.

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OperaSoprano
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Re: Are Grades Based on Luck?

Postby OperaSoprano » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:20 am

underachiever wrote:Yes, and No. It depends on the class, the test, the teacher and the school (tons of variables). IF you work extremely hard, and do the right things its not all luck. But I have seen others tests/grades (small group) and the difference b/t a B and an A- was not as big as I thought it would be, but on your transcript its huge! Study right, write a lot on the test and you will be fine (my motto). With only 8 1L grades at my LS it is tough, b/c getting lucky twice (A-s instead of B+s) is huge in terms of getting a job at OCR.

This all said the kids in the Top 10-25% they aren't lucky, they are smart, they study smart and they know how to take a law school exam.
But b/t 25% and 75% (the middle 50%) I would say there is a lot of luck at play.


This is excellent. I do have to add that for very small classes that are still strictly curved, luck plays a role in who your classmates are. One might not find a normal distribution among 16 people.

*summons Rayiner to this thread to give the same lecture he gave me when I received my grades*

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nealric
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Re: Are Grades Based on Luck?

Postby nealric » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:04 pm

I think an individual class grade can have a luck component. However, grades in the aggregate are demonstrably not based on luck.

If grades were pure luck (i.e. randomly distributed), the standard deviation between GPAs would be minuscule. The chances of having above a 3.7 would be almost nill. Think about it: if 20% of a given class gets an "A or A-", and you take 30 classes in law school with random grade distribution, the chances of anyone getting straight A/A- grades would be practically 0 (.2^30=1.07 x 10^-21). Yet every year, multiple people graduate having done just that. Granted, someone could graduate with a 3.7+ having gotten some B+'s with mostly A's, but the point remains that getting a lot of A's would be extremely unlikely if grades were random.




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