Law school grading; how does it work?

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arvcondor
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Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby arvcondor » Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:15 am

I hear a common refrain on these boards that grading is "unpredictable" and a total crap shoot. Could someone please explain why this is the case and what makes it unpredictable? I would assume it comes down to studying your ass off and being prepared, but all the posts I see seem to indicate otherwise, which makes me wonder how you can even strive for success for something that people are effectively describing as a lottery.

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vamedic03
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby vamedic03 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:50 am

arvcondor wrote:I hear a common refrain on these boards that grading is "unpredictable" and a total crap shoot. Could someone please explain why this is the case and what makes it unpredictable? I would assume it comes down to studying your ass off and being prepared, but all the posts I see seem to indicate otherwise, which makes me wonder how you can even strive for success for something that people are effectively describing as a lottery.


Law school grading is on a forced curve. Some schools only set the mean and require the professors to achieve that mean however they choose (e.g. 3.3 mean, a prof could give all B+'s or 1/6 A's, 2/6 A-s, 2/6 B+'s, and 1/6 B's). Other schools require professors to achieve a mean through a certain percentage in each grade category. Regardless, your performance is graded against your peers performance.

FWIW - there are people who do consistently well and some who do consistently poorly. It's not just about preparation but it's also, to a large degree, about how quickly you understand legal reasoning and raw ability.

Tsispilos
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby Tsispilos » Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:54 am

vamedic03 wrote: 1/6 A's, 2/6 A-s, 2/6 B+'s, and 1/6 B's

that's a 3.5

dougroberts
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby dougroberts » Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:58 am

After 1L-Fall semester, I thought law school grading was random, partly because I did not do as well as I thought I would (when comparing to my rocking of undergrad), but then I had to realize I'm not in undergrad anymore, and law school requires more work.

Since that semester, I do not feel that law school grades are random. Those who work hard seem to do better in general by now (2L-Spring). There are plenty of students who slack off and then do poorly. For me, I have now been getting consistent A- or so grades, so there is no way it is random. Perhaps because now I don't find "legal reasoning" too difficult, but it seems that the harder you work in law school the better you do because, generally, the material is not complicated.

Granted, law school grading is complicated because of its subjective nature - one professor may like your writing style and arguments and another may not. This would be the only "random" part I notice now in law school grading.

NoJob
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby NoJob » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:01 am

Lemming,

Grading in law school is incredibly random. Hard work means little as everyone studies hard. Memorization is useless as the tests are open book. Grading is one the reasons why people should not attend as grading is almost like a lottery. If you are the lucky person who spotted the right number of issues and wrote a good essay, then you are going to biglaw. If not, say hello to the T14 and the TTT grads at doc review. By spotting issues, I mean bringing up stuff that will never be dispositive of the case in the real world but shows that you considered the issue. There is little difference between what constitutes an A and a B+. So the little stupid things are how worthless professors make distinctions. Remember that they have to curve. So any stupid little bullshit will be how they pull it off.

You have brought up another reason why you should not attend law school outside of the fact that the profession is shrinking, that jobs are being sent to India, and that a computer will soon displace doc reviewers.

dougroberts
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby dougroberts » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:02 am

vamedic03 wrote:FWIW - there are people who do consistently well and some who do consistently poorly. It's not just about preparation but it's also, to a large degree, about how quickly you understand legal reasoning and raw ability.


And because its people "consistently" doing well or doing poorly, law school grading is not unpredictable, though it may seem so at first. Over time, students settle down into their level of expertise, some in the A range, some in the B range, and some in the C range, for example.

NoJob
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby NoJob » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:06 am

dougroberts wrote:
vamedic03 wrote:FWIW - there are people who do consistently well and some who do consistently poorly. It's not just about preparation but it's also, to a large degree, about how quickly you understand legal reasoning and raw ability.


And because its people "consistently" doing well or doing poorly, law school grading is not unpredictable, though it may seem so at first. Over time, students settle down into their level of expertise, some in the A range, some in the B range, and some in the C range, for example.



Disagree. Some people are very random. The highest grade in my Labor and Employment class was by a girl who was in the middle of our class. She said that she did well in some courses and really shitty in others (C- in torts).

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arvcondor
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby arvcondor » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:11 am

NoJob wrote:Lemming,

...

You have brought up another reason why you should not attend law school outside of the fact that the profession is shrinking, that jobs are being sent to India, and that a computer will soon displace doc reviewers.

TTT Reality author?

dougroberts
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby dougroberts » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:21 am

NoJob wrote:
dougroberts wrote:
vamedic03 wrote:FWIW - there are people who do consistently well and some who do consistently poorly. It's not just about preparation but it's also, to a large degree, about how quickly you understand legal reasoning and raw ability.


And because its people "consistently" doing well or doing poorly, law school grading is not unpredictable, though it may seem so at first. Over time, students settle down into their level of expertise, some in the A range, some in the B range, and some in the C range, for example.



Disagree. Some people are very random. The highest grade in my Labor and Employment class was by a girl who was in the middle of our class. She said that she did well in some courses and really shitty in others (C- in torts).


Even students who are consistent still get a few outliers here and there. For example, I have been doing well, but have two low grades staining my transcript. There will be outliers, but over 6 semesters of work, grades level out based on your intelligence and amount of work you put in.

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vamedic03
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby vamedic03 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:23 am

dougroberts wrote:
NoJob wrote:
dougroberts wrote:
vamedic03 wrote:FWIW - there are people who do consistently well and some who do consistently poorly. It's not just about preparation but it's also, to a large degree, about how quickly you understand legal reasoning and raw ability.


And because its people "consistently" doing well or doing poorly, law school grading is not unpredictable, though it may seem so at first. Over time, students settle down into their level of expertise, some in the A range, some in the B range, and some in the C range, for example.



Disagree. Some people are very random. The highest grade in my Labor and Employment class was by a girl who was in the middle of our class. She said that she did well in some courses and really shitty in others (C- in torts).


Even students who are consistent still get a few outliers here and there. For example, I have been doing well, but have two low grades staining my transcript. There will be outliers, but over 6 semesters of work, grades level out based on your intelligence and amount of work you put in.


^this. If grades were random then you shouldn't have people who are consistently at the top of the class. But, there are people who are consistently at the top of the class.

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traehekat
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby traehekat » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:24 am

It is important to work hard, but even more important to work smart. Do these things, don't freak out on exam day, and you can probably guarantee yourself at least top half, maybe top third depending the school.

As for the big picture, everything I have ever heard suggests that in the course of your law school career, you will have one or two grades that stick out (either as higher or lower). Who knows why, but I doubt it is random. It just looks that way.

xyzbca
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby xyzbca » Sat Mar 19, 2011 12:31 pm

One of the most important differences between LS grading and UG grading is in how the scoring system works. For the vast majority of LS exams you start at zero points and are awarded points for the quality of your exam answer. Typical UG exams involve multiple choice test where you earn points for answering correctly.

dougroberts wrote:After 1L-Fall semester, I thought law school grading was random, partly because I did not do as well as I thought I would (when comparing to my rocking of undergrad), but then I had to realize I'm not in undergrad anymore, and law school requires more work.

Since that semester, I do not feel that law school grades are random. Those who work hard seem to do better in general by now (2L-Spring). There are plenty of students who slack off and then do poorly. For me, I have now been getting consistent A- or so grades, so there is no way it is random. Perhaps because now I don't find "legal reasoning" too difficult, but it seems that the harder you work in law school the better you do because, generally, the material is not complicated.


The vast majority of law schools do not force a curve for 2L year. Given the completely different grading structures between 1L and 2L years, I don't believe a meaningful comparison can be made between the two. After 1L year, Top 25% cutoff is around a 3.2. By graduation it is up around a 3.45. IMHO, grades are inflated 2L and 3L years.

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fatduck
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby fatduck » Sat Mar 19, 2011 12:51 pm

NoJob wrote:Lemming,

Grading in law school is incredibly random. Hard work means little as everyone studies hard. Memorization is useless as the tests are open book. Grading is one the reasons why people should not attend as grading is almost like a lottery. If you are the lucky person who spotted the right number of issues and wrote a good essay, then you are going to biglaw. If not, say hello to the T14 and the TTT grads at doc review. By spotting issues, I mean bringing up stuff that will never be dispositive of the case in the real world but shows that you considered the issue. There is little difference between what constitutes an A and a B+. So the little stupid things are how worthless professors make distinctions. Remember that they have to curve. So any stupid little bullshit will be how they pull it off.

You have brought up another reason why you should not attend law school outside of the fact that the profession is shrinking, that jobs are being sent to India, and that a computer will soon displace doc reviewers.

Image

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buckilaw
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby buckilaw » Sat Mar 19, 2011 12:56 pm

A professor at GW articulates his grading methodology here. http://www.concurringopinions.com/archi ... _grad.html

Here is the gist of it:

"The key to this method is a good toss. Without a good toss, it is difficult to get a good spread for the grading curve. It is also important to get the toss correct on the first try. Exams can get crumpled if tossed too much. They begin to look as though the professor actually read them, and this is definitely to be avoided. Additional tosses are also inefficient and expend needless time and energy. Note the toss below. This is an example of a toss of considerable skill — obviously the result of years of practice."


--ImageRemoved-- (LinkRemoved)

anti-phronimos
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby anti-phronimos » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:01 pm

buckilaw wrote:A professor at GW articulates his grading methodology here. http://www.concurringopinions.com/archi ... _grad.html

Here is the gist of it:

"The key to this method is a good toss. Without a good toss, it is difficult to get a good spread for the grading curve. It is also important to get the toss correct on the first try. Exams can get crumpled if tossed too much. They begin to look as though the professor actually read them, and this is definitely to be avoided. Additional tosses are also inefficient and expend needless time and energy. Note the toss below. This is an example of a toss of considerable skill — obviously the result of years of practice."


--ImageRemoved-- (LinkRemoved)


As the offspring of two college professors, TITCR.

To be fair, they read the first paragraph of each one and split them into two separate piles--ones I'll toss down the stairs while aiming for the 'A' stair and ones I'll toss with a blindfold.

It apparently works as they rarely get any complaints about unfair grading.

TheFactor
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Re: Law school grading; how does it work?

Postby TheFactor » Sat Mar 19, 2011 7:13 pm

NoJob wrote:Lemming,

Grading in law school is incredibly random. Hard work means little as everyone studies hard. Memorization is useless as the tests are open book. Grading is one the reasons why people should not attend as grading is almost like a lottery. If you are the lucky person who spotted the right number of issues and wrote a good essay, then you are going to biglaw. If not, say hello to the T14 and the TTT grads at doc review. By spotting issues, I mean bringing up stuff that will never be dispositive of the case in the real world but shows that you considered the issue. There is little difference between what constitutes an A and a B+. So the little stupid things are how worthless professors make distinctions. Remember that they have to curve. So any stupid little bullshit will be how they pull it off.

You have brought up another reason why you should not attend law school outside of the fact that the profession is shrinking, that jobs are being sent to India, and that a computer will soon displace doc reviewers.

lol




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