Law School Discussion

Law Students => Current Law Students => Topic started by: jack24 on January 08, 2009, 09:12:54 AM

Title: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: jack24 on January 08, 2009, 09:12:54 AM
Every test is different, and I'm pretty sure that if you score a 0 on any of the first three categories then you will get poor grades.  I got a B or B+ in every class this semester, and I'm wondering what separates the 3.6ers from the 3.2ers. 


Intelligence may have a lot to do with it on some tests, but none of my teachers mark down for dumb stuff, they just gave positive points for positive logic.  Seems to me like a combination of memory and typing speed could possibly make up for an intelligence problem.

Hard work is really important in any endeavor, but in my experience, the Final exam only hits on about 10%-25% of the information presented in the course. 
On my torts exam (an "analyze all possible claims and defenses" format) nobody I talked to even came close to putting down everything they had because they ran out of time.  I'm a fast typist, and I still could have gone on for another 2 hours.  In that situation, someone who knows 3 hours worth of good information will probably do just as well as someone who knows 6 hours of information.

On another exam, one of the three essay questions had to do with a topic we only spent two days on in class.  One guy told me that he was totally unprepared on many subjects, but he just happened to have reviewed the material that came up on the test in detail the night before.

Lets say you have two students in civ pro: A, who studies civ pro 15 hours a week, and B, who studies 10 hours a week.  Over a semester, that would give student A a 75 hour studying advantage.   But if the test only covers 10% of the material, then that advantage is really only 7.5 hours.  Sure, in theory it is more likely that the person who studies more would cast a wider net and catch more relevant material, but I doubt that is always the case.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: TheDudeMan on January 08, 2009, 09:52:54 AM
Saying that grades are based on intelligence is ridiculous.  That would imply that knowing the most will lead to the best grades and there are plenty of students that know everything and bomb and plenty who BS their way through and ace law school exams.

Many professors will openly admit that law school exams do nothing other than to test your ability to take law school exams.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 08, 2009, 11:07:22 AM
bump.

I haven't seen my grades yet, but, judging from the model answers, it's a combo of writing well and being analytically sharp.  Law school exams are a performance.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: nealric on January 08, 2009, 01:40:08 PM
You need to be intelligent but it needs to be the right kind of intelligence.

 
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: jack24 on January 08, 2009, 01:49:16 PM
You need to be intelligent but it needs to be the right kind of intelligence.

So, on a slightly different note: If scientists analyzed ten students around the top ten percent and compared them to 10 students around the 33rd percentile, would the most substantial difference between the groups would be intelligence?

Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 08, 2009, 01:53:53 PM
You need to be intelligent but it needs to be the right kind of intelligence.

 

Can you elaborate?
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ;;;;; on January 08, 2009, 05:35:59 PM
"Washing machines work hard." -National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: mzing12 on January 08, 2009, 06:49:33 PM
Everyone's equally intelligent in law school ... chances are everyone has similar LSATs, GPAs, backgrounds, etc, and those are all "intelligence qualifiers" in the same way people are using law school exams to make the same judgment. Except, of course, the people who vote "intelligence" are often voting to flatter themselves.

The only option on here that's probably more relevant than any of the options is practical common sense. As in, having the common sense to understand you have to completely unlearn your past academic background (if you have one) and relearn things the "law school way", which is a way of thinking that only exists in law school and seems to have nothing to do with law. Otherwise you go back to past habits that will destroy you. That's what happened to me.

Note to English major 0Ls: forget everything you were taught the past 4 years about approaching problems. It's the exact opposite of what you need to do in law school.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: krystal82 on January 08, 2009, 07:10:57 PM
I type really slow, hence I opted to hand write my exams, i'm certain that if I typed faster, i would've done better.

For someone who types slow, what would be the best strategy to adopt? Be more concise with the rules, and do more analyis? I know this is something I need to work on but it will takes years to improve, how do I make the best of it?
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 08, 2009, 08:14:11 PM
Everyone's equally intelligent in law school ... chances are everyone has similar LSATs, GPAs, backgrounds, etc, and those are all "intelligence qualifiers" in the same way people are using law school exams to make the same judgment. Except, of course, the people who vote "intelligence" are often voting to flatter themselves.

The only option on here that's probably more relevant than any of the options is practical common sense. As in, having the common sense to understand you have to completely unlearn your past academic background (if you have one) and relearn things the "law school way", which is a way of thinking that only exists in law school and seems to have nothing to do with law. Otherwise you go back to past habits that will destroy you. That's what happened to me.

Note to English major 0Ls: forget everything you were taught the past 4 years about approaching problems. It's the exact opposite of what you need to do in law school.

I haven't gotten grades back, but

1. I totally disagree with the bolded.  Being analytically sharp with facts and law is the purpose of law school, and it's basically all I did as an English major.

2. Reez is right on, but I disagree with the "typing too fast" idea.  This depends entirely on the professor.  Some professors like sharp, concise analysis that requires citing just the right case and arguing in just the right way, but some professors (*cough* Civil Procedure *cough*) love to see that you can throw random rules -- 41(a) and settlement! -- out there because they have a rule checklist.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: mzing12 on January 08, 2009, 08:31:33 PM
Mentally sharp with the facts, yeah, but my 4 years were spent being taught: focus on one thing, take only one side, and try and figure out the most minute, most interesting detail and blow it up. Forget and ignore everything else. It's useful if you're going into, say, Literature academia, but not so much for anything else.

Law is the opposite: I was reading the exam answers the professor posted, and it has all sorts of almost unrelated facts and cases ... he just wanted you to consider them. We were taught that this is the worst possible thing to do with English work, so alas, I did not do it. and got a B-.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 08, 2009, 09:04:27 PM
Also, you need to ask for your money back on your English degree if you were taught to argue only one side. 

Agreed.  I feel like English prepared me extremely well to make my thought process transparent and "argue both sides" on the exam.

I also agree with the comment about intelligence.  No, not everyone is at the same level.  There are chasms of differences in which people get it, and which people run with it to Law Review.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: tag on January 08, 2009, 10:01:42 PM
Putting in the "Right Effort" is by and large the most important factor in determining good grades, not intelligence, work ethic, or any of the other factors necessarily.

I know that people will say, "well, you have to be intelligent to know what is the "right effort" to begin with."  That may be true to some extent, but personality is a big factor in discovering the right effort.  Some people think that they are so intelligent that they can bulldoze their way through the material.  The problem is that there is far too much material assigned in law school to do this.  And even if they can get a pretty good understanding with the "bulldozing method," they are putting themselves at a severe disadvantage with their peers who are using better methods to study.

For example, one can be naturally gifted at running, but if he chooses to run on the side of the road with loose sand, rocks, litter, etc. instead of running on the clear pavement just to show how good of a runner he is, he will surely lose to the ones who are running on the pavement, even if he is slightly better than the other runners (and in law school I would posit that there is not too much difference in the students' intelligence).  Then when he loses the race the psychological blow of it will most likely put him at a disadvantage for the next race (i.e., the next semester). 

Some may ask, "Ok then, what is the 'right effort?'" 

IMHO, there are several things that go into this.

Try to be as emotionally balanced as possible. The ability to filter out the noise and one-upsmanship concomitant to law school and just focus on what is important in class is crucial.  Most of the stuff you read in cases is crap. It's important to read it so that you can pass the "Socratic Method Test."  Yes.  This is another test in law school.  It is just a very unimportant one considering that it will not effect your grades, only the way you look to your peers.

I know the "Socratic Method Test" is important to 1Ls.  It's really terrible to look bad in front of your peers.  That's why you still need to read through the material assigned.  Just try to do it quickly.  You don't need to make huge briefs of every case.   And no matter how much time you spend, you will still not know all of what the professor is asking you.  Most professors, unlike a lot of students think, do not massage all the things they mention in class out of every sentence of those cases. They instead use the cases as a guide to get across the material they think is important, which they have learned from years and years of study of this material.  The professors will give you almost everything you need in class to succeed on the exam; so it is really important to try to write down everything they say, and not to worry if you didn't know many of the things they are asking. If you can handle speaking in front of your peers, and are not the type who always wants to chime in to show how "smart you are," then you'll be able to focus on learning what the professor is trying to teach, and the material will sink in far better.

It is also vitally important that you continually review the material actually given in class.  Don't worry about time.  You'll have plenty of time to do this since if you're not WASTING so much time briefing every worthless sentence in the cases (i.e., you are not "running on the sand"), due to fear of the useless "Socratic Method Test."  Also make sure to make outlines so that you can see how the material fits together.  You have to know the outline down pat, because that is how to maximize your points on the tests when the professors throw the kitchen sink of facts at you. 

What law students should be spending MOST of their time and effort in is practicing how to apply the facts, even if they don't know a lot of the substantive law at that point.  Most students, however, do not do this nearly enough.  When you see a fact, it should evoke one or more rules (from the outline that you have memorized cold); these rules are often inconsistent with each other (professor's love to do this), and showing that you know that they are inconsistent is one of the best ways to take yourself to the A pile.  You can do this with almost every fact in most law professors' exams.  If you practice application enough, with the law you do know as you learn it, at the end of the semester you'll be able to APPLY all the law you learned throughout the semester.

In summary, learning to run on pavement instead of on the sand is the best thing one can do to make sure they are successful in law school, not intelligence or pure work ethic or whatnot.

Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: tag on January 08, 2009, 10:29:03 PM
I think you are actually right.  There are most likely numerous factors that lead to success, and those CAN be labeled as types of intelligence.  In fact, as I mentioned in my post (even if I didn't call it this), I strongly believe that "Emotional Intelligence" is also crucial to academic success in law school.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: *devo* on January 08, 2009, 10:43:27 PM
tag!
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 08, 2009, 11:07:28 PM
There's also a book called "Clueless in Academe" that explains why some people just don't "get" it.

Oh, I know who you are now.  Not too fond of the Wizard of Oz, anymore?
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: jack24 on January 09, 2009, 05:44:19 AM
I still believe that luck has a lot to do with it.  It may be cynical to believe that sometimes being the smartest and the hardest working isn't enough. (I'm definitely neither the smartest, nor the hardest working)  Studying the right topics is a crucial step to success in law school.  The ability to pay attention to the topics that the professor emphasizes throughout the year is a type of intelligence, but in my very limited experience, the test isn't necessarily proportional to the class time. 
Also, some classes are different.  There were a few teachers at my school who used multiple choice questions for the majority of their final.  If you are terrible at expressing yourself in essay format, but you have a brilliant memory and good intelligence, you'd be at a huge loss if you weren't in the multiple choice class. 
If you are a property superstar, and you know nearly everything about the subject, it can all be washed away about a question on a topic you somehow overlooked,  like gifts involving a safe deposit box.

I really do believe that you can't succeed in law school without a good level of hard work and smarts, but luck can make or break you, especially if you're shooting for an A. 
 
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 09, 2009, 06:49:10 AM
Ugh . . . why wouldn't you able to apply gift doctrine (intent, delivery, acceptance) to a safe deposit box?  That hypothetical seems to be playing into the hands of Newman v. Bost and causa mortis easily.  "You can have everything in my house" didn't mean that the servant could have the life insurance in his drawer.  Because of the Statute of Frauds, gifts causa mortis have to be re-delivered.  So a gift in a safe deposit box would, on first impression, not count.  It was not re-delivered.  As for the other two elements, we can assume there was acceptance, which isn't generally a disputed element, and we will discuss intent.

But you could argue that, because it's a safe deposit box, then manual delivery is redundant.  The Newman court also upheld, in a dicta, that the servant could have the furniture in her room because it was delivered previously and was too weighty to be moved back into the room.  It seems like, if the safe deposit box is at a bank or somewhere similarly unreachable, it would be redundant to have it re-delivered, and the courts generally dislike that type of waste.

Moreover, the plaintiff could rely on Gruen v. Gruen, in which intent trumps delivery.  Why should the donor re-deliver the valuables in the safe deposit box?  From a policy standpoint, this might be a stronger argument.  There is no issue of fraud in a safe deposit box -- the gift will probably not be tampered with -- and the intent of the donor was strong enough.  The donor might have intended to create a remainder interest with the safe deposit box, while keeping his or her life estate.

A final analysis compares gifts to deeds, and weakens the intent argument.  In Gramstad v. Gramstad, the court ruled that a deed must be delivered with present intent, or else remain with an escrow agent.  This is real property, so it's less relevant to gifts, but a deed cannot remain in a safe deposit box because, for one, the state encourages grantors to make a will.  Unless the donor has good reason to avoid will-making, and compliance with the Statute of Frauds, this could kill the argument.

Ultimately, I think the deed analogue is weak, and the court will likely rule in the plaintiff's favor and treat the safe deposit box as a gift.

Yada yada yada . . . but it shows that you are probably not getting it if you think that there is some issue which you couldn't discuss.  I can wake up in the middle of the night, cold, and discuss any issue you would want.  Just let me look up the BLL in my outline and watch me try to analyze it.

Your problem is that you're still in the undergrad mindset.  You assume that there are issues that you haven't "studied" and, therefore, you cannot regurgitate some bull about them.  THAT'S NOT HOW LAW SCHOOL WORKS.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Connelly on January 09, 2009, 06:52:41 AM
I am just a 1L that did way better than he deserved on the first exam he got back, but here are my two cents.

It's very difficult to pick out one thing that I feel was the most tested by our exams.  I felt they tested a balance of many of the things listed in this thread.  I think there is some very good advice on this thread.  As I was preparing for finals and going over practice exams, the process started to click a lot more.  I started to understand more of what we were supposed to be doing, and even before we took our exams, I resolved to change my approach to law school in several ways in the spring.  

The law school application process will generally select for classes that are relatively close in law school aptitude.  There will of course be outliers.  For the most part, though, competition seems increased due to the fact that most people have fairly similar abilities.  

Luck may have something to do with one's grade in a particular class, but one's grades for several courses will be much, much less affected by luck.  Over the long haul, you make your own luck by being prepared.  Yes, sometimes things will go your way and sometimes they do not, but welcome to life.  You need to be prepared for the worst going into an exam or anything in life.  Understand that you will get on the test and see something you hadn't planned for or that the professor will have just had an argument with his wife before grading your paper.  What you do control is your preparation.  If you have prepared thoroughly, "luck" will just be a trifle.

I also think people stress out over exams way too much.  Yes, they are important, but you should have known that from day one in law school.  The time to start "worrying" is the day of the first class.  Start preparing early, put in the best work you can, and let the chips fall where they may.  I went into all of this understanding that there was a chance I would suck at it.  If you aren't willing to risk that, I wouldn't go to law school.  If you can accept the worst outcome as a possibility, you will approach many things in life with much more vigor and will not be controlled by fear.

[/lifecoach]



Also...jack24 - are you the Jack Bauer that posts on Above the Law?  Whether you are or you are not, those posts are great.  

Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 09, 2009, 06:58:02 AM
Walls, I think that was a hypothetical (and not in the sense you interpreted it to be) example rather than something he is saying he missed on the exam.  

siiiiiiigh  ::).

So?  He suggested he had trouble with it, and I like writing out exams.  I issue spot for fun on a regular basis.  My friends and I throw out hypos at each other and analyze them; that's how we study for exams.  I rarely "read" the casebook or "brief" that nonsense.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 09, 2009, 07:08:43 AM
How is it uncalled for?  The OP got medianpwnd in his first semester, and he solicited our help.  I may not have grades yet, but I don't think my response was crap.

Here is my sincere advice to the OP: read and write as many practice exams as you can.  Law school generally tests your ability to write a good exam, and that's it.  You admitted it.  Too many students at my school read the casebook and try to learn the material, but never develop exam-writing ability.

This isn't about luck.  This is a cliched argument, but, if it was about luck, there wouldn't be students with straight As. 
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 09, 2009, 07:14:04 AM
I didn't intend to be mean.  Sorry, OP.  I don't really feel like going back and editing selectively, but, bro, don't take my intensity too seriously.  I get really really intense when I'm talking about law school.  That's probably why many of my classmates dislike me.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: jack24 on January 09, 2009, 07:16:22 AM
The safe deposit box issue may have been a bad example, but it was just an example.  Freely:  However you think law school works is not really that important to me.   My exams were probably different than your 1L exams.    
I understand that there are some people that just "get it"  but that doesn't mean they are generally smarter than the rest of the class.  Law school is a game, and some people are naturally more gifted at winning the game.  
I don't think luck has the biggest impact on law school grades but it has an impact.  Sometimes a few points here and there make up the difference between a B and an A.  The ability to analyze any topic can save your ass, but add the correct preparation and it will have an impact.  
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 09, 2009, 07:19:31 AM
Did you read anything I wrote.  NO, THEY'RE NOT.  You're missing the entire point that people are trying to get across if you think that.

If I were you, I would have an older student on LR look at your exams.

There's no such thing as luck.  The best students are great analytically and work hard.  That's it.  I know two of the 2Ls with high-ass mutherfucking grades at my school.  They could analyze issues in their sleep, and they develop good outlines and substantive mastery of the BLL.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: jack24 on January 09, 2009, 07:20:06 AM
Oh, and Freely: I did really well on my property exam and I nailed the safe deposit box question.  Your analysis of my post was crappy--I never said that I struggled with that question.  
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Connelly on January 09, 2009, 07:20:33 AM
One other thing...are professors usually strict about the format of essays?  Our professors so far have kept things VERY loose (IMO).  They left things very open ended, allowing one a myriad of ways to convey their answers.  So "writing ability" would only be important in being able to get one's ideas across and not in a very specific manner.  The most important "writing ability" I have identified so far is the ability to get to the point clearly and in a hurry.  Elegantly, perhaps, would be a better word.  
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 09, 2009, 07:22:17 AM
Chill out.   I was trying to help you.  There's no need to turn this into a pissing contest.

Good luck to you on next semester.  Was there any particularly advice by me or any of the other posters (Stole Your Nose! is generally dead-on)?  Great, use it.

I'll stop posting now.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: jack24 on January 09, 2009, 07:25:05 AM
It was just a poll.  In my opinion, there is such a thing as luck.  I wasn't really looking for advice.  I just want to know the opinions of posters on here. 
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 09, 2009, 07:48:29 AM
Yeah, I want to be a professor.  We have one professor at my school who can recite random dicta and holdings from memory.  I could ask him for the reasoning in some SCOTUS case and he would be like, "But there's this random dicta in (insert totally obscure case) that contradicts it."  It's amazing and inspirational.

I think Stole Your Nose!'s response is, as usual, credited, but beware that she obviously has a lot of confidence and aptitude; she figured out what works for her.  Figuring out what works for you is crucial.  I know a 2L who writes out holdings on a whiteboard, which helps him understand the material.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: UFBoldAsLove on January 09, 2009, 07:50:51 AM
My .02:

1. Wally telling someone to chill out is laughable. Honestly Wally, I usually hold my tongue because I have been told by family/SO that I can get too "intense" about law school (mainly just around exams)... but you have been especially insufferable on this board lately. If its affecting your IRL relationships with classmates, I do think it's something you should work on.

2. I DO think their is what some might call a "luck" component to exams. I haven't got my exams back... but my Ks exam did not test the topics I was expecting or the best at. I usually don't describe this as "bad luck", though I can see how some might... I simply say that I didn't accurately predict what my professor felt was important.

3. I think taking oodles of practice exams was invaluable to me, both for the confidence level and because it taught me how to take a fact pattern and turn it into an organized legal analysis.


Caveat to this post... I'm drugged up on Dayquil and in Legal Writing. So, that might have an impact on my tone and my credibility regarding grades.  ;)
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: mzing12 on January 09, 2009, 09:18:51 AM
Also, you need to ask for your money back on your English degree if you were taught to argue only one side. 

As far as English goes, you don't argue "both sides" when you write a paper. When you're arguing how Chaucer uses a meta narrative technique originating in Silver Age Latin Literature transmitted through Boccaccio's Decameron, you investigate and explore your very fine point exclusively. You write a 20 page paper "making a case" for your ideas; you don't spend 4 pages considering other arguments. Haven't you ever read a thesis? You don't mumble through every option like a law school exam... English work is more like a laser beam.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: TheDudeMan on January 09, 2009, 09:24:58 AM
On a torts exam you literally spew out fragmented sentences stating - a)The tort and b)how the facts make it that tort.

It's pages and pages of who can type fastest....

To say intelligence is necessary to do that is ridiculous.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: mzing12 on January 09, 2009, 09:31:23 AM
We both took English classes, but did you actually do a degree in Literature? That's where they train you to do this crap, and it's horrible for law school.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: mzing12 on January 09, 2009, 09:39:31 AM
Bad arguments? Pick up any thesis from Harvard down ... it's the same thing. They teach you this stuff in courses only English majors can take, so chances are you were never exposed to it.

As in, with law school the point is "getting to maybe". With English you argue new points and say: this is the way it actually is. Then others try and debunk you.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Susan B. Anthony on January 09, 2009, 09:44:43 AM
lol @ this thread
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Susan B. Anthony on January 09, 2009, 09:54:34 AM
lol @ this thread

seriously.  the correct answer is obviously what you ate two days before the LSAT.

I'm so glad I ate that salmon
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: M_Cool on January 09, 2009, 09:55:46 AM
Personally I liked writing English papers a lot more than law exams!  It was so easy to make a nice, clear paper based on a defined thesis.

On a law exam everything gets so muddy and lame..  I just don't get the same satisfaction when I finish my exam answer as I did when finishing a literature essay.  
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: mzing12 on January 09, 2009, 09:56:43 AM
Quote
They teach you this stuff in courses only English majors can take,
Not every school has magically classes that only English majors can take.  Also, I was an English major until senior year.

In your thesis did you consider the 80,000 other arguments posited about the idea you were handling? Because that would've made for an interesting paper.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: mzing12 on January 09, 2009, 10:13:27 AM
There are the "other potentials" in law school exams that you're supposed to consider, but for English lit. nothing is really -known- so to speak, so there are an infinite number of "potential other sides" for you to argue, which is why you're not supposed to bother. It's an interpretive art that you're supposed to argue in a very clear, very simple, very singular fashion, and is the exact opposite of what you do for law school.

Word from another English major:

Personally I liked writing English papers a lot more than law exams!  It was so easy to make a nice, clear paper based on a defined thesis.

On a law exam everything gets so muddy and lame..  I just don't get the same satisfaction when I finish my exam answer as I did when finishing a literature essay. 
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Jake_MONDATTA on January 09, 2009, 10:19:10 AM
In my opinion (as a 1L who has not yet received his grades), succeeding on law school exams is mostly about anticipating what the highest authority wants to hear and making sure to give it to that authority quickly, efficiently and in a way that is pleasing to the authority.  In that way, succeeding in law is very much like practicing law... that's essentially what you have to do in order to argue your client's case.

I voted for "intelligence," but I would like to qualify my answer.  Intelligence is generally and colloquially understood to refer to a lot of different aspects of brain activity.  It seems to me that law requires a bit of creativity, buckets of empathy (to be used to figure out what the authority wants), buckets of memory and retention, buckets of concentration and focus and buckets of quick-and-accurate response.

In contrast, there are many other activities (research science, mathematics, philosophical reasoning, etc.) that require far more from the creative part.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: mzing12 on January 09, 2009, 10:29:55 AM
Yeah, my big mistake was writing the exams like an English essay... and I wasn't even trying to, it just happened, probably because I was exhausted and stupid. Oh well, there goes a new career.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Jake_MONDATTA on January 09, 2009, 10:36:01 AM
As a non-english major who, nevertheless, does speak the language... how is writing an english essay so different?  Aren't there aspects to analysis of literature that would be extremely helpful in law?

This question does interest me.  We science people are told sometimes that we have a "leg up" over humanities majors in law school because legal reasoning is more like scientific reasoning than it is like the stuff that goes on in the humanities.  I don't buy this.  I minored in history and found that the same reasoning techniques I used in other subjects suited me just fine while I was playing junior historian.  Reasoning, after all, requires reason and it's not like there are different types of the stuff.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: mzing12 on January 09, 2009, 10:44:26 AM
For English essays you develop a very sharp, very narrowly defined thesis, and you argue it to an end where you say: this a/the way to interpret this work. In law school, apparently it's about obfuscating the issue so that it becomes mush. In English you argue a narrowly defined idea to a clearcut and easy-to-understand conclusion.

In my professor's sample answers it looks like he brought in a million things talked about in class, and even if they're only marginally related to the question, that's where most of the points came from ... considering everything and coming to a "???" conclusion. In English you don't do that; you consider what you narrowly defined, only the details related to that narrow definition, and you argue it to a very fine and narrow end. It's much cleaner and easier than law essays.

What was drilled into my head over 4 years was: the more narrow and well defined your idea, the better. This is a death sentence for law school.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: mzing12 on January 09, 2009, 11:27:21 AM
Contents enlarged to show texture. It's an exaggeration to show how the type of thinking is different from English. If you approach an exam like an English essay, it's guaranteed below median.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 09, 2009, 01:11:03 PM
Quote
In law school, apparently it's about obfuscating the issue so that it becomes mush.
This would help you pull median or below grades at my school....


Agreed.  You sound like you don't get it, mzing.

I honestly think the opposite.  English Academia is a wankfest that involves words like "panoptican," while legal academia (and law school) is focused on clear, concise sentences that cut to the heart of the matter and eviscerate it.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Susan B. Anthony on January 09, 2009, 02:32:13 PM
It's panopticon. And Foucault was not an English academic. Mix the two up again, and I'll problematize you so fast you won't know what othered you.


:D :D :D :D :D

<3
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Thistle on January 09, 2009, 03:06:37 PM
Quote
In law school, apparently it's about obfuscating the issue so that it becomes mush.
This would help you pull median or below grades at my school....


Agreed.  You sound like you don't get it, mzing.

I honestly think the opposite.  English Academia is a wankfest that involves words like "panoptican," while legal academia (and law school) is focused on clear, concise sentences that cut to the heart of the matter and eviscerate it.




i disagree.  some of the "top papers" i saw were run-on paragraphs devoid of grammar, punctuation, and organization.  having taught college business writing at least, these papers would have failed.

law school exams are the wankfests -- they favor whomever can, in the limited time allotted, cram as much onto the paper as humanly possible.  most of my exams have been closed book.  in the real world, i have never been given an assignment -- lets say a complaint -- and had an attorney tell me "you need to have a memo to me in 4 hours.  oh, and btw, you may NOT do any research."  while i have been on short turnarounds before, i've never been told that i cant use research materials.

i think the best practicing lawyers are not those who have everything memorized....but know where to find it.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: mzing12 on January 09, 2009, 03:16:14 PM
I'm comparing my own exam to the professor's model exam, and it seems like I got a B- because I focused too tightly on  single ideas, and the professor's model answer was like ... a mish mash of everything we did, whether it applied directly to the question or could be considered through reasoning; he wanted it all, and I failed to provide it. Blah blah blah, career screwed.

And we're not talking sentence style for the dingwad above complaining about panopticans, whatever those are. English appreciates creativity in structure, and legal writing is short short short sentences. Fair enough, but I'm talking methods of approaching problems. English trains you to narrow in on and focus on a single idea very tightly, it's almost like dogma ... I heard it in every class; law exams seem to be more about throwing in everything possible so you can get the "check" for points.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Jamie Stringer on January 09, 2009, 03:47:23 PM
It's panopticon. And Foucault was not an English academic. Mix the two up again, and I'll problematize you so fast you won't know what othered you.


Probably the best post I've ever read on LSD.  No joke.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: sluglaw on January 09, 2009, 04:10:35 PM
It's panopticon. And Foucault was not an English academic. Mix the two up again, and I'll problematize you so fast you won't know what othered you.

Also if you think legal academia is about "clear, concise sentences that cut to the heart of the matter and eviscerate it" you haven't been exposed to nearly enough legal writing.

unfortunately for you, bentham was, so OP's original point is still (somewhat) valid.


the real question you should be asking yourself about working in law school is, are you a panoptican, or a panoptican't?
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: mzing12 on January 09, 2009, 04:35:55 PM
Well, good for your professors then.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: noods on January 12, 2009, 10:23:17 PM
Interesting topic.  I will ssy about my own experience as a 3L that is well within the top 10% at a school ranked in the 20s.  Like most things with law, success in law school is a great balancing test.  If you are the most intellegent, and hardest working person with the best memory that can type fast and is incredibly lucky, you probably are going to be a clerk on the Supreme Court (maybe).  For the rest of us, we are all on differing levels with each factor, but I think that a person can still do well if they are lacking in a category or two.

I think I am probably smarter than the average American, but I know plenty of people in my law school class that would certainly have a higher IQ than I do, and I know my intellegence is not a direct correlation with my class rank.  Additionally, my LSAT is closer to the 25th percentile of incoming students than it is the median.  The moral of the story, you don't have to be the smartest in the class to do well. 

Perhaps I can attribute much of my success to hard work.  I think that I have worked harder than a lot of people (but not all) in my class.  I know several people who work hard and don't do well so hard work gets you only so far, but it can compensate for less intellegence to a certain degree. 

My memory is ok.  I don't know how it compares with other people.

I actually am a slow typer by many people's standards.  I think I tested it at about 48 words per minute during my 1L fall semester and thinking I was doomed.  In my study group, I always had several pages fewer when we had taken timed practice tests, but we all seemed to talk about mostly the same number of topics.  Even after tests I've talked with people that had many more pages typed than I did, and I'm certain my grades have better than many of those same people.  I've always wondered what was on those other pages people are writing.  In my experience there is a minsconception that the difference is typing speed.  I can't think of more than a few tests that I felt like I could have really said much more than I did.  You can do well even if you are not a fast typer, efficiency is the key.  Fast typers probably have to be careful to not type faster than they can think.  If they do, they will likely be typing a lot of irrelevant things that will annoy the professor.  Even if a professor doesn't dock for bad analysis, I have to think that writing a lot of stupid things will weigh on their minds when they grade your good analysis.

Luck: I think luck can get you an A on a random test here or there, but to have consistently good grades I just don't buy into the luck factor.  To say that luck is the biggest impact on 1L grades generally is misguided in my opinion.  I think that if someone truly believes that, they should probably re-evaluate their approach to tests.  I truly believe that if you know what the professors are looking for, and you work towards that goal from day 1 and on the test you can do well. Every law school has a few people that consistently get A's in most every class.  No one is that lucky on every test.  There must be something they do differently.  Think about it this way: A lucky person can hit a hole in one, but Tiger Woods is going to consistently win golf tournaments because of other factors. 

For me, I think my main success is my preparation leading up to the exam, and my approach to the exam itself.  I'm sure other people believe differently, and they are probably right.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Miss P on January 12, 2009, 10:32:53 PM
It's panopticon. And Foucault was not an English academic. Mix the two up again, and I'll problematize you so fast you won't know what othered you.

Also if you think legal academia is about "clear, concise sentences that cut to the heart of the matter and eviscerate it" you haven't been exposed to nearly enough legal writing.

unfortunately for you, bentham was, so OP's original point is still (somewhat) valid.

Cute, but I meant an "English" scholar as in the academic discipline discipline. Bentham wasn't one either.

Not to mention that viewing Bentham as an "academic" is, at best, unduly narrow and anachronistic.  But whatever.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: jack24 on January 13, 2009, 05:48:13 AM
To answer the OP's question....learning to think like a lawyer.

But law school grades are on a curve.  Is it unreasonable to assume that the entire top third, half, or two-thirds (depending on the school) have learned to think like a lawyer?
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 13, 2009, 06:14:58 AM
To answer the OP's question....learning to think like a lawyer.

But law school grades are on a curve.  Is it unreasonable to assume that the entire top third, half, or two-thirds (depending on the school) have learned to think like a lawyer?

I agree with Bosco.  Or, perhaps more accurately, learning to write an exam like a lawyer.

I have no idea how to answer your question.  It's a good one.  I would be surprised if my peers weren't capable of writing a lawyerly paragraph on an exam.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Miss P on January 13, 2009, 06:57:23 AM
To answer the OP's question....learning to think like a lawyer.

But law school grades are on a curve.  Is it unreasonable to assume that the entire top third, half, or two-thirds (depending on the school) have learned to think like a lawyer?

I agree with Bosco.  Or, perhaps more accurately, learning to write an exam like a lawyer.

I have no idea how to answer your question.  It's a good one.  I would be surprised if my peers weren't capable of writing a lawyerly paragraph on an exam.

Wally, have you even gotten your grades back?

Also, I think Jack's question is more relevant than you suggest.  If 90% of Chicago students have learned to write and think "like lawyers," what accounts for the difference between the 160 student and the 182 student?
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Stole Your Nose! on January 13, 2009, 07:48:46 AM
One thing for sure that a lot of people mess up on is learning the difference between writing a lawyerly paragraph and what they THINK is a lawyerly paragraph. 

I absolutely love that law students tend to think that legal analysis should be done in the style of an 18th century opinion. 
Henceforth, I shall add antiquated language thusly the esteemed professor shall increase the measure of my grades forthwith, res judicata ipso facto caveat emptor.

Also, I read an ungraded midterm of one of my classmates and it was so "The truth??? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!" that it was hard not to laugh.  When they say "argue" one side or the other, it doesn't mean that you have to put in stuff like "Opposing counsel's arguments would be ludicrous! Your Honor, you should rule in favor of my client."  If you are using exclamation points, chances are you are doing it wrong. :)
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Miss P on January 13, 2009, 11:44:06 AM
Again, I was just joking about that, but assuming writing "lawyerly paragraphs" or thinking "like lawyers" has some meaning to Wally and others.....couldn't you make your criticism of any answer people give to the OP's question?  I haven't read the thread, but if people are saying stuff like it's all about working hard, or it's all about intelligence.....would you respond that "90% of Chicago students are smart and have learned to work hard....so what accounts for the difference between top and bottom 10%."  In other words, if Wally thinks writing lawyerly exams is the most important thing, obviously the implication is some people do it better than others, even if lots of can meet the threshold of what qualifies as a "lawyerly exam."  I imagine whatever people mean when they say "think like a lawyer" it's a matter of degree, not a binary thing.

My hypothetical "if" was based on Wally's assertion that almost all of his classmates have learned to write like lawyers.  I certainly don't think all of his (or your or my) classmates work hard, are particularly smart, etc.  Also, while I realize you were joking, Wally seemed to be taking you at face-value.  He further seemed to assume that "thinking like a lawyer" was a threshold question and not a matter of degrees.


Wally, have you even gotten your grades back?

Lol, I can't wait for Wally to get some grades back so then his opinions on exams/grades magically turn valid.  fwiw, even though I'm a year ahead of Wally, I think he knows more about grades/exams, etc than me, and he could give better advice.

I just don't know how he would have enough data to sort out how grades are determined without having at least some of them back.  I assume he doesn't know enough about other people's grades, behaviors, mindsets, and innate qualities to come up with a matrix.  I could be wrong.  For all I know, he could have distributed an extensive questionnaire to your whole class, or perhaps Chicago is better about information sharing than other schools.  Either way, I think whether he has gotten grades back is a perfectly relevant question.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Thistle on January 13, 2009, 12:15:26 PM
If you are using exclamation points, chances are you are doing it wrong. :)


additionally, in most instances, the words "we think" or "we believe" is also a good indicator that FAIL is about to happen
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: loki13 on January 13, 2009, 02:31:26 PM
So here's my story about how I got my first kick-azz book award in my ConLaw class. Read it weep while I bring the pain. It seems like only yesterday . . .

I looked at my syllabus the other day and noticed that we had aour ConLaw take-home exam due today on how the different parts of the Constitution work together- something about separate powers of civil federalism or something. Boy, good thing I picked that up the first day of class! Anyway, it was really hard to look at the Constitution and read cases and things, but I thought about how the Constitution impacts my life, and it all became clear to me.

The Second Amendment protects our right to Bear Arms. Then there's the First Amendment right to free speech. Finally, I once heard a classmate remark that the Supreme Court had expanded the Bill of Rights with the Incorporation doctrine and made it apply to more than just the Federal Government.

So I wrote that the interplay of these different areas of the Constitution gave rise to the following: giant mecha robots are allowed to have Bear Arms (and if you're a commie activist judge that legislates from the bench, Lion Arms and Rocket Arms and Ab0rtion Arms) and then corporations are allowed to broadcast footage of their battles to me without government regulation. Which means that I can watch japanime on the cartoon network while eating fruity pebbles in my pajamas instead of going to class! I threw in some opinions, including some dissenting ones by 'Learned Hand', but I wrote that the 'Learned Hand' ones didn't mean as much because it was a pseudonym judges use when they are embarrassed by the opinion they wrote (like 'Alan Smithee' for directors).

When I was leaving class, I told a classmate about what I wrote. The classmate told me he was the TA (who knew?... I guess I should show up for more classes) and that 'drunk and stupid is no way to go through ConLaw'. I don't get it. Do you think he hates me because in the other class I showed up for I said I was a Federalist and because the Constitution doesn't specifically enumerate the Democrat party in Article I, they should be banned by the Supreme Court, like they did with the Whigs?

Anyway, remembering that made me think about the following three things in retrospect:
1. Man, I pwned that exam! Stupid TA! Don't worry about that fancy book-learnin'- the cartoon network is much better than the Chemerisnky supplement.
2. The less you show up for a class, the more likely you are to BOOK IT (booking is just all legal like for PWNAGE). If professors get to know who you are, they'll learn to dislike you, and they'll blind grade your sorry, snivelling gunner azz down. Be anonyomous and all hidden and stuff and those books belong to you!
3. If I had written about the 4th Amendment and epilepsy instead, do you think I could have gotten two book awards from ConLaw? Like, serious pwnage?

Hope this helps. All ur law schools r belong to me!
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Miss P on January 13, 2009, 06:32:43 PM
Fair enough.  I just feel like it's the cool thing to do for older LSDers to pick on Wally (or any 1L) for expresing their views on anything where they have incomplete info.  I think there was another thread a while back where Wally answered a question about exams and he started off by saying "I'm a 1L and I haven't taken any exams yet, so take this with a grain of salt, but my impression is...."  And he still got poo for it....older LSDers saying "stfu til you take some exams Wally."  You're right though, it's a relevant question.  Sorry I jumped the gun...it just seemed to me like your question might have had "stfu noob" tone you see from certain other high post count posters.  I was more responding to them than you.

It's cool.  Wally and I are interpals, though, and I don't generally harass him (or anyone else, other than Hank and tm., maybe) for harassment's sake -- and certainly not because I think it's a cool thing to do.  (Aren't we both posting on a message board about law school?  Enough said.) 

I surely agree with you that he is bright and thoughtful and that he has gathered an extraordinary amount of knowledge about law school.  I assume, however, that we can also agree that he is sometimes a bit quick to jump to conclusions and he occasionally writes authoritatively about things with which he doesn't have a whole lot of experience.  That's all. :)

But anyway, I think Wally has done a really good job of looking at practice exams, looking at model answers, contacting older students to ask for advice/exams/outlines, etc.  imo, he's more qualified to talk about exams than me, even though I'm a 2L.

I am sure that all of this is true.  I just don't know that he's qualified to talk about how grades are determined until he actually sees multiple grades based on exams with which he is familiar, taken by people with whom he is familiar. 

ETA: For me, I'd say that being reasonably intelligent and detail-oriented, generally understanding the material, paying attention to my professors' idiosyncracies, and carefully organizing my answers have earned me decent grades -- B+ to A, for the most part, on a B curve.  Being slow has hurt me some, maybe the difference between a B+ and an A- a couple of times.  But I really don't know what accounts for the difference between an A and an A- or a 178 and and a 181.  I have to chalk some of it up to luck. 
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Stole Your Nose! on January 14, 2009, 04:48:34 PM
Read "Getting to Maybe."
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: ,.,.,.;.,.,. on January 14, 2009, 05:29:21 PM
Read "Getting to Maybe."

Too generic for some classes, but definitely a good start for the OP.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Mina on January 18, 2009, 03:09:31 PM
I.
There is only one thing that impacts your 1L grades.

Your ability to apply law to facts. The person's Dexterity with the Law.

this assumes the following:

1. You know the Law Cold
2. You read the Facts meitculously
3. You MUST  in every paragraph TAKE the facts and analytically PLUG them into the law
(4. You adress counterarguements)
And 5. YOU do NO BS (i.e. day-dream arguments)

What is meant by Hard-work?  Work can be hard because it is long, or because it is tedious, or because it is mentally draining, or because the technique employed is one that would make a simple job more complex.(e.g. a wagon with square wheels)

This term is too vague to garner any benefit

What is meant by intelligence?
A horse-trainer would likely be considered intellgent when he tames wild horses, a mechanic would be considered intelligent according to his abaility to fix cars, and likewise, a lawyer would be considered intelligent according to his command of legal books. A person who can train horses, fix cars, and practice law, would be considered intelligent according to those three subjects.

The idea of intellegence as somehow existing apart from any trade or discipline is one that cannot be sustained empirically.


And of Luck?
"Men are in control of roughly half their fate, the other half is governed by fortune."- Machiavelli

There is no luck, only skilled or unskilled. You choose which you are going to be.


II. Thinking like a lawyer.
Law shcool exam question:
Man shoots other man. Discuss:

Normal Person:
He is guilty of a crime, he shot him, this falls with murder or assult, his acts show he wanted to shoot him and he did beyond a reasonable doubt. &c.
 

Lawyer:
He MAY have killed him. He could have shot the man in the toe, or maybe the bullet did not hit him. If the Bullet hit him, theyre MAY be an assult. If there was an assult, we would have to see if there could have been defenses. Some valid defenses would be self defense, defesne of 3rd persons. For example, if the man tried to shoot the shooter 1st or attacked him, then the shooter may be justfieid in shooting this man. However, if the defense was one that did not call for a weapon it would not be justified, as it would likely be an escalation.

Other incomplete defenses would be defense of property, or intoxication. If the man shot the other under the influence, he might be partially excused, because it would likely be hard to show Mens Rea, if at all.

It is also possible, the man was a police officer, if so, he may have defense of authrotiy. 

Its also possible the man was killed. if so, it would probably be relevant whether this could be seen as a heat of passion killing, even though it does not sound like it. It also seems the man shot him for no reasons, and as such, can probably match the elements of a delibarate killing and willful killing. The last element for murder 1, would be premdittated, and while the facts do not show that the man premeditated, had he purchased a gun for that purpose it could be seen as some sort of premditaation.


Its also possible this is a movie, in which case there was some sort of consent, and may be no crime at all occurred.


&C.


keywords:
1. May be, Probably, Possible, Can be, Likely, more likely than not etc.
2. because, since, as, due to &.
3. Seems, sounds, appears, smells
4. DONT ASSUME ANYTHING, NO TUNNEL VISION

--> Don't Assume, Don't Assume, Don't Assume. Each fact is ALWAYS different, even if similar. 

Thats all I can think of at the moment. 


Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Miss P on January 18, 2009, 03:38:11 PM
I.
There is only one thing that impacts your 1L grades.

Your ability to apply law to facts. The person's Dexterity with the Law.

This is not true.  There is at least one other factor that makes a big difference, speed.  I also imagine that a lot of exams are close enough in quality that it would be very hard to determine the difference between an A and an A- or a C and a C+ (or to make the same determination again).  Thus, there is some luck involved.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Stole Your Nose! on January 18, 2009, 04:09:46 PM
That was a very odd post format....
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Miss P on January 18, 2009, 04:17:11 PM
That was a very odd post format....

Hmm, yes.  Which reminds me, I think organization is pretty important, too.  You're trying to communicate effectively to someone who has to read dozens of crap essays on the same topic.  If I were a prof, I would appreciate a very clear presentation.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Mina on January 18, 2009, 05:35:44 PM
I.
There is only one thing that impacts your 1L grades.

Your ability to apply law to facts. The person's Dexterity with the Law.

This is not true.  There is at least one other factor that makes a big difference, speed.  I also imagine that a lot of exams are close enough in quality that it would be very hard to determine the difference between an A and an A- or a C and a C+ (or to make the same determination again).  Thus, there is some luck involved.

I do not think we disagree. Speed is part of one's ability to apply law to facts.
Luck has no impact at all to an essay that applies law to all the facts very well.
Luck's effects are limited to the class of exams that fall short of excellence.
No one should be aiming at mediocrity. 
 
Also, luck does not impact one's skill in spotting issues when mastery has been attained.


Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Miss P on January 18, 2009, 05:46:25 PM
I.
There is only one thing that impacts your 1L grades.

Your ability to apply law to facts. The person's Dexterity with the Law.

This is not true.  There is at least one other factor that makes a big difference, speed.  I also imagine that a lot of exams are close enough in quality that it would be very hard to determine the difference between an A and an A- or a C and a C+ (or to make the same determination again).  Thus, there is some luck involved.

I do not think we disagree. Speed is part of one's ability to apply law to facts.

No, it's not.

Luck has no impact at all to an essay that applies law to all the facts very well.
Luck's effects are limited to the class of exams that fall short of excellence.
No one should be aiming at mediocrity. 
 
Also, luck does not impact one's skill in spotting issues when mastery has been attained.

Given the limited number of issues on each exam, there will usually be people who have spotted the same number of issues at about the same quality level.  It's luck that separates them.  And also, you know, a lot of exams are not standard issue spotters.  On policy and other more creative questions, there is an even less objective measure of quality, and luck separates the mediocre into different grades, the good into different grades, etc.  Finally, if you are graded on a curve, your grade depends in part on the quality of other students' answers -- luck.  I can tell you that this has definitely helped me get As in classes where I probably earned less and A-/B+s in classes where I thought I had earned more.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Mina on January 18, 2009, 06:54:36 PM
Yes I am adding to the facts. But this is because the facts command my addition. 

There are two types of facts.

Facts that command you speculate externally (like my hypo). And, facts that are self-contained.
This is a judgement call, decided on each fact. My hypo clearly required it. Others may not, when you are unsure, speculate about the issue, i.e. just raise it and don't discuss it. (there could be this issue, but I would need more facts) 

You helped me bring out two basic points also:

1. To apply the law to facts YOU NEED TO PRACTICE THIS "SKILL" ALL SEMESTER NOT AT THE END. For example, looking at  exam from day one will help one know what they are looking for, and apply newly learnt law to complete set of facts.

2. Second, One way to look at the exam, is a chance for you to speak about the law, whenever it is reasonable to do so. I don't like saying this because it is over-simplictic, and its abstract form overshadows the actual skill that one needs to cultivate.

3. Try to test the hypo's assumptions. Professors really love to test this. Another way to phrase this: is to ask for more facts which CAN or MAY 'reasonably' touch upon some elements of a legal rule, or case holding but DOES NOT do it clearly in the hypo.

The last idea is experimental; so make sure your professor tests people like this. One way is to ask them if you should speculate while revieiwng their exams (during office).


Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Miss P on January 18, 2009, 07:09:21 PM
tortNretort, since you have posted elsewhere that your professors have told you your problem was throwing in too many tangential issues, I strongly urge you to disregard Mina's advice.  Issue-selection is much more important for you than issue-spotting.  Spinning out additional twists to the hypos will lead you away from the meatiest issues.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Mina on January 18, 2009, 07:27:30 PM
tortNretort, since you have posted elsewhere that your professors have told you your problem was throwing in too many tangential issues, I strongly urge you to disregard Mina's advice.  Issue-selection is much more important for you than issue-spotting.  Spinning out additional twists to the hypos will lead you away from the meatiest issues.

Thank You Miss P for bringing up that point.
This is a good point, as there is a risk of over-speculation. I think it highlights the idea your speculation should be reasonable. And, one should not spend much time discussing the speculated issues. JUST NOTE them, and DON"T DISCUSS THEM, unless you really should.

 For example, Man shoots other man's leg, hitting him while he was at home eating breakfast.

1. there is likely a trespass here, the bullet was in the other man's home.

2. the bullet hit him (core discussion battery).

3. assumption of risk should also be dicussed. Since bullets don't usually fly into people's home, may be the area was hi-crime rate, may be he lives near shooting range etc.

If I was a professor, only people that spot (3) would get an A. The rest would be mediocre. The reason is, part of being a lawyer is your ability to realize YOU NEED MORE FACTS, your Ability to Notice that YOU NEED MORE to make a complete legal analysis.   

But if I discussed self-defense in that hypo, I would be wrong. And if I discussed, 'necesstiy': may be another person had to shoot to protect himself, and this is reason it cam through the window. I would be wrong if I spent any more time OVER that sentence in discussion. RAISING the issue is enough. 

Its really fine line that takes much practice. But I find it essential to an A.

 
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Miss P on January 18, 2009, 07:33:20 PM
Are you serious?  Assumption of risk because . . . maybe he lived near a shooting range?  This would not fly on any of my exams.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Mina on January 18, 2009, 07:49:38 PM
Are you serious?  Assumption of risk because . . . maybe he lived near a shooting range?  This would not fly on any of my exams.

Maybe this is why you think all exams are controlled by luck Miss P? Because you really dislike speculating, and I don't know why. I think you should consider trying it on a practice exams, and ask your professor about it--before you rationalize the tool away. I really believe its helpful.

Consider this:
If he did live near a shooting range/hi crime rate area, the defendant would have an assumption of risk defense and a very solid one.

As a Plaintif's attorney I could lose my case unless I asked this man about it, and as a defense attorney, I could win my case if I asked the place. The question is harmless, and can only benefit. Actually, it would be malpractice if you did not ask that question, and it turned out to be the case.
(Rule 11 violation of investigation of facts)


 

 
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Miss P on January 18, 2009, 08:32:09 PM
Are you serious?  Assumption of risk because . . . maybe he lived near a shooting range?  This would not fly on any of my exams.

Maybe this is why you think all exams are controlled by luck Miss P? Because you really dislike speculating, and I don't know why. I think you should consider trying it on a practice exams, and ask your professor about it--before you rationalize the tool away. I really believe its helpful.

Consider this:
If he did live near a shooting range/hi crime rate area, the defendant would have an assumption of risk defense and a very solid one.

As a Plaintif's attorney I could lose my case unless I asked this man about it, and as a defense attorney, I could win my case if I asked the place. The question is harmless, and can only benefit. Actually, it would be malpractice if you did not ask that question, and it turned out to be the case.
(Rule 11 violation of investigation of facts)

Well, I have only one exam remaining in law school, and I know how the professor's exams work, so I will respectfully decline. 

I am happy that this approach has worked for you.  In general, however, I have to say that I think this is poor advice for test-taking.  A bare bones hypo like the one you outlined would be testing (a) the elements of battery; (b) the distinction between assault and battery; and (c) the distinction between intentional torts and negligence (which presumably would make up the bulk of the rest of the exam).  Good test-takers will introduce the question of trespass to land and the possible defenses of self-defense (unlikely given the fact that the shot man was eating breakfast) and defense-of-property (no, since the hypo describes the location of the shooting as the man's home).  That's pretty much it.  By introducing, out of thin air, unlikely scenarios (like the shooting range), you are wasting time.  Worse, unless you are very careful in handling a speculation like this, you run the risk of making your professor think that you don't know the difference between the defenses to negligence and the defenses to intentional torts (since assumption of risk is not a defense to intentional torts), which is one of the things a question like this is intended to assess.

Of course if you were investigating the case as an attorney, you would need to know much more about the circumstances.  You would also have the benefit of your client's narrative and information about the home and the area.  But no, it's not a sanctionable offense to fail to spin out every potential hypothetical.  A reasonable investigation is just that -- reasonable.

Finally, I didn't say that "all exams" are "controlled by" luck.  I made the rather commonplace observation that luck has something to do with some law school grades.  Denying this is either self-aggrandizing or an attempt to make people feel bad about having sometimes fallen a bit short.  Even my professors admit that luck is often involved at the margins.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: jacy85 on January 19, 2009, 05:52:49 AM
tortNretort, since you have posted elsewhere that your professors have told you your problem was throwing in too many tangential issues, I strongly urge you to disregard Mina's advice.  Issue-selection is much more important for you than issue-spotting.  Spinning out additional twists to the hypos will lead you away from the meatiest issues.

Thank You Miss P for bringing up that point.
This is a good point, as there is a risk of over-speculation. I think it highlights the idea your speculation should be reasonable. And, one should not spend much time discussing the speculated issues. JUST NOTE them, and DON"T DISCUSS THEM, unless you really should.

 For example, Man shoots other man's leg, hitting him while he was at home eating breakfast.

1. there is likely a trespass here, the bullet was in the other man's home.

2. the bullet hit him (core discussion battery).

3. assumption of risk should also be dicussed. Since bullets don't usually fly into people's home, may be the area was hi-crime rate, may be he lives near shooting range etc.

If I was a professor, only people that spot (3) would get an A. The rest would be mediocre. The reason is, part of being a lawyer is your ability to realize YOU NEED MORE FACTS, your Ability to Notice that YOU NEED MORE to make a complete legal analysis.   

But if I discussed self-defense in that hypo, I would be wrong. And if I discussed, 'necesstiy': may be another person had to shoot to protect himself, and this is reason it cam through the window. I would be wrong if I spent any more time OVER that sentence in discussion. RAISING the issue is enough. 

Its really fine line that takes much practice. But I find it essential to an A.

 

What grades have you gotten, Mina?  For me, my lowest grades in classes with exams were 3 B+s; the rest were As.

And I can guarantee that I NEVER speculated and added facts like you have here.  This is not the way to get an A, and from the number of As I've received, I think I can speak intelligently on that topic.  This is nothing but a waste of time. 

If you want to point out that additional facts could change the situation, there's a right way to do it.  You could write: "[Discussion re: victim making out elements of battery claim].  The shooter may attempt to raise a defense to a battery claim, but without more facts, any potential defenses would fail.  No facts suggest victim assumed a known risk for assumption of risk and no facts suggest that victim attacked the shooter first, which could possibly give rise to a self-defense claim.  In order to prevail in these defenses, more facts are necessary.  Therefore, the victim will likely prevail on a battery claim."

This has a couple of benefits:  First, you're not wasting time with making up ridiculous facts not included in the question.  Second, you're showing that you understand you can consider all sides of an argument by noting that the shooter/*defendant* will be raising these defenses.  Third, and most importantly, you're demonstrating a knowledge of the law and how it applies in these facts - you know which defenses are available to batter, you know the elements and factual requirements for these defenses, and you can show you can analyze by succinctly explaining why they likely wouldn't apply.

But the way you did it?  Assumes and suggests ridiculous facts (and if I was a prof, I'd wonder what you were smoking to come up with some of that), and shows little to no understanding of the law.

TortNRetort - Take Miss P's advice - don't listen to what Mina's talking about in this thread.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Stole Your Nose! on January 19, 2009, 06:32:45 AM
Yeah, Mina's advice is just.... odd. I get that the fact pattern was limited for the example, but you're just making random crap up....  Maybe he is rubber and you are glue, so it was reasonable to expect that any bullets would bounce off of him and stick to you! 

I am also wondering 1) what this person's grades are (this board occasionally devolves into the blind leading the blind) and 2) where this person goes to school.  Wherever that crap consistently gets you an A is not anywhere anybody needs to go. My professors would be baffled if they saw that crap.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: Miss P on January 19, 2009, 06:40:58 AM
I am also wondering 1) what this person's grades are (this board occasionally devolves into the blind leading the blind) and 2) where this person goes to school.  Wherever that crap consistently gets you an A is not anywhere anybody needs to go. My professors would be baffled if they saw that crap.

I'd say the bolded is pretty unnecessary (though I loved the rubber-glue thing).

I believe Mina has posted elsewhere that she is in the top third of her class at a second-tier school.  (She's the one, you may recall, who walked out of Legal Aid after a day.)
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: vap on January 19, 2009, 07:42:21 AM
Just want to chime in and agree with Miss P, Jacy, and SYN.  Don't make up facts unless, for some bizarre reason, the professor instructs you to do so.

Creativity is a sign of genius, but you don't want to be create facts out of thin air.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: loki13 on January 19, 2009, 09:15:57 AM
The key to successful exam taking is quite simple, and known to only a select few.

Before the exam, you must (MUST) select a rather uncommon word or phrase, and during the exam you must work it into at least three separate answers.

For example, my first year I selected the following words:
cajones (Torts), hootenanny (CrimLaw), tomfoolery (contracts), hullabaloo (conlaw)

You second year, you should be selecting phrases:
cellar door (Advanced Con Law: Takings and Time Travel), assistant crack ho (Gender and the Law), There can be only one! (corporations), Bureau of Fisheries and Whoremongering (Federal Jurisdiction)

Your third year, you should be comfortable enough to simply make up words and phrases, for example:
Hugemongous, Fantabulous, Slithy, Lickenmeecrak, Dodecahedral Privity, Stare Recidivism, Lex Loci Delicious, Quasar In Rem, Personality Jurisdiction, The CheeseBurger Court, and so on.

This is, in fact, what professors look for, and how to attain an A in each class. And now you know.
Title: Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
Post by: vap on January 19, 2009, 09:36:06 AM
While Loki's post is hilarious, I've got to share this story: One of my classmates used swear words in his exams.  In civil procedure, the prof drew a smiley face next to a creative use.  In Ethics, the professor deducted points.  To each his own, I guess.