# Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
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### AuthorTopic: The Reality of the Forced Curve  (Read 3819 times)

#### squarre

• Newbie
• Posts: 2
##### Re: The Reality of the Forced Curve
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2005, 10:59:58 AM »
What I'm really trying to say is raw grade I guess. I think they should convert the raw score to a letter grade. Schools should report your actual grade as well as your curved grade. I just don't see how it's fair that someone could potentially do B work and end up with a C or even D grade. I can see the utility in distinguishing someone's performance from the performance of the rest of the class, but it's just plain misleading to represent someone as being a C or D student when they've never even recieved a C or D score on any assignment or exam.

Of course, it's like my Dad told me. The world isn't fair. Get used to it.

The problem is that you can't really convert the raw score to a letter grade without the curve or subjective assessment by the professor.  There is no basis for the professor to use to do this. The only thing a professor could do is say, "I think last year this would have been a B but is a C this year", the problem with this is that the exams are not the same.

The only actual grade there ever is the grade you receive on the curve.  Since everything is graded against other students there is never B work that results in a C or D.  If the teacher had not taught as well or the class had been smarter the given exam may have been a higher grade, but generally there are not big deviations from year to year for given professors.  You also have to remember the point is to compare you work to other students at your school so even if you did almost as good as another student they still did better.  Employers only have so many available spots to interview and need some way to distinguish.

Also if you read the an A exam, B exam, and C exam you will be able to tell the difference in the level of analysis.

#### dft

• Sr. Citizen
• Posts: 519
##### Re: The Reality of the Forced Curve
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2005, 11:27:04 AM »
I read your post over quickly (a couple of times) and I am confused. The title, "The Reality of the Forced Curve" makes it seem like you are now realizing that you're up against a lot of competition (like you're getting worried). But then you say something about how you have a B+ curve, making it seem like you have nothing to worry about it. Maybe I'm misreading the post.

The reality of the forced curve (the curve at my school is set at about a B+) hit home with me a couple of days ago.  We had to turn in short papers in my small group class that were worth a very small percentage of our grades.  He handed the papers back.  The class was divided 10/80/10 meaning that the top ten percent got the same grade (the highest grade), the middle 80 got the same grade and the bottom ten got the lowest grade.  Now I know that there will be a little more differentiation in final grades since I have pluses and minuses at my school, but it still seems to me that the  majority of the class is probably going to have very similar GPA's.

Are my thought correct or am I missing something?

#### BigTex

• Sr. Citizen
• Posts: 379
##### Re: The Reality of the Forced Curve
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2005, 04:25:03 PM »
Are my thought correct or am I missing something?

You are discovering, as we all are, that none of us is a "unique snowflake". At a top 20 school like UT, all the students are exceptional therefore everyone is mediocre. "I am nothing special" is a realization setting in for all of us. I knew it would be so going in. But it's one thing to have prior knowledge of what it's going to be like and quite another to actually experience it.

#### T. Durden

• Sr. Citizen
• Posts: 472
##### Re: The Reality of the Forced Curve
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2005, 07:47:55 PM »
yeah i'm at t20 also and am absolutley terrified that i might for the first time in my life end up on the wrong side of the bell curve. everyone is so similar in aptitude and ability, everyone studies all the time, everyone is taking the entire 1L experience very seriously, or at least as far as i can tell. how i'm going to distinguish myself come finals time is a complete and utter mystery to me.

i suppose that it ultimatley comes to the point where you just have to be philosophical about the entire 1L process - you can only do what you can do and as long as the requisite effort is there then you shouldn't have any regrets ... no matter where you end up. or at least this si what i'm attempting to tell myself (call it part of my motivation for giving 100% - preparation for disappointmetn! )

#### dft

• Sr. Citizen
• Posts: 519
##### Re: The Reality of the Forced Curve
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2005, 09:07:58 PM »
yeah i'm at t20 also and am absolutley terrified that i might for the first time in my life end up on the wrong side of the bell curve. everyone is so similar in aptitude and ability, everyone studies all the time, everyone is taking the entire 1L experience very seriously, or at least as far as i can tell. how i'm going to distinguish myself come finals time is a complete and utter mystery to me.

this is exactly how i feel. the difference is, that i am at a Tier 4, and I really was not expecting this level of competition here. i think i said this on another thread: i don't know what i was expecting, but my classmates are much smarter and hard working than i expected. this further supports the idea that you (i.e. pre-laws) should go to the best law school you can get into.

#### eray01

• Guest
##### Re: The Reality of the Forced Curve
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2005, 10:19:30 PM »
Being at a T4, I am also surprised by the level of competition here. The median GPA for the entering class jumped drastically this year. That may have something to do with it. My concern is having a sh-tty class rank at a T4. I could live with that if I were at a T1. I would rather be the worst of the best than the worst of the worst anyday. Hell, being the worst of the best may even be better than being the best of the worst.

#### BigPimpinBU

• Sr. Citizen
• Posts: 144
##### Re: The Reality of the Forced Curve
« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2005, 02:24:55 AM »

Because most people who are smart enough to get into a good law school don't need to be arbitrarily separated by a forced curve.  It's the main reason behind the cutthroat and ultra competitive nature of legal education.  We can do without it.

One of the functions of the forced curve is to prevent grade inflation, which would otherwise be rampant precisely because of the attitude your post embodies. Grade inflation may be fine at 2-3 of the top schools, where everyone really is excellent. But at the vast majority of law schools, there are appreciable differences in aptitude and work ethic between the top people and the bottom people. Whitewashing these differences unfairly prejudices the better students, who are deprived of an avenue to let employers know that they are just that - better. As a corollary, grade inflation also prejudices employers, who are forced to either expend more resources on investigating candidates, or are simply saddled with the end results of this less efficient process.

#### eray01

• Guest
##### Re: The Reality of the Forced Curve
« Reply #17 on: October 22, 2005, 03:40:17 AM »
Good point. I feel myself swaying to the other side. Really, I guess the only people who should be upset about a curve are the people at the bottom of it. It's way to early to tell where I'll fall on the curve, but I can think of a few people in my class I would definitely want to be differentiated from. I'll bet there's a few people who want to be differentiated from me.

#### Esq

• Sr. Citizen
• Posts: 109
##### Re: The Reality of the Forced Curve
« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2005, 11:02:27 AM »
Good point. I feel myself swaying to the other side. Really, I guess the only people who should be upset about a curve are the people at the bottom of it. It's way to early to tell where I'll fall on the curve, but I can think of a few people in my class I would definitely want to be differentiated from. I'll bet there's a few people who want to be differentiated from me.

Are there some students in your class that have impressed you? You mentioned the level of competition, but have any of the other students really impressed you with their grasp of the concepts?

#### eray01

• Guest
##### Re: The Reality of the Forced Curve
« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2005, 01:24:35 PM »
There are some that have impressed me with their apparent grasp of the concepts. I think sometimes articulation can be confused with competence though. I'm an example of that. Some people mistake me as a civ pro wizard only because I happen to be looking at just the right paragraph in the book when the prof asks me a question. I'm also good at confidently articulating what is actually incompetence. Where I've been really surprised are the amount of people that appear inept scoring highly on midterms and legal writing papers. One shining example is a guy in my class who everybody laughs at when he asks questions. In the beginning of the semester some people were openly questioning why he was here and how he had been admitted. He's a really good looking well-muscled surfer type with long blonde hair and the "hey bud" spicoli persona to go along with it. When midterm grades were released, he had scored straight A's. I've read some of his writing, and its some of the best I've ever seen. People underestimate him because he has a tough time articulating himself orally, and he doesn't have a book smart appearance. I've come to know him better through clubs we're in together and hanging out socially, and I've grown to have a massive amount of respect for him. He holds an SBA office too, and I've worked with him on different projects. It turns out he's also a natural born leader type. The guy's got everything except the ability to articulate, and everybody wrote him off in the beginning because of it. I learned a lesson from that.

I played hockey in high school. When we would play teams we thought we could beat, we'd be lazy and end up losing. When we'd play teams we thought would beat us, we'd show up to win and catch them napping. It's all about sizing up your opponent. Law school competition can be alot like that.