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Author Topic: Is Your Grade Always Determined By One Exam  (Read 4038 times)

ptoomey

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Is Your Grade Always Determined By One Exam
« on: December 02, 2009, 12:11:51 PM »
Hey guys,

ptoomey, the non-matriculated again.

Sorry, I know you guys have real things to discuss, like study habits and finals, but reading
this forum has me a little freaked out about the exams in law school, and whether I would
have a chance at being successful.

Are any of you at a school where the grading is different than what seems to be
the standard - a final exam which determines your entire grade.

Those are awfully high stakes. I get pissed when a teacher doesn't have more than 2 exams.
I prefer weekly quizzes, and multiple exams so you can get an idea of what the teacher expects.

Is it typical for there to be just one exam all the way through school, or is it more in the 1L
foundation courses?

A related question. Do the exams always involve long answer legal arguments, or do they
sometimes involve short answer type questions - like what is the name of this or that? Or
what is the definition of X? I'll hunt around for some public web sites with old exams, but just
curious.

For example, if I take a course in Trusts, on the exam, am I going to be asked to discuss the
legal arguments in a bunch of cases involving trusts, or will it be more about things like -
understanding how trusts work, what the typical clauses are, asked to do an estate plan involving
trusts given a fact pattern, etc?

OK, I'll pipe down - you guys get some studying done.

Thanks.




Changed Name

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Re: Is Your Grade Always Determined By One Exam
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2009, 01:24:45 PM »
I like answering easy questions, so here goes:

Let me qualify this by saying that this is what I'm used to at my school:
For the most part, the classes you take (which have a a final exam, as opposed to papers) will only have one final exam.  Legal writing differs (b/c it is a "paper" course).  I think this remains true for the remainder of your law school career.

However, I have heard of some law schools which actually have midterms.  And without trying to degrade any law school, I think it's mostly schools which are lower ranked.  But, this is certainly in the minority. 

As far as the form of the exam goes, it really depends.  I'm mostly used to getting fact-patterns and the question is asking to discuss legal issues that arise.  I have had exams which have a portion of the test as multiple choice (but never an exam where the test was completely MC or even more than 50%).

ptoomey

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Re: Is Your Grade Always Determined By One Exam
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2009, 01:54:55 PM »
Thanks very much. That helps a lot. I also looked around and found some course descriptions
for Wills and Trusts courses. They all have one exam, which isn't great, but the format of the
one exam I found looked very similar to the exams I took in my Estate Planning course that was
part of the CFP certificate(which was taught by an attorney). It was mostly fact patterns
with questions following it, and a few short answer type questions.

That's a relief.

Thanks.

big - fat - box

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Re: Is Your Grade Always Determined By One Exam
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2009, 02:02:23 PM »
You might want to take a look at some exams for first year courses as well.

EarlCat

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Re: Is Your Grade Always Determined By One Exam
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2009, 02:04:22 PM »
Some of my classes had midterms, some had papers, and some have multi-part exams, so it's not like your grade always rides on one question.  One of my finals this semester will have a T/F section and multiple-choice section in addition to the issue spotter.  

ETA:  Warning - while you were typing 2 new replies have been posted. You may wish to review your post. WOOHOO!

ptoomey

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Re: Is Your Grade Always Determined By One Exam
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2009, 06:42:00 PM »
Some of my classes had midterms, some had papers, and some have multi-part exams, so it's not like your grade always rides on one question.  One of my finals this semester will have a T/F section and multiple-choice section in addition to the issue spotter.  

That's good news. I don't like my chances in the courses that are all long answer
essays. I'll have to pile up on courses like Accounting For Lawyers, Wills and Trusts,
Taxation of Business Entities, etc. By the way, do you know if I'll have a tough time
passing the bar if I specialize like crazy in Finance and Tax type courses? I'm guessing
that they'd make anything that's super critical a mandatory class.

You might want to take a look at some exams for first year courses as well.

Good idea. I'm going to do that. Those sound like the toughest ones. I'm almost afraid
to look, because those are the ones I see everyone discussing, that have been freaking me out,
and that's where I think I'll really get buried - 1L, where the grades are most important.


Thanks for all the info guys.

Changed Name

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Re: Is Your Grade Always Determined By One Exam
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2009, 07:45:39 PM »
Some of my classes had midterms, some had papers, and some have multi-part exams, so it's not like your grade always rides on one question.  One of my finals this semester will have a T/F section and multiple-choice section in addition to the issue spotter.  

That's good news. I don't like my chances in the courses that are all long answer
essays. I'll have to pile up on courses like Accounting For Lawyers, Wills and Trusts,
Taxation of Business Entities, etc. By the way, do you know if I'll have a tough time
passing the bar if I specialize like crazy in Finance and Tax type courses? I'm guessing
that they'd make anything that's super critical a mandatory class.

You might want to take a look at some exams for first year courses as well.

Good idea. I'm going to do that. Those sound like the toughest ones. I'm almost afraid
to look, because those are the ones I see everyone discussing, that have been freaking me out,
and that's where I think I'll really get buried - 1L, where the grades are most important.


Thanks for all the info guys.



I think you should try to change your perspective on the one exam, long essay format.  In many ways, you can make these tests simpler for yourself by adjusting the way you think about the course.  I think the biggest difficulty people have on the long, fact-pattern type questions is that you're no longer given the "questions."

Whereas when we were younger all the way through college, our teachers would ask the questions, on law school exams, you only get a simple question (which requires you to come up with all the important questions and possible answers that are needed to answer that one question -- kind of confusing).

But once you start to think like this, these fact patterns became MUCH easier, your thinking becomes more focused and you are able to write a coherent reply to the exam.

My point:  don't worry about the one exam, long answer format.  Focus on things you can do to make that type of test easy for you.

ptoomey

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Re: Is Your Grade Always Determined By One Exam
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2009, 12:04:40 AM »
I think you should try to change your perspective on the one exam, long essay format.  In many ways, you can make these tests simpler for yourself by adjusting the way you think about the course.  I think the biggest difficulty people have on the long, fact-pattern type questions is that you're no longer given the "questions."

Whereas when we were younger all the way through college, our teachers would ask the questions, on law school exams, you only get a simple question (which requires you to come up with all the important questions and possible answers that are needed to answer that one question -- kind of confusing).

But once you start to think like this, these fact patterns became MUCH easier, your thinking becomes more focused and you are able to write a coherent reply to the exam.

My point:  don't worry about the one exam, long answer format.  Focus on things you can do to make that type of test easy for you.

Thanks for the response Changed Name. I just saw this post.

I think you're right. I'm not going to be able to avoid the long answer type exam, so I might as well embrace it. I'm going to look around for some exams online. Is there any specific course that you think might have the typical kind of long answer questions on the final. It's all kind of abstract for me at the moment. I'd like to see exactly what I'd be up against.

kenpostudent

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Re: Is Your Grade Always Determined By One Exam
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2009, 12:57:27 AM »
My legal writing course had a mid-term and two office memos. The rest of my courses varied. Property 1 had a graded mid-term worth 10% of our total grade. The final exam was 68 multiple choice questions on estates and future interests and two essays. In every class, 10-20% of the grade was classroom participation. Civ Pro 1 was three one-hour long essays. We had a non-graded mid-term in that class. In Torts, we had also had a non-graded mid-term. Like Property, the mid-term was a mix of multiple choice questions and two essays. In Torts, however, we had several quizzes throughout the semester that were worth a total of 10% of our grade. The Criminal Law final was four long essays in three hours. That class had no mid-term, but the prof says that he will raise our grade by one level if we participated well in class (i.e., from a C+ to a B-).

Next semester, my Contracts prof says that she will give us a group writing assignment worth 25% of our grade in addition to the final exam. So, in my experience, limited as it may be, one grade generally does not make up 100% of our grade, but it does make up at least 70% of it.

ptoomey

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Re: Is Your Grade Always Determined By One Exam
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2009, 02:51:42 AM »
My legal writing course had a mid-term and two office memos. The rest of my courses varied. Property 1 had a graded mid-term worth 10% of our total grade. The final exam was 68 multiple choice questions on estates and future interests and two essays. In every class, 10-20% of the grade was classroom participation. Civ Pro 1 was three one-hour long essays. We had a non-graded mid-term in that class. In Torts, we had also had a non-graded mid-term. Like Property, the mid-term was a mix of multiple choice questions and two essays. In Torts, however, we had several quizzes throughout the semester that were worth a total of 10% of our grade. The Criminal Law final was four long essays in three hours. That class had no mid-term, but the prof says that he will raise our grade by one level if we participated well in class (i.e., from a C+ to a B-).

Next semester, my Contracts prof says that she will give us a group writing assignment worth 25% of our grade in addition to the final exam. So, in my experience, limited as it may be, one grade generally does not make up 100% of our grade, but it does make up at least 70% of it.

Thanks for the feedback kenpostudent. That doesn't sound too bad. Did they at least give you feedback on those non-graded mid terms so you knew if you were on the right track?