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To the 1Ls, on the occasion of their first exams


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#26 eferrari

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 03:15 PM

i just cried. thats Uriel...ill need this next year...

#27 operachic127

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 09:39 AM

I am also so glad this post exists... huge thanks Uriel! I'm not starting 1L until September, but have been panicking a lot already (and the boyfriend is starting to get annoyed with reassuring me I am smart and capable and etc etc etc). I will keep these positive vibes in mind next year when I'm sure my own personal negative vibes will have reached toxic levels. And big thanks to am85 for her insight as well! organization and positive energy... on est capables!

#28 john grisham

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 10:25 PM

Bump for exam season.

#29 Rocka

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 10:49 PM

I doubt law schools will give many Cs over the next few years as they change from curving on a mean to curving on a median. When my grandpa was a lad, C was an average grade in school. You had two letters above it, B and A, and two letters bellow, D and F. By the time my father was in highschool, few got Cs, but you saw Cs in university. By the time I went to university, As and Bs were the norm for marginal effort. But law school still had Cs apparently. Not so many anymore, I've had but one C in lawschool, and the only reason that happened was because my professor was an idiot. This has come with me studying an average of two weeks before exams. Truth is, grade inflation coincides with education inflation. In grandpa's day, getting a BA meant something. In my dad's day, a law degree was a sure thing. Now adays, the law degree still carries weight, but professional degrees today are yesterday's BAs. And so the trend continues. The reason for both grade and education inflation are economic. People will pay for school and schools now consider themselves a business. A business aims to make its customers happy, and that means better grades are handed out, but a business is also designed for repeat customers, and that means the schools need you to keep coming back to buy more education.

#30 undergrad7

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 11:20 PM

Truth is, grade inflation coincides with education inflation.


Wait, aren't law school curves harder than the curves for most bachelors' degrees?

#31 Pyke

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 11:37 PM

Truth is, grade inflation coincides with education inflation.


Wait, aren't law school curves harder than the curves for most bachelors' degrees?


That depends on your definition of "harder". Law school curves are made challenging because of the caliber of your peers. Sufficiently strong undergraduate peers and a sufficiently weak law school could make it close.

#32 letshugitout

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 10:09 AM

Truth is, grade inflation coincides with education inflation.


Wait, aren't law school curves harder than the curves for most bachelors' degrees?


That depends on your definition of "harder". Law school curves are made challenging because of the caliber of your peers. Sufficiently strong undergraduate peers and a sufficiently weak law school could make it close.


+1

In undergrad a large portion of your class is perfectly happy with a passing grade (i.e. C's) and put in just enough effort to pass - the same cannot be said for law school.

Also, undergrad exams test knowledge and demonstrating knowledge on an exam is usually pretty straight forward. Law exams do not test knowledge, they test your ability to spot problems in a fact pattern and use what you have learned to conduct some sort of analysis.
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#33 VeritasTruthEmet

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 02:29 PM

I'll do my best to keep this from being a long and convoluted story, especially since I'm writing it by phone! What follows might be a bit syrupy, but I would have wanted to hear it last November, so here goes.

There are going to be a lot of people over the next month telling you not to stress out over your first exams: that they don't matter that much, that a bad mark is not the end of the world. Do me a favour. Listen to those people.

My first mark at law school was a big, stinky C. The mark itself looked and felt like an open wound from a shattered beer bottle. It was the only mark I had in my pocket as I went home for the December holidays. I got to listen to the lamentations of my classmates at the end-of-term party: "I feel so stupid! I've never had a B+ in my life!" "Well, at least it's not a C+, man, that would be a kick in the face." "Ha! Yeah, that's basically code for, 'get out of law school'."

It was humiliating, depressing, and stressful in the extreme. Questions started to float, especially as my exam marks started coming back with Bs --- and those were the good ones. Was it a huge mistake to come to law school? Should I ever have quit that great job? Am I really so much dumber than everyone else?

What I didn't realize at the time was that just like me, anyone else who went through the same thing was too humiliated to talk about it. But I wasn't alone, and these things do happen.

Now, for the point! Most of you will do beautifully, and rock the hell out of your exams. That's what curves do. Almost all of you will ride those exams like an insolent mule and stagger lopingly into the ruby sunset.

But for those of you that do start slow, like me, don't lose faith in yourselves. You got this far for a reason, and no one gets into law school that can't hack it. (Though whether they want to is another matter.) I promise, there really is such thing as a slow start, and you WILL get better. Looking back on my notes, I can actually see the transformation around Valentine's Day. You won't notice it happening, and you will probably still feel like you bombed your finals, but you'll actually learn a lot from your first term and turn out more awesome than you think.

I got the word yesterday; I'm off to my favourite firm on Bay Street. I would have never thought it was possible any time last year, in the pressure cooker that is 1L. So please, do your families and friends a favour in the slim chance you're a slow starter too --- don't beat yourself up. It gets better, a lot better, and in the big picture your first term marks often couldn't be more irrelevant. Really. No, really. Shut up. Really.

There's more than enough paranoia to go around in 1L, but the truth is you'll be exponentially better educated in April than you can be in December, and when it comes time to find work, people are going to hire you, not your transcript.

So, I suppose, I'm putting this up in case anyone feels like they've had a catastrophe in January, or after exams. If you can't find anyone to talk to anonymously, please do send me a PM. People can go from the bottom of the class to the top. I know many who did, and I'm one of them. I bombed my first term, bombed December, and came back with enough rocket power that I absolutely shocked myself when our grades came back. Now the sun's in the sky and I couldn't be happier.

So get out there and give 'em hell, 1Ls! You'll be amazing! And even in the off chance you're a little (or a lot!) less than stellar, trust me --- it's far from over, and the wide horizon is still swelling before you. Though you will feel like cat vomit ground into shag carpeting. That's just what's up, I'm not going to lie, but once you get over the shock, I swear: those exams have definitely not heard the last of you!


You're my favourite person in the world right now. I owe u for this. So awesome. Thanks.

#34 Uriel

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 03:45 PM

So, I suppose, I'm putting this up in case anyone feels like they've had a catastrophe in January, or after exams. If you can't find anyone to talk to anonymously, please do send me a PM. People can go from the bottom of the class to the top. I know many who did, and I'm one of them. I bombed my first term, bombed December, and came back with enough rocket power that I absolutely shocked myself when our grades came back. Now the sun's in the sky and I couldn't be happier.


Offer's still open, by the way, for all you folks new to it this time around. :)

#35 Inclassof2013

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 07:28 PM

Uriel, I read your OP today on my way to an exam. Thank you! That actually meant a lot!

#36 JudgeDredd

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 08:18 PM

Uriel, I read your OP today on my way to an exam. Thank you! That actually meant a lot!


its a great post, but don't take too much comfort in it bro, places like UofT and Western have their midterms at christmas where you can afford to screw up. Ur at Oz right? we're talking 100% finals for half courses, semestered system, any C's now will be staring at you on your transcript perminately, no room for mistakes lolz.

#37 Pyke

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 08:20 PM

Uriel, I read your OP today on my way to an exam. Thank you! That actually meant a lot!


its a great post, but don't take too much comfort in it bro, places like UofT and Western have their midterms at christmas where you can afford to screw up. Ur at Oz right? we're talking 100% finals for half courses, semestered system, any C's now will be staring at you on your transcript perminately, no room for mistakes lolz.


While that may be true, having a C or C+ on your transcript is not the end of the world, regardless of when it is. It's not like 1 C or C+ makes you unattractive to employers.

#38 Inclassof2013

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 08:52 PM

You guys are right. It's different for us because our December exams are 100% finals for most courses.

But still, getting a bit of perspective on life, universe and everything that gets my head out of the exam craze and reminds me that there is life after this, no matter what, is nice and calming. It could only do me good. And it did!

Going into an exam with a postitive attitude and a calm mind can definitely mean the difference between C+ and B, or B and B+ so Uriel, you rock!

#39 nee

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 02:12 AM

Bumppppp.

Thanks, Uriel, for this post that you made two years ago!

It's 4 AM and just one week left till our exams start here at Windsor Law. I had a bit of a freak-out about impending midterms, so came to lawstudents to do a little search for some reassurance.

I keep hearing stories from upper-years about people they know who've gone from Cs and Ds on the midterms to As and Bs in the class. I'm still worried though. For what it's worth, none of mine are worth more than 35%, but people were freaking out about a 20% memo in Legal Research and Writing as well, and it's hard to not let the stress get to you! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! We're all gonna be okay, right? It's not time to drop out just yet?

Edited by nee, 02 December 2011 - 02:12 AM.


#40 Gogol

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 06:49 AM

Ah yes, stomach churning pre-exam anxiety. Where were you all this time?
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#41 Uriel

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 11:30 PM

Just a little more heart-warmingness in case the last bit has gone stale.

The conclusion of the story is that I had a flat C in December of 1L at U of T, a C+ when exams came back, and eventually graduated within a hair's breadth of an A average over all of 3L. In my last month, I had professors offering to write me reference letters for the Yale SJD.

You can start slow and still finish happy. I promise. If worse comes to worst on these exams --- and they won't! --- don't fall into an existential funk. Mourn for a bit but keep on going; you will get the hang of it.

#42 Sanada

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 11:21 PM

Does the same apply to upper years? I'm a transfer student and I'm feeling awful nervy waiting for exam results.....

#43 serdog

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 12:27 AM

I'm Really starting to wonder. My exams came back
Con: C
Torts: C
Contract: B-
Crim: C+
LLP: Waiting and worry as this is a final still I have a B+ on the midterm
I don't know I thinking what happen very low marks and I know if I don't get better marks I could not be advanced L2 very worried :( :(
reading this makes be hope as it looks like organization and writing rather then law skills

Edited by serdog, 07 January 2012 - 12:44 AM.


#44 nee

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 08:33 PM

Just a little more heart-warmingness in case the last bit has gone stale.

The conclusion of the story is that I had a flat C in December of 1L at U of T, a C+ when exams came back, and eventually graduated within a hair's breadth of an A average over all of 3L. In my last month, I had professors offering to write me reference letters for the Yale SJD.

You can start slow and still finish happy. I promise. If worse comes to worst on these exams --- and they won't! --- don't fall into an existential funk. Mourn for a bit but keep on going; you will get the hang of it.


You mean you had a C+ average in your first year, and then a CGPA of almost an A average by the time you graduated?

Serdog: I'm starting to wonder as well. I, too, didn't do so well on midterms: a B- was my highest grade. So now that it's finals time, of course I'm freaking out thinking what will happen if I get Cs in all my classes. :( :(

Is it okay to do badly in 1L? Can 2 and 3L grades make up for it??
I mean, I'm not expecting to get an OCI obviously if my finals remain the same as my midterms-- but do want an articling job after 3rd year.

Edited by nee, 08 April 2012 - 08:33 PM.


#45 Pheasant

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 07:43 AM

The vast majority of law students who want articling positions get them in one way or another. Some don't get them until 3rd year, but you'll find something as long as you're willing to be flexible.

The importance of 1L grades can't be overstated though. Your life will be much easier if you do well.
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#46 Uriel

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 03:21 PM

You mean you had a C+ average in your first year, and then a CGPA of almost an A average by the time you graduated?


Nope. "C+" average in first term, GPA of almost "A" in 3L. CGPA of a high "B+" overall.

I think the confusion comes from my shorthand there --- at U of T you get a paper or two back before you get your first-term grades in January. My first paper was a "C", so that was all I had to go on over the holidays. Not fun! I found out it came up to a "C+" "when exams came back" in January. Still not fun.

U of T first-term exams are failsafes. The B+ overall was attainable because the first term largely didn't count for me. My point isn't that the first exams don't count, but that you shouldn't feel that all is lost if you do poorly in your first term. You can and will get better at law as you go along. I wouldn't have thought, with my "C" and then "C+" average in December term 2008 that I would have an "A" average in April term 2011. So, screw your courage to the sticking-place!

#47 nee

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 03:46 PM

Nope. "C+" average in first term, GPA of almost "A" in 3L. CGPA of a high "B+" overall.

I think the confusion comes from my shorthand there --- at U of T you get a paper or two back before you get your first-term grades in January. My first paper was a "C", so that was all I had to go on over the holidays. Not fun! I found out it came up to a "C+" "when exams came back" in January. Still not fun.

U of T first-term exams are failsafes. The B+ overall was attainable because the first term largely didn't count for me. My point isn't that the first exams don't count, but that you shouldn't feel that all is lost if you do poorly in your first term. You can and will get better at law as you go along. I wouldn't have thought, with my "C" and then "C+" average in December term 2008 that I would have an "A" average in April term 2011. So, screw your courage to the sticking-place!


Ah! Well, congrats-- that's a stellar CGPA!

The first term largely doesn't count here either. Or, well, everybody always says it doesn't matter too much if you do poorly in first semester. I'm just concerned about what will happen if my finals are a repeat show of my midterms.

We've had two exams already though, and I feel good about them-- just that anxiety about "what if I do poorly?" is still there.
I guess I just want somebody experienced to tell me that I'll be okay even if my final marks are as crappy as my midterms, and it's not time to drop out just yet and that there are still 2 years to go and those grades count too. Lol. Though obviously I'm trying my best, and hoping final grades won't be terrible, but law school exams still feel like a crapshoot sometimes and we won't find out till June!

Edited by nee, 12 April 2012 - 03:48 PM.


#48 schroed

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 07:11 PM

Gave this another read it helped me feel a bit better. I felt terrible after my closed-book contracts exam...I've decided just not to worry about my graes at ths point. The one thing that has really helped me is to stick to my own rule of talking to no one in my class about an exam after it's been done. As a friend told me: "Inevitably, either you feel shitty from hearing about everything you messed up, or you make someone else feel shitty about all the things they missed".
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#49 hefeweizen

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 07:17 PM

The one thing that has really helped me is to stick to my own rule of talking to no one in my class about an exam after it's been done.


Yeah, no matter how you think you did on an exam, this will just screw with your head. And there's nothing you can do about it after the fact, so it'll be eating at you for no reason. For some reason people really want to do it, though (I'm guilty of this too, but I always try to stop myself).
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#50 schroed

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:50 PM

On Wednesay, the second the exam ended, everyone got up and immediately turned to eachother and started comparing answers. I put my coat on and left the room ASAP, haha.