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


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#126 Uriel

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 08:56 AM

Does/how does your general advice shift in the case of UoT where there are only P/H/HHs to be handed out?

 

I'll ask the same thing I asked the administration when they proposed the system: "You mean C/B/A?"


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#127 happydude

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 05:27 PM

3L here. 

 

In 1L and 2L all of my grades went 'according to script'. I did well on the exams I walked out of feeling confident. Exams I felt bad about resulted in average-to-poor marks. I thought law school grades being arbitrary and unpredictable was just a myth. 

 

Then 3L happened. I have no explanation for my marks last term. It feels totally arbitrary. 

 

I got a B+ in a course I thought for sure I was going to get a C in. I got an A- in a course I thought was nothing better than a B. I got a B- in a course I thought I destroyed.

 

Moral of the story: as has been said many times, do not panic if you think an exam did not go well. There really is no predicting these things.

 

Side note: now that I have finally experienced how arbitrary law school grades are, I have lost almost all of my motivation to do readings and go to class. There seems to be no point. Grab a good outline, study your hardest before the exam. You'll have the exact same odds of securing a high mark, and you'll still learn the law. The outline just does the grunt work (distilling endless pages of readings into only the important stuff) for you.

 

EDIT - I still advise going to class and doing the readings, if only just to play it safe, until one at least has articling secured.


Edited by happydude, 19 January 2016 - 05:31 PM.


#128 FineCanadianFXs

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Posted 20 January 2016 - 08:05 AM

Then 3L happened. I have no explanation for my marks last term. It feels totally arbitrary. 

 

Side note: now that I have finally experienced how arbitrary law school grades are, I have lost almost all of my motivation to do readings and go to class. There seems to be no point. Grab a good outline, study your hardest before the exam. You'll have the exact same odds of securing a high mark, and you'll still learn the law. The outline just does the grunt work (distilling endless pages of readings into only the important stuff) for you.

 

EDIT - I still advise going to class and doing the readings, if only just to play it safe, until one at least has articling secured.

 

I've had the same experience with grade prediction, but I don't think this is a good mindset to advocate for. It is kind of like the myth of luck in sports; the idea that a shot goes in a net or basket because the player got lucky is a nonsense. The reason those shots go in is a mix of variables, but mostly a result of a player who has practiced to the point where their skill appears as luck but is really a result of endurance, perseverance, or just plain athleticism. The definition of a bad sportsman would be someone who loses motivation because they put in a lot of hard work but their team doesn't win games. And just as these are skilled athletes who get "lucky" more frequently than others, law students who do well regularly are those who attend class, engage with issues, and study efficiently. Of course, there are variables out of your control, particularly with grading and particularly when the exam is 100% and there's a curve. 

 

But come on. Its like saying "I try really hard but I can't predict the outcome of my cases. Judges keep ruling in my clients' favour when I think I've lost it, and against me when I've been at the top of my game. I'm losing my motivation to put everything into my work." Life is arbitrary, so what?


Edited by FineCanadianFXs, 20 January 2016 - 08:07 AM.

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#129 Skweemish

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Posted 20 January 2016 - 09:11 AM

Life is arbitrary, so what?

So what I think you're getting at here is that we should try to begin a Charter challenge against life for infringing upon one of the principles of fundamental justice...


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#130 FineCanadianFXs

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Posted 20 January 2016 - 10:12 AM

So what I think you're getting at here is that we should try to begin a Charter challenge against life for infringing upon one of the principles of fundamental justice...

 

Only if Life is considered a governmental actor under s. 32 though



#131 Skweemish

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Posted 20 January 2016 - 10:28 AM

Only if Life is considered a governmental actor under s. 32 though

I will argue that it should be considered a Government actor because who has better control over life than the Government? Maybe apply that Eldridge case or something I don't know I suck at public law.


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#132 Sophia

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Posted 20 January 2016 - 05:57 PM

I'll ask the same thing I asked the administration when they proposed the system: "You mean C/B/A?"

 

I understand the sentiment, but don't think it's entirely accurate.

 

If you were to compare the supposed P/H/HH distribution (55/35/15--ish, in 1L, at least) to, say, the C/B/A (20/60/15) distribution at Osgoode the P/H & C/B percentages are almost flipped.

 

http://obiter-dicta....in-your-favour/



#133 FineCanadianFXs

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Posted 22 January 2016 - 04:19 PM

I understand the sentiment, but don't think it's entirely accurate.

 

If you were to compare the supposed P/H/HH distribution (55/35/15--ish, in 1L, at least) to, say, the C/B/A (20/60/15) distribution at Osgoode the P/H & C/B percentages are almost flipped.

 

Whether or not the distribution is flipped, I think the issue is more that these are simply perceived externally as C/B/A. Or alternatively, Weakest/Middle of the pack/Strongest. That doesn't make the assessment accurate, but I think that it is nearly impossible to view the system any other way unless you've experienced it. 



#134 Uriel

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 06:44 PM

I understand the sentiment, but don't think it's entirely accurate.

 

If you were to compare the supposed P/H/HH distribution (55/35/15--ish, in 1L, at least) to, say, the C/B/A (20/60/15) distribution at Osgoode the P/H & C/B percentages are almost flipped.

 

http://obiter-dicta....in-your-favour/

 

 

Whether or not the distribution is flipped, I think the issue is more that these are simply perceived externally as C/B/A. Or alternatively, Weakest/Middle of the pack/Strongest. That doesn't make the assessment accurate, but I think that it is nearly impossible to view the system any other way unless you've experienced it. 

 

Kinda missing the point here.  Change the distribution all you want.  Why use unusual letters?  We're going to know, ultimately, what your letter-grades mean.  We just want to know vaguely what quartile you're in.  The change to different letters along with a different distribution was both unnecessary and kind of frivolous.


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#135 Hale

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 09:12 PM

I understand the sentiment, but don't think it's entirely accurate.

 

If you were to compare the supposed P/H/HH distribution (55/35/15--ish, in 1L, at least) to, say, the C/B/A (20/60/15) distribution at Osgoode the P/H & C/B percentages are almost flipped.

 

http://obiter-dicta....in-your-favour/

 

The problem with that OB article is that it lumps in the Bs and B+s together, without discriminating between the two. At Osgoode, B+s count for a lot. They are considered solid grades, because they are grades that are ahead of the curve.

 

So the distribution many people care about in terms of 'above the curve' performance is As, B+s, everything else.

 

The grade distribution of all plus grades can only be 30% of the base grade. Guess what 30% of 60 is? 18. The distribution for 'above the curve' then becomes 62/18/15, which looks fairly similar to U of T's 55/35/15, albeit with even less grades allocated to the A and B+ (or H and HH) range.

 

I guess the only thing that U of T's system does is it mitigates the stigma of a C, because it makes Bs and Cs intistinguishable. After all, Osgoode's grading profile can futher be broken down into 20/42/18/15, whereas in U of T's you can't tell the Bs from the Cs.

 

But in the end, based on the U of T system most still draw (and rightly so) the correlation of HH/H/P to A/B/C, or perhaps A/B+/B&C. All U of T did by switching to its system is obscure the matter.


Edited by Hale, 26 January 2016 - 09:20 PM.


#136 JohnsonWest

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 05:06 AM

3L here. 

 

In 1L and 2L all of my grades went 'according to script'. I did well on the exams I walked out of feeling confident. Exams I felt bad about resulted in average-to-poor marks. I thought law school grades being arbitrary and unpredictable was just a myth. 

 

Then 3L happened. I have no explanation for my marks last term. It feels totally arbitrary. 

 

I got a B+ in a course I thought for sure I was going to get a C in. I got an A- in a course I thought was nothing better than a B. I got a B- in a course I thought I destroyed.

 

Moral of the story: as has been said many times, do not panic if you think an exam did not go well. There really is no predicting these things.

 

Side note: now that I have finally experienced how arbitrary law school grades are, I have lost almost all of my motivation to do readings and go to class. There seems to be no point. Grab a good outline, study your hardest before the exam. You'll have the exact same odds of securing a high mark, and you'll still learn the law. The outline just does the grunt work (distilling endless pages of readings into only the important stuff) for you.

 

EDIT - I still advise going to class and doing the readings, if only just to play it safe, until one at least has articling secured.

 

people keep saying this to me and i simply don't get it.  granted i've only been through one round of exams so far, but for the most part my midterm marks in classes were generally around what i thought they'd be. 

 

i don't get this whole "the curve does weird things sometimes".



#137 happydude

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 07:17 AM

people keep saying this to me and i simply don't get it.  granted i've only been through one round of exams so far, but for the most part my midterm marks in classes were generally around what i thought they'd be. 

 

i don't get this whole "the curve does weird things sometimes".

 

Until this fall semester of 3L, I never understood it either. But after 4 marks higher (and 1 mark lower) than I ever thought possible this Fall... I am convinced it is real.



#138 FineCanadianFXs

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 07:53 AM

people keep saying this to me and i simply don't get it.  granted i've only been through one round of exams so far, but for the most part my midterm marks in classes were generally around what i thought they'd be. 

 

i don't get this whole "the curve does weird things sometimes".

 

Well, depending on what you mean by midterm (do you mean fall term?) you may not have been curved at all. But here's what you're missing in your understanding: in 1st year, your classes are, by and large, identical in size and composition. Meaning that you compete against the same group in every unit, and that group is (likely) a diverse set of 1st year students who all generally know nothing of law school exams. The curve acts on everyone equally, and everyone is (likely at this stage) trying as hard as they can (meaning, they are applying tension back against that curve as hard as they can). In 1st year, nobody has jobs and everyone is scared of failure at a high level. This means the curve is tight, especially if your first year professors are clear in explaining the law. (And if they aren't clear, this is an example of when the curve might still do weird things. If none of your cohort understand the law at a level below your lack of understanding, you can crap out but still wind up okay. You are being graded by comparison.)

 

In upper year courses two major shifts occur: [1]  the class size changes; and, [2] the composition of those classes changes. For example, a compulsory business law course taught by a highly touted professor will be packed with students, and comprised largely of business gunners. That is going to make for a very tight curve, and you can work your ass off to get a B. Conversely, a Maritime law course taught by a professor known for writing tough exams, who doesn't allow laptops in lecture and is generally not thought to be a great teacher may be ill-attended, made up of largely of international students who like to sail but who are only graded on a pass-fail basis, and a bunch of third year students who all have jobs and have checked out of school entirely. See how you might think you bomb an exam in this latter example, but still wind up with an "A"? 


Edited by FineCanadianFXs, 27 January 2016 - 07:55 AM.


#139 CrimMajor

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 07:29 PM

Wildeman. I hear Erdman is... Intense.

From what I've heard, Erdman's year-end curve has been historically substantial. And yes, she is intense (great nonetheless).

 

With 1L exams coming up, all I can say is that I wish I spent more time preparing reading notes in the first few months. The panic hasn't quite set in, but it's building up.


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#140 grishamlaw

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Posted 24 November 2016 - 10:06 AM

Since we're coming close: http://iob.imgur.com/uYGg/99fvISfjzy
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#141 CrimMajor

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Posted 17 December 2016 - 03:35 PM

From what I've heard, Erdman's year-end curve has been historically substantial. And yes, she is intense (great nonetheless).

 

With 1L exams coming up, all I can say is that I wish I spent more time preparing reading notes in the first few months. The panic hasn't quite set in, but it's building up.

Can confirm, that exam was a gong-show. Thank heavens for fail-safe exams.



#142 DarklyDreamingDexter

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Posted 19 December 2016 - 10:21 AM

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!

 

Nice post thanks for the encouragement. Congrats on your success


Edited by DarklyDreamingDexter, 19 December 2016 - 10:21 AM.

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#143 Uriel

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 04:45 PM

Nice post thanks for the encouragement. Congrats on your success

 

Thanks! Happy new year, and best of luck!



#144 Esper

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 01:56 PM

In case you're wondering what your prof is up to during the break.

 


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#145 CarmelaIsabella

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 11:54 PM

In case you're wondering what your prof is up to during the break.

 

Well this explains a lot. Thank you.