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Advice on What to Do During Summer before starting 1L

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Some of the brightest people in my school hand write their exams by choice.

Professors also regularly say the best exams are usually in the middle length area, not most nor least.

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35 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Professors also regularly say the best exams are usually in the middle length area, not most nor least.

This is pretty inconsistent with my experience and the very few rough empirical analyses that I have seen of this topic.  If professors are saying "usually", I doubt that they've taken the time to actually analyze word counts versus grades or are interpreting "middle" very broadly.  I would say "sometimes".  Maybe even "often".  But "usually" is very questionable. 

The shortest exams are consistently the lowest grades.  But I'm not talking about the shorter side of average.  I am referring to exams so short that they are truly outliers. 

I do agree that the longest exams often aren't the highest marks, but I would say that the top marks are usually in the top third in terms of word count in my classes.  But the top marks would be spread throughout that third, with no concentration at either the low end or at the high end.

I'm trying to think of where I've seen rough analyses of this, and this is the only one that comes to mind (with a very small sample size, as with the others that I've seen): https://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2013/01/do-we-grade-typing-speed.html.  It affirms what I said about low word counts and suggests that the highest scores were distributed across the word count.

Edited by ProfReader
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8 hours ago, ProfReader said:

This is pretty inconsistent with my experience and the very few rough empirical analyses that I have seen of this topic.  If professors are saying "usually", I doubt that they've taken the time to actually analyze word counts versus grades or are interpreting "middle" very broadly.  I would say "sometimes".  Maybe even "often".  But "usually" is very questionable. 

The shortest exams are consistently the lowest grades.  But I'm not talking about the shorter side of average.  I am referring to exams so short that they are truly outliers. 

I do agree that the longest exams often aren't the highest marks, but I would say that the top marks are usually in the top third in terms of word count in my classes.  But the top marks would be spread throughout that third, with no concentration at either the low end or at the high end.

I'm trying to think of where I've seen rough analyses of this, and this is the only one that comes to mind (with a very small sample size, as with the others that I've seen): https://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2013/01/do-we-grade-typing-speed.html.  It affirms what I said about low word counts and suggests that the highest scores were distributed across the word count.

I just repeated what I was told.

I frankly think it makes sense. There's a lot of students who can't separate a stream of consciousness from an actual analysis in exam situations. The former shouldn't warrant a good grade.

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3 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

I just repeated what I was told.

I frankly think it makes sense. There's a lot of students who can't separate a stream of consciousness from an actual analysis in exam situations. The former shouldn't warrant a good grade.

Yes, I knew that you were repeating what you had heard, but I don't believe that the people who said it had really thought it through. Alternatively, I think that they were exaggerating to make their point. It is true that some students at the high end of the word count have a bunch of filler and nonsense in their exams, but some don't.

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14 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Some of the brightest people in my school hand write their exams by choice.

Professors also regularly say the best exams are usually in the middle length area, not most nor least.

It seems to depend on the Prof. Some have a checklist and will go through seeing whether you hit each point. That rewards writing a ton and hoping you got the right stuff in there somewhere. Others grade as a whole and will take off points if you get off topic. 

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, chaboywb said:

It seems to depend on the Prof. Some have a checklist and will go through seeing whether you hit each point. That rewards writing a ton and hoping you got the right stuff in there somewhere. Others grade as a whole and will take off points if you get off topic. 

Not really.  Taking off marks if an exam gets off topic is extremely rare.  I've only known a very small handful of profs (having taught at several schools) who did that.  Most prefer the checklist method as it is easier and more objective.  Taking off marks is very difficult.  How much irrelevance does one need to lose a point?  1 sentence equals one mark?  1 paragraph equals two marks?  Etc.

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You know, knowing McGill, I'm just going to say my experiences with marks and grading will likely be so different and alien to other schools that they may not be relevant at all.

The one thing I can be sure of is that a stream of consciousness is never a good thing.

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36 minutes ago, ProfReader said:

Not really.  Taking off marks if an exam gets off topic is extremely rare.  I've only known a very small handful of profs (having taught at several schools) who did that.  Most prefer the checklist method as it is easier and more objective.  Taking off marks is very difficult.  How much irrelevance does one need to lose a point?  1 sentence equals one mark?  1 paragraph equals two marks?  Etc.

I'm certainly not saying it's the norm. I had just one prof who did. They marked exams like they would an essay - their rubric had a grade out of 10 for style, conciseness, relevance, etc. Writing more would lose you marks if you touched on topics that didn't apply. It indeed felt subjective.

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1 minute ago, chaboywb said:

I'm certainly not saying it's the norm. I had just one prof who did. They marked exams like they would an essay - their rubric had a grade out of 10 for style, conciseness, relevance, etc. Writing more would lose you marks if you touched on topics that didn't apply. It indeed felt subjective.

Yes, that makes sense.  I do know a couple of people who have done that over the years, but definitely not the norm.  It is especially not the norm now with students being more...shall we say...consumerist.

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58 minutes ago, ProfReader said:

Not really.  Taking off marks if an exam gets off topic is extremely rare.  I've only known a very small handful of profs (having taught at several schools) who did that.  Most prefer the checklist method as it is easier and more objective.  Taking off marks is very difficult.  How much irrelevance does one need to lose a point?  1 sentence equals one mark?  1 paragraph equals two marks?  Etc.

I had a prof who took marks off for covering issues that weren't required. 

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Just now, providence said:

I had a prof who took marks off for covering issues that weren't required. 

Yes, as I said there are a handful out there, although increasingly fewer.  

More generally, I don't think that we need students worrying about the length of their exams or wasting time questioning whether what they've just said is relevant, rather than moving on to the next issue, based on a handfull of professors.

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5 minutes ago, ProfReader said:

Yes, as I said there are a handful out there, although increasingly fewer.  

More generally, I don't think that we need students worrying about the length of their exams or wasting time questioning whether what they've just said is relevant, rather than moving on to the next issue, based on a handfull of professors.

Agreed, especially as 0Ls. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/12/2019 at 4:36 PM, lookingaround said:

I spent quite a lot of time hiking, I would have done more of that and added kayaking in.

 

I wasted money on 'Getting to maybe', and wouldn't do that if I had a repeat.

I read "Getting to Maybe" after first year (because I was a bit disappointed with how I had done on some exams) and actually quite liked it. I agree that professors will often explicitly tell students what they are looking for, but I think the book does a good job of setting out what law professors (as an archetype) are looking for in an exam for somebody who has no experience with law school or somebody who is a bit unclear about why he/she has lost marks on exam answers. I think mileage may vary though.

I would strongly suggest spending time on hobbies. In first year as well as in second year, one of my greatest frustrations was that I had to spend significantly less time reading for pleasure (i.e. books of my choice on topics in which I have a personal interest) because I spent a lot of time reading for school and any leisure time I had left in the school year was usually spent watching Korean tv shows or anime. I have classmates who, e.g., are visual artists and who have complained to me that, during the school year, they basically have no time to paint. So my suggestion would be to spend your 0L summer doing high investment hobbies because you probably wont have much time for this stuff during the school year. 

One other thing I would suggest is spending time acclimating to the place where you're studying. I moved to Kingston and knew nothing about the city. The first month or two of 1L was spent studying trying to get used to law school, so once I had spare time to explore the city in late October or November, it was already getting cold. If you're in a similar situation and will be moving to an unfamiliar city, you might want to spend a bit of time before the start of the semester figuring out where things are and maybe finding restaurants, coffee shops, etc. that you like.

Edited by Pythia

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44 minutes ago, Pythia said:

I read "Getting to Maybe" after first year (because I was a bit disappointed with how I had done on some exams) and actually quite liked it. I agree that professors will often explicitly tell students what they are looking for, but I think the book does a good job of setting out what law professors (as an archetype) are looking for in an exam for somebody who has no experience with law school or somebody who is a bit unclear about why he/she has lost marks on exam answers. I think mileage may vary though.

I would strongly suggest spending time on hobbies. In first year as well as in second year, one of my greatest frustrations was that I had to spend significantly less time reading for pleasure (i.e. books of my choice on topics in which I have a personal interest) because I spent a lot of time reading for school and any leisure time I had left in the school year was usually spent watching Korean tv shows or anime. I have classmates who, e.g., are visual artists and who have complained to me that, during the school year, they basically have no time to paint. So my suggestion would be to spend your 0L summer doing high investment hobbies because you probably wont have much time for this stuff during the school year. 

One other thing I would suggest is spending time acclimating to the place where you're studying. I moved to Kingston and knew nothing about the city. The first month or two of 1L was spent studying trying to get used to law school, so once I had spare time to explore the city in late October or November, it was already getting cold. If you're in a similar situation and will be moving to an unfamiliar city, you might want to spend a bit of time before the start of the semester figuring out where things are and maybe finding restaurants, coffee shops, etc. that you like.

I think there's a difference in reading Getting to Maybe after 1L and before it, though. 0Ls shouldn't even be trying to figure out how to write law exams - they haven't started law school yet and there is no point.

Re: free time to read and paint in law school - we had a big thread on this but the gist of it was that you should still have time for things like that. 

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1 hour ago, providence said:

I think there's a difference in reading Getting to Maybe after 1L and before it, though. 0Ls shouldn't even be trying to figure out how to write law exams - they haven't started law school yet and there is no point.

Re: free time to read and paint in law school - we had a big thread on this but the gist of it was that you should still have time for things like that. 

You'll still have time, but less. I haven't stopped reading for fun in law school; I just do less of it than I did before (in a typical semester of undergrad, I'd finish maybe 12 books outside of class materials; in law school, I finish about half that number).

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