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thebadwife

Grade curve and group studying?

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I'm a little confused about the whole notion of grading in law school. My school does the curve in a way where there average has to be between certain percentage points, but not curved in a sense that some people have to get A's and some have to get D's/F's. 

I have become acutely aware from this forum that you should be "above the curve" if you want to be successful in OCIs. My question is... could group studying and collaboration hurt one's chances of getting above the curve? Like for example in a group study, someone happens to have a better understanding of the topic and helps the other students understand... doesn't that make it harder for the first student to then stand out?

Alternatively, let's say you are a really good student and have a firm grasp of the information, but your section just happens to have more people that really "get it," couldn't your grades then end up being lower than if you took the same class but in a different section with different classmates? (making your ranking partly dependent on the people you end up taking the class with?)

I'm sorry if these questions don't make sense... I am just really struggling with the concept of the curve and how it is really "fair" (maybe not the best word?)

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Once you get to law school you have to make peace with the fact that you're no longer the smartest guy/girl in the room. There's always going to be someone who understands a concept better than you do and that's to your benefit because you can get them to explain that to you if you study with them.

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You should probably ignore this forum when it comes to how to do well for OCIs. Most law students don’t even know this place exists. Here, you’re exposed to only the small group of law students/lawyers who know about this place and feel compelled to create an account and contribute. 

Don’t be a dick, help your friends, enjoy law school. 

 

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I mean, I am not really sure what "fair" has to do with anything, but really a "curve" is just what naturally happens for 99% of classes. No, group studying is not going to affect you negatively. Even if it did, you are more likely to hurt yourself by being weird and "strategic". Your classmates are your future colleagues and your reputation begins in law school. 

This forum generally gives good advice for OCI's, I am unsure what you are taking issue with easttowest. Being above average, is required for many OCI firms...

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7 hours ago, thebadwife said:

Alternatively, let's say you are a really good student and have a firm grasp of the information, but your section just happens to have more people that really "get it," couldn't your grades then end up being lower than if you took the same class but in a different section with different classmates? (making your ranking partly dependent on the people you end up taking the class with?)

Welcome to life. Whether you get a job partially depends on the people who end up applying. Whether your offer to purchase a house is accepted partially depends on the other offers that are made. Whether you make partner partially depends on who else is up for the position. Does that mean you should isolate yourself from competition? Absolutely not. 

Edited by CoffeeandLaw

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If you understand a class well enough to explain concepts to others then you’ll do well because you have a true grasp of the subject matter. You don’t lose this edge  by explaining concepts to others. I promise that’s the case. Don’t be selfish in a study group. Chances are that if you think you have this magical understanding no one else does, you’re probably wrong. It’s better to discuss this amongst your peers than to put that secret recipe on an exam paper and learn the hard way that you actually had it wrong. Worst case scenario, you did have an amazing understanding and you share- it just benefits you by reinforcing what you already know.  I wouldn’t worry about giving your secret sauce to others. 

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11 hours ago, thebadwife said:

My question is... could group studying and collaboration hurt one's chances of getting above the curve?

It's far more likely that in explaining concepts to others you will increase your grasp of the material. Teaching concepts to others is one of the best ways to learn.

Plus there's going to be someone in your group that has a concept you don't, so that's going to help as well. My cans are always filled with handwritten notes from study sessions because I missed something or someone else had a better way of framing it.

Honestly, don't worry about the curve, the only thing it really does is prevent 1Ls from failing out when they have a bad prof. If you're a B student in law school that just means your an average law student. There's nothing wrong with that, all the average law students went on to become lawyers

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12 hours ago, thebadwife said:

I have become acutely aware from this forum that you should be "above the curve" if you want to be successful in OCIs. My question is... could group studying and collaboration hurt one's chances of getting above the curve? Like for example in a group study, someone happens to have a better understanding of the topic and helps the other students understand... doesn't that make it harder for the first student to then stand out?

It's unlikely both you and your friends know and don't know the exact same topics. Group study typically allows everyone in the group to walk away with a better understanding of the material than if the individuals worked independently. Even if your group of friends outperform you, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll be bumped down a letter grade. A few students outperforming you on an exam won't change your grade. 

Whether group study is a productive means to study is a different question. A few times, I've been in group study situations that simply became pizza parties or a pre.

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4 hours ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

It's far more likely that in explaining concepts to others you will increase your grasp of the material. Teaching concepts to others is one of the best ways to learn.

This is exactly right. I am even tempted to claim that this is the best way (at least that I know of) to really come to a full understanding of any concept:  get yourself to the point where you can explain it to others so that they can (also) understand it. That's one reason I wouldn't worry at all about whether helping others to understand something could be to your disadvantage. Another is that this kind of generosity is (as others have pointed out) likely to be reciprocated.

Cooperation works better for learning than competition.

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I agree with others who have suggested not to worry about the curve, but there also is no necessity to work with a study group. Not everyone does. I never did and graduated with honours. 

I also agree that you should be one who is happy to help others, share notes, etc.  Doing otherwise isn't going to help you.

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I'm probably just beating a dead horse at this point. But I really can't sufficiently stress the importance of collegiality in this profession. In fact, it's essential to my current practice. I rely heavily on friends and colleagues for client referrals, mentorship, and emotional support. I wouldn't get any of that if I wasn't willing to reciprocate, by helping out where I can. 

I also agree that you don't need to join a study group: do what works for you. And I'm not saying you should be a doormat. But you should get out of a zero-sum mindset. Being generous with your time and knowledge will get you way farther than trying to score a couple of points here and there. 

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8 hours ago, realpseudonym said:

I'm probably just beating a dead horse at this point. But I really can't sufficiently stress the importance of collegiality in this profession. In fact, it's essential to my current practice. I rely heavily on friends and colleagues for client referrals, mentorship, and emotional support. I wouldn't get any of that if I wasn't willing to reciprocate, by helping out where I can. 

I also agree that you don't need to join a study group: do what works for you. And I'm not saying you should be a doormat. But you should get out of a zero-sum mindset. Being generous with your time and knowledge will get you way farther than trying to score a couple of points here and there. 

I run a business in a very different field then law and I could not agree more with realpseudonym about relationships. In my experience, developing relationships with good people (even competitors) and helping them out when you can, will offer many times the benefits back to you in a variety of ways.

Although I am very far removed from this conversation (not being a lawyer nor having attended law school) I felt the need to chime in to let the OP know that developing relationships with competition that you respect, can be a very good thing. This is true in almost every line of work I can think of and is naturally true of graduate schooling where some of these relationships develop.

Good luck. Share the knowledge. You will be better off.

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