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hilary

What to do after bombing in a course?

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I know this isn't a new subject, but I need to get it off my chest. I just took my first 100% 1L exam (Corporate law) - looking purely at questions I was able to finish in time, my best possible mark is 67%, and my more realistic mark could be 60% or below. I recognize the curve might push that one way or the other, but I'm honestly just at a loss of what happens next. Has anyone else had this experience? Is it ever possible to redo a course? How did you recover (academically/mentally) from this?

And just realistically, what impact does this have on the job-search for 2L/articling. Is this kind of mark (maybe a D?) something you can get over? 

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3 minutes ago, hilary said:

looking purely at questions I was able to finish in time, my best possible mark is 67%

This isn't how it works when grading on a curve. Relax and wait to get your mark back for now, once you receive it you can go from there. Often times if an exam seems incredibly difficult or crunched for time for you, it's likely that was the case for many other students who wrote it alongside you.

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Considering you're taking Corporate in 1L, I'm just assuming you go to Western.  If not, disregard everything I say. 

Nicholls' exams are all long and hardly anyone finishes them.  It's true of Corporate, Securities, and probably anything else he teaches.  He's a phenomenal professor in every sense, but his exams are very long.   So yeah, don't worry about it.  Every year everyone comes out of that exam worried that they bombed it because there wasn't enough time to finish, but that's where the curve comes in.  

I don't remember how much of the exam I actually completed, but it definitely wasn't near the whole thing (eg: my "essay" was a couple sentences long) and I did fine.  Take a breath, you'll very likely be fine.  You'd probably feel better if you were able to see that everyone else had the same experience as you, but that's just how it is this year.  

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Thanks, Shankar, for the reassurance and quick response (and yep, it was Corporate with Nicholls).

I'm definitely missing the in-person post-exam experience, so it's hard to gauge how other people might have done. There were a few questions I didn't even get to because I thought it'd be better to answer other questions quickly rather than try to dig for the provision he's looking for. 

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6 minutes ago, hilary said:

Thanks, Shankar, for the reassurance and quick response (and yep, it was Corporate with Nicholls).

I'm definitely missing the in-person post-exam experience, so it's hard to gauge how other people might have done. There were a few questions I didn't even get to because I thought it'd be better to answer other questions quickly rather than try to dig for the provision he's looking for. 

Logging out of your exam and staring at a blank screen in your room is a terrible feeling. In the before times, it was always nice to get done a hard exam and then look around to see the shocked looks on classmates faces. I guarantee that would have happened if your exam was in person. Don't sweat it. Ive been pleasantly surprised every time I thought I bombed an exam. 

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12 minutes ago, chaboywb said:

Logging out of your exam and staring at a blank screen in your room is a terrible feeling. In the before times, it was always nice to get done a hard exam and then look around to see the shocked looks on classmates faces. I guarantee that would have happened if your exam was in person. Don't sweat it. Ive been pleasantly surprised every time I thought I bombed an exam. 

I had the opposite experience. I hated that people started talking about the exam the moment it ended. It gave me anxiety when I heard people talking about radically different answers from mine. It was kind of a relief not to have to deal with it during the pandemic.

OP: I agree with the others. You might be surprised by your grade even if you’re feeling terrible about it now. It’s the nature of law school exams and it doesn’t really go away in upper years. Try to take your mind off of it and focus on the next one.

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Posted (edited)

I agree with everything said above, particularly Shankar's point about Nicholls. I was lucky in the sense that everything went P/F when I wrote his exam and so his exam was a wildly different format than usual (the last question was a very broad, "what would you tell an incoming 1L this class was about"), but I remember looking over the previous years exam with some friends and our collective horror at the length of the thing. You wrote the same exam as everyone else, and it's more than likely that a substantial number of your classmates are going through the same thing right now. It's definitely too soon to panic. Enjoy that you've made it through what may very well be the worst exam of the bunch this year!

On a broader, not-Corporate specific note about exams, a lot of people find it really hard to tell how an exam went. You might feel like you didn't say enough, or missed an issue, and then get an exam back and your worries are unfounded. Because of the curve, how well your classmates do determines, in part, how well you do, so you can't predict any outcomes based strictly on your own performance (particularly your immediate aftermath perception of that performance).

For what it's worth, last semester I wrote an exam that I was horrified of going in, and I legitimately thought I failed it coming out. I even looked up Western's policies on failing a course! I finished with a B.

Don't dwell on it, power through, and then once you finish your last exam, really try not to think about school until grades are released. You'll certainly have earned the break!

 

Edited by TobyFlenderson
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On Nicholls exam, just write a short paragraph on each question, write down key words, and go back to fill in details if you have time. 

I think this is what's missing with Zoom University - no upper years to impart these particular nuances about Profs. 

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So I go to Queen’s but a similar thing happens at our school with the business associations exam. For whatever reason, the business associations exam is always too long to finish. Everyone comes out of it feeling terrible, and the majority of people get Bs.

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I got an A on my corporate income tax exam many years ago and thought I did poorly because I didn't even answer the last question - can't recall if I got anything down. If I did, it was at most a few sentences. But I got an A because I everybody else found it incredibly difficult as well.

Wait until you get your exam back and then you can start thinking about its implications.

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1 hour ago, Psychometronic said:

I had the opposite experience. I hated that people started talking about the exam the moment it ended. It gave me anxiety when I heard people talking about radically different answers from mine. It was kind of a relief not to have to deal with it during the pandemic.

OP: I agree with the others. You might be surprised by your grade even if you’re feeling terrible about it now. It’s the nature of law school exams and it doesn’t really go away in upper years. Try to take your mind off of it and focus on the next one.

My friends and I had a no exam talk rule that worked well.

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2 hours ago, hilary said:

I know this isn't a new subject, but I need to get it off my chest. I just took my first 100% 1L exam (Corporate law) - looking purely at questions I was able to finish in time, my best possible mark is 67%, and my more realistic mark could be 60% or below. I recognize the curve might push that one way or the other, but I'm honestly just at a loss of what happens next. Has anyone else had this experience? Is it ever possible to redo a course? How did you recover (academically/mentally) from this?

And just realistically, what impact does this have on the job-search for 2L/articling. Is this kind of mark (maybe a D?) something you can get over? 

 

Why worry about something that may not happen?

 

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2 hours ago, hilary said:

Thanks, Shankar, for the reassurance and quick response (and yep, it was Corporate with Nicholls).

I'm definitely missing the in-person post-exam experience, so it's hard to gauge how other people might have done. There were a few questions I didn't even get to because I thought it'd be better to answer other questions quickly rather than try to dig for the provision he's looking for. 

Having been in the building following a Nicholls corporate exam, I can tell you that most of the chatter afterwards is people freaking out about how much of the exam they didn't even answer. Would it be better to answer all of the questions? Generally, yes. Do many people miss large portions of the exam and still do perfectly fine? Absolutely. Anecdotally, I know someone who just didn't notice a question worth a significant portion of an exam so didn't answer it and still got an A. Law school curves are wild. Just put it to the back of your mind and start getting ready for your next exam.

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Posted (edited)

Just the way she goes. I know plenty of people who have gotten a D at some point. You're a 1L and just learning; all good. Even if you fail you can re-write most of the time. 

Edited by AJD19

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2 hours ago, hilary said:

I know this isn't a new subject, but I need to get it off my chest. I just took my first 100% 1L exam (Corporate law) - looking purely at questions I was able to finish in time, my best possible mark is 67%, and my more realistic mark could be 60% or below. I recognize the curve might push that one way or the other, but I'm honestly just at a loss of what happens next. Has anyone else had this experience? Is it ever possible to redo a course? How did you recover (academically/mentally) from this?

And just realistically, what impact does this have on the job-search for 2L/articling. Is this kind of mark (maybe a D?) something you can get over? 

We must be in the same class (Nicholls) because I didn't finish either. The exam was near impossible to finish - he did it on purpose since we had access to the internet and it was from home, so we could control F our notes. If it makes you feel better, I only finished half of the 20 mark fact pattern at the end lol. Everyone I talked to didn't finish. We're going to get a fat bell curve up. Don't worry too much. We have Criminal on Wednesday! ❤️

Best of luck! :) 

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I'd say "go get drunk" but the problem with that advice right now is the "go" part. There's nowhere to actually go to. And getting drunk at home is frowned upon as more indicative of a problem - which doesn't seem fair right now. Maybe get Zoom drunk with some friends.

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6 hours ago, hilary said:

I know this isn't a new subject, but I need to get it off my chest. I just took my first 100% 1L exam (Corporate law) - looking purely at questions I was able to finish in time, my best possible mark is 67%, and my more realistic mark could be 60% or below. I recognize the curve might push that one way or the other, but I'm honestly just at a loss of what happens next. Has anyone else had this experience? Is it ever possible to redo a course? How did you recover (academically/mentally) from this?

And just realistically, what impact does this have on the job-search for 2L/articling. Is this kind of mark (maybe a D?) something you can get over? 

Don't pack your bags over this one - coming from someone who actually got a special mark with a certain 6 in the front! I may also add that the second number, after the six, was not a high one either! What am I saying.. I am still living under a bridge with wi-fi because of that mark. 

You will soon learn to trust the curve. Humans are notoriously bad at self-assessment, and even worse at self-assessment with numbers. 

Try this cool trick and report back: record how you feel in the 's' column after an exam or paper. Record how you did in the 'did' column. 

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I’ve gotten As on exams I thought I bombed and Bs on exams I thought I aced. Don’t waste your time worrying about it because you’re probably wrong about how poorly you did.

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1 hour ago, FingersCr0ssed said:

I’ve gotten As on exams I thought I bombed and Bs on exams I thought I aced. Don’t waste your time worrying about it because you’re probably wrong about how poorly you did.

Happened to me at least three times.  

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I bombed a 1L exam (my final grade was less than 60%). I knew it was a disaster walking out of the exam (I couldn't finish it, and even my friends who finished it thought it was brutal), but because I still had several exams to go, I just had to push it out of my head knowing I would deal with it when the grades came out.

When the grade came out, I felt terrible but in the end I swallowed my pride and went over the exam with the prof to learn what I did wrong. In 2L I even took a class with that same prof that builds directly on the material from the class I bombed, and I did just fine, which really helped me recover from it mentally. It was the first time I had done so poorly in my academic career so my confidence was really shaken up, and I totally get why you're feeling so rattled. It just happens sometimes, and it doesn't mean anything beyond the fact that you messed up an exam one time - you can still have great academic success.

As for the impact on the job search, I was prepared to address it during OCIs and had talked to my school's career services office on how to approach it, but it never came up! I ended up doing well in OCIs and getting a job at a great firm. One bad (or terrible) grade doesn't necessarily mess up your whole future!

Hope the rest of your exams go well, and feel free to PM me if you want more specifics.

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