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Fall ’09 Grades: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugh-ly

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 26, 2010 in NotFail

An anthropomorphic analysis of 1L Fall

::headdesk::

If I had to pick 1 word to describe my 1L Fall semester, that’d be the one :beatup:

Even though NCCU Law takes pride in sticking with its strict-C curve, I figured things couldn’t get that bad.  Between midterms going well and studying my socks off for finals, surely the 3.0 GPA I want wasn’t unrealistic, right?

::headdesk::

So with several of my law school colleagues last week posting their own tales of joy, not-quite-joy, and not-quite-anything-yet, here’s my own report card for the 1L fall semester.

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LEGAL REASONING & ANALYSIS
====================

My grades were erratic, my distaste emphatic, and my mood post-completion? Ecstatic.

The only positive thing I can say about this class is that it’s over.

Grade at midterm: C+
Expected grade pre-memo: C
Actual grade post-memo: C

Synopsis: No surprises here. I hated this class and thought the material we were taught was completely useless… a point publicly echoed by at least one of the other professors. Hopefully Legal Research & Persuasion will be better.

====================
CIVIL PROCEDURE I
====================

This was hands-down my best class of the semester, and the grade still hurt.

After thinking I nearly failed the final, the curve boosted my exam grade by 22 points. Combining that with the midterm grade I ended up with a B+ overall… an unfortunate (and painful) 0.5 points away from an A- :mad:

I jokingly emailed MDG asking if I could successfully argue for that half-point. His 2-word response: “LOL. no.”

Midterm exam: A
Final exam: B
Expected grade pre-final: A
Actual grade post-final: B+ (0.5 points away from an A- :beatup: )

Synopsis: Still kicking myself a month later for being so close and blowing it. This is still my favorite class, and I’m determined to do better this semester.

====================
CONTRACTS I
====================

Ever heard the phrase “like an albatross around your neck”? Instead of thinking about the Mariner and an actual albatross, think more like my GPA and good ol’ Contracts :beatup:

I got the grade for this class a few days before the final exams were returned, and even though I figured I got thoroughly mauled minutes after finishing… I didn’t think it would turn out as bad as it did. I went to talk with the Professor about the exam, and the conversation went something like this:

TDot: Professor Ks, I was wondering if I could talk with you about my exam.
Prof. Ks: Sure TDot. What’s your exam number?
TDot: [####]
Prof. Ks: ::flipping through Scantron report:: Hmmm. You did better than the class average on the multiples, so that must mean your essay…
TDot: (in unison) …must have been really bad…
Prof. Ks: (in unison) …must have been really bad.

At this point Prof. Ks starts flipping through a stack of essays.

He goes through the 70s… and keeps going.

Goes through 60s… and keeps going.

Goes through 50s… and keeps going.

Finally he pulls one from a stack of 40s, flips through it, pulls up his Excel gradesheet, and goes “Ohhhhh yeah I remember this one”… not a good sign

Prof. Ks: So this spreadsheet is my rubric where I break everything down, so we’re going to go through it section by section and hopefully you’ll see what you missed.
TDot: OK.
Prof. Ks: ::points at essay:: You mention here that you’re going to talk about promissory estoppel. Show me where you actually talked about promissory estoppel.
TDot: ::flips pages::   ::blank stare::
Prof. Ks: Exactly. OK so here ::points:: you mention that you’re going to talk about fraud in the inducement of the contract. Show me where you actually talked about fraud in the inducement.
TDot: ::flips pages::  ::blank stare::
Prof. Ks: Yep. And then ::points:: here you mention needing to analyze which meaning of [term in contract] should apply. Show me where…
TDot: [expletive]

The conversation shifted to ways I could improve this upcoming semester, but basically I totally FUBAR’d the essay by not re-reading my material closer before turning it in. Maybe it’s time I start overanalyzing after all…

Midterm exam: B
Final exam: D+
Expected grade pre-final: B
Actual grade post-final: C-

Synopsis: ::headdesk::

====================
TORTS I
====================

Nothing much to say here. I came in needing a strong final exam to counteract a disastrous midterm and I got it.

Torts Final Exam Scores

Just like the Contracts final though, there were some really obvious blunders that I should have noticed — for example, detailing the differences between the local, same-or-similar, and national standards of care without ever discussing which standard would apply in the jurisdiction contained in the hypo :beatup:

But after coming off that C+ on the midterm, I’m more than happy with what I got.

On an unrelated note, one of the cool things about Professor Torts is that she provides statistics for her exam scores. Her essays are “auto-curved” (she picks the best one and grades all the others against that top essay) but the multiples are raw, so graphing the final scores you can tell by the trendline that folks really stepped up their studying between midterms and finals — compare the chart at the right to the graph from midterms.

Midterm exam: C+
Final exam: B+
Expected grade pre-final: B
Actual grade post-final: B

Synopsis: Recovered nicely from the midterm, now getting ready to (hopefully) breeze through Round 2.

====================
PROPERTY I
====================

Basically the same thing that happened with Civil Procedure happened with Property.

Same issues on the essay too, e.g. detailing the factors affecting a Statute of Limitations calculation without actually analyzing what the SOL would ultimately be for that particular segment of the hypo.

So after nailing the midterm, I ended up with a mid-range B on the final — and keeping the A’s out of reach as a final grade.

Midterm exam: A (and in Top 3)
Final exam: B
Expected grade pre-final: A-
Actual grade post-final: B+

Synopsis: This one hurt, though not as bad as CivPro. I’m already lost in Property II with all the concurrent estates discussion but hopefully I’ll be back on track by midterms.

====================
FINAL SCORE: FALL 2009
====================
Expected Fall GPA: 3.071
Actual Fall GPA: 2.619
T1-inflation-adjusted Fall GPA1: 3.833

—===—

So that’s the rundown :beatup:

I know it could be much worse and I’m not in a position to complain — after all, I already know at least 1 classmate who’s dropped out as a result of their midterm grades, and another 3 who are on their way out at the end of the year without a miraculous turnaround.

But even with my good fortune, it’s frustrating having to explain to Nan that even though my undergraduate and professional GPAs are only a few hundredths of a point apart, the former meant I was in the bottom third of my class while the latter means I’m safely in the top third.

And it’s almost equally difficult to accept that I can’t really freak out about my grades and overhaul my study habits, because I objectively learned+recalled the material. Yet at the same time I can’t not freak out about them, because had I done comparably sloppy work in actual practice I’d likely be facing a malpractice claim and a grievance filed with my former employer.

Sooooo… yeah.

::headdesk::

Here’s hoping 1L Spring brings some improvement… along with warmer weather ;)

Off to bed so I can be up for Ks on time in the morning. Have a great night folks! :D

  1. JUST KIDDING! I don’t seriously inflation-adjust my grades, and I know the academic environment is different, “the students here are better” (allegedly), blah blah blah — I just put this in to antagonize my friends at UNCCH Law :* []

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