Grades in law school are different than grades in other academic settings (e.g., undergraduate education) because of the historic (and now, contemporary) use of the forced curve. It is a mathematical certainty that 90% of our hyper-successful students will not be in the top 10% of the class, and that will be a brand new experience for many of our students.
For our first-semester, first-year students, the majority of grades will come from three final exams that are scheduled in December. Those three exams–Civil Procedure, Contracts, and Torts–will account for twelve of their fourteen graded units this semester.
The other two graded units are from the Legal Research & Writing (“LRW”) course. LRW is different from the other three classes in many ways, including multiple components to the final course grade. 90% of the LRW grade comes from out-of-class writing assignments, including a whopping 70% from an Open-Library Office Memorandum that will be assigned this Friday and is due in three weeks (Friday, November 21, at 8:30am).
But LRW has one in-class exam during the fall semester, worth 10% of the final grade, and that exam happens to be today.
Today’s LRW exam format will be multiple choice, and will cover a variety of topics discussed and taught in class, including the American legal system, the weight of legal authorities, research methods, the principles underlying effective objective writing, and the Bluebook legal citation rules.
So, today is the first graded exam for our 1Ls. Although it is only worth 10% of two units, it provides a small taste of the weighty exams that are just around the corner.