As the Impact blog covered earlier in the semester, BC’s decision to go pass/fail led to a flurry of responses and emotions. Some were disappointed by the inability to boost their GPAs, while others were relieved to know that this meant they could dedicate more time to navigating the COVID crisis. But with exams just around the corner, I found myself reflecting on the meaning of exams and grades in law school.
Sure, at first after the pass/fail decision I thought to myself, “What exactly does passing mean and how much work do I really need to put in to get that passing grade?” Even with these looming thoughts, I still found myself regularly attending (Zoom) classes, keeping up with my readings, and getting a start on my outlines for finals. And I do not think I am alone here.
If you’ve been following the Impact Blog over the past few days, by now you have learned that classes have moved completely online and that BC Law has switched to a pass/fail grading system. Professors and students used last week to adjust to our new “normal,” but here is what I have learned so far.
Dear BC Law Community,
The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), has created a widespread public health crisis, larger than what most of us have seen before in our lifetimes. This is not, however, the first-time members of our community have faced an unprecedented life circumstance. Your classmates deal with issues such as food insecurity, homelessness, chronic physical and mental illness, family tragedies, and much more, on a daily basis. When members of our community face these issues, absent a pandemic, we tell them to suck it up. We tell them the curve is what it is and they just need to find a way to solider through, or we contritely tell them “hey, B’s are still passing,” when we all know full well that in a tight job market, the arbitrary difference between a B and a B+ can be the difference between employment and unemployment. An overly competitive curve is all well and good when it only effects the have-nots, but when it starts to affect the “haves” as well, then we start paying attention.
Editor’s note: due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Boston College has moved all classes online and sent students home for the semester. The BC Law Impact blog has suspended its normal posting schedule, and bloggers are now focused on writing about the impact of the shutdown and the current state of the world on their academic and social experiences as law students. We are all in this together; let’s find our way through together.
I am a law student who, like everyone else at BC Law (and literally everywhere else on Earth), wishes this wasn’t happening.
I am a student attorney trying to figure out how to help my clients, since the courts have all but shut down.
I am a millennial who has grown up in endless war, and I probably have a lot of residual trauma from multiple mass shootings in my community.
I am a teacher whose first grade Hebrew students are going stir-crazy in their homes while I try to teach them on Zoom.
I am a daughter of parents whose small business has been shuttered in this crisis.
I am a sister worrying about my siblings who are suddenly out of work without a safety net to fall back on.
I am a partner of a full-time graduate student, who is also doing his learning and his part-time teaching jobs from our apartment.
But before all of those things, I am a human being living in a community that is being tested like never before, in ways large and small.
When it rains it pours. Or in this case, when it snows it… you know, snows more.
Students woke up to a different view than usual this morning, as a thick blanket of snow covered our surroundings for the first time this year. Even in the midst of dead week blues, I could not help but grin at the sight of my snow laden-neighborhood this morning.
This is the first place that I have lived that gets regular snow, so I took a moment to stop and take in my new “normal” on my morning commute, capturing the sights of the classic Boston winter weather I have heard so much about.
Thanksgiving break is quickly approaching, which means exam season is just around the corner. For our prospective students who are interested and for all of those 1Ls getting ready for your first round of exams, we thought it would be helpful for you to hear some words of wisdom from 2Ls who were in your shoes just one year ago.
The common theme: take some time to relax and come back to school ready to grind. Here’s what these 2Ls had to say:
Last Spring, we published the first of a series of posts about the bar. That post talked about course selection with the bar in mind; you can read it here. Today we are looking at the MPRE, which is a first step on the path to passing the bar.
In most states, before you can sit for the bar, you must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). It’s two hours long, and contains sixty multiple choice questions testing knowledge of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which most states have adopted in some version. The MPRE does not test your personal ethics; it tests how well you know the Model Rules and how you apply them to factual hypotheticals. Continue reading
The strength of my urges to go for a run, take a nap, and drink wine indicate that I feel the stress of finals. Like every law student, I have always lusted for academic success, but the stress associated with law school finals is different than the other exams and competitions I have experienced. Since most law school courses are graded on a curve, I am uncomfortable estimating how I will perform on exams.
I love to plan ahead. Predictable structure gives me a sense of peace unachievable even through the best vinyasa practice. But during my first couple years of law school, an important part of why I’m here has been mostly absent from my obsessive planning. For those of us hoping to practice at some point after graduation, we have to pass the bar.
It’s been easy to push thoughts of the notoriously difficult test aside with classes, exams, papers, law review, externships and clinics taking up so much time and mental space. But whether we are consciously aware of it or not, the bar is there, hanging over everything else that we do in law school. Are there things I should have been doing to prepare, even during my 1L year?
I’m pleased to host a guest post from 2L Maggie Leccese, who shares some advice for preparing for finals.
By now, you’ve probably got all the outlines you can fit inside a one-inch binder. But for those of us who aren’t naturally gifted networkers, it’s still not too late to ace those exams. Fortunately, LSA didn’t assign me a mentee this year, which means I’ve saved up all of my sage advice for this well-timed blog post.
Here’s a list of the eight things you need to do to get through your first semester of finals. Why only eight? Well, I started with a lot more, but my editor alerted me to the blog’s limited server space. Here’s what’s left: