Six Grades Every Law Student Gets


By this point in the summer, most law students have received or are receiving their grades for the spring semester. There are a few different styles when it comes to getting grades back: the wait and see, the compulsive checker, the notification receiver. Waiting to see when everyone else starts facebooking or tweeting or texting about grades, obsessively revisiting the grading website, or getting notices from professors or administrative staff or other students that class grades have been posted.

Whatever the semester, and whatever your style, most law students have received each of the following grades.

1The Grade That Has Zero Correlation to the Time/Effort Put Into Studying. Maybe you over-studied and felt very prepared and landed below the curve, or maybe it was your last final and you’d given up studying and threw yourself on the mercy of the Gods of the Curve and somehow came out on top. Whichever the case, this grade usually causes you confusion and makes you think fleetingly about reexamining your studying style.

2The Gratitude Grade. This is the grade that makes you happy. Sometimes it’s your best grade for the semester, and sometimes it’s just a grade that was better than you expected. Sometimes it comes from Grade #1, and you know you got lucky but you’re grateful for it. Maybe you worked your ass off and you’re pleased the grade reflected your effort. This grade usually serves to soothe your bruised ego for one of your less desirable grades.

3The Disappointment. This is the grade that disappoints you, the grade that carries a sting that Grade #2 helps to alleviate. Maybe you felt really familiar with the material, or put in an excess of effort and your final grade doesn’t reflect it. Or maybe you didn’t take some small assignment or percent of your overall grade or participation as seriously as you should have, and your grade reflects that.

4The Unexpected. This is the grade you didn’t see coming. This is usually a form of Grade #1, #2, or #3. Sometimes it’s in your favor; sometimes you’re not so lucky. Sometimes you’re hoping for it, sometimes you’re dreading it. This grade is bittersweet, and unless you’re the person perpetually setting the curve, you probably get about one of these a semester. Also included in this Grade: The Outlier. Most of your grades are probably in the same range, but once in a while you get one that is either much higher or lower.

5The Grade That Takes Forever to Come In for No Reason. You wait on this grade for weeks for almost no reason. Perhaps it was a pass/fail internship where all of your materials for the class were due before finals even started. Maybe it was an all scantron exam. Maybe it was half scantron and one essay and the professor was only teaching your class. Yet somehow, it’s the last grade you get back, and no one ever knows why.

6The Grade That Makes You Wonder How The Curve Was Set. Did the professor throw the exams up in the air and make a bell curve out of the arc on the floor? Did the professor let his/her toddler or pet grade them? How was this curve set? Where did this curve come from? Will you ever get an answer? No.

Along with all of these grades, there’s always one person doing so consistently well that it gives you confidence in the grading system—if nothing else—as well as someone else who has changed nothing in regards to studying semester to semester but still seems confused about why his/her grades aren’t changing.

Regardless of how the semester went, most students probably review their grades and then decide that next semester will be different. For now, enjoy a grade-free summer. (Unless you’re taking summer school. In which case, enjoy your coming-sooner-than-you-realize meeting with grades and finals.)

Not all blonde lawyers or law students want to be the next Elle Woods. Though she has since graduated from law school, you can still find Not an Elle on Twitter @NotanElle or on her own site at thenotanelleblog.com

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