Tuesday, June 14, 2005

performance anxiety

Tonight, I took my first simulated Performance Test. In our lectures, all of the PTs that we've studied had three or four issues to discuss.

The one I took tonight? It had twelve.

Also, the talk of the town (and by town, I mean insular Bar review micro-culture) is the woeful tale of how a few hundred essay answers from February's exam were stolen out of the car of a Bar exam grader. The solution of the State Bar was to average the scores from the person's other five essays, and then add two extra points. They called this "pro rata", apparently under the assumption that pro rata is synonymous with averaging. But if we could do math, we'd have all gone to med school, so that's neither here nor there.

This very much angered everyone... that failed.

One guy (that you can read about it on Richard's blog) freaked out and posted a lengthy diatribe about how lamentable the "pro rata" scheme is, and how the State Bar folks are doing this on purpose because they are fundamentally evil.

Now, of course I believe that people are fundamentally evil, after all, it's a basic tenet of scripture. But I also believe that people fundamentally just want to go home and watch Gilmore Girls on the TiVo. To suggest that these people would do something overtly maniacal just to mess with your Bar exam assumes that they care. And believe me: they don't.

Also, I don't see how the pro rata scheme is so bad. Here's the breakdown. Last summer, the average raw score for an essay was something like 62.6. Technically, that's failing. You could get a 65 on every essay (again, failing) and pass the essay portion. It doesn't take a genius, it just takes someone who knows how to play the Bar game. Also consider: you get a 40 just for showing up. So with a minimal knowledge of the law and some practice at working with facts, you can get a failing grade of a 65 and pass.

So back to this guy. Put on your logic hats, everybody. If he had scores in the low 60's (say it with me... failing) then his averaged score with his "add-two" points would have been well within target passage rate. So conversely, if he didn't hit the target rate, he must have had an average below 60 (probably 50's, assuming that he wrote anything at all and thusly cleared the 40's range). And if he had a 50ish average, he would have had to get mid 80's on the stolen essay to pass the essay portion.

And I'm sure the State Bar, with decades of figures and statistics, knows exactly what the chances are of someone with a 55 average on the first five essays pulling out an 85 on the sixth essay.

So what does all this mean?

If my essays get stolen, I'll probably do the same thing. Diatribes are my speciality.