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The Secrets of Exam Grading:
Over at Concurring Opinions, Dan Solove reveals to the world the secrets of how law professors grade exams. Definitely worth checking out.
Beerslurpy (mail) (www):
Hahah very funny. I dont need to hear shit like that now. Finishing my Contracts outline for exam tomorrow.
12.14.2006 3:28am
Edward Lee (www):
I typically use one of these to help me grade papers and exams.
12.14.2006 4:23am
Nate F (mail):
Seriously, I am sure this will be real funny in a few days, but as I sit here at 430 in the morning with my eyes about to bleed from reading and writing things I absolutely don't care about all week... it just rubs salt in my wounds.
12.14.2006 4:31am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Let's just say I *hope* that's how my professor grades my tax exam and leave it at that.

Wish me luck!
12.14.2006 7:13am
dearieme:
'Straordinary - he doesn't appear to weigh 'em.
12.14.2006 7:16am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I think that it is important for the test takers to know which way that the grader is going to grade, up or down. This way, he can adjust the length of his answers in order to maximize his results.

Also, when I was in law school, we were still using standardized test booklets for our answers. Is this a thing of the past now? In that case, most tests would presumably land about the same, as they have the same number of pages. The exception would be those who used more than one booklet.
12.14.2006 7:17am
Pennoyer:
If you have two test booklets that land on different steps, do you average out the results?
12.14.2006 7:50am
AC:
I think more than a few professors actually grade this way. It's the only way to explain a few of my exams on the far ends of the grading scale.
12.14.2006 8:24am
rbj:
He forgot the most important reason to use the alternate theory: Exams that are further down are heavier because the students used more ink = more writing = better grade. You still penalize the exam that goes the furthest; obviously that student just wrote too much.

Glad I am years removed from law school and can joke about it now.
12.14.2006 9:18am
Dave N (mail):
I am remembering one of my law professors who had a great line, "I teach for free. They pay me to grade."
12.14.2006 10:46am
Memphian:
I knew it, I knew it, I knew it.
12.14.2006 10:46am
Tinhorn (mail):
A rather funny post that re-imagines grading essays as a text-based adventure game is here.
12.14.2006 11:01am
Hans Bader (mail):
The stair-toss is a stupid method of grading exams.

However, one speedy method of grading long papers, utilized by a relative of mine while teaching at an Ivy League institution, is to weigh the paper, rather than actually reading the paper in its entirety.

The score for the paper is then based on two variables: (1) the weight of the paper, relative to the weight of the average paper in the class; and (2) the quality of a sampling of just a few pages of the paper.

This method reduces the time that needs to be spent grading papers by at least two-thirds. That in turn increases the effective hourly compensation of the professor or T.A. using this method by a lot.
12.14.2006 11:07am
Bryan DB:
Everyone knows the stairway method, but that's an especially funny method of presentation.
12.14.2006 11:19am
TomHynes (mail):
At UVA in the 1970's, it was known as Stairy Decisis.
12.14.2006 11:24am
meld:
My first semester of first year of law school I got very good grades, except for torts. I couldn't understand. What had happened? There had to be an explanation. I went to my lovely professor and inquired why my essay was not worthy of at least the mean. He basically admitted that it is entirely subjective, and quite possibly random. I raged inwardly for a bit. Then I let it go and realized that almost all things in life are like this — clerkship applications, job hunting, promotions etc. Merit can get you almost there, but at the margin, it is entirely subjective, and quite possibly random.
12.14.2006 11:55am
Student:
It would be funnier if my exam wasn't one of the ones he chucked down the stairs, although I am kind of relieved that he won't actually be reading it.
12.14.2006 12:58pm
Parvenu:
At UVA in the 1970's, it was known as Stairy Decisis.

Heh ... nice.
12.14.2006 1:01pm
Falafalafocus (mail):
Wouldn't this method create a great incentive for students to be the last to turn in the essay?
12.14.2006 2:16pm
John M. Perkins (mail):
Stair tossing is too biased.
I prefer random intergers at http://www.random.org
12.14.2006 3:05pm
Tito:
This is kind of funny, but it's also the sort of thing I'm going to catalogue away to prepare for the possible event that I will one day be solicited for a monetary donation by my law school.
12.14.2006 3:49pm
Realist Liberal:

Seriously, I am sure this will be real funny in a few days, but as I sit here at 430 in the morning with my eyes about to bleed from reading and writing things I absolutely don't care about all week... it just rubs salt in my wounds.


Considering that I finshed the last of 4 finals in 7 days on Tuesday I can laugh at this now. But I have to agree with the above quote, if I would have seen this in the middle of that week I think I would have completely missed the humor. Isn't it funny how law students lose all common sense during finals?
12.14.2006 3:58pm
meld:
Just during finals? I find that law school removes common sense permanently in some.
12.14.2006 6:28pm