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The Quiet After the Storm

I hope 2010 is off to a good start for all of our readers.  We've been busy reading your applications and admitting some of you (contrary to some rumors, we do, in fact, admit applicants).  January is traditionally a great time to get a lot of work done because, next to summer, it's the quietest time of the year at YLS.  Why is it so quiet?  Because, unlike most schools, our final exams are administered after the winter break.  For two weeks in January, the lectures, conferences, and symposia all stop and our students focus on their exams and papers.

Now, if finals period conjures up painful thoughts for you of all-night study sessions and disheveled, library-bound, pajama-clad classmates, I'm here to tell you that the exam period here is almost certainly unlike anything you experienced as an undergraduate.  To demonstrate, here are five reasons why our finals period is so much better than your finals period:

  1. Take your exams at the beach (think Fiji, not Long Island Sound).  With the advent of the Internet (praise be to Al Gore) and ever-present Internet connections, you can take your exams practically anywhere since almost all of our exams are administered online.  Combine this with the fact that many of our library resources are only a mouse click away and you can relax under a cabana while you rock that antitrust final.  In fact, many of our students depart New Haven for the winter break and don't come back until the spring term begins at the end of January. 

  2. Take your exams when you want.  Are you a procrastinator?  Hate all-night cramming?  Still trying to catch up on all of those shows you Tivoed during the fall term?  If so, you'll love YLS.  Many of our exams are self-scheduled.  You "check out" the exam and then you have a specified period of time to "check in" your finished masterpiece.

  3. Don't take exams at all.  It's possible at YLS not to have exams in a given term.  Many of our classes offer a paper option instead of an exam.  If the thought of finals, even those at the beach, puts you on edge or you just like writing papers, then you can choose your courses accordingly.  The Bulletin usually denotes which courses have this option.

  4. Repeat after me, pass/fail, pass/fail.  Your fall-term, 1L courses are graded on a pass/fail basis.  This system is commonly referred to by students as pass/pass.  In fact, you'd have to work at failing a fall-term, 1L course.  While this doesn't mean that 1Ls don't study, it does mean that a lot of the pressure is removed from the examination process since your grades will look like everyone else's grades.  After your first term, courses are graded on an honors/pass/low pass/fail system.  This system is not based on a curve and the low pass and fail marks aren't given very often.

  5. Massages for students during exam period.  Enough said.

With the exam period almost over (wish the 1Ls good luck on their con law exams on Tuesday) our relaxed and tanned students will slowly begin returning to the Law School and the stream of fascinating visitors, lectures, conferences, and symposia will start up again.  Until then, we'll be busy reading your applications in relative quiet.


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