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Speed Matters

34 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2016  

Kif Augustine-Adams

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School

Candace Berrett

Department of Statistics, Brigham Young University

James R. Rasband

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School

Date Written: September 16, 2016

Abstract

What, if any, is the relationship between speed and grades on first year law school examinations? Are time-pressured law school examinations typing speed tests? Employing both simple linear regression and mixed effects linear regression, we present an empirical hypothesis test on the relationship between first year law school grades and speed, with speed represented by two variables: word count and student typing speed. Our empirical findings of a strong statistically significant positive correlation between total words written on first year law school examinations and grades suggest that speed matters. On average, the more a student types, the better her grade. In the end, however, typing speed was not a statistically significant variable explaining first year law students’ grades. At the same time, factors other than speed are relevant to student performance.

In addition to our empirical analysis, we discuss the importance of speed in law school examinations as a theoretical question and indicator of future performance as a lawyer, contextualizing the question in relation to the debate in the relevant psychometric literature regarding speed and ability or intelligence. Given that empirically, speed matters, we encourage law professors to consider more explicitly whether their exams over-reward length, and thus speed, or whether length and assumptions about speed are actually a useful proxy for future professional performance and success as lawyers.

Keywords: Legal Education, Law School Examinations, Law School Grades, Empirical Study, Psychometrics

Suggested Citation

Augustine-Adams, Kif and Berrett, Candace and Rasband, James R., Speed Matters (September 16, 2016). BYU Law Research Paper, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2840241

Kif Augustine-Adams (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School ( email )

430 JRCB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
United States

Candace Berrett

Department of Statistics, Brigham Young University ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States
8014227055 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://cberrett.byu.edu

James R. Rasband

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 28000
Provo, UT 84602
United States
(801) 422-3394 (Phone)
(801) 422-0391 (Fax)

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