Updated: Jul 8, 2019
A Law Exam, in any format, is tough. But, much like any other aspect of life in which we wish to excel in, a Law exam too is a skill which needs diligence and practice. There are a number of techniques and 'short-cuts' out there, but Law is a subject that cannot be short-circuited in order to achieve success.
The following are 5 tried and tested techniques, that I have learnt and developed over a number of years having trained Law students:
Plan For It
Succeeding in your academic and subsequent legal career requires planning and preparation. Sitting for your examinations should be no different. The first stage of your life as a Law student, is to identify when your assignments and exams are and plan accordingly. This may require you to adjust your pre-existing routines, but remember, the rewards are well worth the effort.
First, identify the subject requirements established by your University and determine the material that you have to cover. Secondly, consider your personal schedule and carve out a period of time each day to cover what's necessary. Make this a habit and document your progress (this will make sense towards the end, keep reading)
Read Around The Subject
Your University will provide you with a plethora of substantive material to go through, along with (depending on the subject) a lengthy list of recommended readings. While these are necessary and will provide you with the basics and a more in-depth understanding of the module, it may not assist you in developing your own unique perspective on the subject.
What examiners are most keen on reading in your assignments and exams, is what your point of view is. The material you are provided with by your University, is the same that is provided to every other student. So, how does one differentiate oneself from the rest? Read something else!
Be proactive and search for related material in each topic, academic debates etc. This will help you articulate and create a unique perspective of your own.
Practice, Practice, Practice
You get good at a sport by training. Perfect practice makes perfect. The same applies for your Law exams. Throughout my Masterclasses, I often come across students who are attempting an exam for the second or third time. The most common aspect that sets these students apart from others, is the fact that they've never attempted a single question pre-exam. Essentially, the first instance they see a question, is during the exam!
Not only does practice provide an opportunity to improve on your articulation and exam technique, but the more you write, the thicker your binder becomes. This is what you will turn to in the days and hours before your exam for motivation.
If you've attempted 10, 20 or 30 questions beforehand - what's another 4-5 during exam.
Have A Point
A Law Exam, contrary to popular belief, is not as much an exam about what you know. Rather, it's an exam on how you think. This requires you to not only think and present what you've learnt but also provide a critique on it.
One of the fundamental traits of some of the most successful students (some of whom you can hear from, through this link) is their viewpoint on the Law.
Don't settle for a mere narration of what you've studied. Infuse your own point of view.
An often overlooked and yet one of the most critical requirements of a Law Exam - timing. Most Common Law examinations are 3 hours and require students to attempt 3-4 questions out of a pool of 8-10. In essence, you have between 45-60 minutes, per question.
A comprehensive response is expected, yet most students go overboard. Remember, timing is crucial to completing your exam script. Finishing 3 questions as opposed to 4, is the difference between being graded from 100% as opposed to 75%.