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Study Tips and Tricks for Exams

Study desk

For my first ever law exam I studied all of my readings, summarised all of my notes, wrote the IRAC model out time and time again until I was repeating it in my sleep... but didn’t end up with the grade I had hoped for. This time round I asked some friends for their study tips. Here are some of their practical and unorthodox suggestions...

Talk to yourself about the material

Or you could always act out certain High Court judgments with your friends.

Write a study poster and place it on the back of the toilet door

There’s guaranteed repeat exposure and your housemates might learn a thing or two as well. I tried this with a previous degree and most of my house knew how to deliver a baby by the end of it.

Make your own podcasts

This is becoming more and more common in my classes: we record our lectures on smart phones and then re-listen to them in an environment where we aren’t distracted by the cute guy on the other side of the room, the noise from the class next door, etc.

Choose certain foods and drinks

Suggestions included Ginkgo tea for alertness, scotch and wine if in a total panic, and to snack constantly on anything to help stay awake.


This was a hotly debated suggestion. Most university lecturers would tell you that you can’t properly absorb new information with distractions, but many of my friends agreed that some sort of music helps; whether it’s classical music played at a speed of 60 beats per minute (apparently good for relaxation), classical music in general (which is said to increase your retention of new information) or just the radio to prevent boredom.

Doing rather than reading

This means applying the information you’ll likely be tested on. Try re-writing notes, summarising notes, continually condensing your notes and doing past exams.

Making up songs and mnemonics

One friend said she learned the entire periodic table by making up a song to the tune of Michael Finnegan. I’m not sure the strategy would work for all legal topics, but this study method seems to be increasing in popularity – one of our contract law lecturers shared a mnemonic that mentioned Kevin Rudd.

Place Why do law students occupy the libraries of the world? Because many of us find we can’t study at home! There are simply too many distractions: the bathroom hasn’t been cleaned in twenty-four hours, the dog needs to be walked, there are other people around... you get the idea.

Listening to question time in parliament

It doesn’t seem to matter which side you support, the more angry you get with the comments, the faster you read and write. Listening to the footy can also have the same result.

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