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Law Exam Dos and Don’ts

June 5, 2014

When exam panic sets in, you might find yourself feeling a bit uncertain about how you should study or what you should do in the actual test. Here are some dos and don’ts to help make this exam season a less stressful one…

 

Pre Exams

 

Do


Ask any questions you can think of during SWOTVAC when you’ve had a chance to digest the material (or at least some of the material).

 

Focus and be strict with yourself. If it means turning off your phone and just sitting down with the textbook for a while, do it.

 

Mix up study with a study group – this helps break up the monotony of reading through the same material, and is particularly useful for very dry law subjects.

 

Make your life easier by starting your study with the most important topics that will get you easy marks.

 

Make good exam notes, or at least read over and know the exam notes you may have borrowed. Planning to go into an exam with someone else’s notes, which you haven’t properly read, is a fatal deathly disastrous mistake. If you do obtain a set of notes that you have not made, be sure to edit them to your style. Also, make sure any notes you do get are up to date. I have heard of some hilarious but rather sad stories where students have referred to very old out-dated legislation in their exam responses.

 

For the sake of you and your classmates, bind your notes! Loose pages floating around the exam room are annoying and distracting for all involved.

 

Review past exams and take your answers to practice questions with you. But be warned, it is not a good idea just to copy your previous answer out if the question looks similar. Read and re-read the exam question to for any differences.

 

Past exams can also help you make short and simple formulas to answer questions. These work best as short one-page summaries of how to answer a particular topic.

 

Before the exam, calculate precisely how much writing time you can spend on each question, proportional to its mark value. Time = Marks While I’m working this out I usually also calculate how many marks of the exam marks I need to get the grade I want. It helps with focus and actually helps to reduce the panic.

 

Don’t


Don’t spend three hours in the foetal position crying when you don’t get it. Go ask a friend, email a lecturer or try a different resource. Spending hours moaning over what you don’t know is only going to stress you out.

Don’t get freaked out when other people in your study group understand a topic before you, or seem to know more about the subject than you do. Often they don’t or have just been working on that particular concept or subject recently. 

 

Don’t take 50 sets of notes to the exam. Make one easy-to-read set of notes that you plan to rely on in the exam and study with these during SWOTVAC.

 

In the Exam

 

Do


Use reading time to mentally plan your responses. Don’t day dream/freak out. Focus.

 

Plan your answer in outline form. As tempting as it can be, don’t start writing until you know what you are going to say!

 

Answer the question you consider to be the ‘easiest’ first. This helps with confidence and you can usually punch these out much faster than the harder questions.

 

Focus on the question and be sure you are responding to all parts of that question (please don’t leave out part C!)


Once you reach the time limit on a question, MOVE ON.

 

If you run out of time, target the marks using short, direct points. 

 

Make sure you answer all the questions! Not attempting an answer to each question is a classic mistake and can cost you dearly.

 

Don’t


Don’t stop to perfect your grammar or edit during the exam. There is no time!

 

Don’t write about every minor point that might be an issue. You need to cover as much as you can, but make sure you have enough time to dedicate to the important, mark awarding, issues. Do a good job on a couple of major points, rather than writing a whole lot of waffle on fifty trivial things that may or may not have been deliberately put in by the lecturer.

 

Don’t try to be humourous in exam responses. You don’t have the time and unless it’s truly hilarious, the marker is probably just going to roll their eyes and get annoyed.

 

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