Only a law student can fully appreciate how difficult it is to revise for a law exam—case names and dates are just the start!
Once you add in judges’ opinions, dissenting judgements, jurisprudence and legal doctrine, you have a recipe for not only a difficult revision period, but for a tedious and exhausting one too.
This is why a law student is best placed to advise other aspiring lawyers on how to retain vast amounts of legal knowledge and successfully write an essay worthy of that 2:1 or first-class grading.
Timetable your revision
My number one tip is to create a timetable; planning your working hours is always where revision should begin.
Everyone is different, but my advice is to only work for half a day every day. If you work well in the morning, do a session from 9am until 4pm, with a lunch break and a five-minute break after every hour (or vice versa if you prefer working in the evenings).
Give yourself the other half of the day off. This allows time for the information to sink in and means you can have fun without the guilty feeling of not having done enough work.
In addition to setting working hours, allocate yourself a certain amount of work to do every day. Once you have completed the set amount of work, you will feel a real sense of achievement and be able to chill out for the rest of the day.
Make case cards
Case cards are my second big revision tip. It is a common fact that every single module of a law degree is brimming with case names and dates.
If you can reel them off in an exam, it really shows that you know what you’re talking about and can focus on the cases and issues present.
Here’s how to make a case card: using coloured pens depending on the topic of law they refer to, write down the name and date of the case on one side of a piece of A5 card. On the reverse side, note down the main facts and any important judges’ opinions.
Beginning with the name and date side, read the card until you can say what happened in the case (e.g. the main facts and judges’ opinions) without needing to turn it over.
Once you can do that, try it the other way round, making sure you can name and know the date of the case just by looking at the case details. When you feel like you know them well enough, shuffle the set of cards and test yourself again.
Once you have made these cards, you can read them over again and again. You could even get friends involved and test each other. This is the best revision strategy that has worked for me and a lot of other students I know.
Find out what works for you
Everybody has their own revision techniques. I sometimes use mind maps containing just headings as a prompt, writing down everything I know involving that topic.
I know someone who teaches the topic to an invisible lecture hall of students, explaining each legal principle and actively discussing the issues with herself!
Try out all the new revision techniques that friends or lecturers have told you about in first year; it’s a good time to see what works best for you.
The final piece of advice anyone can give is to stay calm.
The people who mark exams aren’t devils in disguise; they do appreciate how hard it is to spend days revising and then only have three hours to give everything you can. Stay positive and do your best: that’s all anyone can ask of you.
Next article: Reading statutes and cases