I was the type of student who worried endlessly about exams. Some of the exams I sat were 100% of my grade for the semester- no pressure. At first it didn’t matter how much time and effort I put into an exam - I still didn’t cut it when it came to the exam. Things changed when I changed my approach...
After sitting over 30 law exams I started to develop a strategic plan. At the end of law school, I ended in the top 12% of my law class and was awarded with Honours in Law - so I'd like to think that my approach worked!
Here's the simple approach I took - I really hope it helps you the way it helped me!
1. Allocate enough time to study and for preparation, preparation and preparation!
You cannot run a marathon without training regularly so how can you ace an exam without preparation? We all live busy lives and some of us have more than one job. When it's exam period, I asked my employer for time off in advance and luckily they understood! This time off made a huge difference because not only did I have more time to study, I felt less stressed and tired when studying !
2. Study groups can help.
Collaborating with your peers is something that all university students should adopt. They are great for debating answers to past exam problems but remember you don’t have to agree with each other. If dissenting judgments and obiter dicta comments of the High Court exist then you can disagree on outcomes to problems too.
3. Understand your limitations. Seek help and get an LAP if you qualify!
I am left handed and tend to read from back to front. I write slowly. Learning Assisted Plans (LAP) did not exist when I took exams so I had to adapt my style. I wrote fewer words in an exam than other students but what I wrote was relevant and accurate.
4. How to prepare for an exam.
Know what you are being tested on. Study the main cases. Do case briefs. Prepare a template for answering the type of questions you are likely to get. If the exam is open book, take in prepared answers to questions in case they come up again. Once you are well versed on the law then take on our final step!
5. Practise under exam conditions.
Practising under exam conditions sounds like a silly tip - who wants to pretend to do an exam and then do the real exam?! But it's an important step to see how much you can write in the time you are given for a question. It makes you realise whether your notes are concise enough or if you're missing an important case brief. Make sure your writing is legible - markers won't give you marks if they cannot read your writing. Also - your hand muscles need training to write quickly and neatly so think of it as a gym work out session!
ALT wishes all our students the best of luck for their upcoming exams!