Exams during term time and exams at the end of the year are always sadly going to be there and are always going to involve every student’s most dreaded word: revision. Revision is something that I have, sadly, had to come to terms with over the last three years, but it is something I have learnt to get on with and something I have learnt many ways to get around and tackle.
The first way you need to even start your revision is to be prepared. Prepared meaning: having everything in front of you, printing off the lecture slides, your notes and your reading. Having everything in one place allows you to see what you are missing and where you need to start. I have found that the best way to start is to go from the very beginning of the year and just follow the lectures in chronological order; most times with the LLB you cannot learn one thing before knowing the other.
Adding to notes
Do not worry if like most people you have gaps in your knowledge and have totally missed out some topics. I have never started revision with everything in front of me. I have learnt that the best way to add to notes is to try and keep it simple. The idea of revision itself is to cut down and make things as simple as possible. Simply, you will not have enough time to get out a text book and make extremely detailed notes.
Making a revision timetable does seem like a chore in itself when you will already have enough to worry about, but it is so important. It will allow you to keep on track and see how much you have left; the satisfaction of seeing the work and days go down until it is all over is always a good feeling.
The best way to go about making the timetable is to write down your exam date and work backwards. Most people say you need a good four weeks to make you revision notes and get memorising. Like most universities you are, sadly, not going to have only one exam and will need to make time to revise more than one topic in a day. Personally I have learnt to dedicate one day to each topic, and try and get as much done on that area as possible. Studying two different types of law in one day can be more than confusing. It is better to keep to one topic a day to avoid this.
How to actually revise
At first this was something I had no idea about, do you just keep writing until it sticks or do you make flash cards. The way you will revise will be different to someone else, however I must stress for you to try everything, try the flashcards, try recording yourself and even try to just keep writing. After three years of law school I have learnt that one of the most effective things to do is to make a legal framework. In most law exams you will be given a problem question, if you have a framework with all the law, and what to apply if this or that happens, it is much easier for you to keep a structure in your exam, and it gives you a structure to revise from.
In my first year at law school I revised alone and I did find it very hard. After talking to one of my friends from university I realised she felt the same and ever since we have revised together. We both learn and revise very differently but this is the best way for it to be. By having someone to do revision with, it can benefit you for many reasons. The biggest issue for me has been not being able to get my head around a case or piece of legislation. When doing it with someone else it allows you to check your knowledge along with theirs at the same time, if you get something wrong you have someone to tell you and, even better, explain why. Another advantage with having someone to revise with can mean half the work, if you plan to split the work in half and then teach each other what you have done, it not only halves your work load but also your stress levels.
One of the biggest tests on your knowledge is to test yourself. Some of the ways you can do this include getting someone to tell you case facts and trying to remember the case, by sending in timed exam answers to teachers to get a response, by defining key words to make sure you actually understand them and what they mean – this is a good idea for criminal law as the terms can be confusing.
There is a relevant quote from Albert Einstein ‘if you cant explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough’. For me, this is the key to knowing your revision has been successful and you are ready to tackle the exam.