I hope your revision is going as well as can be expected and that you’ve been able to make use of some our articles throughout the website to help explain various legal topics. We can all relate to the acute pressure felt when the majority of assessment falls within the space of a month – especially so if they are January exams!
If you’re a first year student or have not been in higher education for a while, the entire prospect is especially daunting. Of course, it is important not to get overwhelmed or run down – you need to focus all those brain cells and concentrate on revising.
Here are a few thoughts about some various coping mechanisms, along with suggestions from the Commercial Awareness team here at The Student Lawyer:
Tip #1: Get organised.
Prepare well in advance. Make sure to properly schedule all the different sections of your revision. It is common to underestimate the size of a certain topic and the length of time needed to revise it. Talk to your course mates. Talking with friends will increase the chances of discovering something that you may have totally forgotten to study thus far!
When revising cases for a particular type of law, briefly summarise each case in your own words. Don’t rely on the summaries from textbooks, if you have put it in your own words you are much more likely to remember it. Make sure you look through past papers and create a document with the most common type of questions that come up each time. This way you can prepare yourself fully and make sure you haven’t missed out something important.
Tip #2: But not too much!
You will eventually realise – after having scheduled in weeks and days on end of two-hour study slots, adding up to 10–12 hours per day – that your plan is simply not sustainable. Whilst you may be able to get up at 6am every morning (at least initially!), simply knowing that I had to was exhausting in itself. My advice? If you are going to be a slave to the schedule, make sure you factor in some sleeping in, exercise, mealtimes and downtime.
Tip #3: Get some perspective.
While doing well in your law exams is of course important, sometimes it pays to take a step back. In moments of panic, try to get some perspective. Imagine the worse case scenario, and then calmly consider the actual consequences. Chances are, it’s not that bad. There is always a way to redeem your marks elsewhere, or reconsider your options. For instance, by having considered what you will do if you don’t achieve a 2:1 this year, you may realise that it’s not the end of the world. It won’t stop you for aiming for Plan A, but having a Plan B will help to keep you focused and calm.
Tip #4: Take a break.
Choose a particular part of the day to take as a break every day. For instance, take some much needed ‘me-time’ at lunch – go out and enjoy that time free from stress and away from revision, such as going for a quick walk or even just sitting on the sofa and relaxing for half hour / an hour. Routine is key. If you are struggling to concentrate, take a break and walk away until your mind is clear. There’s no point sitting there panicking for two hours and only getting 20 minutes of real work done – just stop until you can focus again and enjoy a break while you can.
Tip #5: Treat yourself.
When you’re working so hard, it’s important to treat yourself or mark the end of each day with something suitable (let’s say a favourite TV programme, or perhaps your favourite food, etc). You have to feel good about the day before you sleep, otherwise your sleep will be ruined. Speaking of sleep…
Tip #6: Sleep.
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital. You will find that you do much better if you get seven hours’ proper sleep rather than cramming in last minute revision through the night. These late night revision efforts might feel proactive, but the information you revise won’t tend to stick in your mind – you won’t be able to focus at all in the exam if you’re sleep deprived.
Tip #7: Get Reading.
The difference between a 2:1 and a 1:1 in essay questions is usually wider reading, which is generally provided for you by your module convener, meaning that you don’t even have to go to the effort of finding your own material. Don’t ignore these resources; select and read a few of them and memorise some of their arguments. Mentioning them in your exam will impress the examiner and will also help to develop your own argument.
Tip #8: Do something different.
This tip is one to look back on when you are at your lowest, at peak struggle. This is for the scenario where if you are struggling with studying, and feeling de-motivated. Take some time out, go away and play FIFA (for example!), and then often you will find that your brain will be working subconsciously in the background. This may lead to you having a thought which will be the breakthrough that you needed to understand what you were working on doing and get back to further, more effective revision.
Tip #9: Take care of your body.
Exercise. Going on jogs, going to the gym or swimming pool are good ways of keeping your mind off your exams and will prevent stress. Constantly thinking about your exams is not good for you.
Eat healthy. Fast food is scientifically known to prevent full brain performance whereas foods such as blueberries, seeds and nuts, fish and most vegetables are known to enhance performance.
Tip#10: And while you’re at it…
Try listening to and reciting your revision material while you’re exercising. You might get a few strange looks as you pace around the park, but it’s definitely worth it if you can get a few more cases to stick in your brain.
We hope you found these tips useful. If you have any of your own, or have found any of these suggestions particularly helpful, please add some comments to share with our other readers.