R v Brown – 20 Years OnMarch 21, 2013
Coping With Open Book Exams on the LPCMarch 26, 2013
So the dreaded days of Criminal and Civil Litigation papers are drawing near. As a result, this week’s piece is aimed at helping you consolidate your last few weeks of revision, and gently prompting those of you who haven’t started yet!
Plan your time
Hopefully this is something that you have already fine-tuned over the last few months. These last few weeks really are the most important, but it is equally important not to burn yourself out. Make sure you do as much revision as you can, but schedule in treats and breaks to keep your motivation up. If you are anything like me, then now is also a good time to start thinking about how to celebrate when these two exams are over!
As I have mentioned previously, revision tables really aided me with these two exams, particularly as there was such a vast amount of information to be learned and revised. I compiled a table for each exam with the syllabus broken into sections down the left hand side, and columns for each revision material. For someone with mild OCD like myself, it really is quite satisfying to be able to block colour the table as you go, and to visually see that your revision is paying off!
Hopefully, by this stage, you have implemented your own system already, but if not, then it is worth thinking about how you are keeping track of what you have learned so far, and what still needs to be covered. If you are using revision tables or a similar system, hopefully you are gradually working your way through, and can see which areas are left to be covered. Make sure you are able to cover everything in the time you have left. If you are struggling, then do not panic; just adjust your plan to the best of your ability.
Familiarise yourself with mock papers
For these exams, there is little use knowing the areas of law if you do not know how to apply them. It isn’t always immediately obvious what a question is seeking from you, so it is vital to read the questions thoroughly and to know how to approach them. There is no use word-vomiting everything you know on an area either!
Mock papers are key here. Get your hands on as many mock papers as are available, and keep sitting them until you are confident that you understand the styles of questions asked. Also, remind yourself of the overall exam structure – for example, how many SAQs and MCQs there are, the relevant marks for each, and the total time for the exam. This is vital so you can plan how long to spend on questions in the exam hall, therefore avoiding getting bogged down by a question that is only worth 10% of the marks.
These are particularly useful in the week or so before the exam. Once you’ve got a reasonable grasp of topic areas, start transferring them onto colourful mindmaps. In doing so, you can cut out the information which you are already retaining, and cut your notes down into bitesize sets of reminders, which then prompt you to remember everything else.
My very last minute revision, on the exam day, was to find a few people who also found it useful to talk through areas of law. We would ask each other questions, therefore reminding each other of the key points, and prompting realisation of any areas that we weren’t 100% sure of. I am actually more of a visual learner, but found this approach invaluable as well.
Overall, I would strongly advise using a variety of revision methods. I certainly found in the exam room there were topics that I only remembered from verbal conversations rather than my written revision, and vice versa. It is inevitable that you won’t remember absolutely everything you have revised, but if you have used a variety of methods then, in my humble opinion, you have a stronger chance of being able to tap into your stored knowledge through one of those methods.
This column will be taking a break for the next few weeks, but good luck to everyone for the two big exams, and please keep an eye out for lots of pupillage-related content which we will be publishing in the interim.