The LLB was, is and always will be hard. The study skills and revision techniques you think you have learnt from A-Levels and College do not seem to even come close to what you will need for university. After finding out that I suffer from dyslexia in the final stages of first year. Suffering with dyslexia means that, for me, sometimes things are not very clear, I am not able to retain information straight away and sometimes I can read 20 pages of a book and nothing from it has made any sense. With regards to the LLB this was not an ideal situation to be in. I realised that I really would need to alter my ways of working and revising to find a way that’s best suits me.
Dyslexia has nothing to do with general intellect; it is a learning disability which affects the ways in which the brain processes things; generally, reading and spelling. However the ways in which you can help yourself and make things easier to process are very straightforward and simple, and they are things that should be shared.
Lectures and Tutorials
Asking if it is possible to make recordings in lectures and tutorial can be very accommodating. Being able to hear back the information at a slower pace takes away the stress of trying to get all the information down in one go. The use of a laptop or tablet can be helpful also; it avoids issues with messy hand writing, helps with spelling and allows corrections to be made.
Like any degree, the LLB requires a lot of work to be done continuously throughout the year. Normally with every university you will be given some sort of preparation to do for the following week for a class. I have found, amongst others, that if this is not kept on top of, it is easy to fall behind and equally, just as hard to catch up again.
I believe to have found a good way to keeping on top of work, by reading what is being asked to do for next week, straight after the lecture. This actually ended up saving a considerable amount of time. I have found that with dyslexia it is good to know what you need to do and what is being asked of you. It allows you to ask any questions if you do not understand and of course you are giving yourself more than just a night to get the work done.
Coursework and Exams
When it comes to work such as coursework, the key is to start early and proof read. Proof reading is so essential; sometimes with dyslexia, words are missed and spelling mistakes can go completely unnoticed. It is best to get someone else to read over your work to be sure of mistakes you might not be able to see through no fault of your own.
Some coursework that you receive in law comes in the form of problem questions; if you are faced with one of these, it is important to separate all of the parties and all of the issues. Make sure they are all able to be identified separately; this can be done by placing things on separate pages or by using different coloured highlighters so that things stand out and are a lot clearer to the eye.
Proofreading is of course a lot harder in exams with the added pressure. The only way you can be sure to proof read in an exam is to allow yourself time at the end to check everything. Of course, in the setting of an exam, it is hard to say you will stop writing ten minutes before you need to, but allowing yourself this extra time will ensure that you keep your punctuation and language marks and that they do not fall short of the standard required.
Universities should make provisions for dyslexia sufferers when it comes to exams and coursework. With regards to exams, some universities allow for extra time and allow you to use a laptop instead of hand writing the answer. Some universities also give cover sheets for coursework which will show the marker that you have dyslexia and to allow them to mark accordingly. If these provisions are not set up for you, this is something that you must raise with your universities disability team.
The most important thing when it comes to getting reading material is to ‘try before you buy’. This was a mistake I made in first year and then again in second. For me, the books that are the best are the ones that are coloured, have clear sections and have a large font. Make sure once there is a book of your preference found, you buy the book. For me and my dyslexia it helps if I can underline and colour, so things are able to stand out and I am able to make sense of them myself. Choosing the right text book to read from and makes notes from is essential because for the duration if the year, your law books are very much your best friends.
The reading that you do throughout your time at Law School should always be done at your own pace. When suffering with dyslexia it is going to be normal for the work to not always make sense the first time, and of course, there is nothing wrong with that.
Throughout the years at Law School, the importance of being organised becomes more and more vital. Talking from personal experience – for things to be clear, I need to know where I should be starting. Having a day to week diary, especially for university, allows you to keep track of what needs to be done and any upcoming dates that are important. Keeping each topic separate is a very good tip. If you allow the work to get confused with other work, it will not help.
Revision – one of the most dreaded words when it comes to university in general – and like most university courses, if you are given a lot of revision to do, the task can be very, very daunting .The revision process for me, is something I have to start with very early on, due to knowing that it is going to take me longer to get my head around all the information. The way I have learnt to get around revision and how to tackle it, is to be creative: highlighters, charts, sticky notes, flash cards and even making voice recordings.
All of the above information shows ways in which I have tried to deal with dyslexia and the LLB. Other students may have different techniques and some which I have personally suggested may not help. However, it is imperative to state that the LLB is not something that cannot be conquered because of any kind of learning disability.