Article written by Patrick Etimiri, University of Exeter current LLB student.
Making comprehensive lecture notes is one of the most important things that you must do throughout the course of the year as a law student. Notes help you to comprehensively answer questions when exam period arises without having to hastily look through lectures and often miss important points that you would want to include in your final answer. In this article I will give you some tips that I used to compile revision worthy notes as a new law student.
When you first start your course, you will have to decide which medium you will use to write your notes. During my time at university, I have seen students generally either write their notes directly on paper or type up the notes on their laptops. Some students even opt for using an iPad and stylus combination. The point that I am making with this is that there are a variety of methods that you can utilise to write your notes and you need to choose the one that works for you. Some students I have spoken to feel like they can only truly absorb the information if they physically write it themselves with pen and paper and others are fine with using a laptop. I personally would recommend students to use a laptop for notetaking. The reality that I have experienced is that a lecture tends to move very quickly for the lecturer to cover all the topics that you need to know about and writing with hand simply tends to be too slow. With a laptop I find that I can type up many of the essential points in the lecture far quicker than I could if I wrote them out. Another positive for using a laptop is that you can use the application Microsoft OneNote. This application was recommended to me by my lecturer on the first day and I have sworn by it ever since. Instead of using Microsoft Word if you use Microsoft OneNote, you can create a book for every module, a different chapter for each topic and it is a streamlined application dedicated specifically for notetaking. I would implore you to give it a try.
When you are writing lecture notes often the lecture moves very fast due to the vast amount of information that your lecturer is trying to get through in the designated timeframe. What I have found is that if you attempt to type everything the lecturer is saying in the lecture you can often fall behind and end up missing a lot of the information. Therefore, it is incredibly important to ensure you only write the most important points that the lecturer is making. For example, I would advise that you don’t include the facts of the case in your lecture notes as this is always something that you can look up if needed. Rather, in one or two sentences, type what this case supports or proves so you can easily assess its relevance when it is time for exams. Your ability to be able to discern what is important and what is not will get better the more lectures you go through.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic many universities have started putting a greater priority on recording and uploading lectures so students can view them from their house if they wish to. This is incredibly helpful as you can revisit the lectures and fill in any aspects you may have missed during the in-person lectures and properly flesh out your notes when you have some free time. This is something that has seriously helped me with my notetaking and is something that I believe every student should take advantage of.
I hope these tips come in handy for you and hope you have an amazing experience with Law at University.