Article Written by James Tonge, Philosophy Undergraduate at The University of Manchester.
This article will discuss approaches to revision in the context of law. As a law student, revision is a key aspect of studying and is necessary for achieving desired grades, but however important, it can often be a tedious task many students will leave as late as possible. This article will discuss some techniques which will make your revision more effective.
The first piece of advice is to make a timetable; organising your working hours is always where revision should start. Everyone is different, but with an effective timetable, you can plan revision where only half a day of work is required, leaving more time for other tasks you may have. If you like to work in the mornings, schedule a session from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a lunch break (or vice versa if you prefer to work in the nights). With the rest of the day off, this allows the material time to sink in and allows you to have fun without feeling guilty about not doing enough work. Aside from arranging working hours, assign yourself a particular amount of work to complete each day. Make sure to prioritise the essential tasks and allow more time for topics you struggle with. If you’re extremely strong in tort law but weak in commercial law, for example, it’s clear where to focus your efforts. Look at where you’ve lost marks in the past to make up the difference. This will assist you in deciding where to concentrate your revision efforts.
Many students believe that memorising definitions and cases is all that is required to pass their law exams. Unfortunately, it is not so simple. In order to compete with other top students, you must employ other methods, such as practising writing responses. Simply choose the most essential questions you believe will appear in your tests and try to construct responses to those questions using key definitions, cases, and statute portions from your revision notes. With a revision timetable as a reference point, this can be an effective method of strengthening particular topics. Another useful strategy is to time yourself while writing your sample exam responses. Determine how much time you take and how much time you will need throughout the exam for each topic’s answer. Timing your responses for mock exam questions is great practice that will help you prepare for the real-life exam experience. However, make sure you start pacing yourself only after you’ve rehearsed writing your mock exam responses without a timer – this gives you enough time to acquire the proper skills as well as read and evaluate the questions without feeling rushed.
Notecards with definitions, dates, case studies, and other information can be a very useful tool for memorising. Review them yourself or have a family member or flatmate read the questions to you while you shout out the answers. On one side, write the question, and on the other, write the answer. This can be a helpful way for helping you recall what you need to remember.
The final tip is applicable when employing all other revision techniques. Instead of a method for rehearsing content or practising exam questions, it instead is a time management technique. It is particularly useful for students who are often distracted during their revision or feel like the tasks at hand are never-ending. The technique can be broken down into five steps:
It should be noted that there is an optimal framework for this technique. Complex tasks should not be squeezed into one cycle, but instead spread out over a few 25-minute periods in order to fully comprehend the information. If one task does not fill out one cycle, refer to your revision timetable and add some smaller tasks to make up the time. This technique works best when the focus is on actual revision. Checking emails and text messages should not fall into one of the cycles – instead, this should be done either in short or long breaks. When you utilise the Pomodoro approach, you have a clear measurement of your limited time and efforts, which allows you to reflect on and plan your days more correctly and efficiently. With practice, you’ll be able to estimate how many Pomodoros a task will require and develop more consistent work habits.