Halfway through exam season…
Two exams done & two left to go! This week, I sat my final exams for Criminal Evidence and Contract Law. Since the law school exams are currently 24 hours online & open-book, it was a very different experience than other exams I’ve sat. Thought I would write a quick update on how I’ve been studying, how I tackled exam days & how I’ve been recovering after Contract Law!
Usually, studying is all about memorisation and comprehension – trying to understand and remember as much as possible so that you can recall the information under exam conditions.
With online exams that are not time restricted or closed book, it’s a whole different studying process. Instead of memorising case names and complex legal rules, I focused more on developing a real understanding and creating detailed notes that I could refer to during the exam.
I don’t recommend only relying on your notes during the exams, however. When I read through the problem questions and essay titles that were released at 9am, I already could identify the key issues and answer to a pretty good standard. The open book resources are just a bonus! You can quickly find case names in your notes or double check the current law. But you really don’t want to find yourself trying to learn concepts in the exam because, despite having 24 hours, it’s not ideal to spend more time studying than actually writing your answers.
For study resources, I used my lecture / textbook notes, the past paper exam guidance, and some textbooks that simplify everything down into just the essentials because I find some textbooks go into way too much depth even where it is not always necessary.
On both of my exam days, I woke up just before 9am, wished my friends good luck & downloaded the exam paper as soon as it was released. I then read through the questions very quickly & identified the questions which jumped out as something I knew.
After this, I read through very slowly & really tried to take in the content. Finally, I annotated absolutely everything I could. For the problem questions, I chose the ones I was most sure of and then I went through line-by-line and identified the key legal issues. For the essay questions, I reworded them to establish what the question was actually asking.
Once I’d chosen & annotated the questions, I made very brief plans. For example, for the essay question I would just bullet point the key legal areas. Then, I would go through all of my notes and copy and paste my notes under each relevant legal issue that was in the problem question. This allowed me to have all of the relevant notes in one place. I did the same thing for essay questions.
Then, once my plan was as detailed as I could make it, I got to writing! I wrote a full first draft to the best of my ability, then went through it again and again to edit it and cut down the word count. I tried not to be excessive and spend hours refining my answers. It was still an exam and I needed to treat it like one! I added in a few academic sources to my essays but other than that, the content was all from my notes.
I took many, many breaks throughout the day – for food, for sleep, for watching TikTok etc. Taking a step away and coming back gives you a fresh perspective & actually helps to make your answers better!
I submitted my exam answers at night once I had finished & then read through them once more in the morning before resubmitting for the 9am deadline. Then I went back to sleep! I let myself take the morning off after the exam to recover. After contract law, my friend & I went out for drinks to celebrate (we both found contract law difficult!) & I took the weekend off.
Tomorrow I will start prepping for my next exam, Medicine & Law. After that, I have two weeks to study for Constitutional & Administrative Law! After each of these exams I will give myself some time off because exam season sucks & we all deserve a break.
Good luck with your exams, stay safe & well rested!