Structure is the key to success when it comes to revision, and making a timetable and keeping to it seems to be the most effective way of organising what you’re doing over the weeks leading up to your exams. A timetable recording minute-to-minute what you’ve got to do is never going to work. Instead go for something which is going to be both flexible and simple to follow. For example if you’ve got 6 topics on your course, pick 1 for each day of the week and say to yourself that from 4 until 8 you’ll revise one topic per day with seminar work and expected reading done either after this or mixed in depending on how you work best. Also make a note of what you’ve done and what you need to do; Pearson’s ‘LawExpress’ books are fantastic for this as they have checklists and are set out in a way which you can work through them steadily while keeping some control and order over what you’ve done.
Don’t just use revision books! Reading only revision books do not give you enough information for you to revise effectively and thoroughly. For this we suggest using your core textbook and making notes from both the revision and the core books. This way you’ll make sure that you’ve covered everything thoroughly and in enough detail for you to gain a higher grade. Pay particular attention to subjects and topics which you may not be as confident with and spend a little more time on those to ensure that all of your bases are covered.
What to revise:
Think carefully what you’re going to revise! You won’t be able to revise all of your topics in enough detail that you are able to write an effective answer on any topic that comes up. My advice would be to attempt to revise between around twice as many topics as there are questions on your paper. Alongside the advice your lecturers may give you, make sure that you go back over the lectures you have done and see which ones you’ve spent the most time on. If you’ve spent 4 lectures on Criminal damage but only one on attempt, the chance are you’ll have a question on Criminal damage. It’s simple stuff but will be vital when you try to revise effectively.
Some examples of different types of revision methods:
- Mind-Maps: Making a mind-map for each subject will make the next part of revision a whole lot clearer, as it allows you to have an initial “Brain-dump” of information and get everything down on a page so you can refer back to it if you need to.
- Revision cards: Make them memorable! An R v Brown revision card is going to be memorable ; just make sure you can remember them and colour them as much as you like to make them stick. The time spent drawing out a branded bum for R v Wilson may make the difference between a good and a great answer for an essay on consent, for example.
- Friends: Revising with people from your course makes a massive difference when trying to get your head around key topics. Particularly when it comes to a few days before exams and you’re panicking, revision cards won’t help by this point as they take too much time; case-spotting or quick-fire-questions are a much more effective and time-efficient way of revising.
- Past papers: These will be a life-saver if you’re panicking about exams and are even more valuable if you’ve been out of education for a year or twenty; it gets you back into the mind-set of writing essays and allows you to put the law into practice. If you haven’t got enough time to write a whole essay, plan it! It’s a great way to get you focussing and quickly spotting the right topics. Time yourself and share the outcome from your scenarios/essays with other students, letting you be both a little social around exam times, and allowing you to compare notes and making sure there isn’t anything you’ve missed.
- Night before: Chill. But if cramming is your thing then just make sure you don’t over-load and freak out with Red Bull running through your system. It’s never a good idea.
For any exam, enjoy it! It sounds like a crazy thing to say about exams but they are there so that you can gain your degree. Thinking positively means that you can relax a little, you won’t panic too much, and lets you think forward towards after the exam and when it’s all over. Do what’s best for you, and don’t look over at someone in the lecture theatre with a folder marked “Revision” which is 2 foot tall because it’ll only stress you out and means that evening’s revision may not sink in as well as you want it to.