This article is written by Suryansh Verma, a 3rd year student at Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow. In this article, he lays down certain tips for law students and testimonials for scoring high in exams as a Law Student.
Law exams can be really stressful sometimes when it comes to the course content. 700 pages of long judgments, 1000 pages long textbooks are bound to make you stressed out. But, don’t worry! I am going to lay down certain tips in this blog post which are going to help you to help you in scoring high in the exams.
Sometimes, on entering the exam room, most students start panicking and hyperventilating on sight of the question paper. This might be because of the fact that sometimes there is a need to pass that very law subject or maybe you’re putting too much pressure on yourself in order to achieve a high percentage.
The words on the cover of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are the best possible remedy when faced with such times i.e.
The life of a law student is filled with hardships. The reason is that this profession demands a lot of hard work, sincerity, and diligence. One needs to be extensively well read. If you are not well versed with the things which are necessary for you, you are definitely going to have a lot of difficulty in comprehending whatever you’re reading.
There are hundreds of sections and articles of statutes. Most of the law schools in India make their students mug up all of them. It gets quite boring after a point of time.
Besides mugging up the whole statues, there are hundreds of case laws in almost every statute which is quite difficult to learn.
An average student can sit for studying at a maximum stretch of four hours. This capacity depends and varies from student to student.
For a slow brain like me, even two hours seem to be an extremely long period.
One has to make their brain accustomed to the long studying hours for scoring high in exams as a law student. Even if he/she is studying for a small span of time, they should be really thorough with what they have read. Yeah, you don’t really have a choice here.
You have to mug up everything the same way you remember the lyrics of Bohemian Rhapsody.
Most of the students have a really short attention span. This becomes a bit problematic because they may experience a blackout while writing the examination. This affects their performance in the paper and hence they score really less.
Then you start questioning your ability, remember Ishaan from Taare Zameen Par? You might have dyslexia.
Why should one score high marks?
Scoring less in your papers in law school has a disastrous effect on the CV. Most of the firms these days before giving internships pay a great amount of attention to the pointers/CGPA scored by the applicants. A high CGPA also depicts the sincerity and hard work of a student.
Scoring high does not mean that you’re a nerd.
It also comes in handy while sitting for interviews. It carves out a good impression on the interview panel. Thus, scoring high in exams while in law school is a necessity.
This article shall provide you with useful insights which one may consider while preparing for their exams.
Control your nerves and keep calm
The first and foremost tip is to calm yourself before and during the exam. Most of the students get so stressed out before the exam that they start getting nervous. Always remember that you’re not alone, feeling nervous before a law exam is completely normal and understandable.
Just, don’t go all American Psycho over the paper.
Always remember that many of your fellow students feel the nervousness too. You can think of the nervousness as excitement because it is all in your brain. Throughout your preparation leading up to the exam, feeling excited indicates that you are motivated to achieve what you want. You want to learn effectively and give a good performance in the exam.
Implement simple steps to calm down your nerves and channelize your anxiety to do the contrary. Calming yourself may include studying continuously for long hours, and then taking a small break doing things which do not involve the subject.
These small breaks may consist of taking a stroll around the campus, or the walk, watching a short episode of a light-hearted TV show such as F.R.I.E.N.D.S. or any activity which helps you to calm down and lay off that stress.
Oh! Don’t you remember the episode where Chandler goes on kissing everyone, even Joey, such a great laugh!
Thus, in order to score high, you need to have control over your senses and make sure that you do not get distracted.
Never fall back from reading
This is one of the most basic tips that might come in handy for law students. Reading is the most essential activity throughout law school. A law student cannot survive those years of education without a reading habit. Law students have a reputation in the world for reading a lot. Every week you need to understand and learn what the law is.
Ah! Personally, I hate reading. I’d love to read horror stories all day but then it is not going to make me pass my exams you know.
One must be ready to read anytime, anywhere and in any condition as well. You must do the reading of the courses thoroughly that have been assigned to you for the semester. Skimming over through the course content is not a very good option as you will not be able to achieve effective learning through that.
For scoring high in exams, you need to have a deeper and thorough understanding of the subject. This can only be achieved by reading.
Always be updated with the content of the course. If you fall back once, you might never keep up again with it.
It is like the latest episode of Game of Thrones where you were not able to follow it and then you end up lagging behind all of your friends.
Read at the time of the day when you are most alert. Also, read in a location where you will not get distracted from something or tempted to do something else. The more you read, the more knowledgeable you will be.
Besides gaining knowledge on the subject, reading helps you in various other ways. It gives you useful insights which might come in handy for your subject as well.
Yeah, like the number of people going mad doing law every year? No, I’m kidding.
If you do not understand anything, read repeatedly. Do not give up on reading. It might get difficult sometimes reading those twisted statutes and case laws. It would be problematic for you to score high in the exams without understanding.
Even Ishaan from Taare Zameen Par understood everything after being taught twice or thrice.
Once you’ve developed a reading habit, you’ll be able to memorize quickly and efficiently. Reading daily improves your retaining power as well. It also helps you to comprehend things easily. Thus, reading is the most essential habit to formulate while being in a law school.
Always remember Rancho from 3 idiots and say to yourself All is well!
Establishing a routine
“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine” – Mike Murdock
It is extremely necessary for a law student to follow a proper routine to score high. Creating and following a routine is important to law school success.
I’ve always failed at following a routine, asking you to do so is too much. Although, if you’re able to follow one, Oh! You could be like a sorcerer doing magic and achieving whatever you want in life.
By establishing a routine early on, you can control your stress levels and also be ahead of your classmates. Following the routine will also help you in managing your time efficiently as well. Include almost everything in your routine. The period of your study should be at that point when you stay the most alert and concentrated.
Routines help you attain discipline. You cannot survive law school without having a fixed routine.
Milkha Singh would not have won so many medals without a routine.
A law school has a ton of activities to get involved in. Starting right from extra-curricular activities to sports events, nothing is left out. Thus, one needs to manage everything in a proper manner.
You’ll have a fixed duration of studying for a couple of hours. The other activities shall be managed in the same way as well. Chalking out the hours of study in the routine will not only help you to score well in the exams but also enable you to have proficiency on the subject.
A routine helps you to stay focused on your goals and can help you manage your workload as well. It is easier to say it, but it is difficult to stick to a routine most of the time.
For this, include other people in your routine who might have the same goal as you do, participate in study groups of your interest or you may also have a reading partner. This will help you to be accountable.
Go to class
Maintaining that 75% of attendance sometimes becomes a pain.
Most of the times, professors cover some material in the class that you do not come across reading, so failing to attend the classes will put you at a disadvantage when you take the final exam.
Instead of the bookish knowledge, professors in the answer scripts look for what they taught in the classroom.
If you had gone to class, and you’ve mentioned that thing, you will be at an edge over other students. You will definitely end up scoring high marks in the exam.
Yeah, just like Messi scores goals like a boss!
Moreover, you will also get debarred from that semester if you do not fulfill the minimum attendance required for sitting in the exams.
Be attentive in class
Physical attendance in the class just won’t help you to score high in exams. Being mentally present and staying attentive will.
I have noticed this in my classes that students who are responsive to professors score incredibly well in their end-term exams.
Students who sit on the last bench of the class sometimes flunk in the subject as well.
No, students on the last benches are not the most creative minds.
Most of the students spend their time in class using their mobile phones playing games or shopping online.
I have had a personal experience with this, students around either playing PubG mobile or browsing through Amazon.in. Instead of that, you could browse through LawSikho and see the courses that they provide. Those courses will definitely help you in scoring good marks by giving you insights about the field.
If you really care about your future, stop using mobile phones in the class and start paying attention to that learned man teaching you.
Be responsive and participate in the class.
Just being attentive and listening to what the professor is speaking will not help your case. You also need to participate in the class by asking questions and clearing your doubts as well.
You have to keep pinching the Professor. Never refrain from asking any type of question.
Students learn well when they are actively engaged in the learning process. If you’re timid and hesitate in asking questions in class, go to their chambers and ask them there.
Always make notes
This is also one of the most important things to do while studying for law exams. The content in the subjects is so diverse that you might not be able to remember all of it. Thus, make notes of those things which you think are relevant and will help you in scoring high in the exams.
I’m not asking you to be a nerd of course, but yeah this is the least you could do to help your case.
While in the classroom, it is impossible to jot down everything that your professor is teaching you.
Also, you’re not Mike Ross that you have a pictographic memory.
Thus, go ahead and note down the important points. For this, you’ll have to be well read. Also, before going for your next lecture study the topics which the professor is going to teach.
By doing this, you will have a rough idea about what the professor is going to elucidate upon. It will also help you in understanding what the most important points are.
Making notes not only helps you to have a better understanding of the subject but it also helps in figuring out the most important or most asked topic in the exam.
Professors tend to mention the important topics for exams in the classroom. Thus, you’d be able to know those only when you pay attention and make notes.
Also, always make your own notes. Every student has a different approach to make notes. Some tend to include almost each and everything whereas some include only some parts of the lecture. You have to take your own approach of making notes which will be helping you in scoring high in the exams.
You could refer to the courses provided by LawSikho to make your study more efficient. These courses provide insights which are extremely helpful for scoring high marks in the end term exams.
Memorize material weekly
The human brain cannot retain things forever. On average, a human brain can retain material only to a maximum of three days. Thus, you need to go over the material again and again as to retain them.
Remember the famous saying? Rome was not built in a day.
This applies here as well, you cannot score high marks if you do not study continuously.
You’ll be much more successful in exams if you learn and memorize the material each week after you finish updating your notes. If you try to cram over three months’ of study material into a couple of weeks then it will be a problem. You will have a much better grasp of the whole subject and will be able to apply it more efficiently.
Even if it seems boring going over the material again and again, keep doing it because that is how you will be able to score high in exams.
You will be able to retain things for a longer period of time by following this.
Watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. or HIMYM all over again will not be boring for you, or will it be?
Forming a study group
Study groups can be a valuable learning tool. Find and form a study group which has the same interests as you do.
Study groups are the most infamous study tool. People believe that there is more gossip than studies.
But, when it comes to study-groups, they are more efficient when it comes to learning.
The reason being sometimes you might not be able to understand a specific part of the textbook. The same part of the textbook might be clear to some other student in the group.
This becomes beneficial for you as you can approach that student and seek help from him. For example, there is a constitutional law study group and you cannot understand the rules required for interpreting the constitution. You can go ahead and ask questions regarding this to clear your doubt.
When you study by yourself, you will always see the material from only your perspective. Study groups are the best places to find newer perspectives. As you begin listening and start to ask questions, you will start to begin a broader perspective regarding a particular point.
Study groups are very beneficial in terms of removing the monotonous routine of sitting alone and studying at a long stretch. The monotonous study routine has a cascading effect in the long run. Prefer making a study group and see for yourself scoring high in your exams.
Make your case briefs
Sometimes, the case laws may run into hundreds of pages which makes it impossible to remember the whole of it e.g. the Kesavananda Bharati case.
This judgment runs into 600+ pages and is one of the most important case laws in the arena of Constitutional Law. It is impossible for a person to remember each and every page of this judgment. So, for the purpose of remembering it efficiently, you could make a case brief of that case and note down all the significant legal changes, holdings of the case, and the rationale of the court behind the decision.
You can also keep a small pocket-sized notebook which has all the most important points of the case.
For instance, when you get a practical approach-based question in the exam paper, you could actually answer those questions supporting them by a case law.
The judgment, the ratio and also the dissenting opinion if there is any, could be written in the answer stating how your approach is correct. It also depicts how the court has justified the approach as well. This would help you in scoring high marks as your answer has been justified with the supportive case laws.
Thus, make case briefs efficiently as they are very important for a law student.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
Studying continuously without and breaks will have a toll on your mind. Your mind will get saturated and you won’t be able to retain things thereon. Take small breaks and outings during the period of studying to make study time efficient.
Practice past year papers
The best way to score high in exams is to practice the past year papers. Past year papers are available with the library in the respective colleges. Make sure to understand the pattern of the question paper, and also the approach with which the professors make them.
Oh! Practice makes a man perfect, no other quote better than this.
Apply that approach to your study as well for scoring well in the exams. Practicing past year papers will help you to know the type of questions that are asked and also perfect your skill of writing answers.
Never procrastinate regarding studying. If you procrastinate, things keep piling up and then, in the end, you’re not able to accomplish anything. The best way to stop procrastinating is to set deadlines for yourself earlier than what your professor provides.
Voldemort would not have been the greatest magician of dark arts if he would have kept postponing his practice of the dark arts.
Taking the time to do it in advance will save you so much time later. The euphoria of not worrying about reading or case briefing for class because you already did it is unparalleled. So, stop procrastinating and start working hard.
Get way ahead
One tip that would help a law student is to start reading for the class the week before it starts. This is helpful because you’re really ahead, and you can go with your non-procrastination streak in preparing for the class throughout the semester. Try to stay in a class or two ahead, it will actually provide you with a better understanding of the subject.
Get proper sleep
Sleep is quintessential for scoring high in exams. You need to give your mind the required rest that it needs to function properly again. The effort and time needed for a law degree are entirely different from getting any other bachelor’s degree.
It requires a lot of patience to survive those five years of law school without going nuts. Thus, for studying and keeping your brain healthy, get a proper amount of sleep.
This is the most generic tip where you would have got it anywhere, but it is also the most important thing. You need to be an organizational wizard. You have to learn how to manage your time effectively.
For instance, think of your day as a 9-5 job if you do not have lectures, study during the gaps.
Revising the material, again and again, will help you to have control over your knowledge. Sometimes what happens is that if you fail to revise, you may forget one of the most crucial case laws or an important legal point.
As there are many case laws and points, that it becomes difficult to remember. Thus, revision is the key to success. It will actually take time for you to work out which method is the best for you, but eventually, you’ll figure it out.
Clear your doubts
Sometimes, it gets really tricky to understand a specific provision in the statute. You can go ahead and get your doubts cleared by contacting the lecturer/professor of that subject. Having your concepts clear about that law will help you in the exam later on. A dubious mind will hinder you from scoring high.
In order to keep your brain healthy, you will need to keep up with healthy habits. Exercising daily and eating healthy food will keep your body in a healthy position. This, in turn, it will keep your brain healthy. 2-minute Maggi noodles is not a healthy choice of food.
12 AM-midnight snacking is also not healthy, come on eat healthily!
Also, do not bury yourself in the books. Go out and have a run across the park or start playing a sport at your law school. If you do not have a healthy body, you’ll feel lethargic throughout the day and thus, you will not be able to function properly.
What can you do while answering the questions?
The tips given down below are to be used during the paper writing time. These can be helpful.
Use your reading time wisely
In some law exams, you have an allocated time for reading the question paper. The most important part of the exam is to read the question paper and understand the question.
If this is fulfilled, you will be able to answer the questions efficiently. Read the question straight, thoroughly and steadily. Just keep reading, it is not unusual to be nervous and not be able to understand a few first lines of the paper.
But, don’t keep on with reading the whole three hours, remember you have to write as well.
Always structure your answer properly
Give a proper structure to your answer to make it easier for the professor to understand.
State the issues first, then apply the rule of law in the second step. The third step is the applicability of the law to the current facts or situation. Conclude your answer with the conclusion.
This is popularly known as the IRAC technique.
These steps can also be followed while making your memorials.
Allocate your time during the exam
It is completely illogical and irrational not to allocate your time in a law exam. Always allocate your time according to the marks allotted to the questions.
So, give more time to the questions which have higher marks and lesser time to the ones with lesser marks.
Even if you ran out of time and were not able to finish the short questions, you have a chance of scoring higher in the other question.
Decide the question you want to do first
It is not necessary to start the paper with Question No. 1. Generally, it is preferred by students to do those questions first which they know best.
There might be areas of law that are more difficult to understand, with complicated concepts and inconsistent and uncertain case laws. Strategically, you are more likely to achieve higher marks overall if you leave the easiest question to last.
Deal with the hardest question first or second. Complete questions that are somewhere in between in difficulty either second or third.
Usage of legal authority
Provide primary legal support for your answer to make it more compelling. A law exam should always have authority in the form of either statute or case law to support every statement of law that you make. In most of the law schools, you need to provide a summary of the case law for supporting your answer. For this, you’ll have to make case briefs efficiently as already mentioned.
And for statues, it is best to write the particular section and the clauses that are applicable in your case.
Use proper language
You should always use clear, concise and comprehensive language. It becomes easier for the professor if the answer is written in clear terms.
Use proper and fully-formed sentences. Use appropriate legal language while writing the paper.
You don’t need to flaunt your highly rich vocabulary in front of the professor.
Avoid legalese. It is unusual for a law student these days to use the stylistic language of law such as “heretofore”, “forethought”, etc. However, it is important to use certain legal terms such as locus standi. It is also crucial to know the meaning of these terms to use them appropriately.
Avoid lengthy answers
It becomes tedious for the professor to check lengthy answers. A law professor on an average has to check almost 100 copies in a go. This becomes really taxing.
Thus, keep your answers precise. Make use of less superfluous words. Keep your answer specific and to the point.
The professor is looking for certain things in your answers such as the identification of the legal issue, the legal principles and the application of the law to the facts. Also, do not rewrite the facts.
It becomes repetitive.
Be clear in what you state.
A great law answer demonstrates the proper application of legal reasoning and analysis. You have to clearly explain the approach adopted by you in reaching that particular conclusion.
It is a well-established fact that for scoring high marks in a law exam, there are no shortcuts. You will have to work day and night for a good score. However, there are certain online courses available on the internet as well which can help you in scoring high. They provide you with practical aspects of the law as well.
Students from NLSIU, one of the most premier institutions of the country, for scoring high in the exams, say, “The subjects which are application based, you need to read and understand it properly and read extra if it is possible. Also, each and every subject should be considered as legit.”
A student from NLU-O who is one of the toppers of his batch has to say, “One needs to love that subject or produce interest in that. You need to give five to six hours a day of studying to score high. If you’re not able to devote that much time, be attentive in the class, that makes your work easier. Also, make your notes properly as well, and if that is not possible, get the notes from someone else. The professor’s teachings are a boon for scoring high in the exams.”
Aniket Sachan from RMLNLU, one of the highest scorers of our batch says, “You have to study compulsorily for scoring high, there is no escaping that. Just read and keep your concepts and basics extremely clear. Have all the fun that you can have but when you are studying, focus on that. Even if you study for one hour, that one complete hour should be just studying.”
Srijan Somal from RMLNLU, in the top 3 percentile of his batch says, “As I believe, studying for hours at a long stretch without even taking a break and not getting what you’re studying is futile. So, what I do is that I incorporate several breaks in the study hours which make me study more efficiently. In those breaks, I take up activities which I like the most. This helps me in clearing my mind and helps me from getting stressed easily.”