Law exams: a guide to success - transcript

This is a transcript of the video Law exams: a guide to success.


[Caption] Law Exams: a guide to success

[Image] Moving shot of the entrance to C Block at QUT Gardens Point showing QUT sign and Faculty of Law sign.

[Video contains various Law Academics, Law Peer Mentors and Law Library Staff discussing Law exams.]

Law Academic 1: I don't think anyone really likes exams.

Law Peer Mentor 1: Ah, I'm not the biggest fan of exams [laughs].

Law Peer Mentor 2: Oh, I find law exams just that little bit stressful.

Law Academic 2: I don't think anyone particularly likes thinking they are going to be assessed.

Law Academic 3: Well, exams can be very stressful and I think it's really important when you are moving up towards exam time to just think really clearly and strategically about what you can do to cope with that stress. What we have to do is skill ourselves up with some strategies that work for us as individuals to make sure we can manage the stress of the exam.

[Caption] Preparing for exams, what I wish I knew.

Law Peer Mentor 3: I wish I knew before my first exam not to waste time.

Law Peer Mentor 1: Have quite a few pens at the ready. Definitely bring your student ID card.

Law Peer Mentor 4: Like, even though they are open book sometimes you spend way too much time in exams going through your notes to find the points you are looking for but if you know that you are supposed to be prepared for a closed book exam and everything is in my head. Like, you go in, even with or without your notes you can, like, ace the exam

Law Peer Mentor 1: To save time, tab your notes [holds up notes with tabs on them] and that will save one to two minutes every now and then which can really make a difference.

Law Library Staff 1: My number one bit of advice for students studying law would be to practice writing the exams. Do it early and get into the habit of handwriting.

[Caption] Tips from your Law Academics (pay attention now…)

Law Academic 3: My top tip for preparing for the exam, and it is what everybody will be saying I think, is write your own notes.

Law Academic 1: The whole point of writing your own notes is that it is a way to crystallise what you have learnt. You are summarising your understanding so if you are going to summarise your understanding, you have really got to understand it first.

Law Academic 2: Use staff consultations times. Use them throughout the semester. Each staff member is available for at least two hours each week for weekly staff consultations.

Law Academic 1: So don't download dodgy notes from the internet which contain old law, wrong law. There's plenty of stuff you can do very early on in terms of writing up good notes and doing reading, very early on.

[Caption] The week before the exam, what you should be doing

Law Library Staff 2: A week out from exams, I'm in full exam mode and I am doing practice exams. That doesn't necessarily mean doing all the exam papers in exam conditions at home but it means looking through all the exams and familiarising myself with the content and preparing myself for the sorts of questions that I will be asked in a week's time.

Law Peer Mentor 3: It's really helpful to actually get the practice exams off the Blackboard site and work through the past questions. They also give you answer guides and you use those to check your answers to make sure that you're on the right track.

Law Peer Mentor 1: Sometimes it can be really beneficial to study within a group because you do bounce ideas off one another.

Law Peer Mentor 2: Keeping your normal routines, like your three meals, making sure you're going for a walk and going to the gym and getting that fresh air as well is very important to maintain that healthy attitude.

[Caption] Exam day, how to do your best

Law Library Staff 1: The day of the exam, begins with me getting a good night's sleep and then trying to just relax as much as possible leading up to it.

Law Academic 1: Take a deep breath because very soon you are going to be in the zone of the exam. You're going to be very focused.

Law Peer Mentor 6: Try to figure out the time that you should be allocating to each section, or each question if there is only a couple of questions and then try to stick to those as much as possible.

Law Academic 1: The first thing students should do in perusal is scan the paper quickly to find out what issues of law they are being asked about. Map out, point by point, how you are going to tackle one of those questions.

Law Peer Mentor 1: During the exam, I try to go by what the Law Academics have suggested in terms of time management. So, normally they suggest a time slot for each question.

Law Academic 3: So, you have to allocate your time and be quite strict with it, even if you haven't - say for an essay style question - even if you haven't finished it completely. Perhaps throw your final thoughts into some dot points but then move on because you need to get to the next question.

Law Library Staff 2: If you start to feel a bit panicky, take a deep breath. Read back over the question or read back over your previous answer or change pens. Do something to just kind of get you back into the zone because that's where you want to be.

[Caption] Keep calm and carry on…

QUT Counsellor: Probably the most effective technique is breathing. There are two types of breathing that can be useful: one is deep breathing [takes a deep breath] so breathing deeply in through the nose, holding it for a few moments and then breathing out.

Law Academic 3: One of the best strategies for doing well is to just keep yourself calm.

Law Academic 1: When you become stressed, step back and start thinking and start writing. Don't freeze.

QUT Counsellor: I often say to students, what you need to do is consider yourself as an elite athlete and see this as an opportunity not a threat. So this is, you've prepared and now it is about performing.

[Caption] What your markers are looking for, their secrets revealed.

Law Academic 3: So markers are looking for different things in relation to different sorts of questions.

Law Academic 1: I hope to see a logical progression to the answer.

Law Academic 3: Essay style questions will mostly give students a statement and then ask them to discuss that. So, as lawyers, what we usually do in that situation is to take a position in relation to the statement and then argue it out. So, you need to have an introduction that sets out the context of what you are going to be arguing, and then sets a bit of a roadmap for how that argument will be made out. We bring our conclusion from the end right up to the front so it's really clear what the argument is.

Law Academic 2: Don't write everything you know about the area. Really focus on what the question is asking you to do. So, for example in torts, sometimes, we ask you to advise of whether or not a duty of care is owed as opposed to whether or not there is a full action. So really target what the question is asking you, really target what the issues are that arise within the question and focus your answer to them as opposed to a big summary of the area of law.

Law Academic 1: So you should be giving us what the issue is, telling us what the relevant law is, and then, very importantly, you should be applying that law to the facts. Too often students just say 'this is what the law is, therefore it's absolutely obvious that [for example] there has been a nuisance.

Law Academic 2: If you have done your study, done your preparation in the lead up to the exams. If you've been working all semester, you can only do what you can do. As I said, the day of your exam is your day to shine. So, don't panic, do the best job you can. Come out and reward yourself afterwards.

[Credits follow]

Produced by Nerilee Hall and Rowena McGregor, QUT Library
Filmed and edited by Maggie Maddin

  • Law Academics: Elizabeth Dickson, Rachel Field, Tracey Carver
  • Law Peer Mentors: Jayne Di Bella, Lya McTaggart, Isaiah Nelson, Kit Yan Lam
  • QUT Counsellor: Sue Barnard
  • Law Library Staff: Caleb Rose, Linda Le

Music by Kara Square "Who's The Man?" - Kara Square. (2015). Who's the man? CC by NC

[Caption] Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane Australia

[Video ends]