‘You may now begin.’ With these much dreaded words and a flurry of paper turning, the first of my January mid sessional papers began.
Being back in an exam hall after what seemed like no time at all was a bizarre experience, particularly given that there were around 600 other students in a monstrous venue, scribbling away. The Bristol LLB is notorious for its unforgiving early examination session, setting papers in Law of Contract, Law of Tort, Criminal Law and Constitutional Rights.
The build up to the examination season can only be described as a race against time. Soon enough, January reared its head and my once spotless room had transfigured into a bottomless pit of colour coded flashcards and meticulously drawn A3 posters.
Fresh challenges arose: How do you learn hundreds of cases? How much detail do you need to know? Am I going to be able to get it all done in time? This was unidentified territory, and nobody could anticipate how difficult it would be to navigate revision for something none of us had studied before.
Running parallel to exams? Coursework, worth 10 per cent of the year. This was time management at its best. Surprisingly however, there was a considerable sense of satisfaction that came from re- listening to hours of lectures, remaking notes and piecing together a jigsaw puzzle of legal issues that were once strewn across unchartered territory of the brain.
It may seem dramatic, but remembering actually HOW to revise was a problem in itself. Its incredibly easy in university to get sucked into a circle of enjoying socialising, throwing oneself into extra curricular activities, and and fitting your life around work as opposed to the other way round.
The best advice I can proffer is to start early. It sounds cliche, but even though my exams were ‘mocks’ and therefore have no effect on my first year grade, the level of material still to be learnt between now and summer makes drawing these basic foundations even more appealing.
For those looking to study the LLB – I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay on top of things. These exams are very unusual – far from the regurgitation of information that was previously acceptable in GCSE Biology, writing a ‘problem question’ in Law is based on a deep assimilation of knowledge and your ability to apply that knowledge to a ‘real life situation.’
The essays are paradoxically simple: with the way you write it more important than the content (though this still, obviously, plays an important part). Expressing yourself with clarity, structuring properly and proving you have an understanding of complex legal concepts is paramount.
The first hurdle is over…and the next stop is the real thing – time to jump!
Sophie Landau is a first-year student at Bristol University