A-level law is certainly a very interesting subject to study since it enables you to widen your knowledge on various roles the legal sector has to offer, as well as how laws are made in the English legal system – including specifics of many cases. It is a subject that encourages you to approach a new style of thinking by applying your legal knowledge to problem questions or scenarios to explain the likely outcome of a case.
However, it’s no surprise that it can surely seem daunting at times, so here are four simple tips to ace your exams!
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The general rule is little and often so if you can help it, definitely do not make the mistake of leaving all your challenging material to learn towards the very end of your second year – there’s nothing worse than missing the grades you want while knowing you could have helped it!
Make sure you understand all of the content and the cases that you learn at the end of each lesson or at the very least, at the end of each unit. Try to make your revision notes as you go throughout the year, with the aim of having less note-making and more time for revision towards exam season – which leads onto my point about effective revision.
Revision is most effective when you are revisiting your material over a longer period of time in an area with no surrounding distractions. In terms of law, it is no surprise that the A-level requires a large amount information to be remembered accurately.
Therefore, you should find the learning style that suits you best – whether that is make both detailed and summarised posters for each section or unit you study or using flash cards to remember key cases.
Tip #2: Be Proactive and Organised
To succeed in your law A-level, you need to be proactive in the lesson – if you don’t fully understand a particular aspect, ask the teacher to help you straight away. Never leave a lesson thinking ‘what was that about’ or ‘I’ll learn this later’ – get to the bottom of your questions in the lesson. By doing this, you are reducing both your workload and stress when it comes to the exam period.
Additionally, with a demanding essay-based subject such as law, organising your time to do past papers is a must. Unlike many other subjects, you can essentially guess the possible questions that will come up on your exam as they are very similar every year.
So master the past papers under timed conditions and you will be well prepared. Always make a short plan before starting your essay and consider potential points based around the argument – instead of a description of what happened.
Tip #3: Memorise a Good Essay Structure
There are many great ways to structure your legal essay to impress your examiner and get the top marks. Here are only a couple examples of effective structures:
C – Claim: Identify the particular issue relating to the facts;
L – Law: Present the specific law relevant to the issue;
E – Evaluate: Apply the law from the previous step to the facts or claims;
O – Outcome: Summarise and conclude by justifying the various points you have made.
This can be applied both at a paragraph level with a larger conclusion at the end, or in the essay as a whole.
For problem questions, it is vital that you know the law. Granted that you discuss the relevant law applicable to the scenario, you should apply the law to the factswith reference to the cases. A structure that works here is the:
I – Issue: Identify the problem;
R – Rule: Set out the legal principles that can be used to address or solve the problem;
A – Application: A detailed explanation of whether the claims can be justified and take time to infer the possible less-obvious aspects of the case;
C – Conclusion: Take on the role of a judge and use a persuasive explanation as to why the argument you accept as correct is the strongest.
Tip #4: Use Any Available Revision Resources
This is perhaps the easiest key to success since there are many ways you can improve your grade by simply using revision resources. An obvious example of this is using mark schemes of past or practise papers to see the type of answers achieving top-band marks.
Similarly, reading model answers from a revision guide or law textbook is also very beneficial.
Furthermore, a great revision resource is using websites that are specifically targeted to A-level law revision. Some examples are listed below: