In this piece, you’ll find five tips for approaching family law revision. Not only will this advice help build upon the foundation required to excel in this subject but will hopefully provide confidence for when exam season rolls around.
This might seem like an obvious one, and the mainstay of revising for any topic, but it’s imperative to collate your notes and make them concise and easy to learn.
Not only this but making revision notes in good time before your exam can enhance your understanding OR it can isolate issues within the content that you don’t quite understand yet and allow you to reach out for help before its too late.
Making revision notes can also help you create arguments for these topics which are usable for essays as well as help you get a deeper understanding of how and where certain family law topics may overlap – for example, the principles of divorce could overlap with financial separation and child custody.
This is really important as it will allow you, from the get-go, to have an understanding of what topics interest you most and therefore, what potential questions you should choose when you open that exam paper to get top marks.
Most law students will know that you can’t make a point without evidence and analysis. Therefore, you must have an easy method of learning the key examples which will prove your essay points.
In family law, there can be a variety of valuable evidence that can be used to prove your points. For example, you can use case law to highlight the application of legislation or the viewpoints of our judiciary on certain cases.
Beyond this, issues in family law are amongst some of the most controversial and therefore, you will also have access to academic literature as well as government reports and review which greatly enhance any argument. It is also important to remember how your family law module was taught.
Some modules in universities taught through a socio-legal lens which in terms of evidence, can allow students to use not only case law and legal academia but also statistics and even philosophy in some cases.
This tip smoothly flows from the above two ideas. Once you have collated your content and relevant evidence. It is time to learn it. Throughout your time at school and university, you will have revised for countless exams. For some, this may mean that you know how you learn best and can put that into action for family law revision too. For others, there might be a better way – and that is okay.
Friends, family, as well as academic staff in your institution, can be at hand to help you figure out what learning method you use will serve you best for this particular module. Moreover, it is worth noting that you may find one approach works better for family law than for another module.
For me, I found that whilst I struggled with flashcards for some of my other final year modules. I found them incredibly helpful to learn quotes from academics as well as the key takeaways for cases – particularly as there was so much content.
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This is something which every lecturer you’ve ever sat in front of will have told you and it might have gone right over your head. However, please take heed: you NEED to take your law revision beyond what you have learned in lectures if you want to truly excel. This need not be a reason to panic however, as it isn’t as humongous a task as it seems.
Your lecture notes are a truly wonderful baseline and you need to know them to begin but simply opening your textbook, moving from the textbook to academics quoted therein, and looking at what those academic articles quote gets you moving and takes you steps beyond lectures in only an hour or so’s work.
For this reason, Google and in particular Google Scholar is your very best friend. If you have read one interesting article by an academic or have come across one topic which has caught your attention – put it into the search engine and see what else comes up which can aid your understanding and add depth to your points. Avoid sites like Wikipedia. It’s wonderful what you can find with an intelligent search.
When all is said and done, you have collated your notes, used your favoured learning method to learn case law, academic quotes and statistics and read beyond your lectures, the only thing left to do is put it all into action.
Practice papers are available through your law school from previous years and they are the only way you are going to truly grasp how these topics are going to come up in exam conditions.
They can help you formulate arguments, learn how best to structure answers as well as allowing you an opportunity to figure out what you know and what you need to revise further. In terms of family law revision, for me, practice really did make perfect as it was the main tool in my revision toolkit which gave me confidence that I knew what I was facing when it came to approaching the exam on the day.
Words: Alicia Gibson
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