The best revision advice I’d ever received came, not from a law tutor, but from a recent graduate of the Metropolitan Police’s training school in Hendon. It’s the, “One day, one week, one month” approach to memory and study.
Here’s how it works – if you learn about Mrs Carlill, her smoke-ball and unilateral contracts today, it’s crucial that you review your notes, listen to an on-topic podcast, talk about it, etc the next day.
Review the topic again in a week and then one month – and on a monthly basis thereafter.
Otherwise, as time passes, you forget what you’ve read in your text or heard in your lecture – and rather than revising the topic, you end up being in a constant state of re-learning.
Trust me, it’s no fun trying to re-learn a year’s worth of course material a week or two before the exam.
Remember too there are several “pathways to learning” – which is educationalist speak for that fact that humans learn by seeing, reading, listening, speaking and doing. So it’s not about memorising your notes. In fact, mixing it up a bit will help you recognise and think about a particular issue from a variety of angles.
If you have listened to a lecture, read, made notes and talked about it to fellow students – and kept the topic fresh by one day, one week, one month, there is a much higher chance you will be able to remember the law and apply it properly on exam day.
The same applies with writing essays or preparing for advocacy. If I read an article or brief and don’t look at it again for a week, chances are, I’ve forgotten quite a bit of what I’ve read before and end up starting from scratch.
I didn’t used to have a very good track record dealing with multi-guess questions – and I was nervous that I’d have real trouble passing Civil and Criminal litigation at Bar school.
My copper friend was getting outstanding results in Hendon’s multi-guess exams and explained the method. I knew my way probably wouldn’t work so well, so I gave it a shot and made a list of all topics I’d need to learn.
I watched and listened to a DVD lecture on a topic one day, read notes the next, did on-topic practice multi-guess questions within a week and reviewed within a month.
When I went to find my multiple choice exam results on the wall, I was amazed to see that not only had I passed – I had done much better than I’d ever dared to hope.
You don’t have to be brilliant to get a law degree – but you do have to find a way to master a volume of complex and sometimes counter-intuitive information. I swear by one day, one week, one month and recommend the method to you.