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9 tips on getting a first class degree

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How to ace your exams like a pro, from the lawyers that have been there and done it

graduates

City Law School student Christianah Babajide interviewed graduates from across the country to find out how they sailed past that 2:1 grade boundary and bagged themselves first class degrees. They were full of helpful tips and tricks, and here are Legal Cheek’s top nine.

Priya Talwar, City Law School

University is full of distractions, but you are there for a purpose. For me, success is built up on what you do on a day-to-day basis. You can’t get a first class degree in one day. It is the compound effect of doing something daily for the bigger goal. I made sure I was on top of my university coursework and revision everyday. It is much easier to control your daily activity. Also, you are at university for three to four years, so you have invested time and money and therefore you want to do the best you can.

Aqsa Ahmed, UCL

In order to get a first class degree you must be willing to work hard and not take the easy way out. I think one of the mistakes law students make is get put off by the never-ending reading list and automatically look for the quick revision guides. This is wrong. The revision guides are good for last minute revision or for testing yourself but they should certainly not serve as studying — they’re merely for revision. Read the core LLB books your university provides and turn up to your tutorials.

Daniel Wilson, University of Manchester

Most students think they don’t have to attend their lectures and tutorials. But really, it is those who do attend that achieve a first class. I cannot stress how important time management is in exams. It is important you stay organised and really manage your time well. In my first year, I thought it was okay to only do two questions when I actually had to answer three and because of that, I couldn’t get the top marks. But remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day: do past papers to get used to the 45 minutes you have for each question.

Jazdeep Bassi, University of Westminster

There are students who spend countless hours in the library trying to memorise the entire year’s worth of statutes only to forget the essentials. This is wrong. Studying smart and applying the law always worked for me. Do not attempt to learn every case. Grasp the essentials and you will have a solid understanding of how the law works. Find journal articles and opinions of other professionals to show the breadth of your knowledge. Finally, when it comes to writing your answer, quickly jot down your ideas to avoid losing your valuable thoughts. Then simply let your answers shine.

Katie Collins, University of York

Getting a first class in law requires hard work and is not something that can be done in a day. It took blood, sweat and tears to get a first in my law degree. However, if I had to offer one key tip it would be this: remember to finish the exam. Time management is important. Only spend 45 minutes on each question then move on, come back later if you have to. The more questions you answer the higher chance you have of passing. Manage your time well during the exam and you will get a first with flying colours.

Lucy Thorton, SOAS, University of London

Lecture handouts are extremely important. These contain the core legal principles of the LLB course. Try to learn all the cases and statutes on your lecture handout. I never did the wider reading, I just read journal articles — this is because I wanted to enjoy my social life at university as well as understand the module quicker. Many of my friends who did the wider reading didn’t have the quick but detailed information that I absorbed from reading journal articles on LexisNexis. I didn’t work hard for my first class degree, I worked smart.

Sabrina Yasim, LSE

Getting a first class in law was never going to be easy. Make sure you pick the modules you love, and not the one your friends are picking. This is because you are more likely to do well in a degree if you actually enjoy the module. It also makes research and assignments quicker and sometimes fun. My second piece of advice would be to take advantage of your subject teachers. They are there for you so make sure you go to them with assignments and seek feedback face to face, rather than via email.

Muntaha Nabi, City Law School

Learn the relevant material from the syllabus. Focus on the content taught in lectures, tutorials and of course the reading that was given. Especially, think about the discussions taken place in class. Don’t get caught up in the small details before understanding the topic in general. As long as you have a robust understanding overall, the small details will fall into place. Exam structure: don’t write everything you know for the sake of showing the examiner you revised the topic if it is not relevant to the question. Keep it simple and straight to the point.

Ekondu Ochogwu, Lancaster University Law School

So many people desire to achieve a first class but never truly want it. If you really want it, you will get it. I started university really wanting a first class and that played a huge role in my success. Once you are determined, you won’t even notice the hard work because your eyes are on the prize. Do not for one second even doubt yourself, aim for it and work for it — the occasional bad grade shouldn’t distract you either. If you want a first class, be determined to achieve one.

Congratulations to everyone who graduated with a first class this year! Feeling inspired? Then put these useful tips to good use in your law exams.

106 Comments

Captain Obvious

“In order to get a First in your law degree, you must work hard.” In other news, the sky is blue.

(98)(3)

Anonymous

And LC used the verb “bag” at the first opportunity

(11)(2)

Bumblebee

Respectfully, I don’t think those undertaking undergraduate degrees at Lancaster, City or the University of Westminster are in a position to be dishing out advice for how to succeed in exams.

(35)(53)

Anonymous

City university is a great place to study law – incorporated the historic inns of court school of law . Respected bptc provider – it writes the manuals bpp and ulaw work from. Entry requirements are high.

Point taken on Westminster and Lancaster tho.
Having said that a first class degree from a middle of the road institution is still better than a 2.1 from an rg. It’s pure numbers when comparing candidates – who scored higher?

(15)(7)

Bumblebee

The typical entry requirement for the LLB at City is 320 UCAS points. This is equivalent to 3 Bs at A-level + 1 E at AS-Level.

I appreciate that different people may have different ideas as to what constitutes ‘high entry standards’. I’m not trying to troll anyone and I’m sure that for some people, getting into City is a real achievement. However, respectfully I don’t think BBB + E justifies your statement that ‘entry requirements are high’.

Moreover, you don’t even need A-levels to get onto the LLB at City; City are quite happy for candidates to earn 320 UCAS points via other qualifications such as BTECs.

Anonymous

Argument: destroyed. 💥

Anonymous

And you are Bumblebee?

(2)(1)

Bumblebee

Yes. I am Bumblebee.

Anonymous

Stop talking out of your arse

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Hang on… you realise that Lancaster is rated in the top 10 of most University Tables, I.e higher than most in the Russell Group?

(7)(1)

Cityboy

To get a first:

– remember full names of journals articles and authors and cite them
– if you can try remembering names of cases in full AND the citation as well, as this creates a misleading impression that you’re more intelligent / knowledgeable than you are;
– try to engage critically with the material – not just “X say Y however A says B”,
– observe your peers within your law cohort, spot the brightest ones and try to collaborate / swap notes with them,
– question spot wherever you can – why would you ever learn the entire module if the structure of the course enables you to pick, with some certainty based on past papers, questions that are bound to come up? Take advantage of that and ice your chosen topic (and pray these come up – it worked for me).

Hope that helps.

(23)(35)

Anonymous

You’re not Oxbridge Bunny and you won’t get a whole article on LC because of this comment mate

(9)(14)

Anonymous

You smart little khunt.

(4)(1)

Serah

1) You DO NOT have to cite full names of articles, authors and cases in an exam. You do not have time for such nonsense better to spend your time making substantive points instead. You only have to show that you understand the points being made and incorporate the arguments well into your answers.

2) BE CAREFUL with students that appear to be the brightest in the class. In my experience they’re usually full of hot air and only looking for others to latch onto. Those that are smart are usually unwilling to help and quite frankly selfish.

Instead seek out students that (even though they are not getting firsts) are actually hardworking. These are students with whom you can bang out 12 hours session at the library, students willing to spend their weekends at the library and have no problems sharing ideas with you instead of keeping it to themselves while milking you for all you’re worth.
That’s how I got my first.

(39)(2)

Anonymous

I feel that’s what kind of person the OP actually is. Milking others for their ideas, whilst contributing fuck all.

(10)(2)

Anonymous

Bit harsh to get so personal seeing as you don’t even know them …..

(1)(2)

Anonymous

💩💩💩

Anonymous

Writing full names in exams is such shit advice. You don’t have time for that and you won’t lose marks providing it’s clear what you’re referring to.

You will, however, lose marks when you run out of time (on account of writing out the full name of everything).

(13)(1)

Anonymous

DO NOT learn full article titles and case citations

(5)(1)

Anonymous

This is such shyte advice. Where did you get your First Class LLB mate? London South Bank?

(12)(3)

Anonymous

Nah it didn’t help you waste man
Jog on

Chow

(0)(3)

Anonymous

Ciao?

(3)(1)

Tunde

Racist!

(0)(2)

Anonymous

Nothing ground breaking in there to be honest. It’s how you do well in any exam. It’s what I did throughout my A-Levels.

(6)(4)

Anonymous

Do you want a medal?
Last time I checked we’ve all got A-Levels

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Lol. Why so many pointless articles?

People who obtain firsts aren’t doing so because they read a shit ten point article telling them how… You work damn hard and figure what works best out yourself.

(34)(0)

Garibaldi

We are reading such articles. We are human too.

(4)(4)

Nicky

“It took blood, sweat and tears to get a first in my law degree. However, if I had to offer one key tip it would be this: remember to finish the exam.”

Katie Collins would also get a first in melodrama and condescension.

(55)(1)

Anonymous

Ah, I wondered why dropping my pen, yelling out “to hell with you all, to hell with THE MAN!” whilst defecating on my desk and wiping my backside with the exam paper wasn’t working. I need to finish the exam!

(14)(0)

Anonymous

Dabb on point

(1)(3)

Anonymous

“I thought it was okay to only do two questions when I actually had to answer three and because of that, I couldn’t get the top marks.”

Well. No shit.

(44)(0)

Anonymous

Inability to read = no first

(2)(0)

Qualified and Entertained

Honestly the way this article is written it beggars belief that any of them got firsts. Then again, looking at the institutions they went to I am hardly surprised…

(14)(13)

Not Amused (not real)

What’s that supposed to mean?
These are all good universities…or maybe you’re bitter because Oxford & Cambridge studs didn’t participate in this article

(15)(2)

Anonymous

Nothing wrong with SOAS, LSE, UCL, CITY.

Where did you get your law degree, Qualified and Entertained, Southbank?

(17)(1)

Giuseppe

City Uni

MEGA LOL

(6)(5)

Not Amused At All

LOL shut ya trap mate
Nothing wrong with City, if u ask me its SOAS you shoukd be mega loling about

(4)(7)

Anonymous

O rly? K.

Clearly a City Uni student.

Anonymous

K? What are you 5?
Get a life m8

Anonymous

So much rage.

Must be a City Uni student.

Anonymous

Loool are you crazy?

Bobby

We’ve had the same troll on this tread defending City. Fine SOAS is not LSE but it is an AAA law school. Lancaster is an AAB law school. City is BBB; for undergrad it is a joke for law. However the biggest joke is Westminster. People don’t realise how crap some law schools are. You get about 10 grads from Westminster that are worth anything that for whatever reason have ended up there. The rest are a waste of space and should just go straight to Pret.

Fap & Co. LLP

Nice h8 m8, i r8 it 8/8.

LMAO

LOOOOL he probably studied with Tund Okewalenat Met University
Poor bloke

(5)(0)

Anonymous

SOAS and City?

Lol, k.

(0)(4)

Anonymous

Stfu wasteman, Caliph Aysh went to SOAS and now he’s in CC!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I’m sorry who?

Tunde

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Top Cat

Mrs Babajide back at it again

(11)(0)

Anonymous

Then you get to the LPC and your training contract and find that you literally never use the material you learnt on your LLB ever again.

(11)(2)

Anonymous

This comment is horseshite.

From someone currently reading through LPC work which contains a great deal of tort and contract principles taught during the LLB.

(0)(7)

anonymous

Wait until you start your TC.

Use lots of eloquent language such as horseshite there and you’ll go far.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

Thanks, I look forward to it.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Hard to generalise when a first class from Hull is not the same as a first class from Oxford.

I came across a student from the former; who did not score below 70% in any module..

(6)(2)

Giuseppe

Anyone with a functioning brain stem can do that at Hull Uni bruh…

(5)(3)

Anonymous

(5)(0)

Anonymous

This one is good too;

Just search “pornhub”, excellent legal revision.

(1)(0)

Dirty Frank

The best!!!!

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Tyrion Lannister

My tip is just to get drunk and know things.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

My top tip (speaking as someone who got a TC): don’t bother trying to get a first in law. Study a degree which is actually interesting (I did English), enjoy your studies (everyone I know who studied law at undergraduate level regretted it), actually have some free time because you’re not working constantly, get a first in your chosen subject, do the GDL, get a TC anyway.

In b4 negative comments from butthurt LLB students. Don’t work hard, work smart.

(13)(9)

Anonymous

Bet your butt hurts with your head so far up it.

(7)(1)

Dirty Frank

Wholly agreed – I hacked it the same way.

Loved my degree, got pissed pretty much every day in first year, ended up with a First, bagged a TC straight away.

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(4)

Stallone

Cool story, bruh. Changed my lyfe.

(9)(0)

Lundgren

Suck my dong, Rocky.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Whether or not you got a TC is irrelevant for the purposes of your post. Stop trying to brag.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Not really. It at least suggests some degree of experience / competency in certain areas…

I’d much sooner take advice from someone with a TC at an excellent firm, than some first year at city law school.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t understand all the hating on city university law school….its actually an excellent law school. Good teaching, high entry requirements.

And no , I’m not a city law school student.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Actually I am a city law school student, and proud of it!!

Do your homework before you slate it.

Also City Law Student

Hear hear

Anonymous

Yep, you’ll be feeling proud all the way to the local Jobseekers Centre. Lolz

Anonymous

Lol I did everything as advised but ended up only with a high 2:1 and missed that first class marginally. Does luck play a factor in this as well?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Lmao. Fact that you asked that is indicative of why you didn’t get a first..

It’s not a fucking checklist, you don’t automatically get the qualification if you tick everything off. You have to actually work hard and have a certain degree of natural aptitude / intelligence.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

I know, I was being sarcastic. I’m implying that it’s easier said than done because as you said, it’s not a checklist, doing it all doesn’t guarantee you a first but it does guarantee you a good grade. I’m content with my results but sometimes things don’t always go the way you want it.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(0)

Colonel Sanders

Yuuuuuuuuuuge!!!

(1)(0)

Ekondu Ochogwu

Lancaster Uni is d best, top law skool.

(1)(0)

Not Amused (real)

Loooool you would say that wouldn’t you?
Wow you’re not biased at all LOL.

(0)(0)

Tunde

Stfu wasteman.

(0)(0)

Tyrion

Did someone from Westminster just offer advice on academics? Sorry a piece of toilet paper is still piece of toilet paper whether its got 1st class written on it or 2.2. City is passable, the rest range from very good (SOAS, Manchester) to outstanding (LSE) but the W is an interesting inclusion.

(13)(2)

Top kek

UCL and York are excellent too, non?

(2)(0)

Tyrion

Yeah bro, it was just a quick summary so didn’t include all. You know the score. Just wanted to mention that Westminster is rubbish at best.

(6)(0)

Emotional Wreck

You’re horrible!!!!!
It’s not all about Russell group universities. You can still make something of yourself even if you go to Westminister.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Yup, you may get two of those gold stars on your name badge in McDonald’s

(6)(1)

Bantz & Co.

Savage.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Judging by the the disgusting feedback. Advice is advice do what ever the ____you want to do

(0)(0)

Alfi Hartkor

Wut?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You really don’t need a first to get ahead – your choice of institution matters more. And to be honest, academic achievement has to be balanced with practical experience – something I never did. A decent and lengthy bit of experience as an intern, to my mind, is more important than a first.

Typed by a person with a first from Kent, and is having absolutely no luck in the job market.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

That’s kinda neither here nor there though, because a first from Kent is like an A level in politics…

(2)(1)

Gyoza

Dunno son, I know folks from QM who got firsts in a variety of subjects and all ended up bagging City TCs. It’s all relative I guess.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t mean to pick on someone unduly, but everything that Katie Collins girl says is utterly inane.

(1)(1)

Alex

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Are you referring to Katie Collins or Katie King?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Both.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

But Katie King didn’t write this article?

Comments are closed.