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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.