How to write exam answers like a 'normal' Law student?

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kka25
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I'd be starting a Law degree programme soon and although I've read a few Law acts and a few Law books, I think that wouldn't necessarily help me answer academic or exam oriented Law questions.

When I did my first degree before (I did a Science degree), there are ways to 'study' or score exam papers and it's not by reading the entire text books or understanding the materials to its root or fundamental form. You basically need to study what is important or understand the topic itself but we don't necessarily need to 'write' it in a 'certain' way; all we need is to give, say, a required formula or solve a problem using X or Y proof. No 'angle' or 'subjectivity' is needed.

I'm sure there are ways to answer Law exam questions? Any introductory tips for me? Is there a general structure that general Law students will follow? Are there things I need to avoid? Do I need to put in references or acts on my answers? Any links or examples I can have a look?

Hope I can get some help; I'm really new to this.
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christianlaw
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Are you doing a graduate LLB or the GLD? (just curious)
I think that much of this will be covered by your tutor and law school but if you are keen on reading something before you start this might be a good start
http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Write-La...essays+writing
You might be able to source a second-hand copy or borrow one at your University library.

If you are just looking for some tips here is my suggestion: you absolutely need to refer to the legal rule (act or case law). So the first point is to memorise the important cases/statutory sections/ that form the rule of law.

There are essentially two type of law exam questions: hypothetical scenarios or essay type questions. In the hypotheticals you should use IRAC (http://www.lawnerds.com/guide/irac.html) so Issue, Rule, Application and Conclusions.

In the first part, the issue, you need to distinguish between the material and non-material facts in your scenario and determine what the legal issue is. Secondly, you need to cite the section of the act or cases that form the rule.

For instance in a contract exam you very often have a case of breach of contract and consequential damages. In this case you will need to state the rule by citing a couple of cases for instance Hadley v Baxendale [1854] EWHC J70 that sets the principle of consequential damages and Victoria Laundry (Windsor) Ltd v Newman Industries Ltd [1949] 2 KB 528 that deal with remoteness of damages. These are just two examples but you will also need to cite more recent cases.

After you establish what the issue and the rule of law is you move into the application of the rule to your scenario and then to the conclusions.

Essay-type question would require a different structure e.g. a popular essay question is about Parliamentary Supremacy in light of the membership in the EU....there you would need to explain what the issues are, the law (European Communities Act) and the case law (Costa v. Enel etc). (P.S. do not worry about the cases I am citing here is just a way to illustrate my example with something more tangible than the usual A, B, C) and reach some well reasoned conclusions.

If you pay attention to the lectures the teacher will point at the most important cases/law that you need to memories. You will also discover early on which type of questions you prefer: this is important as in the exam you will be given a number of options. Focus on your strength.

All this is better illustrated in the book but I am confident that it will also be well covered ad nauseam by your University in your preparatory classes. As a hint I think that memorising as many cases as possible is crucial to achieve higher marks.
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TurboCretin
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(Original post by kka25)
I'd be starting a Law degree programme soon and although I've read a few Law acts and a few Law books, I think that wouldn't necessarily help me answer academic or exam oriented Law questions.

When I did my first degree before (I did a Science degree), there are ways to 'study' or score exam papers and it's not by reading the entire text books or understanding the materials to its root or fundamental form. You basically need to study what is important or understand the topic itself but we don't necessarily need to 'write' it in a 'certain' way; all we need is to give, say, a required formula or solve a problem using X or Y proof. No 'angle' or 'subjectivity' is needed.

I'm sure there are ways to answer Law exam questions? Any introductory tips for me? Is there a general structure that general Law students will follow? Are there things I need to avoid? Do I need to put in references or acts on my answers? Any links or examples I can have a look?

Hope I can get some help; I'm really new to this.
You're right - the way you structure an answer is vital in law. Writing the correct answer will likely get you nothing more than a passing grade. Structuring the answer well is essential to getting 1st class marks.
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Anon217
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Christianlaw gives good advice!

The only thing I'll add is that at the start of my second year, I asked my EU law tutor what makes a 1st class answer, he said the key to it is to presume the reader/examiner knows nothing about the law. So you build your answer in such a way that you guide the reader through the issues, explain the reasoning behind every point and by the end of your answer, they should have a good grasp of the subject (so it's a bit like being a teacher yourself, if that makes sense!).

Not sure if that's any help or if it would work for everyone, but I took the advice for all my law modules and ended up with a 1st in EU and most of my other modules in second year.

Good luck
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kka25
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(Original post by christianlaw)
Are you doing a graduate LLB or the GLD? (just curious)
I think that much of this will be covered by your tutor and law school but if you are keen on reading something before you start this might be a good start
http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Write-La...essays+writing
You might be able to source a second-hand copy or borrow one at your University library.

If you are just looking for some tips here is my suggestion: you absolutely need to refer to the legal rule (act or case law). So the first point is to memorise the important cases/statutory sections/ that form the rule of law.

There are essentially two type of law exam questions: hypothetical scenarios or essay type questions. In the hypotheticals you should use IRAC (http://www.lawnerds.com/guide/irac.html) so Issue, Rule, Application and Conclusions.

In the first part, the issue, you need to distinguish between the material and non-material facts in your scenario and determine what the legal issue is. Secondly, you need to cite the section of the act or cases that form the rule.

For instance in a contract exam you very often have a case of breach of contract and consequential damages. In this case you will need to state the rule by citing a couple of cases for instance Hadley v Baxendale [1854] EWHC J70 that sets the principle of consequential damages and Victoria Laundry (Windsor) Ltd v Newman Industries Ltd [1949] 2 KB 528 that deal with remoteness of damages. These are just two examples but you will also need to cite more recent cases.

After you establish what the issue and the rule of law is you move into the application of the rule to your scenario and then to the conclusions.

Essay-type question would require a different structure e.g. a popular essay question is about Parliamentary Supremacy in light of the membership in the EU....there you would need to explain what the issues are, the law (European Communities Act) and the case law (Costa v. Enel etc). (P.S. do not worry about the cases I am citing here is just a way to illustrate my example with something more tangible than the usual A, B, C) and reach some well reasoned conclusions.

If you pay attention to the lectures the teacher will point at the most important cases/law that you need to memories. You will also discover early on which type of questions you prefer: this is important as in the exam you will be given a number of options. Focus on your strength.

All this is better illustrated in the book but I am confident that it will also be well covered ad nauseam by your University in your preparatory classes. As a hint I think that memorising as many cases as possible is crucial to achieve higher marks.
I'll be referring to your post and links (planning to buy the book as well!)

Anyway, this may be an odd question but do you (or like any Law students) refer to solely the academic textbooks (the ones given on the reference lists) for your studies and references? Or do you have other main sources do you refer to? In my previous field, some students don't refer to the (academic) textbooks; online tutorials and forums are quite helpful to study certain things e.g. programming. But I believe this is not something applicable to Law majors?
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christianlaw
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(Original post by kka25)
I'll be referring to your post and links (planning to buy the book as well!)

Anyway, this may be an odd question but do you (or like any Law students) refer to solely the academic textbooks (the ones given on the reference lists) for your studies and references? Or do you have other main sources do you refer to? In my previous field, some students don't refer to the (academic) textbooks; online tutorials and forums are quite helpful to study certain things e.g. programming. But I believe this is not something applicable to Law majors?
If you study law you need to apply the rule of law to the issues of the case. So what I referred to were not books but case names. During your studies you will learn a lot of cases that make the law (and in several courses you will have statutes). In essence these form the law and remembering these is critical to succeed in the exams. Memorising is not the most important element thou: you need to understand the principles highlighted in each relevant case/statute in order to apply them.

Website/forums (and even textbooks -- all these are secondary sources) are not considered that relevant and you won't use them in an examination.

I don't think that you should worry: all this is covered in the legal system course that is normally the first in every law course.
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kka25
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(Original post by christianlaw)
If you study law you need to apply the rule of law to the issues of the case. So what I referred to were not books but case names. During your studies you will learn a lot of cases that make the law (and in several courses you will have statutes). In essence these form the law and remembering these is critical to succeed in the exams. Memorising is not the most important element thou: you need to understand the principles highlighted in each relevant case/statute in order to apply them.

Website/forums (and even textbooks -- all these are secondary sources) are not considered that relevant and you won't use them in an examination.

I don't think that you should worry: all this is covered in the legal system course that is normally the first in every law course.
Yes, these are the feedbacks I got from my Law peers as well; however, there must be materials or references that Law students will refer to e.g. an academic textbook or book/materials that refer to the cases, especially for further readings?

My programme involves a few short seminars or none at all, so we essentially need to find our sources based on the references given or find a source that could help us study, independently.
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christianlaw
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(Original post by kka25)
Yes, these are the feedbacks I got from my Law peers as well; however, there must be materials or references that Law students will refer to e.g. an academic textbook or book/materials that refer to the cases, especially for further readings?

My programme involves a few short seminars or none at all, so we essentially need to find our sources based on the references given or find a source that could help us study, independently.
Which course is it ? All course guides/slides will include reference to at least 1 core textbook and all the relevant cases that you can find on westlaw or lexis (databases used for law studies).
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kka25
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(Original post by christianlaw)
Which course is it ? All course guides/slides will include reference to at least 1 core textbook and all the relevant cases that you can find on westlaw or lexis (databases used for law studies).
Well, the programme is structured for those who have been out of education for some time or are working full-time.

Ah I see; I believe it's similar to my previous field as well; we usually had a few core textbooks and some references from online databases but most students tend to refer to online forums and tutorials to study the materials, like the programming example I gave. If I recalled correctly, a Law mate of mine did go through his slides and some textbooks whilst studying for one of his exams.

Do Law students have a specific textbook where all the cases are documented?
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christianlaw
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There isn't a specific textbook with all cases. Each legal subject will have a textbook that will reference to the relevant cases and/or provide a summary.

Specific information will vary from one course to another so you should wait the first module/ask your tutor for further instructions. Programming is entirely different as it is mostly learned by example and there are different styles of programming to achieve the same results.

In law you need to gain a good understand of a specific subject apply a set of cases and statutes. Contracts for instance will include a number of cases but it will also refer to the Sales of Goods Act so it really depends. All of this (and much more) will be explained in the textbook or course manual. Every course (even ILEX) will give you a clear outline on what is covered, which textbooks to buy etc.

You might find some website with course summaries but I would recommend to stick to what is required in your course. Law textbooks are notably very thick so knowing what do revise/what is covered is essential.

So in short, no there isn't one specific textbook but several ones. Ask your institution for all these information and you won't have to guess.
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kka25
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(Original post by christianlaw)
x
Thanks.
____________________________________________________________

On a related topic, how do you guys practise the materials you've studied?
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kka25
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This online resouce is amazing: link
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Nubian Rapunzel
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Where will you be studying?


Blog: www.thenubianrapunzel.com
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