Can't get a 1st in Oxford Law

Watch this thread
aelise
Badges: 8
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#1
Report Thread starter 4 weeks ago
#1
I keep getting 60-65 consistently on every essay, with the odd 67/68 on problem questions. I work so hard, but I only managed a 62 average in Law Moderations and did the worst in my college. I've asked for help from my peers, but nobody is quite sure what their technique is. Also, nobody from my college in Law got a first/distinction this year, nor has done for a long time.

So I was wondering if anyone had any advice on how to get a 1st in Law? My tutors are quite unhelpful when I ask how to improve with my essays, and just tell me to do the reading list, which I fully complete every week. Maybe I'm just applying what I read wrong?

Any advice at all would be appreciated, it's getting super disheartening to watch all my non-law friends get like 85-88% on every assignment and collection and then I come out with like a 62% and have to pretend to not be that disappointed. I'm getting really depressed and my self esteem has plummeted because of it.

Thanks so much <3
Last edited by aelise; 4 weeks ago
0
reply
04MR17
Badges: 22
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#2
Report 4 weeks ago
#2
(Original post by aelise)
I keep getting 60-65 consistently on every essay, with the odd 67/68 on problem questions. I work so hard, but I only managed a 62 average in Law Moderations and did the worst in my college. I've asked for help from my peers, but nobody is quite sure what their technique is. Also, nobody from my college in Law got a first/distinction this year, nor has done for a long time.

So I was wondering if anyone had any advice on how to get a 1st in Law? My tutors are quite unhelpful when I ask how to improve with my essays, and just tell me to do the reading list, which I fully complete every week. Maybe I'm just applying what I read wrong?

Any advice at all would be appreciated, it's getting super disheartening to watch all my non-law friends get like 85-88% on every assignment and collection and then I come out with like a 62% and have to pretend to not be that disappointed. I'm getting really depressed and my self esteem has plummeted because of it.

Thanks so much <3
Firstly, well done on getting such good marks so far

Second - I would ask your tutors more specific questions. What would you add that you think might be missing? What would you say is the weakest part of this essay? Where could I reduce my words? Could you ask for examples of previous excellent essays?

Third, don't compare yourself to others on other courses. You won't be competing with them in your job prospects. My old housemate could easily get above 90% on uni assignments - he studied Maths. I studied History, 72% was considered brilliant for me.

Hope this helps,
MR
0
reply
mishieru07
Badges: 12
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#3
Report 4 weeks ago
#3
(Original post by aelise)
I keep getting 60-65 consistently on every essay, with the odd 67/68 on problem questions. I work so hard, but I only managed a 62 average in Law Moderations and did the worst in my college. I've asked for help from my peers, but nobody is quite sure what their technique is. Also, nobody from my college in Law got a first/distinction this year, nor has done for a long time.

So I was wondering if anyone had any advice on how to get a 1st in Law? My tutors are quite unhelpful when I ask how to improve with my essays, and just tell me to do the reading list, which I fully complete every week. Maybe I'm just applying what I read wrong?

Any advice at all would be appreciated, it's getting super disheartening to watch all my non-law friends get like 85-88% on every assignment and collection and then I come out with like a 62% and have to pretend to not be that disappointed. I'm getting really depressed and my self esteem has plummeted because of it.

Thanks so much <3
Sorry to hear that you're struggling.

1. Do you know anyone who has gotten 70 or above in collections/ regular tutorial essays? If so, ask to borrow their answers and compare them against yours.

2. How's your exam technique? Do you make plans before you start answering questions? Is timing a problem? Do you panic halfway thinking "oh shoot I didn't read the question properly and picked the wrong one because now I don't know how to answer the back half"?

3. In my opinion, doing well in PQs involves 2 things: a) be able to spot all the issues in a PQ and b) have a very clear framework that sets out all the elements of each issue, and then apply the framework to the given facts. For a), read the examiners reports (against the relevant past papers) and do PQ plans with friends (having multiple pairs of eyes reduces the risk of failing to spot issues). For b), you need to have and memorise element checklists and be able to apply them quickly and accurately. For example, I used to have a 7-step analysis for any general negligence PQ in tort. If you choose to go for a PQ-heavy strategy, you need to practice A LOT to the point where it almost becomes second nature, because doing 4 PQs in 3 hours is extremely tough timing-wise. It's doable (I know a guy who won the Gibbs prize doing the maximum number of PQs), but you need to be fast.

4. I was very much a PQ person and comparatively suck at essays (i.e. take my advice with a pinch of salt), but I would suggest you read the examiners reports to figure out roughly what kind of questions tend to get asked. More often than not, you'll find that they are variations on a theme. Any new big cases that recently got handed down are also prime targets (most likely your tutor will go through them or they will be covered during revision lectures). All the standard essay writing tips apply (e.g. signpost throughout, make sure you have a really clear introduction that explains exactly what you're going to do). Answer the question that has been set by the examiner, NOT THE QUESTION YOU THINK OUGHT TO BE SET (in caps for emphasis, you will not believe how many people do the latter). One good way to ensure this is to analyse the key words of a question. For example "In the context of judicial review of administrative action, a doctrine of judicial deference ‘is either empty or pernicious’ (ALLAN). Do you agree?", the way I would approach it is to explain what judicial deference is (in the context of judicial review of administrative action) and what "empty" and "pernicious" mean (by defining those terms in my own words at the outset). Another way to get brownie points for essays is to understand how the subjects are interlinked and cross-refer (my significant other was very good at this - think referencing contract theories in Jurisprudence).

5. Unpopular opinion, but I don't think you need to finish your entire reading list to do well. Remember that for Finals/ collections you have 45 minutes to write each answer so you don't have time to delve into long exposes. Focus on really understanding what the law is and why it is that way (and how the various theories and case law fit with or contradict each other).

6. How much time are you spending on revising for collections? Personally I used to take about 4-6 days per collection and that was good enough. Usually tutors tend to be lazy and recycle past exam papers so use those for planning.

7. Finals specific tips
- practice hand writing essays from time to time because if your scripts are not legible you will be asked to come back and dictate them to a scribe, which sucks
- if your handwriting sucks (like mine), write on every alternate line
- start each answer on a new booklet. When submitting your script at the end of the exam, put it in order of strong answer - weaker answer - weaker answer - strong answer so you start and end on a strong note. Not sure if this works but it's what I used to do.
- realistically, very few people study all 8 topics for each subject because it's too much work. Most people will do 6 topics (but you need to check past papers and see which topics tend to get combined).
- have a study plan and be consistent with your work. There is A LOT of content and it helps significantly if you actually did work during term time and revised properly for collections.

Good luck!
Last edited by mishieru07; 4 weeks ago
0
reply
aelise
Badges: 8
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#4
Report Thread starter 4 weeks ago
#4
(Original post by mishieru07)
Sorry to hear that you're struggling.

1. Do you know anyone who has gotten 70 or above in collections/ regular tutorial essays? If so, ask to borrow their answers and compare them against yours.

2. How's your exam technique? Do you make plans before you start answering questions? Is timing a problem? Do you panic halfway thinking "oh shoot I didn't read the question properly and picked the wrong one because now I don't know how to answer the back half"?

3. In my opinion, doing well in PQs involves 2 things: a) be able to spot all the issues in a PQ and b) have a very clear framework that sets out all the elements of each issue, and then apply the framework to the given facts. For a), read the examiners reports (against the relevant past papers) and do PQ plans with friends (having multiple pairs of eyes reduces the risk of failing to spot issues). For b), you need to have and memorise element checklists and be able to apply them quickly and accurately. For example, I used to have a 7-step analysis for any general negligence PQ in tort. If you choose to go for a PQ-heavy strategy, you need to practice A LOT to the point where it almost becomes second nature, because doing 4 PQs in 3 hours is extremely tough timing-wise. It's doable (I know a guy who won the Gibbs prize doing the maximum number of PQs), but you need to be fast.

4. I was very much a PQ person and comparatively suck at essays (i.e. take my advice with a pinch of salt), but I would suggest you read the examiners reports to figure out roughly what kind of questions tend to get asked. More often than not, you'll find that they are variations on a theme. Any new big cases that recently got handed down are also prime targets (most likely your tutor will go through them or they will be covered during revision lectures). All the standard essay writing tips apply (e.g. signpost throughout, make sure you have a really clear introduction that explains exactly what you're going to do). Answer the question that has been set by the examiner, NOT THE QUESTION YOU THINK OUGHT TO BE SET (in caps for emphasis, you will not believe how many people do the latter). One good way to ensure this is to analyse the key words of a question. For example "In the context of judicial review of administrative action, a doctrine of judicial deference ‘is either empty or pernicious’ (ALLAN). Do you agree?", the way I would approach it is to explain what judicial deference is (in the context of judicial review of administrative action) and what "empty" and "pernicious" mean (by defining those terms in my own words at the outset). Another way to get brownie points for essays is to understand how the subjects are interlinked and cross-refer (my significant other was very good at this - think referencing contract theories in Jurisprudence).

5. Unpopular opinion, but I don't think you need to finish your entire reading list to do well. Remember that for Finals/ collections you have 45 minutes to write each answer so you don't have time to delve into long exposes. Focus on really understanding what the law is and why it is that way (and how the various theories and case law fit with or contradict each other).

6. How much time are you spending on revising for collections? Personally I used to take about 4-6 days per collection and that was good enough. Usually tutors tend to be lazy and recycle past exam papers so use those for planning.

7. Finals specific tips
- practice hand writing essays from time to time because if your scripts are not legible you will be asked to come back and dictate them to a scribe, which sucks
- if your handwriting sucks (like mine), write on every alternate line
- start each answer on a new booklet. When submitting your script at the end of the exam, put it in order of strong answer - weaker answer - weaker answer - strong answer so you start and end on a strong note. Not sure if this works but it's what I used to do.
- realistically, very few people study all 8 topics for each subject because it's too much work. Most people will do 6 topics (but you need to check past papers and see which topics tend to get combined).
- have a study plan and be consistent with your work. There is A LOT of content and it helps significantly if you actually did work during term time and revised properly for collections.

Good luck!
Thank you so much for this super in depth reply! I will go through all of these points and try to work on things. Regarding point 1 though, I've never met anyone who gets over 70% in Law at Oxford that's half the battle. My college has a pretty bad track record for it. The only ones of my friends that consistently get 1sts do so in STEM.

I've never really heard of exam technique (i came from a very very poor state-comp who never taught us how to do exams properly) but I always make rough plans (like point 1 - authorities; point 2 - authorities) and am strict on timing.

I've only had 1 full set of collections so far and spent 5 weeks revising for them! For my mods I spent about 7.

Thanks so much for your answer! The PQ advice really helped
0
reply
aelise
Badges: 8
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#5
Report Thread starter 4 weeks ago
#5
(Original post by 04MR17)
Firstly, well done on getting such good marks so far

Second - I would ask your tutors more specific questions. What would you add that you think might be missing? What would you say is the weakest part of this essay? Where could I reduce my words? Could you ask for examples of previous excellent essays?

Third, don't compare yourself to others on other courses. You won't be competing with them in your job prospects. My old housemate could easily get above 90% on uni assignments - he studied Maths. I studied History, 72% was considered brilliant for me.

Hope this helps,
MR
Thank you so much! I don't really consider my marks to be that good but I know I'm trying my best

I think I might ask my tutors for some past good essay then. I've tried asking the other questions you mentioned but their response is usually just like 'you would know what was weak if you did the reading list' (which I ALWAYS do) or 'surely you must understand why this is weak?', and when I say no they just tell me to revise the topic. It's infuriating and very unhelpful. My friends doing Law at my college think the same.

And yeah, I guess so. I think sometimes it's just a bit tricky when I see my friends do so well and talk about going to like Scholar's dinner and stuff next year. My boyfriend gets like 80% every assignment in his joint honours subject and just seems to think that's normal and it really makes me feel dumb sometimes

Thank you so much for this reply!!!! I'll think about all the things you said and try and work on it
0
reply
mishieru07
Badges: 12
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#6
Report 4 weeks ago
#6
(Original post by aelise)
Thank you so much for this super in depth reply! I will go through all of these points and try to work on things. Regarding point 1 though, I've never met anyone who gets over 70% in Law at Oxford that's half the battle. My college has a pretty bad track record for it. The only ones of my friends that consistently get 1sts do so in STEM.

I've never really heard of exam technique (i came from a very very poor state-comp who never taught us how to do exams properly) but I always make rough plans (like point 1 - authorities; point 2 - authorities) and am strict on timing.

I've only had 1 full set of collections so far and spent 5 weeks revising for them! For my mods I spent about 7.

Thanks so much for your answer! The PQ advice really helped
Sorry to hear your college tutors have been so unhelpful - I'll drop you a PM re essays.

Also, I forgot to add this to my earlier reply but stop comparing yourself to people from other courses! It's simply not a meaningful comparison. If you look at the examiners report, literally NO ONE ever scores above 79. In the vast majority of subjects, 71-74 would be top in the entire cohort. So stop comparing yourself to STEM people because 80+ is simply a completely unrealistic expectation for Oxford Law. It almost never happens (and if it does that person must be some sort of once in a generation law genius).
0
reply
04MR17
Badges: 22
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#7
Report 4 weeks ago
#7
(Original post by aelise)
Thank you so much! I don't really consider my marks to be that good but I know I'm trying my best

I think I might ask my tutors for some past good essay then. I've tried asking the other questions you mentioned but their response is usually just like 'you would know what was weak if you did the reading list' (which I ALWAYS do) or 'surely you must understand why this is weak?', and when I say no they just tell me to revise the topic. It's infuriating and very unhelpful. My friends doing Law at my college think the same.

And yeah, I guess so. I think sometimes it's just a bit tricky when I see my friends do so well and talk about going to like Scholar's dinner and stuff next year. My boyfriend gets like 80% every assignment in his joint honours subject and just seems to think that's normal and it really makes me feel dumb sometimes

Thank you so much for this reply!!!! I'll think about all the things you said and try and work on it
I'm telling you your marks are good. I've supported a lot of people on here who fail modules or years and need to resit. On my own work I've had 48s and 40s before (along with 72s and one 78).

You can't compare yourself to others, especially across courses. 80% is not normal and you need to tell your boyfriend how you are feeling about that otherwise your relationship will go under strain.

Whatever student voice system you have at your college needs to come into play if you're finding staff unsupportive/vague/condescending. You're paying a lot of money for this course, you have a right to be able to succeed.
0
reply
aelise
Badges: 8
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#8
Report Thread starter 4 weeks ago
#8
(Original post by 04MR17)
I'm telling you your marks are good. I've supported a lot of people on here who fail modules or years and need to resit. On my own work I've had 48s and 40s before (along with 72s and one 78).

You can't compare yourself to others, especially across courses. 80% is not normal and you need to tell your boyfriend how you are feeling about that otherwise your relationship will go under strain.

Whatever student voice system you have at your college needs to come into play if you're finding staff unsupportive/vague/condescending. You're paying a lot of money for this course, you have a right to be able to succeed.
Thank you, I've been trying to build up my self-esteem about my grades, I'm just very insecure. I think being from an underprivileged background isn't helping with the insecurity

I know not to compare myself to others, it's just tricky sometimes when people get super happy about their grades and stuff. I've spoken to my boyfriend before and he tells me that he thinks 62 is a good grade but it just doesn't seem comparable when he regularly gets like 88. That's more of a personal security though, and no more caused by him than anyone else in my college. He's very supportive about it in general.

I'm considering mentioning it to the student Academic Affairs officer if I just can't work out how to get help. Thanks for this advice!
0
reply
aelise
Badges: 8
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#9
Report Thread starter 4 weeks ago
#9
(Original post by mishieru07)
Sorry to hear your college tutors have been so unhelpful - I'll drop you a PM re essays.

Also, I forgot to add this to my earlier reply but stop comparing yourself to people from other courses! It's simply not a meaningful comparison. If you look at the examiners report, literally NO ONE ever scores above 79. In the vast majority of subjects, 71-74 would be top in the entire cohort. So stop comparing yourself to STEM people because 80+ is simply a completely unrealistic expectation for Oxford Law. It almost never happens (and if it does that person must be some sort of once in a generation law genius).
Ah thank you so much about the essays!

And yeah, I can see that. I really wish there were like correct answers to law in the way there are for maths, so I knew where I am going wrong! But yeah, thank you so much, I think it's just tricky sometimes since most of my close friends do STEM.
0
reply
04MR17
Badges: 22
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#10
Report 4 weeks ago
#10
(Original post by aelise)
Thank you, I've been trying to build up my self-esteem about my grades, I'm just very insecure. I think being from an underprivileged background isn't helping with the insecurity

I know not to compare myself to others, it's just tricky sometimes when people get super happy about their grades and stuff. I've spoken to my boyfriend before and he tells me that he thinks 62 is a good grade but it just doesn't seem comparable when he regularly gets like 88. That's more of a personal security though, and no more caused by him than anyone else in my college. He's very supportive about it in general.

I'm considering mentioning it to the student Academic Affairs officer if I just can't work out how to get help. Thanks for this advice!
You've mentioned your boyfriend is doing a joint honours degree, but you haven't told me what his degree is. Something in the sciences is much more common to score 88s than something in the humanities.

This isn't about you getting help, this is about improving your experience as a student, and improving the experience of other students. You should tell you SAA officer that a number of your peers are experiencing a problem with lecturers being condescending, that despite you all doing the reading you're getting unhelpful replies to questions saying "you should have researched" and that it is frustrating receiving low grades and not understanding how to improve because of the vague replies.

Get your friends to raise similar.
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

Were exams easier or harder than you expected?

Easier (21)
26.58%
As I expected (24)
30.38%
Harder (29)
36.71%
Something else (tell us in the thread) (5)
6.33%

Watched Threads

View All
Latest
My Feed