Expert tips for revising A-level and Btec law


Some sage advice before you hit the books

Law revision in your future? We’ve got your back. We spoke to Andy Howells, a former solicitor who now runs the Flipped Law website and is head of law for a large sixth form college, for some expert guidance, along with Daisy Welland, a current law student.

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But first…

Get organised

The hardest part of revision is always, always, getting started. The gutters really need a clean first. You need to catalogue the fluff under the bed. Maybe now’s the time to learn how to bake.

Success means taking the plunge. “If you work hard, smart, and consistently, you can make real progress,” says Andy. “Set aside some slots each week that are dedicated to law revision - not homework.”

Being physically organised helps too, says Daisy. “Make sure that all your work/notes are filed neatly and you can easily get to them. For example, all of contract law in one folder, tort in another.”

Revise like you mean it

It’s better to revise hard and well for 20 minutes than to kid yourself for two hours by staring blankly at your books while building towers with Jammie Dodgers.

“Don’t think that just re-reading your notes or highlighting material counts as revision,” says Andy. “Studies show that this really isn’t effective. If you’re going to put time and effort into revising, you want to know you’re doing it right.”

Build up the facts

What does ‘right’ look like? First of all, avoid trying to put ALL OF THE LAW in your head in one go. It won’t fit. “It’s much better to do one topic at a time and to do it well,” says Andy.

He suggests that knowledge can be built up layer by layer. “One approach is to start by remembering the various sub-topics within a topic - for example, the different actus reus and mens rea elements for murder - and testing yourself on them.”

Once you’re confident with those facts, add a fresh layer - perhaps key cases and principles. Then test yourself, and repeat the whole process for each area you revise.

There are lots of ways to test yourself. Daisy suggests mind maps – but you could equally try flow charts, revision tools like Quizlet or Get Revising, or you could kick it old school with some classic revision cards.

You could even hack bedtime to help things sink in. “Listen to a workshop or a YouTube video on the topic while in bed,” says Daisy.

Put the facts to work

Once you’ve got the facts in place, you need to know what to do with them. “Lots of marks in law exams are awarded for how you apply the law to the facts, or how you evaluate legal rules and processes,” says Andy. “That means you need to practice your exam technique skills.”

How? Practice questions are your ally, according to Andy. Start by doing them with notes, then without notes. “Finally, have a go without notes and in timed conditions.”

Get a little help

‘Help’ might mean re-reading your teacher’s notes on old assessments or running study sessions with your friends, where you talk about a topic or give each other constructive feedback on your work.

“Ask your teacher to take a look for you too,” says Andy. “Make sure you listen to their feedback carefully and act on it.”

You can also look for help closer to home, says Daisy. “Talk to your parents about it, try to teach them something about law. It will help you remember.”

Play by the rules

“The thing to take from each case that you learn is the legal rule it demonstrates, not the facts of the case,” says Andy. “The snail and the bottle of ginger beer in Donoghue v Stevenson are less important than Lord Atkin’s neighbour principle, for example.”

It's also worth embracing your inner statute nerd (you know they’re in there). “If there’s a statute that comes at the end of a lot of case law which you have just learned, it will be just as, or perhaps even more, important to learn this with accuracy,” says Andy.

Look after yourself

Revision can be stressful, but the number one thing you can do to help yourself is get started in plenty of time. “Law is too heavy to leave it till the last minute,” says Daisy.

Andy agrees. “Start with shorter sessions, then slowly build up. The brain is like a muscle – you can train it to concentrate for longer periods over time.”

Then practise self-care along the way – take breaks, eat well, get some exercise – and always ask for help if you’re struggling.

Finally, on the night before the exam, don’t have a ‘cram and cry’ party. “Go to bed at a sensible time,” says Andy. “Stay off screens, avoid last-minute social media/Whatsapp panics, and get some sleep!”

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