Preparation, Revision and Examination Techniques: Some Tips

The best advice for examination success is ‘preparation and practice’. Even when students have studied a subject consistently they can fail to do themselves justice in the examination through inadequate and ineffective revision and/or poor exam technique. How a student learns is a personal thing and what works for one person can be unhelpful for another. It is important to find out your learning style and what works for you in terms of how you learn and apply that strategy. But whatever your personal learning style, in order to successfully pass an exam you will need to consolidate your learning, prepare revision materials, revise and answer the examination questions effectively. Below are some tips to help you through the process.

See also: Preparation, Revision and Examination Techniques: Examination Question and Noted Solution

  • Revision Timetable: Time management is crucial. Check the date of the examination and plan a revision strategy. Use a table/diary/chart and allocate your days/sessions accordingly. Don’t spend too long doing this - getting down to the revision is the important task!
  • Prepare your revision material: During the module you should have made notes on each of the topic areas. If you have not got a complete set of notes you will need to set about writing some. If your notes are very long and detailed you may need to consolidate them so they are a manageable size for revision purposes.
  • Think about your learning style: Find out what suits you. You may discover that you learn best through a mixture of diagrams, tables, charts, flow charts, mind maps, flash cards, summarizing, notes, writing, pictures, use of colour. 
  • Verbal Methods: Do use verbal methods such as recording your notes and listening to them. There may be podcasts and on-line lectures provided by your lecturer that you can download and listen to. Find a study partner and discuss and explain topics to each other- talking will reinforce your learning.
  • Work through past examination papers:  Practice at answering questions is important. Use past exam questions or seminar/questions to practice. Work according to exam conditions, i.e. time constraints and no books or notes.  Use sample answers or past seminar/tutorial notes and the textbook to mark your performance.  
  • Be active: Reading over notes is not enough - try and commit them to memory by reciting them out loud.  Consolidate you notes and rewrite them from memory - check and correct what you have written. 

  • Know the format of the exam paper: Before the exam check you know the format of the paper.  Ensure you know how many questions there are on the paper, whether all questions or some of the questions are compulsory, how many questions you need to answer, and if the exam is divided into sections, how many questions you need to answer in each section. Work out how much time you have per question.
  • Be organized and positive: Arrive on time/early, bring some water (and sweets if needed) relax – try not to get stressed, stay focused.
  • Read questions carefully: Underline key words etc.  Check you know what the question is asking – not what you think it is asking.  Notice if there are different parts to cover and the allocation of marks per question/part of question and allocate your time accordingly - a question that is allocated 5 marks will require a much briefer answer than one allocated 20 marks.  Remember the aim is to answer the specific question set, not just to air knowledge.
  • Time: Be rigid and stick to your allocated time per question. - If you run out of time – use bullet points to show what would have been the content of your answer.
  • Always answer the required number of questions: This is essential. The first half of the marks allocated to a question is generally much easier to pick up than the final allocated marks.  One excellent answer will not make up for missing out a whole question.
  • Brainstorm: Write down relevant ideas as they come to you. Note down main points, arguments, principles of law and concepts plus legal authorities.
  • Plan: Allow yourself time to do an effective plan of the key issues the question covers. 
  • Essay questions: These may require you to compare, evaluate, describe, analyse, discuss etc.  Ensure you know what each of these terms mean.  An essay should always have an introduction, a main body and a conclusion and always requires a clear and logical structure.
  • Problem questions: Require you to demonstrate your knowledge of legal principles by application of law to the factual scenario. Commence with a short introduction to the area of law, then work through the question systematically applying the law to the facts, using appropriate legal authority to support your argument. Reach a sensible conclusion.  
  • Writing up: Follow a logical structure; include relevant case authority or statute to support your answer/discussion/evaluation. Always underline case law.
  • Use the Law: You need to know statements of law and legal authority.  You do not need to write out all the facts of a case. It is the principle of law that the case establishes that is important.  Use your judgement as to how much of a discussion is actually required about the facts. If you cannot remember the full case name give part of it, or if you cannot recall it at all give a short description of the facts.
  • Review:  Make sure you allow time to read through your work when you have finished the paper.  Make any corrections and additions.

Back to top

Printed from , all rights reserved. © Oxford University Press, 2024