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How to (Actually) Get a First in Law

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

First Class Degree in Law

Interested in how to get a first in law? Yes. Then, good. First, you will (or should) know that getting a first in a law degree is classed as one of (if not ) the hardest subject undergraduate degrees to actually get a first in, with a quoted figure of just 6% of undergraduate law students getting a first. So you can imagine me telling you to 'work hard' if you want a first in law is a given. But this article doesn't aim to offer you such generic babble advice on telling you to make sure that you work hard, form a timetable or organizational purposes, don't procrastinate etc. you know this already -- instead it aims to offer real advice on how to work smart and think smart for a first in law -- broken down step by step, which is at the end of the day advice up to you to take or leave, but at the least I hope there is something here that offers you something to think about integrating into your academic life in someway or another.

1. So You Think You Are Good at Writing Essays?

And you probably are. But, trust me, you are about to get a whole lot better if you carry out the following instruction. Get hold of the fantastic book -- Writing Essays -- and read it from back to front (and then again and again) thoroughly before you carry out your next essay. Although directed more towards English undergraduates, this great book encompasses everything needed and more for you to produce a first class law essay. 

2. Learn the Rules and Play the Game!

What I mean by this is -- learn how to answer the questions, and the way the marker wants them to be answered. Play the game, play the system. Know how to phrase and present the answer to the question in front of you. This is probably one of the most frustrating aspects of the academic game of getting a first -- knowing how they want things done, will save you a lot of stress and time, and ultimately better grades, however you aren't allowed to express yourself and your answers in the way you would ideally like. Tough, you want a first remember? So learn it, and to do that you need to see it -- so ask your personal tutor and peers if they have first class essays  examples and answers for you to look at, analyse and scrutinize. Look through past papers, mark schemes -- you will soon start to see emerging patterns you can take note of. Once you have a firm grasp of them, understand it fully then implement it. How to Get a First -- is another really awesome book to learning and playing the game, with one reviewer saying that 'it can work too well'. Good!

3. Be Exam Smart

Are you sure you have to learn all the material for an upcoming exam or do you just have to answer 3 out of 10 questions? Can you eliminate stuff from the taught material -- you simply don't need to know, Lectures 1-10 and not 10 to 15 for example? Do you notice patterns and trends with past exam papers, with certain questions coming on year on year, which you can draft a model answer for and send to your personal tutor for feedback on how to improve it and just use that exact same model  answer in the actual exam? Instead of just 'proof reading' the model essay. 'proof listen' through a text to speach application on your computer, you are much more likely to hear a grammatical mistake than read it. Think Smart! Hunt down useful exam tips. 'How to get a first offers such advice into such detail on tips and tricks to become exam smart.

4. Time Better Spent?

I don't mean that you should be playing Xbox or going drinking instead of studying, but take a second to think smart -- is it actually worth reading this entire article, is what you are doing really that productive? Is there something that you could do which would be better for the task in hand right now? Just rewriting a lecture out is not productive, just reading a textbook is not productive, take the material and plant it into your brain. Find how the information relates to how you are being assessed in your final exam -- will reading an entire chapter really benefit you in the exam? No. Will reading that chapter and scrutinizing its arguments, presenting it in a quick and easy to understand note form for when it comes to revision with relevant counter arguments be useful to your mock exam questions answers be useful? Yes.

5. Decide. Do You Really Want that First?

Probably the most important aspect of this article is this very point here. I want you to decide right here, right now, do you really really really want to get a first? Because, your answer to this question will most likely decide the outcome of your degree classification. If you really really really want it, you will give absolutely everything into getting it, you will research into arguments, counter-arguments, counter counter-arguments and so forth, you will think nothing of spending entire weekends (day and night) at the library just over a little 500 word assignment, you will look into exam techniques religiously. Spend weeks in advance revising over a silly pop quiz your seminar tutor thought he would share with you next week. If you really want a first -- the pure fact you want it so bad will be the reason you get it. I'm sorry but if you are half hearted? You have no chance. (Unless you have a ridiculously clever head on your shoulders, but even then -- you need to work).

6. Oh! And Work Hard, Get Organized and Don't Procrastinate.

I know I said I wouldn't say it. But, it obviously needs to be stressed at. Mind if you have just decided to get a first in law, you will have already taken the three points above as a given. Moreover, you will have finished up reading this article, turn off the phone, lock the dorm room door and get on with some law work!

But before you and read into contract law, if you have any questions or comments regarding how to get a first in law, then please do make them in the comments box below.


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