In this guide we introduce some tips for success to help you master the Law exam.
The Law exam is a little unusual in comparison to the other exams at this level – as you’ll see below – and this may mean that preparing for the exam appears a little daunting. If you take the tips provided here than you should be well on your way to success.
When you first start studying, some of the language used may appear unfamiliar. For example, when discussing contract law, you will see the terms ‘claimant’ and ‘defendant’ used. If a term is used that you do not recognise, a glossary of key terms is provided at the back of ICAEW workbook, so use this and look these terms up. Write down each definition you look up in your own words in a list and keep this next to you as you work through the material, referring to it when you need to.
You will also notice some Latin terms in the workbook, for example Volenti non fit injuria (or ‘to a willing person no injury is done) in the Negligence chapter. The good news is there are no fill-in-the-blanks style questions in the exam so you do not need to worry about learning the spelling of these. The important thing to consider is what the term means, and this is what you’ll need to learn.
As you are working through the notes you will see cases or examples of how the law is applied. Although most of the cases are unlikely to be tested by name they could give the background to a question in your exam.
Try to break your study up into chunks of no more than an hour to 90 minutes then take a short break. Ensure you complete the practise questions at the end of each chapter in the workbook to confirm your understanding as you work your way through the material.
You are more likely to take information in if you are actively learning. For example, you could try:
- Making brief notes in your own words after each section then re-read the material to confirm you are correct.
- Try mind-mapping the key points. If you are unsure of how to mind-map this article will give you some pointers.
Once you move onto the revision phase of your studies you should focus on question practise. Your ICAEW question bank is vital here as it is made-up of exam standard questions in the formats you will see in your exam. Before sitting your exam, you should have completed all the questions at least once to ensure you are in the best position to approach the exam.
When doing question practise:
- Do not read the answer until you have attempted the question fully. It is very tempting to ‘just check’ but you will learn more from the mistakes you make. As well as learning the legal rules you are also learning how to apply those rules to a scenario. You will only get better at this through practising questions, not through reading the answer.
- When reviewing the answer, ensure you don’t just look to see IF you were wrong or right, but that you understand WHY you were wrong or right. Read the feedback provided and ensure it makes sense.
- If you got a question wrong, was this due to lack of knowledge or not reading the question properly?
- If it was due to lack of knowledge go back to the study materials and read that area again. Make a note of anything given in the answer feedback that you were not aware of.
If it was due to not reading the question properly then try to identify why you went wrong so that you don’t make the same mistake twice.
- Identify areas of weakness and focus on those – revisiting questions in syllabus areas where you have been getting a large number of questions wrong.
After completing all the questions in the question bank try to complete one full practise exam in timed conditions. Use the sample exam on the ICAEW website or if you are studying with a training provider complete any mock exams they provide. This will allow you to work on your exam technique. You will have 1.5 hours to complete the real exam which should be plenty of time but by running through a real practise exam you can think about:
- Moving on and not getting stuck on tricky questions.
- Answering all questions in the exam.
- How to make use of the time available.
On the day of your exam
Ensure you are comfortable and have everything you need before the start of the exam. You are allowed to use a wipeable booklet so get this set up next to your computer and ensure the pen works.
Once your exam has started try not to panic. The exam is not usually time pressurised and students often finish early but there are no extra marks for finishing early!
Ensure you answer all the questions. If you have time, go through at the end and check all your answers.
If you are struggling with a question, try the following approach:
- Leave the question, flag it and return to it later.
- Read the requirement first and break down what it is asking you to do. If you are struggling with this write it down on your wipeable board.
- Read the scenario (if provided) and summarise the key points.
- Read the question again and answer it.
- See which of the answer options match your interpretation.
- If you are really stuck, then do not leave an incomplete answer. Go for the option which seems the most appropriate to you. At the least you have a 25% chance of being right, which is better than 0% if you leave it blank.
The areas below are mistakes commonly made by students. Try to look out for these when practising questions.
- Not reading all answer options. In a question with four options the likelihood is that more than one option will seem plausible. Ensure you read all of them to identify the best answer.
- Not answering both parts of a multi-part multiple-choice question. To get the marks for these you must answer both parts correctly. If not, you will not score any marks for that question.
- Missing negative words in a question, eg, not, false, cannot.
- Spending too long on one question – if you’re not sure move on!
If you take the tips given above into account, there is no reason why you should not see success in the exam. Remember to keep positive, keep focused, work hard and this exam should soon be passed! Good luck everyone.