First-year law student Yinghan Ye reveals her top tips for studying law at university!
Studying Law at university can seem daunting at first, as images of heavy workloads and endless reading spring to mind. But it’s actually very manageable once you get the hang of it. In this post I’ll share some tips that have helped me a lot since starting the course.
Your lecture notes are what you’ll be referring to when writing coursework and completing assessments, so having a good set of notes is really important. Personally, I make all my notes on OneNote because I prefer the layout of it as opposed to Word, for example. I like to make a new notebook for each semester, and I’ll have different chapters for each of my modules, as you can see in the screenshot. OneNote is particularly handy as I’m able to have all my lecture notes and tutorial work in one place, without having to open a separate document each time. When making my notes, I like to highlight important information in different colours. For example, my cases are highlighted in pink, the statutes in green, and any judges in blue. This makes it super easy to refer to when it comes to writing essays, as I’m able to clearly pick out the relevant information. I also like to add any wider reading to my notes in a different colour, so all the information is in one place. This saves me time from having to flick through various different documents when it comes to doing coursework.
It can be really tempting to skip lectures (especially when you have a two-hour lecture at 9am), but I would definitely recommend going to them. Lecturers will often signpost key topics or issues that might come up on exams, or even material in textbooks that you don’t have to focus on since it’s not covered in the course. Skipping lectures means that you’ll miss out on this useful information, since it won’t normally be on the PowerPoint slides. As an auditory learner, I benefit from listening to someone explain all the legal principles and cases, and I find myself retaining a lot more of the information than if I was to simply read it in the textbook.
Tutorials are the best time to engage with the content you’re learning as you’re in smaller groups, so it’s important to make the most of them. When doing your tutorial work, it can be helpful to draw up a list of questions on aspects of the material that you’re confused about, so you can ask your tutor and peers in your tutorial group. Since your tutorial groups are much smaller than your lectures, it’s the perfect opportunity to engage in discussion about the module content, as everyone will have different opinions and perspectives to offer that you might not otherwise find in your textbook.
As the saying goes, two heads are better than one, and that’s especially true when it comes to studying. With a study group, you can pool all your knowledge together and help each other with topics you’re struggling with since everyone will be good at different things. Your friends might even be able to explain a concept in a way that makes more sense to you than your lecturer and tutor. A study group helps so much during exam periods – for example, the day before our public law assessment, my friends and I made a huge mind map of all the information we knew about that particular topic. Brainstorming our ideas out loud helped us to make links between different aspects of the course as well as to resolve any parts we might have been confused about beforehand. It’s important to vary your study methods, and I believe that having a study group is one of the best ways to revise.
It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the mindset that getting good grades is the number one priority, but taking time to relax and to do the things that you enjoy are by far more important. In the evenings I like to catch up on my favourite shows and my friends and I will have dinner at each other’s kitchens. On weekends I like to go for long walks around central London and browse through second-hand bookstores and admire the pretty buildings. Joining societies (especially non-academic ones) is also a great way to meet new people while taking part in a fun activity. It’s important to remember that university is a lot more than just studying, and first year is the best time to make the most of all the events and opportunities that uni has to offer!