The exams in October 2021 were a learning experience and, for many, a period to draw conclusions on how to get the most of our studies at the University of London.
I would like to share with you some thoughts and revelations on the study process that went into preparing for these exams, and, as we prepare for the new year, invite you to reflect on your strategy for the next assessment season.
To begin with, many study tips may be well known, but they are nonetheless true. It just takes a while for your mind to attune to their main idea. So, why not try giving these “oldies but goldies” a try?
1 Start to outline early
Whatever your field of study, outlining is a time-consuming process and doesn’t combine well with revision activities. The sooner you have your outlines done, the sooner you have core material to study from. The sooner you have that core material available, the more time you will have to prepare and revise. You get the idea – it is all about making sufficient time to study for the exams! In my case, completing my outlining work two months before the exams paid off, and the dividend was that I could study the core concepts at length and with greater focus.
2 Have faith in your ability to make good notes
Note taking is a major tool for both enhanced understanding and long-term memory. Have faith in your ability to make great notes for yourself, and rest assured that the University of London professors provide enough information in the module guides on how to answer both essay and problem questions. You do not need to look this up for every course. On the contrary – you need to start developing your own style in answering such questions!
3 Follow the module guides
It is best to follow the sequences of learning activities recommended in the module guides. There is a sound logic behind them, and that logic is building up knowledge – from the basics to the higher, more adept levels. Do not focus on why you have to read a given text or answer certain questions. Focus on doing that to the best of your abilities. Aim to have all activities completed and ticked off. You will thus start preparing for the exams from chapter one.
4 Build in-depth knowledge
The more knowledge you have, the faster you can answer exam questions and the more faceted your analysis can be. I found a direct correlation between the depth of knowledge and the ability to remain within the word limit. The reason – it’s easier to be specific. It also becomes simpler to compare concepts across the different module topics. This is an excellent way to demonstrate that you have a firm grasp of the material. Many first-class or upper second-class honours answers quoted in the exam reports were graded highly for pointing out similarities and differences, and not merely providing a descriptive response.
5 Separate your notes
What worked best for me is keeping my notes on the module guide, textbook, and other readings, separate. This approach isn’t necessarily intuitive, but it helped me structure and internalize the information more effectively. If you decide to follow it, with time you will find that blending will happen naturally after you have learnt each part. I also discovered that digital note taking is a wonderful way to train yourself for the speed of typing you will need on the exam day.
In my view revising for and sitting exams is also about learning how to learn. Through self-observation and an honest analysis, you can find the method that will both ensure you’re well prepared and earn you high grades. All it takes is patience and willingness. I wish you every success with your studies and assessments.
Ralitsa is studying the LLB in Germany.