Law students: seven approaches to learning
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As exams draw nearer and the pressure intensifies, the library is packed with panic-eyed students.
The examination period is an understandably stressful time, so it's easy for law students to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information contained in thick tort textbooks. If you are preparing for exams (be it for the LLB, GDL, LPC or BPTC), this guide will hopefully encourage you to revise effectively and find ways to make learning enjoyable.
Identify what kind of learner you are
Everyone learns differently and in their own unique way. The use of several senses (sight, hearing, touch) gives the brain more connections and associations – making it easier to absorb and find information, which assists memory and learning. Which type of learning style do you favour?
Visual (spatial) – these people prefer to use pictures, images, diagrams, colours and mind maps to retain information. They can usually recall information by conjuring the image of colour in their mind.
Physical (kinaesthetic) – these are the ‘learn by doing’ people who use their body to assist in their learning. Drawing diagrams, using physical objects and role-playing are common strategies of the physical learner.
Aural (auditory-musical) – these people prefer using sound, rhythms, music, recordings, clever rhymes and so on. Such auditory learners watch YouTube videos or listen to podcasts on their commute or on their way home from uni. Have a look at Bethany's list of podcasts all law students should listen to.
Verbal (linguistic) – the verbal learner prefers using words, both in speech and in writing, to assist in their learning. They make the most of word-based techniques, scripting and reading content aloud.
Logical (mathematical) – these people prefer using logic, reasoning and systems to explain or understand concepts. They aim to understand the reasons behind learning and have a good ability to understand the bigger picture.
Social (interpersonal) – these people enjoy learning in groups and working with other people. If you seem to thrive in study groups or group projects, then aim to work with others as much as possible.
Solitary (intrapersonal) – the solitary learner (the polar opposite of the social learner) prefers private study, being on their own, without any distractions from other students. Such a student is likely to study at home or in an isolated room in the library.
Identify what attracts you
It is easier to learn by keeping desirable outcomes in mind rather than dragging yourself to the law library at the crack of dawn. Some aspects of study are bound to be less attractive than others. For example, I dreaded meeting deadlines and reading and sitting exams, but I enjoyed the revision period of making cue cards and pretty revision notes.
It is within your power to find in any aspect of study the gold that attracts you. Try to visualise the long-term rewards of passing your exams or that mouth-watering Chinese waiting at home after a long stint in the library. Psychologically, your brain will catch hold of these incentives and find ways of making them happen.
Believe in your ‘sauce’
Many students worry they are not intelligent enough to study a law degree. Some did not do well in their A-levels and worry that being a good student is not in their genes. Harbouring pessimistic thoughts can make it hard to learn. Be positive and trust in your own intelligence. Remember that "hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard”.
For more practical tips on how to prepare for law exams, check out my previous post here.