FROM A FORMER LAW LECTURER
To Help You Survive Law School
There are several strategies which you can use when trying to memorise law cases from your revision notes before the exams. The general rule is that different revision strategies work for different students so in order to discover what works for you, you need to try out a variety of case memorising techniques early on in your LLB course to figure out which of them work best for you. Below you will find a suggestion of three key memorising techniques for cases which have been successfully used in the past by first class law students during exam preparation.
Memorising law cases using the ‘covering’ technique
This memorising technique can be used with revision notes that are shaped into a table, with the names of the case parties on one side of the page and the explanations of the facts and decisions of those cases and/or the points of law established in them mentioned on the other side. The technique requires you to read through both sides of the revision note page and then cover the side with explanations and try to recall whatever you remembered about those explanations. You can do that either quietly or out loud, depending on what works best for you. After trying to recall the explanation of each case, you can uncover that explanation in the revision note and verify whether you have remembered it correctly. You should repeat this process several times before the exam in order to make sure that you memorise the cases well. If there are some cases which you have definitely memorised, you can put a star next to them or mark them in some other way, so that you don’t focus on them that much during the revision. This will help you to focus instead on the cases which you found more difficult to learn. By the end of the revision, right before the exam, you should be able to easily and quickly recall all the explanations.
(Note: For more examples of how the ‘covering’ memorising technique works in practice check out the 1st Class Law Exam Revision Course)
Memorising law cases using the ‘story-telling’ technique
This technique is particularly useful when memorising lists of cases which you need to revise for each topic. It helps you to easily recall the names of the case parties in a particular order, so that you are able to quickly note down on your exam paper after you see the question for the first time all the cases which you will have to use in order to answer that question. This will help you avoid getting a memory block later on during the exam, once you start writing your exam answer. In order to use this memorising technique you don’t need for your cases to be formatted in any specific way. Since you will not be revising the explanations of the facts/decisions or points of law in the cases (this usually comes later on in the revision process), all you need is a list of the selected 6-10 cases per topics. You can use this memorising technique by looking at the names of the cases one by one and trying to make up a funny or creative story involving the names of the parties, in the particular order in which they appear in the name of the case. For example, if the first case in your line of cases is Hart v Meddley and the second case in your line is Daniels v Stevenson, then you would first create a short story about Hart and Meddley. Your next step would be to come up with a continuation of the story which somehow joins Meddley with Daniels, and then Daniels with Stevenson. By the end of the memorising process you should be able to quickly recall the entire story and write down the names of the parties one by one, starting with Hart and Meddley (Hart v Meddley) and finishing on Daniels and Stevenson (Daniels v Stevenson).
(Note: For more examples of how the ‘story-telling’ memorising technique works in practice check out the 1st Class Law Exam Revision Course)
Memorising law cases using the ‘writing’ technique
This memorising technique requires a bit of preparation beforehand, but it is very effective in helping you to learn by heart all of the cases required for your exam in order to get a first. Most importantly, it also gives you the opportunity to practise recalling the case law in the same way in which you will have to recall it during the exam, i.e. in writing. In order to practice this technique, you will have to work with a revision note formatted as a table – just like with the ‘covering’ memorising technique. Ideally, you would remove the explanations from one side of the revision note in a Word document and print out a few copies of that “template”. Your “template” should contain the names of the parties of each case on one side of the page and then plenty of space on the other side of the page, which you will fill up. In order to use this technique, read through the cases and their explanations several times. Then, write down whatever you can recall about the explanations of each case, taking a peek at the complete revision note with the explanations after writing down your own explanations of each case in order to verify your answer. You should repeat this process several times with each case, until you are able to recall correctly the full facts/decision of the case and/or the point of law established in it. By the end of the revision process you should be able to write down the explanations of all the cases correctly without checking the complete revision note.
(Note: For more examples of how the ‘writing’ memorising technique works in practice check out the 1st Class Law Exam Revision Course)