Volume 2, Issue 1 (Originally Published 23 July 2016)
Use the Academic Skills Office! It saved my life!
Some of us, namely me, over-prepare for even the simplest tasks in life. Writing birthday cards have on the odd occasion become a half-hour nightmare of writing the same birthday message in seven different ways, because each time the letter ‘w’ looked awkward. In my academic life, I don’t wing it. I write lists, make extended revisions of my notes, and compile elaborate filing system references. It’s a tad neurotic, but I like to think I produce good work because of it.
With that all being said, for all my neurotic semester preparation, there’s nothing quite as horrifying as entering your first ever law exam with more than 50 pages of notes. Logistically I’d taken all the wrong steps in narrowing my summaries to a workable set of exam notes, and quite ironically, was grossly underprepared for how sifting through a large chunk of notes might impact on my time. Suffice to say, my exam marks were less than ideal, and I was devastated.
So, with my pride firmly deflated, I sought help. Where had I gone wrong? How could I do better?
I sought the aid of the Legal Academic Skills Office. Located on level 3 in the law library, they provided uniquely helpful strategies for minimising note glut. These included simple suggestions like case reading techniques, a more structured approach to note taking, and reading contextually before attempting to write a case summary. They made a huge difference on my approach to study, and to date, my pre-semester exam notes have almost halved. In one half-hour session with Academic Skills I’d learnt more about how to study efficiently than I had in my entire academic career.
I can’t stress enough the benefits of approaching the Academic Skills Office in the development of your study routine. The Academic Skills Officer, Chantal Morton, is a delight to work with, and is eager to engage with students. It’s her job! While being a law student can feel like hours of lonely, solitary reading, you don’t have to do everything by yourself. The law faculty, bless their cotton socks, have been superb in organising guidance and services so that you can achieve the marks you deserve. So whether you feel overwhelmed by your classes, or are traipsing along in a sea of H1s, you’ve got nothing to lose.