You have exams, and we have tips to help you smash them

CHILL. We got you. With exams on the way, Purely Dictas asked around to bring you this dossier of top tips to help you study for and SMASH™ those sem 1 exams.

Getting (and staying) in study mode

PUT 👏 YOUR 👏 PHONE IN THE BIN! (Not literally) – Bonnie Fraser

Turn it off, walk it into the kitchen and lock it in the Tupperware draw. Not only is it distracting and SO easy to waste extortionate amounts of valuable time,it is also additional screen time that contributes to headaches and fatigue. You might be spending more time in the Tupperware draw BUT the extra step to get to your phone does make a difference.

Be kind to your brain – Georgia Barendse

Only work normal business hours then force yourself to stop. You will burn out so fast if you try to pull all-nighter after all-nighter that week. Be kind to your brain!

Break up your day – Daniel Sango

This is a classic but a goodie. Make sure to reward yourself throughout the day to not only motivate yourself, but to give yourself a mental break. Smash out a lecture or notes on a certain topic and then watch an episode of your favourite tv show, go for a quick jog or anything that helps break up your day. Then you’ll feel a lot better getting back into it rather than just slogging it out for hours on end.

📖 👩‍💻 ⏰

Study is (organised) fun

Plan out your time – Bec Poynton

There is nothing more demotivating for me than thinking about how much work I have to do and having no idea how long it will take me. Now that you know your exam timetable, sit down and give yourself 30min to plan out a schedule. This will get you ready to tackle SWOTVAC and the last couple weeks of semester:

  • List your subjects and approximately how many hours it will take you to finish the content and finish your exam notes (be honest)
  • Use a calendar/draw one up and fill it in with any prior commitments like work/appointments/class/fun activities (really important to include scheduled relaxation time)
  • Write in the number of hours each day you can dedicate to study (again be honest – you know you won’t/shouldn’t actually do 5hrs of study after a full 8hr work day)
  • Go through week by week and fill in the number of hours per subject you need to do. For example, if I’m working Wednesday I’ll dedicate 2hrs to class A, but I’m not working Thursday so I’ll do 3hrs of class B, 2hrs of C, and 2hrs of A. Be as specific as possible.
  • If hours aren’t your thing, try clumping by class and just keep the time commitment in the back of your mind. For example, Wednesday I might do the readings for class A, then Thursday I’ll finish a whole class of B, write exam notes/catch up on class C, and finish the content of class A I didn’t do yesterday.
  • At the end of the day, note down how much of your work you did. If you missed an hour/task from that day, immediately slot it into another day. If you sacrifice time/tasks without rescheduling them, you physically won’t have the time to catch them up.
  • Leave some hours available in the week for catching up. For example on Friday I could do 8hrs but only planned for 5hrs. If I go for an unplanned walk on Thursday and lose an hour, I can add that hour to Friday, which now has 6 out of 8hrs planned.
  • Be sure to account for practise exams! This might be better planned at the start of SWOTVAC after you’ve finished the semester.

We’re almost there team, support each other and study together! We’ll get through it :muscle:

Remember, you know people – Bonnie Fraser

Your best asset in this degree is the wonderful and incredibly intelligent people you do it with. Restrictions permitting, cook them dinner and then have them explain vicarious liability to you over a glass of wine (and I emphasise – ‘a’ singular glass of wine). 

And if you can’t organise a dinner, a personal favourite of mine is voice notes. Not only can someone else probably explain what seems unbearably complex in the textbook, very simply, sending voice notes is also helping consolidate their own knowledge. Collaborate, share notes and communicate your confusion. We’re all in this together and there is a huge support network there for you to use!

👩‍⚖️ 🧑‍⚖️ 👨‍⚖️

Thriving on exam day

Make some shortcuts – Neeharika Palachanda

If you’re doing a take-home exam or are writing an assignment in Word, create shortcuts to help reduce how much you type when you’re under time pressure!

This can be done by clicking Tools > AutoCorrect Options > then in the Autocorrect Tab, under ‘Replace,’ put your abbreviation. In the ‘With’ section, write the full word you want to replace that abbreviation with.

I’ve currently only come up with some abbreviations that I use personally for Evidence, and some basic common terms; but I’m sure there’s a whole bunch that you could come up with to build your own personal bank of typing shortcuts!

For example, you could use:

  • Cstn – Constitution
  • Cth – Commonwealth
  • FHH – first-hand hearsay
  • DOC – duty of care
  • ROL – rule of law

Just make sure you proofread at the end to double check that everything makes sense!

You’re not your grades – Chris Girardi

It’s super easy to buy into the exam frenzy that descends on the law school twice a year, but really, I think a bit of perspective helps – you’re not your grades. Obviously everyone wants to feel like they’re on top of things, and as a part of that you inevitably compare yourself to other people, but my big realisation from the past year (that far too many people tried to tell me before I actually got it) is that comparisons like that really don’t help you. 

When you rock up to an exam, you’re there to do your best. If your best is an H1, congratulations! If it’s not, awesome! You’ve now got an opportunity to work out how you can improve. Pay no mind to people doing better than you – take comfort in the fact you did your best, and keep moving forward.

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