Friday, 18 December 2015

What to do over Christmas

(originally posted as "My advice for students over the Christmas break" on Facebook on 20 December 2014, now updated and rewritten)

Dear Students

I realise you are all in real need of a break. How I understand! The tiredness and exhaustion have set in over the relentless first term! I feel the tiredness in every bone in my body, and I am pretty sure I am carrying a luggage set under my eyes these days.

But to simply take rest and not take advantage of the break from classes would be a mistake. By all means take the festive dates off; Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day. Except for those days, you are going to have to commit to getting some work done. This is especially so if you have gone home for the break where the distraction of the family and friends you have missed all terms are now near you. Spend time with them over the festive days, but realise you will have to disappoint them and spend time on your studies.

Crimbo Snowdude

So, all you need to do is revise ADR, right? Wrong.

Obviously, it would be a great idea to revise ADR. The exam is early in the New Year. So you will need to revise. However, some students make the mistake of simply reading and re-reading the text book. Firstly, you need to make sure you understand everything you have covered before you start revising. Revising has a “re” in front of it. This means you should be looking at the topics for the second or third time. Do you best to fill in gaps in your knowledge and understanding before beginning your revision in earnest.

Active learning techniques are best, when revising, particularly self testing. I have covered how to get the most out of your revision here:

I would strongly suggest you do not simply use the break for ADR revision. I advise that it would be a good idea to ensure you get all of your civil litigation, criminal litigation and ethics learning up to date. You may have a working understanding of most of the concepts and topics covered. If so, great. If not, that is your first task. You need to fill up any gaps in BOTH your understanding and your notes.

The Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree donated by the people of Norway
There will be very little opportunity for you to do any other catching up after the start of term. After the ADR exam, you will have classes, hand ins and assessments running side by side from now to the end of the course. Learning time will be hard to come by. The revision period will be short.

Do not expect to revise the other knowledge subjects either from the textbook or one of the revision titles alone. Books are resources for learning, not tools for revision. You therefore need to have good notes. Notes which cover the syllabus areas in the level of detail specified by the syllabus.

We now have better guidance from the exam board about what you do and do not need to learn. Certainly, for civil litigation, the elements of commentary from the practitioner text (the White Book) have been defined and set out. You cannot “learn” these from the White Book itself; make up your notes summarising the principles. Remember that for civil litigation, you do not need to know the names of cases (other than American Cyanamid v Ethicon and Norwich Pharmacal v Customs and Excise Commissioners). 

If you are not a CLS student, then you will not have your ADR exam in early January. I would suggest that you consolidate all of your knowledge subjects (including ADR) in the way I have suggested above. You may not have the immediate demands of exam revision, but you have got the opportunity to get the bedrock of your knowledge subject learning solid.

Do yourself a favour. Get your work sorted this Christmas break. When your mum or best friend is annoyed with you for not spending enough time with them, I am sure when you explain that awful Snigdha woman from the law school has told you you must do this, that you will be forgiven. Blame me. I give you carte blanche. Show them my picture and say “it is all her fault, she is that horrible tutor at the law school”.

Blame me, get on with you work.

And you can then enjoy Christmas and New Year 2017 guilt free and without annoying old me gnawing your ears.

Wouldn't that be great?

Please do send me pictures of your Christmas tree all decked out in 2016 so that I can see you celebrating in style when you have put the BPTC behind you.

Lots of love