Studying for HSC Legal Studies can be extremely stressful, particularly when it’s the day before your Legal exam and you haven’t done much studying.
Instead, you find yourself with 50 pages of notes, cases and legislation to memorise by tomorrow.
You’re feeling screwed and your hopes of a Band 6 are diminishing.
However, that is not to say that all hope is lost!
Step 1: Go through past papers for HSC Legal Studies
Hop onto the NESA website and download all the past papers and markers’ comments for HSC Legal Studies.
There are a few main reasons why this is a great way of studying for HSC Legal Studies the night before!
You get to familiarise yourself with the layout and style of the exam paper.
By reading through the markers’ comments, you are able to recognise exactly what the markers are looking for.
With essays, you will know what has been tested in the year before, and thus, it can probably be ruled out.
However, remember that although it is unlikely they will ask the same question as the previous year, they can ask questions from the same section.
It will get you thinking about the possible arguments/points you can make on each question.
Step 2: Cram your HSC Legal Studies notes into 1-2 pages
It might seem impossible to cut down your notes, especially when it seems like every little detail is important.
However, what can be really useful is making 1-2 pages of important cases, legislation, legal opinions, concepts and ideas which will make studying for HSC Legal Studies much easier.
I think we would all agree that it’s much easier memorising LEPRA 2002 (NSW) first rather than Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW).
As such, to boost memorisation, I suggest using acronyms and mnemonic devices in your 1-2 page summary.
Not only does it relieve a lot of stress, it also makes memorising less tedious as you’re able to study in smaller chunks rather than reading 5 long paragraphs in a row.
Step 3: Do essay plans instead of practice essays
You were probably guessing that I would recommend you to smash through practice essays while studying for HSC Legal Studies the night before.
Instead, you should do essay plans and outlines.
Writing full essays is very time consuming and considering the amount of content you have to plough through before tomorrow, you will simply run out of time.
In HSC Legal Studies, the most important aspect of your essays is your line of argument in relation to the question and your use of LCMs (Legislation, Cases and Media).
Therefore, a good way to prepare for HSC Legal Studies is to brainstorm 3-4 arguments and pinpoint exactly what LCMs you plan on using.
Let’s take a look at the following example:
Question: Evaluate the effectiveness of the criminal investigation process as a means of achieving justice.
As you can see, I’ve covered all the relevant LCMs while still having a clear line of argument.
Since it is quite short, it didn’t take long, hence a lot more beneficial and time efficient than writing entire essays!
Step 4: Make your multiple choice section bulletproof
To make sure you maximise your overall HSC Legal Studies mark, start off with attempting 20 multiple choice questions.
You should be aiming for at least 90% in the multiple choice section since it is easier to lose and gain marks in multiple choice than in the essays.
A great thing about it is that it is very easy to improve in!
However, in saying that, you still need to make sure you are fast AND accurate.
A helpful process to achieve this is:
1. Spend half the time recommended and divert your time into your essays
Therefore, spend 10 minutes instead of 20 minutes on your multiple choice.
This equates to 30 seconds per question.
2. Try to read and answer each question in 30 seconds or less
If you find yourself taking longer than that, make a note of it.
3. When 10 minutes is up, go through your answers and mark your paper
Try and commit to the time limit so you can give yourself a realistic exam setting!
4. Review your mistakes and questions that took longer than 30 seconds
Link your mistakes to a dot point from the HSC Legal Studies syllabus and revise that particular area.
This will enable you to identify your weaknesses and prompt you to revise on particular topic/s.
Let’s say you got this question wrong from the HSC Legal Studies 2016 paper:
Go through your syllabus and identify that this comes from Human Rights – nature and development of human rights.
Once you’ve done that, naturally go back to your study notes and revise over that particular section.
It’s as easy as that!
Step 5: Make a plan of attack for the HSC Legal Studies exam
How do you plan on structuring your time?
You are given 3 hours to complete the HSC Legal Studies exam and it’s very easy to lose track of time.
As such, prior to the exam, it would be smart to come up with an exam structure that you feel comfortable following.
On the day of your exam, consider writing the exam structure at the front of your question booklet.
That way, you will decrease your chances of spending more time on a particular question and having to compromise by cutting your time short for another question.
An example of my plan of attack for HSC Legal Studies:
- Reading time: 8:55am – 9:00am | Exam: 9:00am – 12:00pm
- 9:00am – 9:15am – Human Rights short answers (15 marks)
- 9:15am – 9:55am – Crime essay (15 marks)
- 9:55am – 10:50am – Option 1 essay (25 marks)
- 10:50am – 11:00am – Crime and Human Rights multiple choice (20 marks)
- 11:00am – 11:55am – Option 2 essay (25 marks)
- 11:55am – 12:00pm – check you have answered every multiple choice question and skim read through responses
- 12:00pm – Done! You have survived!
Step 6: Get at least 8 hours of sleep
It can be very tempting to pull an all-nighter –you feel like you can get more studying for HSC Legal Studies done and learn all the content you need before D-day.
However, bear in mind that your focus and reaction time decreases, not to mention you will be more prone to sickness with reduced immunity.
All the high achieving HSC Legal Studies students I have talked to made it their priority to get at least 8-9 hours of sleep prior to an exam.
What to do the Next Morning
Check out our video on why you should have a pre-exam ritual to help yourself get into the right head space before your exam!
Go to the bathroom beforehand
There is quite a substantial amount of writing to do in HSC Legal Studies. Try not to miss a single second of it.
Stay away from the people who tend to panic before the exam
It won’t do any good for your pre-exam nerves.
You know the types of people I’m talking about – “I haven’t studied!”; “I literally don’t know anything”; “I’m just going to wing it”.
Instead, talk positively to yourself, this will put you in the correct mindset, ready to smash your Legal Studies exam.
You’ve done all your studying for HSC Legal Studies, so trust in your preparation.
Psychological research indicates that the beliefs you hold have an impact on what happens to you.
So be confident and believe in yourself!
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Frances Tso recently graduated from Sydney Girls High School in 2016 and is known among her friends as the crazy dog lady without a dog. With an avid interest in the dynamics of global change, she decided her HSC major work was not enough to quench her thirst as to how regional interactions impact political and cultural relationships. So, she has decided to study International Studies at UNSW, majoring in International Relations. In her spare time, Frances is either teaching violin, re-watching episodes of Friends for the twentieth time, or perfecting the art on how to be a dog aficionado.