Tips to get exam ready

Whether it’s your first exam in a while or you sat one at the last exam session, each presents a new challenge which can at times be daunting. Below are a range of tips to get exam ready. It’s worth trying a few to see what works for you.

Get organised

Create a revision plan: taking stock of the breadth of the syllabus and breaking it down really helps you to focus and allocate your time appropriately.

Use CLS resources

Make full use of the revision resources CILEx Law School makes available, including:

  • course summaries
  • revision questions and answers
  • revision sessions
  • the Academic Team

Note: There are further resources for Level 3 Unit 1 on the Student Area

Use CILEx resources

CILEx provides a lot of great resources:

  • past papers
  • examiners’ reports
  • suggested answers

The past papers will show you how the examiner translates the syllabus into examination questions. The answers and the examiners’ reports will tell you the breadth and depth of the answers they expect. The most recent ones are available on the Student Area.

Track your achievements

Use an A3 sheet of paper or card on the wall near where you study and mark up all the topics (or learning outcomes from the syllabus) in your course. When you have completed your revision on that topic or learning outcome, stick a green sticker in the relevant box and move on to the next one. This will help you maintain momentum and give you a sense of achievement.

Use visuals

To help remember cases, try drawing on one side of a record card a picture of something memorable and visual from the facts of the case, for example a snail. On the other side, put the name of the case and, in a couple of lines, the key legal principle derived from the case. It does not matter if your drawing is terrible – only you will see it.

Test your recall

Use your email calendar to test yourself on case names and dates or statutes and definitions. Set up reminders in your calendar every few days putting a case name or a definition. Then, figure out if you can remember the matching case name or definition, and look it up to confirm that you got it right.

Try different styles

Why not try alternative learning styles? If you are often on the go, take pictures of key points with your phone to study from later. Or you could try recording your notes to listen to during journeys.

Make sure you clearly signpost your photo notes and pause at times during recordings to make the information easier to track.

Cover the syllabus

When planning revision, remember the first chapters/ topics tend to get the lion’s share of your time. If you have not done all the study exercises, the chances are you will have done the early ones. Make sure that you don’t neglect the final topics.

Master the pre-release

If you are studying for a practice exam at Level 3 or 6, make sure you study the pre-release case study and familiarise yourself with the contents before the exam. Consider how the facts could be used by the examiner setting the exam paper, and what might ‘happen next’ for these clients. CLS students can find pre-release materials on the course pages on the Student Area.

Learn the cases

Create a table in a Word document with three columns: name of case (taken from the CILEx syllabus) on the left, area of law it relates to in the middle and finally the key legal principle(s) it established on the right. Learn and then test your knowledge by covering over the columns successively. You can also ask family and friends to test you.

Use past papers

Going through past papers and reviewing suggested responses will help you understand how the examiners expect questions to be answered. Success in law exams relies on demonstrating your knowledge and applying it to given scenarios. Study exercises and mock exams are designed to check you have gained these skills.

Compare and contrast

Look at past paper questions, suggested answers and examiners’ comments side by side to practise identifying:

  1. What the question is asking you to do
  2. What the contents of the answer might be
  3. How you would structure the answer bearing in mind the suggested answers.

Critical analysis

The issues that arise in the essay questions usually focus on academic debates. At level 6 you will be expected to apply these and thereby show critical analysis in answering  essay questions. Don’t feel intimidated, you do not have to come up with these ideas yourself. These issues have all been discussed many times before and so you can align yourself to an opinion already expressed by a text book writer.

Use your time wisely

In any exam where you have a choice of which questions to answer it is really important that you make the right choice. This is something you must do in the 15-minutes’ reading time before the exam starts. Don’t waste time reading any compulsory questions until you have made your choice from the optional ones. Why not practise doing this when looking at past papers during your revision?

Get help

If there is a point that you don’t understand, don’t ignore it and hope that it won’t come up on the exam paper. You cannot learn what you don’t understand. If you are a CILEx Law School student, seek help from the Academic Team!

Don’t let things slip

January exams can be a particular challenge: with December being a festive month you may start slipping behind with your revision plans. Make your personal revision sessions productive. Revise at times of day when you are reasonably fresh and don’t try and cram in material in long overnight sessions.

Keep motivated

If you have some quotes that inspire you, print them out and post them around your home or study area as motivation. Here are some we like:

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”

Arthur Ashe

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”


“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe

Use continuous learning

Past papers and examiners’ reports are not just for exam time and should be used as soon as you complete revision on a topic. Looking at them will enable you to see how the syllabus translates into real questions. It also shows you how all the law that you are studying is applied.

Read the question

In the exam, read the questions carefully. Underline key words and follow instructions. Take note of the number of marks available for each question that you answer, and apportion your time accordingly.

Remember to answer the question asked, not the question you would like to have been asked.