1. Understand the Question
At the face of it, this may sound like a cliché advice but let’s face reality When it comes to essay writing, failure to properly understand the question is one of the most typical cause behind a disappointing grade.
Never speed read your question set even when faced with time constraints. Instead, reread the questions again and again (and again) until you are confident that you are certain of what the question demands. Are you being asked to compare and contrast or are you being asked to critically evaluate a concept?
Generally, there are some common phrases found in essay questions and each of it should be answered differently. If you are asked to evaluate, both the strengths and weaknesses should be included but the bulk should be the practical usefulness of said concept.
In essence, the focus of your essay would be indicated by the wordings used in the question and would be your first key to writing a good essay.
2. Structure your essay
It is a common phenomenon for students to free-flow their arguments in the first part of their essay, rendering them to circulate identical arguments for the sake of fulfilling the ‘marker’s perceived sufficient’ essay length. Since it is not the best thing to clog your reader’s mind with overly informative statements, it is advisable to attempt a question first by outlining the flow.
In your writing, avoid being too descriptive and keep your choice of words as simple and accurate as possible as this is a law paper, not literature. Instead, impress your marker by condensing your answer to in-depth analysis of the law and its respective practicalities or critiques upon political, economical or social changes.
Relatively, a good piece of advice is always to know your materials before exams. It’s advisable to create mnemonics, for example by structuring your essay flow into charts or anything of your liking. Trust me, when you are anxious, you would not remember a single word from the nicely highlighted paragraphs you have in your thick and dull textbook.
3. Do not hesitate
Always be confident with your reasoning and argument. Be firm and do not second doubt yourself. You only have a limited time to write your essays. Instead of using that time to trap yourself in confusion, use that time wisely, just stay firm and keep writing.
Law is very practical in nature so there’s no one right or wrong answer, therefore a legitimate answer backed with precise arguments and case studies would suffice. The gist of essay writing is to assess one’s ability to interpret and apply law in various situations – fully utilise common sense to make sense of your justifications (even if you are uncertain of it).
Afterall, originality and creativity are two significant credits in good essay writing, so be the author of your work! Bear in mind that a fresh argument is always better than reproducing any memorised opinions from those academic writings you can find online etc.
4. Exercise the Writing Muscle
Practice writing your essays beforehand, at home or tutorials. Writing is a better practice to internalise concepts and ideas you have learned in a long haul and scholars have affirmed this statement and personally, I do too!
As the old saying goes ‘practice makes perfect’, you would not want to stare blankly at exam papers under pressure. Lastly, make sure you stay focus on your paper throughout the test (even when faced with the stress of your peers requesting for their nth booklet). Even when you’re unconfident about what you’re writing, just keep writing and you’ll be fine. Let your markers pick the relevant points!
Finally, please treat yourself post-exam and stay proud as a law student. At least, embrace the cause of wasting a lot of paper in a useful manner. Hopefully, these 4 tips will help you out. Just keep writing and don’t give up!