Hello I am Janathri Weeratunga and I am from Sri Lanka. I am currently a 2nd year LLB student with the University of London International Programmes. As many students, I too started my first year straight after my A/Ls and I was pretty enthusiastic (at least in the first few months). I was a newbie to law and I thought that it would be as easy as any A/L Art stream subject (which was a big mistake). My whole concept of university life and higher education was pretty much based on English novels found at any bookshop in Sri Lanka. So of course, without any doubt, I was imagining hard work, long walks, a bit of romance, fun and a load of new friends.
However within a few months of lectures I was forgetting all the hard work and just simply enjoying life on campus and my new found freedom. It is of course very easy to get carried away with the whole concept of “University” and the life there and I did learn my lesson in the hardest way possible. So I am writing this post now just to make sure that all of you first years know exactly what you are getting into. Trust me; an undergraduate degree in Law does require a lot of hard work . If you do not put in those long hours of work you will regret it in August when results come. We are about 3 months away from what I would describe as the most competitive exams I have ever faced.
Let’s get it straight, I am not going to paint a fairytale here and tell you guys that these exams are going to be easy as pie. Being a little more realistic I would tell you guys that these papers are manageable if you do really work hard. If you are wondering how you are going to manage, well let me give you some tips which helped me last year.
Firstly you need to get your act straight. If you have been just hanging around without doing much work then it’s about time you start.
- Be a little realistic rather than aim for the stars.
Put down a realistic aim for yourself. You know that if you start studying by December and work really hard then you are on your way for probably a credit or, if you are lucky enough, a merit . If that is what your aim is then stick it up on your wall so that you can see it every day. This will give you a purpose and help you strive for that aim.
- Put down a time schedule for each month and cross out what you have achieved.
This is quite easy. Put down an aim for the day like finishing 5 pages of Offer and Acceptance and remembering those cases. If you do achieve this aim then cut it off the schedule. When you do cut it off you will have a really good feeling of achievement and trust me it will motivate you. However if like me, you also run out of motivation then a reward a day saves the day scheme works for you.
- A reward a day saves the day scheme.
You know everyone runs out of motivation once in a while. This is when even little rewards help you get motivated especially when you are stressed out. Well this is how it works. You put up the time schedule then put a reward for every achievement you make. For example, if you finished Bingham’s 8 in rule of law then give yourself an award like 30 minutes free time or one episode of your favourite Korean drama. This will make you feel good and make your mind relax too.
- Do something that relaxes you.
This was one of my favourite things in my time schedule. Every week take an afternoon off and do something you love. I usually cooked up a storm on my weekends just to keep my mind off the exams. This extra “you time” you get can make a world of difference to your life. Trust me this really made my life bearable in those last few months before exams.
- Stress out.
Yes you read it right. You need to stress out because that is quite normal, but there is a limit to it of course. Our bodies are quite able to work under stress and I found stress can help me work a little harder than I usually do. Always remember stress is something very normal and that you are not the only one stressing out.
- Put in those extra hours
Just a few hours can change how much you know about a subject. Just a few extra hours can give you that little bit of extra information you need to get a distinction. Don’t be afraid to lose some sleep and study. However just remember when it comes to the month before the exams to have at least 7 hours of sleep because you don’t want to get exhausted when you near the exams do you?
- Believe in yourself.
Well this year you would have met a lot of new people and some very smart ones. Do not compare their work with yours during exam times. Don’t think to yourself that they are better than you or will get better results than you. Be confident about yourself and be selfish in these 3 months ahead. Think only about your work and your aim. If you keep worrying about what other people are doing or how much they have finished doing you will just stress out. Just remember that during these few months “you” are the only person you should think about.
- Life goes on after exams – just remember that.
Life goes on beyond these papers you are sitting for and it’s very important that you remember that. No matter what happens, the people you love will always be there for you. Remember that no matter what people say, these 4 papers are not going to change the person you are. Take things slow and think about it. Don’t over stress over things. Do not worry you can do it!!!!
Hope these few tips were helpful to all you 1st years out there. Just remember that there is a life after these papers and all those Marvel movies, Korean dramas and latest games will be still there after the exams. Let them wait for the summer holidays because these few months before the exams are far more important than anything else. You don’t get anything without a bit of consideration/sacrifice, so do not be afraid to give something up to gain something better.
Best of luck for the upcoming exams (Though luck has nothing to do with it :) ).
Janathri is currently studying the Bachelor of Laws from Sri Lanka with support from one of our Affiliate Teaching Institutions, Royal Institute of Colombo.