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Taking Your LLM Exams

LLM ExamsTaking LLM examinations can be a stressful time and the best way to avoid feeling to pressurised is to have prepared thoroughly in advance, and of course making sure you keep fit and healthy. In most academic institutions, which run a one-year course starting in September, LLM exams take place towards the end of May and in June. Although coursework makes up an important part of any LLM course, it is the examinations that constitute the principle part of the assessment. Therefore, it is crucial that you start to focus on the examinations as early as possible, right from the outset of your study program, if possible.

Preparation advice

When preparing for an LLM exam, you will need to do a lot of reading. The requirement to get through the reading list is a real one and skimming over a few tomes or only dipping into sections won't get you through. The only way to prepare for the examination period is to read the reading list and to get through it early. Faced with a pile of books that you need to cram in short space of time tends to leave you feeling overwhelmed. Start early and set aside enough hours in each week to make good progress. If you fall behind, then you will need to sacrifice something else to make up the reading time down the line. Ideally, finish your reading by Easter so that you can use the time afterwards to revise.

Revision advice

Make sure your revision begins in earnest weeks before the exam. Revise the areas you think will come up from past papers and make these your areas of strength. However, revision should also be about working on your weaker areas, too. In order to help with parts of law you are less confident with, try revising with a fellow student or in a group. Revision tends to be a lot better in a small group if all the members of the group have different areas of expertise that they can share. Stay motivated with revision and the exams should not cause you excessive worry when they do come about.

What form do LLM exams take?

Some courses require minor exams to be taken before the final ones in May/June, however the major assessment is made later and this is the one to prepare for as fully as possible. Generally speaking, LLM exams are held over a two-hour period, but you will usually receive additional reading time beforehand. This is about 15 minutes in which you get to read and assess the written material of the examiners. Most LLM exams will set six different questions. The expectation is that you will answer two of these. Therefore, you should have a good breadth of knowledge that is prepared to answer a minimum of four or five questions so that you have a choice to pick from depending on the complexity of the questions that come up. Some material you will have prepared for won't come up every time, of course, but that is the luck of the draw. In the exam, it is best to make up your mind what two questions are best suited to your preparation and to allocate one hour to each. This is good advice, even if you feel that you are stronger on one question than the other you should try and divide your time among the two equally. Examiners will give equal marks to each, so answer them both as fully as you can. Read and re-read every question before proceeding with your answers as a simple slip up with comprehension can cause you to waste time or answer in an incorrect way.


The results of LLM exams don't take long to produce, but it varies from institution to institution. If your course requires a dissertation, then results tend to be only posted after this has been assessed, too. If you feel that an error has been made with your examination result, then you will have the right to appeal. Each exam is assessed under a prescribed marking scheme and although errors are sometimes made, they tend to be rare. Nevertheless, if you choose to appeal, make sure you do so within the given deadline because appeals made after this date – which can change from year to year – are not accepted.


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