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Taking Your LLM Exams

LLM ExamsTaking LLM examinations can be a stressful time and the best way to avoid feeling too 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 – obviously, if you are studying a  January-start dates masters degree, your exams will take place later in the year.

Although coursework makes up an important part of any LLM course, it is the examinations that usually constitute the principle part of the assessment. Therefore, it is crucial that you start to focus on exams and revision 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. Instead 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.

Stay fit and healthy

Healthy LLM studentKeeping well during the exam period is vital to your LLM success – here are a few tips to help you.

Wash your hands – the first step to staying healthy during exam periods (and generally) is to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly. Make sure you wash your hands before you eat and avoid touching your face, as this is how many illnesses enter the body. You want to behave just how your mother taught you when you were little and, much like a child, just assume that your hands are always dirty.

Eat healthily – avoid too much sugar and junk food, you want to fill yourself up with nutritious food so you can concentrate on your work and not on what you get to eat next. And rather than taking supplements – or at least in addition to – try and eat healthily. Eat regular meals rather than snacking all day. Don't avoid treats altogether as they can be a good way to motivate yourself to read through something essential but not particularly interesting.

Exercise regularly – doing a quick 30-minute workout each morning is a great way to help you focus for the rest of the day, plus it brings you closer to those 150 minutes of exercise we are all supposed to do each week. Spending a little time on something that isn't your studies is a perfect way to calm your mind, refresh your body and improve your mental health.

Enjoy downtime – you need to spend time away from your books relaxing too. Plan to see friends or do something that you enjoy that has nothing to do with your studies. It can be a great motivator to complete your work if you know you've got something fun to look forward too.

Take screen breaks – it's really important to get away from your computer and look after your eyes by taking regular screen breaks. Set an alarm each hour you are working to stand up and stretch or move around a bit. You also need to look after your back while you are doing all that sitting at your desk and studying.

Discuss your problems – if you are not feeling well or are feeling overwhelmed, then you should speak with your tutors or other academic staff as early as possible. Speak to friends and other people if you are finding that your studies are becoming too much. Keep in contact with your law school, especially if you're having a difficult time with your studies, as they will want you to be successful and happy in all aspects of your life.

Break down revision – to avoid feeling like you have an unmanageable amount of studying to do you should break down your work into chunks. This will make everything a little easier and you can track your progress. Just make sure you leave enough time to do it all.

LLM exams

Revision advice

Make sure your revision begins in earnest weeks before the exams start. Revise the subject areas you think will come up from past papers and make these your areas of strength.

Revision should also be about working on your weaker areas, too. 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. Even if you feel 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.

LLM exam results

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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