Most law students complain about the amount of time allotted to law exams. Most likely, it is based on the false assumption or mindset that one can’t answer law questions within that amount of time.

Examiners always seek something from their students but if a student spends most of his time in the exam hall trying to figure what is expected of them or beating about the bush, it is most likely that such student may not finish their exam questions.

The successive paragraphs are tips to help you in managing your time in the exam hall;

Time management skills: This goes beyond having a wrist watch in the exam hall. It involves the effective use of your time to achieve something productive. It is simply the ability to meet deadlines, in this case, at the finish time.

Pre-exam activities: This involves activities which are directed to prepare one’s self for an exam. In order to maximize your time in the exam hall, you need to prepare yourself beforehand. This preparation includes reading, practicing past questions and so on. It is also advisable that you practice past questions before the exam with a timer and under exam conditions, this will help you to predict questions and to develop yourself in the use of your time. Most students often overlook this aspect or procrastinate it but it always an important part of any exam.

Have a timer: This is as important as the pen you take to the exam hall. To maximize your time, you need to be able to allot time to different question and you can only do this effectively when you have personal clock or a wristwatch timing you. It is desirable to have a personal watch rather than share with a colleague in the exam hall as it may be a source of distraction in the long run. You could also set the time a bit faster than the exam time, this way, you can be able to make up for lost time.

Take time to study the question: One recurring mistake that law students often make is jumping into questions without taking time to study it. Sometimes a question may look too easy on the first look and that might be to the detriment of your answer. It is advisable that you take 2-5 minutes of your time, depending on the question, to study the questions. You can also jot down with a pencil, if allowed, bullet points on the chosen questions. This will help in remembering some of what you read when answering these questions. For example, cases, quotes titles etc.
Divide your time among the questions: For a 3 hour paper of 4 questions for instance, it’s advisable to make use of 30 – 35 minutes for each question, however, it’s your decision really. Since you have allotted 2-5 minutes of your time to study the question and arrange your thoughts, you have less than one hour to go. It is not entirely impossible to finish one question within 30 minutes, however, where there is an incomplete answer, the remaining time is used to complete it and go over your whole work too.

Have your introduction and conclusion steady: You shouldn’t just be thinking about how to approach a question or conclude it in the exam hall. Structure your introduction, body and conclusion intuitively. You can bullet point this at the first stage. Note further that you can predict the likelihood of the question through the scheme of work, answering past question or area(s) of concentration.

There is more often than not the problem of what question to answer in the exam hall. This is only peculiar to each student. This problem may be resolved by practicing past question with a timer. By doing this, you will get to know which questions require a bulky answer and it also helps you determine your strength in answering questions. Examples of questions that should not take most of your time includes short notes question, lecturer specific question [these are questions which the lecturer would not require so much of] and so on. It is safer to start with the question you are good at or the question that carries much weight. This is because the answers are still fresh in your mind, as starting with a trivial or uncomfortable question might tamper with it. Do not waste your time staring at ‘difficult’ questions.

Discipline: This is very important when writing your exams. Remember that you have given yourself time for each question. Its discipline when you stay true to that time. Exceeding the time can affect the other questions. In a situation where you can’t finish the question within that amount of time, for example 30 minutes, it is advisable to pick a convenient stop and leave enough space that can contain the continuation of your answer.
You may have the best answer to the exam question but where you are unable to manage your time effectively, it can affect your success at the exam. Do away with any assumption that exam time is not enough. Conclusively, pre-examination activities should be taken seriously, build up your time management skills and time won’t be an excuse.


Laura Adewole,

Content Provider, Legal Pages