Top Tips On Passing Legal Exams

Top Tips On Passing Legal Exams

Top Tips On Passing Legal Exams. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be a guest post from Amanda Hamilton, Patron, National Association of Licensed Paralegals (an Ofqual recognised awarding body for paralegal qualifications). Amanda will explore top tips on answering legal exam/assignment questions. Qualifications are required for careers as a paralegal, solicitor or barrister. But legal exams can be daunting. Here are a few pointers.

Top Tips On Passing Legal Exams

Reading The Question

It cannot be emphasised enough how important it is to read the question very carefully as there may be several elements to it, and quite often, you will read the first part and completely ignore any other element of the question that comes later. This is disastrous as it may mean losing several marks before you begin.

An example may be:

‘Mrs Jones consults you about making a Will but cannot understand why there is so much fuss over this. Why can’t she write down her intentions as she wishes on a piece of paper? Explain to her the requirements to make a will valid, the various gifts that could be included in her will, and how they may fail.’ 20 marks

A learner may latch onto the first two parts of the question about the requirements that make a Will legally valid and what the various gifts are but may disregard the last part about how the gifts may fail. Five marks may be lost immediately for not attempting to answer the last part of the question.

Being Afraid To Commit To A Particular Answer

When answering a legal question, you are often asked to state what you believe would happen in this scenario. As you may think, this is difficult: ‘What if I get it wrong?’

In a court of law, especially in civil actions, there is usually no correct answer at the start of proceedings. That is why it has reached court and has not been settled beforehand. The party that wins the case will be the party that has the best argument. This will include presenting the facts, mentioning case law precedent to back up your side’s argument or arguing about interpreting the wording in a Statute. It could also be about the validity of evidence and the credibility of witnesses. The Judge will have the final say based on the balance of probabilities, i.e. which party he believes has the weightier evidence and argument. Therefore, any conclusion in your answer will be valid, provided you have presented the argument.

In a criminal court, it is slightly different as an accused person is either guilty of having committed an offence or not, and the burden of proof is much higher. So, the same applies if there is a question relating to criminal law, although facts and evidence play a vital part. You should state the law and then discuss any relevant cases before concluding.

Open Book Assignments

The stress of entering an examination hall and sitting down to complete an exam with several other people without the ability to have documents to refer to can be pretty overwhelming.

Arguably, success in such circumstances depends mainly on the learners’ ability to memorise facts, cases and statutes. There could be an adverse effect on someone who finds this particular skill more challenging.

In practice, when a client comes to you for advice, you cannot categorise the law in chapter and verse, as this would only be relevant once it gets to court. What you would be able to do is to suggest that from the facts given, you believe there is a case, and once taken on, you would research the law.

On the other hand, open-book assignments have their challenges. The assumption is that since the learner has the workbook or other texts by their side for reference while completing the assignment, it makes it far easier to pass. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many learners fall foul by copying word for word from the text, thereby committing plagiarism (taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as your own without citing the source). Alternatively, having recognised the area of law, learners write all about the topic with enthusiasm without actually answering the question.

Exams and assessments are stressful, but they can be made much more accessible and improve your chances of success if you bear the points above in mind when answering.

I hope you enjoyed that.

Talk soon.

Amanda Hamilton HR (1)About The Author

Amanda Hamilton is the Patron of the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP), a non-profit membership body and the only paralegal body recognised as an awarding organisation by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications in England). Through its centres around the country, accredited and recognised professional paralegal qualifications are offered to those looking for a career as a paralegal professional.


Twitter: @NALP_UK


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