Don’t panic… You can fit a lot on 4 pages You will be surprised how much you remember Contract law is logical - if you work through a problem logically it will be much easier.
Issue spotting If you’ve read the cases you are more likely to be able to spot similarities in facts that will trigger what kinds of issues might be involved. This is a skill that needs to be practiced. Go through as many past exams as you can and issue-spot: 1. Go through the life-cycle of the contract in a linear fashion and see if any of the issues apply to the facts. 2. There may well be more than one issue - don’t just jump on the first one that you see and stop looking for others. 3. Compare the issues you found with friends.
Reading Time - Step 1 (Read) You will be nervous so just read it the first time - don’t expect to take much in. Read it again - this time underlining/highlighting key facts, noting questions etc.
Reading Time - Step 2 (Think) Does it sound like any cases you remember? Go through your summary in order (is there a contract? Are there any issues with what the terms are? Was the contract performed? Breached? Frustrated? Are there any vitiating factors?) List things that might need to be dealt with.
Reading Time - Step 3 (Plan) Focus on the question itself (not just the scenario). Exactly what does it ask you? Who are you advising (one party? Both?)? Make a list of the issues you will need to address to answer the question. What order do you need to address them in? (this is usually in order of the life- cycle - but there might be parallel issues - eg. a couple of terms that need analysis or multiple vitiating factors). If you have time, work out what headings you will use and start making HIRAC notes for each issue
Writing Time If you didn’t get a chance to finish planning in reading time don’t just start writing in a panic - sketch out a rough plan. Don’t forget an introduction - your reader needs one, and it’s useful to be able to start writing with a clear idea of where you are going: In order for X to be able to get her deposit back she will need to be able to demonstrate that… X will only be able to claim damages if Y has breached the contract. Y will only have breached the contract if…
Writing time (cont…) Don’t forget about Formation. It might not be at issue, but you should say so (in intro or in a brief little section - up to you) Make good use of subheadings to move you logically and sequentially through the problem. Don’t forget if you have headings then subheadings under them you have to make this clear in some way to the reader (numbers, letters etc)
Writing time (cont…) Don’t forget about HIRAC in the stress of the moment. It’s not only about structure for your reader, it’s a reasoning tool for you. If you go through each step you are less likely to miss things and more likely to communicate clearly. RULE: If you can’t remember an authority leave it blank and come back to it. If at the end you still can’t remember put down what you do remember (the one where the guy sells the fruit shop…)
Writing time (cont…) APPLICATION: A better answer will not only apply the rule to the facts but will use cases to strengthen the argument where possible (in a very similar situation this happened… this happened in this case but it is different from the facts of this scenario because… This might affect…)
Writing time (cont…) CONCLUSION: have one (for each sub- issue, issue and for the whole problem) even if it is ‘if X then Y, but if A then B’. don’t just stop analysing and leave the reader to make up their own mind. Make sure the conclusion to the whole problem answers the question a) that was asked and b) that you set up in your introduction. You might need to go back and change a bit of your introduction if your analysis made your realise there was more going on.
Exam time-management Have a watch Set time goals (how much time will you spend on which problem) and keep track of where you are in relation to them in case time is running out and you need to start dot-pointing to get it down. Try to leave yourself time to read over the problem and fill in missing authorities, clarify a word etc.
Try to avoid… Panicking. If the problem just doesn’t make sense to you, go through each of the possible issues on your summary one at a time and see if any of them look like they might apply. Writing an answer then panicking. While your first instincts may not always be right, the impulse to second-guess and change everything at the last moment probably isn’t either. If you think you’ve gotten something wrong: breathe, re-read the section of the problem, re-read your notes/answer then make an informed decision.
Also try to avoid Dissecting the exam in ridiculous detail afterwards. There is often more than one way to approach a problem. You may have done something very different to your friend but this isn’t automatically a cause for alarm. Just relax, be glad it’s over, and collect the exam when you can so you know what you might need to work on if it comes up again.