Reading several different pieces of text can be dry, and remembering the information for the exam can be even more troublesome! For this reason I love to incorporate a variety of colours by drawing lots of visual mind maps when studying. This use of colour is not only more interesting, but also ensures you are going over information again and again by reformatting it. This will help move it to your long term memory.
How do I create these visual diagrams?
Sometimes I may start a small draft of messy notes when listening to the audio lectures or in the module guide, then when I have an overview of the topic, I can tape lots of paper together to make huge sprawling mind maps filled with all the information required to answer any exam topic across my four modules! Here’s how:
Step 1) When reading module guides or core text, I underline or highlight key legal principles, judge reasonings or cases. Doing so in different colours can also help recall and visualisation. I personally use:
Pink: Statute and academic commentary
Green: Judge’s comments
Yellow: relevant information
Red: Exam tips
Step 2) Now I can see how many key pieces of information are essential to mastering this topic, I can sub-divide it into categories and create headings. Use your colour code! I also like to use arrows or numbers to show which way I need to process the information. For the exam essays, I will then know how many areas I need to cover, which will help my approach stay methodical and logical, ensuring no key areas are missed.
Step 3) I begin to fill out the topic with a birds eye view of the key areas, and then add all the key information we recalled earlier in their various colours and shade in. This act of pulling in information again and again, is study in itself. Then by colouring and shading, I am going over the information in a methodical manner, but it is also known that quiet activities such as colouring are good for the mind and mental wellbeing. For my own satisfaction, I can visually see my progress.
Step 4) The first time I attempt to write an essay or prepare for an exam, I may use my diagrams, again pulling in this information, following the numbers around the diagram in a logical methodical approach to ensure no area is missed. The ‘Am I Ready To Move On’ activities in the Module Guides also provide a different format in black and white for me to recall and put my use of colour mind-mapping to the test!
Step 5) Hopefully now I can answer an essay question without referring to my maps, and can check after to see what information I may have missed.
In the meantime, the mind maps live on my walls as they are visually appealing and I can look at them everyday up to the exam whilst doing everyday things like cleaning my teeth, or I can have my friends test me.
Louise is studying the LLB in the UK.