The school years may be a distant memory for some, but study and work habits that ground us in later life (while often taken for granted) are often set in place during this formative phase in our lives. This is not to say that one cannot change one’s study habits, but if good practices are put in place during the school years, studying as an adult will be that much easier. Learning how to study and how to memorise at work can be extremely difficult and may seem very frustrating, but there are things you can do to help yourself improve.
If you are undertaking a course through ILSPA, it is essential to develop and maintain good study habits. We may not realise it, but while we are listening to a lecture or reading course material, our brains are storing that information. This is not the difficult part; the difficult part is recalling that information when you need it. This aspect of learning can be cultivated.
While the following information will help in the study of any subject, it is specifically targeted at those who are undertaking a home study course. Law itself can be a complicated subject to study because not only must you have a critical mind, but you also must be able to memorise legislation and cases so that this information is available to you at a moment’s notice.
The first key to memorising information is to read the texts thoroughly and actively. Read one sentence at a time, and do not move on until you understand what each sentence is saying. If you don’t understand a word or phrase, look it up by doing a search on Google or contact ILSPA for clarification. This active reading will ensure that you retain what you read and that you understand it.
The second and related key to memorising your work is to take notes. Taking notes is discouraged in class if you are studying in an evening course, but whilst you are reading the course material at home or if you are studying the course solely from home, to aid your learning process it is very beneficial to write down what you understand. Don’t simply write down everything you read; rather, note what is important or the key information and concepts you come across. As you write your notes, you will be absorbing the information on a deeper level. Creating flashcards can be an extremely helpful aid too. Either way, it is important to put in the work, because you will need to understand the laws and concepts and not simply cite them by rote.
Thirdly, it can be very beneficial to find a study partner, especially if you are studying from home. You can get together at a set time each week, go through what you are learning and talk about any areas which you are finding hard to understand. It can be good to get someone else’s opinion and perspective, as sometimes others understand things differently than we do. When you are able to bounce ideas off each other, you will have the solid support you need to complete your studies. Try posting on the forum in the Membership area of ILSPA’s website to see if you can connect with another Student in your area.
With this foundation in place, you can begin to memorise the laws and legal procedures that you need to know. Personalise your notes or flashcards, using bright and different colours to make them visually exciting so you can picture them in your mind’s eye. Make mnemonics that have some meaning to you. Once you have done all of this it is simply a matter of going through the flashcards, mnemonics and recitations again and again until you have memorised everything you need to.
The real key to memorisation is time. First you have to understand the material; then you can use your notes, flashcards, mnemonics and recitation to memorise it.
Please keep in mind that you can contact the Institute by email or telephone if you need help with any part of your studies or coursework.