Time flies really quickly. It is a cliche line but I have to say it. It truly feels recent that I entered law school as a freshman. Just about two and a half years later, it feels like the finishing line is so very close. Apparently I have to look for a training contract but I do not have the time or resolve to do it, yet! It does not sound like me but yes, there are things that I actually put aside when I do start prioritising.
So what came before applying for a training contract? Well for starters, family. Just in general. Life as a soon to be 42 year old means that I am not a full time student. I am a full time husband and parent and have a full time job. Spending time with my family is my main priority. I take a look at my cumulative grade point average (CGPA) and I think to myself, I just need to not mess up too badly for the remaining three semesters and I should get what I want at the end of my journey in the SUSS School of Law.
While time, for me at this stage of my life, is always a scarce commodity, the knowledge to know what to do something and when to do something truly helps make up for this shortfall. In fact, I do not think I found law school as difficult as I found it enjoyable to learn the law (perhaps I will rue this statement when I encounter Equity and Trusts this coming semester!). On a lazy Sunday morning, as I download all the materials for the upcoming semester, I am somehow compelled to pass on some humble nuggets of knowledge to those who will thread the same path after me. Well 6 to be exact…
Nugget of knowledge number 1: Seriously, stop bothering about how you did for your TMA!
TMA = Timed Marked Assignment. Basically you get an assignment and you have to hand it up by a certain Sunday evening at 2355 hours. When the assignment is returned, there will usually be a comparison as to who came up tops. In my first year and probably at the start of my second, I was so obsessed with why I did not top the TMA or why I could not come close to topping the TMA. If you are just entering law school, do note that the TMA, while important, is not life itself and should not consume you. In most cases, one assignment only makes up 10% of your eventual grade. Hence getting a 70 compared to a 68 would only result in a 0.2% difference to your final score at the end of the semester. Fretting over the difference of a few marks truly does not make very much sense. I believe I only topped an assignment on 2 or 3 previous occasions. That did not stop me from doing relatively well in my eventual grade for the module. My goal has been to consistently average 68 for my assignments to put me in a good position for the examinations. In fact, if you get an average of 67 for the TMAs, and ace the PCQs, you will enter the examinations with a B+ grade.
PCQs which make up 5%: 5/5
TMAs which make up 45%: Average of 67
Total grade upon 50%: (67/100*45 + 5)=35.15 (This is 70.3/100. which means you need to score 70 for the examinations to get a B+ which would give you a module grade point of 4.0)
Nugget of knowledge number 2: The examinations are more important than the assignments.
This should not come as a surprise. Examinations make up 50% of the eventual grade. I personally prioritise examination preparations ahead of TMAs. Every week I will prepare my notes for the exam for the topic that was covered. Even if there is a TMA, the exam notes come first. I will use the exam notes which I prepared to do the TMA. I spend a lot of time on my exam notes. I call them “cheatsheets”. A term that lecturers in NUS used during my first degree and I carry on the term to seemingly make myself feel as though I am in my early twenties again! I do my notes in Microsoft Excel format as I comprehend better. You have to do your own notes even if you seek reference from other students’ notes. If you are my junior and would like to have a copy of my examination notes for the topics which I have completed, do drop me an email. I actually did very badly for the TMAs for LAW309 and did not get an average of 67. The examinations actually pulled my overall grade up and I got a B+ for the module.
Nugget of knowledge number 3: You take the notes from your seniors early but you most probably will not look at them then till the start of the semester.
Do not kid yourself. Ok perhaps you will look at them. Briefly. However, you will not study them. Sure you will look cool having the connection to get the notes of your seniors. The students in your batch will be clamouring for them and you will be busy disseminating them and getting loads of thanks. However, no one really reads them. Not even you. Not until semester starts. It gets even worse when you are in year 3 and Diablo 4 is released in the June 2023 and you are busy grinding the game to level up with another of your classmate. I think some can guess who I am talking about. Oh yes and some may also categorise us as “muggers”. Yes this is how we mug when the semester has not started. (p.s. Kester, I don’t know how you levelled up so quickly! For those who are playing Diablo 4, do send us a PM to add us on battlenet.)
So seriously, chill. Enjoy the holidays. Spend time with your family, focus on your work. If you are single, go and date. If you want to get fit, go and exercise. If you are bored, go and travel. Do the work when the semester is in full swing. You need to do your readings and be prepared for every class. That is what is needed to survive the semester. That is what I did for just about every class for the last five semesters and I think I am doing fine in law school.
Nugget of knowledge number 4: Please focus on your grades BEFORE you join any activities.
I personally never joined any extra-curricular activities in my first two years in law school. I was laser focused on getting the grade that I was aiming for. I am determined to obtain a second upper degree at the end of my four years in the SUSS School of Law and that meant that I had to use whatever limited time I had on studying. I have seen some of my classmates struggling to complete their assignments because they are participating in certain extra-curricular activities. I only participated in touch rugby in the Law Fraternity Games this year, in year 3, and that was a one day thing. I continue to train with those who are committed to participating in the 2024 edition of the games. We only started this month. I am entering my 6th semester and I am starting to commit to my first extra-curricular activity. This is because according to the SUSS portal, I only need an average semester GPA of 2.1 for my remaining 3 semesters to graduate with a final CGPA of 3.5 which will allow me to take the bar to be called as a lawyer.
Studies first, everything else can be set aside. It really feels good to have a healthy buffer as you enter the final stretch. Compare this to having to pull up your grades to get what you need or want.
Nugget of knowledge number 5: If you love the law, you will start to miss law school, so treasure ever moment while it lasts!
I have never been a top student. Never in my early years, not now. I am perhaps a very disciplined student and that is due to how I am wired. I will do all my work whether I like it or not. I usually accomplish what I set myself out to do. Perhaps the best trait that I have would be determination. However, I never had to truly grind through law school. I actually look forward to reading cases and learning new legal concepts. I actually am beginning to reminisce about the classes that went by. Seriously, joke and enjoy class (wait… did I just make an oxymoron statement?). I personally take every class to be a picnic with my classmates. We bring snacks to class and we catch up over every break. If you find an individual or individuals who think that having fun and joking in class is inappropriate (yes there are such individuals), then please refer him or her to this Batman scene.
Hot tip: If you want to feel pressure and enjoy a module at the same time, you truly need to be taught by Prof Ferlin. No matter how prepared I was he could still poke holes in my preparation! There were enough dramatic and funny moments to make a Quintin Tarantino movie! How he makes criminal procedure enjoyable is beyond me.
Nugget of knowledge number 6: Examinations are over already. Go and chill.
There are many instances where I went “ah I should have written this” AFTER the examination. This can be either to myself or to others. This also happened to me last semester. Of course at the start of the four years I actually said it out loud and even compared answers with my classmates after the papers. Last semester that thought fleeting my mind for a moment after my property paper and I kept it to myself. At the end of the examinations you should be thinking of supper. That is the current standard operating procedure (SOP) which some of my classmates and I have. A good friend of mine made me send him to the airport at the end of the family law paper. The paper ended at 10pm and his flight was at 1140pm. That helped me to not think about what I wrote! But seriously, over already. Go and eat supper. Cannot change anything. There are some who actually CALLED ME a few days later to ask me what I wrote. I seriously cannot remember.
That’s all for now! Thanks for reading! Enjoy law school!