One of the most helpful learning tools on the GDL will be your tutorials. Each week, you will have a tutorial for each module, based on the previous week’s lecture. These will be an opportunity for you to test your knowledge and understanding of the topic.
The tutorial questions will be posted onto the online Virtual Learning Environment prior to the tutorial so that you can prepare in advance. The general format of the tutorials is that your tutor will go through the questions and ask for discussion/responses from the group. Sometimes, the tutor will split the tutorial group into smaller groups to discuss their answers to a few of the questions and then present them to the rest of the class.
Most tutorial questions are based on exam-style questions so if you’re able to confidently answer a tutorial question, the chances are that you would do well in the exam question too.
Below are a few of my ideas and tips on how to approach tutorials in the GDL and get the most out of them:
Prepare for the tutorials
Because tutorials are the closest thing to worked and explained exam questions, its important that you come to the tutorial with something to offer. Having a bullet-point answer to each of the questions will be helpful so you know where your understanding was correct and also where you need to expand/improve.
Preparation doesn’t mean you have to write out full length prose for your answers, simply that you have some notes and an answer which you can explain. When preparing, try to follow a well-ordered structure. Many of the tutors will go through some answer methods for you, such as the IRAC method (Issue – Rule – Application – Conclusion).
To prepare for tutorials, I prepared bullet point answers to each of the questions. Make sure that you have a good bullet point for each point that you are making and importantly, make sure you have a case/statute authority to back up the legal point that you have made. Most of the tutors will not only ask for a legal point, but also which authority you have to back up your point. If you get into the habit of doing this from day 1, your GDL will be so much easier.
But don’t spend too much time preparing for one tutorial
At the start of the course it was recommended that we spend 3 hours preparing for each tutorial. This would amount to 21 hours per week preparation for just 7 hours of tutorials. I found that it was a more optimal use of my time limit myself to 2 hours maximum per tutorial.
Whilst tutorials are important to get to grasps with a topic, they are not the be all and end all. Each week, you will also need to find time to watch the lectures and read the study notes, so don’t let tutorial preparation take over your week!
On top of this, many students will want to dedicate a portion of their time each week to researching and apply for Vacation Schemes and Training Contracts. It’s important not to get too bogged down by the intricacies of a tutorial, leaving little time to prepare for a good application. At the end of the day, if your aim is to get a Training Contract, preparing a single tutorial for several hours won’t make your application any better!
Try and read the study notes before the tutorial
If there’s one resource that you should be using on the GDL, it’s the study notes. They contain more information and detail than the lectures themselves and will also reference further reading if you’re interested. When going through a tutorial question, the information that you need to answer the question will almost certainly be alluded to in the relevant study note chapter. The study notes generally cite the main legal authorities, so you can make sure your points are backed up too.
In many topics, a flowchart may make things much easier. Many topics will themselves require you to navigate to different sections of statute and follow a natural flow. If you’re able to make a flowchart to help you work your way through a tutorial question, it will become invaluable when it comes to revision later in the year. Both the contract and EU modules rely heavily on an ordered procedure when answering questions. This lends itself perfectly to flowcharts.
An example of this in contract is as follows:
- Is there a representation/term/mere puff?
- If it is a term of the contract is it implied/express?
- Assess whether this term has been breached
- Categorise the term as a warranty/innominate term/condition
- If it is a warranty, the claimant can only claim damages. If it is a condition, they have the right of election.
- Examine any exemption clauses which may be relevant
Once you have a flowchart to help you answer each issue, you can add in your case/statutory authorities. The end result will be a structured chart which you can re-use for answering any question in that topic.
(One of the programs which I found helpful in creating flowcharts/mindmaps was the free trial version of MindMaster – Link)
Make notes during the tutorial
When in the actual tutorial, the tutor and other members of your group will often make a point which you had overlooked when preparing. Take the tutorials as an opportunity to gather as many different relevant points for a question. Note down other students’ answers so that you can use them in the future when answering practice questions.
When writing your notes, imagine reading them without any prior knowledge of the topic. Would you still be able to understand you chain of reasoning? Would you understand how you reached an answer if you read through your notes? If not, then that is a clear indication that you need more structure or detail in your notes.
Go back over tutorials when revising
When revising for exams, you will be provided with past papers and other resources to help you. However, you will not be given mark schemes, merely suggested points to incorporate. Whilst these are useful, they might not show you an ideal structure for your answer and not necessarily explain everything. Therefore, your tutorial notes may come in handy. If you are able to write good, structured answers to tutorial questions during the tutorial, you can use these as a model answer to exam questions.
One extra tip during the tutorial is to engage with the discussion. By remaining actively involved, answering questions and joining in with discussion, it will help to reinforce your learning. It’s much harder to take in information by remaining passive and listening to others.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Everyone else in the room is usually in the same position as you. They’ve had the same amount of time to prepare and might not be sure of their answer either. One of the best ways is to learn by making mistakes. Once you’ve made a mistake, you’re much less likely to make the same mistake again. Remember, tutorials are also an opportunity for you to get to know and interact with your peers. You’ll almost certainly bump into them again once you’ve started working!
Remember, tutorials are an important part of your GDL experience. Don’t neglect preparing for them, but try to find an efficient way of approaching them so that you still have time for other parts of your course too.