By Katie Bacon
One of my favourite aspects of life at Oxford is being part of a subject family. Your family starts with Parents and extends to Aunts/Uncles, Grandparents and even Great Grandparents!
Personally, I’ve found my law family a much greater source of support and friendship than my general family as we automatically have things in common. You are all going through/have gone through the same thing. This means that there are always people you can go to for advice about anything, from lectures and tutorials to balls/events. My favourite part of freshers week was meeting my law family. At the end of a crazy week that could be pretty overwhelming it was great to be welcomed into the Balliol law community, finding friendship and a support network pretty much instantly. My law parents are two of my closest friends in Oxford and are often who I turn to if I have a problem. Subject families also give you lots of friendly faces around college which is particularly helpful in the first few weeks and it means that you’ll always have someone to say hi to at an event.
As a subject family our parents have organised several dinners to see how everyone is doing. Unlike other subjects, law hold exams in Hilary (second) term of first year rather than Trinity (third) term, so most recently we had a subject dinner to pass on Mods advice. It was really great to hear exam advice from other students who have literally gone through the exact same thing.
Here are some of my favourite pieces of advice, from my (law) family to yours(!):
• Remember to eat and sleep well - the healthier you are the better you work!
• Contextualise - it’s great if you get a first overall or in a paper but Mods are not the end of the world!
• Making good notes is important but don’t forget to look at exam questions
• You don’t need as much detail in an exam essay as you would include for a tutorial
• Don’t underestimate how much you already know!
• Choosing a question is more important than you think so it’s worth taking the time to read through them even though it can feel stressful that you haven’t started writing- practice looking through and choosing questions
• Things can go wrong and you’ll still be fine! - a member of our law family woke up 3 minutes before their exam and still did really well!
On the recommendation of my law Auntie I went to an ‘Exam Orientation’ session run by Exam Schools and cannot tell you how useful it was! It was really helpful just to familiarise myself with the small things - the walk to Exam Schools, the room, the desks/chairs, sample exam scripts. If you get nervous for exams eliminating as many elements of uncertainty is really beneficial and the whole orientation session was great for that.
For anyone with exams coming up, here are my key takeaways:
• Knowing your candidate number is really important! - it’s on your exam timetable which you can print off and bring with you - you don’t have to memorise it!
• When you arrive there are huge noticeboards which will tell you your room and desk number
• You can wear ear plugs in the exam if you want to
• You can take most question papers with you after the exam
• The exam wellbeing page on the university website is really helpful
• You can go to Exam Schools at any time and have a look around - I would really recommend this!
Wishing everyone who has exams the very best of luck, remember to look after yourself and draw upon the resources around you like your subject family.