The primary purpose of education is to develop a critical mind which is not susceptible to misinformation and falsehood. However, as much as the importance of sound education which entails full development of one’s mental faculty cannot be over-emphasised, a brilliant student must also have an impressive academic performance to showcase.
While exam success can be said to be an entitlement of a brilliant student, poor academic performance may be experienced by brilliant students who lack certain tips for exam success.
Therefore, in order for a brilliant student not to miss his or her entitlement, the following tips must be noted. Although the tips may be found useful and helpful by students generally, they are more specifically tailored to address the needs of law students.
Read instructions carefully. If you are faced with questions broken into sections and you are asked to answer a question from each section, make sure you keep to such instructions.
Take, for instance, if you are to answer four questions in all with two from each section and you actually answer four questions but all the four are from a section, simply note that you have succeeded in answering only two questions and not four.
Understand a question before attempting it.
Ms Abibat, a sixteen-year-old aspiring law student, made up her mind to become a lawyer from the age of 8 but she is always troubled with the possibility of handling divorce cases when she eventually becomes a lawyer. She strongly believes that “no one should put asunder what God has joined together”.
Explain to her the circumstances in which marriages may be terminated without passing through the divorce process.
Before you are told about how to answer a question of this nature, remember that, in law exams, there are three types of question that you may face in an exam.
1. There are questions that are regarded as essay types.
For example, if a question says –
*what is void marriage?
*Void and voidable marriages are not the same. Discuss.
2. Another type is – problem question (this may also be called different names by different persons). Some call it case-study question or hypothetical question.
Tunde married his first wife under the Marriage Act but having been elected the Parliamentarian for his district, he decided to marry a second wife who is more educated than the first.
Upon discovering what Tunde did, the first wife has filed an action in court to set aside the second marriage, arguing that Tunde cannot marry a second wife under the Law.
Do you think her case can succeed? Support your answer with relevant statutory and judicial authorities.
This is a question that calls for the use of IRAC method.
I for Issue
R for Rule
A for Application, and
C for Conclusion.
The issue in the question is –
Can a person married under the Marriage Act legally contract a second marriage, while the first marriage remains undissolved?
The rule is –
By virtue of sections 33 and 47 of the Marriage Act, a married person is incapable of entering into a second marriage.
You apply the rule by stating that Tunde is not capable of marrying another woman because of his subsisting marriage with his first wife.
If you have any case that treats an issue like the one presented in the hypothetical question, cite it.
Conclude by stating that the case of the first wife has the prospect of succeeding based on the foregoing analysis.
3. The third one is mixed question, that is, a question that has the nature of both essay and problem questions.
Now, let’s come back to our question on Ms Abibat. It’s an example of a mixed question. However, the IRAC method does not apply because the questioner has already identified what you are supposed to address.
What is the meaning of this question and what information are you expected to supply?
The focus of this question rests on the circumstances in which the lifespan of a marriage may be terminated without the divorce process.
You are therefore expected to discuss the grounds for the termination or annulment of void and voidable marriages.
Note further that a questioner will ask questions based on what was taught in class or contained in his or her lecture materials.
If the questioner has not taught you divorce, you have no reason to focus your answer on divorce and again, you should have noted that divorce process has been tactically removed from the issues that should engage your attention here.
To answer the question under our consideration properly, you have to briefly define void and voidable marriages and thereafter proceed to discuss grounds under which each type (i.e. void and voidable marriages) could be annulled.
If your definition is incorrect, then you have laid a faulty foundation for whatever points or grounds you may later provide.
A void marriage is a marriage that is regarded to have suffered from some fundamental legal defects and therefore, it’s not seen as a valid marriage at all.
A voidable marriage, on the other hand, is a marriage regarded to be valid until set aside at the instance of a party to such marriage.
Please – you do not have to write so much on the definition because it is meant to serve only as an introduction. Again, you do not have to waste time on differences between void and voidable marriages because if you do that, you will end up not answering the most important part of the question.
So, after the brief definition, go straight to provide and discuss grounds under which each can be annulled.
Note further that divorce does not apply at all to void and voidable marriages as they can only be ANNULLED and not be dissolved through DIVORCE.
Write legibly. This is very important because if your answer is correct but impossible to be read by an examiner, your answer is as good as being incorrect.
Some students’ handwriting is so small that an examiner requires a magnifying glass to see through. This is not good at all.
Readable handwriting is legible and that’s the most important thing, not necessarily a fine or beautiful handwriting. Your handwriting may not be beautiful but make it legible.
Please, do not punish an examiner with an illegible handwriting because you may up punishing yourself very seriously.
Organize your answers in a distinct and clear manner, having in mind the comfort of an examiner.
Some students do not obey paragraphing and margin rules at all. Such is bad.
Do not let your work be rough.
You need to write your answers in good and acceptable English. If you know the correct answers to the questions but youre unable to clearly, acceptably and coherently communicate in English language, then there is no difference between you and another student who doesnt know the answers.
The language of Law is English and a good lawyer is one who can use it as a tool of his trade.
Above all, study and know your teacher very well and give to him or her as you think will earn you good marks.
Kehinde ADEGBITE Esq teaches Law at the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria.