I was just a bit lucky when it came to contracts. Since I study Business and Law together, I had the pleasure (/was required) to study Business Law and Ethics first semester of first year at uni. In this subject, we did almost 6 weeks of contracts work. Entering into “70211: Contracts”, I had a frame of reference, that is, a skeleton outline of the subject in my head. This skeleton was reinforced by our lecturer, who, in the first lecture, put up a flowchart of exactly how the subject goes (i.e. offer, acceptance, consideration … discharge, etc.). This framework (whilst, honestly, a little messy) allowed us to know where what we were learning fit in to the subject as a whole. It should be stuck on the inside of your notebook.
What the lecturer tells students the first week into the subject is exactly true: the “quiz” and mid-semester exams are ridiculously easy, the assignments is not too bad, and the final exam is ridiculously difficult. However, you can gather enough marks over semester that you can walk into the final exam confident that no matter how badly you really do in the test, you should do ok overall.
The quiz in week 4 was ridiculously easy; limited, to offer, acceptance and basic consideration, it was a breeze. Som people used notes for it, I just reread the chapters in the marvellous “Essentials of Contracts.” That seemed to do the trick. You should expect, with a bit of revision, to easily get a distinction in this quiz.
The mid-semester exam, similarly, is a breeze. Multiple choice questions, not too difficult. You are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t revise the main cases, though, since they can even ask multiple choice questions about the minority reasoning in those.
The assignment, however, is a bit of an effort. With a bit of sweet talking and basic presentation skills (my and my partner used pun-filled old-school overhead transparencies) you can get >4/5 for the oral. But the essay is a toughie. I wrote a decent response, but hedged my bets a little too much by analysing a few issues broadly rather that devoting half the essay to the critical issue, which I should have done. Focus on the issue and you should do well. My assignment was on Non-Est-Factum.
The finals were an epic struggle. The first shock comes when you realise that most of the law comes after the formation of the contract, and that what you though was the bulk of the subject actually only makes up Topic 2 (of 8). The second is when you realise that the finals won’t be anything like any of the other tests you’ve done this semester: it’s mainly problem based. This is where you appreciate listening to all the presentations over the semester, or attempting all the problem questions yourself over the same time.
It’s an open book test, but not in the classic way, its limited open book: you can’t bring in any textbooks. The “Essentials” you have used is useless in the test, you need to make your own notes. They need to have everything in them, because you have no textbook to fall back on.
This basically means you need two sets of notes: one set of “big,” textbook like notes, and one set of short notes, or essay plans. I borrowed my big notes, they ended up being >400 pages. If you want them, hit me up with an email, because it is a zip file with a few parts.
The short notes you write have to be precise, easy to read and navigate and rich in simple information (i.e. “Area –> Principle –> Case name –> Exception if applicable” — no facts, unless necessary). You will have to use your big notes at some time during the exam, but your little notes should be used <80% of the time.
Here’s a chunk of my small notes (70211New) (they totalled 80 pages), I can’t find the full bunch as of yet, but I’m working on organising them again for you guys. If you need them ASAP, email me and I’ll give you my hard-copy of both my short and long notes (but I only have one copy, so first come first served).
Just as a point to finish on, the lecturers swap about during the course, some are good, some are boring. You have your tutor for the semester. I had Chris Croese (I think that’s how it is spelled). He was amazing, intelligent and engaging. I thoroughly recommend him.
[update: long notes, after much popular demand.]