Legal Studies: Love it or leave it. It’s one of those subjects where there is just so much to know but so little time.

Your key to success is maximising your time. This doesn’t mean rewriting notes; it means doing practice exams.

So without further delay, here is your 7 Day HSC Legal Studies Study Plan!

Day 1: Consolidate what you do and don’t know
Day 2: Finish filling in the gaps
Day 3: Complete past papers
Day 4: Preparation for Topic 1 of elective
Day 5: Preparation for Topic 2 of elective
Day 6: Revise your notes
Day 7: Wrap up

Day 1: Consolidate what you do and don’t know

Today is the day you’ll need to evaluate yourself, and figure out what your weak points are. Of course it’s ideal to revise everything, but I’m assuming you’ve already studied and are looking to consolidate your knowledge in the last 7 days.

To do this, you’ll need a copy of the syllabus. Get yours by clicking here!

It’s a huge document, so this is what you need to look at:

  • Part I of the core – Crime
  • Part II of the core: Human Rights
  • Part III (whichever two options apply to you)

Print out these pages which list what you would have learnt (left hand column), as well as what you’ll be expected to do in the exam (right hand column).

Quiz yourself

In order to truthfully challenge what you do and don’t know, with each syllabus point, develop a question from it based on this HSC Verb List and give yourself 30 seconds to answer it.

Essentially, grab a verb or verb set (‘compare and contrast’), and a section of the syllabus, (‘Part 1: Crime – 1. Nature of Crime – summary and indictable offences’), and mash them together:

“Compare and contrast the nature of summary and indictable offences’.

Say your answer to yourself out aloud. Can’t give yourself an answer within 30 seconds? Highlight it. 

Day 1 and Day 2 will be when you fill out gaps in your legal studies notes by using your textbook, as well as your own research.

Ensure your notes correspond with the Syllabus

Go through your own notes or class notes and take 45 minutes to make sure they correspond to each dot point listed on the syllabus.

When you get to a blank space or a highlighted point, write down three questions using the HSC verb list.

Using the same syllabus point from above (‘Part 1: Crime – 1. Nature of Crime – summary and indictable offences’), you can give yourself these three combinations:

  1. Compare and contrast the nature of summary and indictable offences.
  2. Define the nature of summary and indictable offences.
  3. Discuss the nature of summary and indictable offences.

This will give you a little bit of guidance as to what to research for your notes.

Despite what most people think, ‘compare and contrast’, ‘define’ and ‘discuss’ do not all mean the same thing.

Start filling the gaps

Now that you’ve identified the gaps in the syllabus, and identified your weaknesses, start filling in the gaps using the three questions for each highlighted weak point.

Where possible, write in your own words, and ensure you have citations. This doesn’t mean Wikipedia. This means legislation and case law.

If you haven’t kept on top of your study notes, now isn’t the time to be writing them or making them pretty but consolidating information of which you may not be so sure.

If you do need a bit of help figuring out how to get on top of your notes, check out this article on updating your notes!

Day 2: Finish filling in the gaps

You can plan out your day by spending 25 minute blocks of study separated by 5 minute breaks to continue filling in the gaps by finalising your notes.

Depending on how much you didn’t know, Day 2 will be for finalising your notes as above.

Optional: write responses to your questions

If you didn’t have so much that needed to be written for your notes, then go back and write down twenty questions based on the HSC verb list. Give them a mark out of 5.

Write answers to them, and once you’re done, be sure to mark them harshly. If you give yourself anything less than a 3.5, it’s time to rewrite the answer.

Day 3: Complete past papers

We will divide your revision. Today will consist of multiple choice and short answer parts (Section I and Section II) of your legal studies exam.

Here’s a list of the last five years of past papers!

HSC Legal Studies Exam PaperHSC Legal Studies Marking Guidelines
2018 HSC Exam Paper2018 Marking Guidelines
2017 HSC Exam Paper2017 Marking Guidelines
2016 HSC Exam Paper2016 Marking Guidelines
2015 HSC Exam Paper2015 Marking Guidelines
2014 HSC Exam Paper2014 Marking Guidelines
2013 HSC Exam Paper2013 Marking Guidelines
2012 HSC Exam Paper2012 Marking Guidelines
2011 HSC Exam Paper2011 Marking Guidelines
2010 HSC Exam Paper2010 Marking Guidelines
2009 HSC Exam Paper2009 Marking Guidelines

Multiple Choice

Choose 2 papers for multiple choice and spend 30 minutes on each. What you don’t get correct, go back and figure out why you go it wrong.

Be honest with yourself and make sure you write down the reasoning when you’re marking:
  • Silly mistake
  • Did not know answer
  • Misunderstood question
  • Incorrect knowledge

Using these, you’ll be able to gauge what you need to revise once more.

Short Answer

Choose a past paper and complete the short answer section in one hour. When you’re done, compare the answer to the marking guidelines and be an honest market yet again.

Some of the papers do have sample answers which you can use to model your answer but do not look at them before you’ve completed your own answers!

Day 4: Preparation for Topic 1 of elective

Today will be preparation for Section III of the exam paper, which are essays on your elective topics.

Since you have two elective topics, focus on the first topic today and attempt two essay questions using your notes.

Write an essay

The best would be to pick an essay topic that you haven’t done in class or in your own time or write your own.

Challenge yourself and pick the questions that you are the least comfortable with.

It should take you no more than one hour to write your essay!

Write your own essay question

This is also an exercise in familiarising yourself with the syllabus.

With each option, the syllabus gives a ‘Principal focus’. This is essentially what they want you to learn… and also what the question will most likely be on.

For example, Option 2 Global environmental protection gives the following:

“Through the use of contemporary examples, students investigate the effectiveness of legal and non-legal processes in promoting and achieving environmental protection.”

Pay close attention to the key words of ‘effectiveness’, ‘promoting’ and ‘achieving’ – these will be crucial to the question, and thus also your answer.

Pair this with a syllabus point:

3. Contemporary issues concerning global environmental protection

Mash the two together, using sub-points from the syllabus point.

“Examine the effectiveness of legal and non-legal processes in the promotion and achievement of global environmental protection to contemporary threats to the environment.”

And there you have it, a practice essay question!

Write another essay

Focus upon getting the case names and legislation completely spot on – and use your notes if you must. At this stage, it is more important that you get it right!

Day 5: Preparation for Topic 2 of elective

Today will be preparation for Section III of the exam paper, which are essays on your elective topics. Today will be the second topic.

Repeat Day 4 like Groundhog Day.

Day 6: Revise your notes

Do as you would prior to the exam – give yourself 20 minutes of revision then notes down. Set up what you need for your practice exam.

Practice Exam

Choose an exam paper from above that you haven’t already used and go through it exactly as you would in your exam. That means 3 hours to complete the exam tops!

When you’re done, give yourself 10 minutes to de-stress and make some tea, and then sit down and give yourself a marking session.


If you are getting anything less than 75/100, go through and evaluate why and how you got the answer wrong, and using your notes, write the correct answer.

Day 7: Wrap up

With one day until D-Day, don’t stress yourself out, but prepare yourself for the inevitable. If you haven’t got a double exam (and if you do, you should read this), here’s your day dedicated to Legal.

Revise each Section

This includes Part I and Part II of your Core study as well as your two electives for Part III. This should take you about an hour.

Essay preparation 

Spend an hour preparing a variety of both cases and legislation as evidence.

Break down your essay into paragraphs based on certain thematic ideas with case law and legislation.

For example, let’s take a look at this question: ‘Evaluate the roles of the law and the media in responding to issues affecting family members’ (HSC 2014).

For this question, you should focus on the central ideas of drawing attention to perceived inequalities/injustices of the justice system, a pathway for changing societal attitudes, catalyst for legislative change.

You would then cite Jean Majdalawi (1996) as a media case, and refer to the Crimes Amendment (Apprehended Violence Orders) Act 1997 as a change which occurred as a result of the media’s role in the case. 

Identify problem areas and revise materials

You can do this by completing short answer questions, which should take you between 1 and 2 hours.

Get a good night’s sleep 

This means at least 8 hours of sleep!

Don’t stress out today. What you’ve done in the past few days should really have brushed up your Legal Studies knowledge!

And that wraps up our 7 day HSC Legal Studies study plan! Good luck!

Need some extra help with HSC Legal Studies?

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We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a large variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today! 

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at [email protected] or check us out on Facebook!

Sophia Zou recently completed the HSC in 2013, so fortunately for AOS Community Blog-readers and perhaps less fortunately for her, the memories of Year 12 are still fresh in her head. Sophia considers it her mission here to help students make the most of their final years at high school. Her interests include political science, Simon and Garfunkel, and pretending to be a tea aficionado. Alongside tutoring at Art of Smart Education, she spends her time playing the piano and studying Government & IR and Languages at the University of Sydney.