Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Understanding how every single AOS links together, how to answer questions spanning multiple dot points and how to use contemporary examples
VCAA LOVES to mash up 4 dot points from 2 different Areas of Study and give us a painful painful question. It’s not seen just in Legal but in a lot of content heavy subjects. Here are some examples from the past few years.
VCAA 2019 Exam
Here you could talk about express rights, referendums, the High Court and also Parliament’s ability to create law!!
Here they require you to combine your knowledge of the Civil Justice System with the division of powers, literally spanning across both the Units in a very short question.
The reason they do this is not to make your life harder, but to truly gauge whether you have engaged with the content and have the ability to analyse situations that require you to think about multiple dot points at once. Essentially, they are trying their best to catch out people who memorise answers. So that being said, do not memorise answers. Please. Instead, memorise the content from your notes. Once you have the basic knowledge in your head, it will be a lot easier to combine knowledge because you truly understand each and every piece separately.
Another way to get the hang of these questions is lots and lots of practice. Actually, attempt doing them yourself, start off with looking at your notes and then move on to doing them closed book and timed. Remember, there is no shame in looking at your notes, in fact it does help you form better answers because it allows you to look at details and write them down. The more details you actually incorporate into your answers, the more likely you are to remember them.
Mind maps, another amazing way to be able to link different dot points together. Start off with a key word, for example: VCAT and see how many different things you can relate it to. For everything in unit 3, and I truly mean everything, try and link it to Principles of Justice. It is very likely that you will be asked to link something to the POJ’s and so this activity will truly help you. Here is an example of a mind map for VCAT:
That’s everything I’ve got for today! Remember you do have to understand everything individually and in separate pieces before combining everything in an answer. Also don’t shy away from bringing in different dot points, even if the question doesn’t specifically ask for it. I’m not telling you to bring up completely irrelevant things (that would not be good at all!!), but if you find yourself thinking hey! Maybe I can discuss political pressures as well as the role of VLRC in this question that’s just asking about how the public can influence law reform, then for sure go ahead and do that!! For broad questions, I think they are looking for how you understand everything and then tie it all together in a nice little answer.
Read the examination report to get a clearer idea of what the examiners are looking for and what they expect of you!!
How to incorporate some contemporary examples into your answers
Yes, you can talk about COVID policies. But also, I’m not a teacher or an examiner so please ask your teacher to double check!!!
VCAA loves contemporary examples for legal studies. It shows them that you truly engaged with the content because you are able to relate it back to real world examples. Big bonus points for you!!
There are so many things you can relate legal studies back to and that’s one of the plus points of having a humanities subject: you can actually SEE examples occurring around you. You’ve probably signed petitions yourself this year. You’ve witnessed how unfair the criminal justice system can be with the acquittal of certain individuals in criminal cases across the year. These are all examples to use in your answers.
If you’re unsure about using a specific example, please ask your teacher. If they do not personally know, they will do their best to find out!! Stay away from any international examples, stick to Australia only, and where you can, keep it Victorian.
However, do not get political in your answers. Markers do not care about your personal views and values so try and remain as neutral as possible. If you are arguing something is unfair or ineffective, make sure you have evidence (that fits into the study design) to back up your answer. Giving your own opinion, will just waste time and lines, you won’t lose marks for it (but if the examiner doesn’t agree with it, they might start to get harsher, so be careful!!)
I’ve made a list of some interesting recent real- life examples you can use for Unit 4 AOS 2, they’re all pretty specific
How quickly Parliament responded to put in COVID restrictions. You can make this point when saying that Parliaments do have the ability to act quickly (the ability of parliament and the courts to respond to the need for law reform.)
The judges and jury with the Pell decision. Knowing it would be unpopular with most of the public (and not being afraid of voter backlash), but the jury did hold ‘reasonable doubt’ which is the standard of proof for criminal cases. Because of this, Pell was acquitted. These are very interesting points to make. I’ve attached the court record below, if people want a clearer idea of this. (the ability of parliament and the courts to respond to the need for law reform & the standard of proof – the presumption of innocence). https://www.hcourt.gov.au/assets/publications/judgment-summaries/2020/hca-12-2020-04-07.pdf
Petitions for Black Lives Matter circulating in June for the petitions dot point
School Strike for Climate Change, the freedom rallies in Victoria and Black Lives Matter marches for demonstrations
You can also link petitions through social media!! Talk about how sharing on stories and posts spreads news/petitions very quickly!!
You can also talk about how Police Brutality against Indigenous people in Australia is filmed and posted on social media, giving people and Parliament access to it. People then get angry, make petitions, demonstrations etc!!
Talk about the role of media in this way, the media was seen to “denounce” the demonstrations that went on during COVID and this would influence MP’s decisions for these matters.
Those are just some super relevant ones, but if you can think of any others, ask your teacher if it’s all good and then go ahead and put them in your notes. The more relevant your examples are, the more impressed your examiners will be!!
Good luck!! I hope all you’re staying on track with all of your work, and if you’re not don’t worry!! You’ve still got plenty of time to get everything in order
Have a question?
In the final weeks before exams Risha will be hosting 2 Live Q&A sessions to help everyone get fully prepared for exams. If you have a question on how to best get prepared, have been stuck on an exam question or want to clarify an area of content, then send it through here, and Risha might answer it live!