Top 5 Tips for Writing an Excellent Cambridge Law Test Essay

Are you thinking of applying to Cambridge University to study law? If so, the Cambridge Law Test is an essential prerequisite that will be assessed alongside your personal statement, your academic record and your interview. It’s an hour-long exam where you choose one question from three questions and write an argumentative essay. The Cambridge Law Test is often viewed as more challenging than the LNAT essay and can be daunting for even the most able students, but these five top tips will help you write an excellent essay:

1. Make sure you have a wide range of arguments and counter-arguments

Even if you agree with the essay question raised, do not simply write all the arguments supporting your conclusion. Part of studying law is to recognise that the issue at hand is complex and nuanced, and that there are usually many arguments and counter-arguments for any single issue.

2. Do not simply list out your arguments

There is no point in making a grocery list of arguments and counter-arguments! If so, your essay becomes superficial. You must dedicate sufficient detail to exploring each of them. Use examples to show that the argument is correct/incorrect. If your argument has multiple steps, break it down and show how each step logically flows onto the next.

3. Make sure you take a position on the question

Do not simply sit on the fence. Some students like to conclude their essay by essentially saying: ‘well, there are some good arguments and also some good counter-arguments – I don’t really know what to think’, and then end the essay there.

You don’t have to outright agree or disagree with the essay question proposed. However, you do have to reach some type of conclusion. For example, if the arguments and counter-arguments are finely balanced, perhaps you can consider the circumstances in which the essay question would hold true, and the circumstances it would not. Your conclusion would then be something like: “In circumstances A and B, the proposition raised by the essay question holds true, but in circumstances Y and Z, the counter-arguments seem to outweigh the arguments in favour.”

4. Have a clear structure for your essay (and lay it out in your introduction)

A good rule of thumb is to use a separate paragraph for each argument/counter-argument. The order of your arguments doesn’t matter too much as long as your argument flows logically from one point to the next. However, if you’re not sure of what structure to use, a good structure might be:

  1. Introduction
  2. Counter-argument (and your response to it)
  3. Main argument 1
  4. Main argument 2
  5. Conclusion

Of course, you can include more arguments and counter-arguments as you wish.

To make your structure clearer, you could use adverbs such as “Firstly… Secondly… Lastly….” for each paragraph.

You also want to lay out your structure in your introduction – you might include a sentence or two mentioning the order in which you will explore your arguments/counter-arguments so the examiner knows in advance what you will be writing about.

5. Keep your answered focused on the question!

If the question is, “Should free public housing be considered a human right?”, you do not want to spend your entire essay discussing generally the pros and cons of free public housing. This is not the question asked. It’s about whether free public housing should be considered a human right. As such, make sure your arguments are relevant to the specific question asked. This will keep your essay focused, and will also save you time as you will only be writing about issues that matter specifically to the question asked.

Photo by Kyle Ashcraft.

© Law for the Future  –  Unauthorised copying, reproduction, and use of this material without permission is not permitted.

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