Using statute books for studying and exams.

This post has been contributed by Charlotte Crilly, Teaching Fellow for the Undergraduate Laws Programme.

Many of you will have received a statute book as part of your module materials, depending on what you are studying. You may be wondering what to do with it! Statute books are permitted in the exams, but how should you work with them in preparation for the exam and during your studies?

You will see that the statute books contain the text of several statutes. The number of statutes will depend on which module you are studying; some legal subjects have more statute law than others.

The purpose of the statute book is to give you the precise text of a statute. In an exam, you can then have the precise text to hand, rather than trying to memorise it. Memorising a whole statute would be very difficult indeed, especially given that the exact words of a statute are crucial. When studying law, the important skill is to know where to find the law and what it means, rather than being able to remember long sections off by heart but not understand it.

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Here’s how you can work with a statute book:

  • During your studies, you should look up statutory provisions when the Module Guide makes a reference to them. Read the exact words carefully, and try to understand how different sections of the Act fit together and how the statute works overall.
  • When you are answering legal problem questions or self study questions/activities in the Guide, you should look up the relevant statutory provisions to make sure you are applying the law accurately and correctly. Use the statute book regularly so you are comfortable with its content.
  • Statutes might also be helpful when answering exam questions from past papers, to give you a reminder of important points. It will also help you to remember to use the statute book when sitting your exams.
  • You should make sure you are familiar with the main statutes and statutory provisions in your subject. Read them over many times to fully understand how they work. Pay attention to definitions sections, and to how the statute is structured.
  • During the exam, you should use the statute book so that the exact text of the law is in front of you. By using the statute book, you can easily cite the necessary precise legal authority which is essential to support your answer.
  • By the time of the exam, you should already be very familiar with the statutes and looking at the statute book should just jog your memory of specific points. This is not the time to be reading the statutes for the first time!

If you’re not sure how to read and understand the different parts of a statute, you can consult a textbook for more information, for example “Studying Law” by Simon Askey and Ian McLeod, pages 144 – 153, or “Learning Legal Rules” by James Holland and Julian Webb, pages 70 – 77.

You may only underline and/or highlight text with a coloured pen in the statute book and any other permitted materials. You may highlight different text with different coloured pens. All other forms of personal annotation on statutes and other materials permitted to be taken into the examination room are strictly forbidden. You are forbidden to attach self-adhesive notelets or index tags or any other paper to the permitted materials.

More guidance on using statute books can be found here:


  1. Please can you confirm that you are still able to use different colour highlighting pens on your statute book? Thanks

  2. Actually. According to the statute books themselves issued by UOL and the exams regulations we are allowed to highlight and underline in the book. No writing or sticky notes etc though.

  3. Very helpful indeed! Prior to reading this guidance I had little or no idea of how the statute book which is provided should be used both for studies and at exams. Now I am better informed.
    Thank you so much Charlotte Crilly.

  4. I just started using the statute book and you are correct. It does make sense when applied to the section reading and case law. It is overwhelming though….thanks for sharing this important information.

  5. Thank You, dear Charlotte Crilly. It’s worth of reading! I had a superficial and a minimum knowledge about how to use the statue books provided by the University authorities in the exam hall properly. Subsequent to reading, I have been able to sense the use of the statute books.

  6. I do believe you are right , statutes books are really helpful as one can not memorise the whole statutes and also because the language used is very literall sometimes . Your telling us how to use statute books in exams is really kind and helpful .

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