GUIDE AND RULES OF CONDUCT TO THE 2014 BAR EXAMINATIONS – Supreme Court

GUIDE AND RULES OF CONDUCT TO THE 2014 BAR EXAMINATIONS

The Supreme Court, in its desire to serve the interests of Bar examinees and to contribute to their success in the 2014 Bar Examinations, has issued this Guide to advise them on how to best approach the examinations. This Guide contains as well the rules that every Bar examinee should observe in his/her conduct during the examinations for its orderly implementation, taking into account not only the interests of the Bar examinees, but of the University hosting the examinations, the Bar personnel conducting the examinations, and the public at large. Every Bar examinee should read this Guide thoroughly as part of his/her preparation

Preparing for the Examination

Knowing the Coverage The coverage of the 2014 Bar Examinations is precisely defined in the Syllabi (with a separate Syllabus issued for every Bar subject) that the Court has issued. The 2014 Bar Examinations Syllabi have been uploaded in the Supreme Court Website; as Bar examinees need not study materials not covered by the Syllabi. March 31, 2014 is the cut-off for laws and jurisprudence covered by the 2014 Bar Examinations. No cut-off dates exist for examinable principles of law. In other words, a principle of law appearing in the Court’s cases decided after March 31, 2014 is not excluded from the coverage of the examinations simply because the principle of law appeared in a case decided after the cut-off date.   Managing the Examination Performing well in the Bar Examinations requires a good understanding of basic principles of law and of relevant jurisprudence, and an adequate ability to understand and communicate in the English language. Knowledge of English comes from the Bar examinees’ accumulated study of, and experience, in communicating in this language. Knowledge of law, on the other hand, is based on years of study in law school and in the Bar review classes. In order to pass the Bar examinations, the examinees need to exert effort to be as precise as possible in their knowledge of the law and in communicating this knowledge during the examinations.   Some Tips in Answering Bar Examination Questions in General. • Every Bar examinee should master this Guide and the examination Instructions in the cover page of every Questionnaire. This Guide is provided well ahead of time to give the examinees time for its study. A 2 Sample Bar Instructions will be posted in the Court’s Bar Bulletin. The sample questionnaire will contain a copy of the Instructions that will apply to the actual Bar examinations, subject to the necessary changes that particular Bar subjects may call for. • The examinee should read and examine the Instructions on the cover page of the Bar Questionnaire as soon as they are allowed to do so by the headwatcher. The number of pages as stated in the Instructions, and the number of pages in the distributed Questionnaire, should carefully be compared. The correct number of Essay and MCQ questions should be confirmed to ensure that the Questionnaire is accurate and has no missing or duplicated pages. • Only one booklet shall be used in answering the Essay and MCQ portions of the examination. Bar questions should be answered in the same order that questions are posed in the Questionnaire. • Note that depending upon the number of questions for the Essay portion and the MCQ portion of the exam, the Essay portion of the examination is worth at least 80°/o, while the MCQ portion is worth not more than 20°/o of the examinee’s total examination grade in every Bar subject. Reason dictates that the essay portion, which is presented first in the Questionnaires, be answered first. • After confirming the correct number of Essay and MCQ questions, the Bar examinee should plan his/her answering time and, accordingly, pace himself/herself. The examination in every subject is for four ( 4) hours and the questions have been formulated and calculated to be answerable within this time, with an allowance for the review of the examinee’s answers. • As a good rule to observe, it may be best to simply mark the question/s whose answer/s the examinee is not sure of, and to move on to the succeeding questions that the examinee can answer, in order not to waste precious time. The examinee can later return to the more difficult questions initially marked and left behind.  

Answering Essay Questions

• Read each question carefully for its full and complete understanding. Pay particular attention to the directive or direction word/s the essay question uses. Examples of direction words are argue, compare, contrast, define, decide, and distinguish. The answer should respond to what these directives or direction words exactly require. 

• Again, time planning and pacing are essential, remembering that the essay questions contain the bulk -at least 80% -of the examination. 

• Every well-written essay question specifically asks for the resolution of the legal problem posed. The examinee’s task is to provide the resolution that the essay question calls for, nothing more and nothing less, with sufficient explanation of how the examinee arrived at his/her conclusion. Note that in a 5-point essay exam, the examiner can give credit even if the answer is not exactly correct but the answer is wellwritten and logical. Consider, however, that the use of the “shotgun” approach in answering essay questions may not be the best approach as it indicates the lack of exact or specific knowledge about the questions asked. 

• Go straight to the point if you know the exact answer to the question. As a good rule to follow, draw an outline of the proposed answer – after reading the question and understanding what it requires, take some time to note (mentally or on a scratch paper) a brief outline of the proposed answer. The examinee can use the questionnaire but not the exam booklet to do the outline. The outline allows him/her to systematically present all the pertinent information in a logical order. 

• Write clearly and legibly. Use black, blue or blue-black ink only. Pencils will no longer be used nor allowed for the examinations. As a rule, five to six words per line significantly contribute to readability. 

• The examinee can help the examiner’s assessment of the answer by providing clues to the line of thinking used and the answer’s pattern of organization. Use transitional words such as first, second, next, finally, on the other hand, consequently, furthermore and in conclusion. 

• Answers should always be proofread. Because an essay exam is also a test of the examinee’s writing ability, he/she should spend some time to review his/her answer. Look for mistakes in grammar and punctuation, check for misspelled or missing words and omit needless words. 

• Make sure no uncalled for name, distinguishing or identifying mark is placed in one’s notebook. Care should be taken not to use a specific name when no such name is called for. Do not write any prayer to God nor any special plea addressed to the examiner. Leaving or making a distinguishing or identifying mark in the exam booklet is classified 
as cheating and can subject the examinee to disqualification for the whole examination. 

Answering MCQs

• Pay attention to every detail of the question. Read each question and consider all options carefully since this type of question tests the examinee’s ability to recall, analyze, make distinctions, and apply information to very specific situations. The general instruction is to choose the BEST answer from among the choices given. This means that if there are two choices that can possibly answer the question, the better answer of the two choices should be 
chosen. 

• Pay attention to the given facts and be careful not to make assumptions that are not supported by these facts. 

• Make it a point to answer all MCQs as the examinee either gets full credit or no credit for every item; there are no middle grounds as m the essay portion of the examination. If one does not know the answer to a question, he should make an informed guess. An incorrect answer is no different from an unanswered question. Do not forget to use the process of elimination to narrow down the choices given. 

Practice Exams

A good practice for law schools/review classes to observe is to hold practice examination sessions with the Bar candidates, both on the Essay and the MCQ formats. In evaluating these practice exams, attention should be given to both the law and the Bar candidate’s presentation and use of English. In many instances, incorrect English is more serious as a problem than the lack of precise knowledge oflaw, and has been the cause of high failure rates.    Rules in Writing on your Exam Booklet 1. Only sign pens and fountain pens in permanent blue, blue-black or black ink shall be used in writing answers. Changes in the color of the ink used shall not be allowed. Changes in the style of handwriting within one notebook should be avoided. 2. Answers should be written legibly and erasures avoided. In case of a mistake, the Bar examinee should simply draw a line across the word or words to be changed or erased. NO ERASURES OR TEARING-OFF OF ANY PAGE OF THE NOTEBOOK IS ALLOWED. 3. THE BAR EXAMINEE’S NAME CANNOT BE WRITTEN IN ANY PART OF THE NOTEBOOK NOR IS ANY UNNECESSARY MARKING OR IMPERTINENT EXPRESSION ALLOWED TO BE MADE ANYWHERE IN THE NOTEBOOK. Names of persons other than those specifically mentioned in the questionnaire cannot be used. Unless particular names are called for, persons shall be referred to by letters of the alphabet such as A, B, C, etc. As a reminder, prayers or personal notes written in the examination notebook shall be considered as markings that shall disqualify the Bar examinee from the WHOLE bar examinations. 4. Answers should be written on the face or side of the page of the examination notebook fronting the examinee. In case all the front sides of all pages have been used, the examinee may use the back sides of the pages of the exam notebook starting from the back side of the first page and the back side of every page thereafter. In case of any doubt in this regard, directions should be secured from the headwatcher. 5. The THIRD BELL (11 :30 a.m.; 5:30 p.m.) signals that only thirty (30) minutes are left before the end of the examination. The FOURTH BELL (11:55 a.m.; 5:55 p.m.) signifies that only five (5) minutes are left before the end of the examination. 6. A Bar examinee finishing the exam before the FIFTH BELL may immediately submit his/her examination notebook to the headwatcher and shall forthwith leave the room. At the FIFTH BELL (12:00 noon; 6:00 p.m.), all Bar examinees should submit their examination notebooks, finished or unfinished. Failure to submit the examination booklet as required will result in the examinee’s disqualification. For example, any Bar examinee who leaves the assigned room for any length of time however brief without submitting his/her examination notebook, can no longer make a submission and is considered disqualified from the whole Bar Examinations. 8 7. The examinees can bring home the examination questionnaires or submit it together with the examination notebooks. A copy of the questionnaire in every Bar subject will also be seasonably posted in the Supreme Court website. Although an examinee can bring home the questionnaire for every Bar subject, it is best for a Bar examinee to clear his/her mind of the past examination and to move on to the next subject. 8. After every examination and before leaving the room, the Bar examinee should ask for his/her Notice of Admission from the headwatcher, who shall accomplish the certification found at the back of the Notice of Admission as proof of the examinee’s completion of the examination. 9. The Notice of Admission will be retained by the headwatcher at the end of the last Bar examination, i.e., after the Legal Ethics examination on the 4th Sunday, for submission to the Office of the Bar Confidant as required.

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