Udems` Hints for Academic Excellence (To Help You Excel at Bar Final Examinations)

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Law School

A Personal Opinion by Sylvester Udemezue (First Edition)

  1. Shake off your university ways. Proceed into the Bar Part 2 program with an open mind, ready to learn the Bar Part 2 techniques and ways. Do not rely on your university methods and styles to see you through the bar part 2 academic program. Bar Part 2 is an altogether new, and entirely different program, having its own set of rules, requirements and techniques for success.
  1. Ensure you attend the orientation/induction course for new students. If you missed it for any reasons (it is better to not miss it), ensure you make efforts to get one of your teachers or colleagues to take you through all that was discussed during the induction course/session.
  1. Attend all lectures and maintain rapt attention in class during lectures. Stay in class all through your lectures. Avoid anyone and anything that distracts you during lectures.
  1. Do not use your phone or any other mobile device in class while lectures are ongoing, for whatever reasons. Flee from the social media while lectures are ongoing. Resist the temptation to place your phone by your side during lectures; it would certainly distract your attention.
  1. Take notes on key points while lectures are ongoing.
  1. The materials you need for your study at the Nigerian Law School:

(a) One (or two) Law School-recommended textbooks. Books recommended by your lecturers in the Law School, in the relevant department. One, most preferably. There is no need to read too many textbooks, only for bar part 2 purposes.

(b) Your Module Handbook;

(c) Your Notebook and jotter or “jottings;”

(d) All past questions for no fewer than five to seven years in each of the five modules/courses; (e) All the tasks given to you by the lecturers in each course/department;

(f) Any other reading/study materials as may have been given to you by your course lecturers.

(g) AVOID ALL MATERIALS THAT ARE NEITHER RECOMMENDED NOR APPROVED BY YOUR LECTURERS.

  1. Ensure you participate actively in all group ACADEMIC activities during the academic sessions. In addition, you must participate actively in and carry out all class, group and individual tasks/assignments, and on your own and ensure you understand all.
  1. Learn all drafts and precedents by actually practicing how to draft, and not by merely reading them. Learn all procedures and know all documents required for all procedures and processes.
  1. Avoid all forms of social and religious distractions during the academic session — i.e., cut down on (I didn’t say stop) all social functions, all social group engagements, all religious fellowships, all night clubbing or other form of partying, all visits to families and friends, all going out with friends and family, all going out to attend birthday, naming, wedding and other ceremonies, etc. Cut down on the time you spend on the social media, on phone calls (whether with husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, family members, friends, etc., on hanging out (it is immaterial who you hang out with), on gallivanting, etc.
  1. Stay away from all roommates, friends, colleagues and persons that distract you or try to take your attention away from your focus on academics for the purpose of Bar Part 2. Avoid all who hate to discuss bar part 2 issues. Note that it is easier for the bad apple to spoil the good apple than for the good apple to make the bad apple good.
  1. Be kind, generous and ready to assist anyone in need around you – your roommates, friends, colleagues, etc. But do not allow such gestures to take your attention away from being focused towards your own success. There is a limit to everything you do, including the extent you allow other people to eat into your own private study time. Do not kill yourself helping others. But it is important to help others.
  1. Cultivate the habit of discussing bar part 2 academic issues with colleagues, roommates, anytime, but regularly. Form not more than one discussion group. Members of the group must be strictly persons who are of like mind; as committed towards excelling as you are. But, please note that you need time for your own private study. You do!
  1. Read all topics and subjects and understand all, but DO NOT DO memorizing otherwise known as “CRAMMING.” Ensure you understand everything you read before going over onto another topic.
  1. Be humble enough to ask questions and seek clarifications wherever and whenever you have challenges. Do not feel too big to approach your colleagues or lecturers/teachers with your questions and worries, for clarifications.
  1. Sleep at least six (6) hours every night, and UNFAILINGLY at least 6 hours before (on the eve of) each and every exam date. To sleep for fewer hours is an invitation to disaster.
  1. Eat well, and mostly fruits and (at night) light food. But ensure you eat well (not necessarily expensive food), and regularly (no fewer than twice daily), but NEVER allow yourself to be heavy. Avoid over-eating. Moderation is seriously advised! Drink a lot of water; start every day with water, even before food. Make it a point of responsibility to take water as soon as you wake up every day.
  1. Ensure you have finished reading through all your notes and “personal jottings” at least one month before the exams.
  1. Use past questions in all the modules/courses as revision question for your study. Ensure UNFAILINGLY that you have dutifully studied past questions covering at least five to seven years in each of the courses/modules. And take special note of the following:
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(a)Main reasons for revising/studying WITH past questions include:

i To see how exam questions are couched/framed/set and the format the answers (the marking schemes) take or are expected to take;

ii To see how the examiner’s mind works in the area of setting the exam questions;

iii. To get you more focused during your studies and on what is required of you for the purpose of the exams, and;

iv. To familiarize yourself with what the exam questions look like, so that they would not be new to you during the exams. This would help to remove the element of your being taken by surprise or being scared in the exam hall, on being presented with the exam questions;

vi To help you learn major DRAFTS/PRECEDENTS, processes, procedures and legal principles as well as their application to practical exam scenarios.

v. Etc.

(b) What TO NOT expect from past questions:

i. You must not expect that the exact questions or scenarios you see or encounter in the past/revision questions would be repeated or lifted the way they are, in your own exams question papers. Hence, DO NOT memorize past questions, expecting to see the exact same questions during the exams.

ii. Note that study of past questions (both the Multiple-choice Questions and ESSAY) must wait until you have thoroughly and carefully studied all your notes, handbooks, textbooks, procedures and principles, and covered the entire syllabus/curriculum based on approved lesson plan and outcomes for each week in all courses/modules. You may however choose to do both concurrently; it serves your best interests.

  1. Ensure you obey all the official instructions/directives from your Lecturers, all staff members, and also all school rules, regulations, and the code of conduct for law school students.
  1. You must treat and appreciate all your lecturers EQUALLY; the truth is, the moment you begin to despise any lecturer, you would unconsciously begin to hate his course, unfortunately, to your own detriment. You must refrain from loathing or despising any course or giving any special preference to any course. Do not neglect or downgrade or neglect any course. Do not take any course for granted. Do not take it for granted that you are already made in any course. Remember the adage, he who thinks he is standing must beware, lest he falls. Remember also that you need success in all the courses in order to excel. No one course alone can make you excel in the law school; however high the grade/score you make in all other modules/courses, a mistake or low performance in only one course is capable of bringing you down. And you would then come crashing from the Golan heights, like a pack of cards, only because you neglected one or some courses.
  1. Pray well, eat well, sleep well, rest well, and read HARD. Do all and each in equal proportions. Remain Focused!
  1. Be at peace with all men and women and bear no ill-will nor grudges towards anyone — your roommates, classmates, group-mates, friends, family members, etc. Forgive all who have offended you. Tolerate and ignore all who irritate you or who look for your trouble. Do not keep scores. And do not do evil. Stay away from crimes and drug abuse; else you may even get into serious trouble before the exams.
  1. Believe within you that you would make it big at Bar Part 2. Be Focused! Develop the power of positivity! If you believe you can, you will. Do not allow anyone discourage you, or dampen your resolve to make it
  1. Before start of the exams, say, about two weeks before the exams, endeavor to go for some medical check to ensure you’re physiologically fit. If you detect any illness (malaria, fever, typhoid, etc.), take medication and ensure you bounce back; illness could knock off or knock out an otherwise fully prepared exam candidate/student. But, if you have any serious illness or medical condition (such as HIV/Aids, sickle cell, hepatitis, ulcer, diabetes, etc), you must try and refrain from brooding over your health condition and allowing same to distract you from being focused on your academic work. Learn to put up with a situation you cannot change.
  1. During the exams, ensure you strictly observe the following:
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(a) Read all exam instructions and religiously obey them;

(b) Refrain from being overconfident inside the exam hall. While in the exam hall, pretend that you know nothing;

(c) Read all questions carefully, and understand each very well before attempting any. Understanding what a question requires of you is halfway towards solving/answering the question;

(d) Be very careful to write/enter your answers in the appropriate ANSWERSCRIPTS or SECTION booklet. During Bar Final Exams, two booklets are provided; there is the SECTION “A” Answer Booklet and there is the SECTION “B” Answer Booklet. This rule is strict and disobedience is FATAL; any answers entered into a wrong booklet is lost, because same would not be marked by examiners.

(e) Manage your time judiciously and wisely; distribute/share the time allotted among all questions in a fair manner. Violation of this rule is fatal.

(f) After attempting each question, do these two things before going to the next question:

(i) Read all over again the question you’ve answered, to ensure you have not left out anything and that you’ve satisfied all the demands of the question,

(ii) Thereafter, read through your answers to ensure there are no errors (typo or otherwise);

(g) Write in clear/legible handwriting;

(h) . Present all procedures or list of items in a consecutively numbered format;

(i) DO NOT ENGAGE IN ANY FORM OF EXAM MALPRACTICE; it could ruin your exams, your career and your life;

(j) Present all answers in a concise, precise, simple and unambiguous manner;

(k) Focus on answering questions rather than trying to impress the examiner;

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(l) Sleep for at least six (6) hours on the eve of every exam;

(m) Avoid taking energy drinks that contain caffeine, avoid kola-nuts, avoid all forms of hard drugs (codeine, tramadol, hot drinks, whisky, spirit, vodka, weed, mosquito coil, solution, etc).

  1. After the exams, pray and trust in God. Do not meet anyone for “sorting” (lobbying or bribery for success). No one can help you pass bar final exams. Only your efforts, based on all the aforesaid, can make you pass.
  1. CONCLUSION: I adopt the concluding statement in my 2017 article titled, “Contemporary Training At The Nigeria Law School: An Insider’s Account,” published on 29 January 2017, (https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.lawyard.ng/contemporary-training-at-thenigeria-law-school-an-insiders-account/amp/). And I encourage you to also find time and read that article. Therein, I wrote as follows: “All in all, it could be seen that vocational training at the Nigerian Law School under the New Curriculum is not just business as usual. The system appears somewhat challenging, and is designed to ensure that only serious-minded people are enrolled into the legal profession, which itself is rather tasking. Accordingly, success in the Law School depends much more on hard work and determination than on mere possession of talent; at the Nigerian Law School, hard work would beat talent if talent does not work hard. There is no room for anything goes; the School is not a dumping ground for the “neverdo-wells,” who try to get enlisted into the legal profession through the back door. The good news, however, is that, with focus, determination and hard work, making a first class in the Law School is just as easy as reciting ABCD. Many have come, many have seen and many have conquered bar part 2. If they could do it, just anyone else can, with the right frame of mind and a positive attitude! Like life itself, bar part 2 has no limitations, except those limitations one decides to set for oneself.”

Best wishes from SYLVESTER UDEMEZUE (udems)

08021365545 udemsyl@hotmail.com (08/11/2019)

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