Its been over 4 weeks, but finally the BSB have released a statement with regards to Ethics-gate. It was as expected, pointless!
Well at least for the next few weeks anyway, ‘E will be for End of Exams’
The Bar Standards Board, the regulatory body who sets three of the exams required to be taken by students wanting to become barristers, set a paper whereby some of the questions and answers had been made available to some students before hand.
Far too often do people confuse knowledge with memory, and this is most apparent in the exam setting. Why must the two be confused?
As today is my 23rd birthday (yes I know, aren’t I getting old) I thought I would write a little blog post addressed to my 16 year old self. This is by no means an original idea, as I have seen it floating around on a few other blogs, however it is an idea which I am keen to explore. I think the most sensible way to go about organising my thoughts is to break them down into categories which I would want to address if I had the opportunity to go back in time. Let us first look at the topic of parents. At the ripe age of sixteen, they are the only types of creatures that can be both exceptionally embarrassing and annoying at the same time without needing to utter a single syllable. At sixteen years of age it seems as if all they want to do is to rule your life, they tell you to do this, to eat that, stay clear of them, all the while wanting you to revising for GCSE’s. I (just like any other teenage in this country) gave my parents a run for my money during those turbulent years. By reading my blog, to some extent you would be right in thinking I was g0ds gift (after all that is what Jonathan means in Hebrew), however I wasn’t always like this. I was well shaped by two parents whose strong will shaped me into what I am today. Therefore if there was one message I could give my 16 year old self one message it would be, although as painful as it is to admit it, they were always usually right, and although what they did/said at the time may have seemed unfair at the time, they only wanted what was best. Secondly the topic of education, being sixteen meant I was halfway through my GCSE’s, and boy what a fun time that was. Although at the moment I have two (soon to be three degrees under my belt), I didn’t know that I would be in this position nine years ago. GCSE’s were an odd creature to tame, on one hand I had a small amount of input in what subjects that I took and so enjoyed most of them, and on the other I still had to do subjects which I simply hated, maths being amongst one of them. I knew that these exams were important, however I was enjoying the social side of school, and so whilst my studies didn’t take a back seat, they certainly weren’t in the first five rows. My GCSE results were not bad by any stretch of the imagination, however they could have been better. So if my sixteen year old self was reading this, I would advise him to study that little bit more, yes by the time you get to your second degree very few people care about them, but they are needed, and so a few more A-B grades would have been helpful. Thirdly the topic of friends. At the age of sixteen there is a massive competition to see who has the most number. All you had to do was look at the social networking sites to see who really took their popularity seriously, as no sooner had the first day of school ended you were prompted with a friend request. After GCSE’s it is inevitably the time where some of your friends move on to other schools to do their A-levels, or enter into employment and so the promises to remain life long friends, meet up every weekend and holiday beings. Its true that these friendships are important, and some of them do last, however there is no need to get as teary eyed as some people do/did. Having been through GCSE/A-Level/Undergrad/Postgrad courses (with new friends attached to each) you soon learn that the majority of friends come and go. It is true that a small handful of those you keep in touch with, and try to meet up when you are all back at home, however you all do move on, its natural. So sixteen year old Jonathan, there is a distinction between number of friends that you have, and those which you really try to keep in touch with, and its important to keep that distinction. I mean if I tried to keep in touch with everyone from high school, undergrad and postgrad days I would be well into quadruple figures, which is simply impossible. There are a handful of people who when I am back in Leeds I try and see from high school, and when I have a free moment in Manchester meet up with those from my undergrad and postgrad days. That is not to say that if anyone else outside this group contacted me I would give them the cold shoulder, it simply means that I got on with some people more than others, which I suppose is normal, and these are the people I want to keep in touch with. Finally, what the future holds. At sixteen I would have given anything to see where I would have been at the age of 18/19 and see what I was studying at uni and where/what I was doing. The bonus of being 23 is that I can now look back on such things and say that my predictions were absolutely wrong. Yes I knew I wanted to go to university, do business and get involved in law, but I had no idea how I was going to get there. Nine years on the path is much clearer, yes there are a few choices to make that may change where I go, but if younger Jonathan is listening I would say; yes its good to have a plan, however don’t stick to it too carefully, as it would prevent you going somewhere you may really enjoy.
Today my results arrived by post (don’t ask why they weren’t available online or sent by email); naturally because I was waiting for them, they took a long long time to arrive, however no sooner had I sat down to lunch the postman put them through the letter box. Opening the envelope at first I was disappointed, the overall mark I received was 55%, a full 15% over the pass mark, however 5% below the mark I would have been happy with. You recall that I spent hours upon hours in the library, and really did put the effort in to get the 60% I set myself, however after initial opening of the envelope had passed I came to the conclusion that I should be happy with the mark I got. Studying 7 modules of law in one year, was no easy task, and as the statistics show, I did well to make it to the end, let alone pass. I put in as much as I could, so I know although there will have to be some ‘exam post-mortem’ I know that I couldn’t have tried any harder. September I will still do the Bar Professional Training Course, as originally planned, in an attempt to beat the odds to become a barrister. Many will say that its impossible or that I should give up, however thats not my style. Yes its going to be an uphill struggle, in-fact its probably going to be an uphill struggle with an army sergeant screaming down my ear taking place in the pouring rain; however if I don’t try I won’t know. I am fortunate enough to be in the position where I can follow my educational dreams as far as possible, something that would not be possible without my loving parents. The Bar Professional Training Course, whilst ultimately gives you the education to follow through as a barrister, the skills gained on it are transferable into other legal roles and other jobs. So if after the five years I have not managed to secure pupillage I am sure that what I learn can transfer into one of those fields. So although I didn’t get the mark I hoped for, which may make my path to become a lawyer more difficult, I am still 100% on the horse and not getting off any time soon!
Finally my exams have come to a close, which of course means one thing, another chapter of my education has come to an end. The GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) is now over which is gives rise to a few emotions; happiness that I have taken one more step in my journey to become a barrister, however this is of course tainted with the fact that I will have to say goodbye to a few friends. Thankfully the majority of the people who I hung around with are also undertaking their professional qualifications at Manchester Metropolitan University, so it will only be a short summers break before meeting up again. You may recall that there way a few issues with one of my exams having to be rescheduled due to a power cut and fire alarm evacuation. To update you on this, the initial idea to have the exam held giving us two days notice was changed, and it took place after the Jubilee Bank Holiday, giving us plenty of time to prepare. The criminal law paper comprised of questions of identical topics, and similar level of difficulty, so I don’t think there will be much of an issue with regards to outcome. Both myself and other students affected are still having conversations with MMU with regards to why we weren’t permitted to continue our paper when others were, however the main thing is that this is now behind us. The exam period itself was quite a stressful one, which saw me disappear from twitter for several weeks. I started revision mid easter and thank g-d I did. Upon returning to uni I released how much work there was to do, and that by starting when I did was a great idea. The two weeks on the run up to exams I took up residence in the library that was open 24/7 for exam season. I often spent over 10 hours a day there, with the average amount being 12. By the end of the exam period I was almost on first name terms with the security guards and library staff! I think this amount of work paid off, as unlike my A-levels (and to some extent my undergraduate degree) I do feel quite happy with my performance in the seven exams that I sat. Yes I don’t think im going to set the world alight with my performance in Land Law, however that topic aside I am quite happy with my performance and (I know I shouldn’t jinx it) am looking forward to the results that are published mid July. For those undertaking the GDL next year, I can’t stress enough how much work it is. I was told by a family friend how much work it was and I thought she was exaggerating, having come to the end I can say that if anything she was understating the fact. Studying 7 modules across a year, with 7 exams at the end of it, on top of taking part in extra curricular activities such as mooting and pro-bono work makes it a year of being on the go constantly. However the bonus of undertaking so much law in such a small amount of time is that you really do learn a lot of useful information. Yes I didn’t enjoy every aspect of EU Law, Land Law, or Public Law, however modules such as Free Movement of Persons, Registered Land and Police & Criminal Evidence Act affect each and everyone of us more than you would think. By having a greater understanding of such issues allows you to help yourself and others in certain situations. As last year, and in particular the last few weeks was very stressful, my online presence has been significantly less, and for those who follow me on twitter I do apologise. Next week (19th June) my parents have very kindly treated me to a weeks away in New York City. I am going with a friend from Leeds who has not been to NYC, and although I went last year our trip is still going to be full of things which I did not do last time, such as viewing a Broadway Show. The sad thing is that due to time constraints, I still have not viewed the photos from last year! Just as with last year, I have created a site to which will aggregate photos, blog posts and tweets from NYC, you can view it here: http://www.nyc2012.jonathanisaacs.com Apart from that, I hope all my readers are well, and will speak to you again soon. Jonathan x
Things go wrong, its the nature of life, so when they do one of two things can happen. For those events which we know will happen we take steps to prevent them form occurring in the first place, and everyones a winner. For those events which are so general in nature and so rare, preventing them from occurring would be neither practical or cost effective, therefore we must embrace the fact that things in life just happen, and instead have a contingency plan in place should they occur. Arguably there is no more important event in the student calendar than that of exams. Like many reading this blog, I have sat more than I care to remember, starting from the ones in primary school, GCSE’s, A-levels and finally the exams taken for my undergraduate degree at The University of Salford. Whilst the contents of the papers themselves may have caused problems, the problems were confined to my lack of preparation, and therefore any issue with the outcome would result in the blame landing squarely at my feet. This year was not the case. Following on from my undergraduate days, I took the Graduate Diploma in Law degree at Manchester Metropolitan University. Their wisdom to have seven, three hour papers spanned over 2 weeks is neither ideal and will most likely form the subject of a different post, however this year unlike any other I felt prepared for the exams. I walked into the exam with confidence knowing that shortly the several months of hard graft would be over, and that for once in my life, I would truly get the grade I deserved. Criminal Law, the fourth exam, that marked the halfway point took place on the 25th May 2012, and not unlike the others started promptly at 10:00am. Upon turning over the paper I held my breath as I scoured the questions for the topic I had revised. I was in luck not only were the questions what I had prepared for, but were similar to several past ones I had attempted to the run up to entering the exam room. Just over 2 hours into the paper we were plunged into darkness, no it wasn’t divine intervention, it was a power cut. A few moments later the fire alarm sounded and we were told to evacuate the building. The notice on every answer booklet we had received stated ‘in the event of a fire alarm, wait until instructions are given by the examiners’, this lead us to believe that things were in control, oh how they weren’t. Exiting the building we were surrounded by students, staff and examiners alike bemused as to why such an event happened during this time of year. Our group of five didn’t worry too much, the examiners stated that it would most likely be a fault, and if the need be, simply relocate to another room to finish the paper. 45 minutes later, and a tan shade darker from standing in the sun, we had received several messages, all contradictory. Firstly the exam would continue in the original building, then it would continue but in a different venue, and finally to complete the set of mixed signals, that we would be allowed to enter the building for 15 minutes only to collect our belongings and the exam would not continue. Lets pause for a moment there, was the power cut and fire alarm totally unforeseeable? Well judging by the statement on the front of the exam booklets it wasn’t, and whilst it was undesirable, MMU gave the impression that should this once in a lifetime event occur, plans would be in place to relocate. After all there were only five of us sitting that paper, we could have easily relocated. From then on it was a communication meltdown by staff at MMU, people didn’t know what was happening as, unsurprisingly, this event had never occurred before. The one message which was however communicated was that whatever happens, we would not be at a disadvantage to the others who sat the exam. We therefore deduced a number of possible outcomes. The first, and the most preferable one was that they would mark what we did, taking into account the time we had spent, and the time we had remaining. This had the benefit of no new exam having to be sat, and that the questions attempted would have been uniformed in difficulty across the whole year. The second was one which the whole year (not just those who received extra time and whom were subject to the power cut / alarm) would have to retake the paper. This would have the benefit of everyone seeing the same questions and such same level of difficulty, not to mention the same level of inconvenience of having to re-sit the paper. However this option was soon discounted as it would most likely be too costly. The final option would be that we would be asked to re-sit a new exam at a later date. The downside of course is that there was no guarantee that the difficulty of the paper was uniformed across the whole year, as well as inconveniencing us for an issue that was not our fault, instead MMU’s. Today, a full 4 days after the event, we have received confirmation that the choice the examiners have gone with was the latter, with rescheduling taking place on Thursday 31st. The day after our 3 hour EU Law paper, and the day before our last exam Equity & Trusts; the day which we had all set aside for preparation of this exam. This decision was reached without consultation, and it is apparent that by placing this exam at this time will disadvantage us considerably, in two respects. Firstly that the Criminal Law exam will take place after revision on this topic has ceased. Secondly as the time taken to prepare and take this exam will prevent us from revising for the two remaining exams, EU and Equity & Trusts. It further transpires that other exams in that same building continued in […]
What a day, in fact what an ordeal the last couple of days have been!
After revising all Christmas for exams I am taking a day off as the big ones over, and I don’t have another paper till 22/01