HOW TO PASS KNUST LAW ENTRANCE EXAMS!
THE LL.B PROJECT AND GHANA LAW TIMES
The LL.B Project comprises a community of seventeen (17) African lawyers who are passionate about expanding access to legal education, enriching classroom curricular with law firm mentorship programs and increasing access to justice through pro bono. The LL.B Project has written to the Chief Justice and the Attorney General to make infrastructure improvement for law schools a key priority. Every year the Project team offers public seminars on effective preparation for law entrance exams and interviews; the objective is to demystify and promote the study of law. Ghana Law Times (Voice of the Legal Profession) is the legal publication which analyzes legal issues in Ghana and the Commonwealth.
Contact: 0263 940 165 / 0260 912 876 or on Facebook.
We are committed to observing high ethical standards in our annual law seminars and tutorials. We can neither condone nor assist with any exam malpractice. Rather we shall expose unethical acts and help public authorities to improve access as well as standards over time.
O.B. DICKSON, ESQ.
Dickson is a legal practitioner & consultant. He loves volunteerism, writing and debating. He was educated at the University of Ghana, Ghana School of Law and Harvard University.
Law entrance exams held in Africa are one of his pet subjects. He has researched the subject ardently, and is a leading expert and regional tutor to candidates since 2007. His assistance to the LL.B Project extends to other West African law projects especially in Ghana and Liberia.
Dickson may be contacted on 0241 022 964, or by email at email@example.com
THOMAS OFORI-AMANFO, ESQ.
Ofori-Amanfo is one of Ghana’s leading human resource consultants. He currently heads the Human Resource Department of the Central University. He has extensive experience
consulting for local firms and multinationals. He has since 2009 consulted for the Ghana law Times and the LL.B Project Dickson may be contacted on 0244 628 716.
The Law Entrance Exam consists of a 90-minute writing assessment. Each candidate must produce two compelling essays, which will be assessed for “proper use of language”, “clarity of thought” and “organization of material”. Over the years the entrance exam has become one of the nation’s most competitive exams. Passing it is probably the most crucial victory in the whole admission process; put up a mediocre performance, and you’ll be ‘evicted’ for at least a year— this makes passing the exam a truly exciting phenomenon.
We on the LL.B Project seldom congregate our students around past questions. For one thing, these questions aren’t repeated. For another, the Faculty customarily picks up issues occurring tu le monde — which we, as much as they, have access to. Having applied ourselves in exam study groups over the exams, we are of the opinion that, efficient preparation culminates in superior performance and success. We started the annual tutorial many years ago on that solid philosophy and our success proved us right.
The current format of the exams was created in the year 2000. To our knowledge the exam has not received independent review despite its numerous flaws. The LL.B Project and the Ghana Law Times (GLT) have followed the exams over the years and attempted such a review.
ASSESSMENT OF THE LAW ENTRANCE EXAMS
THE LL.B PROJECT has identified significant flaws with the Post First Degree Law Entrance Exams (FLEE). For present purposes, we will touch on flaws that go to form and not the substance of the exams.
Take a very critical look at the instructions issued to candidates who sat for FLEE paper 2000 (the very first FLEE paper). The instructions to the candidates read, (see bullet point 1) “Write essays on ANY TWO (2) of the questions below”. There were actually only two (2) questions on the exam sheet for the entire duration of the exam! What is the point? Did this flaw in the instruction, negatively affect candidates, and the outcome of the exam? Yes, it did. Our research revealed that some candidates were misled. Some actually thought more
questions were going to be provided later, only to discover much, much later to their chagrin that, that was not the case. The problem lied in poor proofreading of the instruction written by the Faculty itself. The correct instruction should actually have been: “Write essays on the two (2) questions below” not “ANY TWO (2)”.
Now proceed to paragraph two (bullet point 2) of that same paper! The instruction reads: “Answer the two questions on separate books” This instruction obviously should have read, “Answer the two questions in separate booklets” (emphasis ours). Admittedly, some grammatical blunders are fiendishly inevitable, however, when the Faculty is emphatic that “proper use of language” is a basis of assessing student essays, (and we support it) then basic grammatical slips on the part of the Faculty itself, is unfortunately a disquieting flaw.
Again, take a critical look at the FLEE 2003 paper. Notice the misspelling of the word “First” as “Firs”. Clearly, proof-reading was again a problem.
Sometimes the answer booklets are actually been described as ‘books’ (see 2000- 2003,) and then as ‘booklets’ (see 2004 and later 2005-8). This routine inconsistency can be alleviated by the adoption of one or the other. Actually, “booklets” is most appropriate. The 2010 uses “booklets”. Respectfully, we think having elected to use “booklets” consistency should follow. We however noticed that “in separate books” is at times underlined and at other times not. Obviously, the impression any serious outsider will form will not be a flattering one.
Looking at the FLEEs of 2004 and 2010, we observed the following expression: “INSTRUCTION TO CANDIDATES” and observed, however, the use of the expression, “INSTRUCTIONS TO CANDIDATES” for the FLEEs of 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009. Obviously, the use of “INSTRUCTION TO CANDIDATES” was incorrect; as more than one instruction was expressed on the FLEE papers.
The use of inelegant and arbitrary fonts and font sizes is another seminal issue; either the chosen fonts have tended to be too small (see 2000 and 2001) or simply too large (see 2003, 2005). Again, the evidence points to lack of consistency and inattention to detail.
There are other problems to do with erratic exam instructions issued to FLEE candidates. For instance, in 2006, FLEE candidates were instructed not to write their names or personal details anywhere in their answer booklets. The point of significance is that, such a vital instruction was absent in 2000, 2001, 2002 2003, 2004, 2005 and particularly in 2008. Does it mean that in those years it was ok to
scribble names and index numbers? Whatever the reason, we do not think erratic instructions serve any great purpose.
These observations in no way whittle away our confidence in the Faculty. Future FLE exams and the admission interviews will in our opinion get much better; partly on account of independent reviews by the LL.B Project and partly because we believe that the Law Faculty will take appreciable steps to ensure a less flawed exam.
YOU CAN LIFT THE EXAMS BAR HIGHER!
If you think it is difficult to impress those jaded examiners who will be assigned the special task of reading and marking your essays, you are wrong. In fact it turns out that there are some very specific ways to impress them with your superior writing skills.
Again, based on confidential information elicited from past examiners of the exam and from open sources, the highest scoring FLEE essays typically had seven
(7) things in common: good organization; proper diction; noteworthy ideas; good vocabulary; sentence variety; length and a good number of paragraphs
O.B. DICKSON’S NOW FAMOUS “50” TECHNIQUES
‘Your Techniques Work’! That Is What past Candidates
Dickson’s 50 techniques are based on his ten (10) sub-techniques outlined below; each of which he subsequently discusses in five components. They are based on his annual successful and extensive tutoring experience with candidates! The philosophy behind them has been proven time and again, and vindicated by the successes of our candidates. To get their full benefit, you have to use them in the manner he suggests and you will exceed your expectation. Now, lets’s roll…..
· THE TEMPLATING TECHNIQUE
(How to successfully use templates)
· THE LAWYERING TECHNIQUE
(How to think like a lawyer; for 90mins)
· THE AUDIENCE APPRAISAL TECHNIQUE
(What you should about your audience)
· LEARNING FROM THE LAST WAR
(Reviewing the Good, the Bad & the Ugly Of
· THE PREEMPTIVE TECHNIQUE
(How to Use Templates to Solve Mystery Questions)
·THE LOGICAL REASONING TECHNIQUE
(How to argue this or That Way, and always be Right)
·THE TIME MANGEMENT TECHNIQUE
(How to Exploit the 90 Minutes and Not Ask For Injury Time)
·THE BRAINSTORMING TECHNIQUE
(Be Knowledgeable About Not Just Current Issues but Any Issue)
· THE SUCCEESFUL CANDIDATE’S TECHNIQUE
(Exploit the Examiner’s Weaknesses )
· THE 3 WISEMEN’S TECHNIQUE
(Taking time to consider Frankincense ,Gold and Myrrh)
“I like to think that the annual FLEE tutorials are really more fun-filled and info-loaded than our handouts; probably one reason why you need to attend my speaking engagements”.
– O. B. DICKSON
·Always proofread your work
·Carry correction fluid
·Carry also a ruler
·Carry 2 Extra Pens and make sure they write
·Prayer Works, so pray for good composure
·Carry a time piece
·Let those of us on the LL.B Project know how it went
THE AIMS OF ESSAY WRITING
What are the reasons for essay writing? Well, besides writing because we have to, there are at least these four fundamental aims for writing: to inform, to persuade, to express ourselves and to be creative. However on the Law entrance exams you aim not just to do this, but to pass. Nonetheless, let’s explain the 4 aims briefly.
To inform: When I elected to write on law entrance exams, it was to inform you. You’re being informed, aren’t you? Of course you are. Writers aim to give facts and information or to explain something.
To Persuade: Writers may want to convince others about something; to agree with them, or to take action. For instance if I was writing FLEE 2005, I certainly will disagree with the proposition that “Ghana does not need any more lawyers”. I will seek to persuade the essay reader that superficially, the proposition appears to be the case; and then rely on statistical and non-statistical arguments to show that on the contrary the country has a deficit. If on the contrary I’m inclined to support the proposition, I’ll rely on an inductive and/or deductive reasoning approach to prosecute my case.
To Express Ourselves: All essays are a major test of vocabulary or diction. The view that essays are also art forms is linked to the fourth aim – Creativity. Since 2000, the entrance examiners have asked candidates “Do you agree?” Deliberately or by default they have appeared interested in the independent opinion. It will be fatal to be ambiguous. “I agree with the…..,” “I concur with the view that…..,” “I do not agree with the monolithic view that… In my opinion, a plurality of factors underline the preponderance of conflict in Africa” “The proposition is entirely correct. …” “I do not agree with the proposition that…..It is not to say that…but…”. Express your view, explicitly.
To Be Creative: Use precision and concision to paint a compelling picture. Use a combination of short and long sentences to create or convey a clear message in your entrance essays.