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  • Writer's pictureTommy Sangchompuphen

Examiners Re-using Bar Exam Essay Questions

A Twitter user recently tweeted out that eight out of the 16 questions in legal ethics that appeared on the recent Philippine Bar Exam were copied "with only the names changed” and tagged a Supreme Court Associate Justice, among others, asking them to give their takes on the matter.

Opinions on the tweet ranged from outrage to “who cares.”

The Associate Justice, in response, tweeted: “This is a serious charge. If not true, it is also a serious offense to accuse.” But a former dean in the country responded with, “Nope. It is done all the time.”

I tend to side with the latter opinion. Though I don’t know whether it’s done all the time, I do recognize that it does happen.

While it’s common for examiners to repeat issues in essays questions, examiners will sometimes actually use the same fact pattern—with just minor tweaks in dates and names.

Take the work of the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, for example.

Two of the 9 essay questions on the July 2013 Tennessee Bar Exam were almost identical to previously released questions.

The July 2013 Real Property essay question resembled not just one but TWO previously used questions: February 2008 Q8 and July 2011 Q9.

The other repeat question on the July 2013 exam was a Criminal Law / Criminal Procedure question, which appeared on July 2005 Q10.

You can see a side-by-side comparison of those questions here.

So, here's a good reminder: Read all of those past essays! Certain issues are repeatedly tested, and some questions are actually repeated.

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