Bar Confidant: Bad English worse than error of law

In [10] below, the OBC said: "In many instances, incorrect English is a more serious problem than the lack of precise knowledge of law and has been the cause of high failure rates."The Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) of the Philippine Supreme Court releases the Official List of Successful Bar Examinees and other bulletins related to the Bar examination. This year, Bar Bulletin No. 4 (No. 6 on the website) was issued by the OBC, incorporating the new two-booklet rule and some tips on how to answer essay questions during the exam.

[1] All questions are essay-type which simply means that there are no multiple choice questions.

[2] Read each question carefully to fully and completely understand it. Pay particular attention to the directive or direction word/s used in the question. Examples of direction words are: explain, argue, compare, contrast, define, decide, and distinguish. The answers should respond to what these directives or direction words exactly require.

[3] The examinees' answers should demonstrate their ability to analyze the facts, apply the pertinent law and jurisprudence, and arrive at a sound or logical conclusion. A mere "yes" or "no" answer, without any corresponding explanation or discussion, may not be given full credit. Thus, always briefly but fully explain your answers even though the question does not expressly ask for an explanation.

[4] Every well-written question specifically asks for the resolution of a specific legal problem. The examinees' task is to provide the resolution called for by the question, with sufficient explanation on how the conclusion was arrived at. Note that in a 5-point question, for instance, the examiner can give credit if the answer is well-written and logical even if not accurate. Take caution, however, that the use of the "shotgun" approach in answering questions may not be the best strategy as it indicates the lack of exact or specific knowledge about the questions.

[5] Answer the questions briefly and directly. As a good rule to follow, after reading and understanding each question, the examinees can create (mentally or on the Questionnaire) a brief outline of the proposed answer. They can draft the outline on the Questionnaire but not on the booklets. The outline allows them to systematically present all the pertinent information in a logical order.

[6] Write clearly and legibly. As a rule, writing five to six words per line significantly contributes to readability.

[7] The examinees can help the examiner's assessment of the answer by providing clues to their line of thinking and pattern of organization. Use transitional words such as: first, second, next, finally, on the other hand, consequently, furthermore, and in conclusion.

[8] Answers should always be proofread. An exam is also a test of the examinees' writing ability; they should spend some time to review their answers. Look for mistakes in grammar and punctuation, check for misspelled or missing words, and omit needless words.

[9] Make sure no distinguishing or identifying marks are placed in the booklets. Care should be taken not to use any specific name when no such name is called for or used in the question. Do not write any prayer to God or any special plea addressed to the examiner. Leaving or making any distinguishing or identifying mark in the exam booklet is classified as cheating and can subject the examinee to disqualification for the whole examinations.

[10] Bar examinees are encouraged to participate in practice examination sessions where they can focus not only on the application of legal knowledge, but also on their proficiency in the English language and presentation of answers. In many instances, incorrect English is a more serious problem than the lack of precise knowledge of law and has been the cause of high failure rates.

SOURCE: Office of the Bar Confidant. Guide and Rules of Conduct to the 2019 Bar Examinations. "Some Tips in Answering Essay Questions." Bar Bulletin No. 4 (No. 6 on