Statistics on the 2014 Bar Examinations
by Thads Bentulan
How algebra distorted the 2014 bar
Let’s proceed to another topic. The Philippine bar is probably the hardest in the world, but the 2014 bar is the probably the hardest in Philippine bar history, and you can blame it on algebra. Far-fetched? Let me explain.
The Supreme Court decreed that the 2014 bar should consist of 80% essay and 20% multiple choice questions (MCQ). And this is where the tyranny of algebra lies. How so?
Usually, there are only 10 bar problems per subjects (with sub-problems). Maintaining the 20:80 ratio would mean only 2 MCQ and 8 essay type. Only 2 MCQs in a bar exam is so insignificant it would be ridiculous to have any MCQ at all. Progressively, the ridiculous pattern continues: For 15 problems, 3 MCQs, 12 essays; for 20 problems, 4 MCQs, 16 essays; for 26 problems, 5 MCQs, 21 essays, for 30 problems, 6 MCQs, 24 essays.
Thus, as you can see, including only 3 or 4 MCQs would be ridiculous, so the Bar Committee has no choice but to include 5 or 6 MCQs. But at what expense? To maintain the algebraic ratio, the essay problems had to be 24 or 21 problems in the morning and in the afternoon. Can you imagine all that thinking, composing, and writing? From the usual 10 to 15 essays, it became 30! And that’s for the morning session only. Even a single additional problem can already wreak havoc in your thinking and writing process. That’s murder! That’s how algebra caused the 2014 bar to be up to 150% longer, and therefore, physically and mentally excruciating.
Remember, at the outset, I said that one of my suggestions was adopted for the 2015 bar? In early 2015, I wrote to the Supreme Court that there is a lesson to be learned: “Do not fix the percent of MCQ. Better don’t include MCQ because the MCQ in the 2014 Bar hardly matters (total of 5%-6% for 5 to 6 questions?)
Or, if MCQ is part of the exams, don’t advertise it because their presence hardly make a dent anyway.
The negative impact is that the public will think the bar has been watered down in difficulty having gone MCQ. This is very misleading. In fact, the opposite happened.”
The Supreme Court, coincidentally, removed the MCQs in the 2015 bar. Want another coincidence? In 2007, the Supreme Court amended Rule 65 Sec. 8, but that’s another story.