Here’s an update on the bar exams I took earlier in April – I said I’d post one a day but I don’t know what I was doing then to not live up to my word – but I remembered that week crystal clear.
I had to sit 5 days of examinations, a paper a day. It’s one of the hardest exams to pass in the nation, infamous for failing students with tricky questions.
So. Here’s a summary:
Company Law was meant to be one of the hardest. It has also always been my weakness. I could never understand it as quick as the other modules. Now these were open book exams, so I read through my notes the morning of the paper, and went into the exam hall. Due to my shallow knowledge (and laziness) it was so easy to not spot an issue in the given problem scenario, or spot the wrong issue.
My first miracle happened – I felt a confidence, like I knew what I was doing, which issues came out, and I was sharp enough to spot certain less obvious facts. The paper didn’t go too well, I know I made a few mistakes, and it could cost me a pass, based on previous marking standards. But I kinda knew that all that precision couldn’t have happened without God.
Before every paper I made it a point to write a verse on the cover sheet of my question paper, after the invigilator shouts that we can begin writing. I didn’t want to write the verse while waiting for the clock to strike 2pm, I wanted Jesus to start the exam with me, and that day, I really needed this:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds everything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 46:7
This quote stuck with me for days. There is just so many things going on in here! I prayed about everything, I spent more time praying than studying for this exam (read day 3), and oddly I felt so calm. These exams felt so strange. It was an open book exam, so my prayers weren’t about calming me down as I cram things into my memory, but more so to fall into God’s grace, and perform in the exam hall. I didn’t feel the stress and anxiety that I always felt, but a calm resignation that I feared so badly because I wasn’t used to the feeling.
“With men, it is impossible, but with God, anything is possible.” – Matthew 19:26
Can I just say – I spend time meditating, and not choose these verses at random. It’s just difficult to explain – sometimes I just feel like, ‘yes, I am going to relate to you today. This is what God wants me to bear in my head as I do the exam today.’
Criminal Law was meant to be difficult, and I barely covered half the syllabus. I was scared shitless. I made handwritten notes for a few topics, 1-2, and one very in-depth written notes on causation. Hear this – out of 10 topics, with tiny little sub topics, causation came out. For BOTH the essay AND the problem question. I couldn’t believe it. The ONE topic I paid so much attention to came out. This verse came to mind:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” – Colossians 3:23
How could one tiny topic possibly come out for both questions?! Yes I probably got too excited and had a shitty ill-planned essay, but God was there! I forgot to pray for Jesus to calm me down during the paper, which leads me to my next day.
Day 3: Evidence Law
This day was weird. Good weird.
“My help comes from the LORD – the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalms 121:6
I barely skimmed through my evidence law notes for the first time in the morning, covering the syllabus and just reading through/glancing through my notes. It was a heavy topic, and a foreign one, as I had never taken evidence before during my undergraduate studies (contrary to company and criminal). I remember that morning distinctly – I prayed more in that morning than I spent time on studying.
The odd thing is, I felt like I managed to identify all the issues. Everyone who came out of that paper mentioned that there were more issues than normal, which I felt too. The essay was difficult as I was unprepared, but I had sufficient material and time. In the exam this time, I kept praying. I prayed and prayed and begged for more time to finish the paper, for God to stall time (He has done that for me countless times when I needed time to cram fresh material into my head hours before a paper). I managed to finish the paper, I left nothing out.
Subsequently I have been having a headache for days. I cried out to Jesus that night to heal me, heal me Jesus please get rid of the headache and give me a good sleep. It was so strange because my headache disappeared in that moment, as though it never existed.
My help really does come from the Lord. He helped me get through my material quick enough, He gave me more time, He was there. I know it. Thinking about it now and writing about it, I could feel the sense of light euphoria lifting within me during the paper. Never have I felt so thankful and blessed to have that support and instant help for a lazy wretch like me from Jesus. Jesus I love you.
My daily devotional reading in the morning read:
“Welcome problems as perspective lifters…” and I immediately knew. A steady calmness of, things might not work out well today, but try your best. Next it read “Viewed from above, the obstacle that frustrated you is only a light and momentary trouble. Once your perspective has been heightened, you can look away from the problem altogether. Turn toward Me, and see the Light of My Presence shining upon you.”
The readings that were cited were:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
“But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” – Psalm 102:27
I felt insecure that day. Afraid that the papers would somehow screw me over. So I waited, as every other day, for the invigilator to announce “you may start writing now”, and wrote the following verse:
“Keep your promises, LORD, and forgive my sins, for there are many.” – Psalms 25:11.
I tried to pray that morning, tried to study that morning, but I felt restless. I opened the exam paper and felt, ‘Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no.’ I couldn’t identify the issues. I had no clue which topics came out, which cases to use, not for one but for both questions. Half an hour passed and I haven’t started writing.
I prayed. I prayed I prayed I prayed. I didn’t know WHAT to pray for, I just kept praying for Jesus. I started from the last question, and felt a bit more confident, and worked my way up. I was so afraid of running out of time (I did miss out one issue or slightly more). But I managed to figure out what the heck the first paragraph that screamed agony to all of ours faces wanted. It was a case in the ‘introduction to land law’ that struck out to me – the ONE case that gave me a nagging feeling all along.
I walked out of the exam paper wanting to cry. Almost crying. But now that I look back, I think I hit the right cases, the right areas with my answers. And hell I could not have come out of that paper without dissolving into a puddle of defeat had it not been for God. Yes I could fail that paper, and the papers before, but in the end, I’m reading the verses that I was meant to read that day, and I suddenly feel more calm. My daily reading today told me to realise what I should be letting go of, leaving care in God’s hands, just a few nights ago I dreamt of retakes and the last paper that I took. In the end, if I fail, the only thing at stake would be my pride, letting down those who believed in me for those exams, but it won’t be a bad thing. I’d have to retake – which means that I’d go back to the office to complete my training contract slightly later, and that would give me more time to be a ‘student’, with more free time. That doesn’t sound so bad huh? (did I mention that in this time I might look to open a cafe too)
I was shaken, slightly. I wanted so badly just to write this verse down on my paper:
“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.” – Isaiah 40:31
And then I flipped open the paper. Nothing on tort, trusts, or administrative/public law which I was not prepared for. The paper was challenging, as I was unfamiliar with the question (it was on the broad legal system in Singapore) and it felt harder than past papers. I did my best, and at the end of it all felt tired (I was so worried that I would run out of time, as I spent way too long on the first part of the question that held a 30% weightage on the entire paper.)
I looked up, not knowing what to feel. and then I noticed something. Up on the wall of the exam hall had a bible verse which I sorta read on my first day there, but it never stuck with me. It was the longer verse in Isaiah 40, which had the same verse that I had written on my paper.
I still don’t know if I will fail or pass, judging by what I know and felt, I could easily just only pass evidence law (on day 3). But then I remember these assurances, and the miracles God performed for his children, the works of Jesus in exams from reading all the testimonies on this site and more, and I’m not as afraid anymore.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6