How I passed my Bar Examinations in the First Sitting

How I passed my Bar Examinations in the First Sitting

It is no secret that in Kenya passing your bar examinations at the first sitting is a story of David and Goliath. Over the past 5 years, there has been an average pass rate of 18%–22%. This year, for instance, there has been a reported 18% pass rate which occasionally leads to many questions to the Kenya School of law and the Council of Legal Education. However, that is a discussion for another day.

How do we slay this Dragon?

Success begins in the mind. Having the “can do it” mentality is the first step. Most people cannot overcome the fear because of the stories that they heard about how it is hard and impossible to pass the exams. I chose to change my attitude in order to change the outcome.

Success begins in the mind. Having the “can do it” mentality is the first step


The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Start studying from month one. If you start working from the beginning it will help you in the end because the contents of the ATP is too large and diverse.

“form a discussion group”

My advice to you in the first semester is that you form a discussion group made of not more than twelve people. This is because very large groups are ineffective and cover less. Make sure that they are people who are committed and serious.

Advocates Training Programme is made of three examinations:

  • Orals (20% of overall grade)
  • Project (20% of overall grade)
  • Examination(60% of overall grade)


One of the strategies Sun Tzu in the Book The Art of War explains is: “Avoid what is strong attack what is weak.” Orals and Project work are the areas you should attack in the first two semesters. These are the exams that you can control. You should keep tabs with the lecturer in terms of content but I focused in getting the most out of the projects and the orals. Since the pass mark is 50%, Aim for 30% so that in the exam your only left looking for not more than 25%. The exams are hard and bulky that is why we are attacking this two examinations.

How to pass orals:

To pass orals you need to prepare adequately. The lecturer's test for; your knowledge of the law, your dressing, your confidence, and presentation skills. Four weeks to your exam go through the most commonly asked questions and recite your presentation skills before your colleagues. In the exams, your answers should be backed up by the law and if you don’t know the answer don’t panic just courteously ask the examiner to ask you another question.

“Your level of preparation will determine your level of confidence in the orals.”

How to pass the project:

Teamwork, Teamwork, Teamwork. I observed that the groups that performed the best in the projects worked as a team. Some groups left the work to be done by individuals but 10 minds are better than 1. Do your research before discussion otherwise you will spend more time arguing. Make sure you are quick because doing them in a hurry will not produce the best results.

You will also have to be good to your lecturers because they are the ones that mark the orals. Do their class presentations for they shall give your group good marks.

“Teamwork, Teamwork, Teamwork”

Take a Break

After completing the first two semesters, your energy may reduce that is why there’s a break. Go on holiday, relax because you are not a machine. This will enable you to have energy for the final and toughest semester.

“Go on holiday, relax because you are not a machine”

Bar Examinations:

In the final semester, you will feel beaten, battered, and bruised. However, you must be soldier on. This is the time when your orals and project results will be released. You should mark the results of the units you scored highest and those that were lowest and this way you will be able to strengthen the weak units. Sun Tzu says “Know your enemy and know yourself and in 100 battles you will never be in peril”. This is a strategy of assessing your strengths and weaknesses, working on them, and going through CLE marking schemes to know how they mark exams. Do this and you will pass.

“You should mark the results of the units you scored highest and those that were lowest and this way you will be able to strengthen the weak units”.

In this semester you should focus on mastering content, doing past papers, and learning how to answer the exam questions.

Use the IRAC method of analysis to know how to tackle the questions and to understand what the examiner is really looking for. I advise you to read the question asked before reading the contents of the question because the examiner is only looking for one answer, the rest is irrelevant.

Finally, I advise you to attend the classes of the best lecturers in the tough units because for me, no matter how much I wanted to study all the notes, Ms. Namisi’s conveyancing classes did a great deal for me.


Prayer was critical to me because I believed in the words of the good book that says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

In conclusion, I would like to state that people are different, the way I did it may not be the way others did it. I wish you good luck with your bar examinations and even if you fail reflect on the words of Sir Winston Churchill: “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

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