The Ethics Course Survival Guide

The Ethics and Professional Standards course is one of the Sphinx-like hurdle of your pupillage-journey to being called to the Malaysian Bar. Sphinx-like, in that it will (sometimes) ask you questions whose answer aren’t exactly ‘predictable’.

To survive it, here are some tips:

Before the Course

  • You have to enrol yourself on the course. Once you’ve served your Borang 1 and 2 to the Bar Council, they’ll send a letter to your firm informing you of the Ethics course and exam, giving you a date you’re tentatively enrolled in, with a deadline by which you have to return the letter to confirm your attendance at the course.
  • Go to the Bar Council before the deadline with your letter, fill in the relevant forms, and sign up for the Ethics Course and E-learning programme.
  • Bring RM200 with you – RM150 for the course, RM50 for the e-learning programme.
  • Get the Ethics Handbook.
  • (You can revise the Ethics Handbook before the course as recommended, but I don’t find it necessary.)

During the Course

  • DO NOT BE LATE. Not even a minute – I’ve been barred from entering when I came running in at 8:33am instead of 8:30, and have to re-attend the first half-hour of the course the next month. It might be difficult if you hail from far-flung places like Klang (me), but stay at a relatives’/friends’ place that’s nearer if you want to avoid having to come again at 8:30 the next month.
  • Ladies: Wear pants. Puan Hendon (the Professor McGonnagal of the Ethics Course) would give you a little telling-off if your skirt is too short. Pants, as long as they’re not really, really tight, would help you avoid that.
  • You’re sitting down listening to lectures for the whole day, so something comfortable would be nice. For me, I brought in a comfy scarf to huddle in during the lectures.
  • Keep the nametag they give you upon sign-in, and don’t lose it – you’ll need it for the exam the next time. Better yet, clip it to the front cover of the Ethics handbook so you’ll remember it.

After the Course – Revising for the Exam

  • You can take the exam the day after (so the material is fresher in your mind), or if you’d rather have time to revise, you can schedule to take the exams the next month, which is what most people do these days.
  • Revise the Ethics manual, obviously. Get to know it inside out, where everything is.
  • Get sample test questions and answers from your friends – ask around! If you really can’t find anyone, send a ‘ask me anything’ on this page, and I’ll try to forward you something. Alternatively, you could go on the e-learning portal set up by the Bar Council that we all have to pay for now and do the examples there.
  • Practice answering those questions! The Ethics exam questions are quite often repetitive, and with practice, you get to have a try at figuring out and answering the questions before having to actually do the exam.
  • Prep (revising the manual + doing practice questions) should take you about 2 nights. You can revise the weekend before, or two nights before. Personally, I’d revise each chapter and attempt the practice questions, before moving on to the next chapter. Different folks different strokes, of course.

The Exam

  • As mentioned above, bring your nametag.
  • Bring in tabs to tab relevant pages as you flip through them, so you can quickly flip to the relevant pages as you write your answer.
  • Bring a good, smooth pen to write with. Or better yet, bring a few. You’d need to write quickly – most people complain about the how much they have to write and how little time there is.
  • Whatever normally works for you in exams!
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