So, to the REDOC exam.
BPP uses the ExcCel centre in the Docklands (near Canary Wharf) for many of its exams, so several hundred of us piled on to the DLR bright and early last Friday in anticipation of our first written assessment of the year. I'm a Season Ticket holder at a not-very-good Championship level football club, and my younger days I had a couple of experiences of the (thankfully now cancelled) "football special" train journeys: a service with no seats, that smelt distinctly of urine, beer and vomit, that would take hundreds of football fans directly from their home town to some distant location. Everyone on the train was there for exactly the same purpose, and you were herded like cattle from the station, to the train, to the station, to the ground, under the watchful, caring eye of HM Constabulary.
This is what the DLR felt like.
In December we had exams in Advocacy and Conference (speaking and chatting): 12 minutes each, stick on a suit, go into a room and pretend to be a proper-grown-up-barrister.
This, however, was an entirely different prospect. We had had a grand total of 6 lessons for REDOC, and the general advice seemed to be: read the text book, pass.
The exam itself was 20 multiple choice questions (MCQs - four possible answers per question), followed by three short answer questions (or "SAQs" - ten marks each, broken down into sub-questions, probably take a page and half each to answer).
Heading into the exam, many people were worried about time-management. I didn't really see the problem. The way the exam is set out, if you want to spend equal time on each of the sections you have 3 minutes per MCQ, and 20 minutes per SAQ.
The Phantom seemed largely unconcerned as well ("20 mins for the MCQs, 15 mins each for the SAQs, out in an hour" - well done him). West Country Bob was slightly more worried ("Don't you even check your work?!"). My view was somewhere in the middle. 3 minutes to read and answer an MCQ seemed like aeons, although 20 minutes for the SAQs seemed about right.
As it turned out, Phantom was pretty close to the mark.
Although I didn't get through the MCQs in the 20 minutes, half an hour was not an unreasonable target. The SAQs were a strange beast. I was expecting the odd question about tactics in negotiation, how you would approach a certain scenario, that sort of thing.
Instead, we had three 'compare and contrast' questions. The first question compared mediation with negotiation, the second mediation with arbitration, and the last was a comparison between arbitration and litigation.
We were actively encouraged to answer with bullet points. Amazing scenes.
I saw the Phantom leave at the promised one hour and five minutes, and I followed him out about fifteen minutes later. We soon found ourselves in the Wetherspoons on High Holborn enjoying their burger deal (£5.49 for a plate of grease and a pint, can't go wrong), wondering if all the other exams would be equally passable.
Let's see, eh?