Studying ‘My Way’

December 7, 2013

The woman who passed the Korean bar exam with the highest score 

Shin Ji-won says “Keeping your own study style is key to success”

By Bahk Eun-ji

Shin Ji-won (Korea Times)

Shin Ji-won (Korea Times)

Shin Ji-won, 23, was astonished when she got a call from an official of the Ministry of Justice that she had passed the bar exam with the highest exam score.  “I really didn’t expect to pass because I thought I ruined the preliminary segment of the exam,” she said. “I did my best at the end of the test.”

Shin, a senior studying law at Ewha Womans University, studied for the exam for only two years, which is considerably shorter than the average preparation period of five years. Still, she says she has always tried to maintain a unique style in life as well as in studies since she was a high school student.

“I quit high school when I was a freshman, as I really hated to stay at school until late every night,” Shin said. “Teachers call it a ‘self-motivated study’ but it turns out it was excruciating self-study.”

She added that she didn’t want to study against her will, although she liked to study. “So I quit school after a month and took a qualification examination to get into college,” Shin said.

Shin noted her study style for the bar exam was also unconventional. “Most test-takers use stopwatches in order to keep track of their study time, but I don’t like the pressure,” said Shin. “I even used to watch TV programs after I finished study assignments for the day.”

She said she wanted to be in control of what she was doing. She also gave a piece of advice on how to read textbooks. “You don’t have to read textbooks from the beginning,” she said. “First, you skim through the book and mark pages that you have to focus on. Then you read those parts back and forth.”

Shin plans on becoming a lawyer or a judge who works for the socially marginalized in the future. “One day I attended a lecture about crime victims,” she stated. “I was impressed by the lecture focusing on victims, and I realized that protecting the victims, their human rights and those of their families is one of the most important jobs for people in the legal profession.”



  1. thomas

    December 25, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    I commend her for staying true to herself. Her achievement to date highlights the importance of intrinsic motivation versus forcing our kids into a regiment and limiting one’s true potential.

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