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Advice for the bar examinee Part 1

Anyway here is the article by Prof. Manuel Riguera entitled Advice for the bar
examinee:
As a law professor, bar reviewer, and bar exam coach, Ive put together some
advice and tips for those taking or about to take the bar examination. I hope
that they will prove of some help to the examinee who aspires to hurdle one of
the toughest bar examinations in the planet.
BEFORE THE BAR EXAM
READ MATERIALS ON HOW TO PREPARE FOR AND PASS THE
BAR EXAM.The bar exam is not a matter to take lightly. So reading materials
on how to prepare for and to pass the bar will greatly increase your chances of
seeing your name inscribed in the bar exam hall of fame. You can bring these
materials as light reading to your three-day Branson vacation packages after
law school graduation. When I prepared for the 1991 bar, I read a well-worn
pamphlet by Prof. Jose Nolledo on how to study for and pass the bar. I also
read a booklet by Commissioner Regalado Maambong on the barexamination.
The two booklets served me well by giving practical advice on how to
preparefor the bar and how to avoid costly mistakes during the preparation
and the actual taking of the bar. Unfortunately it seems both booklets are out
of print.
Bar Blues written by Ma. Tanya Karina Lat, Maria Gracia Gamez, Romel
Bagares, and Marlon Anthony Tonson is one good book on bar exam
preparation which I highly recommend. Slaying the Bar Exam Dragon by Dean
Rufus Rodriguez is another book which I would advise you to read.
TELL YOUR FAMILY THAT YOU ARE IN THE BATTLE OF YOUR
LIFE. The barexamination is the toughest professionaladmission examination in the country and one of the toughest bar
examinations in the world. Your family may not be aware of this and may
make inordinate demands on your time and attention. Tell them that the pass

rate for the bar is on average about 20%-30% and that you have a massive
amount of reading material to wade through. In Jurists, we have a caregivers
seminar wherein we advise the examinees families and friends of the difficulty
of the bar examination and the need to give understanding and support to the
examinee during the bar review and examinationperiod.
PREPARE AND ORGANIZE YOUR REVIEW MATERIALS. Prepare
your list of reviewers after your graduation and buy those that you do not
have. Get the opinion of professors and last years bar examinees as they are
the best judges of law reviewers and can give you the pros and cons of a
particular reviewer. As for the copious annotations or comments that you used
as textbooks during your first 3 years in law school, consult them only when
you want to clear up something which you cannot understand from your
reviewer. In short, avoid reading them as much as possible. If you have to
transfer residence in order to review, I suggest you dont lug them with you
anymore. They will just clutter up your study area and have a distracting
effect.
PREPARE A BAR REVIEW SCHEDULE. A bar-review schedule is your
roadmap to navigating the six months of bar review. When you are enrolled in
a bar review center, synchronize your schedule with the bar review centers
schedule otherwise you will not be reviewing effectively. In this regard, choose
a bar review center wherein there is a topical continuity in the schedule, that
is, where one particular bar exam subject is discussed at a time before
proceeding to another bar exam subject. Avoid bar review centers with a
mish-mash schedule where for example negotiable instruments is discussed
on one day, the labor relations in the next day, and civil procedure in the day
after next. My advice is that you study one bar exam subject before going to
another. Some advise reviewing one subject in the first half of the day (say
remedial law) and then another (say commercial law) in the second half of the
day. The avowed purpose is to minimize boredom. I think this sacrifices focus
and effectiveness just to add variety. One should simply have the selfdiscipline and drive to study one bar subject at a time.

A good guide in dividing your study time is to multiply the number of days
available for review with the weight given to a particular
bar examination subject.
Assume that you have 130 days allocated for your review (April to August
excluding Sundays). Political law has a weight of 15%. 130 days multiplied by
15% will give you 19 days. So you allocate 19 days more or less for political law.
In your review schedule, the last bar subjects that you should study should be
labor law and then political law. This will enhance the effectiveness of your
review since political law and labor law are the bar exam subjects you will
tackle on the first Sunday.
In your daily study schedule, your wake-up time should be at 4:30 a.m. and
lights out should be at 9 p.m. This is to make your body clock adjust to
this schedule so that by September, you would be used to sleeping early and
waking up early.
ENROLL IN A BAR REVIEW CENTER. There are advantages and
disadvantages to enrolling in a bar review center. Among the perceived
disadvantages are the increased costs, which include the enrollment fee, the
transportation and food costs, and accommodation costs for those who reside
in the provinces. Also quite some time is spent in preparing and dressing up
and in going to and from the bar review center. Despite these considerations, I
strongly recommended that a bar examinee enroll in a bar review center. A law
graduate does not have the degree of knowledge of the bar subject and the
intuitive feel for what are the important topics and probable bar exam
questions which an experienced bar review lecturer has. Also a bar review
center provides case and statutory updates, which because of time limitations,
is often not provided by law schools.
CHOOSE YOUR BAR REVIEW CENTER SMARTLY. There are
three importantthings which you should take into account in choosing a bar

review center: The line-up oflecturers, the schedule, and the existence of a
coaching or mentoring program.
The line-up of lecturers is important. Get the line-up and study these
carefully.In appraising the line-up, get the opinion of successful bar examinees
and your law professors. Word usually gets around among the bar reviewees
and the law academe about the outstanding and the mediocre lecturers. Pay
special attention to the lecturers in the subjects in which you feel you are
weak. The schedule is also of capital importance. Some bar review centers
draw their schedule based on the availability of the lecturers rather than on
topical continuity. As previously stated, avoid bar review centers where
theschedule involves unrelated subjects being discussed one after the other.
This will greatly undercut the effectiveness of your study. If you have taken the
bar more than three times, ensure that your bar review center is run by a
recognized law school or has anaccreditation agreement with one.
TAKE MOCK BAR EXAMS AND AVAIL OF THE SERVICES OF A
BAR-EXAMCOACH. Another thing to look out for is if the bar review center
provides for a coaching program. The program should not be limited to the
mere administration of mock bar exams, but should provide for one-on-one
coaching wherein a coach reads and evaluates the examinees answers and
then sits down and discusses the same with the examinee, seeking to identify
the examinees strong and weak points, to remedy the latter, to coach the
examinee on how to read and answer the bar exam questions, and in general
to improve and maximize the examinees test-taking abilities. Analyzing and
answering bar exam questions is not a matter of gut feel or intuition. The
examinee who thinks that it is enough to just read and attend lectures when
preparing for the bar is taking a huge risk. A bar-exam coach or mentor would
be most invaluable in helping the examinee develop the skill and confidence to
answer whatever set of questions may be thrown at him by his inquisitors.
The recent trend in the bar examinations is towards longer and more difficult
exams. This is especially true in light of Bar Matter No. 1161 which provided
for two bar examiners per subject. Because of the length of the bar exams, they
are a test not only of cerebral but physical fitness as well. A bar examinee

hence must prepare himself not only intellectually but physically for the
bar examination. In this regard, mock bar examinations play an indispensable
role in a bar examinees preparations. At Jurists Bar Review Center, we
administer a series of mock bar examinations to the reviewees. The mock bar
examinations, which consists of 19 to 20 numbers, several of them multiquestion numbers, seek to test and develop a reviewees time-management
skills and his physical ability to sit through and to write during a 4-hour long
exam. At first many of the reviewees could not finish the exam. But later on, as
they continued with the training protocol and with help from the coaches, they
were able to finish a 20- number exam with facility.
This training proved to be of immense help during the 2009 Bar Exam. Many
bar examinees who did not have such training were overwhelmed by the sheer
length of theexamination and left many questions unanswered. A number of
bar examinees could notcomplete the bar examination. A bar examinee from a
reputable school, unable to handle the length of the Civil Law Bar Exam,
suffered a nervous and physical breakdown during the exam and had to be
hospitalized. The examinee was no longer able to take the remaining bar
examinations.
FOCUS ON THE FUNDAMENTALS IN YOUR BAR REVIEW. The key
is not really studying more but studying smart. It is simply impossible to read
during the five short months of review the entire code provisions of a law
much less the texts or annotationsthereon. Besides some code provisions and
comments are unimportant for purposes of the bar and are seldom if ever
asked in the bar. During your review, you need to use only the following three
materials: a bar reviewer, the code provisions, and the bar review materials
provided by the bar review center. In reading the code provisions, do not read
the entire code but only those which are important. You know a code provision
is important if it was discussed by your professor or bar review lecturer or
mentioned in your bar reviewer.
A useful supplement to your reviewer is the Lex Pareto Notes written by
Zigfred Diaz, Maria Patricia Katrina de Guia, Alrey Ouano, Louella
Matsumoto, Ma. Salud Barillo, Danell Fernandez, Nolito Dayanan, and

Helenytte Yu. This is a breakthrough work wherein the authors, applying the
Pareto Principle to the field of bar exam review and forecasting, have found
that approximately 80% of the bar exam questions are derived from 20% of
the law. The authors have pinpointed this 20% of the law on which the
reviewee should spend 80% of his study time thus optimizing the effectiveness
of his review.
Many reviewees ask me if the should also read the survey of bar exam
questions andanswers by the U.P. Law Center. My answer is that they should
not. The Q&As are good bar exam materials but not for the reviewees
themselves but for bar review lecturers, law professors, and the bar-ops
members. These people have the expertise and/or time to sift through the
material, organize them, edit and update them, and use them in forecasting
bar exam questions and perceiving trends in the bar exams. Leave this job to
these people and do not do it yourself.
The UP Bar Q&As are organized not according to specific topics but to a much
broader classification based on the bar exam subject and the year in which it
was given. The reviewee who tries to read the Q&As from beginning to end
may be a little confused for the questions in Remedial Law, for instance, would
shift from civil procedure, to evidence, to criminal procedure, and then to
special proceedings. For another, the answers to previous years bar questions
may no longer be correct and need to be updated in the light of current law
and jurisprudence. A bar reviewee might be confused and even misled by
theanswers given for past years exams.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH AND FITNESS. Remember to exercise
daily or at least three times a week. Exercising improves blood circulation to
the brain and makes one study and think more sharply. It also builds up ones
resistance to sickness and infection and improves ones stamina. Remember
that the bar exam is a grueling 4-hour exam during the morning and 3-hour
one during the afternoon.

Get enough sleep. Six to seven hours sleep daily is advised. Lack of sleep will
result in drowsiness and sluggishness when studying, aside from making us
susceptible to sickness or fatigue. (No diet pills such as apidexin allowed
though !)
IMPROVE YOUR HANDWRITING. Your answers may all be correct but if
your handwriting is illegible all your hard work will go down the drain. If your
handwriting is difficult to read, the examiner will most probably not take the
time to decipher your booklet, taking into consideration that he has five
thousand other booklets to read.
You may think that your handwriting is legible, but actually it may not be.
Take a mock barexamination and show your booklet to another person and
have him read it. You may be surprised to find that your handwriting is
actually difficult to read. If that is the case, work on improving your
handwriting.