Practical Suggestions on How to Pass the Bar
Graduation for law students is so anti-climactic. As if the spartan life we have lived the past four years is not enough, we still have to gear up and march to the Coliseum and wage an even greater battle. The fight is filled with uncertainties, for when we step into the ring, we are on our own. There is no assurance that we would emerge as victorious Gladiators cheered upon by the crowd, or be the next Happy Meal for the royal lions. The first thing a reviewee must do is to accept this reality. Studying for the bar is one big marshmallow test. It would entail a drastic change in habit and lifestyle. Sacrifices must be made. The sooner you accept it, the better you could cope with the bar exam¶s demands and challenges.
As Sun Tzu once said, the art of war includes knowing ones enemy. The number one enemy that a bar reviewee must confront is his fear ± of the unknown, the anxiety as to what lies ahead. It is human to fear what one doesn¶t understand. So, the main goal of this exercise is to help you understand what the bar is. I hope this article could serve as a map that would aid you conquer the bar¶s perilous terrain. The tips contained herein are not foolproof. Its objective is modest-it is simply to pass the bar. Most of the suggestions contained here were culled from my experience. However, to give it some credibility, I also included the effective habits of fellow reviewees, as well as sound advice from previous topnotchers
I. PREPARING FOR THE BAR
Set your goals and devise your own strategy on how to do it. When you have no gameplan, you simply conform and follow what the others are doing. This can be dangerous.
Strategize and maximize. Follow the Pareto principle. Each one is given more or less the same amount of time to study. You must be able to manage your scarce resources.Concentrate on your critical few, the 20% input that would produce 80% of your output.
Organize your materials ahead of time.
Buy the right books and review materials.
Political Law -Outline by NachuraLabor Law- Azucena·s Everybody·s Labor Code and AlcantaraCivil- JuradoTaxation -Dan Calica·s ReviewerCommercial -Miravite/VillanuevaCriminal -Ortega NotesRemedial -RegaladoLegal Ethics ²Aguirre
a good and sturdy bookstanda good lamp, white lighta cubicle made from illustration boards, this would give you privacy and minimize distractions (forstudent lounge people)earplugs, to block off noise. It also sends a signal to noisy co-reviewees to shut-upvitamins/supplementsnotebook, index cardsa good supply of highlighterspost-its. The tags can be used to divide the material, which can mark your goal for the day. Bybreaking the books into parts, it makes reading more manageable.
II. STUDYING FOR THE BAR
Master the codal provisions. This is a minimum requirement. You can never go wrong with this strategy.
Manage your time according to the weight of the subject. Not all bar subjects are created equal.
Prepare a tentative schedule for your bar review.
Adjust your body clock. Sleep early, start early. Some reviewees even go to the extent of simulating the bar month by making Monday their rest day (since Mondays are brain-dead days during September)
ave a study buddy so that you can have a benchmark. This would help pace yourself, giving you the extra push to study. Your study buddy must have good study habits. She need
not be your girlfriend.
Learn the art of answering the bar. Study how bar questions are phrased and how it should be answered.
The bar questions are crafted differently from the usual law exams we have. Look at the Suggested Answers published by the UP Law Center. Some questions repeat over time somake sure you get the survey of bar questionnaires to concentrate on areas, which are favorite sources of questions.
While studying for the bar, take down notes and prepare your mnemonics. Whether we like it or not, the bar is a memory game, and there is no substitute for memorizing.
Emphasis should be made on the quality of your study time and not the amount of hours you spend studying. Don·t be obsessed with the number of pages you read in a day. Theproblem with being obsessed with the number of readings is that you are tempted to postpone your understanding of the material since at the back of your mind, you intend to
second and third read it any way. Next thing you know, it is already bar month and you·ll be cramming all the information in your head.
Read to understand and not for the sake of simply reading. Reading can become a mechanical exercise. Most reviewees brag that they have read their bar materials three times.Don·t be alarmed. Some read faster than the others.
owever, speed-reading should not be done at the expense of comprehension. It is better to have one good reading thanhave three lousy readings.
Less is more. One important faux pas to avoid is the temptation of reading a lot of materials. We have this thinking that five months should be spent reading all the materials wecan get. Anything less would make us feel guilty and insecure. You may read all you want, but remember that you should not spread yourself too thinly. The truth is, the bar iscomposed of only 30-40 questions per subject. You must be conscious of the fact that the examiner will grade you solely on the basis of the way you answer these questions. The
fact that you read all the commentaries would be immaterial.
Practice good handwriting skills. This is important. Your exam may be readable to your law professor, considering that he is checking around fifty bluebooks. Imagine multiplyingit by one hundred. Bar examiners are humans too. Their patience could be equated as inversely proportional to the number of bluebooks they will be checking. The bar examinermight not have the forebearance to decipher your encrypted hieroglyphics.
Learn the proper way of highlighting materials, since you will re-read the materials.
ighlight only the important words and phrases. Avoid highlighting everything since it defeatsthe very purpose of highlighting in the first place.
Read carefully. Don·t accept everything you read as gospel truths. There are a lot of errors that you need to correct in your reading materials. Also, make sure that the law youare reading is udpated.
Avoid the Maricon virus (the syndrome of photocopying all the materials that one can get his hands into. A tribute to Maricon, the xerox empress) like the plague. The next timesomeone flash you a candidate material, think twice. Inspect the materials carefully and determine if you truly need it, or whether you will be able to read it. Photocopiedmaterials give us a false sense of security. We justify this photocopying spree saying that you need the option of being able to read it if your time permits it. The danger lies in thefact that if we have too many materials at hand, it might overwhelm us and reduce us into a state of helplessness. It also makes us lose our focus. Added to this, is the sense ofinadequacy if we failed to finish our ambitious reading list.
Rumors are just rumors. In the duration of the bar review (even after), be wary of the rumors that would spread. One example is that you will hear that this person is theexaminer, so the next step you will take is to ask if he has written a book so that you can buy it. We have this standing theory that the one responsible for spreading these rumors