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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 Nachura Labor Law- Azucena’s Everybody’s Labor Code and Alcantara Civil- Jurado Taxation -Dan Calica’s Reviewer Commercial -Miravite/Villanueva Criminal -Ortega Notes Remedial -Regalado Legal Ethics –Aguirre STARTER KIT a good and sturdy bookstand a good lamp, white light a cubicle made from illustration boards, this would give you privacy and minimize distractions (for student lounge people) earplugs, to block off noise. It also sends a signal to noisy coreviewees to shut-up vitamins/supplements notebook, index cards a good supply of highlighters post-its. The tags can be used to divide the material, which can mark your goal for the day. By breaking 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) Have 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 so make 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. The problem 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.
be wary of the rumors that would spread. However. We have this standing theory that the one responsible for spreading these rumors are the book publishers who wants to increase their book sales. This is important. III. The lectures could be boring and slow at times. considering that he is checking around fifty bluebooks. Don’t believe these rumors! Be aware of the fact that you are extremely vulnerable as a reviewee. hotjurist 2010 . Tips are overrated and you should take it with a grain of salt. Listening is a skill. Avoid the Maricon virus (the syndrome of photocopying all the materials that one can get his hands into. There are a lot of errors that you need to correct in your reading materials. in spite of the fact that we know our law professors. We have this thinking that five months should be spent reading all the materials we can get. Sometimes. Your exam may be readable to your law professor. We justify this photocopying spree saying that you need the option of being able to read it if your time permits it. However. It caters to a reviewee’s psychological need. Even if you did not receive any hot tips. I was disappointed with the way review classes were conducted. You can do good without it. I enrolled in the bar review classes because my philosophy then was never to shortchange my review. Rumors are just rumors. Reading can become a mechanical exercise. Added to this.” With respect to knowing who the examiner is. You must be conscious of the fact that the examiner will grade you solely on the basis of the way you answer these questions. Less is more. CAVEATS Learn the proper way of highlighting materials. Avoid highlighting everything since it defeats the very purpose of highlighting in the first place. Some read faster than the others. Hot tips are not hot. Inspect the materials carefully and determine if you truly need it. You may read all you want. Don’t be alarmed. Most reviewees brag that they have read their bar materials three times. Read to understand and not for the sake of simply reading. It also makes us lose our focus. it might overwhelm us and reduce us into a state of helplessness. I told myself that six thousand pesos might spell the difference between passing and failing. Don’t accept everything you read as gospel truths. we still could not predict the questions that they ask during finals. It is better to have one good reading than have three lousy readings. thinking that I would have passed if only I enrolled myself. think twice. a placebo. but remember that you should not spread yourself too thinly. or whether you will be able to read it. The next time someone flash you a candidate material. even if they are stamped confidential. The bar examiner might not have the forebearance to decipher your encrypted hieroglyphics. Withhold belief even when the person tells you that the information comes from a “very reliable source. since you will re-read the materials. Photocopied materials give us a false sense of security. you will be deluded into believing that your understanding mirrors that of the lecturer. Enrolling would preclude me from blaming myself. so the next step you will take is to ask if he has written a book so that you can buy it. The fact that you read all the commentaries would be immaterial. Anything less would make us feel guilty and insecure. Practice good handwriting skills. One important faux pas to avoid is the temptation of reading a lot of materials. One example is that you will hear that this person is the examiner. don’t preoccupy yourself with it. the xerox empress) like the plague. RECOMMENDATIONS Should you enroll in the bar review classes? Well this is open to debate. A tribute to Maricon. the bar is composed of only 30-40 questions per subject. make sure that the law you are reading is udpated. The danger lies in the fact that if we have too many materials at hand. Also. it drains too much energy and takes too much of your time. in the unfortunate event that I fail. This is the same case with the bar examiners. speed-reading should not be done at the expense of comprehension. The truth is. Highlight only the important words and phrases. maybe do even better. Imagine multiplying it by one hundred. In the duration of the bar review (even after). IV. is the sense of inadequacy if we failed to finish our ambitious reading list. Their patience could be equated as inversely proportional to the number of bluebooks they will be checking. As a co-examinee bluntly puts it. Read carefully. Bar examiners are humans too. don’t despair.
Bring only these materials. My experience with the bar is that even if I know the answer. pamper yourself once in a while. scan the questions. we found humor in our collective misery. Choose the materials you think you have to read in the interim before the exam. even when it only means a walk to the vendo machine. I think my stay there has helped me pass the bar. because I used eating as an excuse not to study. Remember. V. but support it with legal arguments or case law. Don’t worry.Your option would be to just borrow the materials from a co-reviewee and have it photocopied. It has definitely kept my head above water in those grueling five months. how to get to the examination Bring mineral water. Imagine staring blankly at your co-examinees and whispering to yourself that the minutes could have been productively used reading codal provisions. If you decide to stay home. Do not bring your celphones inside La Salle and avoid the hassle of depositing it. I had difficulty answering because I wanted to hotjurist 2010 B. Bring a jacket or umbrella. Be sure to bring all the papers (exam permits. excluding merienda. I eat five full meals during the bar. In answering bar questions. lest you want to subject yourself to a panic attack. I. We reviewees use eating as a mechanism to deal with tremendous stress. Use good English to mask your ignorance. take a deep solid breath and process the question. as it would reduce unnecessary stress. Exercise improves blood and oxygen circulation. Personally. In the event that you don’t know the answer. This is part of stress management. sweets/chocolates as brain boosters during the exam. Compute the number of questions and allocate your time accordingly. guess. try to get a good night rest. I suggest that you don’t share a room. Study in the student lounge.D). Grab a sliced Subway so that you can eat and read in the afternoon within La Salle. If you don’t know the exact provision. how to receive the tips (if you still think it is indispensable) area on time (6 am ideal) If you decide to stay in a hotel. This is simple but this would be very helpful. There. Remember that it is okay if you feel you don’t know the answer. Take time to sift through the materials and segregate the materials you think might be useful. Know in advance which gate you would have to go to. It is suggested that you buy a transparent envelope and hang it in your neck (with a fancy ID holder) so that you won’t lose these important documents. Never leave your blue book. think of these two things: A. This is the so-called information rush. you will shed the unwanted fats after the bar review (I did say my advice is not foolproof right?) To deal with this. Others simply jog around the academic oval. don’t fret. DURING THE BAR EXAM The thirty minutes before the exam after the proctor told us to bring our things in front was really nerve-wracking. to combat the possibility of burnout. to minimize movements and distractions. Drink a warm chocolate. Cite legal provisions or case law to support your arguments. IMPORTANT REMINDERS During the night before the exam. · Ask someone (your bar buddy) to prepare your food. small talks and power naps form part of the student lounge experience. Breathe and allow things to settle down. cite a provision that you think comes close. Go to La Salle early to avoid the madness in the hotel lobby. It is normal to gain weight during the bar review. Should you billet yourself in a hotel? I talked to my classmates who did not stay in hotel and they said that they were more relaxed. The daily interaction with fellow reviewees. Be responsive and try to answer clearly and directly. Exercise. . you need to relax yourself. It is rare that you know all the answers to the questions. the jokes. After the distribution of the exam questionnaire. some co-reviewees enrollled in gym classes. Bubble bath. switching is not a remote possibility · · VI. In the duration of the review.
· Skip questions you are not sure of the answers. The real exam is surviving the four Sundays without cracking from the tremendous pressure the whole exercise brings. Be conscious of time. Even if you didn’t do well in one exam. never mind if it is not as grand as you initially wanted it to be. Often. It is cathartic for some but it is depressing for most. Just be sure to get back to it. VII. Don’t let the bad feeling affect your performance in the next exam. For whatever this article might lack in logic and coherence. I personally believe that the exercise is very counter-productive. we may have failed to give our best and most rational answer. It is futile to feel sorry. hotjurist 2010 . Review your answers. It is impossible to control all the factors that would guarantee our passing the bar. The ratio of last clear chance comes to mind. AFTER THE BAR EXAM Learn how to compartmentalize. the bar is a humbling experience. As a friend puts it. I may have committed some mistakes. In the course of writing this article. is made up for with a genuine and sincere desire to help you hurdle and pass the bar. Undergoing the bar experience makes us more keenly aware of our limitations as human beings. Sweet Surrender. Within the limited time we have. make sure you answered all the questions sequentially. It only depresses us more to know that our classmates were able to eloquently answer the questions we thought was difficult. Be contented with your answers. I avoided discussion of answers with fellow reviewees. I believe that there is more to the bar than the bar questions we need to answer. Sure you could have answered better but it is sad that it always seems to dawn only after you submitted the booklet. Pray and trust in the Lord Almighty. make sure to start writing. grammatical or otherwise – my apologies. Remember that given the limited time we had. otherwise it will not only be one subject you will have to worry about. we can only study and prepare so much.craft and formulate my answer in the best possible way. It is already up to the examiner to appreciate your answers. You have already submitted your bluebook have already done everything from your end. our co-reviewee approached the legal problem from a different angle and we tend to blame ourselves for failing to see it the way he did. don’t despair.
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