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THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO BAR REVIEW

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction
I.

Preparing for Bar Review:


First things first
So you're buying Bar Review Materials
Misconceptions
Things to consider
Materials that you MUST have
Book critiques
To enrol or not to enrol
Where do I study?

II.

Bar Review proper


Do's and don'ts
Suggested study styles
Suggested study schedules
The truth about 1st reading, 2nd reading and pre-week
Recreation and other non-Bar matters

III.

Filing your petition to take the Bar

IV.

September
Should I be booked in a hotel for the Bar?
The Day Before
D-Day
Before the exam starts
During the exam
How do I answer questions?
The Morning After

THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO BAR REVIEW


INTRODUCTION
So, you're taking the Bar for the first (and hopefully the only) time.
Bar review is ideally a time for synthesizing and consolidating what you have already
learned in law school, as well as for integrating new jurisprudence and newly-enacted laws.
(Although in many cases, it is about learning certain things for the first time, and atoning for past
sins.)

Chapter I.
PREPARING FOR BAR REVIEW

FIRST THINGS FIRST


(1) Assess your strengths and your weaknesses. You will have to be very honest and very
humble when you do this (and believe me, it IS a humbling experience), but there's no other
way to do it.
(2) Organize all your law school materials (i.e., books, reviewers, notes, memory aids, cases,
etc.). Inventory all the books and materials you have and assess whether they are already
sufficient for bar review purposes or if you need to acquire (i.e., buy, borrow or photocopy)
new materials.
(3) Draw up your budget.
(4) Visit the bookstores and browse through the available law books. Skim through the books
that appeal to you at first glance, and see whether you feel comfortable with the idea of
reading that book for the duration of review. Don't buy on the mere say-so of other people.
You don't want to be stuck with a book that you'll regret having spent good money on.
(5) Draw up a list of the materials you want or think you need. I recommend having at least 1
commentary (for certain subjects, there is no single book that is sufficient for the Bar), 1
reviewer, and of course, the codal.
(6) Draw up a Bar review schedule / timetable.
(7) Make your purchases / acquisitions.

SO YOU'RE BUYING BAR REVIEW MATERIALS


A. MISCONCEPTIONS
(1) The shorter/thinner a book or reviewer, the better. Many reviewees think that the thinner
the book or reviewer, the better it is for review. The main reason for this is financial: a
thinner reviewer makes for cheaper photocopying costs.
However, if you think that the thinner it is the faster you'll finish it, think again. This may
be true for certain books or reviewers, but not for all. Justice Feria's 2-volume work in Civ
Pro on the outside looks more daunting than Justice Regalado's 1-volume Remedial Law
Compendium for Civ Pro. But surprise, surprise, I enjoyed reading Justice Feria's book (yes,
I finished both volumes) and finished it in half the time than if I had struggled through Justice
Regalado's book. (Struggled being the operative term.)
(2) The more books you read, the better. Not necessarily true. In certain cases, you may just
succeed in confusing yourself. For the purpose of the Bar, remember that less is more: one
book carefully selected and read exhaustively is better than two books read hurriedly and
haphazardly. Of course, if you have the capacity to read several commentaries at a time, or if
you want to cross-reference various texts to settle a confusing point of law, then by all means,
feel free to do so.

B. THINGS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER WHEN ACQUIRING BAR REVIEW MATERIALS:


It is important to choose your materials carefully for the following reasons:
(1) Time. Remember that you only have a limited time to review. You therefore simply cannot
(and will not want to) read every book and reviewer available on every Bar subject.
(2) Finances. Unless you have a fairy godmother (or awfully generous parents or sponsors) and
can therefore afford to buy all the books and photocopy all the materials you want or need,
you have to pick and choose.
(3) Reader-friendliness. Because we each have a limited capacity for studying in a day, it is
important that the materials you read are engaging enough to sustain your interest and keep
you reading on. Choose materials that are bobo-friendly, with a font size and layout that is
easy on the eyes and on the mind.
(4) The author's credibility. Of course it goes without saying that there is no point in buying
books or photocopying reviewers of doubtful credibility or competence. You will not want to
end up learning outdated laws, repealed jurisprudence, or legal opinions that have no basis in
law.

C. MATERIALS THAT YOU MUST HAVE:


(1) A reliable outline for the entire subject matter. Outlines are essential because they
will provide the framework or mind map for storage, retention and retrieval of
information. If a comprehensive outline is not available, then outlines per topic (e.g.,
Persons, Oblicon, Property) will do.
(2) The codal. (Need we say more?)
(3) At least one reliable commentary on the subject matter.
(4) At least one reviewer which you can transfer your notes to.

D. BOOK CRITIQUES AND THE AUTHOR'S CHOICE PICKS


During the course of review, I realized that I am generally uncomfortable with questionand-answer type books. From my experience, the available Q-and-A type books do not make for
good retention because they do not have a structure and flow that facilitate easy retrieval during
the exam.
Political Law
Given the breadth of political law, there is no single text that is sufficient to cover all
topics. I therefore had to resort to various materials depending on the topic I was studying at a
given time.
Outline:

V.V. Mendoza's Political Law Outline


Barlongay's supplementary outlines, esp. Public Officers

Book: Congressman Nachura's book Political Law Outline is generally good, but is not
comprehensive enough when it comes to Public Officers, Election Law, and International
Law. Also, certain parts of the 2000 edition were not updated. But by large, it's a musthave.
When to read it: Second reading.
Reviewer: RAM notes. But this was last updated in 1996, so you will have to plug in
the new laws and new decisions.
Public Officers: The Bar Ops Pub Off reviewer. Authored by Calica and Lat,
based on Prof. Barlongay's outline and lectures.
Election Law: I will have to shamelessly plug my reviewer. I finished this in
May 2001, while reviewing for the Bar. Since there was no Election Law
commentary sufficient for my purposes (and I couldn't quite understand the
subject), I made my own outline and filled out the details. Of course, it helped
that I had the A-98 reviewer and Prof. Barlongay's lectures to build on.
Codal: The Constitution (of course! Don't leave home without it.)
Local Government Code
Election Code and other related laws (You can read either Rex bookstore's
compilation of Election Laws, or Access Law's Election Law compilation by
Commissioner Haydee Yorac.)
Labor Law
Outline: Prof. Disini's labor law outline
Books:
Title:
Labor and Social Legislation
Author:
Alcantara
No. of pages:
When to read: 1st reading
Review:
The best!. At more than 1000 pages, it may seem daunting, but
surprise, surprise, it's an easy read, and so much better than Azucena's 2volume work. A must-read for your 1st reading.
Be warned though: the book's table of contents is not comprehensive,
and the chapters lacks sub-headings, so you may get disheartened when it
seems that a chapter seems to go on forever. (This is particularly true for the
chapter on Termination and Dismissal.) You will notice eventually however that
he follows a definite framework; only the headings are missing. So take the time
to put in your own headings; it makes for easy retention of the concepts. Also
be warned that at certain points in the book, he includes landmark cases, only for
you to find a couple of pages later on that such cases have already been
superseded by more recent jurisprudence. Can be annoying, but that doesn't
detract from the fact that this book is comprehensive and well-written.

Title:
Everyone's Labor Code
Author:
Azucena
No. of pages:
When to read: 2nd reading; pre-week
Review:
After Alcantara, Azucena's Everyone's Labor Code makes for a
good second reading. It is mostly codal, with a summary of the salient
jurisprudential points per provision. If you transfer your Alcantara notes to this
book (which is a good idea), this book can serve as your pre-week as well.
Civil Law
Balane's Succession
I didn't like Jurado's Civil Law Review, comments to the contrary notwithstanding. Jurado
discusses the Civil Code in the order of the provisions, not according to any topical or thematic
grouping. It worked for my other batchmates, but not for me.
Taxation
Outline: Prof. Ricalde's outline
Books: Aban. Recommended by Prof. Rachel Follosco, and is an excellent read.
I attempted to read Vitug during my first reading, but plodded through it because
of the heavy language used. Vitug, I think, is better suited for 2nd reading, when
one already has a grasp of the basic concepts.
Commercial Law
Books: Villanueva. A surprisingly good read, initial impressions to the contrary. His
discussion on Securities is outdated, though, due to the recent enactment of the
Securities Regulation Code.
Miravite has a lot (and we mean A LOT) of errors, which is a shame since his
discussion of the subject matter is very reader-friendly and easy on the brain. If
you want to test your proficiency in commercial law by spotting the errors, then
this is the book for you. Otherwise, always cross-reference this commentary with
the codals, or with another commentary you trust. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Check out Sec. Nani Perez's Commercial Law books. (Jun-Jun read them.)
Criminal Law
Books: Reyes. Still the best book to read, esp. if your foundation in Criminal Law isn't good.
Book I is a must-read.
Regalado Criminal Law Conspectus
Very difficult to outline because the discussion is choppy and not wholistic. (It is,
after all, merely a compilation of significant jurisprudence.) I was initially excited
about this because it has the latest cases, but the enthusiasm eventually wore off

the farther into the book I got. He uses the same style as in his Remedial Law
Compendium.
Sandoval's Pointers in Criminal Law is a fun read, although it does not include
some of the minor penal code provisions which have been asked in the Bar on
occasion. Must be read only after one has gone through the entire Revised
Penal Code at least once. Ideal for pre-week.
Reviewers:

Ortega Notes

Remedial Law
For Remedial, make sure that you master the codal provisions. Make your own tables
and diagrams for better retention.
Civ Pro
Justice Feria's 2-volume work is THE BEST!!! (Why didn't they come out with this when
we were taking up Civ Pro?) Well worth the cost (P 840.00 per volume, hardbound), and the time
expended in reading it.
Crim Pro
Agpalo. Exhaustive, according to Prof. Tony Bautista. Didn't have time to read through
it, though, since I was busy working on the Crim Pro reviewer which we were putting together at
the time.
Evidence
If you studied conscientiously enough while you were taking Evidence for the first time, a
review of the codal provisions should be sufficient. The jurisprudence has not changed much.
Spec Pro
Sadly, there is no sufficient text for a thorough, comprehensive discussion of Spec Pro.
So again, I must shamelessly plug my reviewer. Authored by Jessie Abrenica and Tanya Lat, this
reviewer was put together while we were taking Spec Pro under Prof. Bautista.

Ethics and Legal Forms


For Ethics, Ma'am Vyva's pre-week reviewer is very good. So is Atty. Bautista's Ethics
book which combines ethics and legal forms.
Prof. Te's legal forms, which he prepared exclusively for Bar Ops '99 and which he has
been updating regularly since then, are an excellent read. For best results, study the forms
simultaneously with your review of the salient provisions of Civ Pro and Crim Pro. You will get to
see the legal provisions as they are applied in actual practice, thereby reinforcing comprehension
of the theories behind the provisions, and retention of the legal phraseology used.

TO ENROL OR NOT TO ENROL


A perennially-asked question is whether it is wise to enrol in a bar review center or to just rely on
one's own efforts and just self-review. It is a serious question, considering that the cost of formal
Bar review ranges from P 9,000.00 (UP) to as much as P 15,000.00.
Before deciding whether to enrol or not, ask yourself the following:
(1) Is there anything that I can get from the review center that I do not already know or
which I cannot get from other sources (e.g., books, hand-me-down notes,
jurisprudence)?
(2) Will the time spent listening to lectures benefit me, or will it just slow me down?
(3) Is the bar review center which I am considering reputable, credible, and value-formoney?

WHERE DO I STUDY?

Chapter II.
BAR REVIEW PROPER

A. Suggested Study Styles


(Tanya's subversive study style is appended to this file.)

B. Suggested Study Schedules


THE TRUTH ABOUT 1

ST

READING,

ND

READING

& PRE-WEEK

A spaceship, when it blasts off, is bulky and long, well-loaded with fuel and provisions.
As it consumes its provisions, it ejects the portion of the spaceship that is no longer needed. It
continues to do so, until upon re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, when it is reduced to its core,
i.e. the shuttle containing the astronauts.
Bar Review should pretty much be the same way. During first reading, you are bulky:
you do extensive reading, resorting to the codal and commentaries. You then summarize and
condense this information into notes which you annotate onto your reviewer or text for the second
reading.
The text which you use for your 2nd reading should be more compact than what you used
for the 1st reading. It should also contain your previous notes so that there will be no need for you
to return to your 1st reading text, except perhaps for portions which you need to refresh yourself
on. Distill this information further into an even more compact form, say memory aids, an outline
or mnemonics for pre-week.
C. Do's and Dont's

D. Recreation and other non-Bar matters

Chapter III.
FILING YOUR PETITION TO TAKE THE BAR
What are the requirements for filing my petition to take the Bar?

Chapter IV.
SEPTEMBER
A. Should I be booked in a hotel for the Bar?

B. The Day Before

C. D-Day
Before the exam starts
(1) Bring your comfort stuff (e.g., favorite jacket, favorite pen, favorite chocolates).
(2) Bring medicines for just in case.
(3) Go to the examination center early so that you can settle in and acclimatize.
During the exam
(1) Skim over the entire exam so that you have an overview of the number of questions being
asked and the coverage of the topics involved. That way, you can properly budget your time.
(2) If you cannot answer a particular question, MOVE ON to the next one. Just make sure to
leave adequate space for the question you've skipped.
(3) Do not sacrifice substance for brevity.
How do I answer questions?
D. The Morning After
(1) Stop thinking about the previous day's exam! Resist the temptation to find out the answers to
the questions. Remember: you can't change the past, but you can still change the future.

TANYA'S TIPS
(1) For your first reading, start with the subject which you are least confident with, moving your
way up to your strongest subject. That way, if you run out of time, you have gained enough
mastery in all subjects to ensure that you will not be disqualifed in any one subject.
(2) Go for depth rather than speed. It is better for you to go slowly (for the first reading), but
understanding your subject matter very well, rather than to breeze through your materials but
only understanding the concepts superficially.
(3) Always focus on learning new things for the day. Your mental state is very important to the
quality of your review. If you approach your review with enthusiasm and interest, you will be
more productive and energetic. If, on the other hand, you view review as a bore or as a
chore that needs to be grappled with, you will find yourself doing just that.
(4) Do not rely on other people's notes. Make your own.
(5) Notice how it's easier for you to remember something which a lecturer said, or something
which you wrote down rather than something you merely highlighted? It is said that the more
senses involved in the learning process, the more likely you will retain the information. So go
for a multi-sensory approach as you review for the Bar.

HOW I STUDIED
The traditional way of studying for the Bar has been to focus on each subject, in isolation
from all the others. So 2 weeks of poli and nothing else; then labor, and so on and so forth.
However, while preparing for my Review, I noticed that certain topics overlap into
different areas of law: crim pro overlaps with crim and the bill of rights; spec pro requires
knowledge of succession; forms overlap with remedial. If you break down the different Bar
subjects, you will find the following component topics:
I.

Political Law

Structure of Government
-

Legislative
Executive
Judicial
Constitutional Commissions

Bill of Rights

Other constitutional provisions


-

Principles and Policies


National Economy & Patrimony
ESTACS
General Provisions

Local Government
Public Officers
Election Law

II.

III.

Administrative Law
Public International Law

Labor Standards
Labor Relations
Social Legislation

Persons
Property
Oblicon

Labor Law

Civil Law

IV.

V.

Obligations
Contracts
Donations

Succession
Land Titles & Deeds
Private International Law
Sales
Torts & Damages
Credit Transactions
Agency & Partnership
Sales

General Principles
Income Taxation
Donor's Tax
Estate Tax
Local Taxation
Real Property Tax
Tariff & Customs Code
Tax Remedies
Court of Tax Appeals

Taxation

Commercial Law

Corpo
Nego
Insurance
Transpo
Special Laws
-

Securities Regulation Code


Banking
Secrecy of Bank Deposits
PDIC Law
Warehouse Law

VI.

Criminal Law

VII.

Book I (Fundamentals)
Book II (Specific Crimes)

Remedial Law

Jurisdiction
Civ Pro
-

Basic Provisions
Modes of Discovery
Appeal
Provisional Remedies
Special Civil Actions

Crim Pro

Spec Pro
-

VIII.

Mortgage
Letters of Credit
Trust Receipts
Insolvency
Intellectual Property Code (but not included since 1998 Bar)

Estate Proceedings
Adoption
Others

Evidence

Ethics & Forms

Code of Professional Responsibility


Code of Judicial Ethics
Rule 139-B
Forms
-

Motions
Initiatory Pleadings
Contracts
Others

Rather than study for the Bar according to the specified fields of law (i.e., poli, labor, etc.),
I decided to outline my study schedule according to topic. I figured that by doing so, I could be
more efficient because: (1) I would avoid double-studying caused by overlaps; (2) I would be
able to correlate the overlapping subjects with each other, thereby enhancing the learning
process; and (3) I would have a more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter
because the correlation would provide me an overview of the subject. I also figured that this
would be a prelude to actual law practice, where of course things are never as neatly
compartmentalized as they are in law books. So I came up with the following groupings:
A. Public Officers
Civil Service

Ombudsman Law (R.A. 6770)


Admin Law
Quo Warranto (Civ Pro: Special Civil Actions)
B. Criminal Law (Books I and II)
Bill of Rights
Criminal Procedure
Forms used in Crim Pro
C. Persons
PRIL
Succession
Spec Pro
Estate Tax
D. Evidence
Modes of Discovery (Civ Pro)
E. Transpo (Commercial)
Torts (Civ)
Insurance (Commercial)
F. Donations (Civ)
Donor's Tax
G. National Economy & Patrimony (Consti)
LTD (Civ)
H. Loc Gov
Local Taxation
Real Property Taxation
I.

Mortgage (Commercial)
Mortgage (Civ)
Foreclosure of Mortgage (Remedial: Civ Pro, Special Civil Actions)

J.

Banking (Commercial)
Bank Deposits (Commercial)
PDIC Law (Commercial)
Loan (Civ: Credit Transactions)

K. Insolvency (Commercial)
Concurrence & Preference of Credits (Civ: Credit Transactions)
Payment by Cession (Civ: Oblicon, Modes of Payment)
L. Property (Civ)
Forcible Entry (Remedial: Civ Pro, Special Civil Actions)
Foreclosure of Mortgage (Remedial: Civ Pro, Special Civil Actions)
Partition (Remedial: Civ Pro, Special Civil Actions)
Expropriation (Remedial: Civ Pro, Special Civil Actions)
Lease (Civ: Credit Transactions)
M. Judicial Department (Poli)
Code of Judicial Ethics (Ethics)
N. Remedial Law

Forms

Admittedly, certain subjects cannot be grouped with any other. Labor for example really
stands alone. So does most of Tax. But otherwise, it is possible to find overlaps in the other
subjects.