Advice for the bar examinee – Part 2

Taking the bar exams in September 2010 ? These tips from Prof. Manuel Riguera of Jurists Bar Review Center would surely help you a lot ! This is part 2 of a 3 part series. Click here to read Advice for the bar examinee part 1.

CHOOSE YOUR BAR REVIEW CENTER SMARTLY. There are three important things which you should take into account in choosing a bar review center: The line-up of lecturers, 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 the schedule 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 an accreditation agreement with one.

TAKE MOCK BAR EXAMS AND AVAIL OF THE SERVICES OF A BAR-EXAM COACH. 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 examinee’s answers and then sits down and discusses the same with the examinee, seeking to identify the examinee’s 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 examinee’s 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 examinee’s 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 multi-question numbers, seek to test and develop a reviewee’s 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 the examination and left many questions unanswered. A number of bar examinees could not complete 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 annotations thereon. 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 and answers 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 the answers 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 one’s resistance to sickness and infection and improves one’s 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 bar examination 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.

Watch out for “Advice for the bar examinee part 3 !”

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2 Responses to Advice for the bar examinee – Part 2

  1. ecidnac says:

    hi. the piece is very enlightening especially when im feeling very lost right now. at the beginning of my review, i was very positive. now im just down in the dumps and feeling frustrated and lost.

    do you happen to know what to do if you have a physical condition/disability and need to be in a separate room or not have to go up and down the stairs? i have a heart problem.

  2. zigfred says:

    ecidnac: Are you reffering to the La Salle site ? If so, yes you can request the OBC to place you in a room where there is no need for you to go up the stairs when you take the exams. My friend did that (He had a knee problem) and he was placed in the first floor.

    Confidence is very important when taking the bar exams. That is why try working on that. If you have a mentor in law school a close friend or family who could encourage you it would be so much better. If you still don’t have confidence in taking the bar, I suggest you defer taking it next year. Confidence will spell success or failure.

    You could considering taking a break for 2 to 3 days. That is what I did when I feel tired and exhausted. Unwind, relax, do what you love most. Stay away from negative people and above all, cast your burden upon the Lord for He cares for you. :-)

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