Bar 2016 has officially signed off. 3,747 new lawyers have taken their oath, signed the roll of Attorneys and been admitted to the Philippine Bar. Myself included.
But for other aspirants, their bar journey has just started. So to the bar candidates, this article is for you!
Disclaimer: I am not an expert nor does this article guarantee a passing grade. Tips and materials mentioned in this entry are based on my personal experience when I took and passed the 2016 Bar Examinations.
1. Set your Bar goal.
The first thing I did was to set my Bar goal: To pass the 2016 Bar Exams. I had to do it so that I will be guided all throughout my review. My plans and resources were directed towards this goal. I quit work and made sure I devote my time and attention to the Bar review. I wanted to clear my mind of other worries and myself of unnecessary stress so I can keep my eyes on the prize.
2. Choose the Bar Review Center that will suit your learning style and schedule.
There are a lot of good bar review centers in the country. Others claim they are better than the rest. But honestly, they are all pretty much the same. They are all eager to help out bar candidates pass the bar exams. Your deciding factor? YOURSELF.
By this time, you should already know your learning style. When do you learn best? What type of environment? What type of materials? All these things I considered when I chose Jurists Bar Review Center. Review classes are held only on weekends. So I had the weekdays all to myself. I also knew I could not stand an 8-hour lecture everyday. So I enrolled in the Combo Review of Jurists allowing both sit-in and online review. It was a practical choice since I had a backup review just in case I miss the sit-in class. The online review also gave me flexibility while reviewing. I get to go back to topics I had difficulty understanding and retaining. Jurists’ schedule and approach was perfect for my review and learning style. In addition, the coaching sessions after mock bar exams provided additional value to my review. Not only did they give updated materials but also guidance in answering the bar exams.
I also enrolled in the special lectures offered by Legal Edge. I attended the lectures of Dean Willard Riano, Atty. Rizalina Lumbera and Prof. Abelardo Domondon. I found the lectures helpful because I was able to supplement my understanding of Remedial Law. Atty. Lumbera’s lecture for Legal Edge covered a different topic from her Jurists lecture. So I was able to get a complete tax experience with one of my favorite law professors! I also attended Prof. Domondon’s tax lecture to get a different perspective.
My class standing also allowed me to qualify for an online review scholarship at Chan Robles. I used it to maximize the time I had for review. I play the video lectures on breaks and before going to sleep.
3. Make a review calendar.
I printed monthly calendars before starting my review. I scheduled my review based on Jurists schedule to ensure that I have covered all topics before I go to the review class. I wanted my review sessions to be confirmatory sessions for everything I studied. It was like a checking mechanism to know which topics retained and which did not. By doing this, I knew what adjustments to make before pre-week and bar exams.
So as not to forestall your desired scheduling, I will be posting the calendar template I used without my actual schedule. Please check Review Calendar Template.
What I did was basically to plot all review classes in Jurists first. On weekdays, I designed it according to bar materials, i.e. Monday-Sundiang, Tuesday-Sundiang, Wednesday-Miravite, Thursday-Miravite, Friday-Codal. Do not forget to plot your rest days, too!Additional Tip: Allot 1-2 days as back up for instances when you cannot finish readings as scheduled. You do not want to be stressed out just because you fail to keep up with your review schedule. Provide allowances.
4. Choose 1-2 authors per bar subject + Codal
The Bar Exam is not a battle of review materials. Do not hoard review books and materials. It will just stress you out to see all of them piled up in your room or study area and not being able to read a single page.
I made sure I have complete set of codals per subject. We were told to review the basics, so the codals came in handy. I was not a codal-person in law school but I made it a point to read the codals at least once during the review. Do not be pressured with how fast your classmates read. Once may be enough as long as you read with comprehension and retention. First, second or fifth reading—they do not matter. It’s your understanding that counts!
To keep myself on track, I used only one author, at most two, per bar subject. I chose based on contents, presentation and recommendations. Below is the list of authors/books/materials I used:
- Political Law – Nachura Outline Reviewer (This is the same reviewer I used during our Political Review class. Political law is one of my weaknesses and reading this material helped me make it through.)
- Labor Law – Azucena Textbooks (These are the same books I used in law school. I’ve had notes and memory aids on my books so it was easier for me to review and recall our discussions in Labor.)
- Civil Law – Jurado Reviewer (Some say it’s outdated and bulky but I personally liked its presentation. Since this subject covered the widest scope, retention was my number one enemy. Hence, I chose a familiar reviewer to aid my retention on the topic. I had to supplement my readings with Dean Navarro’s audio lectures available online.)
- Taxation – Lumbera Notes (I only relied on codal and Atty. Lumbera’s notes for tax. Her lecture was more than enough, I swear! If you hate tax, you better attend her lecture.)
- Mercantile Law – Sundiang, Miravite (This is one of the few subjects where I used two authors. I found Miravite somewhat incomplete so I supplemented my readings with Sundiang’s Reviewer. Both reviewers were helpful though.)
- Criminal Law – Boado Compact Reviewer, San Beda Red Notes (This subject is my least favorite so I had to make extra effort to understand it. I loved Boado’s simple presentation of topics and it complemented Beda’s detailed notes perfectly.)
- Remedial Law – Riguera, Esguerra Notes (I used Atty. Riguera’s Reviewer to have a fresh approach in Remedial Law as I used Riano in law school. Since the subject is about procedure, understanding the flow is more important than retention of theories. So I decided to use a new material to look at procedure from a different perspective. And it was successful because I was able to bridge the gaps on the areas I had difficulty in. The materials shared with us by our professor, Atty. Ramon Esguerra, also helped me a lot in reviewing the subject.)
- Legal Ethics – Domondon Notes
I also used Lex Pareto Notes as finisher for every subject. The books contained topics frequently asked in the bar exams.
5. Read all handouts given by your review center.
Review centers made conscious efforts to come up with updated and relevant materials for bar candidates. Make sure you get your copies and read them before taking the bar exams. Based on my experience, these materials are comprehensive enough to highlight important points and jurisprudence. Make the most out of your review sessions and read your handouts. It is okay to read handouts from your friends enrolled in other review centers if you have extra time. Again, do not hoard materials especially if you know you will not be able to read all. Not only will it waste your resources, but it will cause you unwarranted stress and frustration. Just chew what you can digest.
6. Attend pre-week classes.
When I was reviewing, I was thinking of skipping the pre-week classes because they were scheduled everyday during the bar weeks. My review center was an hour or so away from where I live so it would be physically exhausting for me to attend the sessions. But I chose otherwise. And I am glad I did. The pre-week sessions were ultra comprehensive and were really effective in redirecting focus on the subjects. So do not think twice. Be sure to attend pre-week sessions.
7. Answer past bar exam questions.
I bought compilation of past bar exam questions with suggested answers from UP Law Center. I also bought eight notebooks for practice writing. To improve my penmanship and to practice drafting bar answers, I randomly answer past bar exam questions for an hour or two everyday. This exercise hit two birds with one stone: I get to improve penmanship and composition and I get to review for the bar.
Answering past bar exam questions also allowed me to identify the topics or questions frequently asked in the bar. It also presented different views or answers for the same question or topic. Hence, I had enough time to read further about the topic and decide which view to adhere to in case it is asked in the bar.
Additional tip: In practice writing, use the same pen that you will use for the bar exams so that you will be accustomed to it.
8. Get some rest and take care of your health.
Bar exam is not just a mind game. It is also a physical one. It is equally important to keep your health in tiptop condition to successfully hurdle the bar.
I made sure I will not get sick during review and bar exams. So I had myself vaccinated at the start of review. I also made sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep everyday. Yes, I did not stay up late to study. To condition my brain, I patterned my studying hours with the bar exam schedule. I trained my brain to work in the morning and afternoon. I would wake up at 6AM and start studying at 8AM to 12NN. With mini breaks in between. I would resume studying at 1:30PM and finish by 5:30PM. I would go to bed at 9PM to recharge for the next day.
I also scheduled one-day study break per month to avoid exhaustion. I went out to eat, watched movie and played in Timezone. 🙂
9. Pray. Always.
Prayer is the most powerful weapon a bar candidate can ever bring to the battlefield. Regardless of religion, always seek for guidance and wisdom through prayer. The bar review and the bar exams are extraordinarily challenging and prayer comforted me all throughout. It calmed me down, helped me focus and refocus and gave me strength as I waited for the results.
10. Enjoy the journey.
Sounds absurd, right? But it is a logical advice. Journey to ATTY is not an ordinary experience. Not everybody gets to traverse this path. You are one of the chosen few. So you better enjoy every stage, every phase and while it lasts.
I believe I have shared enough. I hope you find this long article helpful. If you have questions, just hit the comment button below and let me know! Good luck, future Atty’s!