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Bar Exam Tips, Secrets, Techniques & Strategies

by Ralph A. Sarmiento
This is a collection of Bar Exam techniques, secrets, and strategies I wish I had known before I took the Bar Examination in September 1997. The Bar Exam is the most-feared professional exam in the country. When you take it, it is like putting your entire being, personality and dignity at stake. People, who know you and whom you know, as well as your friends and enemies alike, would be on the close watch, eagerly waiting to see you succeed or fail, earnestly waiting to join you in your celebration or to laugh at you in your defeat. The release of the Bar Exam results is the Judgment Day for every law student. It separates the sheep from the goats. It brings out tears of joy to some and tears of frustration, sadness and grief to others. Taking the Bar Exam is therefore a serious matter. Much is at stake.

Philippine Bar Exams Trivia

(Disclaimer: The information found hereunder are based only sources that were made available to the writer. Should you find any incorrect information, please call the writer's attention immediately.)

1st Bar Exams:

1901 with 13 examinees. 96.7 in the 1954 Bar Exams by Florenz Regalado of San Beda College 95.3 in the 1944 held by Jovito R. Salonga of the University of the Philippines & Jose W. Diokno, who did not finish his law studies. Manuel A. Roxas (University of the Philippines), 1913 Bar Exams with a grade of 92. Diosdado P. Macapagal of the University of Sto. Tomas, 1936 with a grade of 89.85 Ferdinand E. Marcos of the University of the Philippines, 1939 with a grade of 92.35 Sergio S. Osmea (University of Santo Tomas), 2nd Place - 1903 Bar Exams Manuel L. Quezon, (University of Santo Tomas), 4th Place - 1903 Bar Exams Elpidio R. Quirino (University of the Philippines), 2nd Place - 1915 Bar Carlos P. Garcia (Philippine Law School), 6th Place - 1923 Bar Diokno was born on February 26, 1922. Diokno earned his Bachelor's Degree in Commerce Summa Cum Laude in 1940 at De La Salle College (now De La Salle University).

Highest Grade of All Time: 2nd Highest Grade of All Time: Bar Topnotchers (1st Placers) to become Presidents of the Philippines:

Other Bar Topnotchers to become Presidents of the Philippines:

Facts about the Jose W. Diokno Legend:

He took the CPA Board Exam in 1940 while he was on his second year in law school and placed No. 1. In 1944, he petitioned the Supreme Court to take the Bar Exams without a law degree. The Supreme Court granted his petition and he took the Bar Exams in 1944 and tied with the Class Valedictorian of U.P. for the 1st Place with a grade of 95.3. Diokno is perhaps the only one who placed 1st in both the CPA board exams & the Bar Exams. Recto was born on February 8, 1890 at Tiaong, Tayabas (now Quezon Province). He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ateneo de Manila where his grades were all perfect (1.0), except only for one 1.3. He was conferred by Ateneo with Maxima Cum Laude honors (highest honors conferred by Ateneo). He took the Bar Exams in 1913 while he was still in his senior year in law school at the University of Santo Tomas - and FLUNKED. He finished his law degree in 1913, Class Valedictorian, University of Santo Tomas. The 1913 Bar Exams marked the first time that the test questions in Civil Procedure were in English, a new language in which Recto could not express himself very well. Justice Fischer, the examiner in Civil Procedure, also noted that Recto's handwriting was very difficult to understand. Justice Fischer gave Recto a grade of 41 which automatically disqualified him. Recto took the Bar Exams again in 1914 and passed. However, I could not find any official record whether he placed in the Bar Exams of 1914. But it appears that the No. 1 Bar Topnotcher in the 1914 Bar based on the official records of the Supreme Court was Manuel Goyena. After passing, Recto wrote two books on Civil Procedure. When Recto studied in Ateneo and UST, the medium of instruction was Spanish. Manuel Roxas, on the other hand, UP's Class Valedictorian who topped the 1913 Bar Exams was a product of the US public school system and had spent a year in Hong Kong to better equip himself with American English before taking the Bar. Marcos was born on September 11, 1917. In college, Marcos' principal interest was the .22-caliber college pistol team. On September 20, 1935, Julio Nalundasan was at home celebrating that day's Congressional election victory over Mariano Marcos when he was shot and killed with a .22-caliber bullet fired by the 18-year-old Marcos. On December 13, 1938, Marcos was arrested for Nalundasan's murder but he successfully petitioned for release on bail, allowing him to complete his law degree from the University of the Philippines. In 1939, Marcos was found guilty and sentence to a minimum of 10 years in prison. Jailed, Marcos spent six months writing his own 830-page appeal while reviewing for the Bar Exams at the same time. Marcos posted bail to take the 1939 Bar Exams and passed with scores so high he was suspected of cheating. Legends say that his unofficial Grade was 98.5 and so he was summoned to appear before the Supreme Court en banc for an oral re-examination, after which his official grade was released as 92.35.

Facts about the Claro M. Recto Legend:

Facts about the Ferdinand E. Marcos Legend:

Marcos is the only Bar candidate who was called by the Supreme Court for an oral reexaminations. In 1940, Marcos orally argued his own case in front of Supreme Court Justice Jose P. Laurel and on October 22, 1940, he was acquitted of the charge of murder and forthwith liberated from imprisonment. The next day, he returned to the Supreme Court where he was administered his oath as a lawyer. Tecla San Andres-Ziga of the University of the Philippines placed No. 1 in the Bar Exams of 1930 with a grade of 89.4. She served as Senator of the Republic of the Philippines from 1963 to 1969. Cecilia Munoz-Palma (University of the Philippines) became the 2nd woman to place No. 1 in the Bar Exams in 1937 with a grade of 92.6. She later became the 1st woman Supreme Court Justice in 1973 and the 1st female President of a constitutional commission in 1986. Francisco Noel R. Fernandez (University of the Philippines) failed in the 1993 Bar Exams but placed No. 1 in the 1994 Bar Exams with a grade of 89.2.

1st woman to Top the Bar (1st Place):

2nd woman to Top the Bar (1st Place):

Bar Flunker who Placed 1st on his Second Take:

National Passing Percentage - Last 10 Years

National Passing Percentage - By Decade

Tenth (10th) Place Trending

This graph represents the Scores/Grades of the Tenth Placers of the last 10 years of Bar Exams. They are more or less the grades you need to be in the Top 10.

Schools With Two or More Bar Topnotchers (Since 1951)

Total 188 177 75 35 23 19 17 14 Law School Ateneo de Manila (AdeMU) University of the Philippines (UP) San Beda College (SBC) Far Eastern University (FEU) Manuel Luis Quezon University (MLQU) University of Santo Tomas (UST) University of the East (UE) University of San Carlos (USC) Average Grade 87.947 88.027 87.582 87.985 88.828 88.418 87.811 87.960

9 8 7 6 6 4 3 2 2 2 2

Lyceum of the Philippines (LP) University of Negros Occ. - Recoletos (UNO-R) University of San Agustin (USA) Silliman University (SU) University of the Cordilleras (formerly BCF) Ateneo de Davao University of Nueva Caseres (UNC) University of Manila (UM) Xavier University (XU) University of San Jose - Recoletos (USJ-R) University of the Visayas (UV)

87.572 88.075 87.729 88.183 87.142 88.250 87.900 93.150 88.138 86.223 85.725

Schools With 1 Bar Topnotcher Each

(Since 1951)
Law School University of Southern Philippines (USP) FLS Zamboanga Arturo Eustaquio Colleges (ZAEC) Adamson University University of Bohol (UB) Mindanao State University (MSU) University of St. La Salle (USLS) - Atty. Ralph A. Sarmiento Divine Word University (DWU) St. Louis University (SLU) University of Iloilo (UI) Luzon Colleges Dr. V. Orestes Romualdez Educational Foundation University of Cebu (UC) University of Perpetual Help - Rizal Arellano University Grade 93.200 89.850 89.350 87.450 87.450 87.000 86.825 86.650 86.205 86.000 85.800 85.700 85.550 85.300 85.275 Year 1954 1951 1978 1985 1968 1997 1997 1985 1988 1986 1961 2006 2006 2005 1993

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

16. San Sebastian College - Recoletos 17. Philippine Law School (PLS) 18. Bicol Colleges

84.825 84.700 84.649

2003 2005 2003

Highest & Lowest Grades

Highest 1st Place Grade of All Time

96.70 in 1954 by Florenz Regalado of San Beda College (SBC) 86.185 in 1989 by Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. of the University of the Philippines (UP) 93.00 in 1954 by Benjamin Paulino of University of the East (UE) 82.80 in 1963 by Antonio Abad, Jr. of Far Eastern University (FEU) 93.80 in 2001 by Rodolfo Ma. Ponferrada of the University of the Philippines (UP) 87.00 in 1992 by Jayme Sy, Jr. of Ateneo de Manila University 89.00 in 1996 by Edgar Bernal of the University of the Philippines (UP) 84.40 in 1992 by Angela Garcia of University of Negros Occidental - Recoletos (UNO-R) & Priscilla Valer of Ateneo de Manila University

Lowest 1st Place Grade of All Time Highest 10th Place Grade of All Time Lowest 10th Place Grade of All Time Highest 1st Place Grade in the last 15 years Lowest 1st Place Grade in the last 15 years Highest 10th Place Grade in the last 15 years Lowest 10th Place Grade in the last 15 years


Subjects & Schedules

The Bar Exam is divided into eight Bar Subjects spread over four Sundays. While the relative total weights of each of the four Sundays are equal, the eight Bar Subjects are not however of equal weight.
First Sunday: A.M.: Political Law & International Law P.M.: Labor Law & Social Legislation Total Second Sunday: - 15% - 10% - 25%

A.M.: Civil Law P.M.: Taxation Total Third Sunday: A.M.: Mercantile Law P.M.: Criminal Law Total Fourth Sunday: A.M.: Remedial Law P.M.: Legal Ethics & Practical Exercises Total

- 15% - 10% - 25% - 15% - 10% - 25% - 20% 5% - 25%

All morning subjects have higher weights compared to the afternoon subjects. Remedial Law is the heaviest at twenty percent (20%) and so it contributes significantly to whether you make it or not. Remedial Law can literally pull you up or down heavily. On the other hand, Legal Ethics & Practical Exercises carries the lightest weight (5%). However, this does not mean that you can take Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises for granted because even if your General Weighted Average is enough to land you in the Top 10, but if you get a Grade of lower than 50 in Legal Ethics, you still wont see you name in newspapers or in the Supreme Court website when the results are released.

Type of Questions
Bar Exam questions come in different types and forms. Most of the questions are essay problems and those that require theoretical discussions. However, notwithstanding the supposed policy against asking questions that require pure memorization, we still see a lot of objective-type questions, like definitions, distinctions, and enumerations. Objective-type questions should therefore be taken as part of Bar Exam realities, i.e., things that we cannot control and we just have to find a really good way of dealing with them, which, by the way, is one of the purposes of this book.

Time for Answering

You have four (4) hours for morning subjects, that is, from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, but only three (3) hours for afternoon subjects, i.e., from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. This is understandable because afternoon subjects carry a lesser weight compared to their morning counterparts. However, there appears to be no considerable difference in the length of the questionnaires for the morning and afternoon subjects. This means that you have to think, analyze, formulate, and write faster in the afternoon.

Things We Cannot Control

There are things that you can control and things that you cannot in the Bar Exam. The first technique therefore is to learn how to take advantage of things you can control and minimize, if

not totally prevent the adverse effects of things that you cannot control. For example, there is too much material to be covered in each subject and you do not know where the questions will come from. This is not within your control. But if we can only guess or anticipate where the questions will come from, it will make preparation a lot easier. This is done by looking back while looking forward.

Looking Back While Looking Forward

There is no better way to understand the nature of Bar Exam questions than by studying and examining past Bar Exams. You should closely study and analyze questions of the last ten (10) years at the least. Look for patterns, trends and repetitions. A good percentage of questions is repeated or recycled oftentimes with only slight modifications. These repeated questions or topics are favorites of Bar examiners, and since they are recycled, you have no excuse if you cannot answer them convincingly. But looking back is only half the secret, the other half is anticipation. No question in the Bar Exam should be a surprise, or worse, a shocker. Every question must be anticipated. Every issue must have a ready solution.

Why People Flunk the Bar?

It is said that one should have the three Ls to become a lawyer Logic, Language and Law. The first two Ls are supposed to be in ones arsenal even before entering law school, while the third L is learned in law school. Most of the reasons for flunking the Bar Exams are related to these three Ls. People who flunk have problems in one, in two or in all the three Ls. Logic problems come out in terms of misappreciation of the facts and the issues, poor analysis, faulty reasoning, unjustified conclusions, and the like. Language problems come in the form of grammatical errors, poorly structured sentences, misspelled words, and poor written communication skills. Law problems come in the form of ignorance of the law or legal principles implicated by the questions, poor understanding of the law, obsolete legal knowledge, and not knowing how to apply the law to the facts of the problem. Other reasons are illegible handwriting, inadequate preparations, health problems, and sometimes even emotional problems.

Preparation is the Key

Preparation is the key to success to success in the Bar Exam. But this is not just any kind of preparation. You must have a game plan and you should stick to it as if your entire life depends on it. The following are proven preparation tactics: Analyze your strong and weak subjects. Before you begin your intensive Bar Preparation and Review, you should know your strong and weak subjects. Evaluate your performance on each of the eight Bar subjects. Your transcript of law school records can give you a more or less objective evaluation of your performance. Examine your transcript of records and compute your grade average on each of the eight Bar subjects. This will give you an idea on what your strong and weak subjects are as evaluated and perceived by your law school professors. Consider this data when you allocate your review time on the Bar subjects. Consider the Weight of Each Bar Subject. Consider also the weight of each Bar subject as well as your own perceptions on their levels of difficulty in allocating your review time. More review time should be allocated to morning subjects, especially to Remedial Law, but make some adjustments on subjects that you perceive to be more difficult than the others. Check your armory. Conduct an inventory of your books and materials. Be sure you have all subjects and topics covered.

Study to Beat the Exam

Bar Review and preparation isnt law school anymore where you just sit down in long hours of lectures and wait for your turn to recite provisions of law and cases. You no longer study to survive the horrifying graded recitations. The Bar Exams is not only about what you have remembered or what you can recite. It tests more than mere memory and understanding. It tests your ability to analyze legal problems and to apply relevant laws and jurisprudence. Bar Exam Preparation is not just about studying to know the law and jurisprudence. It is not only about filling up your mind with legal knowledge. It is more about preparing your machine to use and apply all these legal knowledge that you have acquired.

Study Smartly, Not Just Hard

Bar review and preparation isnt really about studying hard and burning your machine too much. Note that there are only around fifteen to twenty numbers or problems in each subject. Hence, as a general rule, Bar Examiners will only choose topics which are important or relevant. Questions that are out of this world should not really pose much of a problem. They are rare and they are just icings on the cake.

Classify Legal Provisions

Since the Bar Examiners can only ask so much, therefore, the actual amount of legal knowledge that you need in each subject is pretty much limited. The secret here is to classify provisions of law into different categories. Example of categories are the following:

Class A very important provisions that should be mastered and memorized. Place in this category those provisions that have already been asked in the Bar at least five times. You will know this by studying past Bar Exam questions. Controversial provisions that have not yet been asked should also be placed in this category; Class B important provisions that should be mastered. Provisions that have already been asked repeatedly in Bar Exam should be included here; Class C relevant provisions that are the usual subjects of legal controversies and cases but which have not yet been the subject of a Bar question or which have not been the subject of a Bar question in the last five or ten years. Just study and understand these provisions; Class D Not so important or relevant provisions. This includes provisions that are not expected to be in the arsenal of new legal practitioners. They have not yet been the subject of a Bar Exam in the last century. More likely, they will never be asked in the next century or even in the next millennium of Bar Exams. However, you should still read them as part of your preparation, but if you lack time, they may be sacrificed in favor of those in Categories A, B and C. Dont worry, Im sure you have covered them in law school.

Practice, Practice, Practice.

The problem with many Bar takers is that they think they can hurdle the Bar Exam by simply attending Bar Reviews, listening to lecturers, and reading their materials. Well, that is a good way to prepare if the Bar Exam were only an exam on reading comprehension and listening. But the Bar Exam is more than that it is an essay exam! Even objective-type questions, like those asking for definitions, distinctions, or enumerations are all to be answered in essay form. Hence, there is only one effective way to prepare, that is, practice writing essays, good essays. The technique, therefore, is to acquire legal knowledge by listening to good review lectures and by studying your materials and then spend time to practice applying that legal knowledge by writing good essays.

Take Practice Test Under Exam Conditions

Law school exams usually take only about one to two hours. But have you already tested yourself using a full-length Bar Exam questionnaire in a full stretch of four hours or two Bar subjects for a total of seven hours in a single day? If not, then you are in for a big shock mentally and physically in the first Sunday of the Bar Exams. To avoid this shock, the secret is

to take Mock Bar Exams that simulate actual exam conditions. You reserve days for Mock Bar Exams. Simulate time allocations, ringing of the bell, completing the name card, inserting it inside the envelop stapled in the notebook, sealing the envelope, actual answering, reviewing your answers, etc. See if you your mind can stay active for the whole day, that is, from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. See if your writing hand and fingers can survive seven hours of punishment. See if you can manage answering without having to answer the call of nature. Evaluate your mental and physical readiness for this kind of exam.

Stick to Your Own Materials

Choose only one principal book per subject and be sure it is one of the books you have used in that subject while you were in law school. It must have your markings, highlightings, underlinings, and your notes and other jottings on the subject. But it doesnt mean that it will be your only book on the subject. You still have to quickly browse other books and materials and look for concepts, matters, or discussions that are not in your principal book you have chosen. Once you found anything of that sort, make marginal notes in your principal book. The tactic here is that during the pre-month (August), your principal book should already contain all you need in that subject.

To Memorize or Not, That is the Question

Attempting to memorize all the law available will make the exam frustrating and difficult. Besides, you wont have the time to actively and consciously memorize everything. Moreover, it is not really necessary for you to cite legal provisions, excerpts from cases or their titles verbatimly. In fact, restating a legal provision of concept in your own words will have more impact on the examiner because it exhibits profound understanding of legal provisions and concepts. But I am not saying that you should not memorize anything. As discussed above, you should limit memorization only to those provisions which you have classified as Class A. As to the others, you will be surprised that you may somehow remember them, even verbatimly to some extent, by simply studying and trying to understand them. Oftentimes, it is also through repetition, that is, by reading, reviewing, and re-reviewing that you will subconsciously commit legal provisions concepts to memory.

Stick to Codal Provisions

Never take codal provisions for granted. Bar Materials should always be studied in this order: (a) Codal Provisions; (b) Commentaries; and (c) Cases. These are the three Cs in the study of law. Codal provisions contain the text of the law per se. If you have only read the commentaries or the cases, but not the codes, how can you then write the Law provides that with confidence? You dont know the law or what it provides if you have not read the code. I am therefore surprised to meet many Bar Examinees who got the courage to take the Bar Exam without having read the text of the Constitution, the Labor Code, Civil Code, the Family Code, the Revised Penal Code, and the relevant provisions of the Code of Commerce, the Tax Code, Tariff and Customs Code, Court of Tax Appeals Act, and other key provisions. Well, you may

fool some Bar Examiners some of the time, but you cannot fool all Bar Examiners all the time. Worse, you may just be simply fooling yourselves.

Prepare Physically & Emotionally

The Bar Exam is not just about mental preparation. You might have prepared your mind for it pretty well but if your body bugs down, then all your preparation will come to naught. Keep a healthy lifestyle throughout the review period and the Bar Exam month. Get enough sleep. Eat nourishing meals. Exercise to keep your body and mind sharp. You should also keep away from all kinds of emotional problems. Most of these problems may be avoided if only the persons close to you understand what you are going through in preparing for and in taking the Bar Exams. One tactic here is to write love letters to your spouse, fiance, fianc, parents, kids, relatives, friends, and your enemies (?) and explain to them what you will be undergoing, its importance to you and to them, that you can no longer spend the same number of hours with them as before, that they should spare you from text messaging, chain emails, and errands that could be done by other persons. Ask for their understanding and support, morally and financially if you need to or beg for it if you have to.

Avoid radical changes in your personal relationships

Avoid radical changes in your personal relationships during the review period and the Bar Exam month. If you still have no boy friend or girl friend, then avoid the temptation of wooing one during this period. You cannot afford heartaches during this period. Do not marry. Do not break up or cool off with your boy friend or girl friend. Do not separate with your spouse. If they want to, beg if you must but things like these just have to be postponed after you shall have finished taking the exam. If your mind starts to wander and you begin to lose focus on your preparations because of anxiety, worry, grief, and other personal and family problems that you could not have avoided like losing a loved one or critical illness in the family, always try to reclaim your mind and channel your energy to your preparations. God forbids, but if you lose a loved one during this period, then let him or her serve as your inspiration. Take the Bar Exam for him or her. To see you fail in the Bar Exam is the last thing your loved one wants to see if he or she were still alive. Worse, you lost focus in your preparation and review because of him or her.

Have you already counted how many days you still have before the first Sunday of the Bar Exam? If not, then try to count the days remaining and keep a countdown in a conspicuous area in the place where you will be staying during the review period. I suggest you use a chalk and an eraser and keep a countdown on your bedroom door. Every time you get up in the morning, deduct one day from this countdown and it will give you a sense of urgency in your preparation, as well as a sense of guilt every time a day passes and you have not really studied anything.

Things to Bring

Notice of Admission Identification Card Sign Pens Tissue Paper Emergency Medicines Books & Notes Lunch & Snacks

The Ten Commandments

in Answering Bar Exam Questions

by Atty. Ralph A. Sarmiento

I. Thou shall not abandon your common sense. II. Thou shall leave your personal biases at home. III. Thou shall answer only what is being asked. IV. Thou shall not invent facts. V. Thou shall write legibly and clearly. VI. Thou shall not write unduly long answers. VII. Thou shall not brag about your legal knowledge. VIII. Thou shall not criticize the problem. IX. Thou shall always state the legal basis of your answer. X. Thou shall not make an unjustified conclusion.



This should be the jumping board to psyche up for the momentous task ahead. Even this preliminary would need careful planning. But more than the efficiency factor, its better to be effective, therefore, always plan your trip around the pragmatic horizon.

1. Brief. - Bring only things you really truly honestly need for the preweek. Never overload. Prepare for a to-each-his-own scenario in the airport or port. You should never assume that someone would be there to meet and help you carry your luggage. Also, its good to trim down your materials to the most basic ones. You wont have time to go over annotated books during the bar month. Go for codals instead and maybe reviewers and answers to bar questions. Also, outlines and notes will do. In this way, you will be constrained to limit yourself to these materials and avoid spreading yourself out too thin. 2. Family Home. Be it airline or vessel reservations and lodging places, be sure to confirm your
billeting. Make sure the landlady or the manager of the condo or dorm personally confirms your reservation. Dont be hesitant to ask about amenities and furnishings. The last thing you will need during the entire bar month is an uncomfortable lodging place.

3. Grace Period. Schedule your departure for Manila around a practical and comfortable
time. Calculate the number of days you will need to process your permit and visit the Bar Confidants Office among other things. Also, allow yourself reasonable time/days for settling into your new place. You will need at least a week to allow the place to grow on you so that you will not shock your system and risk having to adjust yourself within the bar month. Pre-week reviews may help.

4. Bill of Particulars. Be sure everything is complete for the processing of your bar permits. 5.


Ask around and confirm the completion of the requirements before leaving forManila. Inquire at the Bar Confidants Office from time to time. Adjust your body clock. Months before the Bar, make sure you train yourself to wake up at 5 am and stay wide awake and alert till 5 pm. This will simulate the examination schedule. Also train yourself to eat a fast but full lunch. This will require a very good technique. Lastly, as a very popular reviewer would suggest, run the marathon. Practice answering Bar questions using the exact same sign pen you will use during the bar within the exact bar examination time. That is 8am-12pm and 2pm-5pm. This will train your hands to write continuously for 4 hours. Support Pendente Lite. Take your vitamins, eat healthy, and drink lots of water. Never forget physical activities, you need that to keep your brain running smoothly too. If you have to try some new supplements, do so months before the bar so that you can monitor your bodys response.

Of course, you should have imbibed the 4Ls (law, logic, language, legible handwriting) in your system by now.


This day should not be taken lightly for it is as nerve-racking as the first Sunday itself, especially for first time bar takers. The fear of the unknown will occupy position number one. Be weary of possible apparitions courtesy of early childhood traumas and fixations. You can never tell

1. Do lots of calming exercises. Panic attacks and anxieties will be in overload on this day. Be sure to catch yourself and not waste your energy on useless worries. Pray a lot. 2. If possible, visit DLSU and find your assigned building. Familiarize yourself with the place and go through the anticipated routine. This will at least ease your nerves at some level. Knowing thy enemy is winning half the battle 3. Limit your review to codals. Pace yourself and do not overdo it. You are already expected to be finished with deep studying during the past 5 days or so. This is the time to relax a bit. 4. Attend the Bar Ops mass. You will need Gods blessing as well as a break from studying. Fresh air outside the four walls of your condo or dorm will do you a lot of good. It will clear your head. Also, this is the time to break away from the monotony of legal provisions and indulge your weary brain in some good old tsismis of whats and whos. 5. Savor the fellowship and the moral support given to you by your well wishers. They will be overflowing during the first Sunday but you will sorely miss the action after they abruptly become invisible during the 2nd and 3rd weeks. So get a load of them while they are still there. 6. Call or talk to someone who inspires you. 7. TRY to get enough rest. (or sleep if youre one of those who can)


THE first Sunday is the height of the pendulum. In the rollercoaster play of emotions that Bar takers would surely experience this whole month, the first Sunday will be the peak.

1. Ab Initio. - You should have set your alarm clocks the night before to make sure you dont over sleep. Literally jump out of bed and do some physical movements and stretching. Read tips if you have, to rouse your sleepy brain. Just read, dont study them. More importantly, welcome the day like a meeting with an old lost dear friend. The Bar is not something to conquer. Befriend it. 2. Pace yourself. Give enough time and provide for personal necessities. Re check things to bring and make sure you dont forget your permit and pens. Survival kit is essential. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. (its advisable to make and keep a list according to your individual needs) 3. Damages. - Instead of tagip-TIPS, rely on your personal preparation. Yes, you cynics! YOU CAN PASS THE BAR WITHOUT THOSE TIPS. Need testimonials? You wont need to look very far. 4. Subpoena. - Call someone who inspires you. 5. Summons. - Call your family.


Nuisance. - Dress for success and enjoy the La Salle cheering squad awaiting you alongTaft Ave. Dont skip the parade. Your Bar experience would not be complete without it.

The make or break nature of this examination is not debatable but the good news is, we have the opportunity to make it lean more on the make side. Of course, it is expected that you have done your share of studying and preparation. This is the moment of truth.

1. Remember your 4Ls. 2. Be conscious of the time but dont let it get the better of you. 3. Calculate the minutes you would want to spend on a question to make sure you finish on time. 4. Remember the techniques in formulating your answer. The pyramid or the inverted pyramid will be very helpful. 5. Call to mind that the MOST minutes an examiner would spend on your booklet is 10. MAKE SURE HE GETS WHAT YOU MEAN IN TEN MINUTES. IM TALKING ABOUT ALL 20 QUESTIONS. TEN MINUTES. 6. PRAY. 7. Think of someone who inspires you.


This is still crucial and you cant let your guard down just yet. The days in between will need genius planning and technique because you cant waste a single day and lose it to an ill-prepared schedule. Remember, every minute counts. Smart studying is the key.

1. Destierro. - However, Mondays should be reserved for recreation and insanity. Off limits to books and review materials. Go out. You have the best excuse to have the audacity to indulge your most sinful desires and go zany. Just make sure you stay within the limits. Go malling, eat out or do something insane as a release. Just make sure you dont tarnish La Salles immaculate reputation by doing something foolhardy. Use sound discretion, after all, we are all of legal age. 2. Motion to Dismiss. - Do things that are not related to the bar. In a word, Un-law it! 3. ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS: Berate yourself if you feel that you want to give in to your penchant for discussing answers. NEVER DISCUSS ANSWERS OR TALK ABOUT THE PAST EXAM. Consider it fait accompli, moot and academic. Youve done your part. Get over it. It will help ease your nerves, as in nerbiyos.

4. Contract of Adhesion. - Tuesday onwards, back to serious business. Study, Study, Study but pace yourself. Prioritize subjects but rest when your body calls for it. Smart studying is the key. Dont just study everything randomly. Chose more important topics to dwell on and disregard likely insignificant ones. Trust your instincts. See the forest and not the trees as one of our professors would say. 5. Postponement. - And if you lose the passion, pause for a while and think of the reason why you are here in the first place. 6. Subpoena. - Call someone who inspires you.

For those who will have roommates, getting through the bar month in good spirits is one mean feat. The pressure is there and it can get into everyone at one point or another. Here are a few tips:

1. Respect each others space. 2. Always remember that you are all going through the same thing. You are a motley crew stashed away in one bedlam. 3. Dont over react. 4. When you find yourself in tense situations, think happy thoughts. 5. Practice the art of compromise. 6. On money issues: Lay cards on the table. Dont hesitate to discuss and keep a list of expenses. 7. Accommodate quirks and idiosyncrasies. 8. Do at least one good thing for a roommate a day. 9. Be sensitive to the needs of others. 10. Be considerate. 11. Have some bonding time with roommates. Anticipate differences in opinions and attitudes. Upbringings and family backgrounds are enlightening. Different strokes for different folks. 12. Dont take things too seriously. 13. Be honest with your feelings but be open to suggestions. 14. Enjoy the experience. 15. Remember : The Bar will only be a month. You still have a lifetime of friendship to share together.

Getting Through the Rest of the Week

By the third week, you will feel the gradual but very pronounced loss of excitement, enthusiasm and energy. The enemy at this point? Giving in to self-pity and defeat because of the toll the bar brings physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. But hold on, dear Bar taker, just the fact that you have come to this point only tells you one thing. You are here because you deserve it. Youve earned it. Now is the worst time to give up. Heres a little inspiration : you can never tell how close you are; it may be near when it seems afar; so stick to the fight when youre hardest hit; its when things go rough that you must not quit. Sustain your buoyancy. Keep floating.

Nothing beats preparation and passion but after all is said and done, you will walk out of La Salles gate soaked in beer feeling proud of yourself. Youve gotten through the bar in one piece. It will be hard but you have to admit, it will also have its moments. Physically and emotionally, it will be a growing experience and not many people have the opportunity to claim that. That will constitute your BRAGGING RIGHTS.

Enjoy! Treat yourself. You deserve it. But before you go paint the town red, dont forget to pay your courtesy calls. Give out your thank you cards. Gratitude is never an outmoded virtue.



Contributed by:

Atty. Glenn M. Mortel


"There is nothing that can help a bar examinee most than a constant and intensive study of the provisions of the various codes and the interpretation and application thereof by the Supreme Court in its decisions. By study is meant, that the provisions must be correctly understood and the thought or words thereof put to memory. After a chapter, for example, has been studied, the next one should be studied next, and after this, a review of all that has already been studied rereviewed, to keep the subject matter and the provisions fresh in mind." - Alejo Labrador

1. Actual preparation for the bar examination starts from the first day a law student
attended class during the first year in the law school.

2. The blooming secret in passing the bar examination is this: Present good answers that
will make the examiners take notice. Good answers anchored upon logical reasoning, written in readable English and more importantly, justified by appropriate legal authority. 3. If the candidates are at a loss as to what specific legal provisions or case doctrines to use in answering problems, the only alternative left for them is to use their own common sense. 4. The key to passing the bar examinations is contained in one word: ARTICULATION. Articulation is expressive of the following basic fundamentals: good language, impressive presentation, logical reasoning and substantial background knowledge of law and procedure. 5. The examinee who has a fairly good command of English, assuming that he is prepared in all other matters, stands definitely with a much better chance of passing.

6. The responsive character of a given answer would depend to a great extent, on

command of good language, logical reasoning and impressive presentation. This objective of preparing impressive and responsive answers can only be achieved by constant practice. 7. Get this straight right now. Passing the bar examination has been, still is, and will always be a difficult proposition! 8. No one can really help you pass the bar examination but yourself. 9. The greatest blooming secret of passing the bar examination is and will always be: PREPARATION! Not just any kind of preparation, but proper, sound and systematic preparation. 10. Systematic review can only be done by the use of what we call scheduleswhich the candidate must follow vigorously to the letter if he expects to attain the best results. 11. There will be times when you become sleepy while reviewing but never for one moment, tell yourself: Man, this review can wait! Do not be stupid. Always remind yourself that time is of the essence and is decidedly running too short for you. 12. Force yourself to read, understand and absorb what law you reviewed. Otherwise, all your efforts will go to waste. 13. Love and review cannot mix in the business of preparing for the bar examination. 14. Early to bed, early to rise, that is the way to make a man healthy, wealthy and wise. 15. A morning shower is a must. 16. Never stay up late to the wee hours of morning, cramming law into your head. This would not do you any good. Remember, you have to conserve as much energy as you possibly can. 17. Remember, keeping your health in good running condition is just as important as reviewing and passing the bar examination. 18. Good handwriting is decidedly a great factor in passing the bar examination. 19. To beat time, never write kilometric answers. 20. By far the most important tool that the bar candidate could equip himself with which to tackle the examination that is inherently personal to him iscommand of written English. 21. You have to write simple, grammatically correct English if you want to hurdle the examination. 22. Presentation of answers that are not only good but logical, full of substance and supported by law and other authorities, are gems to the examiner, whether he has a good or black heart. 23. Make your motto now: Stick to codal provisions! Compliment this with doctrines laid down in recent decisions of the Supreme Court. 24. Impressive answers showing the candidates reasoning faculty is what the examiners want to read in your examination notebooks. 25. Ability to retain your understanding of the substance of the law through efforts of study is more desirable quality to possess than mere ability to memorize legal provisions. 26. Memorizing a particular provision of law word for word but without understanding it and its various implications is a lot of wasted effort. 27. Never fail to read the newspapers when you are preparing for the bar examination. Read newspapers from 20 to 30 minutes every day. 28. You can never expect to pass the bar examination without preparation. 29. Predicting probable questions based on important principles or provisions of law is the safer method of speculating what the examiners are likely to ask in their examinations.

30. Never depend on tips for your passing. But never brush these tips aside as nothing but
trash. They may likely cause your downfall. Never, however, bank too much on them. 31. Cheating is one sure way to endanger your future career as a prospective member of the legal profession. Never commit such atrocious act like cheating in the bar examination. It never pays. Depend on your own capabilities. Fight your battle royale on a high plane! 32. Fountain or sign pens are really the most important equipment in bar examination. Never start for the examination without bringing along with youtwo or more fountain or sign pens. 33. Like the weather, examiners are absolutely a bunch of unpredictable fellows, capable of asking unpredictable questions. 34. Do not try to memorize 50 definitions or distinctions in any given time. Two or three will do. 35. The real secret in remembering the matters contained in an enumeration is the use of keywords. Make your keywords on enumerations you consider important. 36. Never leave a blank in an enumeration! However, if you use the letters a, b, c, etc. for numbers in the enumeration, so much the better. Ten to one, the examiner may not count his fingers. Make the first four in the enumeration definitely good. 37. The bar candidate should do well to be always on guard against catchy questions capable of being answered in a number of ways, e.g. What is a complaint? The perfect answer should include both definitions in criminal and civil procedure. 38. Never be content to answer questions with a mere yes or no. You must, at all times, give justification why your answer is a yes or no. Unless, of course, the examiner qualifies his question with instruction enclosed in parenthesis like: (Answer with a yes or no only). 39. Always determine the real facts (examiners have the bad habit of including irrelevant facts to confuse you) and the issue or issues in controversy. Which side you take, always justify your side with reasons based on law, rule, equity and justice. Whatever your answer may be, provided it is written in legible language, the examiner will never deny you the corresponding credit you deserve. 40. Always remember, make efforts to frame your answers so that they areresponsive to the questions. Never beat around the bush. Go right straight ahead with your answer. Avoid citations if and when you are notabsolutely sure about them. The shorter the answers are, the more direct, the better. Avoid display of flowery expressions which are complicated by legal verbosity. All you need are sensible, direct and reasonable answers that are responsive to the questions. 41. Legal knowledge is not enough to solve a particular legal issue. What is important is ability to apply this knowledge to the solution of legal controversies. 42. The most convenient method of tackling problem questions is to present immediately the conclusion of a given answer. Practice, practice, constant practice will help the bar candidate write good answers that examiners will give favorable credit. 43. The technique of writing down answers responsive to questions is a matter that the candidate must learn as a matter of imperative necessity. 44. Brevity and directness when done properly could make an answer both effective and impressive. However, when overdone to a point where the ideas sought to be conveyed becomes vague and difficult to understand, they become a liability. 45. Never forget that every candidate is a potential bar topnotcher. 46. So, if you are a candidate just preparing for the bar examination, whose chances of passing are quite problematical, just limit your ambition for the present to just working hard to obtain a 75 percent in the great battle of your life.

47. Take comfort in this: That even those who become lawyers by "just luck", are making
good in the practice of law. Nothing can really put a determined man down. 48. In your preparation for the greatest battle of your life, call upon Him who is the source of all knowledge, wisdom and understanding. In deep humility, bended knees and tears, He will make all things beautiful in His time. Victory belongs to the most persevering!

49. HARD


50. An Interview with Dean Jovito Salonga 51. Contributed by: 52. Atty. Glenn M. Mortel 53. (
54. 55. HARD WORK! - This, in a nutshell, is Dean Jovito Salonga's formula of passing the bar examination.

56. Dean Salonga stressed the need for the candidate to determine for himself a definite goal - an objective, to which he must train his guns from his first year in college up to the time he finally tackles the bar examination, if he expects to achieve success. 57. The youngest of law deans ever to assume such distinctive office in this country, said that passing the bar is a hard job and, therefore, it requiresthorough preparation. 58. He discussed at length the various factors which, in his experience, had helped him tremendously in preparing for the bar examinations. 59. The first factor: DETERMINATION. 60. The bar candidate, he explained, must have the spirit and the will to emerge triumphant in the great task of attaining his definite objective. 61. The young educator recalled that when he took up the study of the law from his freshman year at the state university, he had always nurtured in himself the secret ambition of topping the bar examination if and when he takes it. Of course, he admitted, he never deviated from his objective. 62. At the same time he confided that while he had this great ambition within himself, he never breathed it to any soul, much less to the girl of his dreams at the time. 63. A smile crept over his face, a smile that outshone his youthful countenance. You see, he explained, there were possibilities of failure. No one can really tell whether he can pass the examination, much less be certain that he will top it. 64. Imagine the embarrassment to which I might have exposed myself if I really told the whole world then of my great ambition and never made it? he said. 65. Remember, the possibilities are equally great for success as well as failure. Nevertheless, it is always good to dream of great ambitions. And particularly so when you realize any of them eventually. 66. The second factor: Hard work of preparation. 67. The main bulk of Dean Salonga's preparations centered on the writing of review notes on all bar subjects since he was a freshman law student. 68. This great task, he recalled, contributed very greatly to his attaining an impressive foundation of knowledge in all bar subjects. Preparation such as this one provides the student self-confidence to face the examination without fear.

69. The third factor: Extensive reading of every and all conceivable printed matter, be they cultural, philosophical or otherwise. 70. The idea here, the dean explained, is to attain not only a broad cultural background knowledge but also a better facility and ability for selfexpression. Another advantage of extensive reading is discipline. Discipline, he said, such as enables one to absorb what one reads. 71. The fourth factor: Fifteen minutes of daily morning meditation. Withprayers, if you will. 72. Dean Salonga always had this morning meditation. This enabled him to go over mentally the various points covered in the review he made the previous day. More than this, it gave him an opportunity to make the brain rest after a long and tedious dreary reading. 73. The last factor: Group discussion. 74. Dean Salonga said group discussions, particularly over matters under review, gives the candidate an idea exactly where his weak point lies. In this case, he will have an opportunity to take remedial measures to save the situation. 75. Moreover, he added, group discussion will afford the candidate a better understanding of the law which he may have before then, merely but passing knowledge. 76. Dean Salonga does not believe in requiring students to memorize the law word for word as is being required by majority of professors in the different colleges. 77. We must do everything to liberate ourselves from the shackles of memory work, and more definite emphasis on the understanding of the law from its philosophical and economic standpoints, and above all, knowledge and ability to apply them in our lives. 78. And what does he think about the so-called textbooks sold profitably in the market and used intensively in the law colleges? 79. Dean Salonga shook his head. Many of them in his opinions are no textbooks at all by any given standards, never fit to be used in the law colleges. 80. The dean maintains the view that many of these so-called "textbooks" are written by what he calls properly as scissors and clipping authors who do nothing but copy and quote materials after materials here and there from numerous works written by authors no better than they. 81. They piece all these clippings together and publish them later to pass the same as "textbooks". Any high school graduate with ability for research, capacity to cut clippings can do just as well in the preparation of similar "textbooks". 82. As a parting word to the bar candidate, Dean Salonga has this to say: 83. "Never forget that preparation is the thing that he must have to fight his battle, the bar examination."



85. An Interview with Dean Vicente Abad Santos 86. Contributed by: 87. Atty. Glenn M. Mortel 88. (

89. No matter how disappointed you may be with your answers to questions on the first day
of the bar examination, you should never make the unpardonable mistake ofquitting. 90. This valuable piece of advice from former Dean Vicente Abad Santos of the College of Law, University of the Philippines, is addressed to all bar candidates, present or future. 91. The UP law dean, the youngest to occupy this distinguished position in the state university, cited the cases of some UP law graduates who quit after the first day of the examination because they thought their answers were no good. 92. Only the examiners can determine this, he pointed out. 93. Preparations should not begin after graduation but on the first day the candidate enters his freshman year in the law school. 94. What did he do after graduation day? 95. Dean Abad Santos immediately went on a two-week vacation from his codes and textbooks. The idea here, he explained, is to relax both mind and body in preparation for the review during the months prior to the actual examination day. This, according to him, will enable the candidate to conserve as much energy for the grind that is to follow so that on the first day of the examination, he will not be exhausted and confused. 96. He recommends no hard and fast rules on schedules with respect to the review of the eight subjects given in the bar examination. 97. First, the UP law dean suggests, the candidate should go on leave from work if he belongs to the working gentry. 98. The review should be made easy the first three months after graduation, one subject after another, he said. This review will be intensified only during the month prior to the examination. 99. Dean Abad Santos has no objection if the candidate should go to a movie the afternoon prior to the actual examination day. He also suggests that the candidate should sleep early so that when he wakes up the following day, he feels fresh and ready for the battle. 100. After any given examination, the candidate should never worry about his answers any longer, the UP law dean said. After all, there is nothing he could do about changing them. Rather, he should worry about the next examination. 101. Another advice Dean Abad Santos wants to pass on to bar candidates is that they should never leave any question unanswered. 102. If they are at a loss as to what specific legal provisions or doctrine to use in answering problems, the only alternative left for them is to use their own common sense.

103. 104. 105.


An Interview with Dean Ricardo Lacson

106. Contributed by: 107. Atty. Glenn M. Mortel 108. (


With the best of spirits, the bar candidate should enter the examination roomconfident that he will not only pass it, but pass it he would with flying colors. 110. Thus declared former Dean Ricardo Lacson of the Philippine Law School. 111. As a matter of fact, the candidate should have had this confidence from the first moment he entered his freshman class in the law school.


Dean Lacson passed the bar the following year Manuel Roxas topped the examination in 1913. 113. He discussed the different factors that, in his opinion based on his experience, have helped him in preparing for the examination. 114. The first factor: SERIOUS PREPARATION. 115. Dean Lacson stressed the importance of beginning bar preparation from the candidate's first day in the freshman year. 116. The trouble with students, they never take seriously their preparations while still in the law school. Many of them only begin to study law for the first time during pre-bar review classes after their graduation. 117. Cognizant of the very little time he has in his hands, the candidate now adopts measures that will enable him to stay late in the nights during the four or five months of preparation. 118. What happens? 119. The candidate has to resort to the taking of all conceivable medicine to make him stay awake practically all nights, Dean Lacson said. Added to this, he also takes plenty of coffee. Little does he realize the fact that these measures are very injurious to his health. 120. And they think by staying awake all nights they can cover grounds which, even in classroom work, they can never expect to cover, Dean Lacson pointed out. The result is that next morning when they wake up, their minds are all tired, less able to absorb what they read the night before. 121. Another factor that the candidate should consider as an important equipment to enable him to pass the bar examination is command of language. 122. In my time, Dean Lacson said, my reading of the law, the decisions of the court, has helped me a great deal in acquiring a better command of language, an indispensable factor in writing impressive answers. 123. Relative to the manner of answering bar questions, the PLS dean has this to say: 124. The candidate must read the questions very carefully before attempting to write down his answers. He has to make sure he understands what the questions really call for. 125. The next step is to find out how many questions are asked. Having determined this, he must apportion the time available in his hands proportionately to the number of questions. 126. The dean turned his attention to the biggest mistake that the candidates always commit in answering questions. 127. The examinees spend too much time on those questions they know so well and the net result is that they finally realize they have very little time left for the other problems. 128. Why do most students have faulty preparation in school? 129. Faulty method of instructions. Dean Lacson explained that most professors teach only as a sideline and therefore find little time to prepare. They ought to spend as much time or even more, in improving their teaching methods that the students could benefit much from them. 130. Sometimes, Dean Lacson complained, the professors don't even know how to conduct their respective classes. Consequently, this contributes to the sad state of affairs relative to the training of students. Some of these professors do not even show their students that they know at least something about their subject matter.


In this way, he said, the students never learn anymore than what their professors know about their respective subject matters. 132. The remedy? 133. We expect to get good professors, of course, the dean said, those who really have the ability to impart legal knowledge. We are always willing to receive suggestions from others how to improve our method of instructions.

134. 135. 136.

137. 138. 139.
Contributed by:

An Interview with Dean Teodorico Martin

Atty. Glenn M. Mortel

140. Judicious selection of materials for review purposes is a matter of extreme necessity to the bar candidate, according to former Dean Teodorico C. Martin of the College of Law, San Sebastian College. 141. In justification of this statement, Dean Martin cited his review efforts for the 1936 bar examination where he copped the 7th spot among the first 10 top places that year. 142. I am citing my own efforts as a warning to the future bar candidates so that they will not commit the same mistakes I made in my time, he said. 143. Immediately after graduation, Dean Martin recalled not without regretful remembrance, he secured all the available notes and books used during his undergraduate days and started his review preparation in earnest. 144. After three months of intensive reading and study trying vainly to grasp all those matters contained in his piles of notes and books, he came upon the realization that he never completed reviewing a single subject. 145. Imagine my consternation when I realized that I had only one month more to review and there were eight bar subjects to tackle! he recalled with vivid clarity. 146. He took a stock of the situation and immediately prepared a schedule that would enable him to complete his preparations for one month! 147. So he had to force himself to review two subjects in the short span of four days, a procedure that consequently reduced his mental efficiency. 148. The bar candidate, Dean Martin said, should use only standard textbooks for review and avoid reading notes all full of unnecessary details and useless explanations that can only produce mental confusion in his already confused mind. 149. Despite his defective review efforts, what enabled Dean Martin to obtain very high rating? 150. Good background knowledge acquired during four years of college training, particularly in the eight bar subjects given in the examination, he explained. 151. Other suggestions for the bar candidates that Dean Martin recommends include efforts directed toward having a balance diet, proper apportioning of timeavailable when actually answering bar questions, boarding with three or four candidates in a dormitory or a secluded house and providing themselves withreview notebooks. 152. Having a balance diet during this rigorous period of preparation is a matter which candidates always overlook, he said. This time they should have nourishing food, to enable them to to build up body energies that are fast getting worn out from terrific use. 153. Proper apportionment of time when answering questions will enable the candidate to tackle all by not making the mistake of using too much time on a few at the expense of others.

154. Living in a house with three or four other candidates has undeniable advantages, according to Dean Martin. Here, they are afforded with the maximum quiet that augers well for concentrated study and review. 155. It is impossible to review at home, particularly when there are children, he pointed out. The demands of family living, family chores and problems unduly disrupt concentration. 156. Moreover, living with other companions, the bar candidate will be able to discussand exchange notes with them on matters that need clarification, he said. 157. Dean Martin's last recommendation is the need for the candidate to provide himself with review notebooks for all bar subjects where he could jot down important provisions of law under each and leading decisions of the Supreme Court interpreting these legal provisions.


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