Bar Ops Technique
BAR OPS TECHNIQUE - Tips to get law student and graduate somwhere. This is a "pay-it-forward" article. It help...
BAR OPS TECHNIQUE Topics: Special advance Bar review Studying Remedial Law Effective Bar preparation methods Dean Willard B. Riano's take on the Bar exam How to combat procrastination How to Deal with the Approaching Bar Exam Spend less time studying Simple Words and Phrases Law's Archaic Language Memorizing key provisions of the law Review proper Preliminaries Recommended Books Mozart and Enya Studying, my way True or False Technique Less is More Top Ten Tips for Taking the Bar Exam Two Tips for Getting Best Results from Bar Exam Study Time Study approaches Context of the law Burning out?! Bar Study and Exam Tips
SPECIAL ADVANCE BAR REVIEW I read in the newspaper today that a tutorial center based in Cebu City is offering a Special Advance Bar Review from November 20, 2009 to January 31, 2010, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Featured lecturers are Dean Vincent Albano (Remedial Law, Civil Law, Political Law and Legal Ethics), Dean Eduardo Abella (Commercial Law), Dean Abelardo Estrada (Criminal Law), Prof. Benedict Guirey Kato (Labor Law) and Prof. Jason R. Barlis (Taxation Law). The venue will be at the Richmond Plaza Hotel, F. Sotto Drive, Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City. Enrollment fee is P8,500.00 with 10% discount for those who will enroll on or before November 16. Contact numbers, in case you need further information, are (032) 267-7244, 09324837047. If you know other advance review lectures, please share the information with us through the "comments" section.
I think advance review sessions are useful to those non-full-time law students or Bar reviewees who need to firm up or consolidate their knowledge of the law since they didn't have the luxury of focusing on their studies due to their main jobs or preoccupations. But this should only supplement, not substitute, the regular formal or self-review nearer to the Bar exam month. The mind remembers best that which is recently learned or observed. STUDYING REMEDIAL LAW It happened that after reading for comprehension and understanding the Rules of Court, I always ended up forgetting even the most basic rules of procedure. This is perhaps because Remedial Law is a very technical subject. You have to correlate the rules and not just read them by section. Also, you must have a skeletal or outline mastery of the Rules before even trying to deal with its complexities. That is my new approach now and I hope it will work. I take a reviewer of Remedial Law (which already correlates the rules, though the sequence is still by rules) and then write in my elementary notebook (to simulate Bar exam writing and polish my penmanship) the basic principles, concepts and rationales in each rule. The goal is to acquire a fundamental working knowledge of the law such that when you are asked for advice by a layman, you can adequately respond and offer a cursory remedy to his legal problem pertaining to this subject. This way I don't have to waste time reading and re-reading the rules and then forgetting them the next week. Once I've mastered the basic concepts and general rules, then I could easily tackle the exceptions and it technical complexities at the appropriate time. This should work for me and I hope for you too. EFFECTIVE BAR PREPARATION METHODS (Editor's Note: This was written in 2009. Please make the proper adjustments for the 2012 format of the exams.) How to prepare for the Bar; effective Bar review methods; how to top the Bar; easy ways to pass the Bar - there are many ways you can call it but there is only one goal: To obtain the license to
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practice law in the Philippines. Here are some pertinent portions of Atty. Abelardo T. Domondon's lecture recently. These are what I took note of or interpreted/restated as accurately as I can. However there are still important portions that I skipped. For a complete discussion, you may buy his book "Effective Bar Review Methods" sold by Primus. "Be a Bar topnotcher. Challenges that Bar examinees may face: communication skills, handwriting, poor English, defective logic, carelessness, inadequate preparation. There is no relation at all in the grades in law school and your chances to top the Bar. Know your enemy. New ball game each year. Also take note of new rules, like: designation of two examiners per subject. Prepare your petition papers early. July is already a late period to prepare them. You don't have to read all the cases. Read only the landmark cases.
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Reading speed is 3 minutes per page including comprehension and understanding. There are 10,000 pages you have to read. Need for speed. Test your speed (read his book on how to do this). If you make it easy for the examiner to check your notebook, he'll repay you with a high grade. Physical resources: Get a thorough physical exam, especially an eye exam. You would be putting your eyes to extreme strain during the review period. Review materials: Better that you use your old books; they are like old friends. Review supplies: I don't recommend yellowpads and reading from the computer. Use 5" x 8" index cards for your notes as they could easily be inserted and are portable. Audio recorders are a waste of time and money if you don't pay attention to the lecture because you're thinking that you're recording it anyway. Financial resources: Save. Borrow. Beg. The bottomline: You should no longer worry about money because it will distract you from your review.
Pay attention to: knowledge, recollection, communication, and speed.
Review school: Look for the lecturers in choosing a good review school. Be aware of those brilliant or star lecturers who will just put you to sleep.
Be very careful in the afternoon because the alloted time is lesser.
Sometimes, the daily review lectures can be a waste of time.
Write fast. Write legibly. Three short sentences, except in enumerations and distinctions.
Stabilize your EQ.
Gather all the codals.
What is the impact of the two-examiner rule? The 3-sentence rule may no longer be applicable because the examiner will have more time to evaluate your booklet and analyze your answers.
Rest on Sunday. Adhere to your daily review schedule as if your life depends on it.
Are you ready to review for the Bar? You need a plan, to determine your SWOT.
Reading everything would lead you to perdition. Be selective on where to focus on. Because even if you read everything, you cannot remember them all.
You only have 114 days left between April 20 to August 29, 2009.
You can recall if you need to, and if you want to. Have a strong motivation to remember.
You need a minimum of P50,000 for the review.
You must limit the materials that you have to master.
You only have a max of 7 reading hours a day.
It is motivation that allows you to concentrate.
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Read one section at a time before marking. Bring your book during lectures so that you can mark appropriate portions related to the lecture. Have your own mock Bar exams. Read the area covered by the lecture prior to the lecture. Be well rested when you attend lectures. Otherwise, you'll end up sleeping in the comfortable, airconditioned environment of the lecture hall. A wrap-up review will help. Pre-week is for psychological preparations. Exam Days: War zone is still in La Salle, not in UE as earlier rumored. An answer is complete if it cannot anymore be subjected to the question "Why". Always look at the rationale behind every law or provision. It is always the fear of the unknown that is difficult to surmount. Kaya ninyo 'yan!" DEAN WILLARD B. RIANO'S TAKE ON THE BAR EXAM In the Preface of his 2006 book "Evidence: A Restatement of the Bar," Dean Willard B. Riano gave an insightful view on how the Bar exam may be regarded. "This work is anchored on the practical principle that a bar candidate does not have to know everything on each bar subject. It is not a requirement to pass the bar. It will never be. Also, the breadth and scope of bar examination topics yield to the conclusion that a profound knowledge of every nook and cranny of each bar principle is next to impossible." I was planning to buy his two books on the rules of court last week but I was only able to get one on Evidence since the other one on Civil Procedure was out of stock. I highly recommend Dean Riano's books to law students and Bar reviewees.
HOW TO COMBAT PROCRASTINATION
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After months of preparation for the Bar exam, you may find yourself feeling anxious about the level of your preparation and even get tempted to postpone your taking the exam at this late stage. While I myself have decided to postpone my taking the exam this year, I did it two months ago after my first reading of all Bar subjects, after an honest assessment of what I still need to do to have a decent shot at passing the exam. Only after that did I decide to work first in a law firm and self-review for another year to further prepare me for 2009. For those who have come this far, a month before the Bar exam, I guess there's no turning back. Here's an advice I got from the BlogWorld on fighting those anxiety attacks and keep you from dropping out at this stage. Find yourself a bar exam buddy, some sort of a workout buddy, but for the bar. And promise each other that neither one of you will let the other back out. Lots of luck! And God bless!
HOW TO DEAL WITH THE APPROACHING BAR EXAM Following are pieces of advice from the BlogWorld on dealing with the approaching Bar exam. Dukelawref says above all else, remember this: You know more than you think you do. Blog.passlaw.com says that in the final stretch, you must memorize legal rules. You must know each element of each important rule as if it were your most frequently used password. "This last home stretch, these next weeks, is the time to memorize. Too much earlier and you may have forgotten things." "Read and re-read rule statements aloud. Look at them, listen to them, write them out, test yourself, have others test you. Engage fully in the memorization process." For others well supported by friends and family, tell them that if they ever give you something to get by, you need: - a time machine that provides extra study time
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during the day - a time machine if in case you need to return to last month and then do the last six weeks over, this time without procrastinating - kidding aside, a cushion to sit on (library chairs can be very uncomfortable after long periods of time) - prepared meals - a collection of pens and pencils for the Bar Exam (exam takers seem to feel the need to bring in a wide collection of writing instruments, preparing for the full days of nonstop writing) - magic herbs that increase memory These were the suggestions by Invadingnyc.
SPEND LESS TIME STUDYING Our Bar reviewer has said that he's willing to bet his university salary that bar examinees will start to panic when August comes. In one bar review institute, the last two days of lecture in July is alloted for "How to deal with stress." There indeed is so much stress in preparing for and taking the bar, but much of it, according to many lawyer-friends, are unnecessary. Study hard, take it seriously, but not too seriously that you will panic over the details you have not gone through or have forgotten, says a lawyer-friend of mine. One important advice that may take some of that stress load is to remember that all you really have to do is pass. Meaning, you don't need to maximize your score. Every point you score above the passing score of 75 may indicate that you've spent more than the required time studying that subject. That's good in pulling up your average, but not when it is at the expense of other subjects. Follow this advice, and as one blogger pointed out, you'll save a lot of time and stress in case you have not effectively covered all subjects. In other words, do not spend so much time on one or some selected subjects at the expense of the other subjects. For what good will a 90 in Remedial Law do if you got a DQ in Taxation. Two more months to go! Good luck!
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SIMPLE WORDS AND PHRASES Following are words common in legal writing and their simpler alternatives. Although some law professors and bar examiners may still be impressed with a bit of complex legal writing, I have always tried to use plain language in answering exam questions or writing legal documents; unless of course if a specific complex word has a special meaning under the law. Still, the key is to pitch your style at the right level--that is, keep your writing clear and relevant. INSTEAD OF a and/or b accordingly additional adjacent to afford an opportunity apparent appropriate as a means of as prescribed by by means of capability caveat comply with concerning consequently constitutes contains convene demonstrate designate due to the fact that endeavor equitable establish evidenced evident exhibit for a period of forward frequently furnish heretofore however identical in accordance with in addition
TRY a or b or both so added, more, other next to allow, let clear, plain (omit), proper, right to in, under by, with ability warning follow about on so is, forms, makes up has meet prove, show appoint, choose, name due to, since try fair set up, prove, show showed clear show for send often give, send until now but same by, following, per, under also, besides, too
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inception incumbent upon inter alia interpose no objection in the amount of in the event of in the process of is applicable to is authorized to is in consonance with modify necessitate not later than 10 May notwithstanding numerous obligate pertaining to practicable preclude prior to pursuant to regarding relative to remuneration render request retain set forth in similar to subsequent sufficient terminate therefore therein under the provisions of until such time as
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start must (omit) don’t object for if (omit) applies to may agrees with, follows change cause, need by May 10, before 11 May inspite of, still many bind, compel about, of, on practical prevent before by, following, per, under about, of, on about, on pay, payment give, make ask keep in like later, next enough end, stop so there under until
LAW'S ARCHAIC LANGUAGE In law school, one subject I had difficulty with was Remedial Law. This area in law mainly covers Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Special Civil Action, Provisional Remedies and Evidence. It is a very important area of the law every lawyer must have a working familiarity with. I have no beef about anything that is painstakingly difficult, to which the study of law is, most of the time. A dose of self-discipline and common sense will do.
But, my golly, studying Philippine Remedial Law is like self-flagellation on Holy Week, unnecessarily punishing and brutal, not so much on the complexity of the law but on how authorities have written the rules in cumbersome legal language and process, and in some way, a color of elitist pretense. Perhaps that's what happens when laws are made under a legal system that is still largely elitist or, to some extent, out of touch with ordinary people's lives. To see what I mean, you may google search the US Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Philippine Rules of Civil Procedure, and compare both. Just get a feel of how these two sets of rules are written, and you'll know what I mean. The US rules are definitely simpler than our own rules. MEMORIZING KEY PROVISIONS OF THE LAW During my law student days, I rarely memorized key provisions of the law. I don't like memorizing, but in some forced circumstances, memorize I did. And of all the provisions I've memorized, only one stuck to my mind to this day: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws." It's the residue of one professor's strict orders for us to memorize all the provisions of the Bill of Rights. Fact is, I survived law school not through memorizing legal provisions, because I hate memorizing, but on understanding these laws and knowing their purpose. Now, I am preparing for the September Bar exam. And as has been said many times, one cannot expect to survive this exam without memorizing. The drunken master (hehe, that's me or what I would assume myself to be) however will not take that rule sitting down or hook line and sinker. There has to be a compromise, a not so unnecessarily difficult way to engage in this monotonous, mentally nonstimulating activity of memorizing or else I won't do it.
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A few Bar tips, advice, notes and books later (among them A.M. De Castro's), I think I've found it. The magic formula. Now I can memorize, and enjoy it! Here it is:
Key words. In important legal provisions you must memorize, don't start by immediately absorbing and retaining it word-for-word. That's really painstaking because it's boring. The first step is to understand the provision; that is the purpose of reading annotated books and reviewers because they often explain the meaning and purpose of the provisions. Second, identify the key words. That is what you have to memorize first. It would help if you associate these key words with something already committed in your memory. Once you've mastered the keywords, then logically connect them. Viola! (and I do hope it will work for you), you have memorized the provision.
For example, Sec. 5 Rule 7 of the Rules of Court on Non-forum shopping certification. It's a long provision so the key words or phrases I've roughly selected are quite many: - under oath - same issues - no such other action - present status - same or similar action - five days - not curable - dismissal - false certification - indirect contempt - administrative and criminal actions - willful and deliberate - summary dismissal - direct contempt Now logically tie them up by asking yourself what have these words got to do with forum shopping and how does each word relate to the other words. From the key words alone you'll already remember the consequences of violating the rule, that is dismissal of the complaint, indirect contempt, or direct contempt, with administrative and criminal actions, depending on the nature of the violation if it's only failure to comply or willful and deliberate non-
Try it. It probably doesn't work for everyone but it worked for me.
After about a month's hiatus, I'm back with this blog. I have started with bar review proper last April 10 but exigencies at work put a toll on my self-imposed schedule. So I'm playing catch-up right now. I now have enough funds to carry me over for the whole review. But I still don't have the luxury of time to study extensively since I cannot leave my job, could not even apply for a short leave. Also, in keeping with tradition pertaining to very important tasks and for reasons I alone am privy, I'm resolved to keep my taking the bar exam this year a secret from many friends, colleagues and family. I know the Supreme Court will publish the names of bar takers, but none in my circle really read it. I am giving myself until June 1st week to finish reading a selected review material for each bar subject. Then I would have to decide if I will take the exam or not. Chances are, I will really take it. I am trying my best to meet my deadline and be as prepared as I could be as early as June. That is because after a summer month's leave from work, I'll be back to work again by June and that would mean only 5-6 hours of studying a day excluding Sundays starting that time. To save time, I'll stick to one review material and some selected cases, plus those handouts given by my bar review institute; read them repeatedly until last week of August. Taking the bar exam is a great risk. But rather than focus on it being such a risk, I'd like to focus on the goal that at the end of the review, I'll be much of an excellent potential lawyer the law profession must have. I'll leave it up then to the the examiner whether or not to give me that coveted license. God help the drunken master.
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The bar review lectures will start on March 25, 2008 in the review institute I intend to enroll in. I still have to start preliminary preparations though for the review proper.
long hours and mental discipline required may be torturous at first, but you'll get used to it and will even love it. If not, you may be better off with another career. Good luck Yam!
I plan to start my review with a quick 28-day assessment of my strengths and weaknesses per bar subject. As per advice in the bar prep book I've been reading, I will spend three days browsing through the basics for each bar subject and then test myself on the 7th day after finishing two subjects. That would give me a fair assessment of where I stand before I could start review proper. I will treat the formal bar review lectures as supplementary to my main review which shall start on April 28.
MOZART AND ENYA
I will also be browsing through my old book on Legal Philosophy just to refresh my insights and understanding as to the nature and philosophical foundations of law which should serve to anchor my learnings and help me make sense of what I am studying.
RECOMMENDED BOOKS Yam, in her Comment post, asked if I could suggest the best books for first year law. Here are my suggestions Yam: Bernas and/or Nachura - Constitutional Law 1 Cruz - Constitutional Law 2 Reyes - Criminal Law 1 & 2 Ortega Lectures - Criminal Law Paras - Civil Law (Family Law) There are plenty of good books coming around, so don't limit your sources to these basics. I advice you though to get hold of the books that your teacher recommend. There are however teachers who recommend a basic book but actually use a "secret" source for their exams, lectures and graded recitations. Just play it by the ear. Networking among classmates and schoolmates is very important. It will help you know your "enemy" (a.k.a. teacher) better, their teaching styles, temperaments, past exams, etc. Don't be misled into thinking that intelligence alone can help you tide through the rigors of law school. You must study hard, and smart. That is really the only way to learn and survive. The
When I study, I listen to Mozart, this stimulates my mind. After studying and just before taking an exam, I listen to Enya, this relaxes me and prepares me for the battle ahead.
STUDYING, MY WAY One of the important lessons I learned in this long haul of preparation for the bar exam is knowing myself, my style, my temperaments. I know I can't stay glued on my study chair for more than an hour, I easily get bored. Discipline dictates I should study for long hours if I am to cover all subject matters. But do I really have to stay stuck on my chair for the whole time, reading silently, filling my book with multicolored lines? No way! If I am to study for long hours I'll do it my way. After every 45 minutes, I take a 15 minute break. The discipline there is that 15 minutes is 15 minutes, no more no less. If I get tired of reading, I sing what I read like lyrics of a country folk song. Or I rap it. I pretend like I'm a bar reviewer, an expert in law lecturing to bar reviewees. I talk to myself. That's me. Since high school I am like that, I sing, I lecture, I talk out loud when I'm studying. And I give myself exams after. It usually works! I have an exam in Commercial Law review later tonight. I'm just on a 15-minute break. Wish me luck!
TRUE OR FALSE TECHNIQUE While studying for a Civil Law Review exam, I found out that it's easier to grasp and retain principles if I also note it down as a True or False problem aside from simply copying them verbatim in my notes. This was particularly effective when I reviewed a day or two before an exam. Because the legal principle or provision I
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read was either correct or erroneous, it pushed me to examine its validity and justify my choice. LESS IS MORE I met up with a close lawyer-friend recently in Manila and our talk naturally touched on my preparations for the bar exam next year. Lawyer-buddy, who was .01 shy of making it in the Top 10 list of the bar exam results in 2004, shared this advice to me: Less is more. When reviewing for the bar exam, choose only one good review book per subject to read at least three times. The reason is both psychological and practical. You don't want to feel inadequate during the bar exam day because you have barely covered or mastered all the books you had slated for reading. Simply master one good review book. Besides, time is of the essence. Lawyer-buddy currently works at the legal department of a major bank headquartered in Makati City.
TOP TEN TIPS FOR TAKING THE BAR EXAM Here's another link with some good tips about taking the bar exam. This is a US situation, but can also be applied in preparing for the Philippine bar exam. http://www.uslegalguru.info/2007/11/09/topten-tips-for-taking-the-bar-exam/
TWO TIPS FOR GETTING BEST RESULTS FROM BAR EXAM STUDY TIME Check this US site on the said topic: http://bigcitiesbigboxes.typepad.com/barwrite_b log/2007/12/two-tips-for-ge.html “Two Tips for Getting Best Results from Bar Exam Study Time Here are two tips to help you get the maximum pay-off from every minute you spend preparing for the bar exam. 1. The bar exam graders are looking for evidence that you know the black letter law and can apply it in a
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logical way, reasoning from law to conclusions. Make sure every activity on your schedule will pay off in the ability to recite and apply black letter law. Activities that do not result in your knowing more black letter law are a waste of time. You must be constantly adding to your inventory of black letter law, quizzing yourself, reciting law from memory, and practicing applying law logically. Merely recognizing law will get you nowhere. Shotgun, random, fact-based, "issue spotting" will get you nowhere. Some activities feel like hard work, and they are hard work, but they don't help raise your grade, and so they are a waste of time. Many students like re-reading their notes, but re-reading is worthless if no new law remains in your memory. Some students like to re-type class lecture notes, but when I ask such students what they have learned afterwards, they don't have an answer. In other words, merely re-reading notes without learning new law or re-typing notes without learning new law feel like a lot of work, but by themselves, they are a waste of time. 2. Focus on reviewing the most-heavily tested areas of law and on learning the most-heavily tested rules of law. Within each subject, learn the most-heavily tested rules by heart. Study several areas of law every day. It is foolish to think that you will remember much law if you study nothing but torts or nothing but contracts for a full day. Mary Campbell Gallagher, J.D., Ph.D. President, BarWrite® and BarWrite Press
STUDY APPROACHES I take my study of law in three main approaches. This may perhaps also help me when I start fully preparing for the bar exam next year. Here it is: 1. Procedural Study the exam itself. Ask yourself:
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a. How is the exam administered? b. How are the questions asked? c. What are the ideal answers? What is the examiner looking for in an answer? d. What were the usual legal areas or topics asked in the past exams? Reign on your study habits and methods. a. How do I improve my memory skills? Cognitive skills? Note-taking style? b. What is the ideal study environment for me? (venue, music,scent) c. What is the appropriate study schedule for me? (fulltime or working) How do I pace myself? (not being complacent but not putting to much pressure on myself) d. How do I physically condition myself? (food, vitamins, exercise) Practice good writing, analytical and problemsolving skills. The vehicle of your message is as important as the message itself; meaning, your communication skills matter. Knowing how to express your answer in a manner easily understood by the examiner is as important as knowing the answer. 2. Substantive Study for the exam. What use is your knowledge of the battle terrain and tactics if you are not properly equipped and worse do not know how to use your weapons. Following are the factors which to me are important: a. Discipline - As one law student would put it: "Studying law is like training to swim for hours in the sea without a life vest. You must feel at home with the law like you must feel at home with the sea." And it requires a great deal of discipline to do this. b. Habit and culture - Watch out for habits that may distract you from your studies. Flirting with your pretty hot chick-seatmate could make you lose focus. Be loyal to your girl. c. Selection and availability of study materials Good books and other references matter a lot. Make sure you have the essentials. If you cannot afford them, borrow. The bottomline is, you must have them. d. Time - Make sure you have the time to study.
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What good is a schedule if it's not realistic or if you can't stick to it. As they say, time is of the essence. Read, read, read! That's the only way to learn. 3. Finance management The last thing you need is a money problem. If you have a financer, better. If you can finance yourself, great. If none of the above applies to you, find a way to get those bucks short of stealing. You may borrow and use as your collateral your law education. Tell your creditor, "When I become a lawyer, pro bono ka na!" CONTEXT OF THE LAW Bar tip: "Know the context (of the law) because if you know the context you can always explain it in your own terms." --Sandoval—
BURNING OUT?! You have set yourself up for long days of study. If you’re a full-time bar reviewee, you have at leat six months of preparation time ahead of you. You’re prepped up, excited and willing to burn more calories for intense brain activity. 912 hours of studying each day. More studying. Then another bar review lecture. More practice tests. Imagine doing this for six months! It would not be normal if you don’t burn out. One of the biggest challenges of bar exam preparation is how to maintain the motivation? If motivation was difficult in law school, it could be more difficult in the bar review phase. After the first reading you may already be tempted to take the test now, as in now, not later. You’ve already had too much of the studying part. Take heed. Be patient. Perhaps your impatience is a sign that your body and mind need a break. If there is one thing that you should not forget in life, it is to relax. So give yourself a break. Do not feel the slightest guilt that time spent relaxing may be time wasted that should have been spent learning more laws. The last thing you can afford to lose is your sanity.
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To help you relax, here are some suggestions of those who were once bar reviewees: Exercise. It does not only perk up the body, it perks up the mind. Pace yourself. Take breaks. Be sure to have a good night’s sleep. Get comfortable with "practice test days." According to one successful bar candidate, one way of coping with the actual exam is to walk in with a "been there, done th BAR STUDY AND EXAM TIPS Following are tips I culled from the Internet which apply to our preparation for the Philipinne bar: 1. Repetition is key The more you read the bar review outlines, the better the material becomes ingrained in your memory. Visual abilities are intensified and recall becomes photographic. Upon every reading new matter is gleaned and understanding is heightened. The greater number of practice tests you take the more prepared you will be for the bar. There is no substitute for taking practice exams under test-like circumstances. This means committing yourself to four hours of uninterrupted time during which you practice essays and performance exams under pseudo-exam-stressproducing conditions. Thereafter, you should critically and introspectively assess your performance. 2. Read the call of the hypothetical Before reading an exam hypothetical, begin by reading the call of the question and any instructions. Points are easily lost due to a failure to follow instructions. Do not go off on a tangent and waste time answering questions not asked. The purpose of reading the call of the question is to direct your focus when you read the facts of the hypothetical. This fosters active reading. If you read the hypothetical first you will waste time reading when you have no idea
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which facts are determinative for the issues and which are red-herrings. After reading the call of the question, actively read and re-read the question. Before you begin to write always reread the call of the question to make sure that you are responding to the correct issue. 3. Create an outline for your answer Outlining your answer before you begin to write compels you to organize. An outline may be as skeletal as the issues (broken down into elements), law and facts you will discuss. To comprise your outline, use IRAC. Think longer and spend less time writing. The process of reading and re-reading the question, as well as outlining, should take about one-third to onehalf of the allotted time. Once a good outline is prepared you will not need to spend so much time writing. Your focus will be clear. It is also important to review your outline while you are writing and after you finish writing. The purpose of an outline is defeated if you do not use it. Under the stress of writing the answer you may forget to make important points that were originally in your outline. Lastly, if you are unable to finish your answer, the outline may serve as an answer for grading purposes. 4. Write a visually appealing answer Write legibly. Organize you answer in logical sequence. Cover an issue thoroughly and then move on to the next issue. 5. Use the facts This point cannot be stressed enough. Most exam answers that fail are a result of the lack of the use of given facts. However, do not assume facts not given. Most facts provided are not redherrings. They are in the hypothetical for a reason and you need to ascertain why they are there. Then you need to use the facts to buttress your analysis of the issues. Do not be conclusory. 6. Consider all sides Every point has a flip side. When a writer draws a conclusion without considering counter-
BAR OPS TECHNIQUE
analysis, he demonstrates to the grader his lack of a complete thought process. In raising counter-points, support them factually and then refute them factually. 7. Maintain perspective Each of you has the ability to succeed on the bar exam. Do not get caught up in how or what your peers are studying. That will only serve to distract you and bridle positive performance. You know what you need to do to succeed. Do it and enjoy learning. 8. Be disciplined Preparing for the bar demands discipline in your studies. The bar exam must be the primary focus of your attention for at least two months. Avoid distractions. Do not procrastinate. While breaks are important to maintain mental attention and clarity, they should be limited in duration. Do not try to cram the night before the bar exam. Rather, it is best to take time off, away from studying, and relax since you will need stamina during the exam. It is alright to briefly review some notes or flash cards at breakfast the morning of the exam. It is possible that what you review will be tested on the exam that morning and this will boost your confidence. 9. Do not panic Part of exam preparation involves mental control. The more prepared you feel through study and practice, the less likely it is that you will panic. However, it is possible that something on the exam will cause you to panic. For example, you may see an issue that you think you are unprepared to address. In truth you are probably prepared to address the issue, but may only be prepared to a certain extent. Resist panic because it will inhibit your ability to recall what you know about that issue. Panic stifles. You cannot afford to allow panic to overcome you and result in failure to answer a question.
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