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 re-reviewed, 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 schedules which 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 is command 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. Fountain or sign pens are really the most important equipment in bar examination. Never start for the examination without bringing along with you two or more fountain or sign pens.
32. Like the weather, examiners are absolutely a bunch of unpredictable fellows, capable of asking unpredictable questions.
33. Do not try to memorize 50 definitions or distinctions in any given time. Two or three will do.
34. The real secret in remembering the matters contained in an enumeration is the use of keywords.
35. 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 are responsive to the questions. Never beat around the bush. Go right straight ahead with your answer. Avoid citations if and when you are not absolutely 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!
All excerpts, except the last (No. 48), were taken by Atty. GLENN M. MORTEL from the book “SECRETS ON HOW TO PASS THE BAR EXAMINATION” by Dean Wenceslao G. Laureta, 1990 edition.