Download BAR PREP Ready.Set.Pass Handbook by Philippine Association of Law Schools and Rex Education

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This light read on useful tips for the bar exam
is a product of a collaboration between
the Philippine Association of Law Schools
and Rex Education
The content was culled from the following episodes
of the Bar Ops Pilipinas 2020-2021
The Best Bar Ever
Webinar Lecture Series:
Episodes 1 and 2
Tara Kape Tayo, and Anong Ginagawa Ko?
August 16, 2021
Episode 3
Dear Self, Kaya Mo Yan!
August 23, 2021
Episode 4
Oo na, Sasagutin na Kita
August 30, 2021
Dedication ........................................................
Introduction ......................................................
Get into the Bar Mindset ..............................
Why You Can (and You Will) Do This ..........
How to Best Answer the Bar Questions ....
References .......................................................
Acknowledgments ..........................................
Get to Know Our Speakers ...........................
Very few events are as memorable to lawyers as when they took
and passed the bar exam. All those years of toil and burning the
midnight oil, countless essays, and Socratic recitations, all culminate
in that day when they are weighed against the expectations of the
legal profession.
The hopeful enthusiasm, the excitement, the panicked anxiety that
you might not have reviewed enough—these are experiences that
we lawyers all share. It can be presumed that taking the bar exam
amidst the pandemic is just as exciting and nerve-racking, if not
more so. Still, who better to share tips for physically, mentally, and
emotionally preparing for the bar than those who have actually been
there and done that?
This material was prepared by lawyers for would-be lawyers—a
product of collective wisdom and born out of shared genuine
concern for the profession and the men and women who make it
great—our gift to those who will join our ranks.
To the Philippine Association of Law Schools headed by Dean
Gemy Lito L. Festin, we thank you for making us your partner in this
worthwhile and noble endeavor.
To the bar takers, it has been our great pride and joy to have been
with you on your journey, as it will be our greatest honor and
pleasure to continue journeying with you as legal professionals.
May the good Lord continue blessing you.
Go and conquer the bar!
Chairman and President and Proud Edukampyon
Rex Education
Preparing for the bar exam is not easy—you need to prepare
academically, physically, financially, spiritually, and mentally.
This time, however, the struggle is compounded by the fact
that the bar exam in January 2022 will be taken amidst the
pandemic. Not a few bar takers have shared with me their
apprehensions—that while they truly wanted to study, they
couldn’t seem to get started, given the daily challenges and
stresses brought about by the pandemic.
Here’s the thing: There will be bar takers who will pass
the exam and become lawyers next year despite all these
difficulties. One can give you a hundred reasons why you
should not take the exam during this pandemic; another can
give you a hundred reasons why you will fail when you take it
during this pandemic. However, there is that voice deep inside
you that will give you a reason why you will make it, and why
you will pass the exam and become a lawyer next year despite
the pandemic. My question to you, then, is to which voice will
you choose to listen?
Preparation is key, so you must be of the mindset that since
your first year in law school, you have been preparing for this
moment. We, your webinar series resource speakers, are here
to share what we hope are the best bar exam tips ever and
cheer you on.
That’s in keeping with the promise of Associate Justice Marvic
M.V.F. Leonen, our bar chairperson, and his team, who are
working hard to make next year’s bar exam a success. He
assures us that this will be “the best bar ever”—hence, the
webinar series title.
Rex Edukampyon and the Philippine Association of Law Schools
(PALS) have lined up the following online events, free of charge,
every Monday in the lead-up to the bar exam until October, for the
benefit of all bar takers:
• The August webinar tackles mental health.
• September is titled “Caso Discurso,” in partnership with the
PUP College of Law, which will discuss the latest decisions
rendered by the Supreme Court.
• In October, “Octo-bar” will have lecturers on the frequently
asked questions in the bar exam.
All our lecturers  are distinguished lawyers and deans from
prestigious law schools:
• Dean Jose Maria G. Hofileña, LL.M., of the Ateneo De Manila
University School of Law;
• Dean Jose M. Layug Jr. of the University of Makati School
of Law; and
• Dean Al-Shwaid de Leon Ismael, Esq., J.D., LL.M., of the
University of Cebu School of Law.
They are joined by
• Atty. Judy Almanza Lardizabal, 2008 bar topnotcher and
• Atty. Maria Milagros N. Fernan-Cayosa, former regular
member of the Judicial and Bar Council representing the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
Let’s not belabor the point then; on to our sharing sessions.
President, Philippine Association of Law Schools
Self-Care Is Key
Bar prep is a marathon. It’s all about pacing ourselves so that we peak at just the right
time, mindful that the threat of a burnout is very real. Health and wellness will always
give us a leg up in this endeavor. Nevertheless, it’s different strokes for different folks.
We must find our sweet spot—or whatever it takes to set our mind and body up to
the task.
Dean Festin shares with us key points for optimum mental health.
Learn lessons from our mistakes: Remember that life’s greatest lessons are usually learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes.
Right words matter: Let’s be wise in choosing our words. Positive and negative
words not only affect us on a deep psychological level but they have a significant
impact on the outcome of our lives.
Choose the right attitude: Let’s think happy thoughts and practice happy thinking
every day.
Realize the power of visualization: Imagine how well we will react to difficult
questions in the bar exam; let’s see ourselves composed rather than in a state of
Have faith: It assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the things we
cannot see. Cast our burden to the Lord: If we’ve done everything but still feel that
we’re coming up short, let us leave everything to Him and He will sustain us.
Most importantly, he urges us to travel light, to “meet today’s problems with today’s
strength.” Anxiety splits our energy between today’s priorities and tomorrow’s
problems. If part of our mind is on “now,” the rest is on the “not yet,” the result is
half-minded living—and that state of mind will not serve us well on exam day. He
adds that we must be passionate in pursuing our dream, our goal. Excitement alone
is not enough. We must be tough before the “winds and the waves of the seas
confronting us.”
Which is why good physical health, especially during bar prep, is crucial, as it helps
strengthen our mental faculties too.
Thirty minutes to an hour of exercise every day is always good. Dean Ismael shares
his personal experience: “There were times I jogged at 10:00 p.m or even later. As
the date of the exam neared, it was getting harder to sleep. So no matter how late
the hour, if I was sleepless, I ran one or two or three rounds in Sunken Garden
[at the University of the Philippines-Diliman]—but that was not just purely exercise.
I combined exercise and study. [While exercising] I memorized some important
principles and laws like the Constitution, the Code of Professional Responsibility,
and the Code of Judicial Ethics. While running I was memorizing and I wouldn’t stop
running until I completed everything that I have memorized. So, it was hitting two
birds with one stone. And I did that, even during pre-week.” To keep the cheer, he
said he kept this in mind—“Di bale ng ‘di maka-answer, basta I have to look good [Never
mind if I didn’t answer all the questions. At least I looked good, no matter what].”
In contrast, for Dean Hofileña, achieving mental wellness (and acuity) consisted of
sleeping and resting, and consciously cultivating a relaxed state of mind. He reviewed
with his study group and they all ended the day by attending Mass, making sure to
close their books by 6:00 p.m. “We’re trying to remember so much information where
if we work too long, we eventually hit a point where it’s to our detriment to keep on
studying.” Says Dean Hofileña: “If I didn’t know these things by then, I would never
ever know them.”
Dean Layug, on the other hand, took advantage of his heightened need for seclusion
while studying by eating foods that made him happy, on top of getting regular
exercise. Keep it fun, too, he tells us, lest we fall into the trap of taking things too
Coping with Covid-19 and the Emerging Norms
Many lawyers are quick to say that taking the bar exam is among the most challenging
experiences of their lives. Taking the exam in the midst of a pandemic—online—has
certainly raised the stakes. Today, we are being asked to dig deep into our reserves of
resilience, perseverance, and creativity.
Count your blessings, Dean Layug reminds us, and work with these. Sometimes
restrictions bring out fresh approaches to problems.
“[The times] call for adjustments and we all have to adjust,” says Dean Hofileña.
“[Creative thinking is required] to overcome [these] challenges. Understand what you
have and what you don’t have.”
Dean Ismael says we must learn to live with the new reality: “This pandemic is not
going to end any time soon. Recognize your limitations and make yourself understand
that this is now a different setting. Try to create your own space or try to study with
your friends virtually.”
They also welcome the new developments. Dean Hofileña says he sees “the value
in [the digitalized] exam, especially in this generation,” an idea whose time has come.
“The only struggle [here] is to comply with the requirements/equipment that meet the
standard of the digitalized exam,” says Dean Layug. “We can never stop innovation
so I’ll go for it.”
Mind Our Motivations
Why do we do what we do? Often, we do things for others (especially our loved
ones); sometimes we do things for ourselves. Taking the bar exam is something we
do both for ourselves and our loved ones. As such, we give it our all—anything less
than that won’t cut it.
Dean Layug admits that his first motivation was his parents—“Since the age of three
I had been coaxed by my parents to become a lawyer”—so the time had finally come.
His secondary motivation was for himself: “I [had] to pass, because [otherwise] I’d
be the only [one] among [my] friends who [failed]… I was surrounded by really smart
classmates, so I wanted to make sure that I passed.” And to do that he knew early on
that there would be no magic bullet—just hunker down to work; study.
Dean Ismael urges working students preparing for the bar to optimize the time available to them. “Make a decision two months before the bar, if possible, to negotiate
with your employer [so that you] can review full time,” he says. “Be strategic in choosing the material to be used in the review. Start saving as early as on your third year
in preparation for the bar exam so you could afford not to work during the 5th and
6th months of preparation.”
Then, of course, there are our personal bests. He recounts that there certainly had
been an extra challenge in that he belonged to the so-called pioneer batch of 2006 at
[the University of Cebu]. “There were a lot of expectations [I’d graduated magna cum
laude] that I had to isolate myself [to study and move to Manila], limiting my communication only with my parents and the school dean. They also have this concept of
‘bar bet,’ which I only found out after graduation.” That alone was more than enough
motivation for Dean Ismael to keep pushing and study harder.
His greatest takeaway from the experience? Always do your best. “As long as I’ve
given my best, [the rest is] up to the Lord.”
Keep Our Emotions in Check
Say we’re in a relationship that hit a bump in the run up to the bar exam. How do we
keep it together?
Dean Ismael reminds us to keep our hair on and carry on: “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t
work. Your focus should be reviewing for the exam. Know your priorities.”
Dean Layug says that partners are often part of a good support system, and in a
highly stressful situation such as this, they must be able to understand and back us
up on our decisions. There’s always that celebration—in a real bar—to look forward
to when the exam is over.
Dean Hofileña urges us to make our partners understand the importance of the bar
exam. This way, the pair would be sure to keep an eye on the prize.
No One Has All the Answers… Almost
Knowing that there are a couple of questions you will not be able to answer to your
satisfaction will help set your mind at ease. Take it from Dean Hofileña: “What if
may matanong na wala akong ganyang klaseng stock knowledge? [What if there were
questions on which I didn’t have stock knowledge at the ready?] It’s entirely possible.
[So I decided] early on was that [in this] situation, I would answer in such a way that
yung examiner magi-guilty na hindi ako gagawing abogado [ such a way that would
make the examiner feel guilty if he/she did not make me a lawyer]. So, for sure [I
won’t write a prayer] or… leave anything blank. I will answer [with] something that
sounds lawyerly, that sounds legal.”
For his part, Dean Layug says he puts a premium on memorization: “Let’s not
underestimate the power of memory, especially when we talk about codals. I recall
being so tired studying for a week that I simply dropped the book and [repeatedly
reviewed] my codals… while eating with my daughter, so that helped a lot.”
And while he couldn’t recall any question he may have failed to answer, if he wasn’t
sure of the answer, he would “cite a particular provision.” That likely added up
because he passed the bar, with a caveat—he made sure not to talk to others about
the questions that were asked. “Because I [didn’t] want to feel bad,” he said.
When discussing the bar exam in class, Dean Ismael would make it a point to share
helpful tips on how to score well. He says: “So, first, if you encounter a question
that you don’t know the answer to, then just try to get a decent answer [in]. Do not
leave any items unanswered. As a matter of fact, in my class, I give a deduction if you
leave [any unanswered]. Second, I recall one question in criminal law: I had not been
able to review the answer to that question while reviewing for the bar examination,
but [I remember it having been] thoroughly discussed in class. So, again, I always
emphasize to my students how important it is to attend classes regularly.”
Dean Ismael goes on to remind us that we need not beat ourselves up if we come
across items in the exam that we haven’t exactly prepared for. Because, indeed, it is
impossible to cover everything that we have been studying for at least three years.
“Don’t feel bad about it,” he says. “Just pray. Every time I encountered a question
that I didn’t know the answer to, I paused, I prayed, and then I opened my eyes. Then
I knew already how to write… a decent answer.”
We Are What We Eat
We want to be as unfettered as possible on the day of the exam so that our minds
are clear and our hearts are light. That’s why we can’t let a complicated meal clutter
our thoughts and our tummies.
The ideal baon (snack), according to Dean Layug, would be “anything with sugar.”
Dean Hofileña thinks a sandwich is a good choice because we won’t be needing
utensils. Dean Ismael cautions against sticky foods (for obvious reasons); he adds that
water is perfectly fine if we don’t feel like we can’t be bothered scarfing down food.
Give Thanks and Praise, and Carry On
So, we have dealt with our post-bar exam anxiety by emerging from “bar exam mode”
into our normal lives. We are making new plans, and are now at ease in knowing that
we don’t need perfect scores to pass.
Then we find out that we made it: Time to pass around gratitude to those who
helped us through, and give praise to our desires’ alignment with the Universe.
Both Deans Layug and Hofileña agree that this is one of life’s happiest moments. ”It’s
really such a joyous instant—and to see your parents twice as happy as you are,” says
Dean Hofileña.
Dean Ismael chimes in with a sobering anecdote: “I ended up working after taking
the bar to support myself. I was the last person to know when the results came out
because I [had] lost my phone.”
You are taking the bar in this unprecedented time… amidst the pandemic. Atty.
Milagros Fernan-Cayosa fittingly declares, “What you are facing is unprecedented.
That’s why this is considered the ‘Best Bar Ever’ because it’s never been done this
way before.” For all that has happened in over a year, you cannot let this pandemic
consume anymore of your thoughts and your plans than it already has.
By this time, you (must) already know what works for you and what doesn’t—how you
absorb information, how you learn, how you thrive, and how you retain knowledge.
You recognize your strengths and your weaknesses. You also know what stresses you
and what calms you.
This time and for the first time in (Philippine legal) history, the bar exam will be taken
digitally. Look at the bright side. You will be a witness and a pioneer to what has never
been done before.
• You are reviewing for the bar in the comforts of your home or private place.
• You will submit your application requirements online; there’s no need to go
.. to the Supreme Court.
• You will take the bar in a local site.
• You will take the bar using your laptop, in place of a test booklet and a pen.
• You will answer straightforward questions without any sub-questions.
• You will be graded from 0 to 5 for every question.
Make the good stand out. Be in control to have the best chance to balance your
being—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, for the bar. The wait is over,
especially for those who were supposed to take the bar in 2020. You have every
opportunity to pass the bar.
• You are a scholar of the law.
• You have prepared for the bar. You are preparing for the bar.
• You have made the conscious effort to take the bar.
• You believe in yourself.
No. 1 to Remember
Don’t panic. Keep calm. Say: “Dear
self, kaya ko yan, kaya ko yung bar. “ How
do you know you can? Know what you
are facing: when the bar exam will be
held, under a digital setup, and during
a pandemic. Remember that you’re
here because you have prepared for
the bar. You’ve done your homework.
Take a deep breath. Yes, don’t panic.
In your mind, you know there are many things you will encounter before, during, and
after the bar exam. How do you address all these including stressors? How do you
manage stress?
Manage Stress
Assess yourself. Knowing your stressors, those stimuli that have the potential to
trigger a fight or flight response in you, what do you do? Do you fight or flee? Do you
combat it or totally disregard it? Sometimes, you don’t always fight or win a battle,
but you manage.
Example: Stressor: Waking up at 7:30 am instead of 6:30 am, depriving you of 1 hour
of early study
Stress Profile
Healthy Profile
Thoughts: “I can’t wake up late; I’ll lag
behind my review.”
Thoughts: “No problem. I’ll just
shorten my breaktimes to 30 minutes
for 2 days to make up for the ‘lost’
Stress reactivity: Muscles become
tense; perspiration occurs; heart
beats fast
Stress reactivity: None
Strain: Stomach upset; headache
Strain: None
This is one example of how you manage stress. Stress management is not about
eliminating stress, but it is about limiting its impact, its harmful effects on you, so the
quality and vitality of your life remain. And why do you need to do this, to maintain
the quality of your life, your vitality, your energy? Doing so will help ensure your peak
performance, in this case, especially for the bar exam.
Perform to Your Peak
It’s about you thriving. It is about you performing
tasks at the optimum level of your physical abilities,
mental capabilities or both. It’s about creating a
balance between increasing your energy and having
time for renewal, recovery, or rest because you
cannot always have high energy.
For the bar exam, you cannot peak by October (when the exam is in January). You
cannot “torture” yourself and do all things at once. Recognize that it has to be a gradual
but confident climb—when you are in your optimal health and overall wellness.
Prep Your Body, Mind, and Spirit
Mens sana in corpore sano. A healthy mind in a
healthy body.  This is the first line of Juvenal’s
Satire X. As Dr. Sharon Ferrett, a behavioral science
professor posits, ”being healthy means living life
fully with purpose, meaning, and vitality.” To do this
is to be conscious of the connection among one’s
body, mind, and spirit. The balance of food, exercise,
the condition of your mind, positivity, and your
spirituality—all these are essential to your journey.
Maintain healthy habits. Eat good food, exercise, be active, see friends and
family, and have enough rest and sleep. If you have access to safe massage
(given the pandemic), this is also an option. The important thing is… you have
a break. Be consistent.
Sleep well. Sleep is an important aspect of your body and mind conditioning
and your schedule. If you’re sleep-deprived, your brain cannot absorb much.
While 7 or 8 hours of straight sleep may not be doable, snatch up an hour or
two during the day. Recognize the signs and what your body tells you… and
Boost your immune system. Now more than ever, with Covid-19, you
have to be extra careful. Take steps to prevent illness and physical harm. Get
vaccinated. Take vitamins and supplements to keep your body in the best
condition possible.
Recognize signs of fatigue, burnout, or anything that bothers you
physically, making you unable to concentrate on your studies. Rather than
procrastinate and assume it’s nothing, get medical attention instead.
Watch out also for coping mechanisms that may offer fleeting relief
(drinking, binge eating, watching TV, etc.), but may harm in the long-term. Don’t
succumb. Avoid harmful habits, such as smoking and excessive drinking.
Critical thinking, creative problem-solving, good judgment, common
sense, and self-control. These are essential to survive the bar. Common
sense (although some say it’s not common after all) and self-control will tell
you that you may not have all the time to read all the available materials. So,
you choose and you choose wisely. You can also control yourself—your action
and reaction to those that surround you—such as your space and the people
around you.
Positive attitude, optimism, confidence, coping skills, and rapport
building. These also help bring emotional and intellectual wellness. Let your
mind be a vessel of positive attitude, emotional maturity, and your mental
Stay focused. Ask those around you about what you need from them to help
you concentrate, for example, your personal and physical space. If there are
no other distractions, this will help you cope, focus, and thrive. Another is on
scheduling some activities, for example, on unwinding. Make sure you practice
self-control and that you have an opportunity to recover from too much
unwinding, if it happens. If you went for a Saturday night out and slept through
the whole Sunday, then you’ll be too tired to study for the remaining hours
that day. Factor-in the recovery period. Actually, if you can, avoid too much of
anything at once. Make that conscious effort and recognize that like your body,
your mind can only do so much, too. Concentrate on you! Be strong.
Nurture a healthy spirit. This involves your values and beliefs that help you
be enlightened. This is also where service to others resides and so do your
sense of ethics and your honesty, and your relationship to those around you.
Relationships help nurture your spirit. It’s also about your purpose in life, your
legacy, and how you fit into this universe.
Know yourself. What relaxes you? What gives you joy? Are you a nature
person? Are you a pet lover? Is it music? Is it art that moves you? Create time for
yourself: be it meditation, walking, playing with your pets, listening to music…
All these things are important because they are interconnected; they
are connected to your health. Understanding the connection and doing
something about it lend to a healthier you—ready and set to cope with stress
and even thrive in stressful situations; living in optimism and succeeding.
Therefore, here are some strategies to stress management.
Some Stress Management Tips
1. Be aware and attuned to your body and emotions.
When you are faced with a stressful situation, do you have frequent headaches or
stomach pains? Do you find it difficult to relax? Are you always agitated because “I’m
not done yet; I’m really not done yet.” Are you easily upset, depressed, or irritable?
The reason could be that you’re unsure of certain things or you have not found
time to assess what you’re doing or what your purpose is. Allow time to understand
Give yourself permission to feel several different emotions, but learn strategies to
pull yourself out of a slump. If you’re sad, allow yourself to be sad. Deal with the
emotion. Bounce back. You may not be able to prevent or overcome a worst-case
scenario, but you can diminish its effects on you. Be aware of what you’re going
through. Ask for help, and also, be kind to yourself.
2. Dispute negative thoughts: Be hopeful, positive, and optimistic.
Challenge yourself to overcome self-defeating thoughts and replace them with
positive, realistic, and hopeful thoughts. We need to change negative thinking to
confident, optimistic thoughts and actions. You have the power to do that. Why
say, “We will never make it. It is always so difficult”? Why imagine the worst possible
outcome? Negative thinking can lead to a negative self-fulfilling prophecy. Affirm
yourself instead and say, “I’m going to make it. I’m going to pass.”
Go back to the stress profile vs. the healthy profile example. Which side do you want
to take? Reflect. Think of all the things you have achieved and overcome so far: For
one, you’ve already completed your law degree!
3. Rest your mind, body, and spirit.
Unwind, stretch, tone your muscles, and focus your energy. You can do exercises like
yoga and Pilates; go ahead and explore what works for you. Meditation is another
way to create time for yourself where your mind can rest. You also can go for a walk;
listen to music; create art; and dance or sing.
If it’s not possible for you to do certain things physically, visualize. Picture yourself
succeeding. Familiarize yourself with the bar venue. Know how you’re going to get
there. Minimize or eliminate the unknowns, such as the time to get there and the
traffic. Know your room assignment. See yourself confidently entering the exam
room, looking into the test items, answering all the questions… You are doing it and
you’re succeeding!
4. Create a support system.
Have a support system and reach out to them. Have your go-to person—whether a
family member, a friend, or one of your professors… This person is someone who can
help you clear your mind. Someone who can help you make better decisions.
A support system can also be your virtual study group… giving you a sense of security
and motivation just seeing them in a Zoom meeting perhaps… For some, you may
be better off studying on your own, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have a support
Talk to your families and friends. Share with them where you are in your preparations
and ask them how they can be or how they are a part of your journey. Don’t lash out
on people. This may limit or shrink your support system.
5. Rehearse (going to the bar exam). If physical practice is not possible, visualize.
Rehearse using your laptop. Simulate taking the exam. Simulate the exam atmosphere,
as if you’re already taking the bar. Practice answering bar questions and type your
answers on your computer or laptop. Time yourself in the process.
6. Have a sense of humor (even a tiny bit).
Laugh. Hearing yourself laugh adds to your overall well-being. When with family
and friends, find something to laugh about… to feel good and happy. Surely, there’s
something to laugh about around you… begin with a smile and the rest follows.
7. Plan: Be organized.
Plan your day; be organized; and work on solving problems instead of contemplating
on unfavorable outcomes, whether real or imagined. Seek solutions.
Devote some time each day to review how your day unfolded and how it’s about to
end. Channel your energies toward solving problems you still can before the day’s
end and to accept that tomorrow is another day to pick up the pieces. Focus on being
productive for the day. Work on unresolved problems the next day.
8. Keep a journal.
Yes, keep a journal, be it the usual planner or your digital notes in your mobile phone.
It may be difficult to do for some, but taking notes, and not just mental ones, helps.
What you write could be words or phrases that strike you… a sentence or two that
remind you of what needs to be done. Keeping a journal can also help keep you
honest—when you need to go back to records of your days, some events, and how
you handled certain situations.
9. Get professional help, if needed.
If a struggle lingers, you may want to seek professional help—a professor if there are
subject matter concerns that you need to clarify; a psychologist if you are concerned
about your mental health; or a medical doctor if something physical bothers you.
Don’t prolong the emotional toll on you. Act on the matter when you know you can.
10. Pray.
Finally, start and end your day with a prayer of thanks. When you feel overwhelmed,
take the time to pause and take time to pray. Just ask… whoever you believe in or
your faith encourages you to talk to… and help clear your mind. Pray for help.
Some Things to Consider When Taking Digital Exams
While you’re probably quite proficient in using computers, you can never be too sure.
The following tech prep may help:
• Double-check your computer settings to avoid any problems.
• Shut down all other programs not needed during the exam.
• Set the window size of your computer screen and practice fixing any resizing
so that you don’t accidentally cause the test to reload.
• Make sure you can see the timer on your computer.
• Wait for the test to be fully loaded before accessing it.
• Use only the allowed (computer key) functions when taking the exam.
• During the (actual) exam, be mindful of and follow all the instructions,
especially those that relate to the digitalized setup—the buttons or keyboard
functions, how to go about each question and how to put in your answers,
• Follow instructions carefully. If there is a Save option, use it often.
• Click Submit only once at the end of the test, and confirm that the test was
Doing the above can help you become more comfortable before and during the
You’re all ready and set. If you can, start your days early to avoid rushing things; have
all the time you need to do the things you need to do; and you can end your day
early, too. Keep to your daily schedule, so you get used to the routine leading to the
bar exam dates.
Declare yourself a winner and do not incite self-doubt and discouragement. You can
say, “I’m someone who succeeds. I can do this!” Your mindset is your mental attitude.
Set your mind for success: Fill your mind with thoughts of passing the bar.
Upon introspection, convince yourself and say, as Atty. Fernan-Cayosa challenges,
“Kaya ko na talaga yan. Yang bar na iyan, I can do that. I can slay the bar.”
Atty. Fernan Cayosa shares this reflection: Every person is born with purpose. The
purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them
out (Proverbs 20:5).
Why are you taking the bar? There is purpose there. Are you in the right place at
the right time? Are you ready to safeguard people’s rights? Do you want to make a
All the more reason that you should be encouraged to study and to work hard to be
the best you can be, to become the healthy you that you need to be at your peak
performance when you take the bar.
With anything you aspire for—you put your heart, mind, body, and spirit—all in. Then
it becomes something you will be able to do, to achieve, to overcome.
Take the bar. Kaya mo yan!
Are you trained to answer bar questions using the answer–law–analysis–conclusion
(ALAC) method? Do you worry that it’s no longer applicable given the forthcoming
digitalized bar exam?
Don’t be overwhelmed or discouraged. Atty. Judy Almanza Lardizabal eases our
worries. The ALAC method and others still apply. Leaning on the words and examples
of Justice Leonen, she emphasized, regardless of the method, that what is important
is to be straightforward: Use simple and clear sentences; limit the number of words,
if possible; and communicate your answers well.
Atty. Lardizabal cites Bar Bulletin No. 25, S. 2021 that details the instructions to the
Bar examiners and explanation of the computation of scores in the 2020/21 bar
examinations. Its contents are extraordinarily apropos; some parts are shared here
so prospective bar takers can digest and exploit their benefits until the bar exam in
January 2022.
We highlight the following from the bulletin:
The 2020/21 Bar Examinations will maintain the integrity of the basic nature of the Bar
Examinations. They are qualifying licensure exams whose purpose is only to facilitate entry into
the legal profession by those who possess and manifest the requisite minimum for inclusion in
that profession.
The table that follows specifies the grading system. The details are quite clear and
expected to serve as a guide to bar takers.
Exclusively correct
Exclusively correct
Examinee delivered the
answer in a complete,
succinct, clear, and polished
manner, with minimal errors
in grammar
Examinee delivered the
answer with flaws in their
ability to communicate
No answer given
Incorrect; or even if invoking
some correct legal bases,
simultaneously invokes
other incorrect, inapplicable,
and/or inappropriate legal
Examinee exhibits capacity
for effective legal reasoning
and communication through
coherent and cogent
formulation of answers and
adequate reference to legal
Examinee demonstrates
inability to reason and
communicate effectively
Examinee exhibits a bona
fide attempt to deliver
an answer befitting the
Examinee lacks a genuine
attempt to answer, writes
gibberish, irrelevant, or
nonsensical text
What You Should Already Know by Now
Each bar subject will have a total of 15 to 18 straightforward questions designed
to address entry-level legal competency. There will be no sub-questions.
With straightforward questions, straightforward answers are expected; no
more, no less.
The highest merit you can gain for every answer is ‘5’; the lowest is ‘0’.
The in-betweens (4, 3, 2, 1) matter; don’t make ‘0’ a possibility. Note: no partial
(0.5) point.
For the total weighted score, you need 75% to pass and 85% and higher to be
exemplary. Yes, no more top 10’s.
With the digitalized exam, your handwriting won’t affect the understanding
and grading of your answers as it did in the past.
Atty. Lardizabal most aptly puts it: “... I’ve been emphasizing that [the] Bar examination
is not a competition. You’re not actually competing with the other examinees. So,
it’s about your performance. You will be graded based on your performance. If you
deserve to pass the Bar examinations, then that will be determined by your answers
in the bar questions hindi doon sa performance ng iba.” [not by others’ performance.]
In its January 4, 2022 Resolution, the Supreme Court En Banc has resolved pro hac
vice to: (a) reduce the coverage; and (b) shorten the duration of the 2020/21 Bar
Examinations to only two days: January 23, 2022, Sunday; and January 25, 2022,
The subjects and their respective weights are as follows:
DAY ONE (January 23, 2022)
Morning exam
The Law Pertaining to the State and Its
Relationship with Its Citizens
(formerly Political Law, Labor Law, and Taxation Law)
(18 questions)
Afternoon exam
Criminal Law
(15 questions)
DAY TWO (January 25, 2022)
Morning exam
The Law Pertaining to Private Personal
and Commercial Relations
(formerly Civil Law and Commercial Law)
(18 questions)
Afternoon exam
Procedure and Professional Ethics
(formerly Remedial Law, Legal Ethics,
and Practical Exercises)
(18 questions)
[Source: Bar Bulletin No. 31, S. 2022,; added here to replace the old table from Bar Bulletin No. 25]
Knowing the percentages allows you to see the weight of each subject and how
gaining or securing high points on subjects with high weights can positively impact
your standing.
Your words, just the right amount, are key: Make them count! Straightforward
means direct, exact, and clear-cut. It’s all about being easy to understand; being
Remember: Answer the bar exam questions straightforwardly. Keep it short
and on point rather than lengthy but lacking substance. A memory hack that
works to this day, and especially for this purpose is this: K-I-S-S-S: Keep It Short,
Simple, and Straightforward. Notice the added “S” for straightforward.
Law–Language–Logic: The bar exam is a test of your knowledge of the law. Your
answer should have correct legal basis; with no major grammatical lapses or flaws in
communication; and is logical or with adequate reasoning and coherent.
Remember: Say “yes” or “no” and cite the law. Achieve more with less using
only words that matter. Be clear and logical. Focus on substance, not form.
Answer in complete, succinct, clear, and polished manner.
From zero to five: numbers don’t lie! “5” is your number, the maximum merit you
can gain to an answer. Go for 5, but don’t forget the in-betweens. One, two, three,
and four points also make a difference.
Remember: Zero is empty, so don’t leave anything blank. Make an effort to
write something that makes sense. Be counted.
Criminal Law
Question: Without permission or consent, A took a pencil from his seatmate B.
Later on, A returned it to B. Was theft committed? Explain briefly.
Answer: Yes, all of the elements of crime of theft are present. The essential elements
of theft are (1) taking of personal property; (2) the property taken belongs to another;
(3) the taking was done without the owner’s consent; (4) there was intent to gain; and
(5) the taking was done without violence or intimidation of the person or force upon
things. It is not an exempting or justifying circumstance to return the thing taken.
[This example shows the answer to be straightforward and concise as Justice Leonen
prefers it. In one of his tweets, he says “Plain English matters: direct, no flourishes, no
abbreviations, either. Simple, but not simplistic.”]
Legal Ethics
Question: X, a civil service eligible, filed a petition to apply as notary public, invoking
as her sole credential her civil service eligibility. Should the petition be granted?
Explain briefly.
Answer: No. There is no showing that the petitioner satisfies all the requirements
to be eligible for commissioning as notary public, particularly that she is a member of
the Philippine bar. Thus, the petition should not be granted.
[According to Justice Leonen, an answer like this deserves five points. He noted that
listing all the qualifications is an optional addition. Why spend time providing the list
of qualifications if a simple answer will already deserve five points.]
Remedial Law
Question: Z filed a complaint for forcible entry against Y before the Regional Trial
Court of Isabela. Can the Regional Trial Court dismiss the complaint for lack of
jurisdiction? Explain briefly.
Answer: Yes. Under the law, metropolitan trial courts, municipal trial courts,
and municipal circuit trial courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over cases of
forcible entry and unlawful detainer. Here, the Regional Trial Court of Isabela has no
jurisdiction over the complaint for forcible entry and can therefore dismiss it outright.
[Yes is the response or Answer to the question. Then the Legal basis is under the
law, metropolitan trial courts... have exclusive jurisdiction over cases of forcible entry and
unlawful detainer. Application or Analysis: Here, the original trial court of Isabela
has no jurisdiction... and can therefore dismiss it outright. If you’re trained to answer
using the ALAC format, it’s okay. In fact you have ample time to make it simpler. If
you notice, Justice Leonen also answers this using the ALAC format, except “C” for
Conclusion given the completeness of the response.]
Civil Law
Question: Stevie was born blind. He went to a school for the blind and learned to
read in Braille. He speaks English fluently. Can he act as a witness to a will? Explain
Answer: No, he cannot act as a witness. The law provides that a witness must not
be blind, deaf, or dumb. His blindness renders him disqualified.
[The answer can still be shortened by deleting the last sentence because the first two
sentences are sufficient to merit five points.]
Criminal Law
Question: Francis and Joan were sweethearts, but their parents had objected to
their relationship because they were first cousins. They forged a path in writing to
commit suicide. The agreement was to shoot each other in the head, which they did.
Joan died. Due to medical assistance, Francis survived. Is Francis criminally liable for
the death of Joan? Explain briefly.
Answer: Yes, Francis is liable for the death of Joan. Francis committed the crime
of giving assistance to suicide. Under the law, a person who shall assist in order to
commit suicide, to the extent of doing the killing himself, shall be liable for the death
of the person assisted.
[Atty. Lardizabal notes that this answer is already straightforward but it can still be
improved (and shortened) by deleting Francis is liable for the death of Joan. The legal
basis is still present.]
Legal Ethics
Question: State, with a brief explanation, whether the judge concerned may be
sanctioned for the conduct stated below: refusing to inhibit himself although one of
the lawyers in the case is his second cousin.
Answer: No, the judge may exercise his right to take cognizance of the case. The
prohibition provided by the rules as a ground for mandatory inhibition is relationship
within the fourth civil degree with the counsel. The second cousin is within the fifth
civil degree.
[Atty. Lardizabal explains that her answer (in the 2008 bar exam) can still be improved
by removing those words in the first sentence (i.e., the judge may exercise his right to
take cognizance of the case) that may be considered a surplusage.]
Mercantile Law (2008 Bar Exam)
Question: Ace Cruz subscribed to 100 shares of stock of JP Development Corporation,
which has a par value of one peso per share. He paid 25,000 and promised to pay
the balance before December 31, 2008. JP Development Corporation declared a
cash dividend on October 15, 2008 payable on December 1, 2008. (a) For how many
shares is Ace Cruz entitled to be paid cash dividends? Explain. (b) On December 1,
2008, can Ace Cruz compel JP Development Corporation to issue to him the stock
certificate corresponding to the 25,000 paid by him?
Answer: (a) Ace Cruz is entitled to receive cash dividends for all his subscribed shares
of stock. His shares, although partially unpaid, are not yet delinquent, hence, entitled
to receive the cash dividends due. (b) No, Ace Cruz cannot compel the corporation
to issue a stock certificate. The subscribed shares of stock are considered indivisible
such that a certificate of stock cannot be issued unless the share has been fully paid.
[There’s a response to the question and there’s a legal basis provided: a straightforward
answer to a straightforward question.]
Atty. Lardizabal sums it up with a tweet from Justice Leonen (a quote from David
Brooks): “Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: The future can be
better than the present and I have the power to make it so.”
Answer every question. Believe you can do it. Become that full-fledged
lawyer you dream of and practice the law.
Ready, set, and pass the bar!
APA Dictionary (nd). Peak performance,, accessed September
20, 2021.
Ferret S (2010) Peak Performance: Success in College
and Beyond, 7th edn. McGraw-Hill Education.
Greenberg J (2008) Comprehensive Stress
Management, 11th edn. McGraw-Hill Companies.
Leonen MMVF (2021) Bar bulletin No. 25, S. 2021,, accessed September 13, 2021.
Morin A (2017) 6 ways to stop stressing about
things you can’t control
accessed September 20, 2021.
Rex Education (2021) Bar Ops Pilipinas
2020-2021: The Best Bar Ever.
Webinar Lecture Series. August: Mental
Preparedness. Transcripts.
Gemy Lito L. Festin
Angelica P. Cruz
Mary Abigail B. Modales
Jeanne Marie F. Tordesillas
Danda Crimelda I. Buhain
Levi M. Espinosa
Reginald Victor A. Soriano
Franklin Benedict T. Guerra
Angelika Nicole P. Amad
Maria Hazel D. Dela Cruz
Anna Luisa S. Bernardo
Wind A. Gavanzo
Jocelyn de Jesus
Petula C. Ferrer
Dean Gemy Lito L. Festin, LL.M. is the
president of the Philippine Association of Law
Schools (PALS) and the dean of the Polytechnic
University of the Philippines (PUP) College of
Law. He is the author of Special Penal Laws:
A Foresight to the Bar Exams, Volumes I and
II, Special Proceedings: A Foresight to the Bar
Exams (2020), The Alternative Dispute Resolution and The Arbitration Law (2020), Bar
Review Guide in Criminal Law (2021), and The
Revised Penal Code Book 1, Codal Provisions
with Bar Questions and Suggested Answers. He is the bar review director of the PUP
Bar Review Center and he also teaches law at the University of Makati and the Manila Adventist College School of Law. He is a mandatory continuing legal education
(MCLE) lecturer at the Philippine Law School Law Center, Center for Global Best
Practices, and the University of the East Law Center Inc.
Dean Jose Maria “Joey” G. Hofileña, LL.M.
is the dean of the Ateneo de Manila University
School of Law, where he also teaches. He is a
bar review lecturer and also a visiting professor
for Commercial Law at Ateneo de Zamboanga
University College of Law. He ranked tenth in
the 1987 Philippine Bar Exam and specializes
in corporation law, banking, finance and
securities, and infrastructure.
Dean Jose M. Layug Jr. is the dean of the
University of Makati School of Law. He also
teaches at the University of the Philippines
College of Law. A senior partner at Puno and Puno
Law Offices, he has served on the energy boards
of both the private and public sectors, and was
chairman of the National Renewable Energy Board
from 2016 to 2018. He is a former international
legal consultant for the Asian Development Bank.
He received the prestigious William T. Coleman
Award in 2008.
Dean Al-Shwaid de Leon Ismael, Esq., J.D., LL.M.
is the dean of the University of Cebu School of
Law, where he also teaches, besides the San
Sebastian College Recoletos Graduate School of
Law. He ranked eighth in the 2006 Philippine Bar
Exam, and was a recipient of the John Vogelstein
Scholarship and of the Vanderbilt Medal and
International Student Leadership Award in 2017.
A Master of Laws at the New York University
School of Law, he joined the New York Bar in
2018. He is a partner at Gulapa & Lim (Manila),
Gulapa & Baclay LLP (New York, USA), and Gulapa & Ismael (Cebu).
Hon. Ma. Milagros N. Fernan-Cayosa is a
Regular Member Representing the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Judicial and
Bar Council. She earned her Juris Doctor degree
from the Ateneo De Manila Law School. She is
a law professor at the Universidad de Manila,
Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, Cagayan
State University, and the University of Cagayan
Valley. She is the regional counsel of the
Department of Social Welfare and Development
(Region 2) and an accredited MCLE lecturer. She
is a trustee, officer, and program director of the Jail Decongestion Program of the
Ateneo de Manila Law Alumni Association Inc. and a trustee of the Chief Justice
Claudio Teehankee Foundation, Inc. She is the chair of the Gender and Development
Center, Zonta Club of Central Tuguegarao.
Atty. Judy Almanza Lardizabal is a lecturer
in Civil Law, University of the East MCLE, and
the Philippine Law School MCLE. The 2008 bar
topnotcher is a partner at the Buban & Lardizabal
Law Offices and a part-time law professor in
the law colleges of the Polytechnic University
of the Philippines Manila, San Sebastian
Recoletos Manila, University of the East Manila,
Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and the
Manila Adventist College. A double-degree
holder (the other being a BS in Social Work),
Atty. Lardizabal placed third in the 2002 Board Examinations for Social Workers.
She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation and is a
litigation lawyer for the Government Service Insurance System.