My secrets in passing the bar… (Part I)

The blog title needs no further elaboration. And I have a feeling this will be my most read blog to date. (I hope this prophesy is true because if it’s not, it will be utterly embarrassing.)

Not meaning to engage in “bench lifting” (translation: pagbubuhat ng bangko), I took the bar only once. Some people will be green with envy at this point. I took that darn exam 10 years ago with La Vida Lawyer as my board mate, i.e., we rented a condominium unit near our school during the review for the 1995 bar exams. Hence, these “secrets” are probably common to both our experiences. (Note: He also took the bar only once…now I’m lifting his bench!)

First, let me spell out the main causes flunking the bar exams (the way it’s set up right now):

1. Lack of stock (or is it stack?) knowledge

Trust me. There is absolutely no way one can go over the entire coverage of the bar exams in a measly six months. During that exam, you would therefore rely on stuff you already know or have learned through your law school. When push comes to shove, our basic instincts take over. The rest of the stuff you try to stuff in your brain gets discarded. Hence, you should have enough content in the head of yours in the first place.

2. Terrible English

Getting a passing grade entails getting good answers in that exam notebook. And to have a good answer is a function of two things: (a) content and (b) form. Good content basically means you got the answer Correct! (In a Kris Aquino accent…) The factor above mainly deals with good content.

Good form means you communicated your correct! answer fairly well to the examiner.

Hence, a bad answer means you: (a) got the answer wrong [bad content], (b) totally botched up in communicating your answer to the examiner [bad form] or (c) both.

Therefore, the more bad things as to content and form you put in that notebook of yours, the lesser your chances in having “Atty.” placed in front of your name. Conversely, the more good things you put in that notebook, the closer you are to your dream. (A side note: Who says becoming a lawyer is a dream come true? Freddy Kruger?)

3. Terrible Handwriting

This was my most basic problem going into my bar exams.

This factor may be a subset of good form but it’s so important I have discuss this in a separate section.

All my school years, I have been cursed with, as my friends say, hieroglyphic handwriting. I have my yearbooks to prove this. I even have teachers telling me to improve it, otherwise, consider a career in high-speed sewing or vulcanizing.

Even now, when people see my handwriting they always say: “OMFG! How on earth did this bozo pass with this kind of handwriting?”

The handwriting need not be beautiful. Only legible.

Why is this a factor?

Consider that a bar examiner must check from 3,000 to 5,000 test papers in about six months. That’s about 500 to less than 1,000 test papers a month, 25 to 50 a day given a 20-day working month. Add to that, the examiners must endure a myriad of wrong answers, in bad grammar and/or in poorly organized thought.

Just imagine if you add to the mix bad handwriting…

4. Excess Baggage

Taking the bar exams demands your full attention. I repeat. Your full attention. There should be no extraneous distractions and undue pressures when taking this exam.

What are the typical distractions? Personal problems, family problems, financial problems, relationship problems. You get it.

I’m not necessarily saying you have to get rid of these problems because they are unavoidable. I’m just saying not to think about these things for a while. I mean someone else has to think of these problems for you while you are in review and while you are taking the exams. You should not be carrying excess baggage come September.

In my case, it was a love problem. The solution? We cooled off for a while to allow me to focus…

5. Fate

When all else cannot explain it, it all boils down to fate. It is not your destiny to become a lawyer.

For the solutions, tune in next time for Part II. You will even know how I surpassed my “handwriting” handicap…

My eyes are starting to hurt and my head is begining to throb…

Later… 🙂


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