|Image credit: GMA Network|
This blog post is a continuation of my previous post on Hurdling the Bar Exam – Overhaul Your Strategies to Pass The Bar. November is getting closer and I can relate well about the feeling of jitters, anxiousness and sleepless nights that barristers now experience. I, too have some shares of terrorizing thoughts and going ballistic thinking about how to shortlist the topics to read during the last few weeks before the most dreaded month for the bar exam comes. With my sincere desire to help barristers, most especially some classmates who are going to take the bar and are texting me for help, here are some helpful (I hope) tips I can share with you to help you get through during the BIG DAY.
Tip #1 - EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Even if you come prepared I must say that no one will ever be that prepared and ready for the unexpected bar questions on the BIG DAY. So the first tip that I can give you is to EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED and be ready how to manage your emotion and mental block that can possibly happen. The emotional rush will be overwhelming, believe me, especially when the first question is something that you are uncomfortable of answering (or unfortunately you do not know how to answer). The bar examiners have their way of making barristers “comfortable” or “uncomfortable” about the questions that they will throw at you to test your wits and ability to argue within the legal purview. The first questions will always be the “gulpi de gulat” part. The question will either be the very basic that you tend to neglect studying during your review since you consider them negligible (yeah, such as different national territory of the Philippines – territorial zone, contiguous zone, etc. and the examiner asks you to define each!) or a very difficult case law that requires you to exercise your own judgment and ruling based on the facts given and on jurisprudence. You need to be mentally composed and relaxed during the exam to give yourself some breather to think clearly. Once you panic, mental block will consume you and you will definitely be lost.
Tip #2 – OVERCOMING MENTAL BLOCK
Mental block is definitely every barrister’s foe. A common reaction to this is mental and emotional panic. It is a mistake to answer the question immediately while you are at this “unfit” state. To confront your mental block, spend a few seconds to relax yourself, regain composure and re-affirm to yourself that you have prepared enough for the bar to regain your confidence in answering the question. Don’t be too desperate in answering the question outright. You can skip the question and mark the questionnaire so that you can go back for it later. Do not forget to allocate a page for that question on the test notebook. By going to the next question that you are able to answer you can regain back your confidence that you are capable of defending your ground in the battlefield.
Another trick that I have learned from the research study conducted by the Science of Neuro-Linguistic Programming is to look up instead of staring at your desk during a mental block. Based on their brain research the position of the eyes actually influences which part of the brain we are trying to access. Looking up allows us to access information from our memories. Try it! There’s no harm done to do this when you are already in a desperate situation as a mental block during the bar exam.
Another thing that you can try is using Mind Mapping. Sure you cannot directly hit the bull’s eye to the answer but with mind mapping you start to trigger your memory to bring out everything you know that is related about the topic/question you have trouble of answering. The power of association will come into play and once triggered you can certainly pick up something useful that can help you answer the difficult question and play around such information in order to give the closest answer that you can possibly give the examiner. Lastly, even if you have a mental block never leave the question blank. Just give it your best shot. Getting 1 point from your answer is better than getting a zero. Remember 1 point and even .01 from your rating can influence your passing or not passing the bar so every point counts! So give it a good fight! Your future career depends on it!
Tip #3 – DO NOT RELY HEAVILY ON TIPS
There is so much commotion about getting tips from other schools and review centers. While tips are helpful in some ways it can also be distracting in another. Tips can be helpful but common sense will always tell you that even granting other schools or review centers may have sources of getting tips you will still know the answer to the bar questions if you come prepared. Honestly, I was able to get hold of some of these so-called “tips” on the first day but mind you the tips are useless since not a single topic from it came out from the bar. After a quick scan of the last minute tip shared by a friend I lost interest from it since I already know what was written there. What I am saying is tips or no tips you already have the body of knowledge in your brain that will help you get through the bar questions. Rely on that heavily and not on some tips.
On the other hand, there are tips that are actually reliable. Although they are not the actual answer it helps you focus on important topics that might actually come out in the bar and gives you time to research or ask others about that topic before the exam begins. But again, tips or no tips you can still answer if you prepared well during your review. That’s my stand and point of view about tips and I hope that you will make it yours, too for the sake of passing the bar. Just play safe while in the battlefield and wear your own armor and weapons.
|Bar Operations 2010 Then at La Salle|
Tip #4 – BRING YOUR OWN SURVIVAL KIT
If there is something good about bar operations, it is the convenience they provide to the barristers. They provide a kit that contains everything you need from bottles of water, snacks, candies, lunch, fruits and other food stuffs and yeah medicine (this is not overdoing it for this became helpful when a classmate needs to go several times in the comfort room before the exam starts because of an upset stomach, most likely caused by anxiousness, and the medicine I prepared for myself helped calm down his stomach from going ballistic). I appreciate the efforts of my school’s bar operation organized by the school council for which I was an officer throughout my four years in law school but as I emphasized before I prefer taking with me my own armor and weapons and I selectively chose the medicines I will likely need during an “emergency.” And yes I did plan for and prepared my own “kit” since I expect that outside the UST will be chaotic and crowded and there is a chance that I will miss my school’s bar operation group and I can’t grab the kits that they will provide.
The lunch break is only good for 1 hour and taking into account the time it takes to walk and find a place to eat, in addition to the long line it takes to order your food plus the agony of walking under the heat of the sun or the rain that can be very stressful, it is smarter to stay within the UST campus to eat your lunch. I prefer eating light lunch and I have with me dark chocolates that keep my stomach feeling full throughout the day because they contain high fiber. Dark chocolates also enhance the blood flow to the brain and the heart which enhance cognitive function. The last thing I want to worry about is food and lack of energy so I make sure I get a dose of caffeine before going to the examination center, munch on some dark chocolates to make me feel fuller during the exam, chew some Mentos to give me some refreshing and cool feeling while answering on my test booklet and two bottles of water to keep me hydrated just enough but will not let me go to the comfort room during the examination. That’s all for my survival kit.
|CPC Central Bar Operations at UST|
Tip #5 – LEAVE EXCESS BAGGAGE BEHIND
You probably wonder why I included this here. Well, personally I was going through hell and fire during my review period and it takes a lot of commitment, courage and determination to focus. I refused that my personal circumstances will tip over my emotional and mental balance so I decided I need to unload myself from whatever baggage I was carrying at that time. Each one of us will always have our own personal circumstances, such as problems involving family, relationships, money, work, etc. that will be a barrier in focusing on your review and the bar. I have given up some things and made some major decisions that helped me unload the excess baggage I have been carrying for many years and that helped me attract positive vibes. If you have those baggage to carry with you during the bar month try your best to throw it away or at least shut them out of your system temporarily. It may be easier said than done but I do know how devastating it can be to have this baggage around during the review and bar months. They are a major distraction and destruction and you have to make a call in keeping them from affecting the outcome of your bar exam.
Tip #6 – NEVER DISCUSS THE ANSWERS OF THE BAR QUESTIONS
For your own peace of mind’s sake never attempt to discuss the answer of the bar questions with someone. Since you will have to endure the 4 Sundays of November, it is best to keep mum about the bar questions/answers and move on studying for the next subject that you will take. I know some people who tried to search for the answers of the past bar questions and spent the whole week worrying and feeling bad about giving the wrong answer that they lost focus on reviewing for the next Sunday’s exam. It can distract you from focusing on what matters the most at the moment. It can even make you lose confidence in taking the bar for the upcoming Sundays and you will eventually lose focus because of some nagging thoughts in your mind. Don’t let this practice kill your chance in giving your best for the succeeding Sundays.
Tip #7 – TAKE MEMORY ENHANCER
Barristers are already subject to mental fatigue during the review months. Aside from the lengthy and exhaustive coverage of the bar exam, the type of the exam in the bar is more challenging than any other professional examination in the Philippines. With an essay type of examination you need to be mentally alert and you need to have a good analytical skill and comprehension. This in itself can become burdensome to your brain to process everything. Taking a memory enhancer can help you boost your cognitive performance. However, take precaution when taking anything. Make sure that you have a clearance from your doctor if you have some medical condition. Taking them will not guarantee you on passing the bar but can help enhance your cognitive function to help you process the information you learned during your review and help retain them in your memory. If you have some problems about memory retention and recall you may find this helpful. Memory enhancers can keep your mind sharp and allows you to focus and process information quickly. It also enhances your analytical and comprehension skills which are essential during the bar exam.
Tip #8 – PRAY SINCERELY AND REASONABLY
Prayer is a very powerful tool that can help you get through all sorts of challenges of the bar exam. But pray reasonably. By this I mean pray sincerely coming from your heart. This will do and you shall receive the divine guidance that you need. Saying a litany of prayers before the bar will not be of much help if you did not actually prepared well. The answers will not magically come to your mind during the bar exam. The divine guidance will happen when you most need it such as when you start panicking and saying a prayer will help calm you down or you will never feel anxious at all during the bar exam or when you come across a question and you are able to answer it very smoothly, or you come across a question which you are able to read before in your review. These are some of the “wonders” that prayers can do. But you need to help yourself, too. It is unreasonable to ask passing the bar when you have not spent much effort to make it happen.
Tip #9 – GIVE YOURSELF A GOOD FIGHT, YOU OWE IT TO YOURSELF
I call the bar exam the battleground because it will place you to a situation where you will struggle to fight for a spot to pass. Based on statistics, out of thousands of bar examinees only just a few hundred in some cases and not over two thousand for most cases only pass every year. The bar is no doubt the HARDEST professional examination in the Philippines and one of the hardest in the world. You need to realize this the moment you step your foot in law school in your first year. It takes years before you can build your database of knowledge about the law and the grand finale to test what you have learned is the bar exam. Knowing your struggles during your school days, the things you gave up and sacrificed, and the sleepless nights for many years to get this far, you should realize that you deserve to be on the 20% more or less who will pass the bar and not on the 80% casualties every year. Claim your spot to take your Lawyer's Oath soon!
|BAR PASSERS TAKING THEIR LAWYERS OATH BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES|
Image credit: GMA Network
Tip #10 – REMIND YOURSELF OF THE GOOD THINGS TO COME
Inspire yourself during the bar exam by thinking about the good things that are yet to come. Do you miss going out with friends and to socialize? Is your current job does not give you self fulfillment and satisfaction? Are you looking forward to getting long hours of sleep? After the bar you can indulge in socializing or sleeping for long hours and it will give you the leeway to do whatever you want to do. I am sure there are many good stuffs that you look forward to of doing after the bar exam. You can also look forward to practicing the law profession once you pass and get the Atty title before your name. After what you have sacrificed during the review months you are probably excited to be liberated from your review routines and become rewarded for your hard work by passing the bar exam. With these inspirations in mind you can condition yourself to do your best during the big day. The deliberate conditioning of the mind through positive thoughts can go a long way of driving you towards achieving your goals.
Hats up for all the barristers this year for I truly understand your sacrifices and struggles to get this far on your journey. Always look forward with positive thoughts and highly driven motivation to get through. It is not easy to be on the battleground but with the right armor and weapons you take with you the reward of winning is very fulfilling. Good luck and I’ll be offering special prayers to all of you.