By: Archiebald Faller Capila
On September 28, Associate Justice and Bar Examinations Chairperson Marvic M.V.F Leonen announced that the Bar will be reset from November 2021 to January 2022. In Bar Bulletin No. 28, S. 2021, the Office of the 2020/21 Bar Chairperson shared that they considered the COVID-19 situation in the country in deciding to postpone this year’s Bar exams as the safety of everyone who will be involved in the eventual examinations is their priority.
According to Justice Leonen, the Court decided to move the Bar exams to a later date because they are doing everything they can in their power to assure that the said exams will be done in a safe and orderly fashion. In a tweet by the Bar Chairperson himself, he reminded the candidates that their safety is the utmost priority. He also shared that may the extension be a time to be used in studying as well.
This announcement garnered mixed emotions and reactions from various members of the legal community. For some, such is a relief because they are worried about the current status of the nation with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, they are worried that come November, they will still not be prepared for the external factors considering the exposure to certain environments that will make them susceptible to catching the virus. Some see this as an opportunity to have more time to study as well. Additional weeks to be dedicated to further preparation are confidence boosters with respect to bar candidates alike.
However, for some, the same creates certain burdens as well. For those who have graduated last 2020 and those who are eyeing to retake the Bar, the additional two months seem like an eternity for they have waited too long for this. Accordingly, some working candidates have already left their respective jobs either permanently or by virtue of a study leave because of the original schedule posted before the postponement.
Now that the next Bar examinations will be held on January 2022, we ask ourselves—what now? The recent announcement indeed shocked the whole legal community that eventually led to a roller coaster of emotions. However, now that there is an official announcement from the Court itself, we must ponder on what we should do in order to fully prepare for the upcoming Bar examinations.
In order to help Bar candidates on what they should do now that the Bar is already moved, we at Barrista Solutions compiled some tips on how we should all move forward. Below is a list that may help Bar candidates on how to deal with the postponement of this year’s Bar exams:
1. Take a break
An additional two months in the review proper serves as a breath of fresh air for every candidate. A necessary break is needed in order to recalibrate yourself and eventually find your inner strength to finish a longer review properly. Give yourself a day or two of break time. Go on and do something else. You could binge-watch a series or a handful of movies on your favorite streaming platform. You could also go out and take a stroll provided that you follow certain safe and healthy regulations. Treat yourself to a meal that you have always craved for. Take a break. In that way, your body will be ready for what is to come.
2. Recheck your calendar
Because of the postponement, a Bar candidate has an additional two months to prepare for the exams. With this, you need to recheck your calendar in order to gauge what you should focus on in the following weeks and months. By checking your calendar, you would know how much time you have and how much time you’ll need in order to finish all your reading materials. It is important that you do this first before going back to your scheduled study time.
3. Finish your scheduled readings
Contrary to popular belief, it is more effective when you stick to your study schedule all the way to the end of October. It is common knowledge that you already have prepared for yourself a schedule that runs up to the last week of the month before November. So, it is advisable that you finish it first before dwelling on other matters. You should be able to finish at least one reading for all the eight subjects of the Bar examinations. After that, you can move on and prepare a new and separate schedule for the additional months given to us by the postponement.
4. Prepare a new timetable for two months
The months of November, December, and the first few days of January are additional periods that could be used perfectly for another reading. Considering that the same is also a short span, you should prepare your timetable wisely. Utilize these additional months to scan through your subjects. Know your weak points and allocate more days for the same. It is important that you also recall the weight of each subject so that you could plot the second reading better as well. Remember, while two months is a long time under different circumstances, the same is not true for the Bar preparation. Use the time wisely.
5. Decide on what material to use
For your second reading, you must know what material you should use. It is paramount that you decide beforehand on what you would use in order to fully maximize the time. Remember that while you may have read other materials in your review subjects and in your first reading in the review proper, the same is not automatic when it comes to your second reading. Because of the scarcity of time, you might want to consider choosing reviewers or notes you are most comfortable with. Reading and memorizing basic elements of the laws and jurisprudence are necessary in order to fully understand the topics for your second reading. So, it is important that you identify firsthand the materials you will be using.
6. Make time for breaks and holidays
Before anything else, you are a human too. It is without a doubt that the months of November, December, and January have in them several days that are declared as official holidays in the country. To add to this, the seasons of the said months offer a lot of celebrations which, more often than not, are distractions as well. However, for you to be able to effectively perform in your course of business, also take a day off. Take a break during the holidays. Before you are a graduate of further studies in law, you are a person who needs a break. Before you are a Juris Doctor, you are a member of your family and a loved one who also needs to attend to certain duties beyond the scope of the law.
7. Don’t forget to take the mock bars
One of the unique characteristics of the review proper for specific review centers, if you are enrolled in one, is their respective mock bar. In which, a candidate or an enrollee is subjected to a simulated exam mirroring the experience of real Bar examinations. It is important that you attend to the same and answer questions in order to practice your manner of answering. Remember that you should already know by heart the format you wish to use in answering a Bar exam question. Accordingly, you should also be trained in managing your time because it is not always that you have the right answer in your head. Mock bars are designed to test how you will thrive under pressure. So, take it religiously in order to be familiar with the process, especially that next year’s Bar will be made through online platforms.
8. If possible, isolate yourself before the exams
Because of the current health crisis we are all in, it is important that you stay safe all the time. However, as mentioned and proved by several local and national organizations, the virus spreads so much that at times, even if you are following basic health protocols, you are still susceptible to getting the virus. Now that it is official, you should also find time in isolating yourself come January. It is important that you protect yourself from unnecessary exposures because we all know that once you test positive in the weekly test come Bar time, you can no longer take the next scheduled exams which will then lead to a “not finished” status. Remember to take care of yourself and the people around you, future lawyers!
9. Go back to the basics
When we say we must go back to the basics, we should remember the main concepts of the law in terms of studying. Remember that by the time January comes, you will only have a week or two to prepare for the Bar. In this stretch, it is important that you be able to go back to the basic elements of the law under the scope of the syllabus. Read the codal. As much as possible, memorize the elements pertaining to the same. Also, remember that Justice Leonen mentioned that it is important that you know the core laws of each subject. Hence, do not forget to memorize the basics taught in law school.
10. Make peace with yourself
Above all else, you should be able to make peace with yourself. Everything that you have studied will all go down the drain if you cannot find your inner peace. Remember that this is your fight. However, for you to win this fight, you must first take over the battle from within. You must be able to slay your inner demons and be able to accept the fact that you can and you will become a lawyer soon. Always tell yourself that you will surpass this obstacle and eventually claim your destiny—to become a member of the legal profession.
To all the Bar candidates out there having a hard time managing their time and thoughts, we are with you. May you have the strength and wisdom to surpass everything you are going through. May this list be able to help you achieve your life-long dream of becoming a lawyer. Good luck, future paneros and paneras! We are with you all the way!