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My Bar Review Experience

The 2014 Philippine Bar Examinations recently gave birth to 1,126 new lawyers who are expected to be euphoric for a year, at the very least. Ask any one of them to tell you about their bar review experience, all the sacrifices they had to go through, their study habits, or memory techniques and they’d be more than willing to narrate.  Well, ask ANY lawyer to do that and stories will overflow.

Here’s my share (And you didn’t even have to ask) 


That was my study area which also doubled as my kitchen. Cooking was prohibited so for 8 months, I heavily relied on the delivery service of a nearby carenderia called “Mang Gerry’s”. I also kept a regular supply of coffee, crackers, and distilled water. Though I was repeatedly tempted, I tried hard to stay away from too much sodium (like chips & instant noodles). I kept a cork board (A) where I placed quotes and photos to inspire me. There were also these little dumbbells (B) for my [futile] attempt to be physically fit for 8 months; and I deliberately asked my brother to buy me a red chair (C) because I believed it will attract good luck.


I was lucky because the previous occupant of my room at Excellence Dormitory (Bilibid Viejo St., Quiapo, Manila) placed a double lock on the door. Though the dorm was itself secured, I felt so much better knowing that my door won’t be easily opened. (But I think the rosary which I kept hung there for 8 months was what kept me soundly asleep each night)


Flyer for Excellence Dormitory Exclusive Ladies Home. In 2011, the rate (inclusive of water and electricity) was P10,000.00/month for rooms that had AC from 2PM to 6AM and P8,000.00 for non-AC. I think it’s now pegged at P13-15,000.00 for AC rooms. All rooms had its own CRs but doing the laundry was strictly prohibited. We also had to pay P50.00/month for charging mobile phones. Curfew was fixed at 10PM but the (super kind) landlady can accommodate requests for extension if really necessary. It is conveniently located near San Sebastian Recoletos. I loved this dormitory and I’m giving it 4.5 stars!


That’s a ‘clearer’ photo of how my actual study table looked like. Apart from the usual elements (books, papers, pens, highlighters, etc), I also kept a lotion, hand sanitizer, and loose powder just in case I needed to ‘entertain’ myself in between readings. The table’s corner also served as my altar so I could pause any time to pray. I used the wall as my memory board but I always used masking tape so as not to harm the pretty and bright wall paint. My regular day would usually begin at 7AM for breakfast then I’d start reading at 9AM after taking a bath. I see to it that I have an hour of siesta time after lunch to keep me going and I’d usually call it a day by 10PM.


I kept a monthly calendar where I placed the subjects I “should” study for the day but I also made sure I had time to rest. On weekends, I’d usually buy groceries or watch movies to chill. In this calendar, I tried to compress Civil Law subjects in approximately 3 weeks to prepare myself for the scheduled mock bar. I remember taking the result of the mock bar very seriously to the point that I had to write a clarificatory letter to Baste’s bar operations team after they returned our checked mock civil law exam questionnaires and I found that several of their suggested answers to the MCQs were incorrect. I showed the letter to two of my friends who were then seniors in Baste and they advised me to shrug it off. Now, I just laugh at the memory because my “ka-praningan” and ka-OC-han” was validated.


That was the main room for the bar review in San Sebastian Recoletos. Excuse the ceiling as there were some repairs being made during the time I took this photo. There were several satellite rooms but our group chose to stay here for the duration of the review because it was so much better to see the lecturers in person. We also tried to stay in the mid area of the room to avoid noisy reviewees.


After 4 years, I finally lost shame and decided to publicly share this photo. I was keen on mind conditioning. My thinking was, I could condition my mind to target a spot in the top ten so that it could work beyond its normal “law school” capacity. When it was only a month from the bar exams, I started doing a countdown to keep me thrilled and high-spirited. Why 4th? Because I reserved a spot for UP, one for Ateneo, and one for my friend (hahaha!). I did not get the spot but the technique worked- and I passed.


When I felt like giving up, I read that quote. Repeatedly. There was just no point in quitting! So to all future bar examinees, carry on and one day it will be your turn to share your story.

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