7 Tips on Passing the Bar

7 Tips on Passing the Bar

When I took the Bar examination in November 2011, topping it never entered my mind. All I wanted was to pass. Until now, the reality of having placed Top 6 in the Bar examination mystifies me. I do not know how I did it. What I’m only sure of is that I did my best during those four Sundays of November 2011. During those months of preparation for the Bar, my parents, Judge Rosendo B. Bandal, Jr. and Dr. Hope Maxino Bandal always gave me the support and encouragement which allowed me to hurdle the Bar examination successfully. My brother, Atty. Jason, always got in touch with me to give me tips on how to prepare for the exam.

Now that I have already passed the Bar exams, I realized that I have learned a lot of things along the way. Here they are:

  1. Do not rely on yourself. Trust in GOD. Pray for His guidance. To pass the Bar exams, you also need some amount of luck. As you prepare for the Bar exams, you’d realize that there are just so many things to study. At some point in your review, you have to choose which things to study. You’re lucky if what you study is also what would be asked during the examination. Pray to GOD. Pray for guidance.
  2. The best law school to prepare for the Bar Exam is the school where you are currently enrolled. If you really want to pass the Bar exam, you can do it no matter which school you’re enrolled in. I have been to three different law schools: San Beda College of Law, University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Law and Silliman University College of Law. They are all the same. All of these schools teach us the same laws, the same jurisprudence. Passing the Bar is simply a matter of attitude. By that I mean that one should have the determination to pass the Bar exams. So no matter which school you are enrolled in, just make the most out of it. It is up to the student if he or she would want to pass and excel in the Bar exams. More than the school, the attitude of the student or examinee towards the Bar examination is really what would determine if he or she can successfully hurdle it. But I do acknowledge that my success with the Bar examination was because of the training I got from the San Beda College of Law, the UP College of Law, and from the Silliman University College of Law. All these three law schools are very good. The same is true with the San Sebastian Recoletos Review Center, the place where I enrolled for my Bar review. They prepared me well for the Bar exam.  And all of them played a big role in my passing and topping the Bar exam!
  3. Prepare for the Bar exam the very moment you enter law school. The time between one’s graduation from law school and the actual date of the Bar exam itself simply is not enough to review everything that was taught during one’s stay in law school. Imagine, it usually takes a student four years to study all law subjects. But for purposes of the Bar exam, a law graduate only has about five (if September is the schedule of the Bar Exam) or seven (if November is the schedule of the Bar exam) months to review everything which took him or her four years to learn. Moreover, during the exam itself, stock knowledge of the law is very useful. When you only have about a minute to answer every question, your mastery of the subject matter would enable you to correctly spot the answer in a shorter period of time. You cannot master a subject if you study for it only during the months leading to the Bar exam. You should try to master it while you’re in law school.
  4. Find time to enjoy as you prepare and review for the Bar exam. Preparing for the Bar examination is so stressful emotionally, physically, mentally, and psychologically. It is mentally and emotionally draining. You’d not know what to do so you can finish reading and reviewing everything. The enormous amount of data and information you’d have to absorb is sometimes too much for you to handle. At times you get depressed because you feel that no matter how hard you study, still it seems that your efforts are not yet enough to be able to pass the Bar exam. Many times you’d realize that nothing of what you read is actually being absorbed and stored in your memory. All these can make you go crazy if you’d stress yourself too much. You’d be stressed out. To preserve your mental state, you’d have to find time to relax and have fun. It is impossible to study straight for 10 hours or 24 hours. You need to pause at times and relax. When I was reviewing, I went to the malls to relax. Me and my girlfriend watched movies and went shopping frequently. This re-energized us. It enabled us to survive the very very stressful situation which each Bar reviewee underwent during the months leading to Bar exam.
  5. Choose quality over quantity. A Bar reviewee would get and receive so many materials during his or her review — books, reviewers, memory aids, and all sorts of materials. The volume of materials to read is so massive and enormous. You’d not have enough time reading all of them, no matter how much you’d want to do so. You really have to choose which materials to study. Sometimes, reading so many materials can only confuse you. In fact, during the pre-week, one would not have enough time to read a lot of materials. As for me, during the review, I only chose two materials for every subject – one book, and one reviewer or memory aid. I mastered these two materials. Although sometimes I had doubts if these two are enough, I just had to trust my judgment. And I was not disappointed because sticking to two materials per subject enabled me to be more familiar with the materials and enabled me to answer faster during the Bar exam itself.
  6. Take care of your health during the exam week. One’s fitness to take the exam is as important as the review process itself. Remember, it would take you four consecutive Sundays to complete the Bar exam. Everything would be useless and all your efforts would be put to waste if you’d not be able to continue taking the exam because you are sick during the exam day itself. I realized this during the first Sunday of the exam. The night before the exam, I was not able to sleep because I got very disturbed by the fact that I was not able to finish reading everything I thought I had to read. On the day of the exam, as I was answering question number 30 of the 100-item multiple choice exam in Political Law under extreme time pressure (with only about a minute to analyse the situation given, and choose the correct answer among the four choices given), I almost fainted. I felt very cold. I felt I was about to vomit. My mind stopped working. I felt so weak and tired. I was in extreme fatigue because I was not able to sleep the night before. At that time I really felt I would not be able to continue taking the exam. I paused for about 5 minutes and took deep breaths. Thankfully I recovered. During that brief period of time, I opted not to inform the proctor about how I felt. My objective was clear: to pass the Bar exam. During the fourth Sunday, I was having loose bowel movement (LBM). That was really very challenging. But after so many months of preparation for the Bar exam, giving up was simply not an option.
  7. Just do your best. On the day of the exam, no one can assist you as you answer the test questions. You can’t rely on anyone but yourself. So no matter how you feel about how you prepared for the exam, and even if you feel you have not done enough to prepare for the exam, just do your best in answering those questions. Be the best that you can be. As I was answering the Bar exams, I constantly remembered and applied this quotation: “To be a winner, all that you need to give is all that you have.”


    Ivan Maxino Bandal

    Bachelor of Mass Communication (2003); Bachelor of Laws (2011);

    Mr. Bandal ranked sixth in the recent Bar Exams and was the only topnotcher from the Visayas. He was a consistent honor student throughout his college (graduating magna cum laude) and Law years, and was named one of the Top 10 Students of the Philippines in 2003.