bar review materials

About the tips

in 2019, the UP Law Bar Operations Commission asked me for my bar review reading list. in reply, i sent a long rambly e-mail about bar review reading lists that did not actually mention anything i'd read (except for codals).

i also attached this image explaining how i made my study plan because i'm a clown like that.

the tips here have been cleaned up slightly from their original raw form.

Just the tips

this won't be a list of materials, mostly because my choice of materials was driven by what i personally needed out of bar review, which won't be necessarily what other people want or should use. instead here are my recommendations for maximising utility from bar review materials:

A PRACTICAL CONSIDERATION: BE MINDFUL OF HOW MUCH YOU SPEND ON MATERIALS. try to stick to a budget, taking into consideration the probability that you will actually finish all the materials you've chosen, or if their quantity or costs will only become an additional pressure point during your review.

always start with the bar coverage released by the obc (available at the sc website). for every subject, carefully and honestly assess your existing knowledge of and familiarity with the concepts listed in each syllabus. curate your readings (and build your schedule) accordingly.

codals first. sure, there are codals that are more impenetrable than others (like the NIRC, and a wrongly-numbered labor code), but codals must always be your first and last resort. they are your legal foundation. make sure that they're complete with the latest amendments.

the suggested answers to the bar examinations released by the up law center are helpful for at least three reasons: 1) bar examiners will sometimes use previous bar questions as templates for their questions; 2) you can see how concise answers can be formulated; 3) they're a DIY pareto notes if you're willing to put in the work (or can't afford pareto).

useful when u don't have time to read cases in the original: compilations of recent updates to jurisprudence and important decisions penned by the bar chair prepared by barops or PALS or your org (or whoever). former to keep you refreshed especially in subjects where doctrines can radically shift within short amounts of time. latter to be aware of subjects that are considered the expertise of your bar chair.

though for "landmark" rulings, take time to read the originals so that you're confident you know exactly what the court is saying.

as for everything else, the choice of bar materials is idiosyncratic and dependent on your self-assessment of "strong" and "weak" subjects. for some subjects you may just need a refresher and thus bar-review-oriented overviews or outlines will suffice, but for others you may want a more substantive textbook-like commentary. get the most recent versions of the materials, or if those aren't available, be careful of any outdated or incomplete information.

choose authors and materials that you're comfortable with, usually those you've used during law school or whose writing/organizational style makes the most sense to you. browse the library or blessings' collections and skim through materials to get a sense if they will aid your review. but always bear in mind that authors may insert their own interpretation of laws or cases in their writings, which should never be taken as authority. in case of doubt, refer to law or jurisprudence!!!!!!!!

don't bother switching your materials in the middle of bar review based on rumors as to who the bar examiners are. useless, waste of time and money, and would probably not actually give you an advantage.

take the opportunity to write notes by hand, if only to get yourself comfortable with extensive and intensive usage of longhand (remember, you will be writing for hours during the bar) and to practice your legibility. might be useless advice in the year of our lord hashtag bestbarever 2020-2021?? look up best practices in laptop ergonomics and eyestrain prevention instead??? idek

if you find that you're not absorbing what you're reading or if you're losing concentration, it's ok to take a break!! it's way better to stop now and have a breather, than to tire yourself out trying to continue, and later realize you retained nothing of what you read.

for that matter, don't compare your progress with other people's. you have your own pace. it's your bar review process. don't let others control or dictate it. especially true when you study in a group environment/setting.

finally: SET REALISTIC DAILY/WEEKLY/MONTHLY/PER-SUBJECT/PER-ROUND GOALS. by this point in your life, you should have an idea of your study habits, weaknesses etc etc. having realistic goals means that you are reasonably sure you can achieve them, which will boost your confidence, unlike aiming too high-->falling short-->unable to recover. it's normal to have setbacks, what matters is getting past them. bar review is endurance. endure it.

This website and its contents © Rachel B. Miranda, 2020. Unless stated otherwise, nothing here may be used without prior permission. This site is not intended as legal advice, and does not reflect the views of my employer.