This is an insight of what happened during the four (4) Sundays of November 2011 as the Supreme Court implemented the the MCQs, Trial Memorandun and Legal Opinion writing as chunks of the most difficult examinations in the Philippines. I hope this will help future examinees on what to anticipate, leading to a better preparation.
From the usual La Salle venue, the Bar Examinations was transferred to UST. Well, whatever the reason is, I still believe that the former venue is better. I live in Taguig City so I have to take the taxi in going to UST. I left my house at 5:30 planning to arrive in the venue at 6:30. The gates open at 5:00 am and closes at 7:30 am, 30 minutes before the start of the first exam. I took a taxi and the travel time was approximately 45-50 minutes. I do not recommend bar examinees bringing their own cars with them because looking for a parking spot nearby is difficult.
Upon arrival at UST, I was surprised that the normal bar examinations ruckus was absent. The roads were not closed and you see many police officers around. Only bar examinees are allowed to enter UST through gates 2,3 and 4 along Espana Avenue. The footbridges were full or "bar operations people". The officers were strict on maintaining the entrance to the gates very accessible.
Before entering the campus, every examinee must decide on whether on not to bring packed lunch with them. In my case, I decided not to bring packed lunch with me and planned to eat outside the campus during lunchbreak.
Upon entering the gate, you will be lead to your examination building, before entering the building, you will be asked to leave all electronic gadgets behind. Do not worry everything is organized and you will be issued a corresponding tab which you will eventually use to recover your stuff.
The classrooms in UST are air conditioned and there are nothing special about them, they are very typical. Upon entering the examination room, you will be asked to submit your exam permit and you will be given a pre-determined seat.
15 minutes before the exam, you will not be allowed to leave the classroom so it is better to do all your "rituals" before the said 15 minutes. In that 15 minutes, you will be given the answer sheet to fill out and some time to settle your nerves before the exam starts. The bell rings and everyone turns a page to reveal the first items of the exams.
It was everyone's first time so nobody really has devised a working technique yet on how to budget time and answer effectively. The real thing is way different from the mock bar examinations... primarily because of the emotions involved. This is "it" and you should make every item count. I decided to read twice the questions and choices before answering- it was a bad move. One hour has passed and I am far from finishing half the questions. At that moment, I realized I need to speed up things. I was forced to read once and immediately choose an answer. The bell for the last 15 minutes of the exam was rung and I just finished answering question number 68. It was a roller coaster ride, I read and answered like a maniac. Fortunately, I finished the exam, it was a bit disappointing because of my poor time management.
If my memory serves me right, the exams revolved primarily around the constitution, election laws and administrative laws. Do not take my word for it because I was busy rushing things.
I have decided to choose an answer immediately after reading. That way, I will not be pressed by time like in the Political Law exams. It worked well, time was on my side. I finished 10 minutes before the time. I remember answering questions about ULP, and mostly about the general principles, etc.
I never was good in Taxation so during the review, I have alloted more time in studying it. While taking the exams, it was not that bad actually. The general perception of the exam by most examiness was it was not as dreaded as they expected. Some said it was the easiest exam on the first day. The questions are more on basic taxation, real property taxation, etc.
I cannot remember much about what transpired while taking the civil law exams. I remember answering questions about succession, persons and family relations, marriage, not much on property and obligations and contracts.
During lunch break, they announced that we will have a 30-minute time extension for the Commercial Law exams. Commercial law was the most shocking among all the exams. Majority of the questions were about Negotiable Instruments law- particularly on forgery. I remember answering a negotiable instruments law question every after three items. It was unforgiving. I also encountered many questions about the warehouse receipts law. It was shocking because such subjects were not given much units in law school. After the exam, may people were disappointed, including me.
I cannot remember much about Remedial Law. The questions are well distributed I guess.
Most questions are on application on the Canons. I fear this exam because I am not sure about all of my answers.
The questions mostly are about Book 1 of the Revised Penal Code. Some questions about the special laws like battered woman syndrome also came out.
The trial memo writing was not that difficult I guess, except for wrong time management again! The case was about the son of a woman who slipped in a supermarket because of a puddle of liquid. What I did was write everything in the draft first and one and a half hour before the time, I transferred my work to the answer sheet. Wrong move, I should have not drafted everything. I finished the exam but my penmanship was getting worse and worse towards the end.
To future bar exams takers, I recommend not making a draft if you can. It is better to concentrate on making good arguments than doing the mechanical act of writing most of the time.
The case in the legal opinion writing was about marriage. A woman is getting married to a man who has an illegitimate child and a former void marriage. In the end, we were asked to draft a pre-nuptial agreement. I did not make a comprehensive draft this time. I concentrated on making good arguments and I finished just in time.
These are what happened during the first revised bar examinations in the Philippines. I hope this will help people in future bar examinations. Good luck everyone and God bless!