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Bar Exam Tips & Secrets


An Interview with Senator Jovito Salonga

by: Atty. Glenn M. Mortel

HARD WORK! - This, in a nutshell, is Senator Jovito Salonga's formula

of passing the bar examination.

Senator Salonga stressed the need for the candidate to determine for
himself a definite goal - an objective, to which he must train his
guns from his first year in college up to the time he finally tackles
the bar examination, if he expects to achieve success.

The youngest of law deans ever to assume such distinctive office in

this country, said that passing the bar is a hard job and, therefore,
it requires thorough preparation.
He discussed at length the various factors which, in his experience,
had helped him tremendously in preparing for the bar examinations.

The first factor: DETERMINATION.

The bar candidate, he explained, must have the spirit and the will to
emerge triumphant in the great task of attaining his definite

The young educator recalled that when he took up the study of the law
from his freshman year at the state university, he had always nurtured
in himself the secret ambition of topping the bar examination if and
when he takes it. Of course, he admitted, he never deviated from his
At the same time he confided that while he had this great ambition
within himself, he never breathed it to any soul, much less to the
girl of his dreams at the time.

A smile crept over his face, a smile that outshone his youthful
countenance. You see, he explained, there were possibilities of
failure. No one can really tell whether he can pass the examination,
much less be certain that he will top it.

Imagine the embarrassment to which I might have exposed myself if I

really told the whole world then of my great ambition and never made
it? he said.
Remember, the possibilities are equally great for success as well as
failure. Nevertheless, it is always good to dream of great ambitions.
And particularly so when you realize any of them eventually.
The second factor: Hard work of preparation.
The main bulk of Dean Salonga's preparations centered on the writing
of review notes on all bar subjects since he was a freshman law
This great task, he recalled, contributed very greatly to his
attaining an impressive foundation of knowledge in all bar subjects.
Preparation such as this one provides the student self-confidence to
face the examination without fear.

The third factor: Extensive reading of every and all conceivable

printed matter, be they cultural, philosophical or otherwise.
The idea here, the dean explained, is to attain not only a broad
cultural background knowledge but also a better facility and ability
for self-expression. Another advantage of extensive reading is
discipline. Discipline, he said, such as enables one to absorb what
one reads.

The fourth factor: Fifteen minutes of daily morning meditation. With

prayers, if you will.
Senator Salonga always had this morning meditation. This enabled him
to go over mentally the various points covered in the review he made
the previous day. More than this, it gave him an opportunity to make
the brain rest after a long and tedious dreary reading.

The last factor: Group discussion.

Senator Salonga said group discussions, particularly over matters
under review, gives the candidate an idea exactly where his weak point
lies. In this case, he will have an opportunity to take remedial
measures to save the situation.
Moreover, he added, group discussion will afford the candidate a
better understanding of the law which he may have before then, merely
but passing knowledge.

Senator Salonga does not believe in requiring students to memorize the

law word for word as is being required by majority of professors in
the different colleges.
We must do everything to liberate ourselves from the shackles of
memory work, and more definite emphasis on the understanding of the
law from its philosophical and economic standpoints, and above all,
knowledge and ability to apply them in our lives.
And what does he think about the so-called textbooks sold profitably
in the market and used intensively in the law colleges?

Senator Salonga shook his head. Many of them in his opinions are no
textbooks at all by any given standards, never fit to be used in the
law colleges.
The dean maintains the view that many of these so-called "textbooks"
are written by what he calls properly as scissors and clipping authors
who do nothing but copy and quote materials after materials here and
there from numerous works written by authors no better than they.

They piece all these clippings together and publish them later to pass
the same as "textbooks". Any high school graduate with ability for
research, capacity to cut clippings can do just as well in the
preparation of similar "textbooks".

As a parting word to the bar candidate, Senator Salonga has this to

say: "Never forget that preparation is the thing that he must have to
fight his battle, the bar examination."