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JURISTS BAR REVIEW CENTER

PRIMER ON BAR ESSAY EXAM


TACTICS & STRATEGIES
Prof. Manuel R. Riguera

Fact-based essay questions are the norm in the bar examinations. Use of MCQs
discontinued, at least for the 2015 Bar.

SC 2013 Bar Bulletin 1

The basic elements of problem solving that the Examiners shall particularly look for are the
examinee's (FLIA):
(1) proper understanding and appreciation of the facts, particularly of the components or
details that can be material in resolving the given problem;
(2) his or her appreciation of the applicable law/s that may come into play;
(3) recognition of the issue/s posed; and the
( 4) resolution of the issues through the analysis and application of the law to the given
facts.
The examinees presentation and articulation of his or her answer shall also be given
weight.

SC 2013 Bar Bulletin 1, other SC bar issuances, and advice of former bar examinees,
examiners, and law professors emphasize the importance of LOGIC in the bar exam.

The bar examinee must be logic-driven or argument/driven, not conclusion-driven.

Your answer should demonstrate your ability to apply the law to the given facts, and to
reason logically in a lawyerlike manner to a sound conclusion from the given premises.

Prof. Reynaldo Geronimo, former bar examiner: The examiner can give you credit for an
answer that is not exactly correct, but is well-written and logical. Remember: Your answer
will not be graded on whether you are right or wrong but on how you present your case.

PRACTICAL LOGIC FOR THE BAR

Logic has many branches. The tools of logic which we will be using are inductive reasoning,
deductive reasoning, and analogical reasoning (DIA).

INDUCTIVE REASONING: Reasoning from the particular to the universal. In bar,


reasoning from the facts to the rule/s.

All rights reserved by Jurists Review Center, Inc. (JRCI), 2015. This work is the intellectual property of JRCI
and the unauthorized copying, storage, recording, or dissemination of this work or any part thereof (including
the posting of this work on the internet) without the express written consent of JRCI is illegal and shall be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law by the bringing of the appropriate criminal, civil, or administrative
proceedings, including proceedings with the Office of the Bar Confidant.
Primer on Bar Essay Exam Tactics & Strategies by Prof. Manuel R. Riguera for Jurists Bar Review Center

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DEDUCTIVE REASONING: Reasoning from the universal to the particular. In bar, applying
the rule/s to the relevant facts.

ANALOGICAL REASONING: Reasoning from an identical/similar situation to the present


situation. In bar, reasoning using precedents, textbook examples and Q&As.

Flow chart of analysis and argumentation

LOGICAL TOOLS ESSAY QUESTION ISSUE/RULE


RESOLUTION/CONCLUSION WRITTEN ANSWER

Analysis and Argumentation

ANALYSIS: The process of determining the resolution and conclusion (answer) using the
tools of logic.
ARGUMENTATION. The process of presenting the answer in a logical and organized form.

READING & ANSWERING A BAR ESSAY QUESTION: OUTLINE OF STEPS


1. PREPARE A CRARC (CONCLUSION, RULE, APPLICATION, RESOLUTION &
CONCLUSION) MATRIX. THE MATRIX WILL BE USED TO ANALYZE, OUTLINE AND THEN
PRESENT THE ANSWER.
An outline is indispensable in coming up with a logical and organized answer. Jurists has
developed the CRARC analytical matrix to assist the examinee in outlining and writing a logical
and organized bar exam answer.
The biggest mistake many examinees commit is to begin writing the minute they finish
reading the question in the hope that as they go along thoughts will come to them and the writing
will compose itself. Answers written without planning tend to be too long, unfocused, and
disorganized.
Outlining the answer before writing gives the test-taker an opportunity to think through the
question, discard irrelevant issues and concepts, focus on the critical facts, and organize the
answer in a logical fashion.
SC recommends outlining: As a good rule to follow, draw an outline of the proposed answer
- after reading the question and understanding what it requires, take some time to note (on a
scratch paper) a brief outline of the proposed answer. The examinee can use the questionnaire but
not the exam booklet to do the outline. The outline allows him/her to systematically present all the
pertinent information in a logical order. (SC 2013 Bar Bulletin 5, 2014 Bar Guidelines).

Jurists CRARC Matrix

Jurists has developed the CRARC matrix to assist the examinee in outlining his answer.
The CRARC matrix is superior to existing matrixes or formats (like IRAC) since the examinee may
use it for the triple purpose of analyzing the bar exam question, outlining, and then presenting his
or her answer.

All rights reserved by Jurists Review Center, Inc. (JRCI), 2015. This work is the intellectual property of JRCI
and the unauthorized copying, storage, recording, or dissemination of this work or any part thereof (including
the posting of this work on the internet) without the express written consent of JRCI is illegal and shall be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law by the bringing of the appropriate criminal, civil, or administrative
proceedings, including proceedings with the Office of the Bar Confidant.
Primer on Bar Essay Exam Tactics & Strategies by Prof. Manuel R. Riguera for Jurists Bar Review Center

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JURISTS CRARC MATRIX


Call or Immediate
Issue/Conclusion
Core Issue/Resolution
Rule
Application

CALL/IMMEDIATE ISSUE: The call is the last sentence of the problem which asks a
question or instructs the examinee to do something (e.g., decide, resolve, etc.) The call also
presents the immediate issue, the answer to which is the conclusion.

CORE ISSUE: The core or underlying issue. The core issue of a problem is an issue which
presents a question of law and whose resolution would determine the conclusion to be
reached by the examinee.

RULE (SJD): The applicable rule or law or legal basis. It may be a statute, rule, or
regulation; or jurisprudence; or a well-settled legal doctrine or concept.

APPLICATION: The application of the rule to the relevant facts of the question.

RESOLUTION: The response to the core or underlying issue.

CONCLUSION: The response to the call.

2. READ THE CALL/IMMEDIATE ISSUE OF THE QUESTION. WRITE DOWN IN CRARC


MATRIX.

Illustration (08 Remedial Bar Q)

Domenico and Gen lived without the benefit of marriage for 20 years, during which time they
purchased properties together. After Domenico died without a will, Gen filed a petition for
letters of administration. Domenicos siblings opposed the same on the ground that Gen
has no legal personality. Decide.

CALL/IMMEDIATE ISSUE: Does Gen have the legal personality to file a petition for letters
of administration?

3. READ CAREFULLY THE FACT-SETTING TWICE. ENCIRCLE THE PARTIES AND


UNDERLINE WHAT APPEAR TO BE PRIMA FACIE RELEVANT FACTS. THIS WILL
GIVE YOU HINTS/CLUES AS TO THE CORE ISSUE/APPLICABLE RULE/S.

In your second reading, look for fact patterns or thematic facts which will trigger the
applicable rule or the core issue.

Illustration:

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and the unauthorized copying, storage, recording, or dissemination of this work or any part thereof (including
the posting of this work on the internet) without the express written consent of JRCI is illegal and shall be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law by the bringing of the appropriate criminal, civil, or administrative
proceedings, including proceedings with the Office of the Bar Confidant.
Primer on Bar Essay Exam Tactics & Strategies by Prof. Manuel R. Riguera for Jurists Bar Review Center

Page 3 of 10

Domenico and Gen lived without the benefit of marriage for 20 years, during which time they
purchased properties together. After Domenico died without a will, Gen filed a petition for letters of
administration. Domenicos siblings opposed the same on the ground that Gen has no legal
personality. Decide.

CORE/UNDERLYING ISSUE: Does a person who had cohabited with another have an
interest in the properties acquired during the cohabitation?

4. WRITE DOWN THE APPLICABLE RULE/S AND CORE ISSUE IN THE MATRIX.

When you have spotted the core issue, it means that you already know more or less the
applicable rule or at least have an idea as to what the applicable rule is. Here the
applicable rule is Art. 147/148 of the Family Code.

Art. 147/148, Family Code: When a man and a woman cohabit together without the benefit
of marriage, the property acquired by them shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.

5. WRITE DOWN RELEVANT FACTS IN APPLICATION PORTION OF CRARC MATRIX.


NOTE THAT YOU CAN DETERMINE THE RELEVANT FACTS ONLY AFTER YOU HAVE
DETERMINED THE CORE ISSUE/APPLICABLE RULE/S.

6. APPLY RULE TO CORE ISSUE TO COME UP WITH RESOLUTION. INDICATE IN


CRARC MATRIX.

7. INDICATE CONCLUSION (RESPONSE TO CALL) IN CRARC MATRIX.

Call or Immediate
Issue/Conclusion
Core Issue/Resolution

Gen have legal personlty to file a pet for LOA? No

Rule

Person who cohabited with another have interest in prop acquired


by them? Yes
Prop acquired by persons cohabiting -> co-ownership

Application

Lived together w/o marr 20 yrs, co-owner of props, interest

Note that in inputting the data into the Jurists CRARC matrix, you use keywords,
abbreviations, and shorthand notations so as to save time.

8. PRESENT ANSWER USING CRARC FORMAT.


PRESENTING (PACKAGING) YOUR ANSWER
Jurists 4-Paragraph Format (CRAC)
1st paragraph: Conclusion.
2nd paragraph, the applicable rule/s.
3rd paragraph, the application of the rule to the relevant facts.
4th paragraph. Resolution & Conclusion.

All rights reserved by Jurists Review Center, Inc. (JRCI), 2015. This work is the intellectual property of JRCI
and the unauthorized copying, storage, recording, or dissemination of this work or any part thereof (including
the posting of this work on the internet) without the express written consent of JRCI is illegal and shall be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law by the bringing of the appropriate criminal, civil, or administrative
proceedings, including proceedings with the Office of the Bar Confidant.
Primer on Bar Essay Exam Tactics & Strategies by Prof. Manuel R. Riguera for Jurists Bar Review Center

Page 4 of 10

The resolution and conclusion may be the same. Usually this happens if the call presents
an immediate legal issue. (E.g., Is the action for specific performance incapable of pecuniary
estimation?). Where the call does not present an immediate legal issue (e.g., How would you rule
on the motion to dismiss?), you will have a resolution and a conclusion.

Domenico and Gen lived without the benefit of marriage for 20 years, during which time they
purchased properties together. After Domenico died without a will, Gen filed a petition for
letters of administration. Domenicos siblings opposed the same on the ground that Gen
has no legal personality. Decide.

1st Paragraph: Conclusion

The opposition to the petition for letters of administration on the ground that Gen has no
legal personality to file it is denied.

Conclusion should be directly responsive to the call

2nd Par: Rule/s

Under the Family Code, a person who has cohabited with another is a co-owner of the
properties acquired during the cohabitation. Under the Law on Special Proceedings, a
person who has an interest in the estate has the legal personality to file a petition for letters
of administration.

3rd Par: Application to Relevant Facts

Here Domenico and Gen had lived without the benefit of marriage for 20 years and had
purchased properties together.

4th Par: Resolution & Conclusion

Hence Gen is a co-owner of the properties she and Domenico purchased together and
therefore has an interest in his estate [Resolution]. Thus she has the legal personality to file
the petition for letters of administration and hence the opposition should be denied
[Conclusion].

ECHO METHOD: In writing your conclusion, adopt the calls wordings.


Was the dismissal order of the Regional Trial Court correct?
No, the dismissal order of the Regional Trial Court was not correct.

2nd Paragraph
STATUTE
Under the Civil Code provisions on Property...
Under the Insurance Code...
Under Rules on Criminal Procedure...

All rights reserved by Jurists Review Center, Inc. (JRCI), 2015. This work is the intellectual property of JRCI
and the unauthorized copying, storage, recording, or dissemination of this work or any part thereof (including
the posting of this work on the internet) without the express written consent of JRCI is illegal and shall be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law by the bringing of the appropriate criminal, civil, or administrative
proceedings, including proceedings with the Office of the Bar Confidant.
Primer on Bar Essay Exam Tactics & Strategies by Prof. Manuel R. Riguera for Jurists Bar Review Center

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JURISPRUDENCE
In a case involving similar facts, the Supreme Court held that
The Supreme Court has held in Neypes v. Court of Appeal that
The Supreme Court has held that
WELL-KNOWN LEGAL DOCTRINE OR RULE
Under the doctrine of last clear chance
Under the doctrine of election of remedies
Under the Best Evidence Rule
Under the Statute of Frauds

INDUCTIVE REASONING: The process of reasoning from the facts to pinpoint the
applicable rule and/or core issue.

ANALOGICAL REASONING: Reasoning from identical or similar situations. If a previous


identical or similar situation has conclusion X, then the present situation should also have
conclusion X. Primarily analogical reasoning relies on precedents or jurisprudence. If the facts
of the essay question are similar to a decided case, then the holding of the decided case may be
used as the conclusion/resolution of the essay question.
ANATOMY OF A CASE DIGEST

San Luis v San Luis, G.R. No. 133743, 6 February 2007:

FACTS: Gov. San Luis married Ms Corwin in 1968. In 1973, Corwin divorced San Luis in
the USA. San Luis got married to Felicidad in 1974. They lived together and acquired
property. San Luis died in 1992. Felicidad filed a petition for letters of administration of the
estate of San Luis. Some of San Luis children filed an opposition to the petition for letters
of administration contending that Felicidad is not the legal wife of San Luis and thus has no
legal personality to file the petition. Does Felicidad have the legal personality to file the
petition?

HELD: A person who has cohabited with another even without the benefit of marriage has
the legal personality to file a petition for letters of administration of her partners estate.

RATIO DECIDENDI: Such a person has an interest in the estate of the other as a co-owner
pursuant to Article 147/148 of the Family Code.

Illustration (08 Remedial Bar Q)

Domenico and Gen lived without the benefit of marriage for 20 years, during which time they
purchased properties together. After Domenico died without a will, Gen filed a petition for
letters of administration. Domenicos siblings opposed the same on the ground that Gen
has no legal personality. Decide.

All rights reserved by Jurists Review Center, Inc. (JRCI), 2015. This work is the intellectual property of JRCI
and the unauthorized copying, storage, recording, or dissemination of this work or any part thereof (including
the posting of this work on the internet) without the express written consent of JRCI is illegal and shall be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law by the bringing of the appropriate criminal, civil, or administrative
proceedings, including proceedings with the Office of the Bar Confidant.
Primer on Bar Essay Exam Tactics & Strategies by Prof. Manuel R. Riguera for Jurists Bar Review Center

Page 6 of 10

1st Paragraph: Conclusion

The opposition to the petition for letters of administration on the ground that Gen has no
legal personality to file it is denied.

2nd paragraph: Rule (SC holding and ratio decidendi)

In a case involving similar facts, the Supreme Court held that person who has cohabited
with another without the benefit of marriage has a legal personality to file a petition for
letters of administration over the latters estate. The reason is that she has a legal interest
in the estate being a co-owner of the properties acquired pursuant to the Family Code.

Hence the opposition to the petition on the ground that Gen has no legal personality to file
the same should be denied.

In citing a decision, dont forget the ratio decidendi.

In a case involving similar facts, the Supreme Court held that person who has cohabited
with another without the benefit of marriage has a legal personality to file a petition for
letters of administration over the latters estate. The reason is that she has a legal interest
in the estate being a co-owner of the properties acquired pursuant to the Family Code.
(Ratio decidendi in italics).

Note that in analogical reasoning from a precedent, a 3-paragraph format is used. No need
for application since the facts of the precedent are made clear to be the facts of the bar
problem: In a case involving similar facts, the Supreme Court held that

Q&As from reviewers, textbooks, are source of precedential examples for analogical
reasoning.

2 RIGUERA, PRIMER-REVIEWER ON REMEDIAL LAW 275-76 (2013 ed.)

Q
Following a collision, Petitioner Jason Ivler was charged with two offenses: Reckless
Imprudence Resulting in Slight Physical Injuries (Crim. Case No. 82367) for injuries suffered
by Evangeline Ponce, and Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide for the death of
Nestor Ponce (Crim. Case No. 82366). Petitioner pleaded guilty to Crim. Case No. 82367
and was meted the penalty of public censure. Invoking this conviction, Petitioner moved to
quash Criminal Case No. 82366 on the ground of double jeopardy. Should Criminal Case
No. 82366 be quashed?

A
Yes. Criminal Case 82366 should be quashed since it relates to the same offense.
Reckless Imprudence is a single crime and its consequences on persons and property are
material only to determine the penalty. (Ivler v. Modesto-San Pedro, 17 November 2010).

2014 Remedial Law Bar Q#2

Q: McJolly is a trouble-maker of sorts, always getting into brushes with the law. In one
incident, he drove his Humvee recklessly, hitting a pedicab which sent its driver and
passengers in different directions. The pedicab driver died, while two (2) of the passengers

All rights reserved by Jurists Review Center, Inc. (JRCI), 2015. This work is the intellectual property of JRCI
and the unauthorized copying, storage, recording, or dissemination of this work or any part thereof (including
the posting of this work on the internet) without the express written consent of JRCI is illegal and shall be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law by the bringing of the appropriate criminal, civil, or administrative
proceedings, including proceedings with the Office of the Bar Confidant.
Primer on Bar Essay Exam Tactics & Strategies by Prof. Manuel R. Riguera for Jurists Bar Review Center

Page 7 of 10

suffered slight physical injuries. Two (2) Informations were then filed against McJolly. One,
for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide and Damage to Property, and two, for
Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Slight Physical Injuries. The latter case was scheduled
for arraignment earlier, on which occasion McJolly immediately pleaded guilty. He was
meted out the penalty of public censure. A month later, the case for reckless imprudence
resulting in homicide was also set for arraignment. Instead of pleading, McJolly interposed
the defense of double jeopardy. Resolve.

A The defense of double jeopardy is meritorious and the second information for reckless
imprudence resulting in homicide should be quashed on the ground of double jeopardy.

In a case involving similar facts, the Supreme Court has held that there is double jeopardy
when two informations are filed based on the same act of reckless imprudence. The reason is that
reckless imprudence is a single crime and its consequences on persons and property are material
only to determine the penalty.
Hence the second information should be quashed on the ground of double jeopardy.

Not infrequently bar examiners substantially base their questions from SC cases,
Q&As/examples in textbooks/reviewers.

Fact pattern or thematic facts


The fact pattern is put in the question by the examiner himself. These are the clues
which you look out for in order to unravel the applicable rule/precedent. The fact pattern is the
key which will unlock the answer to a bar exam question.

The key to issue/rule spotting is to practice, practice, and practice. If you do you will see
fact patterns repeat themselves over and over and over again. Thus, issue spotting
becomes easier and easier.
Passive study alone is not adequate preparation for the bar.

TECHNIQUE OF INTERLOCKING KEY CONCEPTS

The 4 paragraphs should fit or interlock logically and clearly by using interlocking or
common key concepts or words. A common mistake of examinees is to use one key concept in
the second paragraph and another one in the third.

Pedro filed an action for recovery of title over land against Dencio. Dencio filed an answer
in which he raised the defense that he was the owner of the land. The trial rendered
judgment in favor of Pedro, which judgment became final and executory. Later Dencio,
claiming that he was a builder in good faith, filed a complaint for recovery of necessary
expenses over the land against Pedro. Pedro filed a motion to dismiss the complaint.
Should the complaint be dismissed?

Example of answer with no/weak interlock


Yes, the complaint should be dismissed.

All rights reserved by Jurists Review Center, Inc. (JRCI), 2015. This work is the intellectual property of JRCI
and the unauthorized copying, storage, recording, or dissemination of this work or any part thereof (including
the posting of this work on the internet) without the express written consent of JRCI is illegal and shall be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law by the bringing of the appropriate criminal, civil, or administrative
proceedings, including proceedings with the Office of the Bar Confidant.
Primer on Bar Essay Exam Tactics & Strategies by Prof. Manuel R. Riguera for Jurists Bar Review Center

Page 8 of 10

Under the Rules on Civil Procedure, a compulsory counterclaim not set up is barred.
Here the complaint arose out of the first case for recovery of title over land.
Hence the same is barred and thus the complaint should be dismissed.

Reformatted using Technique of Interlocking Key Concepts.


Yes, the complaint should be dismissed.
Under the Rules on Civil Procedure, a compulsory counterclaim not set up is barred.

Here Dencios complaint for reimbursement of necessary expenses is a compulsory


counterclaim because it arose out of the first case for recovery of title and it was not set up in the
first case.
Hence the same is barred and thus the complaint should be dismissed.

Shotgun answers should be avoided. The SC has explicitly criticized the use of shotgun
answers by examinees. An actual, unedited example of a shotgun answer is shown below:
No. There was no proper joinder of causes of action.

Under the Rules on Civil Procedure, for a proper joinder of causes of action, the
following requisites must be complied with: (1) it must comply with the rules on joinder of parties;
(2) must not be one under special civil action or action govern by special rules; (3) one of the
action must be within the jurisdiction of the RTC if there are different venues and (4) the claim is for
money, the aggregate value or totality rule shall apply.
In the present case, the causes of action which is collection of P300,000 in Manila
and recovery of title of real property in Iloilo City with assessed value of P60,000 does not comply
with the requisites. Hence, there is no proper joinder of causes of action.
Note that the examinee did not cite what particular requirement in Section 5, Rule 2 of the
Rules of Court was not complied with. What the examinee should have done was to refer to the
particular requirement not met and strike out the other requirements which were complied with.

WHEN APPLICATION PARAGRAPH IS UNNECESSARY

When there is no need to particularize the rule or the law since the facts of the problem are
a virtual restatement or echo of the relevant rule.

Illustration

A criminal information is filed in court charging Anselmo with homicide. Anselmo files
a motion to quash the information on the ground that no preliminary investigation was conducted.
Will the motion to dismiss be granted? Why or why not? (09 Bar Q16b)
No, the motion to quash will not be granted.

All rights reserved by Jurists Review Center, Inc. (JRCI), 2015. This work is the intellectual property of JRCI
and the unauthorized copying, storage, recording, or dissemination of this work or any part thereof (including
the posting of this work on the internet) without the express written consent of JRCI is illegal and shall be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law by the bringing of the appropriate criminal, civil, or administrative
proceedings, including proceedings with the Office of the Bar Confidant.
Primer on Bar Essay Exam Tactics & Strategies by Prof. Manuel R. Riguera for Jurists Bar Review Center

Page 9 of 10

Under the Rules of Criminal Procedure, absence of a preliminary investigation is not


among the grounds of a motion to quash.

ANSWER ONLY THE QUESTION. DO NOT VOLUNTEER ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.

Remember that a complete explanation does not require that you volunteer information or
discuss legal doctrines that are not necessary or pertinent to the solution to the problem.
(Instructions, 2013 Bar).

Illustration: Call is: Will the motion to quash be granted?


No, the motion to quash will not be granted.

The lack of preliminary investigation is not a ground for a motion to quash under the
Rules of Criminal Procedure. Preliminary investigation is only a statutory right and can be waived.
[The accused should instead file a motion for reinvestigation within 5 days after he learns of the
filing in court of the case against him.] (S6 R112).
The bracketed portion should be deleted since it is not pertinent to the call of the essay
question.
TOP THIRTEEN DEFECTS OF BAR EXAM ANSWERS
1. One-paragraph format (use of because).
2. Conclusory or ex-cathedra answers.
3. Weak or non-interlocking paragraphs.
4. Strong point of answer weakened by blocks or interruptions.
5. No citation clause.
6. Too committal citation clause.
7. Obiter Dictum.
8. Factual Answer.
9. Law not pertinent to conclusion/core issue.
10. Answer does not address or tackle core issue.
11. Citing the rationale for the rule rather than the rule itself.
12. Citing impertinent portions of the law and shotgun answers.
13. Failing to specify facts in 3rd paragraph.
-oOo-

All rights reserved by Jurists Review Center, Inc. (JRCI), 2015. This work is the intellectual property of JRCI
and the unauthorized copying, storage, recording, or dissemination of this work or any part thereof (including
the posting of this work on the internet) without the express written consent of JRCI is illegal and shall be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law by the bringing of the appropriate criminal, civil, or administrative
proceedings, including proceedings with the Office of the Bar Confidant.
Primer on Bar Essay Exam Tactics & Strategies by Prof. Manuel R. Riguera for Jurists Bar Review Center

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