Heads Up, Future Lawyers: This Year's Philippine Bar Exam Will Have No Top 10

philippine bar exam
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Due to the extraordinary circumstances posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-2021 Philippine Bar Examination will break away from the tradition of announcing top 10 passers. The policy was adopted due to the unique nature of the upcoming Bar Exams, which will test two batches of graduates—those from both 2020 and 2021—Bar Chairperson Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said in Bar Bulletin No. 25, S. 2021released on Friday, August 27 by the Supreme Court. The November 2020 Bar Exams had previously been postponed due to the pandemic.

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"It is hoped that by shifting the focus away from how select individuals excel and onto a school's collective performance, this will encourage deep-seated and wide-ranging improvements in legal education," said Leonen.

Changes Made to the 2020-2021 Philippine Bar Exam Due to the Pandemic

The upcoming Bar Exams are also the first in the country to be conducted digitally. The examinations will make use of a tiered grading system where examinees who will get a total weighted score of 85% or higher shall be recognized for "exemplary performance" in the Bar exams.

"The existing grading system for the Bar Examinations is a product of longstanding tradition. However, the pandemic added complications that bar examinees must contend with...These unique circumstances presented an opportunity to introduce various reforms," stated the bulletin regarding the modified grading system.

"Each bar subject will have a total of 15 or 18 straightforward questions designed to address entry-level legal competency. There will be no sub-questions," the bulletin explained. Points ranging from zero to five will be given per question based on certain criteria. Examinees need to get a total weighted score across all Bar subjects of at least 75% computed in accordance with the relative weight per subject to pass.

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The 2020-2021 Philippine Bar Examination will be held throughout the four Sundays of November—November 7, 14, 21, and 28—following its annual tradition.

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