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Philippine Bar Examination

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The Philippine Bar Examination is the professional licensure examination for lawyers in the
It is the only professional licensure exam in the country that is not supervised by the Professional
Regulation Commission. The exam is exclusively administered by the Supreme Court of the
Philippines through the Supreme Court Bar Examination Committee.


1 Brief history

2 Admission requirements

3 Committee of Bar Examiners

4 Bar review programs

5 Venue and itinerary

6 Coverage

7 Grading system
o 7.1 Passing average vs. Passing rate
o 7.2 Passing Percentage (1978-2012)
o 7.3 Law school passing rates
o 7.4 Role of the Supreme Court, Criticisms
o 7.5 Bar topnotchers

7.5.1 Highest and lowest topnotcher grades

7.5.2 Highest scores in specific bar subjects

8 Increasing difficulty

9 Waiting period

10 Admission of successful bar examinees

11 Controversies

12 Bar Topnotchers List

o 12.1 Famous bar topnotchers

12.1.1 Presidents and Vice-Presidents

12.1.2 Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Justices

12.1.3 Senators and Representatives

12.1.4 Appointees and career service officials

12.1.5 Local officials

12.1.6 Academe

12.1.7 Private sector

13 1st place in the Philippine Bar Examinations

14 External links

15 See also

16 References

Brief history[edit]
The first Philippine Bar Exams was given in 1903 but the results were released in 1905. Jose I.
Quintos obtained the highest rating of 96.33%, Sergio Osmena, Sr. was second with 95.66%, F.
Salas was third with 94.5% and Manuel L.Quezon fourth with 87.83%. The first bar exam was
held in 1903, with 13 examinees, while the 2008 bar examination is the 107th (given per Article
8, Section 5, 1987 Constitution). The 2001 bar exam had the highest number of passers1,266
out of 3,849 examinees, or 32.89%, while 2006 had the highest examinees -.6,187. However, the

Supreme Court of the Philippines' Office of the Bar Confidant announced that (a new and official
record of) 6,533 law graduates will take the 2008 Bar examinations.[1]
The most notable was the 1999 bar examinations which recorded the lowest passing rate of
16.59% or with a total number of 660 successful examinees. Also, the 2003 bar exam was
marred by controversy when the Court ordered a retake of the Mercantile law due to
questionnaire leakage.[2] In 2005, the High Tribunal implemented the "five-strike" rule, which
disqualifies five-time flunkers from taking future bar exams.[3]

Admission requirements[edit]
A bar candidate must meet the following academic qualifications:

Holder of a professional degree in law from a recognized law school in the Philippines[4]

Holder of a bachelor's degree with academic credits in certain required subjects from a
recognized college or university in the Philippines or abroad.[5]

He or she should also meet certain non-academic requisites:[6]

A Filipino citizen.

At least twenty-one (21) years of age.

A resident of the Philippines.

Satisfactory evidence of good moral character (usually a certificate from the dean of law
school or an immediate superior at work).

No charges involving moral turpitude have been filed against the candidate or are
pending in any court in the Philippines.

In March 2010 the Philippine Supreme Court Issued Bar Matter 1153 amending provisions in sec
5 and 6 of rule 138 of the rules of court now allowing Filipino foreign law school graduates to
take the bar exam provided that they comply with the following: a. completion of all courses
leading to a degree of Bachelor of laws or its equivalent b. recognition or accreditation of the law
school by proper authority c. completion of all fourth year subjects in a program of a law school
duly accredited by the Philippine Government d. present proof of completing a separate
bachelors degree

Committee of Bar Examiners[edit]

The Supreme Court appoints memberships in the Committee of Bar Examiners, the official
task force for formulating bar exam questions, instituting policy directives, executing procedures,
grading bar examination papers, and releasing the results of the annual bar examination.[7]
The committee is chaired by an incumbent Justice of the Supreme Court, who is designated by
the Supreme Court to serve for a term of one year. The members of the committee includes eight
(8) members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, who also hold office for a term of one year.
While the Justice who shall act as Chairman is immediately known, committee members must
exert every effort to conceal their identities until the oath-taking of the successful bar examinees,
approximately six months after the bar exam.[9]

Bar review programs[edit]

Candidates who meet all the admission requirements usually enroll in special review classes after
graduating from law school. These programs are held from April to September in law schools,
colleges, universities, and review centers.
Program schedule, content, and delivery differs from one review program to another. Lecturers in
these programs are called bar reviewers. They are usually full-time professors and part-time
professorial lecturers in law schools and universities. Most review programs invite incumbent
and retired justices and high ranking public officials both as a marketing tool and as a program

Venue and itinerary[edit]

In recent years, the examinations were held during the four Sundays of September of every year
at the campus of De La Salle University-Manila along Taft Avenue, Manila. From 2011 onward,
the exams are now held at the University of Santo Tomas' campus along Espaa Boulevard, in
Sampaloc, Manila, previously on the four Sundays of November, then reverted to October from
On February 8, 2011, the Supreme Court resolved to approve changes to the Rules of Court,
thereby altering the schedule for the examinations.[11] The schedule is now as follows:

First Sunday:
o Political Law, (morning)
o Labor Law (afternoon)

Second Sunday:
o Civil Law (morning)
o Taxation Law (afternoon)

Third Sunday:
o Mercantile Law (morning)
o Criminal Law (afternoon)

Fourth Sunday:
o Remedial Law (morning)
o Legal and Judicial Ethics (afternoon)

The examination covers the following topics, popularly known as the bar subjects:[12]

Political and Public International Law

o Constitutional Law
o Political Law
o Administrative Law (only the basic doctrines, excluding implementing rules and
regulations of government agencies)
o Law on Public Officers
o Public Corporations
o Suffrage
o Public International Law

Labor and Social Legislation

o Labor Law (Labor Code of the Philippines, excluding the implementing rules and
o Social Legislation

Social Security Law

Revised Government Service Insurance Act of 1977 (including Employees

Compensation Act of 1977)

Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law

Civil Law
o Civil Code of the Philippines (excluding the Code of Muslim Personal Laws,
Water Code, Rental Law, Law on Sale of Subdivision of Lots and Condominiums)
o Family Code of the Philippines (including the Child and Youth Welfare Code)
o Property Registration Decree (excluding the Public Land Law)
o Conflict of Laws (Private International Law)

o General principles of Taxation
o Republic Act No. 1125, creating the Court of Tax Appeals
o National Internal Revenue Code (including the Expanded Value Added Tax or
o Tariff and Customs Code (excluding Arrastre and Classification of Commodities)

Mercantile Law
o Negotiable Instruments Law and Other Allied Laws

Negotiable Instruments Law (with the Uniform Currency Act)

Merchants and Commercial Transactions (including Articles 1 to 63 of the

Code of Commerce, Retail Trade Law, Bulk Sales Law)

Letters of Credit under the Code of Commerce

o Insurance Code
o Transportation Laws

Common Carriers (Articles 1732 to 1766 of the New Civil Code)

Commercial Contracts for Transportation Over Land (Articles 349 to 379

of the Code of Commerce)

Maritime Commerce

Public Service Act

o Corporation Law

Corporation Code

Securities Act

Banking Laws

Laws on Secrecy of Bank Deposits

Deposit Insurance Corporation

Trust Receipts Law (excluding the General Banking Act)

Other Special Laws

Chattel Mortgage Law

Warehouse Receipts Law

Laws on Intellectual Creations

Copyright Law

Patent Law

Trademark Law

Insolvency Law

Truth in Lending Act

Criminal Law
o Revised Penal Code (Books I & II excluding penalties for specific felonies)
o Indeterminate Sentence Law
o Probation Law

o Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act

o Anti-Fencing Law
o Bouncing Checks Law
o Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972
o Heinous Crimes Law (excluding penalties)

Remedial Law
o Revised Rules of Court
o 1991 Revised Rule on Summary Procedure
o Local Government Code on Conciliation Procedures (Chapter VII)
o Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 (excluding purely administrative provisions,
Military Justice Law, Judiciary Act of 1948, and the Law Reorganizing the Court
of Agrarian Relations)

Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises

o Legal Ethics
o Judicial Ethics
o Code of Professional Responsibility
o Grievance Procedures (Rules 139-B, Revised Rules of Court)
o Forms

Grading system[edit]
The eight bar subjects are separately graded. Each subject contributes to the general average in
the following proportion:[13]
Civil Law
Labor Law and Social Legislation
Mercantile Law
Criminal Law


Political and International Law
Remedial Law
Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises


The passing average fixed by law is 75%, with no grade falling below 50% in any bar subject.[14]