BestBarEver2020_21 became one of the trending hashtag as aspiring lawyers trooped to different locations nationwide to take the bar exams last February 4 and 6, 2022.

This year’s bar is dubbed as the “best bar ever” because it is so far the largest in history with 11,790 registered examinees for the combined 2020 and 2021 batches.

These examinees have also been reviewing longer than any other Bar examinees in the past which was postponed several times due to the pandemic.

The Supreme Court implemented many changes.

Unlike in the previous bar exams where good and legible handwriting is a big factor, passing is now no longer dependent on penmanship since it was done digitally.

The exams were not spread out in four (4) consecutive Sundays in a month but in two days while the venues are scattered at thirty-one (31) local testing sites nationwide instead of one venue, UST being the recent.

The bar coverage was likewise reduced to four subjects – Laws pertaining to the State and Its relationship with its Citizens (formerly Political Law, Labor Law, and Taxation Law); Criminal Law; Law pertaining to Private Personal and Commercial Relations (formerly Civil Law and Commercial law); and Procedure and Professional Ethics (formerly Remedial Law, Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises)

It is expected that the batch 2020-2021 bar exam results will be released earlier than previous bar exams as examiners can check the answers much quicker due to the digitization. The normal releasing of results is usually 5-6 months after the exams.

Due to the Covid19 pandemic, external bar-related activities such as the “bar-operation” were banned outside and within the security perimeter of the local testing center.

The bar-ops are traditional practices for law schools to boost morale and confidence of bar examinees, like arranging the logistics for the examinees.

Bar examinations are seen not the concern solely of bar takers but also for the interest of their collegial community, specifically the law students and alumni

Examinees were warned by the Supreme Court that they may be barred from taking the test “if it is later known that bar-ops ‘ activities were conducted by their law school in the hotel they are staying.”

There was also no traditional “salubong” as part of the bar-ops to greet the examinees as they exit the exam venue.

The streets leading to the exam sites were usually filled with festive atmosphere as law students and support groups from various law schools as well as friends and relatives gather for the annual “salubong” during the last day of the exams.

From colorful balloons, confetti, drumbeats, beers, flags that stands for the pride of their schools, and even bouquets of flowers, it is a day of celebration for law schools united altogether with one common goal—provide comfort and warmth for those who took the bar.

The traditional “salubong” was temporarily suspended after the bombing incident that occurred during the 2010 bar exams on Taft Avenue as examinees began exiting De La Salle University (DLSU). A MK2 grenade was thrown at a group of fraternity men that resulted in injuries to 47 people, including two who required amputations.

DLSU has been home to the bar exams from 1995 to 2010. The exams were later held at the University of Santo .Thomas (UST) from 2011 until 2019.

The bar exam is a yearly spectacle on the performance of law schools measured on the most number of topnotchers or scoring the highest passing rate.

I was among the lucky 1,465 examinees who passed, or 39.63 percent out of the 3,697 examinees of the 1998 bar exams held in DLSU, which is considered as one of the highest in the bar exam history.

The 2016 bar exam had the highest number of passers 3747 out of 6344 (59.06 percent) examinees while the 1999 bar examinations recorded the lowest passing rate of 16.59% or with a total number of 660 successful examinees.

The first Philippine Bar Exams was conducted in 1901 with only 13 examinees.

Former SC Associate Justice Florenz Regalado holds the highest score in the Philippine bar exam (96.70%, 1939).

SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said that a number of Bar examinees were disqualified for violating the policies of the Office of the Bar Chairperson and their Honor Code.

These are examinees who deliberately entered the local testing centers without disclosing that they had previously tested positive for COVID-19; who smuggled mobile phones inside the examination rooms; and who accessed social media during lunch break inside the premises.

May the Force be with you members of #BestBarEver2020_21.

( Peyups is the moniker of University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, email, or call 09175025808 or 09088665786).

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