Philippine Bar Examination - Increasing Difficulty

Increasing Difficulty

The difficulty of the recent bar examinations, compared to exams of the past, can be attributed to the following factors:

  • The growing volume of Philippine case and statutory laws is unprecedented. Laws, jurisprudence, and legal doctrines of the past constitute only a small fraction of contemporary Philippine legal materials, which are increasing on a daily basis.
  • The 75% passing average with no grade lower than 50% in any subject is already fixed by law. Actual candidates who scored 74.99% in the general average were not admitted to the practice of law, unless they retake the bar exams.
  • The Three-Failure Rule is now in place. Candidates who have failed the bar exams for three times are not permitted to take another bar exam until they re-enroll and pass regular fourth-year review classes and attend a pre-bar review course in an approved law school.
  • The Five-Strike Rule is implemented since 2005. The rule limits to five the number of times a candidate may take the Bar exams. The rule disqualifies a candidate after failing in three examinations. However, he is permitted to take fourth and fifth examinations if he successfully completes a one year refresher course for each examination.
  • The four-year bachelor's degree is required before admission to law school. Hence, every bar examinee has to hold at least two degrees—one in law and one in another field. In the past, law schools readily admit high school graduates and two-year Associate in Arts degree holders.

After the end of the Second World War, the passing rate in the succeeding years was remarkably high, ranging from 56 to 72% percent. However, after Associate Justice J.B.L. Reyes, a noted scholar, was appointed Chairman of the 1955 Bar Examinations, the passing rate for that year dropped dramatically to 26.8%, with a mortality rate of 73.2%. That ratio has been invariably maintained in the 50+ years since.

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