Philippine Bar Examination
TypeBar examination
Developer / administratorSupreme Court Bar Examination Committee
Knowledge / skills testedUnderstanding of the basic principles of law and of relevant jurisprudence
PurposeAdmission to practice law
Year started1901 (1901)
OfferedFour Sundays of November of every year (Held every four Sundays of September until 2010)1
Restrictions on attempts
  • 75% passing average with no grade lower than 50% in any subject
  • 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
Countries / regionsPhilippines
Annual number of test takersDecrease 7,699 (in 2019)[1]
Prerequisites / eligibility criteriasee Admission requirements
Qualification rate20–30% average passing rate
WebsiteSupreme Court Bar Admissions

The Philippine Bar Examination is the professional licensure examination for lawyers in the Philippines. The exam is exclusively administered by the Supreme Court of the Philippines through the Supreme Court Bar Examination Committee.[2]

Brief history

The first Philippine Bar Exams was conducted in 1901 with only 13 examinees. The third Philippine Bar Exam took place in 1903 but the results were released in 1905. José I. Quintos obtained the highest rating of 96.33%, Sergio Osmeña, 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 in 1901 has only 13 examinees, while the 2008 bar examination is the 107th (given per Article 8, Section 5, 1987 Constitution). After the 1903 exam, rankings were again avoided until the 1913 exam, which meant that every other year from the inaugural 1901 examination to 1912 no scores were given other than pass or fail. The 2016 bar exam had the highest number of passers 3747 out of 6344 (59.06 percent) examinees, However, the Supreme Court of the Philippines' Office of the Bar Confidant announced that (a new and official record of) 7,227 candidates will take the 2017 Bar examinations.[3]

Past Bar examinations were conducted every September at De La Salle University, however, due to security concerns after the 2010 Philippine Bar exam bombing, The Supreme Court moved the examinations to University of Santo Tomas every November.

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.[4] In 2005, the High Tribunal implemented the "five-strike" rule, which disqualifies five-time flunkers from taking future bar exams.[5]

Admission requirements

Further information: Legal education in the Philippines

A bar candidate must meet the following academic qualifications:

He or she should also meet certain non-academic requisites:[8]

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 bachelor's degree

Committee of Bar Examiners

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.[9]

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 members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, who also hold office for a term of one year.[9] 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]

Year Bar Exam Chairperson
2001 Associate Justice Sabino De Leon Jr.
2002 Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza
2003 Associate Justice Jose Vitug
2004 Associate Justice Leonardo Quisumbing
2005 Associate Justice Romeo Callejo Sr.
2006 Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez
2007 Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna
2008 Associate Justice Dante Tiñga
2009 Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura
2010 Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales
2011 Associate Justice Roberto A. Abad
2012 Associate Justice Martin Villarama
2013 Associate Justice Arturo Brion
2014 Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta
2015 Associate Justice Teresita de Castro
2016 Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr.
2017 Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin
2018 Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo
2019 Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe
2020 Postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2022 Associate Justice Marvic Leonen
2023 Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa

Bar review programs

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 innovation.[10]


Bar examinations is conducted during all four Sundays of the month of November. Two bar subjects shall be taken every week, one is scheduled in the morning while another is in the afternoon. The examination covers the following topics and their associated subtopic, popularly known as the bar subjects:[11]

Grading system

The eight bar subjects are separately graded. Each subject contributes to the general average in the following proportion:[12]

Subject Weight'
Civil Law 15%
Labor Law and Social Legislation 10%
Mercantile Law 15%
Criminal Law 10%
Political and International Law 15%
Taxation 10%
Remedial Law 20%
Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises 5%

The passing average fixed by law is 75%, with no grade falling below 50% in any bar subject.[12]

Passing average vs. Passing rate

The passing average is the minimum grade in the exam required to be admitted to the practice of law. The passing rate is the proportion of total number of bar passers in relation to the total number of bar examinees. It is usually computed on two levels—the national level (national bar passing rate), and the law school level (law school passing rate).

In the past, passing averages were considerably lower to admit more new lawyers (i.e. 69% in 1947, 69.45% in 1946, 70% in 1948). Since 1982, the passing average has been fixed at 75%. This has led to a dramatic decrease in the national passing rate of bar examinees, from an all-time high of 75.17% in 1954 to an all-time low of 16.59% in 1999 (all-time low should have been the single digit 5% national passing rate for the 2007 bar examination if the Supreme Court did not lower the passing average to 70% and lowered the disqualification rate in 3 subjects). In recent years, the annual national bar passing rate ranges from 20% to 30%.[13]

Law school passing rates

The most recent ranking (December 2015) for the top ten law schools in the Philippines by the Legal Education Board is based on the cumulative performance of law schools in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Bar Examinations. The list only included law schools which had 20 or more examinees:[14]

  1. University of the Philippines (10%)
  2. Ateneo de Manila University (9%)
  3. San Beda University (8%)
  4. University of San Carlos (7%)
  5. Ateneo de Davao University (6%)
  6. University of Santo Tomas (5%)
  7. University of Cebu (4%)
  8. San Beda College Alabang (3%)
  9. Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (2%)
  10. Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan (1%)

Role of the Supreme Court, Criticisms

In 2007, only 5% (of the 5,626 who took the 2007 tests, or less than 300) got the passing grade of 75%. Thus, the Supreme Court adjusted the standard to 70% and the disqualification rate in 3 subjects (civil, labor and criminal law) from 50 to 45%. Accordingly, 1,289 or 22.91%, "passed." This passing grade reduction is highly unusual, since it last happened in the 1981 exam when the passing grade was lowered to 72.5%. Prior to 1982, the passing mark jumped unpredictably from year to year:

Passing Grade fluctuations between 1946 and 1981 (56)
Year Passing Mark (%) Year Passing Mark (%)
1946 69.45 1964 71.5
1947 69 1965 71.5
1948 70 1966 74
1949 74 1967 72
1950 73 1968 73
1951 74 1969 73
1952 74 1970 73
1953 71.5 1971 74
1954 72.5 1972 70
1955 73.5 1973 74
1956 73 1974 70
1957 72 1975 73
1958 72 1976 74.5
1959 72 1977 74
1960 72 1978 73
1961 71 1979 73.5
1962 72.5 1980 73
1963 70 1981 72.5

In 1954, the Court lowered the passing grade to 72.5%, even if the passing percentage was already at its highest at 75.17%. In 1999, moves to lower the passing grade to 74% failed, after Justice Fidel Purisima, bar committee chairman failed to disclose that his nephew took the examination. He was censured and his honoraria was reduced to half.[15]

Increasing difficulty

The difficulty of the recent bar examinations, compared to exams of the past, can be attributed to the following factors:[13]

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.[19]

Waiting period

The largely essay-type exams are manually checked by members of the Committee of Bar Examiners. Candidates have to wait from the last Sunday of the bar exams in September up to the date of the release of results, which traditionally happens before or during the Holy Week (the last week of March or the first week of April) of the following year.

During this period, candidates (who already hold law and bachelor's degrees) may opt to work in law firms and courts as legal researchers, teach in liberal arts and business colleges, function in companies and organizations using their pre-law degrees (i.e. Communication Arts, Accounting, Economics, Journalism, etc.), help run the family business, or take a long vacation.[20]

Admission of successful bar examinees

The Office of the Bar Confidant of the Philippine Supreme Court releases the Official List of Successful Bar Examinees, usually during the last week of March or the first week of April of every year. Candidates whose names appear in the list are required to take and subscribe before the Supreme Court the corresponding Oath of Office.[21]

Candidates shall take an Oath of Office and sign their names in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court.[22] The oath-taking is usually held in May at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) with a formal program where all Justices of the Supreme Court, sitting en banc, formally approve the applications of the successful bar candidates. The eight bar examiners are officially introduced to the public. A message to the newly inducted lawyers is delivered by one of the justices. Candidates who made the bar top ten list are also introduced and honored. The deans of all Philippine law schools are requested to attend the ceremony and grace the front seats of the plenary hall.[11]


In the 1930s, a distant relative of Imelda Romualdez Marcos who was a Justice in the High Court resigned after a controversy involving the bar examinations.[clarification needed] Justice Ramon Fernandez was forced to protect his name and honor when he resigned because of a bar examination scandal.[23]

On November 23, 1979, the High Court, per Justice Pacifico de Castro ordered new examinations in labor and social legislation and taxation.

On May 7, 1982, 12 of the Supreme Court's 14 justices resigned amid expose "that the court fixed the bar-examination score of a member's son so that he would pass." Justice Vicente Ericta was accused to have personally approached the bar chairman to inquire whether his (Ericta's) son passed the bar. Ferdinand Marcos accepted the resignations and appointed new justices. Chief Justice Enrique Fernando wept at a news conference as he accepted responsibility for rechecking and changing the exam score of Gustavo Ericta, son of Justice Vicente Ericta.[24]

Associate Justice Fidel Purisima, chairman of the bar committee, did not disclose that he had a nephew who was taking the bar examination in that year. He was merely censured and his honoraria as bar examiner were forfeited.

On September 24, 2003, the Supreme Court, per a bleary-eyed Associate Justice Jose Vitug, annulled the tests results on mercantile law after "confirmation of what could be the most widespread case of cheating in the 104-year-old bar exams".[25]

Bar topnotchers

Bar topnotchers are bar examinees who garnered the highest bar exam grades in a particular year. Every year, the Supreme Court releases the bar top ten list. The list contains the names of bar examinees who obtained the ten highest grades. It is possible for more than ten examinees to place in the top ten because numerical ties in the computation of grades usually occur.[26]

From 1913 to 2019, schools which have produced bar topnotchers (1st placers) are as follows:[26]

Number of Bar Topnotchers
Law School No. of Bar Topnotchers
University of the Philippines College of Law
Ateneo de Manila Law School
San Beda College of Law
Philippine Law School
University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law
Far Eastern University Institute of Law
University of Manila College of Law
University of the Cordilleras College of Law
San Beda College Alabang School of Law
Other Law Schools

Two bar examinees topped the bar exams without officially graduating from any Philippine law school:[26]

In the past, non-law school graduates were allowed to take the bar. However, the Revised Rules of Court and Supreme Court Circulars allow Filipino graduates of Philippine law schools (and subject to certain conditions, Filipino graduates of foreign law schools) to take the bar, necessarily excluding non-law graduates and foreigners who have law degrees from taking part in the exercise.[6]

While not a guarantee for topping the bar, academic excellence in law school is a good indicator of an examinee's fortune in the bar exams. Ateneo Law School's only summa cum laude graduate, Claudio Teehankee, placed number one in the 1940 Bar Exams.[26] It is worth noting that Teehankee's son, Manuel Antonio, followed in his footsteps by graduating at the top of his Ateneo Law School class (albeit, not as summa cum laude) and placing first in the 1983 bar exams. Claudio's nephew, Enrique (a cum laude graduate from the UP College of Law), also placed number one in the 1976 bar exams. Claudio eventually became Supreme Court Chief Justice, Manuel was formerly Department of Justice Undersecretary and Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland while Enrique is a successful private practitioner.

This father-son-nephew feat has yet to (and, perhaps, may never) be equalled in the annals of Philippine Bar. For siblings, the closest is when Manuel B. Zamora, Jr. placed third in the 1961 Bar Exams and younger brother Ronaldo placed first in the 1969 Bar Exams.

The UST Faculty of Civil Law's sole summa cum laude graduate, Roberto B. Concepcion, placed first in the 1924 Bar Exams.[26] He later served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The San Beda College[32] of Law's sole magna cum laude graduate, Florenz Regalado,[33] ranked 1st in the 1954 Bar exams with a mark of 96.70%. The record is the highest average in the Philippine Bar Examinations, to date. Regalado later served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

The UP College of Law (which has yet to produce a summa cum laude graduate) had five of its seventeen magna cum laude graduates (the College of Law first conferred the honor to Rafael Dinglasan in 1925 and, to date, last conferred the same honor to Dionne Marie Sanchez in 2007) place number one in their respective bar exams: Rafael Dinglasan in 1925, Lorenzo Sumulong in 1929, Deogracias Eufemio in 1962, Roberto San Jose in 1966 and Ronaldo Zamora in 1969.[26] Dinglasan became a Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Sumulong became Senator of the Republic and a renowned statesman, Eufemio and San Jose established their respective successful private law practices while Zamora became Executive Secretary to then President Joseph Estrada and is currently the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives.

Bar Topnotchers List

The Office of the Bar Confidant releases an official Bar Topnotchers list together with the list of names of all successful bar examinees. The Bar Topnotchers list contains the names of the candidates who garnered the highest general averages in the bar exam for that year. The highest ranking candidate in the list is known as the bar topnotcher. The list has always been the subject of much media attention and public speculation.[34]

Making a place in the list is widely regarded as an important life achievement, an attractive professional qualification, and a necessary improvement in a lawyer's professional and social status.[34]

Below is a listing of all 106 first-placers (from 1913 to 2019) and can be rearranged from highest to lowest in terms of rating obtained. Bar ratings are not exactly comparable from year-to-year as the difficulty of the exams varies through the years. Two bar examinations took place in 1946, first in August to cover the absence of the examination the previous year and in November for the present year. There was a tie in first place in two occasions – in 1944 and in 1999.

Year Name Average School Hometown Passing Percentage[35]
1903 Jose L. Quintos 96.33 Escuela de Derecho Baliuag, Bulacan 30.76% (4 out of 13)[36]
1913 Manuel A. Roxas 92 University of the Philippines Roxas City, Capiz
1914 Manuel C. Goyena 93 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila
1915 Francisco Villanueva, Jr. 90 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila
1916 Paulino Gullas 93 University of the Philippines Cebu City, Cebu
1917 Felipe Ysmael 92 University of the Philippines Iloilo City, Iloilo
1918 Alejo Labrador 87 University of the Philippines San Narciso, Zambales
1919 Gregorio Anonas 87 Philippine Law School Iba, Zambales
1920 Adolfo Brillantes 84.1 Escuela de Derecho Bangued, Abra
1921 Pablo C. Payawal 89.1 University of the Philippines San Miguel, Bulacan
1922 Amando L. Velilla 89.1 University of the Philippines Balasan, Iloilo
1923 Roque V. Desquitado 90.9 University of the Philippines Bantayan, Cebu
1924 Roberto R. Concepcion 89.1 University of Santo Tomas Manila, Metro Manila
1925 Rafael Dinglasan 91.1 University of the Philippines Roxas City, Capiz
1926 Eugeniano Perez 88.1 Philippine Law School Mandaue, Cebu
1927 Cesar Kintanar 87.7 University of the Philippines Argao, Cebu
1928 Filomeno B. Pascual 90.3 Philippine Law School Sagay, Negros Occidental
1929 Lorenzo S. Sumulong 92.5 University of the Philippines Antipolo, Rizal
1930 Tecla San Andres 89.4 University of the Philippines Naga, Camarines Sur
1931 Jose N. Leuterio 89.4 University of the Philippines Boac, Marinduque
1932 Hermenegildo Atienza 93 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila
1933 Lope C. Quimbo 92.45 University of Manila Calbiga, Samar
1934 Marciano P. Catral 89.7 Philippine Law School Luna, Isabela
1935 Enrique Estrellado 91.7 University of the Philippines San Pablo, Laguna
1936 Diosdado P. Macapagal 89.85 University of Santo Tomas Lubao, Pampanga
1937 Cecilia Muñoz-Palma 92.6 University of the Philippines Bauan, Batangas
1938 Emmanuel Pelaez 91.3 University of Manila Medina, Misamis Oriental
1939 Ferdinand Marcos 92.35 University of the Philippines Batac, Ilocos Norte
1940 Claudio Teehankee 94.35 Ateneo de Manila University Manila, Metro Manila
1941 Emmet P.D. Shea 90.2 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila
Cancelled due to World War II
1944 Jovito R. Salonga 95.3 University of the Philippines Pasig, Metro Manila
Jose W. Diokno Special Dispensation (non-degree holder) (University of Santo Tomas undergraduate) Manila, Metro Manila
Cancelled due to Post-war Rehabilitation
1946 Gregoria T. Cruz – (August 1946) 92.25 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 46.63% (97 out of 208)
Pedro L. Yap(November 1946) 91.7 University of the Philippines San Isidro, Leyte 56.69% (271 out of 478)
1947 Ameurfina A. Melencio-Herrera 93.85 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 59.87% (428 out of 755)
1948 Manuel G. Montecillo 95.5 Far Eastern University Liliw, Laguna 62.26% (561 out of 901)
1949 Anacleto C. Mañgaser 95.85 Philippine Law School Caba, La Union 56.14% (686 out of 1,222)
1950 Carolina C. Griño 92.05 Special (Colegio de San Agustin and University of the Philippines) Leganes, Iloilo 31.92% (423 out of 1,325)
1951 Vicente R. Acsay 92.25 University of Manila Bugasong, Antique 57.19% (1.189 out of 2,079)
1952 Pedro Samson C. Animas 94.25 University of the Philippines Ozamiz, Misamis Occidental 62.02% (1,705 out of 2,749)
1953 Leonardo A. Amores 94.05 University of Manila Roxas City, Capiz 72.42% (1,851 out of 2,556)
1954 Florenz D. Regalado 96.7 San Beda College Concepcion, Iloilo 75.17% (2,409 out of 3,206)
1955 Tomas P. Matic, Jr. 90.55 Far Eastern University Concepcion, Tarlac 27.29% (815 out of 2,987)
1956 Francisco C. Catral 90.2 San Beda College Lal-lo, Cagayan 62.60% (2,283 out of 3,647)
1957 Gregorio R. Castillo 89.15 University of the Philippines Buhi, Camarines Sur 19.77% (615 out of 3,110)
1958 Manuel G. Abello 89.25 University of the Philippines Isabela, Negros Occidental 21.97% (868 out of 3,951)
1959 Agustin O. Benitez 89.2 Far Eastern University Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte 21.21% (796 out of 3,754)
1960 Ismael Andres 91.7 Manuel L. Quezon University Looc, Romblon 39.9% (1,667 out of 4,178)
1961 Avelino V. Cruz 90.95 San Beda College Pasig, Metro Manila 19.34 (845 out of 4,370)
1962 Deogracias G. Eufemio 90.8 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 19.4% (899 out of 4,635)
1963 Cornelio C. Gison 86.35 Ateneo de Manila University Arevalo, Iloilo City 22.26% (1,213 out of 5,453)
1964 Jesus P. Castelo 88.4 San Beda College San Isidro, Nueva Ecija 25.09% (902 out of 3,596)
1965 Victor S. de la Serna 89.8 San Beda College Tagbilaran, Bohol 32.66% (642 out of 1,965)
1966 Roberto V. San Jose 90.6 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 36.71% (715 out of 1,947)
1967 Rodolfo D. Robles 89.6 San Beda College Tiaong, Quezon 22.8% (411 out of 1,803)
1968 Oscar B. Glovasa 87.45 Divine Word College of Tagbilaran Cogon, Tagbilaran, Bohol 21.11% (347 out of 1,643)
1969 Ronaldo B. Zamora 87.3 University of the Philippines Calumpit, Bulacan 28.6 (495 out of 1,731)
1970 Romulo D. San Juan 87.5 Far Eastern University San Jacinto, Masbate 27.9% (491 out of 1,761)
1971 Henry R. Villarica 92.4 University of the Philippines Meycauayan, Bulacan 33.84% (621 out of 1,835)
1972 Januario B. Soller, Jr. 87.13 Ateneo de Manila University Manila, Metro Manila 26.68% (509 out of 1,907)
1973 Vicente R. Solis 90.3 Ateneo de Manila University Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur 37.4% (610 out of 1,631)
1974 Arturo D. Brion 91.65 Ateneo de Manila University San Pablo, Laguna 35.02% (685 out of 1,956)
1975 Nicanor B. Padilla, Jr. 86.7 University of the East Cebu City, Cebu 35.18% (686 out of 1,950)
1976 Enrique Y. Teehankee 90.8 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 49.77% (926 out of 1,979)
1977 Virgilio B. Gesmundo 91.8 Ateneo de Manila University San Pablo, Laguna 60.56% (1,038 out of 1,714)
1978 Cosme D. Rosell 92.475 University of the Philippines Daanbantayan, Cebu 56.93% (1,076 out of 1,890)
1979 Gregorio M. Batiller, Jr. 91.4 Ateneo de Manila University Davao City, Davao del Sur 49.51% (903 out of 1,824)
1980 Rafael R. Lagos 89.75 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 33.61% (605 out of 1,800)
1981 Irene Ragodon-Guevarra 90.95 Ateneo de Manila University Manila, Metro Manila 43.71% (787 out of 1,800)
1982 Ray C. Espinosa 90.95 Ateneo de Manila University Manila, Metro Manila 20.5% (432 out of 2,112)
1983 Manuel Antonio J. Teehankee 91.4 Ateneo de Manila University Manila, Metro Manila 21.3% (523 out of 2,455)
1984 Richard M. Chiu 92.85 Ateneo de Manila University Dumaguete, Negros Oriental 25.55% (638 out of 2,497)
1985 Janette Susan L. Peña 89.4 University of the Philippines San Juan, Metro Manila 25.78% (701 out of 2,719)
1986 Laurence L. Go 88.6 Ateneo de Manila University Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur 18.88% (493 out of 2,609)
1987 Mario P. Victoriano 88.55 Ateneo de Manila University Dumaguete, Negros Oriental 17.90 (480 out of 2,682)
1988 Maria Yvette O. Navarro 88.12 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 24.40% (689 out of 2,824)
1989 Gilberto Eduardo Gerardo C. Teodoro, Jr. 86.185 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 21.26% (639 out of 3,006)
1990 Aquilino L. Pimentel III 89.85 University of the Philippines Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental 27.94% (866 out of 3,100)
1991 Joseph P. San Pedro 89.95 Ateneo de Manila University Malolos, Bulacan 17.81% (569 out of 3,194)
1992 Jayme A. Sy, Jr. 87 Ateneo de Manila University Sagay, Negros Occidental 17.25% (499 out of 2,892)
1993 Anna Leah Fidelis T. Castañeda 88.325 Ateneo de Manila University Manila, Metro Manila 21.65% (725 out of 3,348)
1994 Francisco Noel R. Fernandez 89.2 University of the Philippines Butuan, Agusan del Norte 30.87% (1,030 out of 3,337)
1995 Leonor Y. Dicdican 91.2 University of the Philippines Davao City, Davao del Sur 30.90% (987 out of 3,194)
1996 Patricia-Ann T. Prodigalidad 90.6 University of the Philippines Brooklyn, New York, US 31.21% (1,217 out of 3,900)
1997 Ma. Cecilia H. Fernandez 90.025 University of the Philippines Makati, Metro Manila 18.11% (710 out of 3,921)
1998 Janet B. Abuel 91.8 Baguio Colleges Foundation Dagupan, Pangasinan 39.63% (1,465 out of 3,697)
1999 Edwin R. Enrile 88.5 Ateneo de Manila University Naga, Camarines Sur 16.59% (660 out of 3,978)
Florin T. Hilbay University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila
2000 Eliseo M. Zuñiga, Jr. 90.6 University of the Philippines Mandaluyong, Metro Manila 20.84% (979 out of 4,698)
2001 Rodolfo Ma. A. Ponferrada 93.8 University of the Philippines Quezon City, Metro Manila 32.895 (1,266 out of 3,849)
2002 Arlene M. Maneja 92.9 University of Santo Tomas Quezon City, Metro Manila 19.86% (917 out of 4,659)
2003 Aeneas Eli S. Diaz 88.53 Ateneo de Manila University Sorsogon City, Sorsogon 20.71% (1,108 out of 5,349)
2004 January A. Sanchez 87.45 University of the Philippines Santa Maria, Bulacan 31.61% (1,659 out of 5,249)
2005 Joan A. De Venecia 87.2 University of the Philippines Dagupan, Pangasinan 27.22% (1,526 out of 5,607)
2006 Noel Neil Q. Malimban 87.6 University of the Cordilleras Baguio, Benguet 30.6% (1,893 out of 6,187)
2007 Mercedita L. Ona 83.55 Ateneo de Manila University San Jose, Batangas 22. 91% (1,289 out of 5,626)
2008 Judy A. Lardizabal 85.7 San Sebastian College Imus, Cavite 20.58 (1,310 out of 6.364)
2009 Reinier Paul R. Yebra 84.8 San Beda College Daet, Camarines Norte 24.58% (1,451 out of 5,093)
2010 Cesareo Antonio S. Singzon Jr. 89 Ateneo de Manila University Catbalogan, Samar 20.26% (982 out of 4,847)
2011 Raoul Angelo D. Atadero 85.536 Ateneo de Manila University Quezon City, Metro Manila 31.95& (1,913 out of 5,987)
2012 Ignatius Michael D. Ingles 85.64 Ateneo de Manila University Quezon City, Metro Manila 17.76% (949 out of 5,343 )
2013 Nielson G. Pangan 85.8 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 22.18% (1,174 out of 5,293)
2014 Irene Mae B. Alcobilla 85.5 San Beda College San Remigio, Antique 18.82% (1,126 out of 5,984)
2015 Rachel Angeli B. Miranda 87.4 University of the Philippines Quezon City, Metro Manila 26.21% (1,731 out of 7,146)
2016 Karen Mae L. Calam 89.05 University of San Carlos Kalilangan, Bukidnon 59.06% (3,747 out of 6,344)
2017 Mark John M. Simondo 91.05 University of St. La Salle Bacolod, Negros Occidental 25.55% (1,724 out of 6,748)
2018 Sean James Borja 89.306 Ateneo de Manila University Muntinlupa, Metro Manila 22.07% (1,800 out of 8,155)
2019 Mae Diane Azores 91.049 University of Santo Tomas–Legazpi Legazpi City, Albay 27.36% (2,103 out of 7,699)
Postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic [37]

Highest and lowest topnotcher grades

A standard was created in 1940, when Claudio Teehankee (future Supreme Court Chief Justice), from the Ateneo Law School, got a grade of 94.35% when he topped the examinations. This record was obliterated four years later in 1944 when Jovito Salonga and Jose W. Diokno tied with the highest score of 95.3%. This was the first time that first place ended in a tie. When they took the 1944 Bar Exams, Atty. Salonga was an undergraduate at the UP College of Law while Atty. Diokno (future Senator) was an undergraduate of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law. After passing the bar, Atty. Salonga (future Senate President) went back to UP to complete his bachelor's degree in law, earning it in 1946. The only other instance of a tie at first place of the bar exams was when Edwin Enrile (salutatorian of his Ateneo Law School class) and Florin Hilbay (an honor student of the UP College of Law) both garnered the same score in 1999. Atty. Enrile served as Deputy Executive Secretary to President Gloria Arroyo and as a Professorial Lecturer at the Ateneo Law School while Atty. Hilbay is a Professor of Law at the UP College of Law and the current Solicitor General.[27] After another four years, the "bar" was raised a few notches when Manuel G. Montecillo of the Far Eastern University Institute of Law got a grade of 95.50% when he bested all the bar examinees of 1948. The following year, another record was set when Anacleto C. Mañgaser, an alumnus of the Philippine Law School, got a grade of 95.85% when he topped the 1949 bar exams.

The lowest grade was obtained by Ateneo Law School's Mercedita L. Ona, 83.55%, 2007, which erased the prior record of 84.10%, obtained by Adolfo Brillantes of Escuela de Derecho de Manila (now Manila Law College Foundation) in 1920.[26][38] Atty. Ona was the just the latest of women first placers. In 1930, Tecla San Andres (an alumna of the UP College of Law and future Senator) broke the proverbial "glass ceiling" when she became the first woman to top the bar with a grade of 89.4%. Ameurfina A. Melencio (also an alumna of the UP College of Law and who later became a Justice of the Supreme Court) has the highest grade of all female bar topnotchers in recorded history, when she obtained a 93.85% rating in 1947.

Famous bar topnotchers

Prominent lawyers who made the bar top ten include:[39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48]

Presidents and Vice-Presidents

Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Justices

Senators and Representatives

Appointees and career service officials

Local officials


See also


  1. ^ "2,103 of 7,699 pass 2019 bar exam". April 29, 2020.
  2. ^ "Supreme Court of the Philippines".
  3. ^ Geronimo, Jee Y. (November 4, 2017). "Over 7,200 candidates set to take 2017 Bar exams". Rappler.
  4. ^ ", First bar exam in RP held in 1901, with 13 test takers".
  5. ^ ", 1,289 pass bar exams".
  6. ^ a b Section 5, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court.
  7. ^ a b c Section 6, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court.
  8. ^ Section 2, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court.
  9. ^ a b c Section 12, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court.
  10. ^ Rufus Rodriguez. Slaying the Bar Exams Dragon. Rex Bookstore, 2002.
  11. ^ a b Rufus B. Rodriguez. Slaying the Bar Exams Dragon. Rex Bookstore, 2002.
  12. ^ a b Section 14, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court.
  13. ^ a b c Bar Passing Percentage from 1946 to 2003. The Practice: Business & Leisure Magazine for Lawyers. August–September 2004 Issue.
  14. ^ "Top 10 best performing law schools in the Philippines". ABS-CBN News. December 2, 2015. Archived from the original on June 8, 2016. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  15. ^ ", With Due Respect, How Arroyo can help produce better lawyers".
  16. ^ Rufus B. Rodriguez. Legal Research. Rex Bookstore, 2002.
  17. ^ Supreme Court resolution in Bar Matter No. 1161. 2005.
  18. ^ "En Banc Resolution dated September 3, 2013 in B.M. No. 1161 Re: Proposed Reforms in the Bar Examinations - Lifting the five-strike rule on bar repeaters". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  19. ^ JBL: Selected Speeches and Essays in Honor of Justice Jose B.L. Reyes, p. 57-58
  20. ^ Ricardo B. Teruel. Practical Lawyering in the Philippines. Revised Edition. Central Professional Books, 1999.
  21. ^ Section 17, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court.
  22. ^ Section 19, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 1, 2008. Retrieved April 8, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "AROUND THE WORLD; 12 Philippine Justices Resign in Scandal". The New York Times.. Since the 1982 "Ericta Scandal", it was only in 2008 that the Court relaxed the fixed rules on passing grades amid the inhibitions of 5 Justices whose relatives took the exams.
  25. ^ "sun star, Bar leakage extends exams by one Sunday".
  26. ^ a b c d e f g List of Bar Topnotchers from 1913 to 2006, Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines.
  27. ^ a b c Manila Times, April 12, 2008
  28. ^ "".
  29. ^ IRPA, DLSU ITS, DLSU STRATCOM, DLSU. "De La Salle University : DLSU : Home".
  30. ^ News, ABS-CBN (March 26, 2015). "2014 Bar 4th placer is 2009 CPA exams 2nd placer".
  31. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 14, 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  32. ^ "Home – San Beda".
  33. ^ Florenz Regalado
  34. ^ a b "Results of the Philippine Bar Exams." TV Patrol World, ABS-CBN, March 2006.
  35. ^ Bar Examinations National Percentage
  36. ^ [1] First Bar Exam in PH
  37. ^ SC Bar Bulletin No. 11
  38. ^ "Women outshine men in RP bar exams". GMA News Online.
  39. ^ Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court, June 2007.
  40. ^ Faculty and alumni list, Ateneo School of Law, June 2007.
  41. ^ Faculty and alumni list, FEU Institute of Law, June 2007.
  42. ^ Faculty and alumni list, Lyceum of the Philippines College of Law, June 2007.
  43. ^ Faculty and alumni list, MLQU College of Law, June 2007.
  44. ^ Faculty and alumni list, San Beda College of Law, June 2007.
  45. ^ Faculty and alumni list, San Sebastian College-Recoletos College of Law, June 2007.
  46. ^ Faculty and alumni list, UE College of Law, June 2007.
  47. ^ Faculty and alumni list, UP College of Law, June 2007.
  48. ^ Faculty and alumni list, UST Faculty of Civil Law, June 2007.