|Developer / administrator||Supreme Court Bar Examination Committee|
|Knowledge / skills tested||Understanding of the basic principles of law and of relevant jurisprudence|
|Purpose||Admission to practice law|
|Offered||Four Sundays of November of every year (Held every four Sundays of September until 2010)1|
|Restrictions on attempts||
|Countries / regions||Philippines|
|Annual number of test takers||7,699 (in 2019)|
|Prerequisites / eligibility criteria||see Admission requirements|
|Qualification rate||20–30% average passing rate|
|Website||Supreme 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.
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.
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. In 2005, the High Tribunal implemented the "five-strike" rule, which disqualifies five-time flunkers from taking future bar exams.
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:
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
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.
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. 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.
|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|
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.
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:
The eight bar subjects are separately graded. Each subject contributes to the general average in the following proportion:
|Labor Law and Social Legislation||10%|
|Political and International Law||15%|
|Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises||5%|
The passing average fixed by law is 75%, with no grade falling below 50% in any bar subject.
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%.
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:
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:
|Year||Passing Mark (%)||Year||Passing Mark (%)|
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.
The difficulty of the recent bar examinations, compared to exams of the past, can be attributed to the following factors:
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.
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.
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.
Candidates shall take an Oath of Office and sign their names in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court. 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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
From 1913 to 2019, schools which have produced bar topnotchers (1st placers) are as follows:
Two bar examinees topped the bar exams without officially graduating from any Philippine law school:
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.
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. 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. He later served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
The San Beda College of Law's sole magna cum laude graduate, Florenz Regalado, 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
|1903||Jose L. Quintos||96.33||Escuela de Derecho||Baliuag, Bulacan||30.76% (4 out of 13)|
|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|
|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|
|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)|
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. 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. 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.
Prominent lawyers who made the bar top ten include: