Bar exam mania: smiles, cheers, and tears

Changes in exam format yield a higher passing percentage

MANILA, Philippines – The 2011 bar exams was a watershed moment in the history of the Philippine bar examinations.

Changes were introduced to increase the number of those who passed: 60% of the Bar exams consist of multiple choice questions, while 40% was essay. The previous exams consisted mostly of essay-type questions in the following subjects: Political Law, Remedial Law, Taxation, Criminal Law, Civil Law, Mercantile Law, Labor Law, and Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises.

It looked like changing the format worked though, as the 2011 Bar exams had the second highest rate of those who passed in the millennium–31.95% or 1,913 out of 5,987 barristers. 

Justice Roberto Abad, chairman of the committee on the 2011 Bar examinations, said that 34% passed in the multiple choice portion. In the legal opinion essay, 50% passed, but in the trial memorandum, only 15% made it. Passing grade is 75%.  

Over 100 Bar takers waited outside the Supreme Court for the results, which were released on Wednesday, February 29. When the results were announced, parents called their children, some cheered, others hugged. 

Here are snapshots of the various reactions of those who passed:


Meanwhile, while bar takers were looking at the list of those who passed the 2011 bar exams, 26-year-old Terry Ridon was passing around statements to the media in the Supreme Court. The press releases he gave called for the removal of Chief Justice Renato Corona, but also cautioned against allowing the SC be controlled by President Benigno Aquino III. 

Ridon himself is one of the 1,913 law students who passed. He said that the challenge for new lawyers like him is to ensure the independence of the High Court, something that was reportedly put in question with the ongoing impeachment trial against its head, Corona.

Ang mensahe ay ituloy ang panawagan para pag-alis kay Chief Justice Renato Corona. Hindi kami natatakot kahit na kumbaga, bagong pasa lang. Ang paninindigan namin hindi siya naging role model para sa mga bagong abogado,” he said. (Our message is to continue the call for the removal of Chief Justice Renato Corona. We are not afraid even if we had just passed the Bar exams. Our belief is that Corona is not a role model for new lawyers.)

Corona is now the subject of an impeachment trial for allegedly betraying the public trust, among others.  

Ridon, who studied law at the University of the Philippines, also works as a legal counsel for Kabataan partylist. He is likewise a part of the Corona Impeachment Monitor, an impeachment watchdog composed of youth, professionals, and citizen groups. 

Ridon, however, said that new lawyers should also make sure that the SC does not turn into an “Aquino court,” or a high tribunal that panders to the appointing authority, President Aquino.

“Regardless of how we view the impeachment proceedings, the new lawyers must unite with the rest of the people to prevent President Aquino from consolidating the Supreme Court into his own power bloc,” he said. –


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