FAST FACTS: Philippine Bar examination

Reynaldo Santos Jr

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(UPDATED) The highest percentage of exam passers was in 1954 with 75.17 percent, while the lowest was in 1999 with 16.59%

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – For 2017, some 6,748 Law graduates were admitted to take the annual Bar examinations.

The chair of the 2017 Bar Examinations was Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin who follows Bar chairman and Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr.

It was under Velasco when the 2016 Bar Examinations reported a record-high 59.06% passing rate, attributed by law schools to the “reasonable” Bar chairman then.

The 2017 Bar Examinations recorded a passing rate of 25.55%, 3 Supreme Court (SC) sources told Rappler on Thursday, April 26. A total of 1,724 made it.

Here are other interesing facts about the exam, all obtained from various news reports.


  • The highest percentage of exam passers was in 1954 with 75.17%, while the lowest was in 1999 with 16.59%.
  • Former Supreme Court (SC) associate justice Florenz Regalado has obtained the highest Bar exam average to date, after geting 96.70% in 1954. Regalado died in 2015.
  • Former senator Tecla San Andres-Ziga, who got 89.4% in 1930, is the first woman to top the Bar exams.
  • Former senator Jose Diokno topped both the 1940 CPA exams and the 1945 Bar exams. He was the only Bar topnotcher not to have graduated from law school. He was home-schooled by his father, former SC justice Ramon Diokno. 
  • Francisco Noel Fernandez failed when he first took the exam in 1993, but topped the 1994 exam with a grade of 89.2.
  • The very first Bar exams in 1901 only had 13 examinees.
  • President Rodrigo Duterte is the only Philippine president-elect lawyers who did not place in the  Bar top 10. The Bar placers include: Sergio Osmeña (2nd place, 1903), Manuel Quezon (4th place, 1903), Manuel A. Roxas (1st place, 1913), Jose Laurel (2nd place, 1915), Elpidio Quirino (2nd place, 1915), Diosdado Macapagal (1st place, 1936 Bar Exams), and Ferdinand Marcos (1st place, 1939 Bar Exams).
  • The most recent Bar topnotcher (2016) is Karen Calam from University of San Carlos (USC).


Editor’s Note: We earlier mentioned former SC associate justice Carolina Aquino as another bar topnotcher who did not graduate from law school. In fact, she transferred to the UP College of Law and graduated from there. We regret the error.

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