THE SUPREME Court (SC) on Tuesday said 8,241 students passed the 2020/2021 bar exams — the first to be held outside Manila, the capital and the first to be done digitally — for a 72.8% passing rate.

“You are an extraordinary batch of bar takers whether you made it this year,” Supreme Court Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen told a press briefing on Tuesday. “It was an honor for my team and me to be with you every step of the way. It was an honor to be your bar chairperson.”

Students took the exams using laptops at 29 local testing sites in 22 local government units, the tribunal said in a statement.

The bar exams were postponed in 2020 amid a coronavirus pandemic. These were rescheduled again the following year amid surging infections.

The exams were supposed to be held on Jan. 23 to 25 but had to be postponed again amid a surge in cases spurred by the Omicron variant. The two-day exams finally went ahead on Feb. 4 and 6. 

Mr. Leonen said the results should not be compared with past exams because the circumstances were different. The High Court did not name the top 10 examinees.

The digital bar exams were held on two Sundays compared with four Sundays before.

The Ateneo de Manila University topped the list of law schools with more than 100 first-time examinees who passed the exams with a 99.64% passing rate.

The University of the Philippines had the most exemplary passers who scored 85-90% at 147, and the most excellent passers who scored above 90% at four.

The tribunal also disqualified several examinees for withholding information about being infected with the coronavirus, using a mobile phone inside the exam room and accessing social media during lunch break.

The bar exams covered political, labor, taxation, criminal, civil and commercial law, as well as procedural and professional ethics.

“To those who passed today, face your success with magnanimity and humility,” Mr. Leonen said. “Bar examinations only facilitate your entry to the legal profession, do not be blinded by today’s success but be awed by what lies ahead.”

Last month, Supreme Court Justice Alfredo S. Caguioa said the next bar exams would return to a four-day schedule.

Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo earlier said the High Court would continue digital exams to take full advantage of new technology. — John Victor D. Ordoñez