Exemplary passers, topnotchers: 2020-2021 bar exam results

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court departs from the tradition of releasing top 10 passers or topnotchers in the 2020-2021 bar exam but instead recognizes examinees who recorded “exemplary performance” in the licensure test.

Exemplary passers, topnotchers: 2020-2021 bar exam results

This was confirmed by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, 2020/2021 Bar chairperson, saying that an examinee who obtains an 85 percent or higher weighted score in the exam shall be recognized for exemplary performance.

As announced, 8,241 out of 11,402 (72.28%) passed the first digital bar exams.

Of the 8,241 who passed the exams, there are 761 exemplary passers who got 85-90% rating in the Bar exams. Fourteen (14) Bar takers earned recognition for excellent performance, having obtained grades higher than 90 percent, Leonen said.

University of the Philippines (UP) has four excellent passers, while Ateneo de Manila University and University of San Carlos (USC) have two each, and one excellent passer each in Arellano University, Ateneo de Davao University, Far Eastern University, San Beda University, University of Cebu, and University of the Cordilleras.

Law Schools With Candidates With Exemplary Performance

UP also has the most number of exemplary passers with 147, followed by AdMU with 100, San Beda with 94, USC with 57, and Arellano with 39.

“The names of examinees who earned recognition for exemplary performance shall be made publicly available simultaneously with the list of passers, through the same media. Apart from this, no fanfare shall be devoted in releasing information on examinees who rendered exemplary performance,” Leonen added.

Leonen said this is in consideration of the different circumstances that two batches of examinees went through amid a pandemic.

The Supreme Court will release the list of bar exam passers after the special en banc session on Tuesday, April 12.

A total of 11,378 examinees took the bar exam on February 4 and 6 in 31 testing sites scattered in 22 local government units across the country. This was after several postponements in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic.



List of Excellent Passers 

List of Exemplary Passers


In the past, simultaneous with the release of successful bar passers, the high court also announced the list of topnotchers.

In the 2019 bar exam, Mae Diane Azores of the University of Santo Tomas in Legaspi aced the bar with a rating of 91.0490%.

In the 2018 exams, Sean James Borja of the Ateneo de Manila University aced the bar with 89.306%. University of San Carlos (USC) alum Marcley Augustus Nau-El followed with 87.53%. Other schools in the top 10 spots were University of the Philippines and De La Salle University - Manila.

In the 2017 bar exam, graduates of provincial law schools dominated the list of topnotchers. Mark John Simondo of University of St. La Salle (USLS) in Bacolod, Negros Occidental led the passers with a grade of 91.05 percent.

In the 2016 exams, all topnotchers came from the provincial schools, a first without the usual top-performing NCR-based schools. USC's Karen Mae Calam topped the list with a rating of 89.05%.

Meanwhile, UP College of Law alum Rachel Angeli B. Miranda earned the top spot in the 2015 Bar Examinations with a rating of 87.40%.

Here's the summary of topnotchers during the past nine bar exams:

2019 Mae Diane Azores University of Santo Tomas - Legaspi 91.05%
2018 Sean James Borja Ateneo de Manila University 89.31%
2017 Mark John H. Simondo University of St. La Salle - Bacolod 91.05%
2016 Karen Mae L. Calam University of San Carlos 89.05%
2015 Rachel Angeli B. Miranda University of the Philippines 87.40%
2014 Irene Mae B. Alcobilla San Beda College - Manila 85.50%
2013 NIelson Pangan University of the Philippines 85.80%
2012 Ignatius Michael D. Ingles Ateneo de Manila University 85.64%
2011 Atadero, Raoul Angelo D. Ateneo de Manila 85.54%


The Philippine bar examination, the most prestigious professional licensure exam in the country, is a professional exam not handled by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). It is exclusively supervised by the Supreme Court.

The SC conducts the Bar examinations pursuant to Article VIII, Section 5 of the Constitution which provides that it shall have the power to promulgate rules governing the admission to the practice of law.

Some Filipino lawyers say the bar exam is hard because it is centralized on wide-range bar subjects, with the expected annual passing rate of 20% to 30%.

— The Summit Express

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