OFFICE OF THE 2020/21 BAR CHAIRPERSON
BAR BULLETIN NO. 30, S. 2021
GUIDE AND RULES OF CONDUCT
TO THE 2020/21 BAR EXAMINATIONS
To serve the interests of Bar examinees and help them pass the 2020/21 Bar Examinations, the Office of the Bar Chairperson issues these Omnibus Guidelines to advise them on how to best prepare for the Bar Examinations. The Omnibus Guidelines contain the rules of conduct that examinees should observe during the examinations for their orderly implementation, taking into account their interests, but also those of the host schools, the Bar personnel, and the public.
All Bar Examinees should read the Omnibus Guidelines carefully as part of their preparations.
PREPARING FOR THE EXAMINATIONS
Coverage of the Bar Examinations
The coverage of the 2020/21 Bar Examinations is precisely defined in the syllabi, which have been uploaded in the Supreme Court website. As stated in each syllabus, "only laws, rules, issuances, with their respective amendments; and canonical doctrines pertinent to these topics as of June 30, 2019 are examinable materials[.]"
For Remedial Law, the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure (A.M No. 19-10-20- SC promulgated on October 15, 2019) and the Revised Rules on Evidence (A.M No. 19-08-15-SC promulgated on October 8, 2019) are included.
Principles of law are not covered by the cut-off period. Any principle of law that appeared in the Court's decisions after June 30, 2019 is included in the coverage of the examinations.
Hence, the Bar examinees need not study materials not covered in the syllabi.
Managing the Examinations
The Bar Examinations are qualifying licensure examinations that test for minimum skills required of lawyers.
Performing well in the Bar Examinations requires a good understanding of the basic principles of law and of relevant jurisprudence, as well as an adequate ability to understand and communicate in the English language.
Proficiency in English comes from the examinees' accumulated study of and experience in communicating in this language. Knowledge of law, on the other hand, is based on years of study in law school and in the Bar review classes. To pass the Bar Examinations, the examinees need to exert effort to be as precise as possible in communicating their knowledge of the law in their answers.
Examplify and Sample Exams
Bar examinees are expected to know how to download, take, and submit exams through Examplify before the Bar Examinations. Examplify must already be installed on the laptops they will bring to their local testing centers.
Examinees should also ensure that they have updated Examplify to version 2.8 and completed all three Sample Exams. If an examinee has not yet updated their Examplify to version 2.8, they will be prompted to do so before they can begin the Bar Examinations. No time extensions will be given to make up for time lost due to an update to version 2.8.
Examinees are encouraged to take the Sample Exams multiple times to ensure that they are familiar with Examplify's features and functions. The Sample Exams also confirm the compatibility of the examinees' laptops with Examplify.
Examinees who have not completed all three Sample Exams prior to the first Bar Sunday will be denied entry into the testing centers.
The Sample Exams must be completed by 11:59 p.m. of January 15, 2022. A Sample Exam is deemed completed when the examinee has uploaded at least one answer file for each exam. The answer files need not contain answers. As there are multiple ways for examinees to confirm their submissions, the Office of the Bar Chairperson will not entertain any requests for individual confirmations of submissions.
Tips in Answering 2020/21 Bar Examination Questions in General
1. For the 2020/21 Bar Examinations, each Bar subject will have a total of 15 to 18 straightforward questions designed to address entry-level legal competency. There will be no sub-questions.
2. All questions are essay-type. There are no multiple-choice questions.
3. Examinees should read and examine the pre-exam notices that will be flashed on screen as soon as they are allowed to begin the examinations. Examinees do not need to wait at the orange STOP screen and blue exam start confirmation screen.
4. After reading the pre-exam notices, the examinees should plan their answering time and accordingly pace themselves. Four hours are allotted for the examination in every subject, and the questions have been formulated to be answerable within such time, with an allowance for the examinees to review their answers.
5. The examinees shall answer the questions in the order that they appear on Examplify. Although there is only one set of questions per subject, the questions will appear in a random order per examinee.
6. The examinees are allowed to highlight any part of the question/s, flag any questions, and type notes into a digital notes box. They may move on to the succeeding questions to not waste precious time and later return to those initially marked questions. All highlights, flags, and notes will not be shown to the Office of the Bar Chairperson or the examiners. Examplify will also warn examinees if they have left any questions unanswered before they submit their answer files.
7. Upon request, examinees may be given a blank sheet of paper that they can use for their handwritten notes during the examinations. Examinees must bring their own pens. A pen will not be provided by the personnel on site.
8. All submissions of answer files are presumed to be deliberate. There is no facility for undoing or reversing an upload of an answer file. Examplify will not automatically upload answer files at the expiry of the four-hour time limit per exam. Thus, all examinees must ensure that they have answered each exam to their satisfaction, while complying with the time limit, before submitting their answer files. Examinees are advised that closing an exam will trigger the submission of the answer file, and they may seek assistance from proctors if there is any doubt that an action will cause an answer file to be submitted.
Some Tips in Answering Essay Questions
1. Read each question carefully to fully understand it. Pay attention to the instructional words used in each question. Examples of instructional words are: explain, argue, compare, contrast, define, decide, and distinguish. The answers should respond to what these words exactly require.
2. The examinees' answers should demonstrate their ability to analyze the facts, apply the pertinent law and jurisprudence, and arrive at a sound or logical conclusion. A mere "yes" or "no" answer, without any corresponding explanation or discussion, will not be given full credit. Thus, always briefly but fully explain your answers.
3. Every question asks for the resolution of a specific legal problem. The examinees' task is to provide the resolution called for by the question, with sufficient explanation on how the conclusion was arrived at. The examiner can give partial credit if the answer is well written and logical even if the conclusion is not accurate. Take caution, however, that the use of the "shotgun" approach in answering questions may not be the best strategy as it indicates a lack of specific knowledge about the questions.
4. Answer the questions briefly and directly. After reading and understanding each question, the examinees may opt to create a brief outline of the proposed answer to systematically present all pertinent information in a logical order. They can draft the outline in the digital notes box in Examplify, or on scratch paper, but must make sure that the Essay Editor box only contains their final answer.
5. The examinees can help the examiner assess their answers by providing clues to their line of thinking and pattern of organization. Use transitional words such as: first, second, next, finally, on the other hand, consequently, further, and the like.
6. Answers should always be proofread. An exam is also a test of the examinees' writing ability. Examinees should spend some time reviewing their answers, looking for mistakes in grammar and punctuation, checking for misspelled or missing words, and omitting needless words.
7. Make sure no distinguishing marks are made, and that no extraordinary formatting is used in their answers. The tutorial provided to examinees includes instructions to ensure that the prescribed type format-Times New Roman at size 14-is followed. Care should be taken to not use any specific name when it is not called for in the question. Do not write a mantra, motto, prayer to deities or saints, special plea addressed to the examiner or the Bar Chairperson, or any other such extraneous text. Leaving or making any distinguishing mark in any submitted answer is classified as cheating and can disqualify the examinee from the whole Bar Examinations.
THE ACTUAL BAR EXAMINATIONS
COVID-19 Guidelines and Protocols
1. Examinees are encouraged to undergo self-quarantine starting January 2, 2022. Examinees should limit non-essential movement. They are to avoid staying in hotels and dormitories where there is high-risk exposure to COVID19, unless they live in areas outside where the local testing center is located. They may be barred from taking the examinations if it is later known that "bar operations" activities were conducted by their law school in the hotel where they are staying.
2. Due to the strict protocols implemented by both the Office of the Bar Chairperson and the local testing center, examinees and personnel will be required to sign a waiver releasing the Supreme Court and the local testing center from any liability if they contract COVID-19 during any of the four Sundays of the Bar, as it will be presumed prima facie that they were negligent in adhering to these protocols. The waiver shall be sent to each examinee's email address by the Area Team Leaders of the local testing center to which the examinee is assigned.
3. For every Bar Sunday, all examinees must present their vaccination cards and COVID-19 test results upon entry.
a) For fully vaccinated examinees, they shall be required to present, together with their vaccination cards, their antigen test results, administered within 48 hours before the start of the examinations.
Valid vaccination cards may either be the original vaccination cards issued by their local government units, digital vaccination cards or certificates, VaxCertPH certificates, or the Bureau of Quarantineissued International Certificate of Vaccination.
Antigen testing of vaccinated examinees will be done every Friday and Saturday prior to the Sunday exams at the site designated by the Office of the Bar Chairperson. Scheduling will be sent to each examinee's email address by the Area Team Leaders of the local testing center to which the examinee is assigned. This will be free of charge.
Vaccinated examinees may also have their antigen testing done within 48 hours before the examinations by an accredited Department of Health testing facility (https://doh.gov.ph/licensed-covid-19-testinglaboratories). The cost will not be reimbursed.
b) For unvaccinated examinees, they shall be required to present their saliva or nasal RT-PCR test results, administered by an accredited Department of Health testing facility within 72 hours before the start of the examinations. The RT-PCR test shall be at the examinee's cost.
Unvaccinated examinees are those who have not received a single dose of the vaccine or who have not been fully vaccinated. One is considered fully vaccinated only after two weeks of having received the second dose in the case of a two-dose vaccine (such as Pfizer, Moderna, or Sinovac), or two weeks after having received the sole dose of a single-dose vaccine (such as Johnson & Johnson).
4. Ingress and egress points will be specifically stated for each local testing center. Venue-specific details will be sent to each examinee's email address, copies of which shall also be posted in the Supreme Court website.
5. There shall be no loitering in the local testing center's entrance. Relatives, friends, and well-wishers shall only be allowed to drop off or pick up examinees at the designated areas. ALL EXTERNAL BAR-RELATED ACTIVITIES, SUCH AS SCHOOL "BAR OPERATIONS," SHALL BE PROHIBITED OUTSIDE AND WITHIN THE SECURITY PERIMETER OF THE LOCAL TESTING CENTER.
6. Clearly visible masking tape markers will be placed at the gate entrance and security check area to maintain social distancing between examinees. Examinees' temperature will be checked upon entry. Examinees must place the items to be checked on the table provided and not directly hand them to the Bar personnel. Alcohol dispensers will be available at the security check for disinfection.
7. Examinees who present a positive test result for COVID-19 before the first Bar Sunday will not be allowed to take the Bar Examinations, and will be marked "did not finish." They shall be advised to adhere to the local government unit's required health protocols for positive cases.
Examinees who present a positive COVID-19 test result, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, will automatically be denied entry to the local testing center. They will be required to undergo quarantine based on the guidelines and protocols of the local government unit of their local testing center.
8. Examinees who obtain a positive COVID-19 test result must inform the Office of the Bar Chairperson immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org, stating their name and assigned local testing center. A copy of the test result should be attached to the email.
9. Examinees who present a negative test result for COVID-19, but show flulike symptoms (temperatures over 37.5 degrees Celsius, colds, uncontrollable coughing, or uncontrollable sneezing) at the security check area, will be assessed by the medical staff on site. Once cleared by the medical staff, they may be taken to a separate quarantine exam room where they will take their exams. Their ingress and egress will be monitored and they will be kept separate from the rest of the examinees before, during, and after the examinations.
10. Examinees and personnel shall always properly wear their face masks at all times, except when eating or drinking. Examinees may not take off their masks or wear poorly fitted ones because of discomfort or on the excuse that they cannot breathe properly. Examinees may wear personal protective equipment (PPE) but are warned that some local testing centers may not have air conditioning.
11. Masks must either be triple-layered cloth masks, surgical masks under cloth masks, N95 masks, KN95 masks, or KF94 masks. Copper masks, masks with valves, masks using Bluetooth, WiFi, NFC, or similar data-sharing technology, and poorly-fitted surgical masks shall not be allowed. Examinees must ensure that any mechanical components of their mask do not emit any light or sound that may disturb other examinees.
Face shields, when required by the local government unit of the local testing center, must be fully transparent and must cover the face. Half shields shall not be allowed.
Examinees are strictly enjoined to properly and hygienically dispose of any used masks. Examinees may bring additional masks at their own convenience.
12. Personal air purification devices worn around the neck shall be allowed only if they do not use Bluetooth, WiFi, NFC, or similar data-sharing technology. They will still be inspected at the security process. The charger and extra batteries for the device, however, will be deposited at the security process. Examinees must ensure that these devices do not emit any light or sound that may disturb other examinees.
13. There shall be a strict "no contact" rule at the local testing centers.
14. Examinees are discouraged from congregating with their acquaintances. After the security process, they must proceed to their assigned exam rooms. Clearly visible masking tape markers will be placed one meter away from the Head Proctor's table for the examinees to stand while waiting for their Notice of Admission to be checked. Examinees must place their Notice of Admission on the table and not directly hand them to the Head Proctor.
Examinees are discouraged from talking and must raise their hands to call for the proctor's attention. Examinees will be seated at least one meter away from each other. They will not be allowed to move their desks closer to other examinees.
15. Head Proctors, proctors, and tech personnel will be advised not to touch any of the examinees' personal belongings unless absolutely necessary (e.g., troubleshooting) and with the examinee's consent. A proctor who will accompany an examinee to the restroom must stay at least two meters away from the examinee at all times. Regular handwashing is encouraged. Restrooms will be equipped with hand soap and running water.
16. Examinees are required to bring their own food to the local testing center. They will not be allowed to go out of the local testing center during lunch break or receive food or drink from outsiders while the examinations are ongoing. In most local testing centers, there shall be a designated meal area separate from the testing rooms. Examinees shall not be allowed to congregate and must eat their lunch separately from all other examinees. Talking to other examinees while eating will be discouraged.
17. After finishing the afternoon exams, examinees must proceed to the queue at the security check area to claim their deposited items. After claiming their deposited items, they will not be allowed to loiter in the egress area and will be advised to leave the premises.
18. Examinees must monitor themselves for any symptoms and continue their self-quarantine even after the week's examination.
General Protocols Before the Examinations
1. To manage the volume of downloads and maintain the integrity of the Bar Examinations, examinees shall be given one hour during every Bar Sunday within which to download the morning and afternoon exam files. At their time slot, both exams will be made available for download at the Examplify dashboard. Examinees must download both exam files on the laptop they intend to use for the Bar Examinations. Only one download of each exam file shall be allotted for each examinee.
Examinees may download both exam files at home, while in transit, or at their assigned exam room in their local testing center. However, examinees may not use their devices to download the exam files while they are in line for the security process in the local testing centers. Thus, all Bar examinees are reminded to plan ahead and manage their time wisely.
The download schedules for examinees will be sent to each examinee's email address.
Examinees who fail to download both exam files during their designated time slot will be given a download period after the start of each exam. The time taken to download the exam files will be deducted from their allotted time. No extension shall be given.
2. Examinees will not be able to open the exam files until the password for each exam has been deployed by the Bar Chairperson.
3. As a general rule, gates in all local testing centers will open for examinees by 4:30 a.m. and will close at exactly 7:30 a.m. Some local testing centers may designate an earlier opening time. After the gates are closed, late examinees will not be allowed to enter without the permission of the Bar Chairperson or the Bar Chairperson's authorized representative.
4. Examinees are encouraged to arrive early at their local testing centers, as there will be four different security stations they will need to go through before proceeding to their exam rooms.
5. The first security station will be the temperature check, the checking of the antigen test results or RT-PCR test results, and the submission of the health declaration form or scanning of the QR contact tracing code of the local government unit or local testing center, whichever may be required.
Health declaration forms or registration for the QR contact tracing codes, and their specific instructions, will be emailed to the examinees a few days before each Bar Sunday. Examinees will not be allowed to fill out health declaration forms or register for the QR contact tracing codes while waiting in line at the security process.
6. The second security station will be the checking of the Notices of Admission and identity verification. Security will verify if the examinee is at their correct local testing center according to their Notice of Admission. Examinees will be asked to remove their masks for five seconds at most to verify if they match the photo on their Notice of Admission. The verification shall be done from a one-meter distance. To protect both the examinee and the personnel, examinees may wear face shields during this process. Examinees may remove their face shields once their identity has been verified and their masks are put on again.
The Office of the Bar Confidant will distribute plastic holders and lanyards for their Notices of Admission on the first Bar Sunday at this security station.
Bar examinees should always wear their Notices of Admission prominently displayed on their chests. This shall serve as their passes to enter into the local testing center, as well as their assigned building and room. Examinees should avoid losing this as its absence can bar them from admission into the local testing center.
7. The third security station will be the bag inspection. The bag containing the examinee's personal belongings or the laptop bag will be separately checked. To speed up the security process, examinees are required to place their personal belongings in a clear or transparent bag. The laptop bag or sleeve need not be transparent.
Only one laptop and one charger, as well as those allowed items listed in Item D.2 of Bar Bulletin No. 26, will be allowed inside the exam room. All other digital devices, chargers, extra batteries, watches (whether smartwatches, digital, or analog), and other prohibited items will be deposited with the security.
Examinees may claim them only after the afternoon examinations, while exiting the local testing center.
8. The final security station will be the body frisking. All prohibited items found on the examinee's person will be deposited with the security before examinees proceed to their assigned exam rooms.
9. Bringing deadly weapons inside the local testing center disqualifies the examinee from taking the examinations and marks them as "did not finish." No refund of the examination fee will be allowed.
10. Bringing firearms inside the local testing centers is strictly prohibited and is considered a violation of the Bar Examinations Rules of Conduct. This prohibition applies even to those who have permits to carry firearms outside of their residence. Any such weapon found on the examinee's person shall be confiscated, and the incident shall be reported to the Office of the Bar Confidant for assessment if further investigation is warranted.
11.Possession of alcoholic drinks, cigarettes or electronic cigarettes, or anything similar anywhere within the local testing center is not allowed. They will be confiscated, and the incident shall be reported to the Office of the Bar Confidant for assessment if further investigation is warranted.
Possession and drinking of alcoholic drinks, as well as smoking, are considered violations of the Bar Examinations Rules of Conduct.
12. Styrofoam and single-use plastics are prohibited in all local testing centers. Examinees are encouraged to reduce the use of plastics and other single-use packaging for their food and beverages. Instead, examinees are highly encouraged to bring tumblers or water jugs, reusable food containers, and the like, which need not be transparent.
13.After passing through the security process, examinees shall go straight to their assigned exam room.
During the Examinations
1. Before the start of the examinations, the examinees shall only be allowed to go inside their assigned rooms upon submission of their Notice of Admission to the Head Proctor. Examinees will again be asked to confirm their identity by signing the Seat Plan. The Honor Code must also be submitted to the Head Proctor on the first Bar Sunday, or on January 16, 2022.
Examinees are required to conduct themselves properly and avoid conversations with other examinees.
At 7:30 a.m., all examinees should be inside their exam rooms and await further instructions. They must leave their materials outside the exam rooms.
Everyone is encouraged to attend to their toilet and other personal needs before the FIRST BELL (at 7:30 a.m.; 1:30 p.m.).
2. At the sound of the FIRST BELL, no examinee shall be allowed to leave the exam room. Examinees may bring water, candies, and light snacks inside the exam room, but are advised to avoid spillage.
3. Password deployment will begin at the sound of the FIRST BELL. Examinees are advised to stay inside the exam room and wait for the Head Proctor to post the exam password before starting with the exams.
4. At the sound of the SECOND BELL (at 8:00 a.m.; 2:00 p.m.), the Head Proctor, with the assistant proctors, shall post the exam password. Examinees may then enter the password and start answering the examination. Four hours shall be allotted for each examination.
5. Examinees who failed to download the exam files during their designated time slot will be allowed to download them at 8:15 a.m. for the morning exam, and at 2:15 p.m. for the afternoon exam.
The time taken to download the exam files will be deducted from their allotted time. No time extensions shall be given.
6. It will be considered cheating and a violation of the Honor Code if an examinee is caught with notes or "codigos" during the examination, or if caught copying or allowing another examinee to copy their answers. Talking to another examinee or handling another examinee's laptop during the examination shall be prima facie evidence of cheating. Communicating with another examinee may be done only with the prior permission and in the presence of the Head Proctor. CCTV cameras are placed in the exam rooms.
7. Examinees are not allowed to use their laptops or use their local testing center's internet connection for any purpose other than to use Examplify to take the Bar Examinations.
Any examinee caught using their laptops for any unauthorized purpose shall be subject to disciplinary action.
8. Should any examinee leave the room for any reason during the examination, they must first enable the "Hide Exam" feature in Examplify. Examinees should not submit their answer file prematurely, unless they intend to do so.
9. The THIRD BELL (11:30 a.m.; 5:30 p.m.) signals that only 30 minutes are left before the end of the examination. The FOURTH BELL (11:55 a.m.; 5:55 p.m.) signifies that only five minutes are left before the end of the examination. The FIFTH BELL (12:00 nn.; 6:00 p.m.) signifies the end of the examination.
10.Examinees who shall finish the exam before the FIFTH BELL may immediately upload their answer file.
At the FIFTH BELL, all examinees must begin uploading their answer files. All examinees must submit their answer files within a reasonable time from the expiry of the time limit for each exam.
When the answer file has been uploaded successfully, Examplify will display a green upload confirmation screen. This confirmation screen must be shown to the proctors before the examinee can leave the room. If an examinee fails to show the confirmation screen, the examinee must open their Examplify dashboard to show the proctor the record of successful upload.
11. After every examination and before leaving the room, the examinees should ask for their Notice of Admission from the Head Proctor, who shall accomplish the certification found at the back of the Notice of Admission as proof of the examinees' completion of the examination.
However, at the end of the last examination, i.e., after the Legal and Judicial Ethics and Practical Exercises examination on the fourth Sunday, the examinees' Notices of Admission shall be retained by the Head Proctors for submission to the Office of the Bar Confidant.
1. Bar Examinees with special medical or other needs (e.g., insulin injections, taking medications during examination hours, or breastfeeding moms who need to bring electric breast pumps) should inform the Office of the Bar Confidant at email@example.com on or before January 3, 2022 so that appropriate preparations can be made well ahead of examination time.
2. If a Bar examinee feels sick during the actual examination, the attention of the Head Proctor or proctor should be called immediately for appropriate action. The Court has prepared for this contingency.
3. Bar examinees should attend to their toilet needs before the FIRST BELL. If an examinee needs to go to the toilet at any time during the actual examination, the examinee should call the attention of the Head Proctor or proctor for directions on the procedure to be observed.
4. In most testing centers, a lunch area shall be designated for examinees and personnel. Examinees are highly encouraged to bring their own food, as they will not be allowed to leave the local testing center during lunch break and there will be no food concessionaires open in the local testing center.
5. The conduct of the 2020/21 Bar Examinations is an official function of the Supreme Court and is an integral part of every examinee's application for admission to the Philippine Bar. Thus, examinees are reminded to observe proper decorum. Any type of misdemeanor shall be considered as direct contempt of court.
6. Examinees are, as much as practicable, encouraged to dress appropriately and comfortably. Examinees may bring jackets, sweaters, hoodies, or shawls, or wear full-body PPE, but are warned that not all testing rooms are air-conditioned.
7. Examinees must use only transparent or clear bags, zipper storage bags, purses, containers, and the like during the Bar Examinations. Laptop sleeves or laptop bags, however, are not required to be transparent. Examinees are advised to have only one laptop and one charger in their laptop bag, as well as those allowed items listed in Item D.2 of the Frequently Asked Questions on the Digitalized Examination Process accompanying Bar Bulletin No. 26.
You have come this far. The Bar Examinations test both honor and excellence. Remember that it is not worth passing the exams when you do so by being dishonest or by making others suffer.
Protect your health not only for yourself, but for all those who will take the examinations with you. Be responsible.
Start your legal career with the nobility, leadership and capacity for leadership, and empathy that our profession deserves.
All the best for everyone.
For strict compliance.
December 20, 2021.
(Sgd.) MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN
See Bar Bulletin No. 30, Series of 2021
Associate Justice and
2020/21 Bar Examinations Chairperson
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation