2016 Bar: Statistics and Trends

In this post, we tackle what changed in this year’s Bar Exams compared to the previous years’.

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The Supreme Court released on May 3, 2017, the results of the 2016 Bar Examinations held at the University of Santo Tomas.

It is unprecedented. We are all surprised — but in a delightful way.

The passing rate

First, the passing rate. It is unprecedented — the highest in decades — 59.06%. This passing rate is the highest in the 21st century, and it is only followed far behind by the 2011 bar examination results, when 31.95% passed.

To compare, the five-year passing percentage average before the 2016 Bar is 23.39%; the ten-year passing percentage average is 23.59%, and the 15-year passing percentage average is 24.53%. 59.06% is more than double the average.

Passing Percentage

The highest passing rate was the 1954 Bar, where 75.17% passed. The lowest was in 1999 with 16.59%.

The topnotchers

University of San Carlos is the 15th school to be seated at the top helm of the Bar Examination. Atty. Karen Calam is USC’s first Bar topnotcher.

What was surprising about this year’s Top 10 Bar passers was that there was a no-show of NCR schools in the list. For the past ten years, there have been graduates of NCR schools, and they are dominating. Some sources say that this is the first time in the Bar Exam’s history that there were no NCR schools. In fact, in the 2009 Bar, just seven years ago, only San Beda, Ateneo, and UP graduates held the Top 10 spots.

For the past 5 years, an average of 79% of the Bar topnotchers were from NCR schools. For the past 5 years, Visayas has only sent four topnotchers, one in 2011 when a Silliman graduate placed sixth, another in 2013, when a USC graduate placed fifth, and two last year, when USC graduates placed second and eighth.



This 2016 Bar, they doubled in a year what they have achieved in five years, sending eight topnotchers on the list, including a number one. The last time a non-NCR school placed first in the Bar was in 2006, when a graduate from the University of the Cordilleras topped the Bar. Moreover, the last and only time Visayas was able to send a topnotcher was in 1969, when Oscar Butron Glovasa of Holy Name University in Tagbilaran placed first in the Bar. And yes, this is the first time Cebu has graced the top spot of the Bar Exams.

In Dumaguete, there is also much thing to celebrate. The city gave three bar topnotchers this year, all from Silliman University, the most in its history.

Surprisingly, Bar favorites University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and San Beda College were absent. The last time UP was out of the list was on 2011, and since then, it sends a minimum of four graduates to the Top 10. The last time San Beda was out of the list was on 2012. Ateneo, on the other hand, has been consistently sending bar topnotchers for the past 10 years.


It is a big day for Visayan law schools — University of San Carlos, Silliman University, and University of San Agustin.

When Inquirer asked this year’s number one Karen Mae Calam on her thoughts that there were no topnotchers from NCR, she said, “It’s how barristers answer and how the examiners appreciate the answer. For me, not one school owns the best. All I can say is there are brilliant people outside Metro Manila.”

Truly, they have proved that NCR schools do not have the monopoly of excellence.