UST MAY have recorded a lower passing rate in the October 2014 bar exams, but the University is still at par with other Philippine law schools in terms of passing rate, Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina said.

Civil Law placed fifth on the list of top-performing schools with a 43.95-percent passing rate, meaning 69 out of its 157 examinees hurdled the bar. This was lower than last year's 63.67 percent.

“Traditionally, UST has always been a top-performing law school. This year should be no different. The difference though [is that] the passing rate among these top law schools is getting smaller. We expect to improve further over time,” Divina said in an email.

The University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman recorded the highest passing rate of 73.84 percent followed by San Beda College-Manila (55.88) and Ateneo De Manila (53.78). Other universities that recorded higher passing rates than UST were University of San Carlos (51.49) and Ateneo de Davao (45.10).

Divina, who is also the president of the Philippine Association of Law Schools, added that none of the schools that produced this year’s topnotchers obtained a passing rate higher than 60 percent, except for UP-Diliman.

Meanwhile, 40 percent of the total number of successful bar examinees this year came from San Beda College, UP-Diliman, Ateneo de Manila, and UST.

Irene Mae Alcobilla of San Beda College topped this year’s bar exam, with a score of 85.5 percent. Christian Drilon of Ateneo (84.45 percent) and Sandra Mae Magalang of UP-Diliman (84.60 percent) placed second and third, respectively. No Thomasian made it to the list of top 10 passers.

'Lessen the confusion'

Former Varsitarian associate editor Roman Loveria was among those who passed.

The national passing rate dropped to 18.82 percent or 1,126 passers out of 5,984 examinees, from last year’s 22.18 percent or 1,174 out of 5,293 examinees.

The 2014 bar exams were held in UST during all four Sundays of October. Essay-type questions accounted for 80 percent of the exams while the remaining 20 percent were multiple choice questions.

Bar exam rules state that an examinee is “deemed to have passed [the] examinations successfully if [he or she] has obtained a general average of 75 percent,” but the Supreme Court en banc has the discretion to lower the passing grade upon recommendation of the bar exam committee chairperson.

The high court lowered the passing rate to 73 percent for the 2014 exams, just like in 2013.

The court also decided to move the 2015 bar exams to November to give way to law schools that will change their academic calendars in preparation for “integration” in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

UST will host the 2015 bar exams anew.

Stricter admission process

To improve the University’s performance in the bar exams, the admission criteria and process in Civil Law for academic year 2015-2016 will be “more stringent.” Honor graduates and those who will do “remarkably well” in the admission test and interview will be preferred, according to Divina.

“We offer them scholarships, book allowance, and board and lodging subsidy. Such offer spreads around by word of mouth even among other top universities,” he said.

Writing the Faith

Divina noted that since he took over as Civil Law dean in 2009, UST has been consistent in inviting top graduates from the different colleges and faculties of the University to enroll in its law school.

Students will also be required to take mock bar exams every year until they graduate, to prepare them for the actual exams.

“We will individually and personally attend to their needs and requirements. We will assign peer coaches from our faculty to guide, counsel and inspire them, as well as to monitor their bar exam preparations,” Divina said. Arianne F. Merez


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