Supreme Court revises rules on laptop use during Bar exams

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2022 12:23 PM

MANILA — The Supreme Court on Monday allowed Bar examinees to keep reviewers in the laptops that they will be using for the Bar Exams but warned against any form of cheating.

“Examinees are now allowed to keep reviewers in their laptops, which should always be saved in their local folders and not downloadable from their clouds,” Bar Exams chair Justice Marvic Leonen announced through a Bar bulletin.

Previous Bar bulletins advised examinees to remove law-related files from their laptops and to only use Examplify during the test proper.

The new bulletin also allows examinees to look at their reviewers and other law-related files 30 minutes before the first bell rings at 7:30 am and 1:30 pm.

This means they could review their notes during lunch breaks and could also take their laptops with them if there are designated lunch areas.

However, the Supreme Court will not allow use of back-up computers if examinees spill “anything” on their laptops or “do any damage that might render the laptops unusable for the succeeding exams.

But Leonen stressed the rule against cheating will be strictly enforced.

Examinees are not allowed to talk to each other nor to share computer screens and files. 

They should also keep a distance of 2 meters from each other during exams and while within the testing centers.

“Examinees are also well advised not to attempt any form of cheating even with the relaxed policy. As those who have completed the Sample Exams already know, Examplify is a secure delivery program, designed to prohibit examinees from exiting the application once the test proper has begun."

"Trying to access files during the test proper is a futile effort and a violation of the Honor Code,” he said.

Examinees are also not allowed to connect to the internet at all times and are prohibited from using laptops for social media purposes once inside the testing centers. SC previously said iPads, tablets and other gadgets will be confiscated by security.

“Attempting to connect to the internet while inside the premises of the local testing center, other than to download the examination file and to submit the answer file, shall be considered cheating,” he added.

Leonen warned that there will be no second chances for those caught.

“Any form of cheating will not be tolerated. Anyone who will be caught violating these rules will be automatically disqualified from the 2020/21 Bar Examinations and future bar examinations. No second chances will be given for any breach of the Honor Code,” he said.

For the first time in its 120-year history, the Bar Exams this year will be “digitalized” by shifting to the use of laptops instead of handwriting and “localized” by allowing several test centers all over the country instead of one venue in previous exams.

But this year’s Bar Exams will also mark the first time that applicants for a two-year period will take the exams since the exams for 2020 were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The 2020/21 Bar Exams has also been moved several times and its coverage has been reduced.

Examinees have also been urged to observe strict quarantine to avoid getting infected before the exams. 

Fully vaccinated examinees will only be required to take 1 antigen test 48 hours before the first exam while the unvaccinated need to show negative saliva or nasal RT-PCR test results taken within 72 hours before the first exam.

Those who recovered from COVID-19 will still need to undergo testing and submit an affidavit that they are considered by the local government unit as “recovered” and that they have completed the required isolation period.

A false statement could lead to outright disqualification.

In a tweet Monday, Leonen urged examinees to “do strict quarantine.”

“We cannot override local government health protocols. That is also very clear in IATF resolutions regarding licensure examinations,” he said.

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