MANILA — For the first time in the history of the country, the Supreme Court has approved a “digitalized, localized, and proctored” Bar exams to be held in all four Sundays of November 2021.
This means Bar examinees will take the exams using their own Wi-Fi-enabled laptops instead of the traditional exams that required all answers to be handwritten.
But the high court clarified that although the exams will be digitalized, it will not be taken remotely.
"Examinees will still walk into testing rooms and will be proctored while taking the exams. Surveillance cameras will also be installed in all testing rooms," the SC said in its latest Bar bulletin dated February 14 and released on Monday.
"Examinees will be assigned in testing centers in a locality closest to their residence or the school they graduated from, or for any other consideration," it added.
The SC will require Bar examinees to bring their own Wi-Fi-enabled laptops with some specified requirements.
Desktops, tablets, smartphones and other devices will not be allowed.
Laptops must not have any files related to the Bar exams, although the software that will be used will not allow examinees to exit the program and access another one during the test proper.
During the Bar exams, SC personnel will check the computer hardware and ask examinees to sign an honor code.
Handwritten exams will still be allowed if the examinee has a physical disability.
The changes to this year's Bar exams will mean examiners will be able to grade the tests digitally.
"This makes it possible to recruit some subject matter experts from outside Metro Manila for the first time, making the assessment of the Bar Examinations even more inclusive," the Court said.
The SC is now in the process of identifying local testing sites, the requirements of which will be released next week while applications will be accepted until April.
Guidelines for taking the Bar exams will be announced by May and the SC will start accepting applications by then.
The SC also said hygiene protocols will be observed.
The top court en banc last year decided it would skip 2020 in holding Bar examinations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both 2020 and 2021 Bar takers will take the exams this year.