The Supreme Court has relaxed the rules on the use of laptop computers by examinees in the February 4 and 6 online bar examinations for 2020 and 2021 in various testing centers nationwide.
In a Bar Bulletin issued by Bar Examinations Committee chairperson Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the Court now allows those taking the examinations to have their reviewers in their laptops during the examination days.
However, the SC said that while examinees would be allowed to keep their reviewers in their laptops, the reviewers “should always be saved in their local folders and not downloadable from their clouds; once done with the security and health check, examinees may open their laptops to access their files for any last-minute studying.”
“Examinees may also review their own files during lunch breaks. For local testing centers with assigned lunch areas, examinees may bring their laptops there; for those that allow eating inside the testing rooms, examinees may use their laptops inside to review,” the bulletin stated.
“In any event, examinees must close all reviewers and other law-related files 30 minutes before the first bell (7:30 a.m.; 1:30 p.m.) rings,” it added.
However, the SC warned examinees should not abuse this policy.
“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,” it said.
“Each examinee is responsible for the safekeeping of their (sic) laptops. The Supreme Court shall not be liable should they spill anything on their laptops or do any damage that might render the laptops unusable for the succeeding exams. Examinees shall also not be allowed to avail of the back-up computers should such a situation arise,” it added.
The Court stressed that the policy against talking to other examinees still stands and examinees are prohibited from sharing their computer screens or computer files.
“During the entire examinations and within the premises of the Bar Examinations, no examinee should be less than two meters from any other human being. Silence and physical distancing will be strictly enforced,” it said.
“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,” the SC emphasized.
According to the tribunal, unless authorized, examinees are still prohibited from connecting to the internet at all times. The SC said it will only ever be accessed inside the testing room, at the proctors’ signal, for downloading questionnaires and uploading answer files.
“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,” the Bar bulletin said.
“It follows that examinees are absolutely prohibited from using their laptops for social media once they enter the premises. To reiterate previous bar bulletins, they are also prohibited from bringing iPads, tablets, or other gadgets that will be confiscated by security in any case,” it added.