Much-maligned Bar Course Aptitude Test put on hold while regulator conducts review

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The 2016 BCAT won’t open til March at the earliest


An aptitude test for wannabe barristers that is so easy it is “nearly impossible to fail” has been suspended by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) while it conducts a review into it.

But the much maligned Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) is not being discontinued, insists the BSB, just “deferred until at least March 2016”.

This is “to allow time for completion of an important evaluation of the test in its first years of implementation”, says the regulator.

Students generally hate the BCAT, which was brought in with the noble aim of reducing the number of pupillage no-hopers on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), but ended up becoming little more than a token gesture after its implementation became mired in focus groups and compromises.

Better than nothing, you might say. But this token gesture costs students £150 a pop. As you can sit the exam as many times as you like, the BCAT potentially offers wealthy students with little chance of forging a career at the bar a never-ending way to rid themselves of excess wealth.

Not that even many of these lot fail it. According to one Legal Cheek commenter with experience of the test:

I passed in under 30 minutes, and I don’t know anyone who ever failed it first time round. I know one of my peers even guessed the entirety of the practice paper and passed. One even claims that after passing a practice paper, he went back and deliberately chose the wrong answers and STILL passed!

Announcing the deferral of the BCAT, BSB education and training boss Simon Thornton-Wood said:

“We do not expect our decision to defer the opening of BCAT to have too great an impact on any student starting the BPTC in 2016. In previous years, the majority of students have not attempted the BCAT until at least the spring, and a substantial window of opportunity to take the Test remains.”


REVEALED: The BPTC providers with the highest chance of pupillage [Legal Cheek]


Not Amused

The BSB is a joke.

A review of BCAT itself should take a maximum of 3 days. If there are concerns about questions then that can be easily and quickly identified by reading the exam papers.

If too many people are passing first time then that should take a day to check the stats.

“We will review in 4 months” is risible. Utterly incompetent and thoroughly disingenuous.


The BPTC Aptitude Test in full:

1. Can you get your hands on at least £13,000.00, whether through loans, rich Daddy or selling your soul? Yes/no

2. Are you happy to gamble said sum against the 80% chance that you will not get a pupillage? Yes/no

3. Are you content to undertake a year of very hard work that will bear little resemblance to the job you want to do? Yes/no

4. Can you tie your own shoelaces and take yourself to the toilet without accidents?* Yes/no

*Reasonable adjustments will apply to those protected under DDA 1995.



It might be suggested that a number of practising barristers would fail q4…



DDA no longer applies – it’s the Equalities Act 2010 – YOU FAIL



*Equality Act 2010



Gus the Snedger

I love it when that happens! *smirk*



“A year of very hard work”? Hmm…



Clearly you’re a very bright and clever person who does not find it so hard.

I think you deserve a pupillage for that’s.


Quo Vadis

I spent £200 on the BCAT – and passed, like everyone else. Will I get a refund?



The BCAT is that much of a joke that BPP didn’t even check we had passed it when we started the BPTC in September. If providers don’t care, that’s a strong indicator of how useless it is.

To add to the point about passing in under 30 minutes – at BPP, we’ve established that that is the norm.

I’d like my £150 back please.


Lord Harley of Bollocks

I notice we can’t comment on career stories anymore after all the comments on that “gay partner” story have been deleted.

She was rightly slated though. We all know lots of gay people in the law without any problems for some years now, and she was making a big deal of her bravery for coming out in 2009 of all years. 1989 may have been noteworthy, but 2009? Seriously?


judge cocklecarrot

BSB Putting BS into the Bar…

How do they get away with it? Surely sacking crooked barristers and regulating fees is easy?


Ms Charlotte Proudperson

I would have shat my big knickers if forced to do this test.



Since I ended up deferring the BPTC for a year, due to start 15-16, CAN I HAVE MY BLOODY £150 BACK PLEASE YOU MONEY STEALING BASTARDS. And yes, that’s the only time I’ve sworn or yelled on here.



Does this moggie have rights of audience?

Has it even passed the BCAT?



Did it not end up being the case that everyone passed the BCAT? Wasn’t the pass rate 100%?
It is quite clever really, because it must raise somewhere in the region of £360,000 (gross)- quite a lucrative contract for Pearson Vue. Surely for £360,000 you could fund a panel of experts to just sit and decide who should and shouldn’t go to the Bar? It could be like Britain’s Got Talent where you need three out of the four votes to get through to boot camp. You could get extra points if you are doing it for your grandmother, or your children who are so so proud of you.


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