COVID-19: BSB pushes ahead with online exams — but offers students test centre option

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Regulator publishes fresh guidance

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has published further guidance on how students will go about sitting their Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) exams online amid the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The regulator reconfirmed this afternoon that aspiring barristers will sit their centralised assessments — civil litigation, criminal litigation and professional ethics — this August using an online proctoring solution or in a physical test centre, despite criticism from some students.

The BSB said discussions will be held with a “small number of students whose needs cannot be met by a computer-based solution” and that the new guidance does not apply to these students as their arrangements will be bespoke and tailored to individual needs.

Those who require reasonable adjustments will be given priority access to one of Pearson VUE’s UK test centres, where the BSB said attendees will be permitted to take bathroom breaks.

BSB director of regulatory operations, Oliver Hanmer, said:

“We fully understand why students have been concerned about the prospect of taking such important examinations under unfamiliar conditions. We hope this guide will explain the arrangements we have put in place for their exams and the steps we have taken to seek to make the arrangements accessible to everyone.”

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The BSB came under fire last month from one future pupil barrister who claimed the online exam proposals could prejudice female students. In an article for Legal Cheek, Sarah Ismail argued that it had failed to consider that women are more likely to be single parents… and cannot call on childminders or family members to babysit whilst social distancing guidelines apply”.

In a response piece, again for Legal Cheek, Hanmer stressed that the BSB is listening to the concerns of students and was seeking a solution which is fair for all.

You can read the guidance in full here.

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“The BSB came under fire last month from one future pupil barrister who claimed the online exam proposals could prejudice female students…Sarah Ismail argued that it had failed to consider that women are more likely to be single parents…”

So if men and women were equally likely to be single parents, Sarah Ismail wouldn’t consider there to be a problem?



Are they hell considering solutions. The BSB do not care about anyone who is at a disadvantage.

How is it fair that some benefit from taking exams at home whilst anyone who has extra breaks etc has to do their exam in a sweaty test centre and risk contracting covid?



Why don’t they just do everything exactly as you want it and exactly how everyone else wants it too?



Ok, Karen.



It is self-obsessed victim mentality snowflakes, rather than Karens. And let’s face it the BPTC is such a walk in the park no-one ought to be getting their knickers in a twist over it.



It is grossly unfair that the comfort and convenience of taking the exam at home is now the exclusive privilege of able-bodied people whilst anyone who has vulnerabilities or special physical needs and breaks etc has to do their exam in a test centre which could be many miles away and risks contracting COVID-19.

This is more blatant discrimination by the biased BSB.



God, let this be sarcasm. Please, please God.

The moaning about this exam has been ridiculous and just reeks of people looking for problems. You wanted special treatment in the exam, you got it. Now shut up and get on with it.



Everyone who feels special and different should be allowed to sit the exam at home and force someone else to travel to their homes to invigilate them. And ideally they should have their mummies there to hold their hand throughout and tell them they can be anything they want to be.


What a surprise

Well there we are, for some this was always about making the exam easier by it being open book. They wanted an easier path to taking three exams with high failure rates.

Moreover, statistically, most of those whinging will not have pupillage so they can sit in December or beyond when we are likely to be back to normal.

Of course then it will be exam halls are not safe. Nothing will ever be safe apart from being able to have their books.



Could the BPTC be any easier? It is just a mildly annoying distraction in the last year of getting drunk as a student.


Paul (CRS Assoc)

It’s amazing how certain types like to call standing up for the rights and interests of disadvantaged people ‘whinging’. I’d like to see how they’d feel if they suddenly became disabled and incontinent.



But what are you whinging about now then?


Dr Medneg

What if the incontinence came on gradually as opposed to ‘suddenly’ would this make any difference? Discuss



Are you taking the piss?





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