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Bar exams: BSB plans to offer ‘pen and paper’ resits as soon as possible

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Regulator will launch ‘lessons learned review’ of testing issues

The Bar Standards Boards (BSB) plans to give students who encountered technical difficulties during their online exams the opportunity to resit “as soon as possible”.

Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) students have taken to social media over the past week to report issues with the online exams, including being locked out of the proctoring system and resorting to urinating in bottles and buckets over fears their assessments would be terminated if they went to the toilet.

In a statement yesterday evening, the BSB’s director general Mark Neale said:

“We intend to offer everyone who took a computer-based exam and experienced a technical failure that prevented them from accessing or completing their exam the chance to sit their exam again as a pen and paper exercise in a secure venue and as soon as possible.”

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Neale continued: “We are working hard with the aim of offering that opportunity in September subject to the BPTC providers being able to arrange venues either on their campuses, if open, or at alternative locations. We are also encouraging pupillage providers to allow people to progress as planned to pupillage this autumn. More information about this is available on our website.”

The director general also confirmed it will commission a “lessons learned review” of the exam issues. “This review will report to BSB’s governance, risk and audit Committee, which is composed of independent non-executive directors, and will be undertaken independently of the BSB,” he added.

Responding to the statement, Students Against The BSB Exam Regulations, a Twitter account set up to voice the concerns of bar students, called for the exams to be waived entirely. A petition has also been set up.

Last week the BSB issued a statement apologising for the difficulties encountered by students, and that the test provider’s stats showed that 89% of exams had been delivered without any reported incident and 97% had been successfully completed.

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