Bar students won’t be told their exam results before resits

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By Aishah Hussain on

BSB says it’s not possible to release grades sooner for ‘quality assurance’ reasons

Students caught up in this summer’s online bar exam fiasco won’t be told their results before resits, and some aren’t too happy about this.

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) announced last Friday it will offer students the opportunity to resit the centralised Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) assessments using the traditional ‘pen and paper’ from 5 until 12 October. They have until Monday to register their resit requests but this will be before the results of the August assessments are released in mid-October/November.

Bar student body, Students Against the BSB Exam Regulations (SABER), has today written to the regulator demanding it release provisional moderated grades before the October sit. In an open letter, the group writes:

“We question the rationale of deliberately withholding exam results until after resits and therefore preventing students from making an informed decision about incurring the financial, practical, and psychological costs of preparing for and sitting the exams.”

Other students waded in on SABER’s #ReleasetheResults debate, with one user mocking the BSB’s latest decision: “Go on! Have a guess about whether you passed or not! It’s not like taking a bunch of time off work for gruelling revision is such a big deal and if you don’t wanna give it another crack unnecessarily it’s only your career that hangs in the balance.”

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The BSB explained why results could not be issued sooner. It said: “We understand that candidates might prefer to know their August marks before deciding whether to register for one or more of the October exams but there are a number of quality assurance processes that must be followed before results can be formally confirmed and issued; it is not possible to issue them any earlier. It is also a widely accepted academic principle that a candidate who has passed an exam should not be able to resit that exam simply to improve their mark.”

The statement continued:

“If a candidate is concerned that their grade in August might not reflect their true ability, whether or not they believe that they may have passed, they should opt to resit in October before their August sit results are known, and the better of their August and October grades will then be regarded as definitive. The October exams are open to all candidates who have not exceeded the maximum number of permitted attempts and have been put on as a means of mitigating the issues that any candidates encountered with the August exams. We are therefore treating August and October as the same ‘sit’.”

It added that once the results for the August exams are known to students, they will have an opportunity to resit an exam in December but only if they failed that exam in August.

Last month’s bar exams descended into chaos with reports hitting the national press of students urinating in bottles and buckets over fears their online assessments would be terminated if they went to the toilet. Others faced technical issues, with Twitter aflood with reports of students being locked out of the remote proctoring system. The BSB conceded that around one third of exams were affected by difficulties at some point during the examination period.

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