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Bye bye, BCAT: Bar aptitude test to be ditched this month

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No longer effective ‘filter’, says BSB

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has confirmed that from 31 July, aspiring barristers will no longer be required to pass the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) prior to commencing their vocational training.

The regulator announced in April it was ditching the entry exam after it found it was no longer acting as an effective “filter” of students who will likely fail the bar course. It noted at the time that the evolution of the admission process, namely the use of interviews and practical exercises at the point of selection, were far more effective in filtering out weaker wannabe barristers.

The decision also follows a report published last year that revealed just 89 out of the 12,663 candidates who attempted the exam between 2013 and 2019 had failed to make the grade — or 0.7%. With retakes excluded, the fail rate sits at roughly 3%.

BSB Director General, Mark Neale, said: “As I said in April, we no longer think that the Bar Course Aptitude Test serves a useful purpose. Bar training providers must comply fully with the requirements of the Authorisation Framework when selecting their students, and that includes their obligations to maintain high standards and to promote accessibility. We shall continue to monitor providers carefully to ensure that their own selection of students is fair and rigorous.”

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He continued:

“To practise as a barrister, those who have completed their vocational training must also complete a period of work- based training, known as pupillage. We want to ensure that training for the bar is accessible to people from all backgrounds but obtaining a pupillage remains highly competitive so students entering Bar training must have the aptitude to succeed.”

The 55-minute assessment was introduced in 2013 and is designed to test critical thinking and reasoning, and must be passed in order to gain entry onto the bar course. It costs £150 in the UK and £170 for students sitting the test abroad.

But not everyone welcomed the news. The Bar Council has previously raised concerns that scrapping the BCAT would result in increasing numbers of students paying to complete courses with little or no prospect of it leading onto a successful career at the bar.

In a statement yesterday, Bar Council chair Mark Fenhalls QC said: “The problem of too many students wasting money embarking on courses they will struggle to pass is on the rise again. We fully support the aims of making sure the bar is accessible to people from all backgrounds and so we are disappointed that the decision to scrap the BCAT has been made without putting robust alternative provisions in place.”

He added:

“The BSB should be doing more to make sure students are not being recruited onto expensive courses that do not lead to successful careers at the bar.”

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13 Comments

Just Anonymous

The BCAT was never an effective filter.

What it was, was an overpriced cash-grab for the BSB.

(46)(1)

Gatekeeper

The best filter of all was the single provider Inns of Court School of Law admissions cap. It still over supplied the market but nothing like the oversupply today.

(28)(1)

Anonymous

Can I get a refund on my test I did for no reason?

(9)(0)

Anon

I feel the same way. I already had an offer of pupillage when I sat the BCAT.

In the occurrence, I did not even do very well at it. To pay £170 for a piece of paper advising that you might not get pupillage was particularly galling in these circumstances…

The whining Bar Council response is pathetic. If there was a problem, it was not solved by the BCAT and they should really have said something at the time…

(2)(0)

Survey Says

I’d be more worried about using phrases like “in the occurrence”. Why do you write in the style of Google Translate results?

(4)(0)

Frees Peach

If they can make having a qualifying law degree a requirement for the BPTC, why exactly can’t they specify other minimum requirements, like having a 2.1???

I’d LOVE to know how many barristers hold investments in the global conglomerates than run BPTC courses.

(4)(2)

Bumblebee

The leftists felt requiring a 2:1 was discriminatory. Apparently there are “contextual” 2:2s…

(8)(1)

Anonymous

A2:2 is of no difference from 2:1,therefore why not the “contextual 2:2s” advocated by eftists” like me?

(0)(1)

Anonymous

… advocated by “leftists” like me.

(0)(0)

Loose Change

“A 2:2 is no different from a 2:1”. A sentence only ever uttered by someone with a 2:2.

(12)(0)

BTWAT

🎵Bye-bye BCAT, BCAT good-bye..🎶

🥳

(2)(0)

Hopeless

BCAT didn’t act as a filter as the pass rate near 100%.

Take one look at the current bar course students – the vast majority have no chance of ever becoming barristers. BCAT didn’t stop them taking the bar course.

Make the bar course a part of pupillage. TC for solicitors is two years. Pupillage could be two years – year one being the bar course and year two in chambers. That way only those with pupillage offer will do the bar course and it will be fresh when starting second year of pupillage in chambers.

(6)(0)

Chuckles the 🤡

The BCAT WAS ALL-KILTER, NO FILTER!

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.

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