BSB scraps bar aptitude test

updated on 06 April 2022

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The Bar Standards Board (BSB) will scrap the Bar course aptitude test (BCAT) despite opposition from the Bar Council.

Is the BCAT fit for purpose?

The BSB has decided to do away with the BCAT, a 55-minute psychometric test because it no longer acts as a “filter” for Bar course candidates. The BCAT exists to predict a candidate’s success on the Bar course, which will determine their likelihood of gaining pupillage – it’s a relatively cheap way of cutting the number of Bar course students.

However, the BCAT has been unable to filter prospective applicants for the Bar Course and has failed to advocate diversity and equality at the Bar. The BSB is set to scrap the BCAT due to its failure to cut down candidates, its inability to predict candidates’ success, and for providing a disservice to equality and diversity at the Bar.

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The BSB believe that the use of interviews and practical exercises for applicants is more effective than the BCAT.

A paper before the board said: “Many students do not sit the BCAT prior to receiving an offer of enrolment to save the expense of the BCAT; therefore, the BCAT is not informing candidate choice in those instances.”

 The paper adds: “Our view, which we confirmed through discussions with the providers, is that each provider takes a considered, thorough and robust approach to admissions criteria and filtering for aptitude […].

“Therefore, our conclusion is that the risks that existed when BCAT was introduced to mitigate them, no longer exist.”

The BSB has made it clear they will continue to work with providers “to ensure that appropriate ways of admitting people are operating”.

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