Reforms to Bar test  inadequate says Bar Council


Despite recently announced changes to the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT), which include raising the pass mark, the Bar Council believes the test is still inadequate as a mechanism to filter applicants who have no prospect of obtaining pupillage or practising as a barrister.

Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, Chairman of the Bar, said: “Over 1,500 students enrol on the BPTC each year, which costs between £12,000 and £19,000 in tuition fees alone, and there are only around 400 pupillages available.

“One of the messages I hear consistently on circuit visits is that the system is producing large numbers of applicants who have little or no prospect of obtaining pupillage or practising as a barrister. These arrangements build false hope for too many students at too high a cost.”

A summary of the changes indicates that a pass mark of 45 applied to the 2013/14 BCAT cohort would have reduced the number of students progressing onto the BPTC by 16.6%. The review also suggests that providing an actual score for the BCAT, rather than a simple pass or fail grade, will give students a good indication of how well they will do on the BPTC, as there is a positive correlation between the results.

Bar Council Policy Analyst Alex Cisneros, said: “Judging by past results, increasing the pass mark to 45 could reduce the number of students who pass by around 16%, which is not a sufficient change to address the problem properly. If the BCAT is to serve a gatekeeping function, it must filter out students who have no reasonableprospect of obtaining pupillage or practising as a barrister, not just those who have no prospect of passing the BPTC.”



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