Do you have views on the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT)? In a consultation paper published today, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) outlines three possible options for the future of the BCAT as a prerequisite for students enrolling on a Bar training course.
Alongside the consultation paper, the BSB has also published an evaluation of the performance of the BCAT over time which has prompted the BSB to review whether the BCAT continues to be necessary.
The BCAT was introduced in 2013 as the number of students failing the vocational component of the Bar training was high; too many students who had little prospect of successfully completing a Bar training course were being enrolled. This was also having a detrimental impact on the learning experience of their peers and the ability of lecturers to teach the course. The BCAT was introduced to mitigate this risk by “filtering” for aptitude and preventing students who did not have the ability to succeed from enrolling on a Bar training course. The BSB’s evaluation of the BCAT suggests, however, that it is not operating as an effective filter. The BSB is also aware that Bar training providers have introduced more effective entry checks since the BCAT was launched.
The three options which Bar students and other interested stakeholders are asked to consider in this consultation are:
- Option 1: Retain the BCAT in its current form as a prerequisite for all students enrolling on a Bar training course;
- Option 2: Retain BCAT as a prerequisite for all students enrolling on a Bar training course but amend it so that it is a more effective filter; and
- Option 3: Withdraw the BCAT as a prerequisite for students enrolling on a Bar training course.
The consultation asks respondents to consider the equality impacts of each option on those with different protected characteristics and/or those from disadvantaged or underrepresented groups, or those who are neuro divergent. It also asks respondents to consider whether there are any further options which have not been considered as part of this consultation. The views received in response to this consultation will help the regulator to decide the future of the BCAT.
The BSB expects to announce its decision about the future of BCAT after this consultation has closed and the responses have been analysed. This means a decision is likely to be made around February/March 2022. Until a final decision has been made on the BCAT and a timeline set out for the implementation of that decision, it remains a requirement for entry onto a Bar training course. The BSB will communicate its decision clearly to everyone concerned and provide clear instructions for those intending to apply for a Bar training course from 2022.
BSB Director of Strategy and Policy, Ewen MacLeod, said:
“Many changes have been made to Bar training in England and Wales since the BCAT was first introduced in 2013. We are keen to hear views on the future of the BCAT and we hope everyone with an interest in this matter will respond to the consultation.”
Today’s consultation document can be found here on the BSB website.
Notes to Editors
About the BSB
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