The proposed aptitude test for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) will cut the failure rate on the course and not adversely affect diversity, according to research by the Bar Standards Board (BSB).
The consultation follows two pilots of the aptitude test, which were carried out between September 2009 and July 2011. The results have revealed that it will lower the proportion of students on the course with a propensity to fail and ensure students with a low aptitude do not slow classes down.
Moreover it found that the radical test will not cause discrimination, which was initially feared following a report by Dr Chris Dewberry of Birkbeck College. The Dewberry report claimed a reduction in diversity would occur due to students from privileged backgrounds often performing better than others on aptitude tests (22 June 2011).
In order to prevent this, all prospective BPTC students must undertake the chosen test, and the provider Pearson Vue has put systems in place to cater for students requiring adjustments.
It has also recommended a pass rate threshold to minimise the impact on different ethnic groups and improve failure rates on the course.
The consultation also confirmed that the chosen test will require students to pass analytical and critical reasoning and fluency in English language, and the candidate must meet the cost of £67. It will also have an unlimited number of resits to reduce the chance of capable students failing to score the requisite pass threshold.
The BSB is now inviting responses to the consultation report, with a deadline of February 2012.