The Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) will be made harder to pass following a Bar Standards Board (BSB) review.
The BCAT was introduced in 2013 and must be passed in order to be accepted on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). It caused controversy at the time when the BSB charged students £150 to take it, more than double the initial proposed fee of £67.
The BSB looked into how the first students to take the BCAT performed on the BPTC. It found that students’ BCAT score is a strong indication of how they will perform on the BPTC.
As a result, the BSB has decided that the BCAT should proceed in 2016 and 2017. However, from 2016, students will be provided with their actual BCAT score along with an indication of how likely they are to do well on the BPTC. Previously, students were only told whether they had passed or failed.
The pass mark has also been raised from 37 to 45. The BSB said: “The data analysis has also provided a strong evidence basis for making changes to the pass mark.”
“On first implementation in 2013, a cautious approach had been taken to avoid the risk of a disproportionate effect on students from non-traditional backgrounds. As a consequence of this approach, BCAT’s current pass mark has not had the desired effect of eliminating students who are not likely to do well in the BPTC. We have now identified that the Test pass mark can be raised from 37 to 45 without a significant adverse effect on students from non-traditional backgrounds.”
BSB Director of Education and Training Dr Simon Thornton-Wood said: “The BCAT is proven to be a very effective test of important critical thinking skills for the BPTC, and will give students a reliable indicator of their likely chances of success before they embark on the BPTC, which can be costly, as we are keenly aware.”