BSB’s bar pilot test gets off the ground

The Bar Standard Board’s (BSB) plan to introduce a compulsory aptitude test for entry onto the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) has gained momentum as the much-anticipated pilot test is finally launched.

The BSB has already tested around 200 would-barristers since launching the pilot in a bid to gauge how effective the proposed aptitude test will be in assessing students’ suitability for the BPTC. The test is likely to be introduced as a compulsory requirement for students applying to start the course in September 2011.

BSB administration assistant Rosie Faulkner, who is working on the pilot said: “There has been a good uptake from students doing the test, although we’ve had a bit of a lull over the Easter break. We hope that now the holidays are over things will begin to pick up again and we’ll hit our 300 target.”

Although test results will not be entirely anonymous (as the BSB will need to cross reference aptitude test results with final grades) providers will not be informed of any individuals’ results.

The BSB has been continually toying with the idea of introducing an aptitude test for aspiring barristers wanting to secure a place on the BPTC since the publication of the Wood Report in 2008.

But following criticism from the Office of Fair Trading, which hailed such an exam “anticompetitive”, the BSB pushed back its plans to launch a test for 12 months (see story).

Despite the controversy Kaplan Law School, which is planning to run the BPTC from September 2010, decided to go it alone and asked perspective students to complete an admissions test – the first of its kind in the BPTC market (read more).

The voluntary pilot, which can be taken at Pearson Vue test centres across the country, was rolled out at the beginning of February and will remain open until August.