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The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has extended its pilot aptitude test for entry onto the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) for another year in a bid to ensure the exam is ’fair for all applicants’.
The extended pilot will now be compulsory for all candidates on the BPTC this September 2010, but the results will not have any effect on their ability to stay on the course.
Nigel Cooper QC, chairman of BPTC sub-committee, said: “The first pilot was a limited exercise, designed to consider the general suitability of the test. A second pilot will now be conducted in autumn 2010, as planned, to enable more detailed testing and the accurate setting of the pass threshold. This is necessary due to the need to ensure the aptitude entry test will be fit for purpose before it is finalised and becomes an absolute entry requirement.”
All would-be barristers wanting to study the BPTC will now also have to prove they have a minimum standard of English, after the BSB called for an extra language test to be added to the admissions process (see story).
All students will be required to demonstrate that they are of a minimum 7.5 International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or equivalent recognised by the BSB.
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.
Now following a pilot of the test in 2009, which 182 candidates took part in, the aptitude test will be made compulsory from September 2012.