The Legal Services Board has approved Bar Standards Board proposals to introduce an aptitude test for prospective Bar students. The test aims to weed out the bottom 10% of candidates.
The Bar Standards Board is formally to seek the introduction of an aptitude test for prospective Bar professional training course students from this autumn, setting the pass rate at a level that would eliminate the weakest 10% of students.
The introduction of an aptitude test for prospective Bar students may be premature – and in any case fails to address the “real issue” of the mismatch between student numbers and training contracts/pupilages – the Law Society has told the Bar Standards Board.
Students taking an aptitude test designed to weed out those likely to fail the Bar training course could be given a once-only opportunity to pass, it has emerged, after members of the Bar Standards Board raised questions about the policy of allowing unlimited attempts.
An aptitude test that indicates whether Bar students will pass their exams is “the best single predictor of course outcomes”, a pilot study has concluded. The Bar Standards Board is pressing ahead with plans to introduce the test formally in autumn 2012.
There are a number of risks and dangers associated with using an aptitude test to select law students – particularly that it will favour those from privileged and certain class and ethnic backgrounds – a report commissioned by the Legal Services Board has concluded.
There could be several benefits from using an aptitude test to exclude law students who are most likely to fail the legal practice course (LPC), according to a report for the Law Society. However, it said linking a test to the likelihood of gaining a training contract would be “more difficult” to justify.
The Bar Standards Board last night delayed the introduction of an aptitude test for asprising bar students – which it had hoped to do this year – by 12 months. The test assesses analytical and critical reasoning, and fluency in the English language.
Growing student debt means the length of time would-be lawyers spend studying needs to shrink, the chairman of the Legal Services Board has declared. David Edmonds also floated the idea of adopting the accountants’ training model, in which professional training takes place during full-time employment, while appearing to throw cold water on the idea of aptitude testing for students before they begin postgraduate legal education.
Universities minister David Willetts has expressed interest in aptitude testing as a way to address “inequities in earlier educational experience” for those looking to enter the professions, it has emerged. The news comes as a survey released today shows that having a public school education makes it seven times more likely you will become a legal professional than if you are state-educated.