Deech: aptitude test cannot be rushed

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) 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, with the aim of filtering out those who do not have the required skills to succeed on the bar professional training course (BPTC) before they spend the money on it.

An original pilot of the test took place in 2009-10 with about 300 student volunteers. A second pilot is currently underway and over 1,600 students have taken part.

The BSB said the pilot is not only studying the results of the aptitude test, but comparing these with the results of the BPTC course. Once this has been done, a decision will be taken as to whether the test is fit for purpose.

“As the final approval process involves not only the BSB’s own internal committee structure, but also the approval of the overarching regulator, the Legal Services Board, it will not be possible to introduce the test this autumn,” it said in a statement.

The new timetable will see the pilot completed this October, and a submission made for approval by the LSB in December, with a view to the test being introduced in autumn 2012 for those starting the course in 2013.

The test will be available for applicants when the BPTC online application system opens in October 2012.

BSB chairman Baroness Ruth Deech said: “We are in no doubt that the aptitude test needs to be thoroughly piloted and have therefore amended our timetable to make sure that this is the case. This is not something that can be rushed, we are happy to extend our timelines to ensure that those relying on the test in the future can have complete faith in it.”

As first revealed by Legal Futures, the Law Society is currently considering whether a similar test should be introduced for the legal practice course.

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