Designed to test students’ critical thinking and reasoning, BCAT does not test legal knowledge but aims to ensure that those undertaking the BPTC have the required skills to succeed in a Bar career.
The multiple-choice test was introduced in response to recommendations made by the Bar Vocational Course Review Group, chaired by Derek Wood QC. The Legal Services Board approved BCAT in July last year following two pilots: the first in 2009-10 with 300 student volunteers; the second in 2011 with over 1,600 students.
Students will learn immediately whether they have passed and a feedback form will indicate a pass, marginal fail, or significant fail. Although resits are permitted, students must leave 30 days between retakes and are advised to take the test “sooner rather than later”. Retakes can be booked at any time after the first attempt and results are valid for five years.
The test runs from 3 April until 31 July and can be taken in over 100 countries through Pearson VUE Test centres (regsiter at www.pearsonvue.com/bsb/). The fee, £150 for UK and EU students and £170 for students from the rest of the world, is also payable for each retake.
The test is up to one hour long and students are advised to familiarise themselves with the types of questions used in the test (available on www.barstandardsboard.org.uk). A full practice test will be available from 1 April.
Students who accepted an unconditional offer in 2012 but deferred until 2013 will not have to take the BCAT.
Your career as a barrister – a new publication from the Bar Council and Inns of Court – details the necessary steps towards becoming a barrister and where support can be found along the way. See www.barcouncil.org.uk.