Bar Is Scrapping The Aptitude Test

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Bar Is Scrapping The Aptitude Test

On 4th April 2022 the Bar Standards Boardannounced that it was removing the requirement for those people with the ambition to become barristers to undergo an aptitude test. Those aspiring to a career as a barrister are obliged to part with £150 to partake in these tests. Those in the know think it is likely that the current aptitude test will be repealed in July 2022. The Bar Standards Board initially introduced this test 9 years ago in 2013, in an effort to reduce the excessive numbers of candidates falling short of the required exacting standards in the bar training course. Prior to commencing their training, barristers had been obliged to pass this assessment and it acted as a first hurdle for candidates to overcome.

Why Are The Bar Studies Board Making This Change?

The aptitude test was introduced nearly a decade ago and has been the subject of much criticism from the profession. When the Bar Standard Board evaluated how effective it had been in driving up standards in the profession it arrived at the conclusion that it had been falling short in its role and not functioning well enough to filter candidates. This was also the view back in September 2021 when the Bar Standards Board assessed the evidence from the inception of the assessment in 2013 and throughout the last six years to 2019, it found that far from eliminating those candidates who lacked the attributes to measure up to the exacting standards of the Bar training course. The Bar Standards Board found the aptitude tests to be so ineffective that under one percent of those who sat them went on to fail it. This figure included the composite total which took re-sit exams into account. The failure figure without factoring in re-sit exams was only an estimated three percent rate.

The Bar Standards Board were open and honest as to why it was deciding to ditch the aptitude tests after 6 years. On 1st April 2022 it explained that the test had become surplus to requirements since the new obligations imposed upon providers to have stronger and clearer policies in relation to course admissions. Affected providers are also required to be more selective over the candidates they recruit. Mark Neale in his capacity as director of the Bar Standards Board emphasised that it is hoping to achieve high standards by only allowing candidates who have a realistic chance to complete the course to attend the bar course.

Slipping Standards?

Many people may read the headline figure and think that the Bar Studies Board are letting standards slip. However, this is seemingly far from being the case. Mr Neale from the Bar Standard Board commented that the regulator will be carefully evaluating the performances of the providers of such courses with a view to evaluating whether the selection criteria for choosing its candidates are diligent and just.

However, the Bar Standards Board appears to have been mulling these changes for some time. Back in September 2021 the regulator was thinking about repealing the aptitude tests because of the microscopic percentage of candidates it filters out. In fact statistically, the Bar Standards Board put forward the statistic that around 90 of the 12,000 persons who sat the aptitude tests failed.

The Future?

So what does the future hold. Potential barristers will need to be keeping their eyes peeled because such persons will no longer be required to sit an aptitude test. However, far from being a free pass, the Bar Standards Board are introducing tougher standards and placing additional burdens upon course providers in the recruitment of candidates for entry to the bar.

The Legists Content Team


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[1] Slingo, Jemma – Bar to review aptitude test with just 0.7% fail rate – 3 September 2021 - Bar to review aptitude test with just 0.7% fail rate | News | Law Gazette

[2] Law Society Gazette – Bar Set to scrap student aptitude test – 4th April 2022 - Bar set to scrap student aptitude test | News | Law Gazette

[3] Bar Standards Board – BSB Handbook – Qualification Rules - Part 4: Qualification Rules (



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