Thursday, 11 November 2010

The BSB and why I'm not happy

Yesterday I was subject to possibly the most pointless test devised in the history of legal education. After the Bar Standards Board decided that future students will need to pass an aptitude test, this year's bar students found themselves subject to the beta test of that examination.

It was, to be quite honest, utterly pointless.

Firstly, why is the BSB imposing this test on future students? The BPTC/BVC on its own has been good enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. And not necessarily the work. The pressure is intense; I'd never experienced anything like it last year. People will make an argument (and perhaps a valid one) that I didn't do the BVC proper, I still did half a BVC plus a full year of academic work as part of the degree, so I'd say I experienced that pressure. Some people can't handle that pressure. An aptitude test won't tell the BSB who is and isn't capable of handling that pressure.

Moving on, the aptitude test can't reflect how well someone will do. Only the BPTC itself can do that. If my own marks on the aptitude test are poor, it'll just back me up. It might be something produced by the brainiest boffins in Britain for all I know, but it can't tell me that I'm not a good student, or incapable of doing the BPTC, because I am, and I can. I didn't record 70s in Opinion Writing (the toughest subject) and Civil Advocacy by accident.

The test itself is more than pointless. Vague at best, at worst it's just nonsensical. Is an argument strong or weak? Surely that can't be defined on a purely objective basis when you're also telling us to use personal knowledge? And if we're bringing in personal knowledge, surely you can't set standardised questions

From a more personal perspective, I don't see why I should be the BSB's willing runner. Considering that they refuse to allow me to state I've done the BVC, why should I dance to their fiddle? It's been something that's bugged me for the better part of 18 months, more so since this year's Bar Exempters get the BPTC and a Masters degree. It just feels like we're being made to jump though hoops for nothing.

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