Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) Overview
You need to pass the BCAT (Bar Course Aptitude Test) before you can study on the vocational component (currently the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC)) and become a barrister. This page tells you all about the test and what to expect when you come to sit it.
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What is the BCAT?
The BCAT is essentially an aptitude test, which must be sat in the summer before you start the vocational component. The 55-minute test is computerised and is usually taken in a local test centre. It is based on the Watson Glaser test methodology.
The test consists of 60 multiple choice questions, and is designed to test your critical thinking, and understanding of arguments – identifying different perspectives and also your ability to distinguish facts from opinions and assumptions. In order to pass the test and proceed with the vocational component, you must answer at least half of the questions correctly. Once you have completed the test, you will be given a print-out of your score immediately.
If you fail the test, it is possible to re-sit it a further two times in any one calendar year (subject to payment of the fees).
How Do I Book the BCAT and Where Can I Sit It?
If you have been offered a place on the vocational component of bar training, you will need to book your BCAT, so that you can pass it before your course begins. Most people complete it the summer running up to the September when the term starts.
Your BCAT must be booked through the Pearson Vue Bar Standards Board page. There are a number of test centres across the UK (and indeed worldwide), so it should be fairly easy to find one close to your home.
It is advisable to book well in advance, as there are many people scheduling their tests and you don’t want to leave it too close to the deadline for applications to the vocational component of bar training, just in case you don’t pass and have to retake! You cannot commence your vocational component without passing.
How Much Does it Cost to Sit the Test?
BCAT costs are as follows:
- £150 – for individuals sitting the test within the EU
- £170 – for individuals sitting the test outside the EU
What Kinds of Questions Are in the BCAT and How Can I Prepare?
There are 60 questions in total, and five types of questions in the BCAT, all of which are multiple choice. These questions test:
- Recognition of Assumptions
- Evaluation of Arguments
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Take a look at the Bar Standards Board website, which describes fully the types of questions asked along with some examples – simply visit the BCAT example questions and explanations page.