Bar exams plagued with technical faults, anxious students claim

The Bar Standards Board has been inundated with complaints after technical issues meant some bar school students were unable to sit their first online exam.

Students on the Bar Professional Training Course who were due to sit a professional ethics assessment yesterday reported their difficulties on social media posts. Several candidates said the software crashed before or shortly after they started the paper. When they contacted exam provider Pearson Vue they were told they would receive a response within three to five working days.

Others claim they were temporarily locked out of the exam meaning they lost chunks of their allotted time, while some say they were repeatedly interrupted by the remote proctors.

It is unclear whether students who experienced technical issues will be able to resit the exam this week or whether they will be forced to wait until December, when the next set of assessments is scheduled.

Students are obliged to have passed the bar course and to have been called to the bar in order to start the practising period of their pupillage, known as ‘second six’.

The BSB has been approached for comment. 

On Twitter, the regulator asked students to contact Pearson Vue via the chat window rather than using social media. ‘This is the quickest way for you to get help,’ it said.

The build up to the centralised exams – which were due to take place in-person in April – has been fraught with difficulties. Last month, students with disabilities struggled to enrol in the assessments after the telephone booking system collapsed.

Meanwhile, some students claimed the remote system discriminates against women, carers and disabled candidates.