General Ramblings on my A Level Results

For my A Levels, I took Law, History, Use of Mathematics and (for AS) Business Studies. History, followed swiftly by Law, being my favourite with Use of Mathematics rather further behind (I enjoy maths, I’m just poor at it). I ended up with B’s in Law, History and General Studies and C’s in Use of Mathematics and AS Business Studies. I was about 2 marks off an A in Law and about 4 off a B in UoM.

Now, not to make excuses or anything, but that Law grade isn’t my fault; my Year 12 teacher mucked up dreadfully but I’m still bitter about that and don’t really want to rant about it. I thoroughly enjoyed my Year 13 Law class even though about 4 of the 6 students in the class didn’t really understand, or want to understand, the work – the teacher made concessions and worked for the best of everyone – the slowest and the quickest learners. History was also excellent; The Tudors, Vietnam, British Raj and the rise of Totalitarian Regimes (1900-35-ish) are all fascinating topics to cover and with the help of engaging teachers it made the classes immensely fun to go to. Use of Mathematics was another small class but equally with a passionate teacher who helped out a lot; I just wish I’d managed that extra few marks to get a B. I just never really ‘got’ Business Studies.

Anyhow, sometimes I look at my results and wonder what they could have been had I not spent the majority of the time playing Countdown and Risk on a SMART board in between card games….Then I realise the Countdown number rounds were probably more useful for developing numeracy skills than Use of Mathematics. After all, I can’t really remember how to differentiate or integrate, but I can remember how to add, takeaway, multiply and divide (and that was more than a slight dig at the British Comprehensive Education System).

I suppose what I want to say is that A Levels are not the end of the world. I was quite disappointed with my results I’m not going to lie. And I feel like they aren’t just impacting badly on myself from a personal point of view, but Law firms also use them to ‘cut the wheat from the chaff’ so to speak, and I lie on the edge. And that worries me. But, remember A Level students. you can always resit. You can always retake a year; you’ll have plenty more for working, one more won’t hurt. Make sure you get them right. 

Unless you’re a law student. In which case, please just give up. Competition’s hard enough as it is.

The Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT)

For those that don’t know, I hope to go into the Legal sector in the next few years after hopefully completing a degree in Law.

So, naturally I have been reading up on the two main careers that span from Law; Solicitors and Barristers. I must admit, I don’t have anything like a set opinion in my mind, but I have been very slightly leaning towards (attempting) to become a Barrister.

Anyway, this afternoon I wandered across this test called the BCAT (or The Bar Course Aptitude Test) which is around 60 questions to be answered within 55 minutes all to do with assessing analytical skill and critical thinking.

The RED Model
The test organises critical thinking into a “RED Model”:

  • Recognise Assumptions
    Noticing and questioning assumptions helps to reveal information gaps or unfounded logic.
  • Evaluate Arguments
    Analysing information objectively and accurately, questioning the quality of supporting evidence, and understanding how emotion influences the situation.
  • Draw Conclusions
    Bringing diverse information together to arrive at conclusions that logically follow from the available evidence is crucial when making a decision.

Personally I think it’s a really interesting approach which I can see as being useful to a career based on developing the skills.

So, I decided to take the test and see if I was anything like cut out for it.

“Your results were compared with a large group of people who have also completed the BCAPT.

Your score on the BCAPT placed you in the PASS CATEGORY. Individuals scoring in this band are likely to demonstrate or exceed the level of critical thinking necessary for effective analysis and decision making on the Bar Professional Training Course. Compared with other test takers, they are likely to be able to:

• Define basic and complex elements of problems and situations clearly and objectively

• Recognise the lack of obvious information and readily identify subtle information needed for effective decision making or problem-solving effectiveness

• Typically apply sound logic and reasoning when analysing information

• Consistently draw accurate conclusions from information in a variety of situations and circumstances

• Develop rational, strong arguments to support ideas”

By God I wasn’t half surprised!
I know the limitations of these tests, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t just a little pleased that I could supposedly pass a test I’ll have to take in four years’ time at the end of my hopeful degree.

For anyone wondering If they also have the analytical skill to become a barrister, check out the page below which provides a link to the test:

Bringing the Law to Life: The only way is ethics

Law webinar 17/04/13: Bringing the Law to Life: The only way is ethics.

So I just took part in my first ever ‘webinar’ focusing on ethics and the way they interact with the law. It really was interesting stuff and I can’t thank the University of Law enough for putting it on.

It got me thinking about a bunch of different scenarios such as the way we judge achievement in society (does a footballer deserve their wages compared to a nurse, or a soldier?), the ethical ramifications surrounding assisted suicide, and the possible benefits of animal testing compared with the likelihood of animal cruelty developing.

As each point began, I found myself re-thinking opinions I thought I was sure of. For instance, while I began feeling that so long as animal testing if for medicinal purposes rather than cosmetic purposes, then the gains outweigh the negatives, however then it was mentioned that no matter how much we know, before testing, could always bring unexpected results which could (and most likely does) lead to animal cruelty. While this has challenged my earlier disposition, I think I still support animal testing given the right conditions. I suppose I’m a bit of a utilitarian; the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

I will most definitely be taking some of the ideas and points to my debating and philosophical discussion groups (and that probably made me sound more pretentious than I intended it to). We have already discussed euthanasia, but animal testing and the wages issue will be very interesting topics.

The subject of confidentiality was also brought up, and whether or not it was right to continue to act for a defendant even if you knew they were guilty. I was surprised that it was a 65/35 split in favour of continuing to defend the defendant; I thought more people would disagree with me and say it was morally wrong to defend someone you know is guilty. I don’t know why, but the argument that if you defend someone you know committed a crime (such as murder) and then succeed in getting them ‘off’ you are then letting a murderer on to the street doesn’t seem to have much actual standing. I think that the clause of confidentiality is one that should be protected, almost beyond all others. An example I used is, my Doctor treats me with complete confidentiality  and I wouldn’t like my Doctor breaking it, so why should a lawyer?

I found the interactivity of the webinar fantastic. I don’t know if anyone has ever taken part in one of these things, but they are brilliant. The ability to respond to incorporate the opinions of people watching is something I hope to see again in the future.
Tom Sykes, you more than likely won’t ever actually read this, but thanks a lot for putting the webinar on in conjunction with the University of Law’s Future Lawyers Network. It really was interesting and, as much as this might appear blasphemy, considerably better than watching a recorded episode of Poirot (as I was at 6:27 when I remembered the webinar started at 6:30).

Genuinely can’t wait until next time!

Post Script:
For those who were wondering what the webinar was like, here is a YouTube link to a video of it.