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Pupillage application season will soon be upon us, and we want to give you the best chance of securing an interview. In this blog series, each of the five blogs will explore the different sections of the Pupillage Gateway application form and how to use it to your advantage. Here, we discuss how to complete and make the most of the Education history section.

We are yet to see a recruitment criterion that does not include marks for academia. The approach of each Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETO) will differ but it goes without saying that the better you have performed in your studies, and particularly on more recent courses, the higher you will be scored for this section of your application. If you have not been as successful in your academic studies as you would have hoped to be and there are extenuating circumstances relating to your grades, there is space later in the application form to set these out.

It is also worth noting that, whilst particularly poor grades will make it more difficult for you to secure an interview, they will not necessarily be a barrier to progression if you can use the remainder of your application form to demonstrate your true level of ability. Only 2.2% of applicants who were awarded lower second-class honours in their undergraduate degree, and 4.8% of applicants who were awarded the grade of ‘Competent’ on the Bar course, progressed to interview in 2022 according to the Pupillage Gateway Report 2022.

There is no limit to the number of academic qualifications you can include. There is space later in the application form to set out your professional qualifications. Please bear in mind that a minority of AETOs will allocate marks for grades that you have obtained during your higher education. Most, if not all, will do the same for those you have obtained during your further education. You should use the ‘Grades Obtained or Pending’ section to specify the grades you have received or expect to receive for each qualification, including any GSCEs, A-Levels or equivalent.

The Bar Council recommends that, in addition to specifying the final grade that you have received or expect to receive in further education, you also include the percentages that you were awarded, or expect to be awarded, in respect of the individual modules associated with each qualification. If you do not include your grades then you risk not receiving any marks for your academic history, which could impact the success of your applications.

If you are a mature applicant whose academic achievements are not recent, or you have studied outside of the UK, then you may wish to consider adding further information about your qualifications to ensure that the barrister who has been tasked with reviewing your application can properly understand them. As an example, if you studied your A-Levels before 2017 and received an A grade, then you can add the context that an A was the highest grade one could be awarded at the time.

To maximise your time and set yourself up for success, start your application early. Here’s how:
  1. You can create an account on the Pupillage Gateway and add to, or edit, your education, employment, and work experience history at any time.
  2. The Sample Application Form on the website enables you to prepare for the standardised questions you will be asked, and during the advertisement window you will be able to view and consider the bespoke questions that the Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETOs) that are using the Pupillage Gateway to manage their respective recruitment processes are posing.
  3. When preparing your answers, make sure that you make note of any character or word limits, and apply them accordingly. The character limits on the Pupillage Gateway include typographical symbols and spaces, so be careful to count them as part of your answer. Whether you write in bullet points or prose is a matter for you and the best format to use might depend on which section of the application form you are working on, but both approaches have been used successfully by previous applicants.
Further support

For further information about how to navigate the Pupillage Gateway, please consult the Applicant User Guide and FAQ on the website. If you have a technical question relating to the site that neither address, you can contact the Bar Council Services Team for assistance at [email protected].

Check out the first blog in the series to read all about the Employment and work experience history section.